Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Israel Matzav: If he's lost the Tel Aviv coffee shop crowd, he's lost the country

If he's lost the Tel Aviv coffee shop crowd, he's lost the country

It's become stylish recently to suggest that President Obama should come to Israel and speak directly to Israelis. Martin Indyk, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Stephen Solarz, among others, have suggested it in the past couple of weeks. But the first person to suggest it publicly - the very first - was Aluf Benn, the Haaretz editor. Benn wrote an op-ed in the New York Times last July suggesting that Obama had to something about his popularity in Israel, and why doesn't he come to Israel and speak directly to Israelis. At the time, Benn was lambasted by Marc Stanley of the National Jewish Democratic Council, in an op-ed that appeared in the JPost, which accused Benn of being part of the anti-Obama wing of the Jewish community, and claimed he had chutzpa for criticizing Obama.

This afternoon, I had an SMS from a JPost intern who reads my blog. "I'll be seeing Aluf Benn, editor of Haaretz tonight," he wrote. "I will get the chance to ask him a question or two; anything you'd particularly like to hear him answer?" I suggested asking him whether he still believed that Obama speaking directly to Israelis would make a difference in how he's perceived in Israel. Here's Benn's answer:

It’s great that you mentioned the date. It’s been 9 months, but i could still print it today or tomorrow. He [obama] missed one point. Israel. he went all around the world, speaking to different leaders, but not here. yes, I stand by it.

I was sitting in tel aviv one saturday morning in cofee shop a couple of weeks ago. I was surrounded by secular israelis, the most open-minded types. but when the conversation turns to him, they say "we can't trust him." even the most secular. in tel aviv. if he can't gain their support, how is he to gain the israeli public's support?

I don't know whether President Obama's approval ratings would improve if he came here, and I don't know whether he would suddenly be able to convince Israelis to take more 'risks for peace' if he came here. But I can tell you that if the secular Tel Aviv coffee shop crowd doesn't trust him, no one here does, and those polls you are hearing with single digit approval for Obama among Israeli Jews are quite accurate. He may not gain anything by coming here, but he has no hope of accomplishing anything without coming here.

Israel Matzav: If he's lost the Tel Aviv coffee shop crowd, he's lost the country

Israel Matzav: Goldstone sentenced tens of blacks to death as judge

Goldstone sentenced tens of blacks to death as judge

The Hebrew website Yedioth Aharonoth (YNet's counterpart) will report over the weekend that as a South African judge during the apartheid era, Richard Goldstone sent tens of blacks to their deaths.

Israel's largest newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, is leading this morning on the top of its front page with an advance story to its weekend edition by its top investigative reporter, Tzadok Yechezkeli, that while a judge during the Apartheid regime in South Africa, Richard Goldstone sentenced tens of blacks to death sentences, beatings, and enforced racial laws. (Headline) Goldstone: "Those were the laws, and I had to respect them".


In the full story to come out on Friday, it will be reported that while a judge in the South African Court of Appeals, Goldstone sent tens of blacks to their death. They point out in the article that while this hasn't stopped Goldstone from severely criticizing the death penalty and those countries that continue to permit it, he has himself never expressed any regret for his actions.

According to Yediot's findings, Goldstone confirmed the death sentences of at least 28 accused blacks, who had appealed their sentences, most of them for murder, and he expressed his support for death sentences in his decisions as well, as he wrote in the case of a young black man who was sentenced to death for killing the white owner of a restaurant after he fired him: "The death penalty needs to reflect the demands of society to take retribution for the crimes that people see, justifiably, as horrifying". Goldstone, "declared that the gallows were the only punishment of deterrent in these cases", and wrote: "Fury is a relevant factor in the imposition of a suitable punishment".

The article notes that Goldstone also supported Apartheid policies in other decisions where the death sentence was not involved, among them: "He confirmed a punishment of flogging for 4 blacks who were charged with violence, and acquitted 4 policemen who broke into the house of a white woman who was suspected of having sexual relations with a black man - which was considered then to be a severe crime in South Africa".

I remember hearing this story last fall when the Goldstone Report came out. I guess he was just following orders.


Israel Matzav: Goldstone sentenced tens of blacks to death as judge

Love of the Land: Ahmadinejad Swaggers at the UN

Ahmadinejad Swaggers at the UN

Robert Spencer
04 May '10

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was back in New York Monday, continuing his effort to intimidate and shame Barack Obama into dropping his policy of retaining first-strike capability against rogue states such as Iran. For 35 minutes at the UN, Ahmadinejad did his best impression of an anti-nuke crusader, working to eradicate these weapons for humanity’s sake. Behind his peacenik façade (which is sure to take in many on the Left), however, lurks a reality that couldn’t be more contrasting.

“The possession of nuclear bombs isn’t a source of pride,” Ahmadinejad intoned piously, sounding like a spokesman for Greenpeace. “It is disgusting and rather shameful. And even more shameful is the threat to use or to use such weapons, which isn’t even comparable to any crime committed throughout the history.”

And of course top on the Iranian President’s list of “disgusting” and “shameful” countries was Israel: “While the Zionist regime has stockpiled hundreds of nuclear warheads…it enjoys the unconditional support of the United States government and its allies and receives, as well, the necessary assistance to develop its nuclear weapons program.”
Referring to Obama’s reservation of first-strike capability, Ahmadinejad said that signers of the Non-Proliferation Treaty should consider “any threat to use nuclear weapons or attack against peaceful nuclear facilities as a breach of international peace and security,” and punish the offenders accordingly.

Delegates from the U.S., Britain and France walked out of the UN General Assembly during Ahmadinejad’s speech. Perhaps they didn’t relish having to sit through the absurd charade of a ruthless despot, the president of a country that gives aid to the jihad terror groups Hamas and Hizballah and yearns to wipe Israel off the map, being allowed to enter the United States and accuse it of being a terrorist state — all the while defending his nuclear program.

This was the same Ahmadinejad, after all, who just weeks ago warned Israel not to attack the jihadists in Gaza who still shoot rockets into Israel and plot the destruction of the Jewish State: “An attack on Gaza would not make you mightier,” he said, addressing the “Zionist entity,” “and would not restore your damaged prestige. And you should know that an attack on Gaza will end your inauspicious and filthy life.”

(Read full story)

Love of the Land: Ahmadinejad Swaggers at the UN

Israel Matzav: The origins of 'linkage'

The origins of 'linkage'

In this part of the world, the term 'linkage' is usually used to refer to the notion that resolving the Israeli - Arab 'Palestinian' conflict will make it easier to resolve - if not resolve - conflicts like Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and so on. But the origins of linkage begin way before anyone had ever heard of a 'Palestinian' who was not Jewish. They go back nearly a century to the times of the British Mandate. Lee Smith, who has recently written a book called The Strong Horse: Power, Politics and the Clash of Arab Civilizations, doesn't buy into 'linkage.' And once you read his explanation of linkage's origins, I'm sure you won't buy into it either (if you ever did).

I can hardly help but recognize the central role that U.S. Middle East policy has given to the belief that, from the Persian Gulf all the way to Western North Africa, a region encompassing many thousands of tribes and clans, dozens of languages and dialects, ethnicities and religious confessions, the Arab-Israeli issue is the key factor in determining the happiness of over 300 million Arabs and an additional 1.3 billion Muslims outside of the Arabic-speaking regions. Where does such an extraordinary idea come from? The answer is the Arabs—who might be expected, in the U.S. view of the world, to give us an honest account of what is bothering them. However, this would ignore the fact that interested parties do not always disclose the entire truth of their situation, especially when they have a stake in doing otherwise.

In all relations, intimate as well as international, the goal is to convince the other side to see the world in the way that you have chosen for them to see it. As Zionist immigration started to pick up in the 1920s and 1930s, long before the United States was even a factor in the Middle East, Arab rulers explained to the British that the creation of a Jewish state would cause deep anger among the Islamic umma, or community. The notion that all Muslims could feel strongly about one particular issue that did not touch on them directly was not necessarily false, but neither was it invariably true. Religious affiliation is only one form of identity in the region, where tribal and clan loyalty often trump everything else: It tests credulity that, say, the Saud clan of the Nejd on the Arabian peninsula was more concerned with protecting wealthy Jerusalem families than with defeating its own local adversaries, such as the Hashemites.

Linkage is the narrative the Arab rulers—specially Ibn Saud, the Hashemites who ruled Iraq and Transjordan, and the Egyptian monarchy—used to compete with each other to represent the Palestinian file to the British, a privilege that would enhance the winner’s power and prestige at the expense of his rivals. If the Saudis, say, owned the right to speak for the Arabs of the Palestinian mandate, then the British would have to go through the Saudi king to win concessions, a path that the British would need to pave with gold and concessions of their own to the Saudis. The competition for the role was stiff.

In the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, many of the British Foreign Office’s bureaucrats were, following in the footsteps of T.E. Lawrence, obsessed with the notion of a great and unified Arab nation. But even as the Foreign Office’s advice to Whitehall was largely based on sentimental, or irrational, grounds, London was not entirely foggy-headed. Recognizing that war with Germany was on the horizon, the Brits did not wish to risk their position in the Levant or energy sources in the Gulf by pushing the Arabs over to the Nazis. After the war, with the Brits losing their holdings and discovering that they were incapable of continuing to balance the Jews and the Arabs, the American moment in the Middle East began in earnest. The U.S. Department of State inherited the Foreign Office’s Arab nationalist inclinations and with it the idea of linkage. President Harry S. Truman’s Secretary of State Gen. George Marshall was the first in a long line of American military men reaching up to the present who subscribed to the idea that U.S. support for the Zionist state would antagonize the world’s Muslim population. Marshall was a proponent of hard linkage who not only warned the president against recognizing Israel, but also threatened to vote against him if he did so.

So, how did Washington manage to navigate these dangerous shoals, balancing not only the Arabs and Israel, but also a large segment of its own foreign-policy establishment that was suspicious, if not downright hostile, to the Jewish state? An even neater stunt than convincing the other side to accept your perspective is to turn their idols upside down—that is, to take their worldview and use it against them. This is exactly the trick that Washington accomplished in the wake of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and the energy crisis. Henry Kissinger’s State Department began exploiting the Arab narrative for the United States’ own benefit: The United States told the Arabs that it, too, believed in linkage, and that if they wanted anything from Israel, they’d have to come through the United States to get it. The Arabs were happy to go along for the ride, especially the Saudis, who wanted to avoid a repeat of the oil embargo that OPEC imposed on the United States for siding with Israel.

Those who say they see through the myth of linkage note that the Palestinian issue can’t be that important because in fact the Arabs don’t really care about the Palestinians and just use them as a political football for their own benefit. That’s both true and not true, but what’s more instructive is that the Palestinians have caused a lot of trouble in the region for their Arab brethren. Palestinian refugees started civil wars in Jordan and Lebanon and sided with Iraq when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. If, like me, you see the region in terms of an Arab civil war, then these Palestinian uprisings are simply evidence of how one group has fought its rivals for power. But if you see the Middle East in terms of linkage, you would argue this proves your circular logic: If the Palestinian issue was resolved these wars never would have happened in the first place.

Of course, the Obama administration is currently using linkage to argue that if only Israel was more accommodating to the 'Palestinians,' it would be much easier to resolve Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. Smith rips that theory to shreds.

Indeed, the American position in the Middle East is founded on the idea that Arab regimes are incapable of defending themselves against anyone. Washington made sure these regimes can’t defeat Israel; the United States protected the Saudis from the Soviets and then from Saddam, when the American presence in the desert made the Saudis vulnerable to their own domestic opposition in the form of Osama Bin Laden. What the Saudis want now is to be protected against the Islamic Republic of Iran, but they can’t say that publicly any more than they can explain that the myth of linkage was always more about intra-Arab politics than it was about the fate of the Palestinians.

Nor apparently can the Americans admit that linkage was just a strategic instrument that leveraged the Arab narrative to the advantage of the United States. The further U.S. policymaking gets from the origins of the myth, the more magical and enticing it has become. The myth of linkage has grown to such legendary proportions at this point that it is the extent of the current White House’s Middle East policy. We have no other strategy to stop the Iranian nuclear program but linkage. Movement on the peace process, the Obama Administration believes, will get the Arab regimes to help us with Iran. The problem is that the Arabs will not help us with Iran. They want us to deal with Iran ourselves, but if we keep forcing the issue of linkage they have no choice but to go along with the ruse that everything is linked to the Arab-Israeli crisis. After all, it’s their narrative, and they can’t disown it now.

In reality, the reason the Obama Administration, Gates, and Petraeus are pushing linkage into overdrive is that there is no Iran strategy, and nothing—not even linkage—is going to stop the Iranians. They are telling the Arabs that they are going to do what they can about the Palestinian question, because they are not going to do anything about Iran. That’s the Arabs’ consolation prize for being an American ally. What a cruel joke fate has played at the expense of Arabs, who have been talking out of both sides of their mouth about the Palestinians and linkage for almost a century, a myth that came to link the fate of the Americans to that of the Arabs, and theirs to ours. Since we have no other policy than a magic trick, the Arabs have no choice but to pretend to believe it’s real.

Read the whole thing.

P.S. I'd still love to get a review copy of the book.

Israel Matzav: The origins of 'linkage'

Israel Matzav: Dershowitz turned down offer to be Israel's ambassador to the UN

Dershowitz turned down offer to be Israel's ambassador to the UN

Israel's Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Aharonoth reported on Tuesday that Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz turned down an offer from Prime Minister Netanyahu to become Israel's ambassador to the United Nations (screen capture of original Hebrew report below).

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have been searching for the right candidate for quite a long time after the appointment of Alon Pinkas, a Lieberman candidate, was taken off the agenda. The foreign minister mentioned top Jewish-American lawyer Alan Dershowitz (72) as a potential candidate, and Netanyahu loved the idea. The two sent an envoy to examine his position. If he accepted, he should have made Aliya (immigrated to Israel) and received an Israeli citizenship. Netanyahu counted on his persuasive skills, having done that before when he convinced Stanley Fischer to become Bank of Israel governor, and Fischer indeed immigrated to Israel in 2005. Yet, despite their efforts, Dershowitz declined the offer.

Dershowitz is presently Israel’s most prominent advocate when it comes to war against terror. He believes that Israel is one of the most moral states in the world and that its war against terror is, in many respects, even more moral than the US antiterror efforts.

The prime minister’s bureau responded: “We do not comment on internal discussions concerning positions on the Israeli Foreign Service.” The foreign minister’s bureau refused in principle to confirm or deny candidates’ names before a decision is made. Officials associated with the two leaders, however, confirmed the report.


Yediot May04-10 [Dershowitz Rejects Netanyahu Offer on UN]
Israel Matzav: Dershowitz turned down offer to be Israel's ambassador to the UN

Israel Matzav: Axelrod: Obama knows Jerusalem can't be first issue

Axelrod: Obama knows Jerusalem can't be first issue

Obama adviser David Axelrod told a group of Jewish journalists on Tuesday that President Obama understands that Jerusalem cannot be the first issue between Israel and the 'Palestinians.' In fact, says Axelrod, it probably ought to be the last issue.

Axelrod spoke after President Obama hosted Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace laureate and Holocaust memoirist, for lunch. Wiesel had published an advertisement in The New York Times obliquely criticizing the Obama administration for pressuring Israel to stop building in eastern Jerusalem; Axelrod said Obama's lunch invitation to Wiesel predated the ad.

Disagreements over Jerusalem in March had precipitated two months of U.S.-Israel tensions, which Wiesel declared were now over.

"The tension I think is gone, which is good," he said after the lunch.

Jennifer Rubin is incredulous:

So let’s review. The adviser who went on the Sunday talk shows to make clear how angry Obama was over a Jerusalem housing project and has personally counseled the president to go beserk with the Israelis over the issue and who presumably is aware of the threat to abstain rather than veto a UN resolution should that building proceed now says it’s the last issue we should talk about. If you’re confused, I’m sure the parties in the region are, too. There are several explanations.

She goes on to give three explanations. This is the one that I find most plausible.

Or the Obama brain trust may be practicing some bizarre word games and hoping everyone plays along. Yes, yes, Jerusalem is a final status issue, but we can’t let Israel “predetermine” the outcome by building in its capital (even though this was precisely the agreement reached with the Bush administration), so “final” doesn’t mean they won’t make demands on the Israeli government now.

But of course, the Obami have disavowed other commitments made by President Bush, so why not this one too? You mean diplomacy isn't practiced that way? Well, maybe it's time for some CHANGE!

Actually, the real question about this explanation is why if Israel cannot be allowed to predetermine the outcome, it can still be predetermined by the 'Palestinians' who are allowed to continue to build freely in Jerusalem (backed up by American threats if any buildings are destroyed). Shouldn't sauce for the goose be sauce for the gander? If it's only Israel that cannot be build, what incentive is there for the 'Palestinians' to bargain in good faith? They have nothing to lose!

Israel Matzav: Axelrod: Obama knows Jerusalem can't be first issue

Israel Matzav: Syria slams US extension of sanctions, transfers missiles to Hezbullah that can hit Tel Aviv

Syria slams US extension of sanctions, transfers missiles to Hezbullah that can hit Tel Aviv

Syria reacted with anger to the United States' decision to extend sanctions against the terror supporting nation.

Government-owned Al-Thawra newspaper warned on Wednesday that Washington's move keeps the region in a state of hostility.


Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad slammed the sanctions and said they show Washington "has lost its credibility."

The newspaper — considered a government mouthpiece — says the move is "disappointing, but we were not surprised."

U.S.-Syrian ties were improving, but tensions reemerged after Israel accused Syria of sending weapons to Lebanese Hezbollah militants. Syria denies the allegations.

Well, if the Syrians threaten to end 'engagement,' maybe Obama will relent. But in the meantime, it's come out that the Syrians have transferred M-600 missiles to Hezbullah. The missiles are capable of hitting Tel Aviv.

Syria has delivered advanced M-600 missiles to Hizbullah within the past year, Haaretz newspaper quoted Israeli defense officials as saying Wednesday.

The M-600, a Syrian copy of the Iranian Fateh-110, has a range of 300 kilometers and is capable of carrying a half-ton warhead.

If fired from southern Lebanon, the rocket is capable of hitting Tel Aviv.

The latest Israeli claims come only weeks after accusations that Syria had transferred long-range Scud missiles to Hizbullah.

How's that 'smart diplomacy' working out?

Meanwhile, in another success story for 'smart diplomacy,' Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will be visiting Syria in the near future.

Israel Matzav: Syria slams US extension of sanctions, transfers missiles to Hezbullah that can hit Tel Aviv

Israel Matzav: Ani Yehudi (I am a Jew)

Ani Yehudi (I am a Jew)

This is not the overnight music video but it is a new song that was sent to me by Shy Guy. There are subtitles.

Let's go to the videotape.

Israel Matzav: Ani Yehudi (I am a Jew)

Israel Matzav: Iran claims new air defense system

Iran claims new air defense system

Iran is claiming that it has developed a new air defense system that is designed "to counter air attacks, different kinds of airplanes, cruise missiles, choppers and other air threats in low altitudes." It claims to have inaugurated a production line for the system on Tuesday (Hat Tip: Will).

"The defense system has been designed on the basis of increasing the volume of fire and controlling it by a reliable system," [Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad] Vahidi added.

He said high destruction power, decreased number of the needed crew in comparison with similar defense artilleries, rapid reaction against threats, high volume of fire with 4,000 shots per minute and increased targeting precision are among the major features of the newly produced defense system.

Vahidi reminded that the Mesbah 1 missile shield is also capable of tracing and intercepting Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAVs).

Vahidi had announced on Sunday that his ministry produced a powerful anti-missile system to destroy incoming cruise missiles.

"Experts at the defense ministry have succeeded in building a short-range air-defense artillery system that is able to fire 4,000 shots per minute," Vahidi said in an interview with FNA.

"The system has been produced to confront military threats flying at low altitudes such as cruise missiles," the minister went on saying.

Vahidi stressed that the system will officially start operation in the near future.

He also pointed out that the ministry is working on different short-range, mid-range and long-range air-defense systems.

Hey guys - what ever happened to that S-300 you were supposed to be buying from the Russians (pictured)? Heh.

Israel Matzav: Iran claims new air defense system

Israel Matzav: How Obama enables Iran

How Obama enables Iran

Anne Bayefsky explains how President Obama's behavior and use of the United Nations has enabled Iran to defy the 'international community.'

It is President Obama who decided last September to be the first American President to preside over a session of the Security Council and then deleted "nuclear nonproliferation - Iran" from the draft agenda. Obama himself chose the subject matter of that summit. He added nuclear disarmament to nuclear nonproliferation and turned nonproliferation into a game of "you first."

It is Obama who decided to host an April Security Summit touted as "the largest gathering of countries hosted by an American President . . . since the conference in San Francisco around the United Nations." He selected the subject matter and then refused to add Iran.

It is Obama who, for the first time, has linked the issue of Israeli concessions to the prospect of getting serious about an Iranian bomb - a policy that has all the hallmarks of looking for a Jewish scapegoat when an Iranian bomb becomes a reality.

And it is Obama who has now told European leaders that he will insist on an international conference to create a Palestinian state regardless of whether Palestinians move an inch to throw out their elected leaders, who continue to reject coexistence with Israel. Again, Obama's move places the UN in center court, since the conference is to be organized by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's brainchild, the Quartet. The Quartet is composed of the UN, Russia, the European Union and the United States. Rather than being an independent actor, "the UN" plays the role of errand boy for the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

So it is hardly surprising that Ahmadinejad leaped for the UN microphone.

And he can't even blame Bush for this one.

Israel Matzav: How Obama enables Iran

Israel Matzav: J Call, J Street and trust

J Call, J Street and trust

The JPost's Haviv Rettig Gur makes what is probably an inevitable comparison between J Call and J Street.

Drawn largely from the French-speaking world, it has faced criticism from many Francophone Jewish groups, including the French and Belgian communal umbrella organizations, the CRIF and the CCOJB.

Worse, it has faced “praise” from some of Israel’s avowed enemies, such as the Iranian regime’s Press TV Web site’s glowing report about the group’s “stand against Israel.”

Since its message is similar to J Street’s, the criticism has also been roughly the same: While perhaps well-meaning, the group besmirches Israel by placing the onus for the failure of peace talks on the Jewish state.

Chemla excuses this focus by noting that, as Jews, the petition signatories are merely speaking to their Jewish brethren.

Yet, say critics, as actors in an international arena where Israel is often made the pariah among the nations, doesn’t the group have a responsibility to also speak about Palestinian responsibility for the failure of peace talks? Does it truly believe that Israel alone controls the pace or success of the negotiations? And tactically, critics complain, the group’s dire warnings are counterproductive, since they convince the Palestinians that time is on their side.

The JCall petition argues that peace negotiations are “urgent,” and failing to pursue them could be “disastrous” for Israel. Why, if you were on the Palestinian negotiating team, would you want to help the Israelis out of that jam?

As with J Street, the answer to these questions does not lie in what the group says, but in the question it doesn’t quite answer.

Rettig Gur goes on to argue that J Street is a 'serious supporter of Israel.' I don't believe that and I doubt any of you do either. To the extent that J Street has brought itself more into line with Israeli government positions, that's been because failing to do so meant that it was shunned by the Israeli government and was completely ineffective.

But what's curious here is how Rettig Gur describes the difference between J Street and J Call, on the one hand and AIPAC on the other:

So what’s the difference? The difference is trust. At the end of the day, AIPAC, which supports the two-state position articulated by every Israeli and American government since 1992, generally views Israel’s leaders as honest in their pursuit of peace, while Palestinian leaders are seen as rejectionist.

J Street, on the other hand, does not trust Israeli intentions nearly as much. Asked if he trusted Binyamin Netanyahu’s declaration of support for Palestinian statehood, J Street director Jeremy Ben-Ami told the Post that Netanyahu himself “hasn’t answered that question... We will support this prime minister and every step he takes that supports the end of this conflict.”

JCall, too, is not innovative in its call for a two-state solution, but in its distrust of the Israeli government’s willingness to pursue that declared policy.


Israel, take note. The divide today between the large Diaspora “Right” and the newer, smaller Diaspora “Left” is not about policy, but about trust.

I would argue that mistrust is mutual. And with good reason.

I would argue that there's another difference. If Israel were to formally drop the 'two-state solution' (i.e. acknowledge the reality that it will never happen), the Diaspora "Right" would continue to support it. The Diaspora "Left" would not.

Israel Matzav: J Call, J Street and trust

Israel Matzav: Meet Britain's new foreign minister?

Meet Britain's new foreign minister?

There is concern in Jerusalem over the prospect that Liberal Democratic party leader Nick Clegg could become foreign minister in a new British government.

Privately, however, the view in Jerusalem is that it would be deeply problematic for Israel were Clegg’s party to unexpectedly prevail in the elections or, more realistically, fare well enough to deny Labor or the Conservatives an outright majority in the House of Commons. Clegg has repeatedly lambasted Israel for using “disproportionate” force in Operation Cast Lead, slammed the blockade of Gaza and, in an op-ed article last year, demanded that Britain and the EU halt arms sales to Israel.

According to reports in the British press on Tuesday, the Lib-Dems would demand at least six senior ministerial positions as its price for joining a coalition, including the post of foreign secretary, as well as the title of deputy prime minister for Clegg.

Clegg’s well-regarded performance over a series of three live TV debates in the run-up to polling day has been the surprise of the election campaign. It has helped lift the Lib-Dems above Brown’s troubled Labor in several opinion polls, to just a few percentage points behind Cameron’s leading Conservatives, prompting Clegg to assert that he is a genuine contender for the prime ministership. The nature of the British constituency system makes it extremely unlikely that the Lib-Dems could take power, but many polls in recent days have indicated that a hung parliament is likely, which would leave Clegg as the kingmaker, well-placed to demand a high price in return for joining a Conservative- or Labor-led coalition as junior partner.

Clegg’s criticisms of Israel, notably since Cast Lead, have been noted with dismay in Jerusalem, where eyebrows are also raised over his reported connections with certain Arab figures who hold to problematic ideologies. His stance on Iran in the TV debates has also prompted concern, since he was seen to underestimate the dangers posed by Teheran’s nuclear program – in contrast to both Brown and Cameron.

The current British foreign secretary, David Miliband, is not regarded by Jerusalem as the most supportive such figure in recent memory, but Israel, runs the view here, would be looking back fondly at Miliband as a font of pro-Israel empathy were Clegg to succeed him.

Clegg’s most trenchant public criticism of Israel came in an opinion piece he wrote for The Guardian in January 2009, at the height of Operation Cast Lead, headlined “We must stop arming Israel.”

“Israel’s approach is self-defeating,” he argued. “The overwhelming use of force, the unacceptable loss of civilian lives, is radicalizing moderate opinion among Palestinians and throughout the Arab world.”

Consequently, he urged Brown to “condemn unambiguously Israel’s tactics, just as he has rightly condemned Hamas’s rocket attacks.” And he called both to “immediately suspend the proposed new [EU] cooperation agreement with Israel until things change in Gaza,” and “halt Britain’s arms exports to Israel, and persuade our EU counterparts to do the same.”


For the record, one of my business contacts in Britain is close with Conservative party leader David Cameron and tells me that Cameron is sincerely committed to Israel. In fact, if you go here, you will see that four years ago, Cameron was more realistic and sympathetic to Israel's plight than then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert!

Then again, we once thought Gordon Brown was committed to Israel too.

For the record, if I was voting, I would vote for the Conservatives, but I'm not convinced anyone is going to make Britain very pro-Israel these days.

Israel Matzav: Meet Britain's new foreign minister?

Israel Matzav: The lesson of ignoring 'Palestinian' incitement

The lesson of ignoring 'Palestinian' incitement

Speaking of an 'incitement index'....

"We.became so preoccupied with this process that the process took on a life of its own. It had self-sustaining justification. Every time there was a behavior, or an incident, or an event that was inconsistent with what the process was supposed to be about, the impulse was to rationalize it, finesse it, find a way around it and not allow it to break the process, because the process seemed to have promise . I admit that I did not take into consideration the gravity of Palestinian incitement. I was too liberal on the subject."

-- Dennis Ross, Australia Jewish Review on June 15, 2001 (Hat Tip: Lenny B)

Is it happening again? Are we preoccupied with the process? Obama sure is.

Israel Matzav: The lesson of ignoring 'Palestinian' incitement

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinians' make additional precondition to 'proximity talks'; Meridor: They won't go anywhere anyway

'Palestinians' make additional precondition to 'proximity talks'; Meridor: They won't go anywhere anyway

The 'proximity talks' among Israel, the 'Palestinians' and US Special Middle East envoy George Mitchell were scheduled to start on Wednesday with a meeting between Mitchell and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. But they may not start on Wednesday. The 'Palestinians' have added an additional condition for starting the talks - which condition has not been made public - and that has thrown the talks' start into doubt.

Regardless, says Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, one of the two Left-leaning members of Netanyahu's inner cabinet, the talks are doomed to failure.

In an interview that will be published in full in Friday’s Post, Meridor, who is in charge of intelligence and atomic affairs, said he was afraid the Palestinians were trying to avoid making “tough decisions,” by maneuvering the US and the world into imposing a solution to the conflict.


Meridor said a Palestinian attempt to avoid making tough decisions and bring about an imposed solution “won’t work.”

“This won’t work,” Meridor told the Post. “And I think the Americans tell this to the Palestinians. I think the corridor we go through, the entrance we go through to the [direct] talks – indirect talks, proximity talks – will not yield results. I hope yes, but think not. Everyone will want to pull America to their own side, and they won’t get closer, [rather] they will get farther apart...

“I think we need to go quickly to direct talks, in which we’ll have to make tough decisions, and they will have to make tough decisions,” Meridor said.

No one, he said, not the US, the European Union or the UN, can decide “for us that French Hill [in northeast Jerusalem] is Palestine, or Ma’aleh Adumim [east of the capital] is Palestine. They cannot do that. We need to come to an agreement.”

And this agreement, Meridor said, will only come through direct negotiations and tough decisions by both parties. He defined tough decisions as those that go against the “expectations of your own people.”

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinians' make additional precondition to 'proximity talks'; Meridor: They won't go anywhere anyway

Israel Matzav: The 'incitement index'

The 'incitement index'

It sounds like the Israeli government is actually going to get serious about monitoring 'Palestinian' incitement in the media, a task that was left until now to private organizations like Palestinian Media Watch and MEMRI.

Yossi Kuperwasser, the director-general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, is to bring a report on Palestinian incitement to the security cabinet, along with a new governmental mechanism – a so-called “incitement index” – that will monitor and quantify incitement on a regular basis.

“We ultimately see this as a litmus test to how the Palestinians are committed to peace,” a senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office said on Tuesday. “If the Palestinian leadership is putting extremists and terrorists on a pedestal as national heroes, that does not show a commitment to peace. By preparing their people for peace, a commitment to reconciliation can be demonstrated.”

The official said it was no coincidence this report and mechanism were coming to the security cabinet for a discussion just as the proximity talks were being started, sending a signal about the importance Israel attributes to the matter, and as a sign that Jerusalem expects this issue to be on the agenda during the indirect talks.

This sounds like a great idea so long as the index isn't used to demonstrate 'improvement' while significant amounts of incitement still exist. I'm glad to see that the government is taking an interest.

Israel Matzav: The 'incitement index'

Israel Matzav: Good luck with that!

Good luck with that!

French President Nicolai Sarkozy is sending two senior advisers to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has instructed two of his senior advisors to visit Damascus and ask Syrian President Bashar Assad to promote a state of calm in the region, the Lebanese as-Safir newspaper reported Tuesday.

It remains unclear when the two will depart for Syria.

Good luck with that.

What is it with the West and Assad? He's a dictator of a country with a backward economy that produces nothing and does nothing but stir up trouble. In the old days, the civilized countries of the world would have gotten together and dumped Assad on his rear end. Today, they kiss his rear end instead. It's surreal.

Israel Matzav: Good luck with that!

Israel Matzav: Stupid Jews?

Stupid Jews?

A lot of Jews were pleased on Tuesday that President Obama had a 'good, Kosher lunch' with author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Wiesel himself commented afterward that he believed that tensions between Israel and the Obama administration are 'lessening' and a lot of American Jews want to believe that's true so that they have no pangs of conscience when they once again pull the lever for a Democrat in November. But Ben Smith reports on a far more ominous dinner that took place at the White House on Saturday night and Jennifer Rubin warns that the dinner shows that our problems with the White House are far from over. This is from Rubin's blog post quoting Smith:

Smith also picks up this tidbit:

Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber drew the camera flashes at the White House Correspondents dinner, but foreign policy geeks took closer note of the TPM table, where National Security Council Chief of Staff Denis McDonough — probably the most powerful foreign policy staffer in the administration — was seated with the two grand old men of “realist politics,” former National Security Advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Also at the table, New America’s Steve Clemons, who qualified that he and the others are “progressive realists” and added that the table also included “Sex and the City” creator Darren Starr and TPM founder Josh Marshall, the host.

Scowcroft and Brzezinski have been vying for influence in the Obama White House since Obama introduced the latter in Iowa, then distanced himself from him over Israel. They’re currently central to the efforts to persuade Obama to advance his own Mideast peace plan.

McDonough, who came up on the process-oriented Hill, tends to keep his own broader views on foreign policy close to the vest.

To translate: one of the administration’s key foreign-policy hands goes to the most highly publicized event in town to hob-nob with the advisor who Obama had sworn during the campaign not to be an advisor, who has suggested that we shoot down Israeli planes if they cross Iraqi air space on the way to Iran, and who wants to impose a peace deal on Israel. And, for good measure, he sits with the purveyors of a website infamous for puff pieces on terrorists and committed to a hard-left anti-Israel line. It was an act of defiance — see who our friends are? Well, I guess we do.

So the question remains whether the Jewish community is as easily lulled into passivity as the Obama administration believes. Can a few carefully worded speeches get American Jews off their backs? After all, they’ve been so mute about the effort by Obama to undermine sanctions. And really, they were able to “condemn” Israel without being condemned in turn by the Jewish groups, which have clung so dearly to the Democratic Party. Smith shouldn’t be skeptical: American Jewish officialdom is falling over themselves to make up with the administration. Whether rank-and-file members and the larger Jewish community are as easily swayed, remains to be seen.

I'm pretty sure that the larger Jewish community is as easily lulled into passivity as its putative leaders. Fortunately for Israel, it's not Jewish support that causes the US to support us these days.

Stupid Jews. You all came here via a Google search thinking you'd find a picture of Kardashian, didn't you? Heh.

Israel Matzav: Stupid Jews?

Israel Matzav: Why is this simple point so difficult to understand?

Why is this simple point so difficult to understand?

Commenting on the Obama administration's disclosure of the number of nuclear weapons held by the United States, Max Boot explains the simple logic of whose nuclear weapons ought to worry us, and whose nuclear weapons ought not to worry us.

Implicit in Madam Secretary’s statement is a sort of moral equivalence, which suggests that our nukes are, at some level, just as problematic as those of, say, North Korea, and that if we show the right path toward transparency and arms control, rogue states will follow our lead.

In reality, American nukes are as different from those being built by Iran or North Korea as a cop’s handgun is from a gun wielded by a serial killer. What counts is not killing capacity but in whose hands it resides. No one worries about British or French or American nukes. Nor should anyone worry about Israeli nukes — as long as Israel doesn’t face annihilation, they will never be used.

That’s because countries like the U.S. and Israel have democratic systems with checks and safeguards against capricious use of the ultimate weapons. The problem with Iran is that it has no such safeguards. If it were to acquire nukes, its weapons would be in the hands of millenarian religious fanatics who jail or kill anyone who criticizes them. Seeing America downsize its nuclear arsenal or disclose its size won’t make the mullahs follow suit; if anything, it will embolden them to be more aggressive because they will see the latest gestures by the administration (correctly) as an indication of our lack of resolve to stop them.

Why does the Obama administration not seem to get this simple reality? You can't attribute this one to hating Israel - even the Obama administration must understand that Iran threatens other countries beside Israel. You also can't attribute it to his love of Islam - Saudi Arabia is just as Islamic as Iran - unless you claim that Obama is a Shia and not a Sunni (an assertion I don't believe to be correct). So why doesn't he get it? Why does he seem to be doing everything possible to facilitate Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon? Why does he insist on carrying out the logic of treating everyone equally to the extreme conclusion that the United States is not only no better or different than Russia or China, but that it is also no different or better than Iran or North Korea?

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Why is this simple point so difficult to understand?

Israel Matzav: Will Brandeis allow another pro-Israel speaker?

Will Brandeis allow another pro-Israel speaker?

One of the dreams of my mother - of blessed memory - was that my brother or I (or both) would go to Brandeis. It was an excellent university, it was right up the road, it wasn't snotty like Harvard or all sciences like MIT. Why not Brandeis? In the end, we both disappointed her. Although it drew five of the 27 graduates in my class, I was not one of them; as you all may recall, I went to Columbia. My brother went to another Boston-area school.

Of late, I give Brandeis a lot of credit. They managed to pull off the Goldstone - Gold debate in a relatively civil atmosphere. They buckled under and didn't allow Alan Dershowitz to debate Jimmy Carter, but at least they allowed Dershowitz to speak. That's much better than a lot of other North American and European universities are doing these days. And to howls of protest, they have invited Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren, who was a contemporary of mine at Columbia, and who is also a well-respected historian and scholar, to receive an honorary degree and to speak at their commencement. Except that Brandeis is coming under a lot of pressure to revoke the invitation. Will they stand up to it? Phyllis Chesler weighs in:

In 2006, Jordan’s Prince Hassan bin Talal delivered the keynote address at graduation. Students did not protest Jordan’s human rights record vis a vis the Palestinians both in 1970 and in 2010, or in terms of torturing its own citizens, nor its abysmal record on honor-related violence, including honor killings. Indeed, no one held Jordan accountable for its systematic past desecration of Jewish holy places and for its evacuation of Jews from the Jewish quarter in 1948. A prince who represents a country and a regime that behaves in this way is as “political” as Oren could ever be. The only difference is that one man is an Arab, Muslim prince, while the other is an intellectual Jew and an American-Israeli. Students did not create online petitions to debate the merits of choosing Jordan’s prince as a speaker.

The Justice, Brandeis’s student newspaper, has published a range of views on Ambassador Oren. In a roundup of opinion, Jackie Saffir, senator for the class of 2010, is quoted as having said she was “disappointed” (even before she heard what Oren might have to say), that his “perspective is not a fresh one….worse, allowing him to speak might actually give people the idea that Brandeis is a Jewish school.”

Imagine the shame of that!

Brandeis students on both sides of this divide have now launched petitions and Facebook groups. The fact that an almost equal number of students support and oppose Oren’s right to free speech has led some students to conclude that this alone “is reason enough for him not to speak.”

Please understand: I write this as the mother and mother-in-law of two former Brandeis students who both loved the school and as someone who once happily taught a course there. I have the fondest memories of Brandeis and deeply appreciate its commitment to high standards; diversity; debate; gender, religious, and racial equality; and its ability to make everyone feel warmly embraced.

However, this problem is bigger than this one instance; Brandeis has done nothing wrong. True, Brandeis has indulged many opposite points of view, including that of left liberalism, a view which has now turned on Israel with a vengeance. The question is only whether or how well the Brandeis community will now withstand the politically correct tides of anti-Semitism, censorship, and self-censorship, which threaten to engulf the world and the tiny Jewish state.

Will they? Read the whole thing.

For the record, Mom considered Brandeis a 'Jewish school.'

By the way, I wonder what it would take to get this Brandeis alumnus invited to speak there. Heh.

Israel Matzav: Will Brandeis allow another pro-Israel speaker?

Israel Matzav: Freeze enforcement funding rejected for 5th time

Freeze enforcement funding rejected for 5th time

The Knesset Finance Committee rejected an NIS 18 million funding request for the Defense Ministry on Tuesday, because at least part of the money was to fund 'inspectors' who would enforce the 'settlement freeze' in Judea and Samaria. It was the fifth time that the panel has rejected the funding request. MK's from both the coalition and the opposition (including Kadima) voted against the funding.

In accordance with a request from the Finance Committee during the previous session to discuss the funding, Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot attended the meeting to personally explain to the committee the need for the additional funds.

Dangot, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), told the committee that he felt that the word "inspectors" was unfair, and did injustice to the civil servants who worked in the difficult position of enforcing civil authority in the West Bank.

Dangot said that the request for NIS 18 million was not exclusively to fund inspectors for the building moratorium, but also for Civil Administration officials to engage in other activities including ecological protection.

He could not say what percentage of the NIS 18 million would be dedicated to moratorium enforcement as compared to the other activities included on his list.

MKs from both the opposition and the coalition, led by MK Uri Ariel (NU/NRP) refused to vote on the budgetary approval for the NIS 18 million before Defense Minister Ehud Barak stands before the committee to explain the need for the budgetary reallocation.


Israel Matzav: Freeze enforcement funding rejected for 5th time

Israel Matzav: The NPT: A status quo that's 40 years out of date

The NPT: A status quo that's 40 years out of date

Bret Stephens is spot-on about why the nuclear non-proliferation treaty no longer works.

There's a reason the NPT has failed the administration. It enshrines a status quo that is 40 years out of date. Today, four of the world's nine nuclear-weapons states are not signatories to the treaty. Of those four, three—India, Israel and Pakistan—are democracies and allies of the U.S. And yet the NPT treats them as pariahs for not subscribing to a treaty that fails to recognize their imperative national security interests, at least as they themselves perceive them. The Canadas of the world may be happy to go along with the NPT, secure as they are under America's nuclear umbrella. That was a luxury India, Israel and Pakistan did not enjoy when they embarked on their nuclear programs.

Now Iran, in connivance with the usual Middle Eastern suspects (and their useful idiots in the West), is trying to use the NPT as a cudgel to force Israel to disarm. That makes perfect sense if you subscribe, as Mr. Obama does, to the theology of nuclear disarmament. It makes no sense if you think the distinction that matters when it comes to nuclear weapons is between responsible, democratic states, and reckless, unstable and dictatorial ones. Nobody lies awake at night wondering what David Cameron might do if he gets his finger on the U.K.'s nuclear trigger.

The world today is rapidly moving toward what strategist Andrew Krepinevich calls the "second nuclear age," in which deterrence no longer works as it did during the Cold War. "It may be," he writes, "that leaders of the newly armed nuclear states do not calculate costs and benefits in a manner similar to the United States." Yet we haven't even begun to think seriously about how to navigate these waters. Hillary Clinton's mindless calls yesterday about strengthening the NPT won't do.

One day a Pathfinder with tinted windows may park itself in Times Square with something more than propane tanks in the back seat. We may not be able to stop it. But we will live more securely if the driver of that car knows exactly what we intend to do next.

Well, yes, although I have my doubts about Pakistan and I do worry about others with whom they may have shared their nuclear technology. But as to the rest of it he's correct, and it would behoove the big powers like the United States to deal with the world as it is and not as they would like it to be.

Israel Matzav: The NPT: A status quo that's 40 years out of date

Israel Matzav: Video: 'If terrorists are glorified, how can there be peace'?

Video: 'If terrorists are glorified, how can there be peace'?

Palestinian Media Watch has launched a TV ad campaign in Washington, D.C., to highlight the need for peace education as prerequisite for peace. The 30-second TV spot is running on CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and Headline News in the Washington area this month to point out the negative impact on peace of the Palestinian Authority's policy to glorify terrorists.

The entire ad campaign is made possible through the initiative and financial support of a private donor.

This campaign coincides with PMW's release this week in Washington of the new PMW report, From Terrorists to Role Models: The Palestinian Authority's Institutionalization of Incitement. The 26-page report and additional documentation will be presented to members of Congress on Thursday at an event sponsored by Congressman Brad Sherman, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, and Congressman Steven Rothman, member of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

The ad campaign and the report follow the U.S. administration's strong and public condemnation of Palestinian glorification of terrorists as an impediment to peace.

Let's go to the videotape.

More here.

Israel Matzav: Video: 'If terrorists are glorified, how can there be peace'?

Israel Matzav: Armed 'Palestinians' to patrol in Judea and Samaria and in Jerusalem?

Armed 'Palestinians' to patrol in Judea and Samaria and in Jerusalem?

The Netanyahu government is considering allowing armed 'Palestinians' to patrol Arab-populated towns in Judea and Samaria and some Arab suburbs of Jerusalem that are outside the 'security fence.'

Israel is considering handing over security responsibilities to Palestinians in additional West Bank towns under U.S.-backed plans for resuming peace talks, Israeli and Palestinian security sources said.

The sources named Abu Dis, a town at the edge of Jerusalem once seen as a possible Palestinian seat of government, as one of the more significant sites where Israel is weighing whether to soon permit armed Palestinian police to patrol.

An Israeli security source said this week it is "an idea Israel is considering" if George Mitchell, U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy, succeeds in resuming peace talks with Palestinians stalled since December 2008.


Palestinian security sources have said the United States also asked Israel to give Palestinians wider security control over some towns in occupied land, in addition to releasing prisoners and removing more roadblocks to allow freer movement.

A Palestinian official quoting police in Abu Dis, who now number a handful of unarmed men, said this week they were told they would be given greater security control later this month, when they would be permitted to carry weapons.


The United States has in the last few years helped train Palestinian police now in charge of most major West Bank cities as a counterbalance to Hamas Islamist rivals of Western-backed Abbas. Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

But Israel has not permitted armed Palestinian forces to patrol in any West Bank town as close to Jerusalem as Abu Dis, and any Israeli agreement to do so could signal important progress was being made on a core conflict issue.

Many Palestinians regard Abu Dis, a town of 12,000, as a part of Jerusalem, as symbolized by a university there bearing the city's name, though the town is now isolated from the holy city by a cement barrier Israel built citing security reasons.

Does anyone else remember the first death of an Israeli in Judea and Samaria during the Oslo terror war?

The first to be killed, Ethiopian immigrant Border Police Supt. Yosef Asrasa Tabajia, 27, was shot at point-blank range by his Palestinian counterpart while on a joint patrol in Kalkilya on September 29.

What has changed in the last ten years? Have the 'Palestinians' become less hostile? What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Armed 'Palestinians' to patrol in Judea and Samaria and in Jerusalem?

Love of the Land: Ha'aretz, Holier Than the Pope

Ha'aretz, Holier Than the Pope

04 May '10

Ha'aretz's reaction to the visit of an Israeli Arab delegation with Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi revealed just how tenuous the media outlet's grip on reality is. The delegation's harsh condemnation by those on the right of the Israeli political spectrum was apparently too much for the editors of Ha'aretz, who promptly spoke out to defend the Arab delegation and to attack those who dared criticize it.

An April 30 editorial ("Arab MK's Libya Trip a Path to Mideast Peace") stated:

Hysteria gripped the right wing in the Knesset after an Arab delegation of MKs and dignitaries visited Libya. . . .The tongues of Habayit Hayehudi and National Union, two parties that could unite under the name "the Racist Union," were abruptly unleashed as though they were dealing with an unparalleled act of treason. . .
Libya is not on the list of enemy states. . . Libya signed the Arab League's peace initiative, holds the League's rotating presidency, and its ruler Muammar Gadhafi maintains excellent relations with the U.S. administration.

Following the depiction of Libya as one of the most important and enlightened countries in the world, the editorial writer explains to us, the ignorant readers, the motive and the justice of the Israeli Arab visit:

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Ha'aretz, Holier Than the Pope

Love of the Land: Righteous Jews, Not So Righteous Jews, and Just Damn Jews

Righteous Jews, Not So Righteous Jews, and Just Damn Jews

Ken Waltzer
03 May '10

In a recent bizarre speech at the Palestine Center in Washington DC, April 29, “The Future ofPalestine: Righteous Jews vs. New Afrikaners, ” political scientist John Mearsheimer went over the top.[1] He predicted the future in the otherwise unpredictable Middle East, characterizing Israelis as inevitable “Afrikaners” in charge of an apartheid state and Palestinians as inevitable secular democrats. He also characterized American Jews as either righteous Jews (if they agree with him and demonize Israel) or as “new Afrikaners” loyal to the Zionist state (if they don’t).

Regarding American Jews in general, it was somewhat unclear in his mind whether they could achieve the standard of righteousness to which he aspires for them, that is, adopt the views articulated by the likes of Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, or the crackpot Phil Weiss, or would simply when the time came turn out to be damn Jews.

This speech will stimulate new questions about Mearsheimer, co-author of the Israel Lobby, and his attitudes about Jews and his judgment. That book was sloppy and tendentious scholarship but this speech went well beyond. To Mearsheimer, Israelis are stumbling toward full-fledged apartheid in a Greater Israel; American Jewish leaders are “blindly loyal” to a foreign state. The Israel lobby (AIPAC etc) embraces racism and endorses Greater Israel. All righteous people, Mearsheimer implied, ought to be opposed to Israel on anti-racist grounds. Apparently, it is today okay once again to objectify Jews or groups of Jews as out of step with humane values.

A century ago, the social scientist Edward A. Ross stood on Union Square in New York City watching the immigrant Jews going by, commenting on their physiognomy whose features to him betrayed obvious failures of intelligence and promise. Now, another social scientist presumes to comment on all the Jews - there and also here -- and on their moral promise. What happened to the cautious Mearsheimer who told the Forward in 2006 one must address these subjects carefully? “I don’t have an agenda…,” he said.


Why is it once again acceptable for otherwise intelligent people to say the damnedest things about the Jews? The answer lies in part in the moralism with which some address complicated political issues and also in the campist tendency by which many align with one or another side in the Middle East conflict. The answer lies too in the outsized noble sense of right - yes, the idealism - with which they come to the issue --even supposed “realists” like Mearsheimer.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Righteous Jews, Not So Righteous Jews, and Just Damn Jews

Love of the Land: Convenient moral blindness

Convenient moral blindness

Caroline Glick
05 May '10

Moral blindness in the face of evil is depravity. But in the upside-down moral universe of our world today, moral blindness has become a badge of honor. If you refuse to call evil by its name, then you are a moderate. And if you stand up to evil, you are yourself an extremist.

The embrace of moral blindness as an emblem of sophistication is nowhere more apparent than among American Jews. Take recent events on US college campuses. This week the Washington Times reported that a large and vocal group of Brandeis University students are organizing to protest the university's decision to invite Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren to give this year's commencement address.

In a Facebook initiative led by a student named Jonathan Sussman, several hundred students have joined the demand to disinvite Oren. Sussman claims that by inviting him, Brandeis is siding with "a rogue state apologist, a defender of (among other things) the war crimes and human rights abuses of the war on Gaza."

Sussman gained notoriety earlier this year when he sought to organize students to disrupt former UN ambassador Dore Gold in a debate the university hosted between Gold and Richard Goldstone. Sussman, a self-proclaimed Communist is a member of the anti-American Students for Democratic Society.

For their part, pro-Israel students have defended the administration's decision to invite Oren on technical grounds. In a dedicated Facebook page, Brandeis student Nathan Mizrachi wrote that protesting Oren is a "waste of time." While allowing that Oren is controversial, Mizrachi argued against protesting his speech by claiming, "anyone who is consistently contributing to our worldview in a dignified, widely respected manner - instead of idiots like Michael Moore or Fox News - is someone who merits our attention."

Mizrachi couldn't bring himself to argue that Brandeis was right to invite Oren. He couldn't be bothered to note that everything Sussman wrote is a lie. The most ringing endorsement of Oren's appearance that Mizrachi could muster in response to Sussman's latest attack was to say that it was a waste of time to protest his appearance and that it "would truly be a disgrace to our university," if protesters were to shout Oren down at commencement.

No offense to Mizrachi but his Facebook counteroffensive is not exactly what most people would call a particularly heroic defense of Oren, Brandeis or Israel.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Convenient moral blindness

Love of the Land: Israel’s democracy wars

Israel’s democracy wars

Why is it assumed that the doyens of Israeli academia are necessarily democratic and good judges of the country’s democratic character?

Prof. Shlomo Sand

Seth J. Frantzman
Terra Incognita/JPost
04 May '10

The most common nervous reaction among a certain segment of Israel’s left is the refrain that Israel is always threatened by undemocratic forces from within. The Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University recently released a poll showing that the average adult Jewish Israeli believes “there is too much freedom of expression” and that many respondents “favor punishing Israeli citizens who support sanctioning or boycotting the country.”

Haaretz’s headline screamed “Israel’s Jews back gag on rights groups.”

The reaction was fast and furious from the academic establishment, which had commissioned the study. Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal of TAU claimed “Israelis have a distorted perception of democracy – most people are almost anti-democratic.”

David Newman of Ben-Gurion University and fellow Jerusalem Post columnist claimed the results were “very worrying.”

THE SURVEY was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Large segments of Israeli academia and various organizations like the Israeli Democracy Institute believe the public is anti-democratic and they craft surveys to tell them exactly that. The fact that the survey measured only Jewish members of society should have been a red herring.

It is no different from a survey by Ma’agar Mochrot in March that surveyed Arabs and Jews on “democracy” but primarily wanted to examine young people’s attitudes on the state’s Arab citizens. What about what the Arabs had to say about the Jews and the state?

Why is it assumed that the doyens of Israeli academia are necessarily democratic and good judges of the country’s democratic character? Bar-Tal, for instance, is on the editorial board of the Palestine-Israel Journal whose logo is a Palestinian flag and an Israeli flag without the Star of David and which routinely refers to Palestinian terrorism as “resistance.” When they “understand” Palestinian terrorism, support boycotts of Israel, the “one-state solution” or encourage soldiers not go to the army, are these “democratic” choices?

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Israel’s democracy wars
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