Friday, 30 April 2010

Israel Matzav: Sabbath music video

Sabbath music video

Saturday night is Lag BaOmer, and in honor of the occasion, here's Mordechai Ben David singing Omar Rabbi Akiva (Rabbi Akiva said). Why Rabbi Akiva? Go here to find out.

Let's go to the videotape.

Have a wonderful Shabbos everyone.

Israel Matzav: Sabbath music video

Israel Matzav: State department fires back

State department fires back

On Wednesday, I reported that the Netanyahu government had decided not to dismantle 23 'outposts' built after March 2001 that the Sharon government had committed to demolish. The reason for the government's decision was that the commitment to demolish the 'outposts' was given in exchange for a commitment from President Bush to recognize 'changing realities' along the 'green line' and that the major 'settlement blocs' would remain part of Israel in any agreement with the 'Palestinians.' The Obama administration having disavowed that commitment, goes the argument, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Except that the US State department doesn't quite get it.

“The Israeli government has pledged to take specific actions,” US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. “They have responsibilities and we would expect them to fulfill those responsibilities.”

The American government also pledged to take specific actions, which we expect them to fulfill and which they are now disavowing. Why should we keep our word if you won't keep yours?

At least there's some 'good news' in this report:

State Department officials, however, are denying a report in a Roger Cohen column in The New York Times this week that the US administration had presented the Palestinians with a letter promising an intense effort to produce a Palestinian state in two years, accompanied by a pledge – if Israel seriously undermines trust between the two parties – to withhold its veto from a Security Council resolution condemning Israel.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: State department fires back

Israel Matzav: Daniel Pipes presents his peace plan

Daniel Pipes presents his peace plan

In contrast to the defeatist 'peace plans' of some members of Israel's government, Professor Dan Pipes has a much simpler strategy: Win baby, win.

My peace plan is simple: Israel defeats its enemies.

Victory uniquely creates circumstances conducive to peace. Wars end, the historical record confirms, when one side concedes defeat and the other wins. This makes intuitive sense, for so long as both sides aspire to achieve their ambitions, fighting continues or it potentially can resume.


Victory means imposing one's will on the enemy, compelling him to abandon his war goals. Germans, forced to surrender in World War I, retained the goal of dominating Europe and a few years later looked to Hitler to achieve this goal. Signed pieces of paper matter only if one side has cried "Uncle": The Vietnam War ostensibly concluded through diplomacy in 1973 but both sides continued to seek their war aims until the North won ultimate victory in 1975.

Willpower is the key: shooting down planes, destroying tanks, exhausting munitions, making soldiers flee, and seizing land are not decisive in themselves but must be accompanied by a psychological collapse. North Korea's loss in 1953, Saddam Hussein's in 1991, and the Iraqi Sunni loss in 2003 did not translate into despair. Conversely, the French gave up in Algeria in 1962, despite out-manning and out-gunning their foes, as did the Americans in Vietnam in 1975 and the Soviets in Afghanistan in 1989. The Cold War ended without a fatality. In all these cases, the losers maintained large arsenals, armies, and functioning economies. But they ran out of will.

Likewise, the Arab-Israeli conflict will be resolved only when one side gives up.


Ironically, Israelis over time responded to the incessant assault on their country by losing sight of the need to win. The right developed schemes to finesse victory, the center experimented with appeasement and unilateralism, and the left wallowed in guilt and self-recrimination. Exceedingly few Israelis understand the unfinished business of victory, of crushing the enemy's will and getting him to accept the permanence of the Jewish state.

Read the whole thing. But don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

Israel Matzav: Daniel Pipes presents his peace plan

Israel Matzav: Obama promises Abu Mazen a 'state' within two years

Obama promises Abu Mazen a 'state' within two years

Reneging on his promise not to impose 'peace' on Israel, President Obumbler has promised 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen a state reichlet within two years, an Egyptian official told the London-based pan-Arabic daily al-Hayat on Thursday.
Obama promised Abbas that the United States would make great effort to help see that Palestinian goal achieved, the official told the London-based newspaper.

The official also told Al-Hayat that Israel had rejected special U.S. envoy George Mitchell's proposal to withdraw Israel Defense Forces troops from Palestinian-occupied sections of the West Bank, as it did on the eve of the Second Intifada in 2000.

According to the report, Israel told Mitchell that it could not guarantee such a move before beginning direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
So does that mean that if there are direct 'negotiations' Israel will withdraw the troops? That's insane.
In place of withdrawing troops, the official told Al-Hayat, Israel offered other goodwill gestures, such as removing checkpoints and releasing certain Palestinian prisoners.
What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Obama promises Abu Mazen a 'state' within two years

Israel Matzav: Netanyahu seizes semi-permanent power in Likud

Netanyahu seizes semi-permanent power in Likud

Earlier in the week, I reported on an amendment to the Likud constitution that would allow Prime Minister Netanyahu to entrench himself in power within the party. The amendment would allow the party's Central Committee to delay holding elections for up to three years after a general election. When is the last time this country went three years without a general election? 1992-96 if I am not mistaken. There hasn't been a Likud Central Committee election since 2002.

The amendment needed two thirds of the voting Likud Central Committee members to pass. In retrospect, I suppose it is not surprising that these people voted to keep themselves in power. The amendment garnered 77% of the vote. Nevertheless, Moshe Feiglin, who spearheaded the drive to oppose the amendment (and whose supporters were its principal target) is not discouraged.

The official results of the voting today indicate that 77% of the Likud Central Committee voters went with Bibi, preferring to defer Likud elections - probably indefinitely. There were many obvious problems and irregularities with today's voting, but it will not help us to turn to the courts or to be "sore losers." And this dark cloud definitely has a silver lining.

After a long and hectic week, we can summarize that Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit took a giant leap forward toward leadership of Israel. Moshe Feiglin was in the media constantly. Even those journalists who have traditionally been openly hostile to Moshe related to him with seriousness and respect. There is no doubt that Moshe has positioned himself as an alternative leader for Israel.

There was only one major force this week that opposed Bibi and his planned disengagement from Jerusalem: Moshe Feiglin. He was articulate, determined and unequivocal as he warned of Bibi's plans - very much the next leader in the making.

Read the whole thing. It's hard not to get the sense that Thursday's vote postponed the inevitable. Still, there is a long struggle ahead.

Israel Matzav: Netanyahu seizes semi-permanent power in Likud

Elder of Ziyon: British press ignored attack on Israeli diplomat

British press ignored attack on Israeli diplomat

A foreign diplomat is physically attacked in her host country by a screaming mob, and not a single media outlet in Great Britain outside the Jewish press has seen fit to mentioning it.

[Depiuty Ambassador] Ms Lador-Fresher had been asked back to the university after a previous arrangement to address students in February was cancelled when more than 300 protesters from the Action Palestine student society scuffled with Jewish students and police.

Speaking about Wednesday’s protest she said: “It was quite a shocking experience. I have had people stand up and shout and wave the Palestinian flag when I have spoken, but it was the first time I have been in this situation.

“When we finished I could not get out of the university building. The demonstrators saw me on the way to the car and they started running towards me.

“The security team rushed me back into the building and we were standing in the corridor for a few minutes.”

The diminutive deputy ambassador was eventually escorted through a back door to a security vehicle but the demonstrators discovered the evacuation plan and surrounded the car.

Ms Lador-Fresher said: “They were screaming and shouting. Two of them were on the bonnet trying to break the windscreen. It was very unpleasant.

“I don’t think they wanted to kill me but I genuinely believed they wanted to physically hurt me. If I had not had the police and security team I would have been beaten up.”

“No foreign diplomat should have to go through what I went through.”

The wire services have likewise ignored this story - and they were made aware of it.

Apparently, this sort of thing is not newsworthy.

Elder of Ziyon: British press ignored attack on Israeli diplomat

Elder of Ziyon: Freedom of expression in Sweden

Freedom of expression in Sweden

Let's see if we can figure out how these two news stories make sense together.

First, the Swedish government subsidizes an anti-semitic, racist and homophobic publication, giving it hundreds of thousands of dollars to spread hate, because it wants to encourage freedom of speech.

Yet at the same time, Comedy Central in Sweden will not be airing the South Park Mohammed episodes because of fears for the safety of its employees.

It's a mystery.

(h/t Zvi and Jihad Watch)

Elder of Ziyon: Freedom of expression in Sweden

Elder of Ziyon: The Al Quds Poetry contest

The Al Quds Poetry contest

The Islamic Jihad Students organization arranged a poetry competition, where the poets had to write about their love of Jerusalem. The winners were announced last night.

Meanwhile, I still have not found a single example of Arabic poetry extolling Jerusalem from before the 20th century. (I'm not sure there was any before 1967, to be honest.)

For some reason, Jews throughout the centuries didn't need competitions to give them incentive to write heart-wrenching poems about their love of Jerusalem.

Just saying...

Elder of Ziyon: The Al Quds Poetry contest

Elder of Ziyon: Hamas kicks family out of their home

Hamas kicks family out of their home

Ma'an writes:

A family apartment was seized and handed over to de facto government police after its owner temporarily moved out of the home to take care of her sick father-in law.

A’lyia Aweida said she returned to the apartment on 3 April to collect some belongings, only to find a de facto government police officer, who she identified only by his initials, RAH, and his wife living in her home.

The article goes on to quote a Hamas official as being totally shocked that such a thing happened.

So Hamas scheduled a hearing to see whether the family can return to their home - to take place in September.

The issue of Hamas stealing people's apartments was one of the issues that the PFLP complained about in a letter sent earlier this week.

Elder of Ziyon: Hamas kicks family out of their home

Report: Israel Nixes Weapons Sales to Turkey - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Report: Israel Nixes Weapons Sales to Turkey - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Elliot Abrams: US Must Deal with Iranian Threat - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Elliot Abrams: US Must Deal with Iranian Threat - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Barkat: Jerusalem Freeze Would be Illegal - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Barkat: Jerusalem Freeze Would be Illegal - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Netanyahu Wins Vote to Delay Party Elections - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Netanyahu Wins Vote to Delay Party Elections - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Yesha Council: Make PA Pay for Boycott - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Yesha Council: Make PA Pay for Boycott - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel is Wary of British Elections - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel is Wary of British Elections - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

US Will Continue to Back Israel in UN - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

US Will Continue to Back Israel in UN - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Elder of Ziyon: New anti-Iran web ad

New anti-Iran web ad

The Weekly Standard links to a new web ad directed at the White House:

The organization behind it, Keep Israel Safe, is brand new and was founded by Tom Rose, former editor of the Jerusalem Post.

Elder of Ziyon: New anti-Iran web ad

Elder of Ziyon: The "racist traffic light" story originated in The Economist

The "racist traffic light" story originated in The Economist

It wasn't Al Jazeera that first came up with the story that Jerusalem traffic lights were rigged to discriminate against Arab drivers - it was The Economist, in a side comment last month:

Further impeding access, traffic lights flick green only briefly for cars from Palestinian districts while staying green for cars from Jewish settlements for minutes.

Because such a respected magazine made this absurd charge, CAMERA asked them for details - and fisked it.

I predict it will be mentioned in some UN document as fact within six months, just like the charge that Israel kidnaps Arabs and steals their organs is now enshrined in an official UN document submitted by a lying - and award-winning - NGO, EAFORD, whose founding purpose is to promote the idea that Zionism is racism.

Elder of Ziyon: The "racist traffic light" story originated in The Economist

Elder of Ziyon: Noam Shalit's video message

Noam Shalit's video message

I had missed this Yom Ha'atzmaut video message, and it is worth watching:

Elder of Ziyon: Noam Shalit's video message

Elder of Ziyon: EoZ Gossip Minute: Hollywood Goyishe Bris

EoZ Gossip Minute: Hollywood Goyishe Bris

The big news in Hollywood is, of course, Sandra Bullock's adoption of a son in conjunction with her divorce with Jesse James, the tattooed weirdo with the secret Nazi obsession.

However, the EoZ gossip column is more interested in the question:

Why did Sandra give her new son a bris?

Not just a hospital circumcision, mind you. She hired a mohel who went to her house and did the whole ceremony with her family in attendance.

And she's not Jewish!

Neither is her soon-to-be ex, or anyone else remotely close to her (although, apparently, more Jews want her to be Jewish than any other shiksa.)

So, nu, what's with the goyishe bris? Is it trendy in Hollywood? Does she think it will get her better roles? Is she considering joining the Tribe? Is she raising little Louis to be Jewish? (At least one clueless news outlet thinks that the bris automatically made him Jewish. Unless his mother was Jewish, which doesn't appear to be likely.)

Now I'm going to have to watch The Blind Side.

Elder of Ziyon: EoZ Gossip Minute: Hollywood Goyishe Bris

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: International Matters

International Matters

Two items which have been lying around on my desk for a while.

First: what constitutes a sovereign state? How many countries are there in the world? The answer, it turns out, is not at all simple. More than 200, fewer than 300, depending on whom you ask (and when).

Second: Can international law morph into something less seemly? Read this description, about how the ICC is being manipulated by various Kenyan parties, and tell me if there's any discernible difference between this and standard politics, any faint resemblance between the process and, say, justice. Except the hi-falutin grandstanding, of course.

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: International Matters

Israel Matzav: UNIFIL's epic fail

UNIFIL's epic fail

Michael Rubin wonders whether it is time to disband UNIFIL, the 'peacekeeping force' in southern Lebanon (Hat Tip: Daled Amos).

The rearming of Hezbollah — to the point that, as Secretary Gates points out, they now have more missiles than most countries — highlights the utter failure of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. What was a force of slightly less than 2,000 men, before the 2006 war, ballooned in the aftermath of the end of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 ending that war into more than 11,000 troops — the budget for which, this year, is more than $500 million. Rather than maintain peace or prevent Hezbollah's rearmament, UNIFIL has become, in effect, the world's most expensive summer camp.

Not only has UNIFIL failed in its mission, but its continued presence in southern Lebanon has also transformed it into a human shield for Hezbollah. UNIFIL's deployment has convinced Hezbollah that they can rearm without consequence. Is President Obama really prepared for Hezbollah's launching rockets from behind 11,000 hostages, even if none of them are American? On the other hand, if the United States and its remaining European allies disbanded UNIFIL, might it convince Syria, Iran, and Lebanon that the time for three-card missile monte is over and they need to reassess their strategies?

While I'm not entirely opposed to disbanding UNIFIL on the grounds that it's a waste of money, I doubt that doing so would convince Syria, Iran and Lebanon of anything. Additionally, it is only fair to point out that UNIFIL's ineffectiveness is not entirely UNIFIL's fault. They are victimized by an impossible mandate. Resolution 1701, which established the expanded UNIFIL, was flawed from the outset by requiring that the Lebanese army request UNIFIL's intervention rather than giving UNIFIL free reign. The result is that areas like the Syrian border, the Mediterranean coast line and parts of southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley are essentially off limits to UNIFIL troops.

This was all foreseeable to anyone who read and understood Resolution 1701.

Israel Matzav: UNIFIL's epic fail

Israel Matzav: Video: I am Israel

Video: I am Israel

This video is a little more difficult to watch and many of the scenes will unfortunately look familiar.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: NY Nana).

Israel Matzav: Video: I am Israel

Israel Matzav: Video: 4000 years of Jewish history in four minutes

Video: 4000 years of Jewish history in four minutes

This is actually quite entertaining.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Dani K).

Israel Matzav: Video: 4000 years of Jewish history in four minutes

Israel Matzav: Israeli diplomat attacked in England

Israeli diplomat attacked in England

Talya Lador-Fresher, Israel's deputy ambassador to Britain, was attacked by pro-'Palestinian' 'students' on Wednesday night as she left a lecture she had given at the University of Manchester (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).

The protesters were waiting for Lador-Fresher outside the lecture hall, but this did not deter her from entering as planned. Immediately upon her exit, the protesters lunged at the diplomat, prompting security guards to whisk her back into the hall. Following a consultation on the site, it was decided to escort her out of the premises in a police car.

The deputy ambassador was removed from the hall and into the police vehicle. However, this did not block the protesters, who surrounded the car and climbed on the hood, trying to break the windshield.

Lador-Fresher ultimately was taken away from the scene safe and sound.

But here's the amazing part:

Israeli Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor praised his deputy for her determination and fighting spirit and emphasized that the embassy expects a sweeping denunciation of the event from the local authorities and universities in Britain.

Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. This is Britain where Israeli politicians are candidates for arrest and Israeli academics are subjects for boycott.

It was apparently known that this was likely to happen - the lecture had been postponed because of warnings of violence, and yet the police were apparently unable to prevent these thugs from approaching Lador - Fresher.

Haaretz adds:

And indeed, Lador-Fresher managed to give her talk, although she was interrupted several times by students who hoisted Palestinian flags and called out anti-Israel slogans. But when she had finished speaking and was trying to head out of the auditorium, it became clear to her security that the way out was blocked by more demonstrators who had been waiting there throughout the hour-long event. The demonstrators had identified the Israeli embassy car and were surrounding it.

Why didn't the police push the 'demonstrators' away from the car?

JPost adds:

“I don’t think they wanted to kill me, but I genuinely believed they wanted to physically hurt me," she said. "If I had not had the police and security team, I would have been beaten up.”

Lador-Fresher told the Jewish Chronicle, “No foreign diplomat should have to go through what I went through.”

She had been scheduled to give the lecture in February, but it was postponed following reports of planned demonstrations and the inability of university authorities to properly protect her. At that time, more than 300 protesters from the Action Palestine student society scuffled with Jewish students and police.

The lecture was scheduled for Wednesday, when police and university authorities said they were prepared to deal with the demonstrators, including a complete lockdown of the building, a high-level security presence, ID checks at the door and ticket-only arrangements.

Just imagine how much worse the situation will get in Britain if Nick Clegg wins the election. What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Israeli diplomat attacked in England

Israel Matzav: Ahmadinejad urges Iranians to have more kids

Ahmadinejad urges Iranians to have more kids

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is urging his people to have more children.

"Westerners said 40 years ago 'let us control the population'... now look at them. Their population is old and ageing," Ahmadinejad said, according to a report by ISNA news agency.

"Some people turned up in our country and blindly said let us do what they are doing and said that two kids are enough and also passed a law concerning this."

He was referring to a 1993 family planning law passed to control population growth in Iran after the baby boom years which followed the 1979 Islamic revolution, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini urged Iranians to have more kids.

Iran's population grew at an annual rate of 3.2 percent for more than a decade from around 36 million around the time of the revolution.

The swelling demographics forced the regime to implement the family planning law in 1993 as government representatives went door to door handing contraceptives and educating people about the benefits of small families.

Since then the annual population growth rate has dipped to around 1.6 percent and Iran eventually won a United Nations award for its family planning programme.

"Now the average Iranian family is under four people. We will face a dangerous situation 30 years from now," Ahmadinejad said.

He insisted that Iranian "people want to have kids" adding that "God is there to nourish them."

Anyone else think he's looking to increase the population of potential suicide bombers? While the birthrate was high in Iran between 1979-93, there were also thousands of people sent to their deaths clearning minefields during the war with Iraq (1980-88). If there's another war like that today, he may not have enough suicide bombers.

Israel Matzav: Ahmadinejad urges Iranians to have more kids

Israel Matzav: The 'big game' with Syria

The 'big game' with Syria

What's the US up to with Syria? Why is Obama so determined to 'engage' the Assad regime? It's not just that the pompous President is convinced that he can talk anyone into anything. It's the same tired narrative that all roads to peace in the World lead through Jerusalem - and the Golan Heights.

Although the basic components of US policy had been hinted at earlier, this was the first time that an official openly laid out what the administration’s end game is. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, who was the official testifying before the subcommittee, outlined the administration’s conceptual framework as follows: The US is working to mitigate Iran’s regional influence, which Syria facilitates. But Syria is not Iran, and there’s a basic policy difference between them: Unlike Iran, Syria has an interest in negotiating a peace agreement with Israel. Therefore, the peace process is, in Feltman’s words, the “big game”. The administration believes that a peace deal between Damascus and Jerusalem would cure the Syria problem.

If this sounds like a familiar tune from the 1990s, that’s because in the end it's nothing but a reprise of the view that holds the conflict with Israel as the engine driving all regional dynamics and regime behavior. It’s the politics of grievance.

This line of thinking plays right into the Syrians’ hands, affording them a pass for their actions and duplicity pending the conclusion of a peace deal that may not materialize for years, if ever.

Witness, for example, this statement by Feltman: “Syria's relationship with Hezbollah and the Palestinian terrorist groups is unlikely to change absent a Middle East peace agreement.” The logic of this statement is but one step removed from justifying the arming of Hezbollah. It’s the logic that holds Syrian policy to be reactive and grievance-based. But the Obama administration’s “big game” is nothing if not a cocktail of this grievance logic and the infamous concept of “linkage”.

This toxic viewpoint was echoed by National Security Advisor Jim Jones at a recent event at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy: “One of the ways that Iran exerts influence in the Middle East is by exploiting the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict… Advancing this peace would... help prevent Iran from cynically shifting attention away from its failures to meet its obligations.”

Such an outlook, distilled in Feltman’s testimony, poses as a grand strategic concept that purports to help mitigate the challenge posed by Iran and the collapse of the Arab-Israeli peace process all at once. It proposes that by draining the swamps of grievance, Syria will be neutralized, and consequently so will Hamas and Hezbollah, leaving Iran “isolated”. This in turn sets the stage for uniting the Arabs and Israelis under the American umbrella facing Iran. While this does nothing to prevent Iran from going nuclear, it could be the blueprint for a future “containment” option, supposedly denying Iran the ability to project power by using the region’s open conflicts.

It’s the new domino theory. Only there’s nothing new about it. As some of us reasoned, Bashar al-Assad made his gamble with the Scuds calculating that this peace processing impulse would be the administration’s default position. If the US endgame is a comprehensive peace deal, one that by definition involves Syria, then Assad can buy immunity and even leverage, simply by declaring he wants peace.

Thus, Obama becomes trapped by his own “big game”. If Syria is deemed necessary for his regional peace/containment edifice, then the US will not be able to declare engagement a failure and suspend it, or else the entire edifice collapses. The result is the confused paralysis evident in the administration’s reaction to the Scud crisis: doubling down on engagement and the need to convince Assad that his “real” interests lay not with Iran but with the US.

And Assad is laughing all the way to the bank. What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: The 'big game' with Syria

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Overnight music video

Here's Mordechai Ben David singing Racheim (Have Mercy).

Let's go to the videotape.

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

DoubleTapper: IDF Women

IDF Women

IDF Women updated every Friday

Circa 1948

DoubleTapper: IDF Women

Elder of Ziyon: Israeli diplomat attacked at U. of Manchester

Israeli diplomat attacked at U. of Manchester

Things are seriously messed up in Britain:

A lecture given by Israel's Deputy Ambassador to Britain Talya Lador-Fresher at the University of Manchester deteriorated Wednesday into violence when pro-Palestinian protesters stormed at the diplomat in an attempted attack.

The protesters were waiting for Lador-Fresher outside the lecture hall, but this did not deter her from entering as planned. Immediately upon her exit, the protesters lunged at the diplomat, prompting security guards to whisk her back into the hall. Following a consultation on the site, it was decided to escort her out of the premises in a police car.

The deputy ambassador was removed from the hall and into the police vehicle. However, this did not block the protesters, who surrounded the car and climbed on the hood, trying to break the windshield.

Let's make one thing clear: these are not pro-Palestinian protesters. Protesters who support something do not act this way. These are anti-Israel - and often anti-Jewish - rioters.

Last February, the same diplomat was forced to postpone her speech at Manchester because of threats of violence. And a student shouted out "Itbach al Yahud," which means "Kill the Jews," at Danny Ayalon at the Oxford Student Union.

A couple of months earlier, the Action Palestine movement at Manchester invited to speak a man who threatened to make pro-Jewish South Africans' lives hell, saying they are not welcome in their own country. After his statements were publicized, their members defended him.

This is nothing but hate. These students don't give a damn about Palestinian Arab rights or anything else - they just hate the idea that Jews have a degree of self-determination. This is today's anti-semitism, and people who claim that actions like these are merely anti-Israel are fooling themselves.

Elder of Ziyon: Israeli diplomat attacked at U. of Manchester

Elder of Ziyon: The five-star occupation

The five-star occupation

In Ha'aretz, in an article about how ordinary Palestinian Arabs are warming up to Salam Fayyad (and Fatah is upset), Avi Issacharoff mentions that the PA communications minister referred to Israel's "five-star occupation." The reporter's point was to contrast how well the PA was doing while it cooperates with Israel compared to how Gazans are faring.

A, EoZ reader emailed Issacharoff to verify the quote. He wrote back that he heard it himself at a press conference in Ramallah yesterday, and that "it was a kind of a joke but a serious one..."

It is not the first time that this expression was used. A prominent Ramallah businessman, flush with success of his Italian restaurant in Ramallah, used the same term to describe his situation.

It seems that the "occupation" is not nearly as awful as it is portrayed in the media. In fact, it appears that Palestinian Arabs living under the yoke of this oppression in the West Bank are living better lives than their Arab brethren across the Jordan River or the Syrian border - specifically due to Israel's policies of helping them economically and easing up restrictions in return for better security.

Which brings up the question - how would things be improved if the "peace process" moved forward? Because, arguably, the biggest gains for Palestinian Arabs have occurred while it was moribund.

Elder of Ziyon: The five-star occupation

Elder of Ziyon: Egypt denies "poison gas" in tunnel killed 4 Gazans

Egypt denies "poison gas" in tunnel killed 4 Gazans

This morning, Hamas wrote a press release:

-Egyptian forces pumped gas into a cross-border tunnel used to smuggle goods into the Gaza Strip late on Wednesday, killing four Palestinians, Hamas officials said.

A Hamas security official in charge of the tunnel area along the border said the Egyptians filled the passage with some type of crowd dispersal gas.
The Hamas Interior Ministry later said in a statement the gas used to try to clear the tunnel was poisonous. Besides those killed, six people were injured, it said.

"The Interior Ministry confirms that the citizens' cause of death was the Egyptian security forces spraying poison gasses into one of the tunnels."

"This is a terrible crime committed by Egyptian security against simple Palestinian workers who were trying to earn their daily bread," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum to The Associated Press. "It was a killing in cold blood. Hamas and all the Palestinian people condemn it strongly."

The story gets even weirder. From Ma'an:

Wednesday night medics said workers had gone to the tunnel that had in fact been "filled with poisonous gas a week ago, to confirm the toxin had dissipated," Adham Abu Salmiya, spokesman for Gaza medical services, told Ma'an. "They were shocked to find it had actually remained in the tunnel, resulting in the deaths and injuries."

So they went into the tunnel to see if poison gas was still inside. Human canaries?

The entire idea of Egypt spraying poison gas in tunnels makes no sense, as there is nothing to be gained by such a move. Far more likely is that either an Egyptian explosion sucked the air out of the tunnel, or that fuel being smuggled caused the deaths by being exposed to air, or - very possibly - there was an explosion of munitions en route that Hamas doesn't want to admit.

Egypt denied the charges. Palestine Today writes that Egypt always coordinated tunnel demolitions with the Gaza government to ensure that no one is inside, and does not confirm that any demolitions occurred at the time of these deaths.

AP followed up:

The intelligence official confirmed that Egyptian security forces destroyed the entrances to several tunnels this week, but said that no gas was used in the operations. He said that Egypt routinely blows up the mouths to the tunnels to seal them off, and that the blast and an ensuing fire could quickly use up all the oxygen in the confined space, causing people caught inside to suffocate.

It was not immediately clear what evidence Hamas was basing its allegations on.

Mohammed al-Osh, the medical director of the Abu Yusef al-Najar hospital in the Gaza border town of Rafah where some of the dead and injured were taken, could not confirm those killed had inhaled poison gas. He said the hospital did not have the equipment or specialists needed to conduct the necessary tests on lungs and clothing.

Another strange part about this story is that, to the best of my knowledge, the names of the victims have not been released , which could indicate that they were not just smuggling candy bars. (UPDATE: Their names can be seen here. h/t Soccer Dad)

Either way, Hamas' flat accusation of "poison gas" is a lie, as no one in Gaza could possibly confirm that charge.

Elder of Ziyon: Egypt denies "poison gas" in tunnel killed 4 Gazans

Elder of Ziyon: French journalist tries a burqa for a week

French journalist tries a burqa for a week

Interesting story from Al Arabiya:

As the heated debate about banning the face veil rages in France, a journalist with the women's magazine Marie Claire decided to put on the controversial cloth and walk the streets of Paris for five days.

In an article entitled "Ma semaine en Niqab" (My Week in a Niqab), published with photos in the May issue of Marie Claire, journalist Elizabeth Alexandre described her experience.

"I wanted to know what it feels to be fully veiled," she wrote. "I wanted to feel the fabric on my cheeks and forehead and see the world from this tiny slit. I also wanted to know how the world would see me."

"I felt as if I am inside a tent. I couldn't see my feet and when I walked the garment rolled around my legs and I had to slow down. I was terrified I was going to fall on my face."

She then went to a café where she found it very hard to drink her coffee or smoke a cigarette from under her veil.

"I had to keep lifting the veil in order to take sips from the coffee or to smoke. This was very difficult."

The full veil also proved impractical when Alexandre tried to read as couldn't wear her glasses because her entire face was covered. The fabric of the veil also rubbed against her eyelashes making it very inconvenient for her to blink.

Getting on the metro, Alexandre realized that people were reluctant to talk to her because they did not feel at ease talking to someone whose face they cannot see.

"They looked at me then looked away. I tried to start a conversation with the passengers, but I failed. I felt isolated."

When she went to her office in the magazine pretending she had decided to wear the face veil for real, her colleagues started treating her differently.

"I found out that I could neither see nor hear properly and that made team work nearly impossible."

Going back home and taking off the veil made Alexandre breathe a sigh of relief. She felt she was free.

"I discovered how the face veil isolates the woman as it turns her into someone who cannot interact with people. I felt that after only three days of wearing it."

On the fourth day, Alexandre drew the third conclusion: the full veil made her extremely self-conscious and overly sensitive about anything related to her body.

"I felt that I am both invisible and too visible. It felt like I was placed in a window ship and everyone was invited to watch."

Alexandre explained that wearing a full veil eliminated any feelings of vanity or self-esteem and made her ovely self-conscious whenever the smallest part of her body was revealed.

"Being totally covered made me feel that my body is a disgrace. All men around me turned into sexually obsessed beasts that want to devour me.

It is then that I felt I need the veil to protect me from this imminent danger. For the first time in my life, I felt I was a sex bomb and a source of sin."

Which is exactly how Muslim men who insist that women wear the veil think of them.

Elder of Ziyon: French journalist tries a burqa for a week

Elder of Ziyon: My quest for kosher Pop-Tarts

My quest for kosher Pop-Tarts

When I was a kid and didn't know any better, I would eat and enjoy Pop-Tarts.

Unfortunately, as soon as my family discovered that Pop-Tarts were not kosher, I have been deprived.

For years now I have been looking for a decent Pop-Tart clone that tastes as I remember the original. Specifically: Strawberry, non-frosted.

I tried Pillsbury Toaster Strudels, which were kosher for a time, but they weren't the same. Not bad, though.

A couple of years ago Tradition Foods created a kosher version, but it wasn't very good - and not close to how I remember my Pop-Tarts tasting. Other consumers apparently agreed, and that product is no longer being sold.

Another company, Nature Path Organic, makes their own version of Pop-Tarts and they have a Canadian kosher certification. They were edible, but alas, not good enough (and that's not only my opinion.)

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed at Costco a product called Special-K Fruit Crisps. The picture on the box looked a lot like my old Pop-Tarts - and it is by Kelloggs! So I bought a couple of large boxes.

This is as close as I'm going to get.

They are not toaster-tarts, rather they are more like the size of granola bars. They are thinner than Pop-Tarts. They have a smattering of frosting. But - they taste just as I remember Pop-Tarts tasting!

And after 8 seconds in the microwave or a time in the toaster oven, they are even better! At 100 calories for two crisps, they are not too fattening either (unless you eat massive amounts, which is a serious danger for me.)

One of my goals in life is now fulfilled.

And, just maybe, some Muslim will read this and be equally happy.

Elder of Ziyon: My quest for kosher Pop-Tarts

Elder of Ziyon: Hamas' official response to PFLP charges

Hamas' official response to PFLP charges

Yesterday I reported that the PFLP accused Hamas of ten things that were contributing to Gazan misery:

1.New taxes on small shops, like falafel stands
2. Converting cars to taxis and levying large taxes on the owners
3. 60% tax on cigarettes
4. Confiscating private apartments owned by people outside Gaza and giving them to Hamas members
5. Restricting the activities on Gaza NGOs
6. Owners of apartments who had built (with permission) on government-owned lands now being taxed thousands of dollars
7. New taxes on groceries
8. Preventing many citizens from traveling outside Gaza
9. Restrictions on Gaza institutions and organizations
10. Violent and insulting treatment of Gaza citizens

Hamas' initial reaction was to arrest the people who made these accusations, which certainly must have increased the Gazan citizens' sense of security.

So, today Hamas' interior ministry issued a formal, point-by-point response to the PFLP charges.

In summation, Hamas is saying that all of the accusations are pretty accurate but that all of their actions are legal and justified. For example, the cigarette tax is meant to curb smoking by children, who could easily get inexpensive cigarettes. Taking over apartments is only done to people who have not paid their taxes; restrictions on people leaving Gaza is only being done for security reasons, and so forth.

Their response to the NGO accusation is especially interesting: Hamas says that many Gaza NGOs are corrupt:

Many institutions are delusional, founded during the previous authority to steal the money from donors without these associations doing any work. This money is going to the pockets of their leaders without their delivering any benefit to the people. This is an abuse of public money, in addition to ethical irregularities in a number of these institutions.

This story has still not been mentioned in any English-language source as far as I can tell.

Elder of Ziyon: Hamas' official response to PFLP charges

Elder of Ziyon: Did Dubai identify Hamas mole?

Did Dubai identify Hamas mole?

Palestine Press Agency is claiming that Dubai authorities are about to name the Hamas mole responsible for tipping off the assassins of Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Mahbouh in Dubai.

A diplomatic source told the Palestine Press News Agency, on condition of anonymity, "The main suspect in the assassination of Mabhouh is a Palestinian businessman and member of Hamas, who owns real estate in Dubai and is responsible for detecting the travel plans of the martyr Mabhouh for the Mossad of Israel."

The source added that "the businessman was a resident earlier in Algeria and immigrated to the Netherlands and then transported between England and Dubai."

PalPress does not have the highest journalistic standards, so this could easily end up not panning out, but it is worth watching.

Elder of Ziyon: Did Dubai identify Hamas mole?

Elder of Ziyon: Google buys Israeli start-up

Google buys Israeli start-up

From YNet:

Google has made its first Israeli purchase. Lab Pixies, a start-up that develops widgets such as games, translating programs, calculators, and calendars for personalized internet platforms such as iGoogle, the Android smartphone, and the iphone was bought by the internet giant for what many believe to be around $25 million.

Google stated that Lab Pixies sees cloud-based application development as the "beating heart" of its business, which makes it an attractive purchase for the company's research and development center in Israel.

I have played with some LabPixies games on Android, iPod and Google Gadgets. I had no idea it was Israeli. (I also had no idea of the breadth of products it has.)

I think that anti-Zionist Arabs should boycott Google immediately. Shut down your Blogger blogs, stop using Google's Arabic products, and delete all your YouTube and Picasa accounts. If not, you are helping the Zionist enemy.

Elder of Ziyon: Google buys Israeli start-up

Elder of Ziyon: Siege news: 200,000 laptops going to Gaza

Siege news: 200,000 laptops going to Gaza

From AFP:

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees on Thursday launched a campaign to distribute some 200,000 laptops to schoolchildren in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, a spokesman said.

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) plans to distribute half a million devices to refugees across the Middle East by the end of 2012, spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said.

"The campaign is beginning today in refugee schools in (the southern Gaza town of) Rafah, with the distribution of 2,200 laptops as part of a plan to distribute 200,000 laptops to our students in the Gaza Strip," he said.

The plan calls for linking pupils and teachers via wireless internet "so that the students can continue their studies during crises," Abu Hasna added.

The program has received funding from US-based One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) and the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization, he said.

But I thought that Israel is only allowing starvation-level amounts of food into Gaza and nothing else!

There is no way that the Zionists, hell-bent on humiliating and punishing Gazans because they are Arabs, would allow computers into Gaza!

Not to mention that a Gaza-wide wireless network is required to support these computers. Is it being built with sand?

Elder of Ziyon: Siege news: 200,000 laptops going to Gaza

Elder of Ziyon: Fisking the "anti-Arab traffic light" story (Bender)

Fisking the "anti-Arab traffic light" story (Bender)

There's an old Jewish joke that some Jews are so quick to blame everyone for anti-semitism that they call traffic lights "anti-semites" when they turn red on them.

That was the first thing I thought of when I saw the Arab story about how evil Zionists are programming traffic lights in a large city, deliberately, to humiliate Arabs.

But in case you have the slightest inkling that the stories are accurate, Dave Bender sets the record straight....

  • The so-called "Israeli settler road" shown in the story is used by West Bank Palestinians coming into town from their cities, towns and villages, and Israelis, alike.
  • It has to be wider at the intersection, since it carries much more traffic throughout the day, into, and around the city center: the traffic artery links up with the two main western and northern exits from the city.
  • The rail line is part of the Jerusalem rail system which all Jerusalemites are "suffering" from, including traffic delays across much of the city, years-long delays, cost overuns, and gridlock - for Israeli Jew and Palestinian Muslim alike.
  • Oh, and the rail line workers? Palestinians. Willing to bet. Good jobs with a major construction company, bringing home the, umm, bacon, as it were to their families.
  • The Jerusalem Municipality, at a cost to taxpayers (note: mostly not the Palestinians embroiled in the AM traffic jams) of tens of millions of dollars to improve traffic flow around town, including Palestinian towns of Beit Hanina, and Shuafat, noted in the story.
  • The same Palestinians in Beit Hanina and Shuafat will also have use of the rail system - whenever it's completed.
  • No Jerusalem traffic official is quoted about the computerized monitoring system that changes to timing to reflect the varying traffic loads throughout the day.
  • I used to live in the immediate area, and am familiar with the issues of traffic on and around this junction, and I say: the woman's talking unmitigated rubbish.
  • I could fisk more, but why bother - since this is what passes for "hard news" from here.
  • Sigh.

Elder of Ziyon: Fisking the "anti-Arab traffic light" story (Bender)

Elder of Ziyon: Hamas smuggling fake Viagra in the West Bank?

Hamas smuggling fake Viagra in the West Bank?

From AP:

A Palestinian security officer destroys confiscated pills in the West Bank city of Hebron, Wesnesday, April, 28, 2010. Palestinian authorities destroyed 2.7 Million dollars worth of Viagra pills and other sexual enhancers in Hebron Wednesday, after arresting a local businessman on suspicion he tried to smuggle the pills and other sex aids hidden in tennis balls, part of an alleged Hamas scheme to launder money in the West Bank.

I guess that sexual enhancement products are terrible crimes when Zionists allegedly distribute them to Arabs, but sacred moneymakers when Hamas uses them to make money for terrorists.

It's hard to keep Hamas' concepts of morality straight, but someone's got to do it.

Elder of Ziyon: Hamas smuggling fake Viagra in the West Bank?

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Colonial Camping

Colonial Camping

Jeffrey Goldberg has been beamed back to 1771, and is having problems blogging from the 18th century. Most people would - although David Ben Gurion, who has been dead for almost 40 years, does seem to manage to blog from the middle of the 20th century.

The reason I mention poor Jeffrey's predicament however, is to point out an interesting tidbit about language. Most Americans remember the colonial era sort of fondly: burning witches in Salem, having tea parties when it was still permissible, building your occasional sturdy farmhouse in New England which still stands till this day, and of course revving up to have that revolution against the English. That's how Jeffrey uses the term, in the context of an educative program with his kid.

Across the pond, meanwhile, Colonialism reminds the Brits of all their horrific crimes against the Asians Indians and Kenyans. There is no word worse for a proper Guardian reader than Colonial (unless it be Zionist - partly because they've decided the Zionists are colonialists). No proper self-hating Brit would ever send her kid to any program with even a whiff of colonialism about it.

As Churchill may have said: We are separated by our common language.

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Colonial Camping

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Settler Violence at Yitzhar

Settler Violence at Yitzhar

If you've been reading this blog for at least the past day you'll be aware of my skepticism about the radical-left thesis that Israeli democracy is disintegrating, all because a majority of Israelis dislikes the radical left.

In this context, here's an item Alex Stein sent me yesterday, with the added comment that he was personally there. It's from the rather popular Nana website which is affiliated with Channel Ten, and it contains a Channel Ten news report about a recent incident near the settlement of Yitzhar. A joint group of Palestinians and Israelis set out to demonstrate near the settlement. At one point some of them got too close to some structure (Alex can tell us more about it, I expect), and IDF troops shot warning rounds in the air, at which point the demonstrators moved back. At this point armed settlers started shooting at the demonstrators, or anyway, near them. No one was hurt, but the troops stood by and didn't intervene.

Should they have? Probably not: IDF troops don't have the authority to arrest people, and given the range (watch the film) what is the expectation? That they shoot the settlers?

On the other and, the film eventually made it to Betselem, and from there to the army, and also - yesterday - to the media. Last night at 4am police raided Yitzhar and arrested seven settlers, though they seem meanwhile to have been released. As I was not in the interrogation cells, I cannot say what the arrests were meant to achieve.

So what does all this tell us?

1. The media seems to be dong what it should be, and no-one is shutting it down. Nor are there any complaints about its "disloyalty" or any such nonsense.

2. Betselem has a positive role to play in Israeli democracy, when it tries to fix things in Hebrew rather than run to tell the tale in English.

3. Yitzhar is and remains a serious blemish on our name, not to mention being a scandal. Someday there will be a showdown there and they'll be disarmed and disbanded; this day should have been many years ago.

4. Also someday there will be a joint demonstration of Jews and Palestinians in which both sides will recognize the wrong they've committed during this very long war, and both will commit to building a better future based on this mutual recognition. That day, however, is very far away; indeed, it's quite inconceivable. So in the meantime all joint demonstrations will have to get along with agreement that the Israelis have been bad.

Update: Alex e-mails to ask that I add that the demonstration was organized by his outfit, Combatants for Peace. So I have.

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Settler Violence at Yitzhar

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Deceased Tunnelers

Deceased Tunnelers

Four Palestinians died yesterday in a tunnel under the Egyptian-Gaza border.

Hamas says the Egyptians did it on purpose, and their spokesmen are livid. The Guardian doesn't say anything: no story here, move on. The BBC says the men died but can't figure out how. On the other hand, the item does note that Israel killed a Palestinian yesterday.

Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations: Deceased Tunnelers

Thursday, 29 April 2010

RubinReports: Life in an American Fourth Grade: Some Good Things about America; Don't Say "Primitive"

Life in an American Fourth Grade: Some Good Things about America; Don't Say "Primitive"

By Barry Rubin

For the second time, positive things have been said about the United States in the fourth-grade class. The teacher, during a discussion of immigration which, along with racism and man-made global warming are the three topics that take up the whole class year, the teacher remarked that America is a great place to live and doesn’t classify people by class.

In music class during the singing of a Native American song (they did sing America the Beautiful once but to my best information have never learned the National Anthem, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, the Battle Hymn of the Republic, or any other patriotic song), the teacher asked the students to describe Native American music. One student used the word “primitive.” The teacher responded roughly along the following lines: “Don’t say that because that’s like saying we’re so great and they’re so primitive so let’s just say `simple.’”

RubinReports: Life in an American Fourth Grade: Some Good Things about America; Don't Say "Primitive"

RubinReports: Who's Winning So Far? Iran/Syria: 2; United States: 0

Who's Winning So Far? Iran/Syria: 2; United States: 0

By Barry Rubin

Remember Turkey? It used to hold joint military exercises with the United States and Israel. Now it holds them with Syria while refusing to hold even an air-sea rescue drill with Israel. Yet there's no real concern in the U.S. government that Turkey--or rather the neo-Islamist current government--may be changing sides or of U.S. technology becoming available to Iran and Syria in the future.

Consider this list, which is pretty undeniable in factual terms:

U.S. engagement with Iran: failure

U.S. engagement with Syria: failure

Iran/Syria engagement with Lebanon: success

Iran/Syria engagement with Turkey: success

Bottom line: The United States has failed to pull Syria away from Iran; Iran and Syria have pulled Lebanon and Turkey away from the United States.

Iran/Syria: 2; United States: 0

In Washington policy circles and to a large extent in the mass media, no one has noticed this little comparison of success.

RubinReports: Who's Winning So Far? Iran/Syria: 2; United States: 0

RubinReports: Fred Halliday: A Tribute to a Uniquely Brave Middle East Scholar

Fred Halliday: A Tribute to a Uniquely Brave Middle East Scholar

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Fred Halliday: A Tribute to a Uniquely Brave Middle East Scholar

By Barry Rubin

Fred Halliday was a unique person, a man of courage, creativity, and spirit, which is rare in anyone and especially in Middle East studies. He was a dear friend for thirty years. And although I only realized it on hearing news of his untimely death, he is the person I’ve ever known who comes closest to being like George Orwell.

In his honor, I’d like to tell a few Fred stories and talk about why he was such a significant person. In the course of doing so, I’m going to make a few mild remarks about shortcomings in his work, but nothing I didn’t say to him personally and all with deep and genuine affection.

Fred was profoundly a man of the Left, in a way so fully possible only in a British person. Given Fred’s pride in his Irish ancestry, I know he’d wince at that phrase. He was thoroughly socialist, a strong supporter of the Labour Party, a self-defined rebel, and someone who could never imagine himself holding stances other than he did.

Here’s a story Fred told me. When he was a student at university in the 1960s, inclining toward Maoism at the time, he led in the heckling of a visiting Soviet speaker. Years later, he was in Afghanistan on a Soviet military base, with no other Westerners around and surrounded by elite Soviet soldiers armed to the teeth. He was introduced to the provincial governor. Fred realized that this was the man he had shouted down years ago and wondered if the Soviet official would recognize him and have him disposed of with no witnesses.

Fred was amused that the man didn’t recognize him.

In my opinion, a pivotal event for Fred was something that happened to him during the Iranian revolution, in 1979. As a doctrinaire leftist in the 1960s and 1970s, he saw the main enemies as American and British imperialism, the main solution as Marxist revolution in the Middle East. Indeed, I teased him several times that the problem was his typewriter—that’s how far back we go—was defective and merely automatically typed the word “imperialism” each time he typed the word “American.” He laughed.

When he wrote an important book about Iran in the late 1970s, Islam wasn’t mentioned at all and the name of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini appeared once in passing.

Fred went to Iran to hang out with his leftist friends there in 1979. One day, as he visited the leftist newspaper there, run by people who supported the revolution but opposed Islamism, the new regime’s police arrived, destroyed the newspaper office and arrested all his friends, who were probably tortured in prison.

So Fred became even more of an enemy to the revolutionary Islamists. That’s why he was a firm supporter--yes, quite a contradiction but that's the Middle East for you--of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and ended up visiting that Soviet base.

You might be thinking by this point that Fred was just a stereotypical leftist ideologue. But that wouldn’t be true. He would talk to anyone, kept an open mind, and was willing to change his thinking in the face of experience. Fred was a firm supporter of freedom and an enemy of dictatorship and oppression, even if it claimed to be on the left. Like many British leftists of the Labour party old school, his hatred of class snobbery made him a passionate champion of liberty and fairness.

One of my most vivid memories of Fred was his performance at a conference on Iraq at Exeter University that was, though I hadn’t realized it before attending, paid for by the Saddam Hussein government. The time was days after Iraq had invaded Iran in 1980. The speaker before Fred was a typically lithesome (and well-known) sycophantic Middle East studies type who had given a truly disgusting speech on how great Saddam Hussein was, comparing him to Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Fred strode confidently on the stage, in front of an audience full of Iraqi agents and toadies, and began by saying that if Saddam Hussein was so much like Nasser he should resign because he was going to lose the war. He then proceeded to tear apart the Iraqi regime as a repressive, aggressive dictatorship. It was a superb performance in every way.

By the 1990s, Fred had reconsidered his attitude toward Israel and wrote a really courageous article skewering the left for its hostility. He supported peace and truly tried to understand Israel, as well as going out of his way to invite Israeli speakers. For someone on the British left what Fred did was something akin to a Mississippi professor loudly announcing his support for civil rights to anyone who would listen.

Now I must confess my puzzlement at what was pretty much his last major speech, as president of the British society of Middle East studies, which I thought pretty much an apologia and back-patting exercise at how wonderful everything was in a domain he had often criticized.

But one can only ask so much of an individual. Fred was a really brave person who despite his powerful ideological beliefs—which he struggled to ensure never blinded him--did his best to meet real scholarly values, try to engage the facts, and scorn hypocrisy or cowardice. Fred was a man you could respect even when he was an adversary. He should be a role model for today’s leftist academics, but unfortunately they have chosen far worse exemplars.

I’ll keep thinking of him on that stage at the University of Exeter.

If there were more people like Fred Halliday, Western intellectual life and Middle East studies might be tolerable today.

RubinReports: Fred Halliday: A Tribute to a Uniquely Brave Middle East Scholar
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