Monthly Archives: March 2009

What happened to the evidence? Barry Rubin analyzes the accusations against the IDF

Today’s NYT has another brilliant piece by Ethan Bronner, using an article in Ha-aretz about damning testimony concerning Israel’s behavior in Operation Cast Lead.

Now testimony is emerging from within the ranks of soldiers and officers alleging a permissive attitude toward the killing of civilians and wanton destruction of property that is sure to inflame the domestic and international debate about the army’s conduct in Gaza.

Another case of the “telephone-like” chain of transmission of indictments against Israel that magnify with each retelling. Nor is the NYT the only case. Barry Rubin has looked into the evidence, and behold, it is insubstantial to say the least. Now why hasn’t Bronner covered the much more substantial evidence in the opposite direction?

An Informal Note: Claims about the IDF in Gaza War

Here is the status of this story.

So far only two specific anecdotes have been told.

In one, two Palestinians went in the wrong direction when being directed to safety by soldiers and were killed by a sniper in a different location who saw them approaching the lines. Given the frequent use of people who appear to be civilians as suicide bombers, his orders were to shoot. This is a regrettable accident but even the accuser said it was not done on purpose. This is clearly — if it happened at all (see below) an accident of the kind that happens in war.

The second was that an officer told soldiers to shoot a woman. In the Western media stories it appeared she wasn’t doing anything and this was completely bloodthirsty. But on closer reading of the original story she was approaching the soldiers after being warned not to do so. She was probably innocent but could have been a suicide bomber.

However even this story is not so impressive. If you look at the material, note that while an officer wanted to shoot her, soldiers argued with him, which hardly sounds like some militaristic savagery. Moreover it was not clear that she was shot in the end, merely that there was an argument over whether to shoot someone who was approaching soldiers in a suspicious way.

The only other specific statement cited was by a soldier who said he objected to the rules of engagement that said when you enter a place you believe might be dangerous you kick in the door and shoot anyone who appears unless it is immediately apparent they are not a threat. This is standard practice among armies in such situations and is even standard for American police forces. In addition, even this soldier gave no example of any civilian killed in this situation.

But wait, there’s more! On further investigation by the media here, two specific sources were identified as the source of these stories:

1. A soldier, identified by name in the Israeli media, who said that he did not witness these events but heard them as stories or rumors. In short, there is no evidence that either of these things actually happened at all.

2. A soldier known for extreme left-wing activity, also identified by name, who previously authored an anti-Israel article in a book with a preface by Noam Chomsky is the other source.

3. So far no date, places or names have been given even to give any basis for believing that either of these incidents even happened.

Earth Calling Gideon Levy: A Swedish Writer Responds to Israel’s Master of MOS

When Malmö erupted in violence at the appearance of — horror! — the Israeli Davis Cup tennis team, it illustrated three things. 1) What happens when a European city approaches 25% Muslim immigrant population; 2) how insane the “progressive left” has become as we approach the end of the aughts (’00s) of the 21st century; and 3) how you can always count on some Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome (MOS)-stricken Jew somewhere to say the most insane things in defense of that “progressive” insanity. Now, a Swedish writer without a dozen chips on her shoulder has responded.

A response to Gideon Levy from a Swede who doesn’t hate Israel

By Anna Ekstrom

In the aftermath of the Davis Cup event hosted in the Swedish town of Malmo, which on March 7 culminated in an anti-Israeli rally with traits of anti-Semitism and spurts of violence, there were two seemingly opposite comments published in English-language Israeli newspapers.

The first piece, by Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman in the Jerusalem Post, was largely based on false premises and easily dismissed. The second article by Gideon Levy for Haaretz was a letter of sympathy with my compatriots, which is more offensive than Cooper and Brackman’s criticism.

Levy portrays the Swede in the image of his own passions. It is difficult to understand why he is not offended by others’ vilifying generalizations about his country, his compatriots and, by association, about Jews worldwide.

Yes it is difficult to understand. I have written elsewhere on the kind of epistemological crisis such masochistic self-criticism creates among outsiders who cannot fathom to just what depths Jews will sink in their effort to explain and justify the hatred of the “other.” Indeed, Levy is one of the stars of the show.

Praising us for our anti-Israel sentiments Levy writes that some populations, notably Swedish and Egyptian, are victims of pro-Israeli governments. This is reminiscent of a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations General Assembly, where he suggested that we are innocent victims of Zionism. Levy continues in the same note by alluding to the classic anti-Semitic myth of Jewish/Zionist control of the media.

Shmuel Trigano defined the “alter-juif” as a Jew who defines himself through the hostile gaze of the other. Can’t get more alter than this, even though there’s plenty of competition.

He also speaks about unconditional support for Israel from foreign governments. This raises the question of whether Levy has read any foreign papers or looked on the Internet, for I doubt that any nation is at present as vilified as Israel. There is of course much legitimate criticism that can be levelled at Israel, but the terms must be equal to those applied to others.

My poor Anna, you don’t understand. Jews like Gideon Levy actually have nothing but moral contempt for the rest of the world. They would feel unbearably sullied if you applied the same standards to them as to others. (For one thing, they’d come off smelling like roses after a rainshower.) On the contrary, they’re moral perfectionists for whom any failure on the part of “their own” people is unbearable, and any accusation on the part of outsiders is just another lash of the whip designed to beat Jews into the right path.

Levy does read the foreign press, and it’s not hostile enough for his taste, since his own people continue to sin. And the only explanation for such a failure to denounce Israeli sins must be that “the jooos control the media.” If it weren’t so serious it would be funny.

Some of what passes for criticism of Israel is of a different nature, and it seems that Israel has been designated the role of “the Jew” in anti-Semitic mythology. The image of Israel as deceitful and evil reflects on the Jewish people, and goes toward explaining the events in Malmo. It also partly explains the sentiments in many other countries, such as the U.K., for the background to the Malmo riots is far from unique to Sweden.

The message from Malmo that reached the world is that the tennis matches were played behind closed doors due to security concerns or political decisions motivated by a large Arab-Muslim minority. It is true that a few Islamists, along with other extremists, have expressed anti-Semitism. But another fact is that immigrants, especially those with Arab or Muslim origins, are also experiencing racism. Innocent young men are looked upon as criminals simply because they are Arab or of dark hair. This too is a cause for concern.

However, the politicians who have uttered the most anti-Israel statements speak from a tradition present long before any significant Muslim immigration to Europe. This tradition is mainly upheld by the center-left-environmentalist opposition to the center-right government. Part of its ideological basis is the noble cause of defending those in need. Like Levy, these politicians claim to be speaking for peace. In Malmo, we can see that this had the opposite effect.

The Social Democrat mayor of Malmo, Ilmar Reepalu, bestowed upon Israel the epithet of “child murderer.”

Gee, I wonder what he was thinking of…

Two representatives of other parties from the opposition coalition addressed the Malmo demonstrators. One of them, Per Gahrton, a former member of the European Parliament and current member of the faction which determines the opposition’s foreign and security policies, claimed that Israel holds the world record in war crimes. He has also labeled Israel a “military dictatorship,” and written that Swedish editors are controlled by the Israel lobby.

Read the rest.

Latest Poll of Palestinians Illustrates the Moebius Strip of Cognitive Egocentrism

The latest polls raise troubling issues which, at the hands of Michael Bar-Zohar’s analysis, sounds a lot like the Moebius Strip of Cognitive Egocentrism. But then again, how reliable are polls of Palestinians (or anyone). The very tone and context in which the questions are asked can have a huge impact on the answers one gets in any circumstance, a fortiori, in an honor-shame culture.

Comments welcome.

A tragedy of misconceptions
Jerusalem Post, Mar 2, 2009 21:03 | Updated Mar 3, 2009 20:34

A survey published on February 5 by the prestigious Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, a Palestinian polling institute, indicates that 46.7 percent of the Palestinians believe that Hamas defeated Israel in the recent fighting in Gaza; 50.8% (compared to 39.3% last April) believe that the rocket attacks should continue, and only 20.8% believe that they are harmful to Palestinian interests. Finally, 55% are convinced that terrorist acts should continue.

These figures illustrate a major aspect of the confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians and, on a wider scope, of the West and the Arab world: a tragedy of misconceptions, a confrontation of two societies that do not understand each other and naively believe that people on the other side have the same way of thinking and reasoning as them. As long as both sides persist in this erroneous perception of each other, there is going to be no peace in the Middle East.

In 1997 the Four Mothers organization was founded. Its goal was the full pullout of the IDF from south Lebanon. Every year, Four Mothers said, we are losing 25 to 30 soldiers in the battle with Hizbullah. Isn’t it a pity to sacrifice these young lives? Let’s pull out of Lebanon, and the Lebanese will leave us in peace. The Four Mothers won and in 2000 prime minister Ehud Barak evacuated every single inch of Lebanese territory.

But the result was the opposite. Nobody in the Arab world believed that Israel had pulled out of Lebanon because of its concern for 25 casualties a year. The retreat was perceived in the Arab world as a victory by Hizbullah over the IDF, and the logical conclusion of Hizbullah and other extremist organizations was that they should continue fighting till Israel’s final defeat. The late Faisal Husseini, a respected Palestinian leader, once told me openly: “Michael, if you don’t agree to our demands [about Jerusalem], we’ll talk to you in Lebanese.” Even the sophisticated Husseini thought that the Hizbullah formula was the one that brought results.

On Moderation and Cognitive Warfare: More from Stuart Green

Chapter 8 from Stuart Green’s thesis. Previous postings available here.

He prefaces it with the following remarks:

Richard, this is chapter eight. I hope it’s not too long, but I sense there are some conceptual problems with it that I can’t quite put my finger on. I’d love to get feedback from your readers and pick their brains. Also, some of your readers were asking about the difference between cognitive warfare and, say political warfare as waged by the Soviets and Chinese. As I continue to read more about political warfare, I do see a great deal of overlap. There are still differences, however. My theory is quite broad, perhaps too broad, as it stretches down to the basic building blocks of the idea, up through culture, ideology, and the pointy parts of PSYOP. I also need to note the importance of psychology itself.



The last chapter focused a great deal on deception in the Arab-Israeli conflict, but with particular emphasis on its operational applications. Delving a little more into deception, the first half of this chapter moves away from the blunt operational manifestations and toward some of the slight-of-hand, soft rhetoric used by related jihadist groups in other parts of the West, namely the U.S. and Europe. It seeks to demonstrate that jihadists have successfully targeted American and European politicians, academics, and journalists with deceptively moderate memes designed to infiltrate and disarm the Western discourse. They have managed to hide agendas that are not only pernicious to Israel, but to secular Western society as a whole. The second half of this chapter addresses the Western intelligentsia’s reaction to evidence of the uncomfortable truth: cognitive dissonance and paralysis. In the end, it argues that the failure to confront these realities as they become progressively clearer constitutes a form of modern dhimmitude. That is, the failure to confront violence, violent rhetoric, and violent ideology represents unwitting submission to an Arab-Muslim agenda.


In times of particularly intense conflict the accepted discourses have naturally shifted toward the extreme. During the World Wars entire enemy populations became associated with rapacious destruction and evil, as were “the Hun” during WWI and the Japanese during WWII for Americans. In the current context, however, only the Arab-Muslim society maintains that it is now (and always has been) at war with Western society. Western society, for its part, continues to think of war in confined, sporadic terms—certainly, war is not perceived as a millennial imperative. Today the accepted Western discourse, with some exceptions, does not allow for the suggestion that it is in a civilizational war—such talk is generally denounced as racist or Islamophobic. Thenceforth, “extreme” rhetoric is permitted within the mainstream, Arab-Muslim discourse, while the Western discourse remains relatively unradicalized.

Professor Anna Geifman of Boston University observes the frequent appearance of a particular question after terrorist attacks: “What did we do to make them hate us?”[1] The emergence of this question demonstrates not only that the Western discourse remains comparatively unmoved by even the violent manifestation of the war—there is little “mobilization” in the Western discourse when compared to WWI, WWII, or the current Arab-Muslim discourse—but also that it is decidedly vulnerable to hostile ideologists and their “moderate” supporters who indulge in answering the question.

Few ask the more relevant question Landes suggests, which holds particular value for our own cognitive warriors: “What are they telling themselves that makes them hate us?” The accepted pattern is to point out a variety of Western policies as the genesis of Arab-Muslim anger and conflict. This kind of thinking—not completely without value—stems from guilt-culture and maintains that we can find out “why they hate us” by opening a “dialogue,” and possibly even improve relations by admitting culpability. For this to be theoretically possible, the Western elite must find a moderate Arab-Muslim cadre to sit across the table, and because universalist memeplexes insist that there is such a cadre, cognitive warriors happily provide them.

Stephen Coughlin suggests that the moderates of respective societies interact with each other to feed temperate, sometimes “soft,” impressions of the other culture back into their own society’s discourse (see chapter 2). There are also influential individuals and groups wholly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas who use taqiyya to make themselves appear moderate by Western standards, that is, they pass themselves off as the best chance for “mutual understanding” and inter-societal progress. By appropriately aligning their memes for infiltration and infection, these groups and individuals soften Western policy-makers, academics, and journalists, most of whom are neither familiar with taqiyya nor the depth and extremity of the opposing ideology. These deceptively moderate elements are on the front lines of the cognitive war and arguably present the most dangerous, most capable threat to the West.

The Campus

Schleifer demonstrates that their activities represent one of the more “mastered” elements of cognitive warfare. During the first intifada, Palestinian leaders broke down their PSYOP target audiences into several subcategories. Western democratic audiences, for instance, were divided between Arab-American/Europeans, opinion makers, Muslim groups, Jewish liberals, and the general public.[2] Walid Shoebat’s anecdote above gives some clue as to the extent of Fatah’s message tailoring in the U.S., but Schleifer notes that Palestinians also study in Israeli universities. “One notable example is Ibrahim Karaeen, a leading Fatah member who in 1978 opened the Palestinian Press Service in East Jerusalem,” to translate publications and give foreign correspondents a new, Palestinian perspective. [3]

Steven Emerson highlights some of the activities of the more infamous jihadists in the U.S., including Sami al Arian, a University of South Florida professor with strong ties to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and who has been taped shouting “death to Israel” in Arabic. Arian established two organizations dedicated “exclusively for educational and academic research and analysis, and promotion of international peace and understanding,” which could easily have attracted the interest of unsuspecting students and academics.[4]

There is a multitude of organizations on Western campuses dedicated to boycotting Israeli products and Israeli academics. Their prevalence and several recent events have demonstrated the extent to which the Palestinian narrative has penetrated some campuses.[5] Palestinian “trade unionists,” representing a wide variety of professional, often leftist, associations in the territories, agitate internationally for Palestinian causes (they may do so on behalf of the PA, although this requires additional investigation), most commonly calling for intellectual and commercial boycotts of Israel on humanitarian civil rights grounds.

Recently, they received a significant moral boost when at least two British unions—the British University and College Union (UCU), claiming to speak for 120,000 British educators, and “UNISON,” a union claiming to represent 1.3 million public sector workers—passed similar resolutions calling for anti-Israel intellectual and military boycotts. They pledged support for the Palestinian “people’s right to self-determination and to establish a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with its capital in Jerusalem.”[6] Unions and activists such as these do not generally intend to support the violent activities of Palestinian ideologists, but from the ideologist’s perspective, that type of support is a tertiary concern. By way of international pressure, cognitive warriors seek only to trigger Israel’s self-imposed military restraint, which subsequently allows jihadists more freedom for their own military operations.

Lest the substantive connection between militants and apparently moderate organs like the trade unions mentioned above be doubted, it is important to remember the previous sections of this thesis which established the level of militant control over the Palestinian discourse. Even for genuinely independent groups with specialized causes, only memes that are in line with or beneficial to “radical” ideology may be permitted. Moreover, many jihadist groups have used deception to establish new groups that appear independent and moderate, but remain connected to and work for the benefit of their parent organization.

The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood?

The Muslim American Society (MAS) is one such example. Formed in 1993, its “leadership was instructed to deny their affiliation with the [Muslim] Brotherhood, their strategy was to operate under a different name but promote the same ideological goals: the reformation of society through the spread of Islam, with the ultimate goal of establishing Islamic rule in America.”[7] Like several other organizations claiming to serve as conduits for dialogue with American Muslims, the MAS was in fact established by the global Muslim Brotherhood movement, which, according to an internal memorandum made public at the Holy Land Foundation trial in Texas, wages

a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”[8]

Perhaps the best known Brotherhood scion and arguably the most influential American Muslim organization is the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Established in 1994, this organization descended from yet another influential offshoot, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). According to another internal memorandum, the IAP “absorbed most of the [Muslim Brotherhood’s] Palestinian energy at the leadership and grassroots levels in addition to some of the brothers from other countries,” and it developed the Palestine Committee and Hamas, often described as a sister organization by the IAP’s leaders.[9]

Breathtaking Folly — Surprise! — on the pages of the NYT: Roger Cohen’s Black Hole

I guess I’m like Charlie Brown with Lucy’s football. I am continuously amazed at how foolish our pundits are and how ready major newspapers are to give them full rein on their editorial pages.

lucy and the football

I’ve already fisked Roger Cohen before for his naïve PCP1, but this surpasses credulity (his and mine).

Middle East Reality Check

Published: March 8, 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton grabbed headlines with an invitation to Iran to attend a conference on Afghanistan, but the significant Middle Eastern news last week came from Britain. It has “reconsidered” its position on Hezbollah and will open a direct channel to the militant group in Lebanon.

Like Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah has long been treated by the United States as a proscribed terrorist group. This narrow view has ignored the fact that both organizations are now entrenched political and social movements without whose involvement regional peace is impossible.

So were the Nazis an entrenched part of political and social movements in Germany and Austria. Including them in diplomacy didn’t make peace possible, it made it impossible. What on earth makes someone like Cohen think that by “including” a group that has a virulently anti-semitic platform and calls on its people to commit genocide, that somehow that will lead to peace?

Britain aligned itself with the U.S. position on Hezbollah, but has now seen its error. Bill Marston, a Foreign Office spokesman, told Al Jazeera: “Hezbollah is a political phenomenon and part and parcel of the national fabric in Lebanon. We have to admit this.”


This “Hallelujah,” more than anything else in the article, has me slackjawed. It’s one thing to clench your teeth and take your medicine like a man, it’s another thing to cheer as your being rearended by roadrage. The only reason I can come up with for such an extraordinary show of joy is double: 1) Cohen has no knowledge of what Hizbullah and Hamas are really about (how characteristically inappropriate for a pundit), and 2) he’s so convinced that being nice will work that, now that we’re being nice, it’s time to cheer because everything is about to work. I hate to say it, but I’m beginning to agree with oao and cynic here, we’re in deep doodoo.

Precisely the same thing could be said of Hamas in Gaza. It is a political phenomenon, part of the national fabric there.

One difference is that Hezbollah is in the Lebanese national unity government, whereas Hamas won the free and fair January 2006 elections to the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority, only to discover Middle Eastern democracy is only democracy if it produces the right result.

And here I thought that that kind of nonsense was going to disappear quietly as Hamas showed its true colors. Apparently, not to the color-blind. What drives me crazy about these kinds of formulas is that they at once grant the status of “democracy” at the same time as they fail to hold the population responsible for their vote. “What, you have a problem with the Nazis? They were fairly elected.” The superficiality of such formulations, combined with the joy of ceding to the perverse choices of the Arab electorates in question, strike me as sure signs of a massive loss of common sense.

Insights into Why Europe Slept: Revisiting Tony Judt’s “Israel: The Alternative”

It’s more than five years old, but for many reasons, Tony Judt’s “Israel: The Alternative” is worth revisiting (and fisking) now as we reach the closing years of the aughts, and like the keffiya, the “One-state solution” is becoming increasingly fashionable on the left.

This essay was part of a wave of anti-Zionist writings from mainstream figures in the wake of the Second Intifada, and it stood out as the work of a highly respected historian of the 20th century, with a strong Zionist past. Using his authoritative knowledge of history, Judt argued that Israel was an a primitive anachronism of questionable legitimacy, and that peace would be far more likely were it dismantled and replaced with a single national entity uniting Jews, Muslims and Christians in a democratic, secular Palestine.

The essay received a number of sharp responses, some as eloquent as they were hard hitting. But the damage was done: another “alter-juif” — who even as he presented his bona fides as a Jew, deligitimated the Jewish state — had contributed to calling Israel’s very existence into question in the public sphere. And he made his case not with passion and invective, but with an argument that was primarily historical. I had not read the essay at the time it appeared, but had heard of it, especially from Rosenfeld’s piece on “Progressive” Jewish Thought and the New Antisemitism (p. 15f.)

A close read several years later proves a valuable exercise in writing a “Second Draft,” particularly since this piece is a kind of “historical journalism” in which Judt uses his wide familiarity with 20th century history to advise and orient those concerned with current events. What the passage of five years reveals, however, is hardly flattering to Judt. On the contrary, from his appraisal of key players like Sharon and Arafat, to his serene confidence in the European model (with which he critiques Israel’s shoddy moral record), to his sense of the strength of Israeli “fascism,” he seems to have gotten almost everything wrong. As bad as it seemed to some readers at the time, it seems the worse for five years’ wear.

Anyone who had read the first essay carefully should not be surprised at how badly Judt read the situation in 2003. Although written by an accomplished historian of precisely the period in question, the essay makes elementary errors of historical analysis and comparison that fail the standards of first-year graduate school. Indeed, Judt mangles his historical analysis so thoroughly that it raises questions about what could possibly have led him to restrict his data so tightly to Israel — in order to single her out for opprobrium — and then reach such outlandish conclusions/solutions — her dissolution. Whatever the deeper causes, it certainly illustrates how powerful a distorting influence the pull of anti-Zionism — and Anti-Americanism — was on the minds of some of the best and the brightest in the early 21st century.

As such, it’s a sad but valuable document.

[Judt in block-quote, bold; bold italics my emphasis.]

Volume 50, Number 16 · October 23, 2003

Israel: The Alternative

By Tony Judt

The Middle East peace process is finished. It did not die: it was killed. Mahmoud Abbas was undermined by the President of the Palestinian Authority and humiliated by the Prime Minister of Israel. His successor awaits a similar fate. Israel continues to mock its American patron, building illegal settlements in cynical disregard of the “road map.” The President of the United States of America has been reduced to a ventriloquist’s dummy, pitifully reciting the Israeli cabinet line: “It’s all Arafat’s fault.” Israelis themselves grimly await the next bomber. Palestinian Arabs, corralled into shrinking Bantustans, subsist on EU handouts. On the corpse-strewn landscape of the Fertile Crescent, Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat, and a handful of terrorists can all claim victory, and they do. Have we reached the end of the road? What is to be done?

Notice Judt’s pervasive adoption of Arab “honor-shame” language, not as a sophisticated analysis of how “honor-shame” calculus drives the most belligerent elements of Palestinian behavior, but as an advocate of preserving Palestinian honor. In other words, rather than confront the pervasiveness of a primitive zero-sum notion of “honor” in the Arab world, one of, if not the primary source of the belligerence, he not only accepts it, but makes himself its champion, excoriating the Israelis for not respecting that sense of honor. The overall effect of so foolish an a priori concession is to make us all prisoners of this pre-modern mentality which he is about to claim, no longer exists.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, in the twilight of the continental empires, Europe’s subject peoples dreamed of forming “nation-states,” territorial homelands where Poles, Czechs, Serbs, Armenians, and others might live free, masters of their own fate. When the Habsburg and Romanov empires collapsed after World War I, their leaders seized the opportunity. A flurry of new states emerged; and the first thing they did was set about privileging their national, “ethnic” majority — defined by language, or religion, or antiquity, or all three — at the expense of inconvenient local minorities, who were consigned to second-class status: permanently resident strangers in their own home.

Note the emotional appeal of the last sentence. We all believe that “inconvenient local minorities” should not be consigned to second-class status, that they should not be made “permanently resident strangers in their own home.” Clearly any country that does so is “not good,” or in Judt’s moral-political universe, not like the “post-nationalist” Europeans. One would not know from this phrasing that accomplishing this feat of egalitarian treatment of native and stranger is almost unheard of in human history – the Greeks never came near; the Americans took over two centuries to get close, and the Europeans had to go through two centuries of revolution and insane millennial warfare just to begin to treat their own minorities and fellow Europeans fairly by Judt’s exacting standards.

By taking this unique accomplishment of advanced modernity — polities built on the idea of respect for others, and abandonment of the “us-them” mentality — as a global norm, Judt obscures its rarity historically (and, implicitly, cheapens the accomplishment). The overriding political axiom for most of human history, and certainly for the European and Arabian political cultures under discussion here has been “rule or be ruled.” The very issue of “minorities” only arises after the nation state has undermined the fundamental prime divider of pre-modern societies, between the ruling minority and the mass of commoners fleeced and living at subsistence. As the Mexican bandido in The Magnificent Seven, Calvera, says to Chris Adams (Yul Brenner) about the defenseless peasants he exacts tribute from, “If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”

Minority rights are already a higher level of egalitarian political organization than what still predominates throughout the Arab and Muslim world, where the ruling elites of all stripes shear their Arab Muslims commoners no matter how wealthy they are.

But Judt’s not interested in discussing the political culture of the Arab world into which Zionism as a European phenomenon was inserted, but in identifying what brand of European nationalism Zionism best compares with. Rather than the Western European model of liberal or “democratic” nationalism (France, England, USA), he prefers to compare Israel to the Eastern European countries that aspired to national autonomy around the same time as Zionism did.

Judt clearly considers these Eastern European nationalisms inferior: unlike the Western democracies, they consigned their “inconvenient” minorities to second-hand status. And, although Judt does not so note in his essay, one might even argue that this failure to grant equal rights to all – the core of a civil polity – contributed significantly to the weakness of these fledgling “constitutional states” and their vulnerability to fascism and totalitarianism, which swept through Eastern Europe within decades of their founding. “Nationalism gone wrong.”

But one nationalist movement, Zionism, was frustrated in its ambitions. The dream of an appropriately sited Jewish national home in the middle of the defunct Turkish Empire had to wait upon the retreat of imperial Britain: a process that took three more decades and a second world war.

Wait. Only “one nationalist movement” was “frustrated”? What about Arab nationalism? They weren’t frustrated? The Egyptians were furious at the treatment they got at Versailles, as were the Chinese, the Kurds, and many others. Indeed, the exceptional aspect of Zionism among the many cases of post-war frustrated nationalisms, is that, within a generation of this disappointment, the Zionists alone managed to establish a democratic civil polity).

Why, then, would Judt make such a strained, ahistorical claim? The next paragraph clarifies.

And thus it was only in 1948 that a Jewish nation-state was established in formerly Ottoman Palestine. But the founders of the Jewish state had been influenced by the same concepts and categories as their fin-de-siècle contemporaries back in Warsaw, or Odessa, or Bucharest; not surprisingly, Israel’s ethno-religious self-definition, and its discrimination against internal “foreigners,” has always had more in common with, say, the practices of post-Habsburg Romania than either party might care to acknowledge.

I have a question: Noam’s critique of Khaldi and responses

I posted a piece by Israel’s highest ranking Arab-Muslim diplomat, Ishmael Khaldi, on the moral bankruptcy of “Israel Apartheid Week.” It received an interesting critique of Khaldi and defence of using the term “Israeli apartheid” from “Noam,” an Israeli who then got involved in several exchanges with other commenters at the site. In thinking long and hard about your remarks Noam, and I would like to ask you a question that I hope you will answer.

What strikes me about every exchange you have is a combination of two tendencies:

1) to put anything the Israelis do in the worst possible light, either by making nasty analogies and invidious comparisons, or by dismissing positive things as “done for PR.” Thus you want to fault Israel for the separate roads, without any willingness to acknowledge that that’s a result of suicide terror (which began under Rabin). Thus, you compare Israel’s Muslims unfavorably to French Muslims in terms of rights, when any French observer can (and did) tell you that such a comparison is a bad joke.

2) to treat the Palestinians as if they have no agency, either by conceiving them as pure victims — indigenous (when many were immigrants like the Jews), victims of Israeli policies, rather than formulators of very aggressive strategies. Thus, at one point, you say:

but let’s move forward. all you guys thinking that Israel shouldn’t give the Palestinians any rights AND stay in the West Bank: how is that not Apartheid, if not now than in 5, 10, 20 years? in other words, what are we to do with the Palestinians?

Don’t the Palestinians have anything to do? What about purging the hate and incitement to genocide from their Mainstream Media? What about using the land and resources they do control to get the refugees out of their [concentration] camps?

Why do you allow the Palestinians to behave abominably and then fault the Israelis for not treating them better? You act as if they have no agency, as if they are the passive victims of Israeli malevolence, rather than major contributors to their own misery. You are aware that before the first Intifada, the West Bank was one of the ten fastest growing economies in the world?

So my larger question comes down to this: Why are you so attracted to whatever analysis or comparison you can find that puts Israel in a bad light? Given the dozen other ways one might “spin” the data, what’s your attraction to the “ugly Israeli”?

Post Scriptum: As Aviv requested, I ask commenters to keep personal invective out of their posts. While it’s relatively mild compared with what goes on at, say, Daily Kos, that’s hardly what we want to take for a standard. Terms like “idiot,” “fool,” and “ignorant,” should not be used lightly. In particular, when arguing directly with people, even if you have no respect for them, show respect for the rest of us by explaining why, rather than calling him or her names. It really adds nothing to the post. I think Noam has shown a good deal of good faith in hanging in there despite the verbal abuse.

Scruton stumbles through explaining how the West should deal with Islam’s challenge.

A number of commenters have discussed Roger Scruton’s essay in Azure, “Islam and the West: Lines of Demarcation.” Some find it excellent even while others find the conclusion on “forgiveness” confusing if not troubling. I read it with increasing dismay and the results are the fisking below. It’s, alas, a good example of how (even mild) Christian supersessionism, makes it so hard for even sophisticated and (appropriately) politically incorrect thinkers to grapple with what confronts us from Islam.

Azure Winter 5769 / 2009, no. 35
Islam and the West: Lines of Demarcation
By Roger Scruton

What it is about our civilization that causes such resentment, and why we must defend it.

The West today is involved in a protracted and violent struggle with the forces of radical Islam. This conflict is intensely difficult, both because of our enemy’s dedication to his cause, and also, perhaps most of all, because of the enormous cultural shift that has occurred in Europe and America since the end of the Vietnam War. Put simply, the citizens of Western states have lost their appetite for foreign wars; they have lost the hope of scoring any but temporary victories; and they have lost confidence in their way of life. Indeed, they are no longer sure what that way of life requires of them.

That’s an interesting formula, since it is quasi-religious, in the sense that religion does answer the question “what life requires” of the adherent. Having translated religious morality into a secular idiom (e.g., Kant), having dismissed religions as so much hocus-pocus, modern secular people who care about morality don’t know what to do but push the “most moral” elements to the extreme. As a result we get a “progressive left” that is at once scornful of religion (especially of the “white” variety, Judaism and Christianity) even as it pushes a “turn the other cheek, love your enemies as yourself” morality in international relations. “Wildly inappropriate” comes to mind.

Of course, the kind of wisdom expressed in a biblical text like, “nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute,” could not penetrate the mentality that, for example, supports the “poor Palestinians” no matter how badly they behave. Religiously deracinated “ethics” can be as dangerous a phenomenon as religious zealotry. (Or is that moral equivalence?)

At the same time, they have been confronted with a new opponent, one who believes that the Western way of life is profoundly flawed, and perhaps even an offense against God. In a “fit of absence of mind,” Western societies have allowed this opponent to gather in their midst; sometimes, as in France, Britain, and the Netherlands, in ghettos which bear only tenuous and largely antagonistic relations to the surrounding political order.

I like the expression “fit of absence of mind,” because it was a fit, a blood-libel induced fit that led “progressives” to adopt Jihadi hatreds, and walk out on anyone who dared to criticize Muslims (a fortiori Palestinians) because that made their third-world colleagues in the fight for justice and truth “uncomfortable.”

And in both America and Europe there has been a growing desire for appeasement: a habit of public contrition; an acceptance, though with heavy heart, of the censorious edicts of the mullahs; and a further escalation in the official repudiation of our cultural and religious inheritance. Twenty years ago, it would have been inconceivable that the archbishop of Canterbury would give a public lecture advocating the incorporation of Islamic religious law (shari’ah) into the English legal system. Today, however, many people consider this to be an arguable point, and perhaps the next step on the way to peaceful compromise.

It’s even worse. Twenty — even ten — years ago, it would have been inconceivable… now he says it’s inevitable.

The Best Answer to Israel Apartheid Week: From an Israeli Bedouin

I’ve gotten a number of emails asking me what the best material is on Israel Apartheid Week. If any readers have suggestions, I welcome them. In the meantime, here’s one from the kind of anomaly that most people on the anti-Zionist camp can’t imagine: an Israeli Arab (Bedouin), Ishmael Khaldi, the deputy consul general of Israel for the Pacific Northwest. He has the single best short response to Apartheid Week I’ve seen so far. (H/T: James Wald)

Lost in the blur of slogans 03.04.09

Last year, at UC Berkeley, I had the opportunity to “dialogue” with some of the organizers of these events. My perspective is unique, both as the vice consul for Israel in San Francisco, and as a Bedouin and the highest-ranking Muslim representing the Israel in the United States. I was born into a Bedouin tribe in Northern Israel, one of 11 children, and began life as shepherd living in our family tent. I went on to serve in the Israeli border police, and later earned a master’s degree in political science from Tel Aviv University before joining the Israel Foreign Ministry.

I am a proud Israeli – along with many other non-Jewish Israelis such as Druze, Bahai, Bedouin, Christians and Muslims, who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only true democracy in the Middle East. Like America, Israeli society is far from perfect, but let us deals honestly. By any yardstick you choose – educational opportunity, economic development, women and gay’s rights, freedom of speech and assembly, legislative representation – Israel’s minorities fare far better than any other country in the Middle East

So, I would like to share the following with organizers of Israel Apartheid week, for those of them who are open to dialogue and not blinded by a hateful ideology:

You are part of the problem, not part of the solution: If you are really idealistic and committed to a better world, stop with the false rhetoric. We need moderate people to come together in good faith to help find the path to relieve the human suffering on both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Vilification and false labeling is a blind alley that is unjust and takes us nowhere.

You deny Israel the fundamental right of every society to defend itself: You condemn Israel for building a security barrier to protect its citizens from suicide bombers and for striking at buildings from which missiles are launched at its cities – but you never offer an alternative. Aren’t you practicing yourself a deep form of racism by denying an entire society the right to defend itself?

Your criticism is willfully hypocritical: Do Israel’s Arab citizens suffer from disadvantage? You better believe it. Do African Americans 10 minutes from the Berkeley campus suffer from disadvantage – you better believe it, too. So should we launch a Berkeley Apartheid Week, or should we seek real ways to better our societies and make opportunity more available.

You are betraying the moderate Muslims and Jews who are working to achieve peace: Your radicalism is undermining the forces for peace in Israel and in the Palestinian territories. We are working hard to move toward a peace agreement that recognizes the legitimate rights of both Israel and the Palestinian people, and you are tearing down by falsely vilifying one side.

To the organizers of Israel Apartheid Week I would like to say:

If Israel were an apartheid state, I would not have been appointed here, nor would I have chosen to take upon myself this duty. There are many Arabs, both within Israel and in the Palestinian territories who have taken great courage to walk the path of peace. You should stand with us, rather than against us.

The Durban Front Crumbles: Italy Pulls Out

Some good news from the Durban front. And there may be more to follow.

Update on Italy from Fiamma Nirenstein, who, as a member of Parliament, played a role.

Update from France: French PM [at the annual meeting of the CRIF]: France would not hesitate to withdraw from Geneva meet if Israel stigmatized

Italy pulls out of UN racism conference
Jerusalem Post
Mar 5, 2009 18:43 | Updated Mar 5, 2009 22:32

Italy has pulled out of a UN conference on racism seen by many Western governments as being hijacked by Muslim attempts to attack Israel and shield Islam from criticism.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Thursday that Italy had withdrawn its delegation from the negotiations ahead of the so-called Durban II conference due to “aggressive and anti-Semitic statements” in the draft of the event’s final document.

Frattini made the comments in Brussels, where he attended a NATO meeting. Ministry Spokesman Maurizio Massari said Rome would not participate in the conference unless the document is changed.

A similar condition has been impose by the United States, while Israel and Canada have already announced a boycott.

Frattini also said that he planned to cancel his controversial upcoming visit to Iran, a move which had created tension between Israel and Italy.

He told Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of the decision during a meeting between the two in Brussels.

Italy is the first EU country to officially withdraw from the conference, though other nations have threatened not to attend.

Islamic countries, still angry over cartoons and films attacking Muslims, have been campaigning for wording that would equate criticism of a religious faith with a violation of human rights.

The informal negotiations have proven difficult, with many issues that marked the first UN conference on racism in 2001 re-emerging – such as criticism of Israel.

The April 20-25 meeting in Geneva is designed to review progress in fighting racism since the previous summit in South Africa. That meeting was marred by attacks on Israel and anti-Israel demonstrations at a parallel conference of non-governmental organizations.

The US and Israel walked out midway through the conference over a draft resolution that singled Israel out for criticism and likened Zionism to racism.

Last week, the Obama administration said the United States will stay away from this year’s meeting unless its final document is changed to drop all references to Israel and the defamation of religion.

European nations have expressed hope the summit can go ahead with a final text that is acceptable to all sides.

But they, too, have red lines they say cannot be crossed.

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said in December that his country would walk out unless anti-Israel statements were scrapped. French diplomat Daniel Vosgien said then that his country opposed the idea of banning criticism of religion.

The Child, Death, and the Truth: Esther Schapira Weighs in Again

Esther Schapira, whose groundbreaking work on al Durah represented the earliest reconsideration outside Israel, and whose material I used extensively (with her generous permission) in my own documentaries, has now come out with a new study. Given how much (she has subsequently admitted), intimidation played a role in her modest conclusions last time (“the Israelis didn’t do it,” but nothing on what did happen), this claim of staging is an important stage in the al Durah critique.

As soon as I can, I’ll put up a translation.

The Folly of Generosity: David Pryce-Jones comments on Taba Donors Meeting

David Pryce-Jones, author of The Closed Circle, one of the better books on Arab Honor-Shame culture, has a piece at NRO on the 4.5 billion promised to the Palestinians of Gaza, rewarded for electing an vicious government that has brought disaster on them. Nothing like making sure history will repeat itself. Dan Pipes has asked if the donor nations — especially the Western ones, but even the Arab ones, can be so stupid, and concludes they have to be dishonest. Pryce-Jones elucidates on this madness.

The Rentier Population

David Pryce Jones
Wednesday, March 04, 2009

$4.5 billion: That’s what a conference of donors has just decided to give to Gaza, and that’s in addition to the hundreds of millions already paid out by United Nations agencies. True, about half the new money is due to come from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates, and they rarely deliver what they promise. According to Mrs. Clinton, the United States is in for almost a billion, and she seems to think this is fine. A rentier is someone who lives off the labour of others by simply cashing dividends, and this cascade of dollars makes the Gazans a unique example of an entire rentier population. No other people in the history of the world have ever lived at the expense of others on this scale.

Of course, rentiers are generally well-off aristocrats. Here we have an impoverished, dramatically unproductive society as rentiers. Another way of putting this is that the Gazans have become the first rentier welfare nation in history. What’s worth asking is, why, if anyone can claim the title of rentire welfare state, why the Gazans, whose addiction to self-destructive violence will, in any future, honest historiography, become legendary in the annals of nationhood?

And what did they do to deserve their rentier dividends? Easy. They elected Hamas to govern them, in the certain knowledge that Hamas as good Islamists are bound to declare jihad with the purpose of wiping out Israel. Sure enough. Hamas duly fired daily barrages of rockets and mortars into Israel. Polls show that large percentages of the Gazans approved. A day came earlier this year when Israel had had enough, and went to war.

The number of pundits who have explained to their Western audiences that the Gazans chose Hamas because Fatah was corrupt is legion. But if that were the case, they could have voted for more liberal parties, dedicated to “transparency.” Instead, they chose the people who promised them, as Muslim Arabs, the return of their honor, the destruction of Israel.

The Suicide of Reason Part 849738214: The Dutch “Redo” Israeli Sesame Street

It’s not enough that the Palestinian media perverts children shows to teach hatred to their kids, the Europeans need to pervert Israeli TV to attack Israel. Here’s a sequence from Israeli Sesame Street about Bert claiming that he’s keeping away from cookies. (H/T: Chai Sokoloff)

Unlike the Hebrew text, which is all about cookies, the Dutch text reads:

Look what a nice little school there, across (the street).
Nice, isn’t it? Or isn’t it?
Or is it actually that nice ?
Maybe besides children…
There are also gangsters inside…
Bomb the place! Just kill them all!
Nice and tidy! (Job well done!)

To get to the original show,
click on “d”
page 3
almost down: de wereld draait door
click on “de wereld draait door” NOT “bekijk uitzending”
bottom right corner, theres a calendar: go to Jan 12
the very end of the program, even after the credits.

The Revealing Confusions of Imran Ahmed’s Comments and Responses

One of my commenters recently wrote me off-line to warn me about trolls, identifying Imran Ahmed as a possibility. I’m not sure, personally. He strikes me as a fairly honest person, in the sense that he tells you just what he’s thinking (however muddled), and as such, worth responding to seriously. The test of his real honesty, will be in how he responds to our challenges. So far, he hasn’t done too well. Below, I analyze his comments, the responses he’s given to other commenters at the site, pose him questions (in bold).

Please, Imran, feel free to answer any or all of my questions.

Imran’s comments came in response to a piece I posted with Nidra Poller’s analysis of the dynamics of Eurabia.

Comment by Imran Ahmed — February 27, 2009

HA HA HA. That’s all I can say about a bunch of scared fools who cant remember history well enough to realize their own religious acts from the past. The only difference was that at that time there were no CNN, Blogs, Internet, Media etc.

Last time I check:
1. Jews didnt like Jesus Christ that well – if you know what I mean.. So did Christians banned Jew’s book?

2. During all Crusades – more Jews were killed by Christens then ever… what happened to that party?

Here’s a passage from wikipedia: “For the first decade, the Crusaders pursued a policy of terror against Muslims and Jews that included mass executions, the throwing of severed heads over besieged cities walls, exhibition and mutilation of naked cadavers, and even cannibalism…”

3. Hitler was also from a religion.. so why didn’t you Jews classify entire Christianity as an AIDS virus?

Similarly, there are millions of other questions..

People, the answers to all these questions is simple: there was no media, no internet at that time… otherwise the crime, the terror, the hostility, the horror committed at that time against Muslims, Jews or Christians are even sometimes impossible to imagine. Not even the writers of Friday the 13th could imagine that torture.

So, lets face it.. its been always a triple threat match between Jews, Christians and Muslims… However none of our religious books actually (and I mean ACTUALLY) signals hate or torture.

I’m not fully sure of what the point is here. On the one hand, there’s a point I agree with: without the eye of the camera, terrible things happened; on the other hand, since Muslims were among the most vicious — and continue to be… what are you saying?

The only problem was and still is, that if one guy wakes up one day to say – “This Religion is Crap – they are taking over, they are this, they are that…. bla bla bla..”, He only is trying to light-up a a fuel tank..

Presuming here that the “guy” who wakes up one day is the non-Muslim and the “crappy religion” that wants to take over bla bla bla is Islam, then the non-Muslim (i.e., infidel) is trying to light up a fuel tank, namely religious war? or Islam? This, of course, leaves the issue of whether Islam is, indeed “taking over.”

If you Christians and Jews think that Islam is taking over Europe.. I’ve got two questions:

1) Was Europe born with your religion? or did you took over it before we did?

Isn’t that jumping the gun? You haven’t taken over yet. But let’s say you meant, “before we set out to take it over.” In which case there are two answers:

a) Europe has, over the last two millennia, been the subject of constant invasions, some of them successful — Celts, Roman, Germans — some less successful — Huns, Saracens (Muslims), Magyars (Hungarians), Northmen (Scandinavians), and Turks (Muslims again). So, yes, in the “longue durée” it’s conquer or be conquered. But that just leaves us at, Muslims are trying to conquer and Europe wants to/should defend itself (if it can).

b) Europe was not Europe until the last millennium. (Some say that Charlemagne was Pater Europae, but that paternity was really post-mortem. From the eleventh century onwards, the “Europeans” made Europe what it is today — the richest and most powerful civilization the world has seen. So again, surely Imran, you don’t mind if they defend themselves from attack, right?

2) If you are so civilized and “Better than us” – then try to stop it like as if you are indeed “Better than us”. I mean preach your religion, show dignity of your beliefs, show ppl that yours better. it would only be a fair competition. What? are you scared of some competition from as you calls it “just another religion”? the all mighty Chris-Jews combination is scared now… hahaha.. you’ve got to be kitting me.

Be Trendy, Support Hate: On the symbolism of the Keffiya as a fashion accessory

In response to controversies like the Dunkin’ Donuts ad (see LGF and Michele Malkin vs. Daniel Goldblum) my daughter Hannah Landes produced this work for one of her classes in photoshop design:

be trendy

For those, like Daniel Goldblum, who blithely dismiss the significance of the keffiya, see the view of Muna Cubtee and note the remarks of Ahmad Habib:

The kaffiyeh is a visual extension of our struggle, a way to be a thorn in the silence,” says Ahmad Habib, Iraqi refugee and a member of the Arab Cultural Resistance music group. “Everywhere, from the Arab world to Toronto, people dress up to paint the world with conformity and indifference. The kaffiyeh stands in the way of that.”

The transition of the kaffiyeh from the Middle Eastern version of a baseball cap to a symbol of solidarity came with the occupation of Palestinian land. The kaffiyeh became a symbol of national identity for Palestinians. From the ’60s on, Palestine Liberation Organization officials and members, such Yasser Arafat, wore the kaffiyeh everywhere they went.

International coverage of the first intifada often showed pictures of Palestinian civilians throwing stones with kaffiyehs around their faces or necks. But afterward, the kaffiyeh was popular only amongst activists and Palestinian refugees.

During the second intifada [i.e., when suicide terror came in] in 2000, sympathy for Palestinians began to grow and the kaffiyeh became a way of displaying solidarity.

Ideally, I want everyone to wear the kaffiyeh,” says Habib, “but if it’s just worn for the aesthetic value, without the spirit of resistance wrapped up in every thread, then they might as well not wear it at all, and if it becomes appropriated by commercial interests, then that’s even worse.”

Note, I have nothing against symbols of a national liberation movement, and don’t object to the keffiya because it’s a symbol of Palestinian pride and resistance. I object because it’s a symbol of Palestinian stupidity (supporting Arafat as their “George Washington”) and Palestinian genocidal viciousness (celebrating terror attacks on civilians). The very fact that the keffiya became particularly popular in 2000 just as the Palestinians were disseminating blood libels and embracing suicide terror, illustrates what useful idiots they are who embrace this fashion trend knowingly.

A friend of mine once joked, “Our motto should be, Have you rebuked a Muslim today?” Certainly we should ask people wearing Keffiyas if they know what kind of movement it symbolizes.

Sweeping in a Hurricane: Pipes on the Donor’s Conference in Taba

As Phyllis Diller once said, cleaning up your kids room before they go to college is like trying to sweep up in a hurricane.”

heroin gaza
Dry Bones H/T: NB

That Surreal Gaza Reconstruction Conference
By Daniel Pipes | Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Was I the only one rubbing my eyes in disbelief yesterday, as the Egyptian government hosted an “International Conference for the Reconstruction of Gaza”?

It took place in Sharm El-Sheikh, attended by delegations from 71 states, plus 16 regional, international, and financial organizations. Its stated goal was to raise US$2.8 billion, of which $1.3 was for rebuilding what had been destroyed in the course of Israel’s recent war on Hamas (the rest would be sent to the Palestinian Authority to help improve its standing). The actual amount raised at the conference was $4.5 billion which, when added to previously committed funds, means the grant total for Gaza and the PA comes to $5.2 billion, to be disbursed over a two-year period. A delighted Egyptian foreign minister called the amount “beyond our expectations.” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it “a very productive conference”

Criticizing Durban II: Is Europe finding a voice of resistance to Eurabia?

There’s evidence that Europe is finally turning around on Durban II. But as we’ve already learned, let’s not jump to hasty optimistic conclusions.

EU countries oppose Muslim views on racism meeting
By ELIANE ENGELER – 21 hours ago

GENEVA (AP) — European Union countries Tuesday stepped up their opposition to Muslim attempts to shield Islam from criticism and attack Israel through a U.N. conference on racism.

EU members were unusually outspoken in appearances before the U.N. Human Rights Council, saying they were worried about preparations for a global racism conference to be held next month because attention was being diverted from the real problems of racial discrimination.

“I am deeply disturbed by the turn this event is taking [sic],” Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen said.

“The thematic world conference is used by some to try to force their concept of defamation of religions and their focus on one regional conflict on all of us,” Verhagen told the 47-member council.

References to Israel and protection of religion in the current draft conclusion being negotiated for the so-called Durban II conference are unacceptable, Verhagen said.

“We cannot accept any text, which would put religion above individuals, not condemn discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, condone anti-Semitism or single out Israel,” he said. Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Italy voiced similar concerns.

Islamic countries, still angry over cartoons and films attacking Muslims, have been campaigning for wording that would equate criticism of a religious faith with a violation of human rights. The informal negotiations have proven difficult with many issues that marred the first U.N. conference on racism in 2001 re-emerging — such as criticism of Israel.

The April 20-25 meeting is designed to review progress in fighting racism since the global body’s first such conference eight years ago in Durban, South Africa. That 2001 meeting was dominated by clashes over the Middle East and the legacy of slavery, and particularly marred by attacks on Israel and anti-Israel demonstrations at a parallel conference of non-governmental organizations.

The U.S. and Israel walked out midway through the 2001 conference over a draft resolution that singled out Israel for criticism and likened Zionism — the movement to establish and maintain a Jewish state — to racism. The European Union also refused to accept demands by Arab states to criticize Israel for its “racist practices.”

In the end, the 2001 conference dropped criticism of Israel. It urged governments to take concrete steps to fight discrimination and recognized the plight of the Palestinian people and the need for Israel to have security.

Israel and Canada had already announced they would will boycott Durban II. The Obama administration said Friday the U.S. will stay away from this year’s conference unless its final document is changed to drop all references to Israel and the defamation of religion.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Monday that countries should not put conditions for the participation in the meeting. Durban II should deal with contemporary forms of racism, such as religious profiling and Islamophobia, he said.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

They talk as if they just discovered that there was a problem.

BU Panel on “Gaza Behind the Headlines” Boring and Predictably Dishonest

I just got back from a panel organized and hosted by the Muslim Law Student’s Association, a “discussion about human rights issues in Gaza, and co-sponsored by Human Rights Law Society and National Security Law Society at the BU Law School Auditorium. It was attended by about 500 people.

Gaza: Beyond the Headlines

It began with the organizer telling us that they wanted a balanced panel but that they didn’t get responses from some people. “We’re not here to adopt a viewpoint, and neither the Israeli consulate nor Hamas would feel happy about what we’re about to say. She was followed by the moderator (I didn’t get his name), who assured us this was about a misunderstood conflict and we needed information.

This sounded like a joke at the time, given how the panel consisted of five known hyper-critics of Israel. But by the end of the evening, although no one praised Hamas, it’s hard to see how anyone from Hamas could have found the proceedings disagreeable, since the only criticism tendered was of Israel and the US government for supporting her. I’ve asked the Muslim Law Students Association to tell me who they tried to reach, but I doubt either a) they’ll tell me or b) anyone they tried to get would even remotely present the other side.

In fact the panel had virtually nothing to do with Gaza. No one talked about what happened there; no one discussed the implications of current situation at length; no one dealt with the legal issues. (For a good treatment of “Gaza behind the headlines, see Yvonne Greene’s piece.)

Instead is was more or less a low-key, flat, and repetitive articulation of the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis about American foreign policy. The working assumption of all the panelists was that a) Israel did bad things in Gaza; b) the US supported them; and c) it’s all our jobs to work for a change a foreign policy that harms the US both morally and practically. Kind of like channeling Amira Hass.

The presentations were all profoundly dishonest both conceptually and factually. It was the classic “Eurocentric” framework of (Western) Israel as (evil) agent and (Thrid World) Palestinians as (innocent and) passive victims. Factually, one would never know from this that the Arabs ever wanted anything but a two-state solution. I have a great deal to do before tomorrow, so I’ll reproduce my notes below, and give my readers first shot at all the inaccuracies and misrepresentations. When I have the time, I’ll post another version, integrating the comments into a fisking.

All in all, if this is the kind of quality of thought and empirical grounding that MIT, Harvard, and BU have to offer on these subjects, then oao is right: Education is in terrible shape because it’s become propaganda. Any of these presentation would not have made the grade at a serious first-year history department seminar. Besides Chomsky’s (which was just his typical ramblings), the worst was Kennedy’s. I hope his other work in law is more substantive, otherwise the students there are being cheated.

Irene Gendzier, Professor of Political Science, College of Arts & Sciences

This panel is a first for BU.
The events in Gaza have had a powerful international impact; outside the MSM it’s obvious there’s a powerful demand to know what the calamity is and who’s responsible and US role.
In 1982 after the Lebanon war: Begin said, we were following Ben Gurion’s policies
So too with Gaza in 2009.
That the US supported Israel in 2009 is well known; less well-known is how the US did the same in 48-9, a history little known
Post Zionist historians have reconsidered. Now it’s time for a revision by American historians to look at our responsibilities in this conflict.
1) US regarded Palestine as inseparable from its interests in the ME (oil interest and military installations)
2) While DoDefense and State Dept hostile to partition (they preferred “trusteeship”), after May 15 they went with Israel unilaterally. US supported Israel’s expansion beyond 47 boundaries;
3) admiring view of Israel (realism, ultra-realism) – demonstrated military capacity, had location vis a vis oil.
In violation of 47 UN resolution; but some began to be concerned about ethnic cleansing of Palestinians; evidence from the archives confirms the problem that is with us today.
When they began to reconsider, Robertt McLintock? said “US policy in Palestinian was based on recognizing Israeli expansion; should not undermine its control or sovereignty; contrary to UN 47 plan no Arab state, instead arrangement with Transjordan; US involvment in redrawing boundaries. Exchange of populations.
Phillip Jessup at UN supported the idea of transfers; redrawing the map: Jenin Tulkarm should be transferred to Israel; if the Negev has oil, it should stay with Israel (titters in crowd).
Human movement scope of which they hadn’t anticipated
UN Res. 194 on repatriation (Nov 1949)
When faced with Ben Gurion’s denial fo responsibility, the US officials accused them of Deir Yassin and Haifa, claiming that new refugees are being created by terror. that the Israelis were morally reprehensible.
15 March 1949: Israeli authorities have followed policy of destruction of Arab houses to make way for incoming Jewish refugees (holocaust)
concern for overcrowding
end of march 1949 Truman to Ben Gurion: US relies on it to take responsible action concerning Palestinian refugees; Israel must offer territorial compensation for stuff taken beyond 1947: rupture in the making, Israel must deal with Palestinian Conciliation Commission
“don’t know what you make of that, novel or familiar.”
Conversation dropped by most
By and large, the events of May 1948 profoundly impressed US officials Israeli capacity to expand at will. Israel so much stronger, could drive the Arabs out of Palestinine
insuring Israel’s friendship;
US strategic forces in Israel: reconciliation so they could fight the Russians
Advantages of Israel: from Bosporus to suez location location location, pipelines
Dec 14 1949: Breaks up USSR access to arab oil
Nascent Israeli state a tremendous asset US ME policies
Modern effective fighting machine; against Arab league
It deserves a good deal of examination; set the stage for what we have today

Puzzled in Gaza… Not if you know about Pallywood

A devastating account of an eye-witness to the scene in Gaza which contradicts every impression the Western MSM gave, from the high civilian casualties, the infrastructure devastation, the intensification of support for Hamas, the humanitarian crisis. Yvonne Green, a poetess, may have been puzzled on viewing a largely intact Gaza Strip of inhabitants terrorized by rather than supportive of Hamas, but those who paid close attention, are not. (H/T: MHB)

Mar 2, 2009 20:58 | Updated Mar 2, 2009 21:10
Puzzled in Gaza

I’m a poet, an English Jew and a frequent visitor to Israel. Deeply disturbed by the reports of wanton slaughter and destruction during Operation Cast Lead, I felt I had to see for myself. I flew to Tel Aviv and on Wednesday, January 28, using my press card to cross the Erez checkpoint, I walked across the border into Gaza where I was met by my guide, a Palestinian journalist. He asked if I wanted to meet with Hamas officials. I explained that I’d come to bear witness to the damage and civilian suffering, not to talk politics.

A Palestinian man holds bags of rice before their distribution to Palestinians at a United Nations food distribution center in Sha’ati refugee camp in Gaza City.

What I saw was that there had been precision attacks made on all of Hamas’ infrastructure. Does UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticize the surgical destruction of the explosives cache in the Imad Akhel Mosque, of the National Forces compound, of the Shi Jaya police station, of the Ministry of Prisoners? The Gazans I met weren’t mourning the police state. Neither were they radicalized. As Hamas blackshirts menaced the street corners, I witnessed how passersby ignored them.

THERE WERE empty beds at Shifa Hospital and a threatening atmosphere. Hamas is reduced to wielding its unchallengeable authority from extensive air raid shelters which, together with the hospital, were built by Israel 30 years ago. Terrorized Gazans used doublespeak when they told me most of the alleged 5,500 wounded were being treated in Egypt and Jordan. They want it known that the figure is a lie, and showed me that the wounded weren’t in Gaza. No evidence exists of their presence in foreign hospitals, or of how they might have gotten there.

From the mansions of the Abu Ayida family at Jebala Rayes to Tallel Howa (Gaza City’s densest residential area), Gazans contradicted allegations that Israel had murderously attacked civilians. They told me again and again that both civilians and Hamas fighters had evacuated safely from areas of Hamas activity in response to Israeli telephone calls, leaflets and megaphone warnings.

Seeing Al-Fakhora made it impossible to understand how UN and press reports could ever have alleged that the UNWRA school had been hit by Israeli shells. The school, like most of Gaza, was visibly intact. I was shown where Hamas had been firing from nearby, and the Israeli missile’s marks on the road outside the school were unmistakeable. When I met Mona al-Ashkor, one of the 40 people injured running toward Al-Fakhora – rather than inside it as widely and persistently reported – I was told that Israel had warned people not to take shelter in the school because Hamas was operating in the area, and that some people had ignored the warning because UNWRA previously told them that the school would be safe. Press reports that fatalities numbered 40 were denied.

I WAS TOLD stories at Samouni Street which contradicted each other, what I saw and later media accounts. Examples of these inconsistencies are that 24, 31, 34 or more members of the Fatah Samouni family had died. That all the deaths occurred when Israel bombed the safe building it had told 160 family members to shelter in; the safe building was pointed out to me but looked externally intact and washing was still hanging on a line on one of its balconies. That some left the safe building and were shot in another house. That one was shot when outside collecting firewood. That there was no resistance – but the top right hand window of the safe building (which appears in a BBC Panorama film Out of the Ruins” aired February 8) has a black mark above it – a sign I was shown all day of weaponry having been fired from inside. That victims were left bleeding for two or three days.

Note that this incident is the one cited by Bill Moyers in defense of his anti-Semitic remarks about violence against the Palestinian- Canaanites being in the DNA of Judaism. Even at the time, it had the Pallywood signature. And of course, the folks on the “Palestinian side” eagerly believed it all.

The Casualty Footprint of Conflicts: Stealth Conflicts gives us a view of the Astronomical Differences

Stealth Conflicts has an excellent illustration of what one might call the “casualty footprint” of conflicts. (I suggested a similar procedure with the media footprint of conflicts.) This is a visual way to bring forward the strikingly low casualties of the Arab-Israeli conflict. H/T: Honest Reporting

Illustrations based on figures discussed here.

Figure 1.

congo israel-palestine
Figure 2.

As a contribution to the issue of media footprint, Stealth Conflicts has a post entitled: How many people have to die in the DRC to appear in the New York Times?

Stealth Conflicts suggests this is the death toll comparison between the conflict in the DRC and the Palestine-Israeli conflict (Figure 2 above). I am sure that this estimation (based on known figures) is very close to the real figure.

We live in a globalized world, where any information shows up on a webpage in a matter of minutes. But the DRC rarely appears in the frontpage of the most important newspapers. With its absence, the media are sending us a message: depending on where you are born, your life is worth more, or less.

This is so evidently unfair and painful.

My only hope is that, forty years from now, this scandal will be seen as a problem of the past. As a symptom of the problems of a society -our developed one- that, with time, changed for better. I hope to talk about it to my grandsons in the same way afroamerican grandparents talk nowadays about Rosa Parks. Like talking about an evident problem that finally, one day, one person dared to face. And changed for good.

We need our own Rosa Parks to raise this issue. I hope she will come soon.

My guess is that you’d have to reverse the figures and increase the difference by a magnitude of 10 or even 100 to get at the media footprint. That is, it takes only the smallest casualty figures for something from the Arab-Israeli conflict to make the NYT and many column inches of the NYT, while it would take massive casualties to even get a column inch for the Congo.

These are astronomical differences: between Earth and Jupiter (casualty footprint), between Earth and the Sun (media footprint). They demand explanation.

I think that the casualty footprint can only be explained by the exceptional commitment to Israelis to human life, even among its enemies. Given the vast superiority of fire-power the Israelis have, were they desirous of killing civilians (as are the Sudanese and the Congolese), they could do massive damage.

Only the Israeli will keeps them from causing more casualties, certainly not their capacity; whereas, with these other conflicts (and with the Palestinians), one gets the impression that it’s the opposite: only their limited capacity prevents further casualties, not their will.

What a red spade for the black hearts.

UPDATE: Very witty and biting use of these graphics at Breath of the Beast