Friday, October 31, 2014

A Conversation with Jon Haber of Divestthis!

Divest This Logo New 300x80Jon Haber, of the influential and interesting Divestthis! blog and I have agreed to a public discussion around the question of the western-left relationship to the Jewish State of Israel.

Neither one of us, needless to say, know where this conversation might take us and we'll see just where our differences lie, but first we need to hash out the exact wording of the question.

This is the way Jon introduces the discussion:
Finally, a few weeks back I had an exchange with long-time reader and Times of Israel blogger Mike Lumish (who blogs at his own site) about how we could model some of the meaningful debate that is so lacking whenever the BDSniks show up to spout their accusations and then fly the coop whenever their prejudices are challenged with things like truth and logic. 
One of the areas that tend to create controversy within the community of Israel’s supporters is the Left/Right divide with regard to attitudes towards the Jewish state as well as the broader Middle East conflict(s).  And rather than avoid or paper over that issue, Mike and I are going to hash it out over the next several weeks in periodic exchanges that will take place on each of our sites (both articles and comments).
My bet is that when it comes down to "brass tacks" - as they used to say - Jon and I are considerably more in agreement than we are in disagreement, but we shall see.

What I want to do first is decide upon a proper framing of the question.

One possibility is this:
Has the western left, in its general approach to the Arab-Israel conflict in comparison to other conflicts around the world, remained true to its fundamental values of ‘social justice’ and ‘universal human rights’?
I obviously think that it has not.

In any case, this is a potential starting point.

Check here and there for developments in the coming days and weeks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Is The Odd Lady With The Lisp Alone In The House Late At Night A Bunny Boiler? Or Is That Just Peter Slezak On The Run.


Australian anti-Israel public intellectual in session

The other night a back bench member of the opposition ALP used an opportunity to speak in the House afforded by the privilege to receive public petitions to deliver a speech declaring that the "official" BDS is not antisemitic and that its supporters are not urging the destruction of Israel. 

Both are old and mutually reinforcing lies of course and as usual that was just the start. The speech is a wonder of the use of language in politics by a straitjacketed or extremist mind. Orwell would have been impressed.  A speech like that is worth noting.

It is striking how little is new. The speech could be an elaborate public clockwork tower in a quaint part of Europe that escaped the extinction of such things.  It could even be charming the way it can work without any apparent human mind involved. Is there a little man in there?

Just about everyone and everything gets a mention. I think I even spottedthe pelican in the background but I could be mistaken. 

Except for this, that is new.  The "official" BDS.  Did you spot that? This MP makes quite a fuss over this but when did that come in?  I've followed this fairly closely as you do with a global movement as vile and cowardly as BDS and this has to be the first mention of the "official" BDS. This could be important. Does this mean there might now be BDS "provos"? 

Peter Slezak gets a  prominent mention that befits his status as the public intellectual whose most notable outing may  turn out to being spotted running like a wounded feral rabbit from former state and federal minister and Labor left intellectual, Peter Baldwin, in a fair and free forum organised by a casual intellectual society of which they are both a part. 

I did not cross-post the piece that included the letter  Baldwin wrote  to Slezak because of it's length and to escape having to explain the choice of an old photo of a man I have long admired. I won't do it now for the same reasons but I invite you to link and scan this letter.

To this eye it is a work of genius and it would be sacrilegious to edit it. To this eye it is a gem of precious and uncertain value found at random in a desert.  A thing of myth. A brilliant black opal perhaps. In the Blue Mountains no less. This could be a strike. Perhaps there is a rich vein there somewhere in the rocks, caves and cliffs that could bear some more mining.  

This stone needs an expert eye and the right equipment to cut it. Shirlee, Mike, Jay and all are invite to try. I could not bring myself to put up anything less than every word and tube. 

What makes it so precious and rare is not just that it is the most rigorous and comprehensive analysis of the last Gaza unpleasantness by a public intellectual out there but also it was delivered fresh, full and timely like an high street internet bouquet to one of the most prominent and outspoken critics of Israel on the Sydney scene.

From Slezak, not a word in reply. Why? What an enormous opportunity to say what he is about. It would be a certain link because many must be dying to see what Slezak is going to do about this work of art Baldwin has painted on the ceiling of Slezak's chapel. Paint over it?

The public petition was delivered to the MP with the lisp and the funny turn of phrase at night in a lonely house by  a man who has much in common with Slezak except apparently is much fitter. Another academic from an unrelated field with no particular qualification other than a university man on a mission; a sort of  Indiana Jones with a whip and a bris, one in a line, a member of a bizarre tribe that will never say exactly what they are about and will embrace enormous contortions of thought and language to avoid it.

Something else unilateral no doubt, is what they want.  A surrender of all the land without a peace deal in a framework in rock that was to supposed to be land for peace. Is this the scholarly proposal for which they parade?.What kind of Israel is to be left?  They will not say. It is hopeless asking. Just ask Baldwin. When confronted with a real expert and all else has failed to avoid this horrible accident they just turn tail and skedaddle.

The MP with the bad speech in the lonely house late at night cited a Slezak  post at New Matilda that your blog had much to say in the comment thread. Fitting as well that New Matilda is the news site that has given the MP with the impediment and the cause her best run. 

The article is unremarkable except for the virulence of the antisemitism in the long comment thread from the droves of friends celebrating the MP in the night for her courage. As if she was a Kurdish fighter in the struggle with ISIS  for Obane. 

This is always remarkable and deserves its own post. A defence of BDS as non-antisemitic, that immediately splashes a pool of antisemitism so sloppy and salty it requires a proper recording. 

Your blog inhabited the thread and took some of the shit from the cowardly and deluded. A few of the comments in reply follow. Some more posts coming.

Posted Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 22:43
geoffff  you sholud have a long hard read and watch to see why even Israelis are sick to the stomach of what they are doing to Plaestinians. INCLUDING ISRAELS OWN PRESIDENT!!!!
I know this has to be beyond you but I will take it in tiny steps so we can see at what point you fall off.
Israel is a liberal democracy where all sorts of people say all sorts of things. The reason for this is simple. It is because they are allowed.
As such, there is enormous scrutiny, comment,  skepticism and introspection of all aspects of the society, policy, history and future at all levels including in the universities, media, political groups, courts and informed public comment. Retired politicians, defence chiefs, superannuated intelligence czars and writers of anti war books and art are the least of it. Freedom is everywhere. 
Israel is no different from any other liberal democracy in this regard. It is called freedom and Israel's Arabs are the only Arabs in the whole region that have this. As such, they too can say pretty much what they like and do and some of it is way out west of Pluto. .
Most people regard this as a good thing in a country. No one would say that because Australia has former PM's and FM's who are fatuous and deluded and frequently prove it in public on TV, radio and in newspaper columns, is a bad thing.
Yet when it comes to Israel, and only Israel, you conclude that freedom  is a bad thing about Israel as a society. Or at least you cherry pick the results of a free and vigorous democracy so that you can conclude that there is something bad about Israel. You are hardly alone in this practice. I think this is sinister. 
Probably that is as far as I can go with you. You will see for yourselves how ingrained  anti-Israelism is by the hysterical reaction these simple truths about the world will attract in the right here and now.
We will not hear a single thought that has not been spewed before a thousand times over.. This is ideology we will see and the anti-Israel ideologues have only religion to guide them. For them there is only one narrative. The Arab Muslims are the victims and the Jews are their tormenters. Israel is evil. Something satanic. The left is a religion that demands a living satan on earth as much as Islamist imperialism must have theirs.
So the western left and the Islamist head choppers of Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS agree on who that satan on earth must be. The one responsible for all their woes.    .
One last thing. 
Please do not lecture me on what I need to read. I have lived and followed all of this intensively on quite a scale for nearly fifty years and there is not much I haven't read or seen.
With all due respect.
Posted Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 23:05
Posted Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 16:38

I wonder if Ms Parke is aware that she has "friends" like Holocaust denier, Kevin Charles H...?
Indeed but that is the least of it. Kevin Charles H is by no means the only Holocaust denier here and not even the worst antisemite. There are also the usual 9/11 truuffers, conspiracy mongers, moon landing deniers and assorted cranks that constitute the modern left.  All have jumped to attention with right hand held high to declare as proud friends of Ms Parke.  
I doubt if she really minds. Friends are friends. This is her natural constituency. She could be at any left stacked branch meeting of the ALP at a scout hall anywhere in suburban Perth or further abroad.
In her speech she cites Richard Falk, one of the most notorious Holocaust deniers on the trail, as her authority on Israel and the Arabs. She has been not in the slightest embarrassed about this.
Put it down to inexperience. Rhiannon and the other Stalinists will soon put her right. Keep the Holocaust denial in its place. In the branch meetings, universities and left caucus is OK but its bad politics to go too public too soon. 

Posted Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 23:31


I prefer to trust the credibility of historians like Michael Palumbo and even Israeli historians (Pappe, Shlaim, Segev, Morris, Sternal) above your well known and well quoted sources.

When did you last read The Gun & the Olive Branch? David Hirst himself describes in detail covert Israeli operations to scare Iraqi and Egyptian Jews into fleeing their homes for the "sanctuary" of Israel.
In Iraq they did so by placing bombs in areas frequented by Iraqis who were Jewish, then starting whispering campaigns that scared people into emigrating. The plan worked brilliantly, but then again, Israeli intelligence/covert operatives, had experience with such things from massacres like Deir Yassin. Slaughter 250 people and terrorize hundreds of thousands into fleeing their homes lest they suffer the same brutal fate.
You see, what we have here is an example of something insane. It can not get worse from there. It is a mistake to engage with crackpottery like this. A person capable of saying this is capable of saying anything. 
There are many fine histories and accounts of the destruction of the ancient Jewish peoples and cultures of Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Lebanon and the rest. 
Here is just one site where you may read what happened from the people themselves. 

cross posted Israel Thrives
                     Jews Downunder

Obama Administration Doubles Down on Counterproductive Racist Policy

Michael L.

Arutz Sheva Staff writes:
house The United States Monday blasted Israel for pledging to build 1,000 more Jewish homes in Jerusalem, saying any such move would be "incompatible" with peace efforts, according to AFP.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington was "deeply concerned" by the reports and American embassy officials were having high-level talks with Israeli leaders to seek more information.

"We continue to make our position absolutely clear that we view settlement activity as illegitimate and unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem," Psaki told reporters. 
So, essentially the Obama administration is telling the world that it is "illegitimate" (whatever that means, exactly) for Jews to build housing for themselves where Jews have lived for thousands of years and where we are the closest thing to an indigenous population in the entire region.

This is racism, pure and simple and it helps fuel the very Arab and Muslim antipathy toward Jews that has driven the conflict for millennia.

Is there any other people on the planet that the Obama administration feels that it has a right to tell them where they may, or may not, be allowed to live?  I do not think so.

Of course, I have been beating this drum for a very long time now and it is clear that the administration absolutely refuses to learn from previous mistakes and thus makes those same mistakes over and over and over again.  In this way the administration's insistence that Jews building housing for themselves in Judea is an obstacle to a negotiated conclusion of hostilities makes of it an obstacle to a negotiated conclusion of hostilities.

By demanding that Jews be allowed to live and therefore build over here, but not over there, it gives Abbas all that he needs to justify his never-ending intransigence.

At this point in the game, however, does anyone honestly believe that there is any life left in the Oslo process?

I do not think so and therefore believe that Israel needs to develop alternative and practical visions for the future and to act on those visions.  Since the Obama administration is blundering around the Middle East searching for a truffle, and since Mahmoud Abbas is a two-bit dictator, terrorist, and Holocaust denier who never had any intention of making peace to begin with, Israel must act in a unilateral fashion in which the only concern should be security and well-being of the citizens of the country.

Israel basically has two broad options.  It can maintain the status quo which, by the way, can actually go on and on and on well into the future.  The status quo can be maintained indefinitely because it has already outlasted pretty much everything else around it.  It has outlasted US president after US president.  It has outlasted Israeli Prime Minister after Israel Prime Minister. It has survived wars and intifadas and literally millions of hours of people arguing with one another how unsustainable the status quo is.

And, yet, there it is.

Of course, this is not my preferred option.  As I have consistently argued, Israel needs to declare its final borders and remove the IDF to behind those borders.  What those borders should be I leave entirely to the Israelis.  If they want to annex the entirety of Judea and Samaria along lines proposed by people such are Caroline Glick and Martin Sherman of the Jerusalem Post, that is dandy with me.  If, on the other hand, they wish to annex Area C or even unilaterally pull back to something that resembles the 1967 borders, that is fine with me as well.  My main concern, naturally, is Israeli security and if such a move was consistent with that security than I would have no cause for complaint.

Chickensh*t 101


So who's the likeliest chckensh*t?

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Slow Incursion of anti-Israel Stupidity into Popular Culture... or Revisiting Anthony Bourdain in Jerusalem

Michael L.

{Originally published at the Elder of Ziyon and cross-posted at Jews Down Under.}

Kitchen ConfidentialI used to cook in some pretty good restaurants back east when I was a tad younger.

For awhile I wore a toque and reduced veal stock into glace de viande and did things like eviscerate soft-shelled crabs for evening service.

In my estimation, as a former professional cook, Anthony Bourdain is tops in the hierarchy of celebrity chefs.

This is true not because of his considerable cooking ability, but because of his cultural intelligence, otherwise I would not bother with the guy.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly - the book that allowed him to shelf his chef knives - is a memoir of a smart New York American cook who became a kick-ass sous chef and who sat up nights writing about the organized mayhem and hostile bullshit that is a busy restaurant in the city on a Saturday night.

{Speaking strictly for myself, I will never forget working a deep-fat fryer while two cooks in their twenties - as was I at the time - had a fist fight in the kitchen.  I just started hollering, "Stay the %&*# away from me!  Do not come anywhere close to here!!" as they slugged it out barely six feet from where I stood above gallons of glistening hot oil, before I simply scooted on out of there.}

Bourdain is a culinary Hunter S. Thompson and in his 2013 season two premier episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown his producers and financiers dragged him kicking-and-screaming into Jerusalem.

He began his rather uncomfortable travels around Israel by telling us this:
By the end of this hour I will be seen by many as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an orientalist, socialist, fascist, CIA agent, and worse.
So here goes nothing.
The man is no dope.

Despite The Jerusalem Episode I remain a fan and the thing of it, of course, is that he is absolutely correct.  I wondered for years why it was that he did not go to Israel, and I sometimes indulged my darkest suspicions, but now he tells us.  He notes in his very first breath that there is no way to discuss the place without angering people and the very last thing that someone like Bourdain - or Alton Brown or Bobby Flay or, say, Paula Deen, or any person whose job title is celebrity chef - wants to do is piss-off large parts of the viewing population and thus diminish their own value in the market.

The much maligned Paula Deen, in particular, might have something to say about this matter.

We should also remember that Bourdain and his people were in Beirut in 2006 when they found themselves in a rather unpleasant situation stuck between Hezbollah and the IDF.  We basically have Bourdain on camera from the time looking out over the city from his hotel balcony watching rocket fire and saying something along the lines of, "Well, now what the hell are we going to do?"

In any case, the reviews of the Jerusalem episode were mixed.  Writing in the Jewish Journal in September, 2013, Rob Eshman tells us this:
If you like food and you like Israel, this past week's episode of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown was a win-win. 
And I say that despite the criticism Bourdain has received from the people who profess to love Israel. To them, he presented a biased, pro-Palestinian screed disguised as a food show.
From my perspective it is not hard to see why people who care about Israel would put forth significant criticisms of the episode, although I cannot help but notice the tone of sarcasm in Eshman's emphasized use of the word "love" in regards Israel.

Bourdain's mother was Jewish and, thus, Bourdain acknowledges his own Jewishness.  However he says, "I've never been in a synagogue.  I don't believe in a higher power, but that does not make me any less Jewish."  I agree for the obvious reason that "Jewish" refers to both a people and a religion, just as the word "Israel" refers to both a people and a country.

Bourdain, however, seems uncomfortable in Jewish shoes.  I find my Jewish shoes to be exceedingly comfy-cozy - although one needs to learn how to run fast in them - but Tony does not.

While at the Western Wall he donned a kippa, allowed an orthodox Jew to apply tefillin, and seemed entirely antsy all the way through... although not nearly so uncomfortable as when he was offered a crown of thorns for his noggin in the Christian quarter!

That he simply could not do, and I certainly do not blame him for it.  I would not put them on either!

What got Bourdain in trouble with some in the Jewish community, naturally, was politics and it is not as if the very first words out of his mouth did not suggest that he knew precisely what was coming.

If he had stuck to simply discussing the mysteries of falafel and shakshouka everything would have been just dandy and he would have flown out of Ben Gurion with nothing but well wishes and a newly found appreciation for sabih.

Unfortunately, there was no way to do that because that is not what the show is about.  It is never just about the food for Bourdain.  It is always also about culture, more generally, and thus about politics and that is a big part of the reason that I watch his stuff.  The man is intelligent, witty, charming, engaging - and an exceedingly curious and critical former degenerate - but he is emphatically not well-educated on the Arab-Israel conflict any more than I am well-educated on any number of conflicts happening around the world.

He claims:
Since 1967 half a million settlers have moved here all in contravention of international law.
Ultimately Bourdain means well, but he is simply not knowledgeable enough about the subject to think on it outside of the so-called "Palestinian narrative" which is, today, the mainstream media narrative in the west.  This is why he eyes his Jewish host in the "West Bank" with something resembling suspicion and questions him about Jewish anti-Arab graffiti.

He is, essentially, in this segment, playing "catch the Jew."

The truth, of course, is that Tony Bourdain should probably not opinionate about international law in public.  I have far more credence to speak to his cooking ability than does he does to discuss international law... as my former semi-famous ex-attorney-in-law would presumably agree.

It just makes him look arrogant... and I say this as someone who likes the guy.

CAMERA, needless to say, was having none of it.  In a piece entitled, Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown - Jerusalem" Serves up Palestinian PropagandaSteven Stotsky writes:
Asserting he is part-Jewish, Bourdian made sure to distance himself from his Jewish background and deny any attachment to Israel. He described himself as an "enemy" of religious devotion and claims to have never been in a synagogue. While Bourdain?s narrative initially avoided taking sides, his host in Jerusalem, Israeli-born expatriate, Yotam Ottolenghi, was less careful. Ottolenghi's recounting of Jerusalem?s status, "Basically, this city was divided into two until 1967 when there was the famous Six-Day War," misrepresents the city?s history. In fact, Jerusalem was only briefly divided after the Jordanians occupied the eastern neighborhoods in 1948, expelled the Jewish residents and expropriated their property. For most of the city's long history there was no division.

jerusalemLaurie and I bought Ottolenghi's book not long after our last visit to Israel.

{The basmati and wild rice with chickpeas, currants and herbs is outstanding, but if you attempt the fava bean kuku make sure to use fresh, rather than canned, favas.  It makes all the difference.  In fact, on reflection, canned favas are simply heinous and should always be avoided under any circumstances other than starvation... if then.}

What we did not know, however, upon making that purchase - of the book, not the favas - is that Ottolenghi, of Jewish-Italian descent, lost his younger brother, Yiftach, to friendly fire as a soldier in the IDF.

This may, perhaps, have something to do with Ottolenghi's apparent biases.  Or, perhaps, he did not receive a very good education concerning the history of Israel, but when he said that Jerusalem, the City of David, was divided until 1967, without any historical context whatsoever, I got angry many months later and half a world away.

The problem here, of course, is not chef Ottolenghi, nor chef Bourdain.

The problem might be us... which is, I suppose, a typically Jewish response.

Because we have been so outnumbered for so long disdain toward Jews, yet again, has incorporated itself into western culture to such an extent that even American liberal semi-Jews, like Bourdain, think that Jewish people moving into Judea is some sort-of awful crime against "the native Palestinian population."

Even American Jewish liberals think this.

In other words, what the Obama administration and the European Union and the United Nations and the larger western left is telling Jewish people, including people like Bourdain, is that we can live wherever we want with the exception of our traditional homeland because this is seen as an intrusion on "indigenous" rights.

Despite the fact that there are no more indigenous people to Judea than the Jews, John Kerry and Barack Obama want to tell us that we have no right to live on the land of our ancestors without the permission of the PLO.

What could possibly more discriminatory and "racist" and anti-liberal and just plain horrendous than that?

Within living memory of the Holocaust some schmuck living on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. thinks that he has the right to tell me where I can live?

I am sorry, but it is unacceptable and we need to stand up for ourselves and the children and grandchildren of the Jewish people.

If we do not, one thing is certain, no one else will.

And however much I appreciate Bourdain as a television personality - however much he makes me want to visit every taco truck in Oakland - I cannot allow this nonsense to go without comment.

{And, therefore, for whatever it may be worth, I have not.}

See you next week.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

sophie44 Has Some Words

In the comments under an Elder of Ziyon piece concerning anti-Semitic anti-Zionist Gideon Levy of Ha'aretz, who in the wake of the recent terrorist murder of a baby girl in Jerusalem took the opportunity to tell his readers how "tolerant" the local Arabs are.

sophie44 writes:
Israelis take care of Palestinians in their hospitals - Palestinians use theirs for rocket storage and other terror activities. 
Israel has a large Arab population - Palestinians don't want a single Jew on their land while accusing Israeli Jews of being racists. 
Israelis would choose a two state solution if Palestinians would show themselves to be ready for peace - Palestinians would want a one state solution with not a single Jew in sight. Not Israelis, Jews. 
When an Israeli Jew kills an Arab, the Israelis condemn this murder - when a Palestinian Muslim kills a Jew, Palestinians go out on the streets to celebrate. Preferably shouting that Allah is the greatest. 
Israel bans extremist groups - Palestinians establish them praise them, and then vote for them. When it doesn't turn out so well for themselves, Palestinians do not ask themselves how it happened, instead they wonder why it has targeted them and not the Jews. 
Israel's Christian population has shown an increase - the number of Palestinian continues to drop because of the forced conversions and harassment by Palestinian Muslims. 
Corrupt people go to jail in Israel - Corrupt Palestinians are openly bragging about the money they stole and will continue to steal, while complaining that nobody really cares about them. 
And so the list goes on and on. Palestinians are in fact a very tolerant nation. Tolerant towards murder, theft, incitement, religious extremism, misogyny and Jew-hatred and much much more.
I could not say it better.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Death of the Metropolitan Opera

Michael L.

KlinghofferSomewhere in the bowels of Lincoln Center, in New York City, is a heinously scarred Jewish hunchback, eating a hot pastrami sandwich while pawing a greasy, dog-eared copy of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and plotting revenge upon Peter Gelb.

Or, so one hopes, anyways.

Gelb is the general manager of the Met and, thus, the man ultimately responsible for spreading genocidal anti-Jewish hatred to the general public in the guise of high art.  I imagine that they did not actually put that in his job description, but there it is.

The Death of Klinghoffer is high art.

I wonder if the editors at Time Magazine would consider an opera sympathetic to the Ku Klux Klan, depicting the lynching of a black man in the nineteenth-century American south to be appropriate?  Can you imagine a black man dangling by his neck from a tree in an opera about 1870s Alabama in which white blondey-folk in their Sunday best sing beneath the tree in a manner designed to be sympathetic to the audience?

And staged in New York City, no less?

No?  Because that is basically what we have here.

Klinghoffer, by the way, did not simply die.  He was murdered by Arab racists for no other reason than that he happened to be Jewish.

This opera, from what I have read elsewhere, is a consideration of the virtues of murderous racism and an invitation to wonder just why the assassination of random, crippled old Jews on the high seas is not necessarily an unreasonable act.

I have not, it should be noted, seen the opera and therefore am relying on others who I respect such as former New Republic editor, Marty Peretz and CUNY professor of humanities, Phyllis Chesler. Harvard University Professor of Law, Alan Dershowitz, who I also hold considerable respect for, was at the opening on Monday night.

Dershowitz apparently had a run-in with the Lincoln Center cops.  In a piece for the Gatestone Institute entitled, Metropolitan Opera Stifles Free Exchange of Ideas about a Propaganda Opera, he writes:
On Monday night I went to the Metropolitan Opera. I went for two reasons: to see and hear John Adams' controversial opera, The Death of Klinghoffer; and to see and hear what those protesting the Met's judgment in presenting the opera had to say. Peter Gelb, the head of the Met Opera, had advised people to see it for themselves and then decide...

Lincoln Center made that difficult. After I bought my ticket, I decided to stand in the Plaza of Lincoln Center, across the street and in front of the protestors, so I could hear what they were saying and read what was on their signs. But Lincoln Center security refused to allow me to stand anywhere in the large plaza. They pushed me to the side and to the back, where I could barely make out the content of the protests. "Either go into the opera if you have a ticket or leave. No standing." When I asked why I couldn't remain in the large, open area between the protestors across the street and the opera house behind me, all I got were terse replies: "security," "Lincoln Center orders."

The end result was that the protestors were talking to and facing an empty plaza. It would be as if the Metropolitan Opera had agreed to produce The Death of Klinghoffer, but refused to allow anyone to sit in the orchestra, the boxes or the grand tier. "Family circle, upstairs, side views only."
Leaving aside the question of whether The Death of Klinghoffer is a love song to the Jewish people... or perhaps something else entirely, what Dershowitz is claiming is that while fans of The Death of Klinghoffer constantly rant about freedom of speech, the protesters against this dehumanization of the Jews were made almost entirely non-present.

The irony could hardly be more rich, given the fact that those of us who are deeply suspicious of this "opera" are simply expressing our own freedom of speech to oppose the spread of anti-Jewish racism in the form of alleged "high culture."

Dershowitz, who is a fan of opera - (I prefer baseball, Go Giants!) - did not like the show, but since he is a Jewish supporter of the Jewish people this is hardly surprising.

He writes:
Then there were the choruses. The two that open the opera are supposed to demonstrate the comparative suffering of the displaced Palestinians and the displaced Jews. The Palestinian chorus is beautifully composed musically, with some compelling words, sung rhythmically and sympathetically. The Jewish chorus is a mishmash of whining about money, sex, betrayal and assorted "Hasidism" protesting in front of movie theaters. It never mentions the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, though the chorus is supposed to be sung by its survivors. The goal of that narrative chorus is to compare the displacement of 700,000 Palestinians—some of which was caused by Arab leaders urging them to leave and return victoriously after the Arabs murdered the Jews of Israel—with the systematic genocide of six million Jews. It was a moral abomination.
A moral abomination.

If my favorite pro-Israel attorney is correct, what this means is that Mr. Gelb has produced a "moral abomination" that is hostile toward Jewish people because it places al-Nakba on moral par with the Holocaust.

Not everyone agrees with Alan, as I am sure that he will not be shocked to discover.  Writing in the New York Post, Gelb, himself, the son of the former managing editor of the New York Times, tells us:
On Monday night, while protesters demonstrated outside and a few voices inside attempted to disrupt the performance by shouting over the music (before being escorted out), conductor David Robertson coolly led the orchestra, chorus, dancers and singers through the two-act opera.

For those who came to listen and watch, it was a deeply moving experience that left no doubt which side the opera was on: the side of humanity.
The side of humanity.

I wonder what part of shooting a wheelchair-bound old man is the humanity part?

I should probably keep this piece brief because, again, I have not actually seen this thing.

This is what Peretz says:
Well, I am not buying tickets to the The Death of Klinghoffer for the next season. In 2003 I saw the Brooklyn Academy of Music production of the terrorist saga, which was so appallingly amoral that I forced myself through to the end as a sort of ethical discipline. Worse than amoral, it was tedious. Perhaps musical beauty cannot be made out of a tale of the cold-blooded killing of a crippled Jew. 
In The Death of Klinghoffer, this crippled Jew, this virtually helpless victim, somehow becomes a symbol of Jewish power. This opera by the composer John Adams and the librettist Alice Goodman does not recoil in horror from the crime it depicts. In this account of the terrorist incident on the Achille Lauro in 1985 the killers have apocalyptic poetry on their side and the victims have bourgeois worries on theirs. 
Perhaps I just do not have that kind of ethical discipline, because I will not watch this production in any form or under any circumstances short of a pistol to my head.  If Phyllis Chesler, Alan Dershowitz, and Marty Peretz tell me that the work is heinous and bigoted nonsense, I will tip my kippa to their judgment in this case.

And to those wealthy Jews who are helping to finance the Met... go to hell.

I know that more open-minded people than myself, such as, say, David Harris-Gershon, would probably love the damn thing.

But, speaking strictly for myself, there is no way that I am going to applaud a piece of media that begs us to wonder if killing Jews, merely because they are Jews, is perhaps not spiritually uplifting or, at least, given the politics, perfectly understandable.

This is what Chesler says:
Indeed, the obsession with Jews and money is reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. The terrorist Rambo sings: “But wherever poor men / Are gathered they can / Find Jews getting fat . . . America / Is one big Jew.” 
The terrorists tell us they are “men of ideals,” and that “this is an action for liberation.” Hah. In reality, they didn’t allow Marilyn Klinghoffer, who was exhausted and in pain from colon cancer, lie down. 
They forced the passengers to stand under the broiling Mediterranean sun for days and to hold live grenades. 
Leon Klinghoffer had suffered several strokes. He lacked full use of his hands, his legs were paralyzed, his speech slurred — and this is whom Molqui murders and throws overboard with his wheelchair.
I have to say, I suspect that at the end of the day Peter Gelb may not be going to a very cool place.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Deeply Dishonest White House Denies that Kerry Said What Kerry Said

Michael L.

Various sources are reporting that the White House is claiming that US Secretary of State John Kerry did not say what US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

In the Times of Israel we read:
The US State Department denied claims Friday that US Secretary of State John Kerry made statements on Thursday suggesting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was fueling the spread of Islamic terror in the Middle East.
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters:
“What [Kerry] said was that during his travels to build a coalition against the Islamic State, he was told that should the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be resolved, the Middle East would be a better place,” Harf said.
In other words what Ms. Harf is telling us is that we should have full faith that what we read and see is false, but what the administration tells us - all evidence directly to the contrary - is the truth.

This reminds me just a tad of how when the Obama administration was supporting the rise of radical Islam through supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt some Obama sycophants told me with a straight face that Obama does not support radical Islam.

They said this as if, somehow, giving financial assistance and F-16 fighter jets with which to fight Israel to the parent organization of both Hamas and al-Qaeda does not represent support.

The imbecility of such a position boggles the mind.

In any case, what Kerry said was this:
“There wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt –- and I see a lot of heads nodding –- they had to respond to,” he told gathered diplomats. 
“People need to understand the connection of that. 
If people need to understand the connection, or linkage, between the long Arab war against the Jews in the Middle East and the rise of political Islam, it means that John Kerry believes in the long discredited linkage theory that the administration sought to promote at Jewish expense.

This is not merely that others in the Middle East might blame the Jews for the rise of the Islamic State, but that Kerry, himself, is promoting the idea.  Ultimately what this means, obviously, is that the US is prepared to blame Israel for pretty much everything unless it capitulates to Arab demands, whatever those demands might be.  This despite the fact that it is the Arab majority that has always rejected yet another Arab state in Judea and Samaria.

Thus the Obama administration blames the Jews for pretty much everything going wrong throughout Arab political culture.  Jews are blamed not only for Arab intransigence on a "Palestinian" state in the Jewish heartland, but are also blamed ultimately for Arab head-chopping by the Islamic State.

For Obama's Department of State to turn around and deny that Kerry claimed what we have him directly on record claiming is a deeply dishonest act from what is a truly insidious and dangerous administration for the well-being of Jewish people throughout the world.

The next time Kerry shows his face in Jerusalem his auto procession should be pelted with shoes by Jews and Arabs alike.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Kerry Blames Rise of Radical Islam on Middle East Jews

Michael L.

In a piece for Y-Net by Moran Azulay and Attila Somfalvi we read:
bennetEconomy Minister Naftali Bennett slammed US Secretary of State John Kerry for connecting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the proliferation of the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria.

"It turns out that even when a British Muslim beheads a British Christian there will always be someone willing to blame the Jew," Bennett wrote in a Facebook status, referencing the videotaped executions published by the terror group. 
Kerry reportedly said that that the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians was "imperative" because the conflict is "a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation." 
Bennett said Kerry's comment aids the group: "Terror should not be justified, terror should be fought."
So Kerry is essentially blaming the Jews of the Middle East for the rise of Islamic terrorism.

The shear stupidity of this administration when it comes to foreign policy never fails to amaze.

There are something like 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and a certain significant percentage of them want not only to live under al-Sharia, but they want YOU to live under it, as well.  Even if the percentage of Muslims who favor the rise of political Islam was only ten percent - ever since the misnamed "Arab Spring" that Barack Obama so enthusiastically supported - that would still be one hundred and fifty million people.

One hundred and fifty million people, yet John Kerry and the Obama administration would have you believe that their theology and behavior is the fault of 6 million Jews.

John Kerry needs to get out of the Middle East and to stay out.

The Obama administration clearly has no idea what it is doing viz-a-viz foreign policy and is causing far more damage than it is relieving.  This should have been obvious to everyone once the administration started making soft cooing noises toward the Muslim Brotherhood.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Israel and Apartheid

Michael L.

Anyone who calls Israel an "apartheid state" is spreading hatred.

It is a lie and it needs to be confronted wherever that lie stands.

A Big Tip 'O the Kippa to Ian over at the Elder's joint.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Comparisons of Israel-related shibboleths and other shibboleths

Sar Shalom

Earlier this month, Jonathan Chait posted at New York magazine's Daily Intelligencer a response to the popular notion among environmental crowds that conservative aversion to accepting the reality of anthropogenic global warming is due to descriptions of AGW in liberal terminology and that conservative terminology would help them realize what is actually at stake. Ultimately, Chait's conclusion that conservative's real impediment to following the science of climate-change is that they get their news about the issues from their party elites, and that Republican Party elites almost unanimously declare that climate change is a hoax.

Such is a factor in liberal opinion about the Arab-Israeli conflict. In elite intellectual circles in the West, the mark of Seriousness in relating to Middle East affairs is to declare that Israel's denial of the Palestinians of their legitimate rights to self-determination is the core issue behind all conflicts in the Middle East. To be considered Serious in Israel-Palestinian negotiations, one has to accept that because the international community has accepted Jordan's conquest of 1949, Israel has to accept that Jewish rights end at Jordan's 1949-line of conquest. Aggravating this, western reporters look for truthy rather than true depictions of the conflict, meaning that facts showing Israel doing to the Palestinians what the narrative says it does are highlighted or embellished while facts contradicting the narrative are suppressed. In the meantime, just as the Right uses derisive language to describe anyone who promotes the scientific understanding of human effects on climate, the Very Serious People on the Middle East dismiss anyone who tries to call attention to facts contradicting the narrative, such as the large number of terrorists matched to names identified as "civilians" by the Gaza Ministry of Truth Health Ministry as a propagandist for Israel. An example of the phenomenon on a separate subject is when I challenged on the notion that international law requires that all of Jordan's 1949-conquest go to the Palestinians on the grounds of Article 80 of the UN Charter, his response was that the only people who believe that interpretation of Article 80 are professional water-carriers for Israel (never mind that Article 80 was inserted into the Charter for precisely that purpose).

San Francisco State University and the Strange Case of Doctor Rabab Abdulhadi

Michael L.

{Originally posted at the Elder of Ziyon and cross-posted at Jews Down Under.}

Rabab AbdulhadiSan Francisco State University is probably not the most Israel-friendly university in the United States.

In truth, I feel quite confident in suggesting that the opposite is true.  Among SFSU faculty most hostile to Israel, however, is professor Rabab Abdulhadi of the ethnic studies department.

Back in the 1960s, the University of California in Berkeley had the reputation for being the most radical school on the west coast of the United States.  SFSU, however, was always more hard-core.  That is part of what I liked about the place when I was there in the late 90s.

A Warning to Parents:

The truth of the matter, unfortunately, is that any Jewish family would be well advised to keep their kids away from San Francisco State; that is unless they wish to expose them to malice, and potential violence, grounded in anti-Semitic anti-Zionism of the type promoted on campus by professor Abdulhadi.

Unless Jewish parents want their kids to be physically confronted over Israel, as were Jewish students when I was there, I very much recommend sending them to universities elsewhere... either that or make sure that they know how to fight.  Get them enrolled in Krav Maga classes, perhaps.  And make damn sure that they know something about the history of the Jews in the Middle East, and just why a Jewish State is necessary, before trundling them off to campus as idealistic freshmen.

This is the only reasonable conclusion that I can come to given the fact that SFSU funds student organizations, such as Abdulhadi's General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), that calls for violence against us.  The reason that SFSU funds violent hatred toward Jews - which it clearly does when it funds GUPS - is because they believe that Israel may, in fact, be as awful as Abdulhadi claims that it is.

And lest anyone doubt that GUPS does, in fact, call for violence against Jews, this is the image currently at the very top of their Facebook page.


Although the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre was a massacre of Arab Muslims by Lebanese Christians, anti-Semitic anti-Zionists at SFSU always blame the Jews.

The image obviously shows a masked man with a rifle being greeted as something of a hero by a poor Arab woman somewhere either in Gaza or in the disputed territories.  The message is clear.  GUPS favors organizations devoted to driving out Jewish sovereignty on historically Jewish land.

From my perspective this would be something akin to funding a student Klan organization because maybe the white majority in the nineteenth-century American south had a point.  This is a criticism, by the way, coming from GUPS left, not its right.  Jewish national liberation is as much a progressive value, or should be, as is Tibetan national liberation or Kurdish national liberation.

SFSU Faculty:

While Professor Fred Astren, the head of the Department of Jewish Studies, is responsible for simply watching too much of this go on during his tenure - although it is unclear to me what he can do to stop it - the main culprit at SFSU is his colleague, professor Abdulhadi of the Department of Ethnic Studies / Race and Resistance Studies and the Senior Scholar of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative, at the College of Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University.

I kid you not.

fistAbdulhadi is a "post-colonial" Arab left-feminist academic from Yale who believes that Muslims in the Middle East have every right to murder Jews as a matter of "resistance" and, thus, as a matter of "social justice."

Administrators like Astren put up with this horrendous nonsense presumably due to an ethos of collegiality - or perhaps just due to desensitization over the years - but it is unclear to me why that should inhibit the rest of us from strenuously objecting.

In distinction, Abdulhadi is not the least bit interested in compromise.

There is, after all, no compromise with a bloody fist.

That image is a Palestinian-Arab flag and what it clearly represents, much like a Nazi swastika, is violence against Jews.  Ideologues can dress it up in the language of human rights all that they want, but we understand what it means.  It means hatred.  It is a bloody fist and until quite recently it held a prominent place on a web page associated with Abdulhadi, but she seems to have deleted it.  You cannot really blame the woman for removing that image - if she, in fact, did so - because she was also the faculty advisor to GUPS when the student president of that organization, Muhammad Hammad, made a "selfie" with a switch-blade calling for violence against the IDF.

She was also the faculty advisor to GUPS when they held aloft signs in front of SFSU's Malcolm X Plaza reading, "My heroes have always killed colonizers," by whom they meant Jewish people on historically Jewish land.  They may have meant that killing white people is joyous, also, but they certainly meant that killing Jews is so.

Subsequently, Tammi Benjamin's AMCHA Initiative, out of UC Santa Cruz, accused Abdulhadi of misuse of university funds during a recent trip to visit a number of terrorists in Gaza and the disputed territories, including the plane hijacker Leila Khaled, on the university's dime.  Abdulhadi sold this trip as a scholarly endeavor, but there is no question but that the lines between scholarship and political activism are exceedingly porous for this SFSU professor.  She is at least as much an activist as a scholar and, thus, the university essentially purchased the anti-Semitic anti-Zionism that Abdulhadi peddles.

San Francisco State backs Abdulhadi against Benjamin's charges of misuse of funding, having found those charges unwarranted.  What the university seems not to understand, however, is that for most of us the problem here is not one of faculty corruption - the problem is not that Abdulhadi is a crook - but of the spreading of hatred and violence toward Jews under guises of academic freedom and "universal human rights."

It is about the perversion of western liberal values in the service of totalitarian regimes and in opposition to the democratic State of Israel.

That is the point and that is the reason why so many of us object to the kind of malice that we saw last year on the SFSU campus.  You cannot pay student organizations to spit hatred at Jews and then contemptuously dismiss Jewish people who stand up for themselves.

Or I suppose that you can and certainly SFSU Dean of Ethnic Studies, Kenneth P. Monteiro did in an effort to deflect from the bigger picture.  In a rather ugly public letter concerning the AMCHA Initiative's interest in Abdulhadi, Monteiro writes:
The AMCHA Initiative has over many years expressed its support for the policies of the state of Israel and their disagreement with those who do not support those policies. Indeed, I firmly support their right to express their views.
This is false.  AMCHA is not about supporting Israeli policies.  AMCHA is about keeping an eye on the rise of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism in the academe and making people aware of its corrosive, if not violent, tendencies.  (Gil Troy, by the way, has some some words on the matter over at the Jerusalem Post.)

Monteiro writes:
AMCHA has publicly singled out one of our faculty, Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, for uniquely malicious bullying. Therefore I am compelled to repudiate their claims publicly. Make no mistake, Professor Abdulhadi has been and remains a valued colleague, scholar and teacher. She is a locally, nationally and internationally recognized and respected scholar/activist, who is the recipient of awards for the quality of her work. The claims made by AMCHA against her were investigated, as are all claims no matter the source, and those claims have been found false. 
So, am I to understand that Monteiro disagrees that Abdulhadi was the advisor to GUPS when both its president and its regular student members called publicly for murder?  Because I am pretty sure that this is easily verifiable.

Is he claiming that Abdulhadi did not publish a bloody fist, indicating violence against Jews, on a website associated with her name?

Is he claiming that Abdulhadi did not recently visit with terrorists, including a plane hijacker that is considered a hero to many of Abdulhadi's students?

Is he claiming that Abdulhadi does not support BDS?

Is he claiming that she does not, in fact, spread malice toward Jews through spreading malice toward the Jewish State?

Is all of that false, professor Monteiro?

The Bigger Picture:

I feel reasonably certain that those of us who care about Jewish well-being have not made the mistake to think that SFSU would repudiate Abdulhadi.  We do not, you can be sure, expect San Francisco State University to in any way protect its Jewish students from the kinds of scenes of hatred that I was witness to when I was a student there.  We understand very well Abdulhadi's ideology and how it relates to the university and we also understand that it is not a matter of this one particular hate-filled academic.

It is, rather, about the rise of the BDS movement and its corrosive influence not only on Arab-Israel discourse, or Muslim-Jewish relations, but on the well-being of Israeli society and the Jewish people, as a whole.  Ultimately those who favor the international campaign to single out the Jews in the Middle East for boycott, divestment, and sanction, as Abdulhadi does, are championing a racist movement in direct contradiction to their own alleged values.

Abdulhadi, in a recent "End the Occupation" panel discussion even went so far as to suggest that the Gazan terror tunnels represented a humanitarian effort by Hamas on behalf of their people.  She referred to those tunnels into Israel as a "lifeline" for the Gazans.  The fact of the matter is, and she knows this, those tunnels were decked out with weaponry and supplies for the purposes of kidnapping and murder, yet Abdulhadi would have people believe that their purposes were bunny-like and benign.

They were not.

It was this bit of public stupidity which, in fact, inclined me to write this piece.

Abdulhadi believes that those terror tunnels were essentially good things.  She might find it regrettable that they are necessary, but in her unfortunate world-view, necessary they are.

I think that she should tell it to Dana Bar-on who used to live in kibbutz Nir Am in-between S'derot and the Gaza Strip before Abdulhadi's friends came to drag her and her family away.

She was there the night that Hamas fighters leaped out of the ground with rifles, yards from her home and she discusses it toward the end of the video below.  The IDF dispatched the Islamist thugs in short order, but if they had not been there who knows what would have happened to those people?

Here is what Dana has to say and I promise you that you cannot understand what is happening in that part of Israel without listening to her all the way through:

The bottom line is that San Francisco State University, much like other schools - throughout Europe - has made a vehicle of itself for a noxious political movement whose ultimate goal is the dissolution of Israel as the national home for the Jewish people.  If people like Abdulhadi were to get their way the Jews of the Middle East would, yet again, find themselves an abused minority living as dhimmis under Sharia law just as Jews did for thirteen long centuries.

That was when we were forced to ride donkeys, if we were to ride, and were not allowed to repair synagogues.

But I have a message for professor Abdulhadi.

It is this:
The Day of the Dhimmi is Done. 
And for that, at least, we can be very grateful.

Please, by the way, support the AMCHA Initiative.  Tammi Benjamin is fighting a lonely fight against hard odds and just as Yale, Abdulhadi's alma mater, killed professor Charles Small's Interdisciplinary Initiative for the Study of anti-Semitism (YIISA), so many in the University of California and California State University systems would love to shut Tammi up.