Monthly Archives: August 2010

Death of Michelle Shatzman

I just received the following email.

I am the son of Michelle Schatzman.

Unfortunately, my mother passed away recently, last Friday in the early morning after a six-year battle with cancer. Her service is on Tuesday in Paris.

I know my mother was active on your website and appreciated your writing.

I know all of the regular commenters here will miss Michelle’s participation greatly, but surely not so much as her family and friends. Condolences to them, may they be spared any more sorrow for a long time

If anyone in Paris is able to attend her service, please let me know and I’ll get you in touch with her son.

As a memento of her contribution, this was her last substantive comments here:

Another consideration: it is much better to fight people who think like Hezbollah and Hamas, if you can enlist in an army whose job it is to fight them. If your main choice is to hide when you walk around with a soccer cap above the kippa and whatever tricks you can imagine or to be beaten, the choice is pretty obvious, isn’t it?

By the way, my feelers tell me that jewish intellectuals who identify to judaism are much more solid and trustable for a republican point of view than non jewish intellectuals or jewish intellectuals with no attachment to judaicity.

Not “Self-“Hating Jews, but Jewish Scourges of Jews

Adam Levick of CiFWatch has a meditation on the problem of what I’ve called “hyper-self critical Jews.” Since I’m about to participate in a panel at the YIISA Conference on global anti-Semitism at Yale University later this month, I would like to encourage readers to comment so I can incorporate some of their ideas in my presentation.

The Guardian’s anti-Israel Jews, and a letter to my teenage nephew
August 11, 2010 in Uncategorized | Tags: Antisemitism, Antony Lerman, Comment is Free, Guardian, Hamas, Hezbollah, Nazi Analogies, Neve Gordon, Richard Silverstein, Seth Freedman, Theobald Jew | by Adam Levick

CiF’s Jewish Israel defamers

When joining the team here at CiF Watch, and attempting to understand why Jewish writers for the Guardian are often among the most vociferous in expressing their contempt for Israel, and so willing to demonize the state’s Jewish supporters, I had to get up to speed on the term “Theobald Jew.”

I soon learned that:

    According to the Benedictine monk Thomas of Monmouth in his The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich (1173), it was an apostate Jew, a certain Theobald, who, swore that Jews had killed twelve-year old William, a tanner’s apprentice, to fulfill their “Passover blood ritual” in the fateful year of 1144—the first recorded such episode in a long line of murderous defamations.

The CiF contributors I refer to include Naomi Klein, Neve Gordon, Richard Silverstein, Antony Lerman, Seth Freedman, Tony Greenstein, among others. These Jewish writers don’t merely critique Israeli policy, but routinely engage in hyperbole, vitriol, and gross distortions. Their rhetoric is often spewed with hate towards the Jewish state, all but ignoring the behavior of her enemies – the terrorist and reactionary movements who openly seek her annihilation. Such commentators often infer that the democratic Jewish state (the most progressive nation, by far, in the region) is almost always in the wrong, is usually motivated by a hideous malevolence, and represents a national movement which they, as Jews, are ashamed to be associated with.

Freedman, for instance, has suggested that Israel is a theocracy – one which is on moral par with Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda. Gordon has on several occasions accused Israel of ethnic cleansing – once advancing such an ugly calumny in the radical anti-Zionist magazine, Counterpunch. Tony Greenstein has ardently defended the ugly comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, typically advanced by extremists. Richard Silverstein has called the behavior of Israelis serving in the IDF “subhuman“, and has defended Hamas from “charges” that they are an extremist movement. Naomi Klein actually accused Israel of being so cruel and sadistic as to “bury children alive in their homes.”

While, for the Guardian, employing the services of Theobald Jews serves to inoculate them from charges of anti-Semitism, such Jewish writers, in return, receive the progressive and universalist credentials they so eagerly seek.

The Misnomer of the “Self-Hating Jew”

What the World Isn’t Being Told about the Israeli-Lebanese Border Incident: My latest at PJM

What the World Isn’t Being Told about the Israeli-Lebanese Border Incident
Don’t look to the MSM to give you the truth about this week’s ambush of IDF reservists.
August 6, 2010 – by Richard Landes Page 1 of 2 Next -> View as Single Page

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Despite the careful “he said … she said” approach of the mainstream news media about the clash along the Lebanese-Israeli border this week, events are quite clear: Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were deliberately ambushed by Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).

In an outdoor press conference held at a lookout point above the Lebanese border where the incident occurred, Ilan Diksteyn, the deputy commander of the Israeli brigade, explained what happened. The IDF had notified the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) of its intentions and complied with multiple requests to delay a routine job that should have started early in the morning and didn’t get going till midday.

According to Diksteyn, he had personally walked the border with the UNIFIL commander and identified all the trees and shrubs they intended to cut down, all approved of as being located on the Israeli side of the border by the UNIFIL commander. The key tree was some 200 meters from the Blue Line, so there was not the most remote possibility that Israel trespassed on Lebanese territory. The IDF even set out the crane without a man in it, just to demonstrate their intentions beforehand.

But no sooner did they put a man in the unit and lift him over the fence than a sniper shot and killed the commanding officer of the unit who was away from the border and observing from a distance. Despite claiming they fired first in the air, and that Israel initiated the hostilities, an LAF spokesman eventually asserted their right “to defend Lebanon’s sovereignty.”

The Israelis claim this was an ambush by units of the Lebanese Armed Forces. And as such, this was an unprecedented new level of aggression. Even the normally cautious UNIFIL, which the previous day had restricted itself to calling for calm and announcing its intention to investigate, eventually — and exceptionally — sided with Israel’s claim that the tree was on their side of the border. Even the Lebanese admit they carried out an ambush.

Read the rest (with the links)…

UPDATE: Skype interview with me and Roger Simon about the Lebanese border incident.

Israeli Officers Ambushed on Northern Border: My piece for PJMedia

Here’s the article I filed with PJMedia last night. Go to the original for the links.

Israeli Officers Ambushed on Northern Border
An Israeli soldier was killed, and another wounded, by Lebanese army forces in an apparently pre-planned provocation.
August 3, 2010

by Richard Landes

At around 1:30 pm Israel time today (August 3), an exchange of fire took place between Israeli and Lebanese forces along the border. (This map reflects the exact location of the incident.) According to Lebanese sources, the Israelis had gone over the fence and were cutting down a tree growing on Lebanese soil. Lebanese soldiers allegedly fired warning shots in the air and then at the soldiers.

Michel Suleiman, the Lebanese president, issued his own statement denouncing the clash as a violation of UN Resolution 1701 and calling on the Lebanese army to “confront any Israeli aggression, whatever the sacrifices.”

Israeli military sources assert that the work they were doing was routine; that UNIFIL was warned; and that in that place (and many other ones) the fence was deliberately placed inside of Israeli territory so that work on the other side can be conducted without trespassing into Lebanese territory.

Read the rest.


Omri Ceren, “After Lebanon Border Ambush, Reuters First Out Of The Gate With Demonstrably False Anti-Israel Propaganda,” Mere Rhetoric

Robert Fisk, “Israel-Lebanon tensions flare after skirmish leaves four dead,” The Independent

Ben Cohen, “A deadly game in Lebanon,” Huffington Post

Honest Reporting, “Special Alert: Media Collusion in Lebanon Ambush,” asks about the role of media, not merely Hizbullah journalists, but Reuters and AFP photographers, conveniently there to catch an incident that arose from routine pruning along the border.

Amira Hass and the “truth”: How Advocacy Journalism Inverts Reality

Often when talking with uninformed but well-read people who think Israel is a neo-colonial aggressor, one finds a decided admiration for Amira Hass’ courageous work criticizing her country Israel for its mistreatment of the poor Palestinians. Here’s a rather amazing analysis of one of her articles which illustrates her modus operandi, and sheds light on how the reader of her work, as with many similar articles, gets not a distorted, but an inverted image of empirical reality.

Haaretz: Amira Hass’ Ideological Agenda Trumps Journalistic Integrity

Ha’aretz regularly reports on demolitions of Palestinian homes by the Israeli administration and presents its readers with a grim picture of destruction and misery among the Palestinians. In fact, a reader who believes Ha’aretz’s news accounts, trusting that the newspaper actually adheres to journalistic norms of objectivity and accuracy, would be appalled by the situation described.

But Ha’aretz does not follow such journalistic norms. Take for example, Amira Hass’ July 21, 2010 report, entitled “IDF destroys West Bank village after declaring it military zone.” It provides a clear demonstration of how facts can be manipulated through distortions and omissions to present a false picture of events.

Here is a summary of Haas’ article: Israel’s civil administration demolished the homes of 120 men, women and children, who lived and worked – some for decades – in the Jordan Valley village of Farasiya. Before destroying the village, the civil administration cut off the inhabitants’ water supply and forbade the residents to use other water wells in the area belonging to the Mekorot Water Company. But this is not an accurate account of events.

First, there is no registered village in the West Bank called Farasiya. It does not appear in either the census data of the Palestinian Authority or that of the Israelis. What Hass neglected to inform readers was that this was an illegal encampment which, like dozens of illegal settlements and hundreds of illegal buildings throughout Israel, was slated for demolition.

Read the rest of the forensic demolition of this drive-by shooting that parades as “journalism.”


Picture of what Hass claims is a 10-year-old village with 55 structures including a packaging plant.

Note the 800+ Facebook recommendations to Hass’ article. This is classic red meat for the “pacifists” who demonstrate “We are Hamas.”

UPDATE: For another example of hit-and-run journalism, read this analysis of a Huffington Post article and its comments.

Is Obama’s Pressure for Direct Israeli-Palestinian Talks Pushing Region Towards War? (Updated)

My latest report for Pajamas Media on the Negotiations

Is Obama’s Pressure for Direct Israeli-Palestinian Talks Pushing Region Towards War? (Updated)

Byzantine politics have nothing on negotiation strategies in the Middle East between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Headlines July 29 initially announced that the Arab League — meeting in Cairo and under heavy pressure from the Obama administration — had approved Abbas’ return to direct negotiations with Israel. Comments from Jerusalem, including from Netanyahu, hailed this welcome gesture as a chance to get back on track towards a two-state solution.

All sounds good: the Obama administration applying pressure on the Arab side, the Arabs respond and move forward; Israelis welcome the move.

But to those familiar with the nature of these negotiations, none of this made any sense.

Read the rest at PJMedia