Saturday, March 15, 2014

Caroline Glick: Indivisible Anti-Semitism

by Caroline Glick


Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

On March 19, it will be two years since Mohammed Merah slaughtered three Jewish children and a rabbi in the courtyard of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish day school in Toulouse, France.

Far from being a wake-up call that forced the French to their senses, and compelled them to purge their society of the Jew-hatred that inspired Merah to film himself blowing his victims’ brains out, his act served as an inspiration for other anti-Semites.

According to the French Interior Ministry, anti-Semitic attacks rose 60 percent in 2012 over 2011 levels.

Over the past decade and a half, anti-Semitism has moved from the backroom to the living room throughout Europe.

All aspects of Jewish life are under assault.

Religious observance has become an act of near rebellion against social graces.

In 2009, the British Supreme Court ruled that Jewish schools that followed religious tradition and only admitted children who have a Jewish mother were guilty of racial discrimination.

In other words, the British Supreme Court said that traditional Judaism is racist.

In country after country, campaigns to ban Jewish ritual practices are in full swing. Government after government has passed or moved toward passing bans on shechita, Jewish traditional slaughter of animals. Mila, infant male circumcision, is also under assault. Both, of course, are foundations of Jewish observance.
Denmark is the latest European state to ban shechita. And the movement to implement a similar ban in Britain has grown so popular that Prime Minister David Cameron felt compelled to oppose it during his speech at the Knesset on Wednesday.

Of course, even more popular than accusing Jews of subjecting cows and chickens to monstrous slaughter is the practice of accusing Jews of subjecting Palestinians to monstrous slaughter.

For Europe’s elite, radical and increasingly, violent anti-Zionism has become the anti-Semitism of choice. Among other things, anti-Zionists believe that Israel is inherently illegitimate and necessarily, and purposely, evil. For them, Israel is Nazi Germany.

And supporters of Israel are for them the greatest evildoers in the world. They should be accorded no courtesy, and be treated as human scum.

This has been made clear, most vividly in recent years on college campuses where pro-Israel supporters are run off campuses, shouted off stages and barred from presenting their views.

One recent episode of this sort occurred on March 5 at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where British professor Alan Johnson tried to speak in opposition to an initiative to get the university to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

A YouTube video of the event showed how a mob of BDS supporters prevented him from speaking. They shouted curses at him and his colleagues and demanded they “get the f*** off our campus!” Writing of the experience and the hate movement that stands behind it in The Times of Israel, Johnson reported that the student leading the effort to silence him is the head of NUIG’s Palestine Solidarity Society named Joseph Loughnane.

In 2008, Loughnane said, “The Jews run the American media and push their agenda.”

Johnson wrote that “the border between being radical and transgressive [toward Israel] and being anti-Semitic is now porous.”

Although accurate, Johnson’s assertion understates the problem.

Opposing Judaism and Jews, denying Jewish rights to education and ritual observance, and attacking Jews; and opposing the Jewish state, denying Jews their right to self-determination and attacking supporters of the Jewish state, are two sides of the same coin. There is no border – porous or solid between them. They are one and the same.

And all anti-Semites know it.

On Monday, The New York Times reported that attempts by French authorities to silence the anti-Semitic comic Dieudonne M’bala M’bala have backfired. The performer who invented and popularized the inverted Nazi salute has bridged the divide between French Muslim anti-Semites and French fascist anti-Semites.

The habit of Dieudonne’s fans to have their pictures taken at Jewish sites and Nazi death camps while performing the salute caused French officials to ban his public performances, arguing reasonably that his incendiary anti-Semitic incitement is a threat to public safety.

Rather than listen to authorities and recognize that Dieudonne’s actions are obscene, hateful and dangerous, the official ban on his performances has only raised his popularity. According to the Times, his most recent YouTube video had two million hits in its first week.

The Times argues that by banning Dieudonne, French officials only helped him by raising his public profile and transforming him into a martyr for freedom of speech.

But this is not the real reason that the ban has backfired.

The ban backfired because the French don’t take the government seriously.

How can it be wrong for Frenchmen to parade through the streets of Paris ordering the Jews to leave the country, when the French government also trucks in anti-Semitism? How can French authorities’ 14-year defense of France 2 television network’s invention of the Muhammad al-Dura blood libel be squared with their denunciation of Dieudonne? It will be recalled that in October 2000, France 2’s Israel correspondent Charles Enderlain broadcast a story where he presented doctored footage that created the illusion Dura had been killed while crouching in fear, by venal IDF soldiers in Gaza. That doctored footage served as the impetus for massive anti-Semitic demonstrations, and murderous anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in Israel, throughout Europe and around the world.

In January 2006, Ilan Halimi was kidnapped and tortured to death because he was a Jew.

Despite the fact that during his 26 days in captivity Halimi’s kidnappers telephoned his mother 700 times, during which she heard the tortured cries of her son while his kidnappers recited verses from the Koran over the phone, French law enforcement officials insisted that Halimi’s abduction was a run-of-the-mill kidnapping for ransom, rather than an anti-Semitic hate crime. Consequently they refused to accept that his life was in danger, or that they should devote resources to finding and saving him.

And their denial of the nature of the crime didn’t end when Halimi turned up naked, at the railway siding, with burns over 80 percent of his body, only to die shortly thereafter.

It took French authorities another week to acknowledge that Halimi was murdered because he was a Jew.

Two years ago, French authorities tried to hide the fact that Merah was a Muslim, claiming instead that he was a Nazi. When they were finally forced to acknowledge the truth, they blamed Israel for his crime.

Speaking to reporters, then-French interior minister Claude Gueant said that Merah was associated with al-Qaida and that he was upset about what Gueant referred to as Israel’s “murder” of Palestinian children.

The 17,000 Frenchmen who marched through the streets of Paris on the eve of International Holocaust Memorial Day in January and called for the Jews to get out of France see through French authorities’ hypocrisy.

French and other European authorities who libel Israel by projecting onto the Jewish state the crimes committed by Muslim terrorists against Jewish children do not scare the likes of Dieudonne and his millions of supporters.

They know it is a joke when the same officials who cultivate and legitimize anti-Semitic blood libels profess shock and outrage at their unvarnished Jew-hatred. They are not intimidated.

And they certainly are not convinced of the error of their ways.

The simple fact is that you cannot fight anti-Semitism by endorsing it. The only way you can fight anti-Semitism is by fighting all forms of anti-Semitism, including the demonization and delegitimization of Israel.

The European have good company in denying this basic fact. Senior American Jewish leaders similarly ignore it.

EARLIER THIS month, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee announced their opposition to state bills barring universities from using public funds to fund academic organizations that participate in boycotts against Israel. Bills of this type are being debated by the Maryland and New York state legislatures and are being drafted at the federal level by members of Congress.

Both groups claimed that they oppose the bills even though they oppose the BDS movement, because they claim that such actions limit academic freedom.

Three things stand out in their explanation.

First, preventing taxpayer money from being used to fund campaigns to demonize and criminalize Israel and so promote hatred of Jews has nothing to do with limiting academic freedom.

Second, the actions of BDS activists have nothing to do with academic freedom. By demonizing and intimidating students and faculty who oppose them, their aim is to end both free speech and academic freedom.

And conversely, fighting them advances both free speech and academic freedom.

Finally, it is simply bizarre that the ADL and the AJC felt compelled to weigh in on this issue to begin with. If they didn’t want to be associated with this action, they could have kept their mouths shut.

By entering the fray on behalf of the BDS movement, they gave legitimacy to it, despite their claims that they oppose anti-Israel boycotts.

Both the ADL and the AJC present themselves as among other things, Jewish civil rights groups that aim to defend Jews, including the Jewish state.

And yet, here they are making an artificial distinction between the two – a distinction not shared by the haters.

It is no doubt tempting to accept the artificial distinction between rejecting Israel’s right to exist and rejecting the right of Jews to practice Judaism. Doing so allows you to pretend that the problem isn’t as bad as it is, and to pretend that the fates of Israel and Jews of the Diaspora are not directly linked. It allows you to pretend that Jewish Americans who join the BDS movement are not anti-Semites. And it allows you to pretend that European leaders who minimize real anti-Semitic crimes by equating them with imaginary Israeli crimes are not inherently hostile to Jews.

But you cannot fight Jew-hatred by making distinctions between its various forms. They are all components of the same thing. And either you fight all of them, with no distinction, or you fight none of them, and even legitimize the bigotry.

Caroline Glick


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Not quiet on the Northern Front

by Jonathan Spyer and Benjamin Weinthal

JERUSALEM — The disintegration of the Syrian state into warring enclaves is bringing with it new challenges and threats for Israel. Alarm bells have now been sounded on Israel's shared northern border with Syria.

"For the moment, they [Jihadis] are not fighting us, but we know their ideology. . . . It could be that, in the coming months, we could find ourselves dragged into confrontation with them," said a top-level Israel Defense Forces officer.

In addition to the Jihadi threat, the Iran-sponsored terrorist entity Hezbollah remains Israel's most potent security threat in the north. Just last month, Israel reportedly struck a Syrian weapons convoy on its way to Hezbollah.

Evidence is now beginning to emerge of the methods the Jewish state is adopting to meet this new reality.

Since mid-2012, Syria has been effectively divided into three enclaves. The first of these is the area controlled by the Bashar Assad regime, supported by Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. The second is an area under the rule of a confusing mass of rebel forces, mainly consisting of Sunni Islamist militias. The third, in the far north-east, is an area controlled by Syria's Kurds.

Israel's new challenge derives from the second of these enclaves. Regarding the first and the third, there is no confusion. Assad is an enemy, and his Iranian backers constitute the most dangerous alliance currently threatening the Jewish state. In February, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited an Israeli field hospital treating wounded Syrians, placing the blame squarely on the Mullah Regime: "All the children wounded, to say nothing of those killed, were harmed as a result of Iran arming, financing, and training the Assad regime in the mass slaughter it is perpetrating."

The Kurds in the north, meanwhile, are generally favorably inclined towards Israel and the feeling is mutual. This, however, has little practical import.

The new security threat derives from the rebel-controlled zones, and in particular those in southern Syria, close to the border with Israel. Three powerful, Al-Qaeda-linked Salafi militias have emerged to a prominent position in the rebellion. Two of them, Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) openly proclaim themselves to be franchises of the Al-Qaeda network. The third, Ahrar al-Sham, is of similar Salafi jihadi outlook, but with less of a clear connection with core Al-Qaeda leadership.

Major General Aviv Kochavi, head of IDF Military Intelligence, recently estimated that up to 30,000 salafi jihadis were now fighting in Syria.

The main strength of the Al-Qaeda-linked and Salafi militias is in the north and east of Syria, far from the border with Israel. ISIS controls a large swath of eastern Syria and western Iraq. Nusra holds an area of the north.

The possession by Al-Qaeda-linked groups of a de facto sovereign area in Syria is itself a matter of deep concern for Israel and the west. It enables the jihadis to train and organize in the Levant in a way which has never been possible before.

A recently apprehended jihadi cell in the West Bank was preparing to leave for northern Syria to undergo training before striking at Israeli and U.S. targets.

The Israeli-Syrian border [photo: IDF]
But the real nightmare scenario from Israel's point of view would be if the jihadis managed to take control of all or part of Syria's border with Israel, from where they could begin to carry out operations against Israelis.

Assad has ceded control of most of the border area of southern Syria facing the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967. The border has been largely quiet for nearly 40 years.

Assad's main problem in fighting his war is a lack of manpower. He prefers, therefore, only to hold those areas which are absolutely necessary, ceding less vital stretches of territory.

ISIS has not yet reached southern Syria. Jabhat al Nusra is there, however, controlling an area of Deraa province. Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has appointed al Nusra as his chief fighting force in Syria. According to an Israeli defense expert, al-Zawahri's jihadist ideology seeks to first launch attacks against Israel and then move onto the U.S. In sharp contrast, Osama Bin Laden's first target was the U.S.

Israel is not waiting for the jihadis to begin attacking it. Rather, according to recent reports, the Jewish state has established channels of communication with currently dominant non-jihadi rebel elements in the south.

The care afforded wounded Syrians in Israeli hospitals has been widely reported.

This assistance appears to form only part of a wider project, in which Israel is quietly establishing lines of communication with non-Al-Qaeda rebels along the border, with the intention that they should form a de facto barrier to any attempt by the jihadis to create a presence there for the purpose of attacking Israel.

It is obviously in the interests of non-Al-Qaeda rebels to prevent this, since the last thing they need is for the jihadis to begin their own private war against the Jews behind their backs — with all the potential for inevitable Israeli retaliation that this would bring.

The links and communication with rebel elements in the south are unlikely to lead to a broader Israeli involvement there.

Memories of the Lebanese quagmire, and the awareness that any open Israeli embrace of this or that group of rebels would serve to instantly discredit them are likely to keep the Israeli footprint in southern Syria exceedingly light.

But what can be said with confidence is that Israel is quietly and carefully establishing and managing the relationships necessary to keep a close eye on developments, and to create a secure buffer zone against the jihadi threat.

Jonathan Spyer and Benjamin Weinthal


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Kerry’s Unprepared for the Palestinian “No”

by Jonathan S. Tobin

Secretary of State John Kerry knows that time is fast running out to get the Palestinians to agree to keep talking with Israel. In April the nine-month negotiating period that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas gave Kerry to pursue a deal will expire. He has sought to extend it by getting both sides to agree to a framework for more discussions. While the Israelis have, despite misgivings, indicated that they will sign on to the framework, the Palestinians are balking. The administration’s response to this has been to start peeling away elements of the framework that gave the Israelis some sense that they were not being railroaded. The first to go was, as Tom Wilson noted, the insistence that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, which Kerry discarded yesterday in congressional testimony. But if Kerry thinks not forcing Abbas to say the two little words that will signify that the conflict is over will get him to agree to the framework, he’s dreaming.

As I wrote yesterday, the Palestinians and their apologists like Peter Beinart think Kerry has been too kind to the Israelis since he has incorporated some of their demands about security into the framework as well as leaving the parties room to negotiate about borders, settlements, and Jerusalem. And he has also, at least to date, refused to budge on the question of the “right of return” for the descendants of the 1948 refugees. In his Pressure Points blog, Elliott Abrams rightly points out that this is the sticking point that no amount of American diplomacy or pressure on Israel will solve. Abbas can’t give in on refugees and that makes, as Abrams says, “a genuine peace agreement unrealistic and in fact impossible.” After all the months of negotiating and the various statements from Kerry and President Obama hammering Israel, the U.S. is in exactly the same position it was in last summer when Kerry embarked on his Middle East mission: the same reasons that prevented the Palestinians from saying yes to offers of statehood and peace in 2000, 2001, and 2008 still apply: they are never going to agree to anything that ends the conflict.

Though I took issue with Beinart’s silly effort to blame Kerry for being too pro-Israel, he was right about one thing. The messy aftermath of the collapse of diplomacy and the likelihood that the secretary has no clue about how to deal with the possibility of a revival of violence and increased diplomatic attacks on Israel mean that what will follow is very much Kerry’s fault.

When Kerry began his effort to revive negotiations his chances seemed slim, but he was determined nevertheless to solve a problem that had defeated all those who had gone before him. But what is now becoming clear is that Kerry never had a plan other than a belief that his diplomatic skills were equal to any test. Over the last eight months both Kerry and President Obama have chimed in to keep the heat on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu while continually praising Abbas for his commitment to peace. But if, even after all this and Kerry’s ditching of the Jewish state demand, Abbas still says no, the consequences will be more serious than just another proof of Kerry’s diplomatic incompetence.

Up until now Kerry’s effort has been portrayed as a noble endeavor made all the more heroic by the long odds that were stacked against it from the start. But if, as Kerry himself noted yesterday, distrust between the parties is greater than ever, it’s fair to ask how much of this is his fault. Though the framework he tried to craft was flawed, it was based on the notion that if there was to be an agreement it had to be one that would bring real peace. Yet what we are learning as the process unravels is that by focusing all the pressure on Israel the secretary has done nothing to bring the Palestinians closer to understanding that they must end the conflict. By speaking of violence and boycotts aimed at Israel after he fails, Kerry has made it certain that such things will happen but done nothing to avoid that outcome.

As the moment of truth looms closer on Kerry’s effort, it is time for him to stop badgering the Israelis and to begin to come to grips with Palestinian rejectionism. Abbas has come to rely on the animus of the Obama administration for Netanyahu, but he must be informed that a fourth “no” will have consequences. If not, then Obama and Kerry will truly be complicit in the mayhem that will follow. 

Jonathan S. Tobin


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Hysterical Russian anti-Ukraine Propaganda at Fever Pitch

by Rick Moran

When you bring water to a boil, you either have to turn it down or let it boil over and make a mess.

Is Putin about to make a mess of the Ukraine?

Associated Press:

This is Ukraine today, at least as seen by most Russian news media: the government is run by anti-Semitic fascists, people killed in protests were shot by opposition snipers and the West is behind it all.
And the room to disagree with that portrayal is getting smaller by the week.
With Crimea set to hold a referendum Sunday on whether to merge with Russia, the push to demonize Ukraine's leadership has reached fever pitch. Authorities in Ukraine have responded by blocking Russian TV channels.
Lev Gudkov, head of a respected independent Moscow-based polling agency, says the propagandist tone of Russian state television has reached new levels.
"For intensity, comprehensiveness and aggressiveness, this is like nothing I have ever seen over the whole post-Soviet period," Gudkov said.
News bulletins on top network Channel 1 carry extensive reports detailing purported rampant lawlessness to vague threats of reprisals against ethnic Russians and Jews, as well as showing interviews with talking heads alleging foreign-engineered plots.
NTV, owned by gas giant Gazprom's media arm, on Thursday aired a report about purportedly hacked email correspondence between U.S. and Ukrainian officials on plans for staging an attack on military jets. The piece goes on to claim that the incident was to serve as an excuse for the United States to take military action against Russia.
It is steadily becoming conventional wisdom in the most widely watched news shows that those shot dead during protests in Kiev last month were victims of shadowy figures possibly hired by opposition forces.
Right Sector, a radical ultranationalist group that spearheaded the most violent assaults against riot police, is a subject of scaremongering daily exposes. For all the attention it has received, the group has not been granted any posts in the new government and observers say it has little actual clout.
Late Thursday night, clashes broke out in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk between government supporters and a hostile pro-Russian crowd. At one point a pro-Russian mob encircled and threw objects at a small huddle of people, shouting for them to get on their knees. At least one person died in the turmoil.
Rossiya-1, another state station, on the same evening reported that the incident had been provoked by "special forces" of the Maidan, the informal name of the movement that brought about last month's ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych.

We've seen it all before. Wild propaganda about an imminent threat from a small neighbor. The "Big Lie" getting even bigger. Claims of ethnic solidarity with "oppressed" people. Warnings that they will not stand idly by while their "compatriots" are in danger.  And manufactured "incidents" where lives are lost and the impression is given that the local authorities have lost control.

Ring a bell? Vladimir Putin is following Adolf Hitler's invasion playbook to a "T." The Russian leader has created the conditions for an invasion of eastern Ukraine. This doesn't mean he will invade, only that he has everything in place - including  domestic support due to hysterical propaganda - if he decides to do so.

The vote in the Crimea for annexation to Russia is tomorrow. Not on the ballot is a choice to remain an autonomous republic inside the Ukraine. The game is rigged, Ukrainian authorities are resigned to the loss of the penninsula, and Putin, who will celebrate the "vote," will then have a choice of pulling back his troops from the Ukrainian border or going in, which would almost certainly mean war with Ukraine.

The water is boiling and no one is around to turn down the heat.

Rick Moran


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Kerry's Framework not pro-Palestinian Enough?

by David M. Weinberg

Here is the emerging hard-left line on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's peace process: It's not good enough; not accommodating enough to the Palestinians. It's even dangerous, because Kerry is "caving" to Netanyahu and demanding "unjust" concessions from Abbas that were never raised in previous rounds of negotiations.
The American Jewish bête noire Peter Beinart, darling of the J Street crowd and Obama administration circles, has now taken up this line. Beinart is savaging Kerry for -- get this -- "slavishly ginning up" an "unworkable and unjust" peace plan that just doesn't meet "rightful" Palestinian expectations.
Beinart bemoans the fact that Kerry is "pulling back from the principles established by both Bill Clinton and Ehud Olmert," whereby Israel would pull out permanently from the Jordan Valley and almost all of the West Bank, make all of east Jerusalem the Palestinian capital, allow tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel, and not demand recognition as a Jewish state from the Palestinians.
Beinart accuses Kerry of "violating" the apparently sacrosanct Clinton "parameters" of 2000 and Olmert-Abbas "understandings" of 2008. Beinart pronounces these to be the holy "axioms" that guided Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in the past and must be implemented in future. Anybody who doesn't hew to this orthodoxy of the past, decides Beinart, is running a "self-defeating," "unbalanced" (meaning too pro-Israeli), and "immoral" peace process.
Consequently, Beinart calls on J Street and all good "liberal Zionists" to "raise a stink" and defiantly "declare their support for the Clinton parameters and Olmert understandings." Any framework that "gives Palestinians less than they were offered by Clinton and Olmert" doesn't meet Beinart's muster.
So here is some news for the high and mighty Mr. Beinart: There are no holy American-set parameters of the past that Israel must abide by, nor do the dangerous and unauthorized concessions thrown last minute at Abbas by a desperate and corrupt Olmert bind the State of Israel today. These are unrealistic, illegitimate and irrelevant diplomatic standards.
Beinart and his imperious "liberal Zionist" friends may not have noticed, but Israeli democracy has decided to move in a different direction. The people of Israel have twice elected a prime minister who explicitly considers the Clinton/Olmert "axioms" as anachronistic and misguided, and for good reason.
Take the division of Jerusalem: Both the Barak and Olmert governments fell partly because they were perceived as being willing to partition Israel's capital city. Or consider the Jordan Valley: In today's situation, no credible Israeli leader can forgo long-term Israeli control over the eastern border of a Palestinian state.
Let's not forget that Abbas rejected the Clinton and Olmert deals, and there is no diplomatic principle that says that years later Israel should nevertheless offer the Palestinians even more. The opposite is true. Given apparent Palestinian radicalism (see Gaza), Israel now has updated and tougher red lines. And this will require meaningful and painful concessions from the Palestinians. Alas, it's clearly difficult for Beinart and his J Street buddies to accept that.
Beinart's harangue follows a well-worn and mistaken pattern of the Left. Instead of promoting real peace in the Middle East by pressing the Palestinians into adopting moderate and realistic positions, the Left emboldens Palestinian leaders into uncompromising and rejectionist positions by attacking Israel, and in this case, by slamming Kerry as Israel's shill.
But Beinart knows best: Abbas extremist demands are just and must be met; otherwise the process is a sell-out and a failure.
Beinart is just not prepared to accept that perhaps Kerry has done serious homework; that after delving deep into the nitty-gritty details of the Palestinian-Israel dispute for six months, Kerry has perhaps come to conclusions that tilt more towards Netanyahu's positions than those of Abbas; that maybe Netanyahu's "axioms" are more valid than Olmert's. (I'm not sure this accurate, but let's just say).
Might this be legitimately possible? Could Netanyahu's red lines be reasonable? Could Abbas be the unreasonable party? In Beinart's book -- of course not. Impossible!
Many observers strongly suspect that Beinart's views reflect those of U.S. President Barack Obama, and this explains the lambasting that Obama dished out to Netanyahu through the Bloomberg News interview he gave to Jeffrey Goldberg two weeks ago. In fact, it's rumored in Washington that Obama is upset with Kerry for drawing "too close" to Netanyahu, and that Obama has said that if he were leading the negotiations, far more concessions could have been wrung out of his "good friend, Bibi."
It is not at all clear that Kerry has indeed drawn close to Netanyahu, but Beinart is right that Kerry's failure might spell the end of the two-state solution. This scares Beinart to despair.
But hey, what was he thinking? Sane, centrist voices warned in advance that impatiently pushing a diplomatic process with a weak and recalcitrant Palestinian leader like Abbas, on a background of false Palestinian expectations (raised irresponsibly Clinton and Olmert), at a time of regional upheavals and great uncertainties for Israel -- was unwise and likely to fail.
Having ignored that advice and cheerleaded for Kerry, assuming that Kerry would rule in favor of the Palestinians and batter Israel into the madcap concessions of yesteryear, the Left is left adrift at sea. It can only revert to default mode: dumping on Kerry as an extension of Netanyahu. Too bad the Left can't expend its energies on bringing Abbas to his senses.

David M. Weinberg


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Multiculturalism: What Happened to Responsibility?

by Christine Williams

Far too many interfaith cultural dialogue sessions have focused on the appeasement of immigrant groups while ignoring human rights abuses from their foreign countries of origin; abuses which many immigrants have accepted as the norm and often seek to protect in an effort to sustain the dignity of their group identity.
"This loathsome term [Islamophobia] is nothing more than a thought-terminating cliché, conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks for the purpose of beating down critics." — Abdur-Rahan Muhammed, former member of the International Institute for Islamic Thought.
The real answer lies in the recognition that multiculturalism to promote equality was enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights ... it has provided a sound definition of values, which Western nations need to be unapologetic in advancing.

Multiculturalism is engrained in the Canadian constitution—as well as in the constitutions of many European nations. The Canadian Multiculturalism Act states that all are equal under the law regardless of their race, national or ethnic origin, color, or religion. Canada was the first country in the world to legislate national multiculturalism. Under this policy, all citizens "can keep their identities, can take pride in their ancestry and have a sense of belonging." Citizens also "have the freedom to preserve, enhance, and share their cultural heritage," and "full and equitable participation of individuals and communities of all origins in all aspects of Canadian society" is promoted. Diversity in Canada is deemed a national asset, and although its constitution allows all citizens equal rights and freedoms, it also requires "equal responsibilities," a factor that has been overlooked.

The cover of the Canadian government's "Annual Report on the Operation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act". (Image source: Goverment of Canada)

According to Robert Sibley of the Ottawa Citizen:

Even Pierre Trudeau, the key architect of multiculturalism, regretted how multiculturalism had been warped to emphasize an immigrant's identification with his country or culture of origin rather than his assimilation of a Canadian identity. At a private luncheon with MPs in the mid-1990s, Trudeau was asked whether multiculturalism had developed the way he hoped. He replied: "No, this is not what I wanted."

Given the neglect of the responsibilities component, multiculturalism in Canada (and elsewhere) is open to exploitation by special interest groups that threaten the country's national identity and democratic heritage, in addition to homeland security. In Canada, this oversight also bears implications for its neighbor, the United States. Canada was forced to shut down the Iranian embassy in Ottawa after it was discovered to have been mobilizing Iranian immigrants to infiltrate the Canadian government, and spreading messages of propaganda and hate through "cultural programs", under the directorship of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Similar -- though less dramatic -- abuses have also been evident in Canadian courts and Human Rights Commissions [HRC], both of which often seem influenced by political correctness and aspirations to appease special interest groups. Courts and HRCs, which are endowed with sweeping interpretive powers at the highest levels, are left to balance individual rights with that of what they deem to be multicultural rights. The right to free speech, which is a hallmark of democracy, has hence eroded, creating a fear even justifiably to criticize certain groups or offend them. Given the challenges of Islamism in particular to national security, this immunization from criticism is particularly worrisome. What constitutes hate speech, for example, is left to their judgment, which frequently appears subject to erroneous accusations of racism and intolerance. To highlight some examples:

  • The high profile cases of human rights lawyer Ezra Levant and political commentator Mark Steyn were directly impacted by the Islamophobia judgment. Levant—who was then publisher of the Western Standard -- republished the controversial Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed in 2006. Syed Soharwardy of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities subsequently lodged a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission resulting in Levant's book, "Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights." Similarly, political writer Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine were taken to task by the British Columbia Human Rights Commission for a so-called Islamophobic article in Maclean's -- entitled, "The Future Belongs to Islam" -- following a complaint by the Canadian Islamic Congress.
  • The Canadian RCMP issued an apology to the Muslim community for arresting terror suspects during Ramadan, and then reached out to Ottawa Muslims to reassure them that they were not being targeted.
  • Niqab security breaches have been evident at airports.

In multicultural Canada, diversity incentives are embraced as the answer to combat racism. One cannot exclude the unfortunate consequences of racism as a societal scourge with harmful social and psychological repercussions that require attention as a human rights issue. Combating racism is also the cornerstone upon which the Canadian Multiculturalism Act was built.

Unfortunately, zeroing in on the verifiable manifestations of racism is a significant challenge: racism is often declared when there is none and therefore becomes hidden under a veil of propaganda, such as the often unwarranted use of the term Islamophobia, propelled by special interest groups. Abdur-Rahman Muhammad is a former member of the International Institute for Islamic thought (IIIT). Muhammad was with IIIT when the word "Islamophobia" was formally created, and having since then rejected the ideology of the IIIT, has revealed the original intent behind the concept of Islamophobia. He states that "[t]his loathsome term is nothing more than a thought-terminating cliché conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks for the purpose of beating down critics." Those special interest groups (and their followers) that "beat down critics" fail, however, to decry worse forms of discrimination, racism and abuse that are found in their own cultures of origin. These include race-based slavery, the subjugation of women, honor killings, physical punishments for disobedience and female genital mutilation. This has led activists for equality and human rights such as Irshad Manji, a Muslim, to declare that multiculturalism needs to be abandoned. She states rightly that "the vast majority of the world's known cultures are patriarchal," where the "desires and dreams of men outweigh those of women." This circumstance, she continues, means that "multiculturalism clashes with our country's aspiration to gender equality" and that "the time has come to replace multiculturalism with true diversity."

Manji's fellow moderate Muslim adherent, Salim Mansur, also addressed the "delectable lie of multiculturalism" and advocates its eradication. Far too many intercultural dialogue sessions have focused on the appeasement of immigrant groups while ignoring the human rights abuses from their countries of origin; abuses which many immigrants have accepted as the norm and often seek to protect in an effort to sustain the dignity of their group identity. So while many members of these groups, during diversity dialogue sessions, bemoan the old notions of white privilege, a dominant culture, as well as the victimization of Muslims and other minorities, there is little or no effort to deal with or understand the racism and discrimination that occur between non-white cultural groups globally, as was evident in the slaughter of 400,000 non-Arabs in Sudan's Darfur region at the hands of Islamic extremists, or the racist slavery that still exists in Mauritania among other regions, as well as the widespread subjugation of women in many cultures. Moreover, some of these imported values that find a new home in Western nations go unquestioned by the host society for fear of reprisals from the leaders of these groups, who are quick to label critics as racists. Even justifiable criticisms of an identifiable group can earn one the reviled label of racist, a bigot, Islamophobic and an enemy of diversity. This attitude is now institutionalized in multicultural Canada.

The progress that Western nations and Canada have made in the areas of human rights and correcting past wrongs -- which include mass immigration, multicultural legislation and countless social programs to facilitate dialogue and belongingness -- are equally ignored; as is the circumstance that a large segment of cultural groups immigrating to Canada experience far more freedoms and acceptance than in their countries of origin.

The Right Honorable Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin highlights the dilemmas faced by judges in a multicultural society. She states that multiculturalism to date has served Canada well, using the benchmark that Canada is a "prosperous and peaceful nation that affords its citizens a high quality of life." Despite this, McLachlin is straightforward about the challenges posed by multiculturalism, such as: "inter-group tension," manifested in "discrimination or in extreme cases of violence against members of minority groups on the basis of their 'different' cultural and religious practices." She also points out the "divergent moralities" and values of various cultural groups, and the challenge of national identity that "sees itself as an amalgam of a plethora of cultures" and thus becoming a nation "without its own identity" and ultimately risking "withering away." Her solution is to "work to strengthen our Canadian culture... focus on our common values and beliefs... and use the law."

McLaughlin's words need to be examined closely as a model for the evolution of multiculturalism in Canada as well as in societies where multiculturalism is legislated. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British PM David Cameron and former French President Nicholas Sarkozy have already declared multiculturalism a failure in recognition of the extent to which it encourages group segregation and a lack of a strong national identity.

Yet as a policy, it is unrealistic to expect that multiculturalism will be thrown into the dustbin, labeled as a historic error. Instead, multiculturalism demands an evolution with requisites of responsibility that include an adherence to common values and beliefs under the law. Unfortunately, policies such as the controversial proposed Quebec Charter of Values -- which seeks to ban all religious symbols (including skullcaps and crosses) in state-funded institutions in pursuit of a secular society -- only cause further problems. As Amnesty International pointed out in a statement, "for people, and particularly for women, who might be coerced into wearing a religious symbol, prohibiting them from wearing it will not solve the problem... the people who had coerced them will still go unpunished, while the people who have been coerced will be punished in a number of ways, such as losing their jobs and hence their right to work and risking becoming isolated and stigmatized in their communities."

Despite the impracticality of the proposed Quebec charter, well-intentioned critics of multiculturalism have put forth valuable cases and well-reasoned documentation that highlight the loopholes of multiculturalism. The real answer, however, requires the recognition that multiculturalism to promote equality was enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Based on the principle of human dignity; the Declaration has provided a sound definition of values, which Western nations need to be unapologetic in advancing. The Declaration -- the principal author of which was a Canadian, John Humphries -- is "the milestone document in the history of human rights," drafted by representatives from diverse cultural backgrounds.

It is now necessary to rescue Canada's identity from "withering away" and to resuscitate other Western countries from the foreign infiltrations that have usurped the common values that made these countries great and attractive to immigrants in the first place. Multiculturalism will not disappear, nor will immigration from societies with values inconsistent with Western democracies. As the West faces a continued influx of immigration, it is imperative that we do not limit ourselves to mere criticisms of multiculturalism. Instead, policies need to be established and implemented -- at every level of society -- that would facilitate in a practical way a multiculturalism that includes, under law, responsibility as a central focus -- and on the same level of importance -- as equal rights and freedoms.

Christine Williams


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Crimea 2014: Czechoslovakia 1938 Redux

by Joseph Puder


The recent standoff in the Crimea between Russia and the Ukraine is reminiscent of the tactics employed by Germany to bring pre-World War II Europe under the Nazi heel. Hitler amassed troops around the German-Czechoslovak border, the Czechs sought to effectuate their treaties with western allies, Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain rushed to Germany to appeal to Hitler to avoid aggression and, in an effort to prevent a war, sacrificed Czechoslovakia on the altar of appeasement. The weakness of the west was on display and only served to whet Hitler’s appetite for further aggression.

In the current drama, the Ukraine is like the former Czechoslovakia, Crimea is the Sudetenland, Russia’s President Putin reminds us of Nazi Germany’s Hitler, and Chamberlain’s role is being played by Obama. True, circumstances in this conflict are somewhat different, and Putin has not slaughtered millions the way Hitler did, but the ostensible roles played by Putin and Obama are not that different from that of Hitler and Chamberlain.

The Long Beach Press Telegram reported on March 4, 2014 that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton compared Vladimir Putin’s actions in the Ukraine to those of Adolf Hitler’s in Nazi Germany. She said that “Putin’s desire to protect minority Russians in Ukraine is reminiscent of Hitler’s actions to protect ethnic Germans outside Germany.”

In order to restore the Soviet Empire that existed before the USSR crumbled in 1991, Vladimir Putin set out to intimidate former Soviet republics to submit to Russia’s control, or at the very least, come under its sphere of influence. He waged war against Georgia in 2008, and according to former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, “Russia is looking for a hot war” against the Ukraine. Putin has sought to prevent the states of the former Soviet Union from joining the West. In the case of the Ukraine, he is seeking to take action to insure against the possibility of their joining the European Union, and eventually integrating into Europe.

WikiLeaks cables reveal that Saakashvili stressed repeatedly that he expected Russia to follow its 2008 invasion of Georgia with intervention in Crimea. He predicted that Russia would incite tension in the Crimean peninsula, then make a generous offer to Yanukovych (presumed as the next president and now deposed and presumably in Russia) to help solve the problem. Saakashvili said that Putin wants to put pressure on the Ukraine and Georgia, thereby sending a warning to others in the former Soviet Union to behave. Putin’s incitement of the Crimean Russians is akin to the tactics Hitler employed when he incited the Sudeten Germans against the democratic state of Czechoslovakia.

In 1954, then Secretary General of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, and the leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, handed Crimea over to the Ukraine. Khrushchev, who was born in the Ukraine and had worked in the mines of Donetsk and whose wife Nina was from western Ukraine, had a deep connection to the Ukrainian soil. He awarded Crimea to the Ukraine because he believed that area had unjustly suffered from Stalin’s Holodomor, the brutal artificial famine imposed by Stalin’s regime on the Soviet Ukraine and areas made up of ethnic Ukrainians from 1932-33, during which millions of Ukrainians died. This political move was an example of Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization plan.

In the current crisis between Russia and the Ukraine, Russian President Putin has used the “protection” of ethnic Russians as a pretext to retake the Crimea and perhaps the eastern part of the Ukraine and annex it to Russia. In the meantime, Moscow is trying to destabilize the new Ukrainian government in Kiev. Putin, like Hitler, is counting on western weakness, especially American. He knows that Obama, like Chamberlain, is desperately trying to avoid conflict, and seeks instead the appeasement of rogue and terror-sponsoring nations like Iran, and bullies like Russia and China.

The American reaction to Putin’s military moves in Crimea has been pathetically weak. Secretary of State John Kerry uttered a few obligatory words and was dispatched to Kiev. No meaningful action however, has taken place. Obama has not yet called for a special session of the U.N. Security Council to condemn Russian aggression, and neither has NATO.  Boycotting the G-8 in Sochi will not impress Putin nor change his course of action while economic threats by the U.S. might restrain Putin. An 11% decline in the Russian market and the potential imposition of an asset freeze might have an impact on Putin’s moves. At a press conference earlier this week, Putin appeared to be less strident, and at the very least, seemed to walk away from the brink.

The Obama administration clearly wants to avoid a confrontation with Russia. It would be useful for the Obama administration to recall the Cuban Missile Crisis, when President John F. Kennedy imposed a naval blockade and put the U.S. armed forces on alert. The Soviet Union backed down, and the crisis ended. U.S. determination saved the day. America under Obama is seen increasingly as disengaged and weak, positions that may result in further aggression and ultimately war. Ironically, during the same week Putin moved against the Ukraine in Crimea, the Obama administration unveiled its plans to reduce the U.S. military to its smallest size since WWII.

Andrew Palashewsky, a Ukrainian-American political activist had this to say, “Russian imperial ambitions transcended politics. The Tsarist Empire was expansionist and craved control of the Ukraine. Soviet policy was nominally anti-nationalist, attempting to subsume all other nationalities under the internationalist banner of Communism. But, this was actually just a cover for Russian imperialism and chauvinism. National cultures and languages were repressed in favor of Russification, that stressed the adoption of the Russian language and culture. Today, former KGB Colonel, post-Communist Vladimir Putin, ever conscious of Russia’s status, acts like a neo-fascist, coveting Ukraine’s natural riches, and bolstering his mission to recreate the Russian Empire.”
America and the West have a moral obligation to protect the Ukraine. Following the demise of the Soviet Union, Ukraine agreed to return the nuclear weapons stationed in its territory to Russia in order to prevent any nuclear proliferation. In exchange, Ukrainian leaders at the time sought solid security guarantees from the U.S. and the U.K. Although the “Budapest Memorandum,” as the agreement is called, does not require the U.S. to go to war over the Ukraine, if Obama abandons the Ukraine the way Chamberlain sacrificed Czechoslovakia, and the Ukraine ends up losing Crimea and its eastern Ukraine to Russia, logic dictates that such moves would bring an end to any non-proliferation of weapons. Realistically, if the Ukraine still possessed its nuclear weapons, it would probably have been able to hold on to the Crimea. Instead, they have a worthless piece of paper.

As the Crimea crisis unfolds, it brings back images of the 1938 Czechoslovak crisis. It is becoming more evident that Russia’s Putin has adopted some of Hitler’s tactics, and like Nazi Germany, he is counting on the West’s weakness, and its unwillingness to respond in a forceful way against his aggression. Obama’s statement that a “Crimea referendum violates international law” is unhelpful. A referendum conducted fairly would settle the issue in Crimea, albeit, without the presence of Russian troops.

Joseph Puder


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A Man of Law and Truth

by Dror Eydar

1. Justice Edmond Levy did not come from the old elite. His biography and life path were different, as was his choice to live and in Ramla and be buried there after he died. From his early job as a tea server in court, he reached the position of Supreme Court justice. Throughout his career, not once did he bow down to or efface himself before the stars of the legal system or people in power. He obeyed the command Moses gave in the book of Deuteronomy: "Do not show partiality in judging: hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God." Our sages interpreted the phrase "Do not be afraid of anyone" as meaning "Do not cover over your words for fear of anyone."
When Levy was appointed a justice of the Supreme Court, the chattering classes reminded us of his "sin" in having grown up in Ramla. But he saw that as an advantage. A man from "the other Israel," he always knew where he had come from, where he was going and before whom he would one day have to render an accounting. His profound relationship with the other Israel led him wage an uncompromising war against public corruption. He knew that wealthy, well-connected people would always do well, while the main victims of corruption -- ordinary citizens, some of whom were of limited means -- would continue to suffer from it unless the legal system helped them.
Levy also set an example regarding the legal system's automatism in relation to our lives' fundamental truths. As someone who had immigrated from Iraq at 10 years of age, he never forgot the miracle of Israel's existence as the only home for the world's Jews or the miracle of the return to Zion despite enormous obstacles. With simplicity and depth, he countered the security-related discourse that had taken over all public and international debate with the Jewish people's rights to their ancient homeland. He spoke not only of our historical and religious rights to the land, but also, and mainly -- as part of his long career as a judge -- of our legal rights to it.
Shortly after his retirement from the Supreme Court bench, Levy was appointed to head a committee that was to examine the legal status of construction in Judea and Samaria. The committee's full report, which was published in July 2012, may be seen as testament of Levy, a man of justice and truth whose personal integrity mattered to him more than anything else.
It is important to read the historical-legal background contained in the report. It is the key to supporting the justice of our argument before the international community. Levy's well-supported, justified explanation utterly disproved the widespread view of Israel as a "foreign military occupier" in Judea and Samaria, with its erroneous corollary that the settlements established there were illegal.
2. "Having considered the approaches presented before us [from the Left and from the Right], we think a reasonable interpretation of the standard term of 'occupation,' with all the obligations arising from it, in the provisions of international law is intended to apply for short periods of occupation of a territory of a sovereign state until the end of the conflict between the parties and the return of the land or any other negotiated agreement regarding it."
"But the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria is significantly different: the possession of the territory continues for many decades, and no one can predict its end, if at all; the territory was conquered from a state (the Kingdom of Jordan) whose sovereignty over the territory has never been firmly legalized, and in the meantime it even renounced its claim of sovereignty; the State of Israel claims sovereign rights to the territory."
The widespread claim is that the settlements "violate" the Fourth Geneva Convention, particularly Article 49, which states: "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." But according to the authoritative interpretation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is responsible for implementing the convention, the purpose of this article is "intended to prevent a practice adopted during the Second World War by certain Powers, which transferred portions of their own population to occupied territory for political and racial reasons or in order, as they claimed, to colonize those territories. Such transfers worsened the economic situation of the native population and endangered their separate existence as a race." In other words, Article 49 refers to the forcible exile or expulsion by the occupying power of its own population into the occupied territory, as happened to tens of millions of people in Europe.
In 1990, Professor Eugene V. Rostow, the dean of Yale Law School, pointed out that the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibited "many of the inhumane practices of the Nazis and the Soviet Union during and before the Second World War -- the mass transfer of people into and out of occupied territories for purposes of extermination, slave labor or colonization, for example." Nevertheless, "the Jewish settlers in the West Bank are most emphatically volunteers. They have not been 'deported' or 'transferred' to the area by the Government of Israel, and their movement involves none of the atrocious purposes or harmful effects on the existing population it is the goal of the Geneva Convention to prevent." Indeed, Levy wrote that those who settled in Judea and Samaria were under no compulsion, but did so because of their belief in the principle of settling the Land of Israel.
3. Here the report begins a comprehensive historical survey based on the region's status in international law. First, from the Balfour Declaration of November 1917: "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people...." Later, its confirmation and expansion in the San Remo conference of April 1920: "The Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the British Government, and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
This was followed by the Mandate for Palestine, ratified by the League of Nations in August 1922: "Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country." These statements were confirmed once again in the Charter of the United Nations in 1945.
The Levy report resumes:
"In November 1947 the General Assembly adopted the United Nations committee's recommendation to divide the Land of Israel west of the Jordan River into two states: one Arab and one Jewish.
"But the plan was never implemented, and therefore was not binding under international law, since the Arab states rejected it and started a war to prevent its implementation and the establishment of a Jewish state.
"Nevertheless, in April 1950, Jordan annexed the West Bank, unlike Egypt, which has never claimed sovereignty over the Gaza Strip.
"However, Jordan's annexation was not accepted on any legal basis, and most Arab countries opposed it, until 1988 when Jordan renounced its claim to the territory.
"Thus the original legal status of the territory was restored, namely, a territory designated as a national home for the Jewish people, who had a 'right of possession' to it during Jordanian rule while they were absent from the territory for several years due to a war imposed on them, and have now returned to it.
"Together with the international commitment to govern the territory and ensure the rights of the local population and public order, Israel also had the full right to claim sovereignty over these territories, and all Israeli governments believed so, but they chose not to annex them and take a pragmatic approach in order to allow for peace negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian people and the Arab states.
"Israel therefore did not see itself as an occupying power in the classical sense of the word, and so never saw itself committed to the Forth Geneva Convention in relation to Judea, Samaria and Gaza."
The Levy report concludes: "In light of the aforesaid, we have no doubt that from the perspective of international law, the establishment of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria is legal, and therefore we can proceed to discussing this question from the perspective of domestic law."
This is where the starting point of any negotiation with our neighbors and with the world should be. Israel is no "occupier" in the heart of its own homeland. At worst, these are disputed territories held by Israel. We claim ownership of all the land on the basis of our historic, religious and legal rights to it.

Dror Eydar


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