Friday, March 18, 2016

A Critical Year of National Consciousness for Israel - Ariel Kahana

by Ariel Kahana

Only with the arrival of 2017 will the Obama-Netanyahu quarrels, like the one that happened this week over the cancelled meeting, come to an end. But then the really difficult war will begin, the war over national consciousness

“The past actually happened, history is what someone wrote down”, the American comedian Whitney Brown once said. This pithy saying exactly describes the approaching critical year of national consciousness. Even at the beginning of the year 2016, all eyes were set on 2017. During that year Israel, the Palestinians and everyone who is connected to the Jewish-Arab battle over the Land of Israel, will mark the one hundred year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, seventy years of the partition, and fifty years since the Six Day War. The battle over the world’s memory regarding these points in time will be almost as bitter and difficult as the wars that accompanied each one of them. Palestinians and their supporters, including self-hating Jews from Israel and the diaspora, have already begun preparations to undermine our rights to the Land in general and to Judea and Samaria in particular. Israel, perhaps thanks to a prime minister with an especially developed historical awareness, has also begun positive preparations. This is good. 

Already during the last Jerusalem Day the government determined that a ministerial committee would begin planning celebrations for the jubilee year of the city’s unification. The task was assigned to Minister Miri Regev and an inter-ministry committee was established, headed by Managing Director of the Ministry of Culture and Sport, Yossi Sharabi. On the next Jerusalem Day the government is expected to approve the plan and the events themselves are already expected to begin. Simultaneously, Minister of Education Bennett announced that the academic year for 2017 will mark fifty years of the unification of the eternal capital of the Jewish People. 

However, neither Netanyahu nor Bennett took advantage of their authority to sharpen the message which is no less important: the jubilee year of the return of the Jewish People to the historical tracts of the Land of Israel, meaning Judea and Samaria. One need not be a rightist in order celebrate the miracle of this war of salvation, and one need not be religious to claim that Alon-Moreh, Beit-El, Beit-Lehem and Hevron are the cradle of the Jewish People’s homeland. There is, of course, a political dispute over the question of what to do in these tracts of land today, and it is clear that the educational system must not get involved in the bitter argument. But the past must be told. If not, others will come and rewrite history, and actually, they are already doing this.

The Palestinians have already succeeded for some time to penetrate the international consciousness with the lie that they are an ancient people that have, from time immemorial, lived in the land. They scream “It is all mine”, but are answered by our side with “okay, then we will divide it” and not “It is all mine”. It’s no wonder that many people, and not only the ignorant, are convinced that the State of Israel arose on the ruins of the state of Palestine, even though such a thing never existed.

Israel refrains from screaming about its fundamental rights in Judea and Samaria. And as long as it continues to do so, Israel can expect to suffer a crushing defeat in the battle for national consciousness since her claims are not convincing. The Palestinians in 2017 will scream “Fifty years of robbing us of our country and usurping our lands”. Israel, as it has through the years, will mumble that her actions stem from security needs. That is, she will say implicitly that the land indeed is Arab, but the occupation, the theft and the usurpation, are done in the name of Israel’s security. With such a message as this it is impossible to win. Just as it is impossible to settle in a neighbor’s home just because he is an irksome nudnik, it is also impossible to justify the theft of another people’s land on the grounds of national security. “Give them what is theirs, and solve the security problems in another way”, is the outsider’s expected response. 

The Israeli hasbara system has not internalized this fundamental point. In the opinion of the hasbara  people, the claims of history and rights are automatically connected to a contemporary political solution. Therefore it is preferred to obscure the past. Instead of differentiating between rights and an agreement that perhaps will exist in the future, both are treated equally. This is analogical to a lawyer not representing the reasons that the accused is not guilty because of misgivings that the judge will not be convinced, which might lead to him actually not being convinced. Like a dog that returns to its vomit, Israel goes back to her futile security claims and flees from the main question – the question of the right to the Land.

The only one in the Israeli system that has understood this concept is Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely. She had some time ago already formed a team and a plan to promote hasbara projects that underscore Israel’s rights in Judea and Samaria. The program includes a presentation that will move throughout the country to tell of the continuity of Jewish communities in the Land of Israel over the years, film clips and hasbara dossiers in Hebrew and English. But in order to implement it, the approval of the minister of the treasury, Moshe Kahlon, is required. “The idea is to emphasize of liberation and the return to the territories of the Land, rather than the term “occupation”, say those in Hotovely’s office.  The Yesha (Hebrew acronym for Judea, Samaria and Gaza) Council plans its own celebrations to mark the jubilee year of the return of the Jewish People to its historic inheritance. The question is why Prime Minister Netanyahu and head of HaBayit HaYehudi Bennett, who are polished public relations presenters and understand the matters at hand, stand on the sidelines. Why do these two leaders not also initiate celebrations and courses of action to send this essential message, which they both know so well: the historical miracle of the return of the Jewish People to the heart of its homeland.

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav for Women in Green

Ariel Kahana

Source: Makor Rishon, March 11,Yoman section, issue 970, pg. 10

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Barack Obama Checks Out - Bret Stephens

by Bret Stephens

Hat tip: Dr. Jean-Charles Bensoussan

A journalist takes a deep dive into the president’s shallow mind. Crises to follow.

Barack Obama—do you remember him?—will remain in office for another 311 days. But not really. The president has left the presidency. The commander in chief is on sabbatical. He spends his time hanging out at a festival in Austin. And with the cast of “Hamilton,” the musical. And with Justin, the tween sensation from Canada. 

In his place, an exact look-alike of Mr. Obama is giving interviews to Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, interviews that are so gratuitously damaging to long-standing U.S. alliances, international security and Mr. Obama’s reputation as a serious steward of the American interest that the words could not possibly have sprung from the lips of the president himself. 

I was a bit late in reading Mr. Goldberg’s long article, “The Obama Doctrine,” which appeared last week and is based on hours of conversation with the president, along with ancillary interviews with John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, Manuel Valls of France, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and other boldface names. Kudos to Mr. Goldberg for his level of access, the breadth of his reporting, the sheer volume of juicy quotes and revealing details. 

Still, it’s a deep dive into a shallow mind. Mr. Obama’s recipe for Sunni-Shiite harmony in the Middle East? The two sides, says Mr. Obama, “need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood,” sounding like Mr. Rogers. The explanation for the “sh— show” (the president’s words) in Libya? “I had more faith in the Europeans,” he says, sounding like my 12-year-old blaming her 6-year-old sister for chores not done. The recipe for better global governance? “If only everyone could be like the Scandinavians, this would all be easy,” he says, sounding like—Barack Obama. 

Then there’s Mr. Obama the political theorist. “Real power means you can get what you want without having to exert violence,” the president says in connection to Vladimir Putin’s gambles in Ukraine and Syria. That’s true, in a Yoda sort of way. But isn’t seizing foreign territory without anyone doing much to stop you also a form of “real power”? Is dictatorial power fake because it depends on the threat of force? 

Elsewhere, Mr. Obama airily dismisses the concept of “credibility” in U.S. foreign policy, noting that Ronald Reagan’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Lebanon after the 1983 Marine barracks bombing didn’t affect U.S. credibility with China or Russia. That’s debatable. But the withdrawal affected our credibility with Iran, which was behind the bombing, and with a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden. 

“Where was this false courage of yours when the explosion in Beirut took place in 1983?” bin Laden asked in his 1996 declaration of war on the U.S., which also cited Bill Clinton’s abrupt withdrawal from Somalia after the 1993 Black Hawk Down incident. “You left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you.” 

As for current threats, Mr. Goldberg asks Mr. Obama what he would do if Mr. Putin made a move against Moldova, “another vulnerable post-Soviet state.” Mr. Obama’s answer—“if it’s really important to somebody, and it’s not that important to us, they know that, and we know that”—is of the April Glaspie school of diplomacy. So long, Moldova. 

Mr. Goldberg also discloses that Mr. Kerry has begged the president to launch cruise missile strikes against the Assad regime in Syria, for the sake of a little leverage in negotiations. Mr. Obama has brushed the requests away. Mr. Assad can at last rest easy, if he isn’t already. 

U.S. allies fare less well under Mr. Obama’s gaze. David Cameron comes in for a scolding on U.K. military spending, as well as for getting “distracted” on Libya. Nicolas Sarkozy, the former and possibly future president of France, is dismissed by Mr. Obama as a posturing braggart. Regarding the president’s commitment to Israel’s security, Mr. Goldberg reports, citing Mr. Panetta, that the president “has questioned why the U.S. should maintain Israel’s so-called qualitative military edge, which grants it access to more sophisticated weapons systems than America’s Arab allies.” 

As for those allies, Mr. Obama treats the Saudis with such naked contempt that it prompted former intelligence minister Turki al- Faisal to denounce the president in an op-ed: “Could it be,” the prince asked, “that you are petulant about the Kingdom’s efforts to support the Egyptian people when they rose against the Muslim Brothers’ government and you supported it?” 

Summing up the president’s worldview, Mr. Goldberg describes him as a “Hobbesian optimist”—which philosophically must be the equivalent of a Jew for Jesus. But Mr. Obama has shown that he lacks Hobbes’s understanding that Leviathan must fill the vacuums that will otherwise be filled by an ISIS or a Putin, or an optimist’s belief that American power can shape the world for the better. 

The French diplomat Charles de Talleyrand once said of the (restored) Bourbon dynasty that “they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing.” Given the mix of score-settling and delusion on display in this interview, that may well be the president’s foreign policy epitaph, too. Write

Bret Stephens


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Israeli Prof. Defeats Campus Hate Mob - David Paulin

by David Paulin

At the University of Texas, playing the victim card backfires on rabble-rousing leftists.

Leftist students with an authoritarian streak have repeatedly gotten their way on college campuses during the Obama years -- shutting down free speech at the University of California in Berkeley to the University of Missouri to Yale University.
But not at the University of Texas in Austin. Recently, one of the campus' leftist mobs was defeated. The bullies were defeated and apparently now face disciplinary action  – all thanks to professors and administrators who stood up to the mob. By following the rule of law, university officials demonstrated how to defeat leftist bullies claiming to promote social justice.
As usual, social media made the incident go viral at Texas' flagship university. Four months ago, members of a pro-Palestinian group at the school falsely accused Israeli-born professor Ami Pedahzur of defamation and assault – all after they had disrupted a conference he was hosting that brought together a small gathering of scholars. The incident occurred just as  Stanford University historian Gil-li Vardi was introduced. Suddenly, the boisterous students stood up and unfurled a Palestinian flag. They spewed the usual venomous statements regarding the state of Israel; and went on to exchange heated words with Pedahzur and other attendees who were unwilling to meekly let the students take over the event. Pedahzur, for his part, repeatedly asked told the students to "Sit down and listen, sit down and learn" – but to no avail. They quickly began to chant: “Free, free Palestinian!” and “Long Live the Intifada!” And perhaps most venomous of all, they chanted: “We want the 48; we don't want 2 states!” –  with 48 being a reference to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
Pedahzur, a highly-respected teacher and scholar, is professor of government and founder and director of the university's Institute for Israel Studies. In a long Facebook post he wrote after the November 13 incident, he said he was troubled by what happened: Not only had students pushed him, he wrote, but he was unfairly portrayed as the aggressor in a media blitz made by the students in a highly edited YouTube video
“Less than forty eight hours after horrific attacks in Paris, I feel that is my responsibility to ask you to join me in an attempt to confront the radicalization process on campuses and to protect students, staff and faculty members from intimidation and violence,” he wrote. “After spending two decades of learning how people turn to terrorism, I fear that what I witnessed on Friday should raise many red flags.” 
He added, “We cannot let such individuals terrorize us.”
The students were led by Mohammed Nabulsi, a second-year law student and members of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee who, along with fellow students, were disgusted by the conference's subject: “The Birth of the Israeli Defense Forces’ Military Culture.”
The in-your-face exchanges between students and some attendees was captured on the YouTube video; most of the students had taken out their smart phones as they began their demonstration. 
“We want to talk about the fact that the Center for Israeli Studies exists on our campus to whitewash the state of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people,” an agitated Nabulsi declared.
In the video, the man who grabbed the Palestinian was later identified as James Hasik, a graduate student attending the conference.
Ironically, the video made the students look like the aggressors – yet not only did they accuse Pedahzur of assault, they charged him with defamation and discrimination – a charges related to his Facebook post. In it he also had accused Nabulsi of attempting to “hijack” the event -- and pointed out that Nabulsi and another pro-Palestinian student apparently were using the names of terrorists for their online monikers.
Although the police were called, Pedahzur declined to press charges. The university, however, undertook a lengthy investigation spearheaded by its Office for Inclusion and Equity, whose investigators interviewed 18 witnesses and reviewed the video. Its verdict: Pedahzur's conduct and remarks did not violate the university's polices concerning harassment and discrimination. Since the incident last November 13, Pedahzur's career had been under a cloud. He had to hire a lawyer. 
University spokesman have declined to say if Nabulsi and his cohorts are facing disciplinary actions for making false accusations; state and federal privacy statues prevent them from doing so. But in reading between the lines, it can be inferred that the dean of student's office is now dealing with the matter.
Let's hope that the backbone demonstrated by professors and administrators at the University of Texas will set a precedent for how universities ought to deal with leftist bullies.

David Paulin, an Austin, TX-based freelance journalist, covered Hugo Chavez's rise to power while based in Caracas as a foreign correspondent. He also reported from the Caribbean while based in Kingston, Jamaica.


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BDS: Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Against Anti-Semitism - Michael Curtis

by Michael Curtis

What is now essentially required are actions to condemn and punish perpetrators of anti-Semitism in a meaningful way by boycotting, divestment, expelling them, and by sanctions taking legal action against them

It is a welcome happening that the virus, the incubus of anti-Semitism, is receiving critical attention in a global way, and in some parts of the European political mainstream. It is equally welcoming, and sadly necessary, that democratic countries in Europe as well as in the United States are now providing and funding protection and security for Jewish organizations and synagogues.  

However, it is time to argue that mere discussion of the bigotry of anti-Semitism though necessary is insufficient. International Covenants, laws in a number of countries in Europe as well as in the U.S., prohibit discrimination or advocacy of hatred that is an incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence. It is not simply an issue concerning free speech or limits on it.

The crucial factor in the case of anti-Semitism is that the hatred may, and as history has shown so often in so many areas and times, does lead to violence against Jews, either individually or as members of a nation, or as citizens of Israel. What is now essentially required are actions to condemn and punish perpetrators of anti-Semitism in a meaningful way by boycotting, divestment, expelling them, and by sanctions taking legal action against them, since the perpetrators are responsible for behavior that has so often lead to violence.

The most recent discussion of the subject has taken place on March 14-15, 2016 in Berlin at the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combatting Anti-Semitism, concerned with hatred on the Internet, in community relations, and in football, among other issues. At it, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said anti-Semitism had no role in our society and needed to be combatted by all means and in all instances. Anti-Semitism masquerading as criticism of Israel must be considered hate speech, as violations of freedom of association and expression. It means that calls for the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel is a pretext for expressing hatred of Jews.

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, indicated that crimes against Jews and attacks on places of worship, culture, and community were occurring and must be countered and punished. She suggested that they must be prevented and this must begin with education, education that fosters new forms of global solidarity. She rightfully praised UNESCO’s work in promoting global citizenship education and the advancing of Holocaust education. All will agree it is wholly desirable to defend the concept of defending humanity as a single community, sharing values and equal dignity. In similar fashion, Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission, pointed to the need for education, education, education. This, he said, is the “only agora society as to meet, to learn to live together, to foster responsible citizens.”

With all due respect to Bokova and Timmermans though their emphasis on the need for education is irreproachable it must be seen as only a starting point as just a few recent incidents, in educational institutions and in politics, show.

Behavior in great universities today is not gratifying. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, shocked by the series of unpleasant incidents at British universities called for more action against the rise of anti-Semitism. He heard the echoes of past bigotry and violence.

The most striking exposition of the problem has come from a courageous young man, Alex Chalmers, who resigned as co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club, affiliated to the British Labour Party. His account of the anti-Semitic attitudes of members of the Club is devastating. The word “Zio,” derogatory for Jew and displaying hatred of Zionism and Israel has been part of the Club’s lexicon, as is the singing of the song “Rockets over Tel Aviv.” Why has education at Oxford not overcome the hatred? As a minimum the guilty students should have been reprimanded, and as true punishment should be expelled from Oxford.

Similarly, why has education at the London School of Economics not overcome anti-Semitic hatred? At LSE, a student named Rayhan Uddin, vice-chair of LSE Labour Society and a member of the Labour Party, was running for the post of general secretary of the LSE student union. Understandingly, he tried to prevent the election of a competitor, who happened to be a Jewish student. One might have thought that the election of a Jew, what Uddin called a “tragedy,” would cause suffering limited to Uddin’s fellow LSE students. But Mr. Uddin, who is said to use the word “Zio” believes that this momentous event, perhaps part of the global Jewish conspiracy will be terrible not only for “Muslims and pro-Palestinians at LSE but for Muslims and pro-Palestinians across the whole country.”

Again, one may ask why education at LSE has not overcome the vicious hatred, let alone adherence to university rules? Uddin’s real concern for justice and equality, but not suffering, was shown by his attendance on Sunday March 13, 2016 of a gala dinner held in a central London banqueting hall by the LSE Islamic Society. At it, a physical screen down the middle of the room separated and segregated men and women. Uddin was guilty of violating LSE rules that gender segregation by members of the LSE community was contrary to university regulations. What punishment, if any, is in store for him?

The courageous young man Chalmers was appalled that a considerable part of the political Left has turned a blind eye to anti-Semitism. Recent British politics illustrates this. In Britain, Luciana Berger, the youngest Jewish MP, a member of the Labour party, was targeted by a coordinated campaign of anti-Semitic abuse, threats of physical violence, and death threats. Berger received messages of an image of her with a yellow star on her head. The leaders of the Labour Party did not give her adequate support. They should have seen that the perpetrators were tried in court and punished.

In contrast, a number of members of the Labour Party are concerned with the Global Jewish Conspiracy. A woman named Vicki Kirby who argued that ISIS should attack Israel was in March 2016 appointed as vice chair of the Woking Labour Party. She had previously been dumped as a candidate for parliament in the 2015 general election, and suspended from the Party following anti-Semitic remarks she made in social media in 2014. She has been relentless in her anti-Semitism. On March 14, 2016 Kirby was suspended from the Labour Party a second time after she has published a series of tweets attacking Israel. Among them was information that Hitler might be the “Zionist god,” and that “Jews had big noses.” Even the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, not regarded as friendly towards Israel, criticized “vile” anti-Semitic abuse that “had no place in our society.”

This incident concerning Kirby followed another one when a Labour Party member, Gerry Downing, a leader of the Socialist Fight group, was expelled from the Party that had readmitted him as a full member. Among his choice phrases were “Hamas heroism”. Downing was concerned with a world Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie. His ST group has defended ISIS, and still questions part of the facts of the Holocaust.

The answer to the virus of anti-Semitism is to eliminate it. This can be done only partly by education, but mainly by reacting strongly against perpetrators. They should be Boycotted from official organizations, expelled from universities and political parties. They should be Divested of funding. They should be Sanctioned by the full force of laws against discrimination and incitement to violence. Only in this way will violence against Jews be ended.

Michael Curtis


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