Category Archives: Nail on the Head

Benghazigate: The Signs of a Rogue Media

H/T: Michael Widlanski

In yet one more terrifying revelation of the degree to which the major MSNM has gone advocacy:

To Read:

Brad Knickerbocker, “Benghazi attack: Urgent call for military help ‘was denied by chain of command’” Christian Science Monitor, October 27, 2012 (the first MSNM treatment outside of the “right-wing” outlets like Fox)

Walter Russell Meade, “The Benghazi Story Refuses To Die, And It’s Hurting The President,” American Interest, October 28, 2012

Roger Simon, “Beyond Impeachment: Obama Treasonous over Benghazi,” PJMedia, October 29, 2012.

Jed Babbin, “Benghazigate:  Chapter Two,” American Spectator, 10.29.12

For the only NYT treatment of the controversy to date, from October 17, see the partisan treatment (as a news item) of Mark Landler, “Attack on U.S. Mission in Benghazi Becomes Subject of Strongest Words,” NYT, October 17, 2012

On the broader problem, see

Walter Russell Meade, “Afghan Surge Ends: Not with a Bang but with a Whimper,” American Interest, September 21, 2012

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.”

farasiyz

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.

On the nature of Hierarchy

I’ve written at length about the role of zero-sum relations and their role in establishing prime divider societies. Here’s a nice illustration of the kinds of relations that both produce rigid hierarchies, and determine their dynamics. (HT/YK)

It’s meant as a spoof of current business relations. I suspect that if the author of this drawing (another Scott Adams?) had to experience this kind of treatment in a real prime divider society, he’d realize how well off he is, wherever he is.

But then again, I may be wrong and American culture today is every bit as mean-spirited and oppressive as the world my medieval folks inhabited. My students tell me to watch The Office and that there are significant differences between the American and English versions. I’m betting the British version is closer to this illustration, and the French version would be even closer. As for the Arab one, n’en parlons pas.

My point is that this kind of behavior is universal as a tendency, against which people at all levels have to fight in whatever small measure, starting with a kid coming home from being bullied in school dealing with younger siblings. In some cultures, the resistance is weak, and the sh%# piles up more than in others.

Nick Cohen: How the Institute of Contemporary Arts came to symbolise Liberal Cowardice

I have argued repeatedly that 2000 marks a catastrophic moral failure on the part of the “progressive” (and even the “liberal”) left. Nick Cohen again hits the nail on the head, this time about the moral collapse of liberalism in the past decade and the corresponding rise of a post-modern fascist sensibility which, like earlier forms of fascism, found the Jews a particularly choice target for post-modern scape-goating.

MARCH 14, 2010…12:37 PM
How the ICA came to symbolise Liberal Cowardice

There is much to talk about in Ian McEwan’s Solar. As I say in today’s Observer, he makes a hat tip to John Updike and allows the great issue of global warming to be explained through the devious manoeuvres of a slobby and disreputable hero, Michael Beard. However, McEwan goes to some trouble to show that there are worse people in the world than Beard by sending him to meet a postmodern audience at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Like Lawrence Summers at Harvard, Beard had incautiously suggested that there may – just may – be evolutionary reasons for gender differences in the average intellectual aptitudes of men and women. The press denounce him as a Nazi and a eugenicist, and he agrees to appear at the ICA to defend himself. In an acid scene, McEwan shows that London followers of post-modernism are as contemptuous of the scientific method and as potentially racist as Alaskan followers of Sarah Palin.

    “When he mentioned the metastudies reporting that girls’ language skills were greater on average than boys’, there was a roar of derision and a speaker on the platform rose fearsomely to denounce him for the ‘crude objectivism by which he seeks to maintain and advance the social dominance of the white male elite’. The moment the fellow sat down he was rewarded with the kind of cheers that might presage a revolution. Bewildered, Beard did not get the connection. He was completely lost. When, later, he irritably demanded of the meeting if it thought that gravity too was a social construct, he was booed, and a woman in the audience stood to propose in stern headmistressly tones, that he reflect on the ‘hegemonic arrogance’ of his question.”

Beard’s opponent is a Jewish academic who respects the scientific literature and explains nervously why he is misreading it. Even though she is against the hated Beard, the ICA turns against her, for reasons you may be able to guess.

HRW’s Founder denounces the organization’s obsession with Israel

Robert L. Bernstein, the former president and chief executive of Random House, was the chairman of Human Rights Watch from 1978 to 1998. Here, on the op-ed pages of the NYT he comes out on the side of HRW’s nemesis, NGO Monitor. This is big, very big.

Let’s see how HRW responds. They’ve always dismissed NGO Monitor and their other critics as over-zealous Zionists who object to any criticism of Israel. Now they’ve got big trouble and that line won’t work… which doesn’t mean they won’t try it.

Rights Watchdog, Lost in the Mideast
By ROBERT L. BERNSTEIN
Published: October 19, 2009

AS the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.

At Human Rights Watch, we always recognized that open, democratic societies have faults and commit abuses. But we saw that they have the ability to correct them — through vigorous public debate, an adversarial press and many other mechanisms that encourage reform.

In other words, there’s a world of difference between self-critical, self-regulating societies, and authoritarian ones who shut down any criticism of their actions.

Truth, Narrative, and Journalism in the ME: Barry Rubin nails it

I’ve dealt with pomo before here, and will again. Meantime, one of the saner observers of the madness that pomo can induce in journalists (and diplomats), Barry Rubin, has an interesting column on the subject.

When journalists say there is no such thing as truth than the world is in big trouble.

He begins with a couple of anecdotes:

A reporter just wrote me a letter that contains a single sentence which I think reflects on why the Western world is in such trouble today. After understandably discussing such real problems of reporting as short deadlines, complex issues, and the duty of the reporter to report what people say, the letter concludes with this sentence:

“And when it comes to the Middle East, one man’s [obscenity deleted] is another man’s truth.”

Woe to us that a journalist thinks this way. Of course, this is very similar to the older version that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

Recently, I heard that latter one from the Danish ambassador to the Council of Europe who said that Hamas and Hizballah were like the Danish resistance in World War Two. I replied, among other things, that I don’t remember the Danish or other World War Two European resistance movements bombing German kindergartens and glorying in getting Danish civilians killed as human shields.

I also don’t think that the Danes and other European resistance movements were attempting to commit genocide on the Germans. I do believe it was the other way around.

(PS: More Danes fought in the German army than in the Resistance, and that was true of other countries as well. Forgive me for remembering who was the main victim of terrorism and “freedom fighter” terrorists then and today. But I digress)

That a European country—and one of the more astute ones, to make matters worse–is represented by someone like that says something pretty sad about the state of the world today.

and finishes with a hilarious (to me at least) thought experiment:

Photoshop or Real?

Now why can Obama only do this to the Israelis, and not the people who really deserve it?

The Two-State To Nowhere: Another Futile Attempt At Appeasement

Every once in a while it’s useful to consult a historian with a memory that goes beyond the “so fifteen minutes ago” of the current ADD generation. Here Alex Grobman explains why Netanyahu’s speech touched a nerve in the Arab world, especially among Palestinians. It’s not the Politically-correct Paradigm PCP — let’s compromise and get on with our lives in a spirit of mutuality — it’s the Honor-Shame Jihad Paradigm HSJP — we can only breathe if you die. Or, as Yasser Arafat put it so delicately:

“We don’t want peace, we want victory. Peace for us means Israel’s destruction and nothing else. What you call peace is peace for Israel…. For us it is shame and injustice. We shall fight on to victory. Even for decades, for generations, if necessary.”

And, suprise! they’re still fighting.

The passages Grobman cites — all expressions of the honor-shame world of Arab irredentism when it comes to Israel — shed a particularly revealing light on President Obama’s (falsely) empathic remark about Palestinian suffering being intolerable. If it were “intolerable” they would do something about it. Instead they scream foul at Netanyahu’s speech and dig in for more suffering. Obama’s inability to understand this — and I think it is an incomprehensibility that pervades Western culture which is why I’m writing my current book — is at the heart of the dysfunctional relationship we have with the Arab world. “Suffering? You pussies ain’t seem nothing yet. We can take it, and you better be ready to take it. And if you protect yourself from our misery… we’ll call you apartheid racists.”

The Two-State To Nowhere: Another Futile Attempt At Appeasement

“There is reason to believe that [the president] cherished the illusion that presumably he, and he alone, as head of the United States, could bring about a settlement – if not a reconciliation — between Arabs and Jews. I remember muttering to myself as I left the White House after hearing the President discourse in rambling fashion about Middle Eastern Affairs, ‘I‘ve read of men who thought they might be King of the Jews and other men who thought they might be King of the Arabs, but this is the first time I ‘ve listened to a man who dreamt of being King of both the Jews and Arabs.’”1 Herbert Feis, a State Department economic advisor, did not say this about President Obama’s address in Cairo in June 2009, but after Franklin D. Roosevelt met with Ibn Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, in February 1945. Roosevelt wanted the Arabs to allow thousands of Jews from Europe to immigrate to Palestine to which Ibn Saud responded, “Arabs would choose to die rather than yield their land to Jews.”2

George Antonius, an Arab nationalist, reiterated this point when he said, “no room can be made in Palestine for a second nation except by dislodging or exterminating the nation in possession.”3

Attempts to solve the Arab/Israeli conflict regularly fail because of the refusal to acknowledge that this dispute has never been about borders, territory or settlements, but about the Arabs refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist. “The struggle with the Zionist enemy is not a matter of borders, but touches on the very existence of the Zionist entity,” declared an Arab spokesman.4

Unlike the Nazis who carefully concealed the Final Solution, Hamas and the Palestine Authority openly avow their intentions in their Charter and Covenant and in the Arab media which is available in English on the Internet on MEMRI and the Palestinian Media Watch.

For Hamas liberating all of Palestine to establish an Islamic state requires a holy war against Israel. Anyone daring to sign away even “a grain of sand in Palestine in favor of the enemies of God…who have seized the blessed land” should have their “hand be cut off.”5

Croquemichelle, the dim zionist, the meticulous and cruel barbarian!

Michelle’s self portrait

Just How Bad can the NYT Get? Jeffrey Woolf fisks Ethan Bronner on Religion and the IDF

I was just at a panel discussion at Boston College about “Israel Apartheid Week” (about which more later). One of the questions posed (in part in response to Dexter van Zile’s comment that the “Apartheid Narrative” scapegoated Israel for the world’s ills) ran somewhat as follows: “Don’t you think that Israel participated in its own scapegoating by not letting in the Western press.

As part of my answer, I tried to explain how, if Western journalists actually did their job, it would have been good to have them in Gaza, but that given how wedded (read: addicted) they are to the framing story of Israeli Goliath / Palestinian David, the chances that they would actually reveal to the West just how systematically Hamas sought to victimize its own people and literally create a humanitarian crisis were pretty slim.

Most people don’t realize just how bad the MSM is in its coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict, how reluctant they are, for a variety of reasons that span the spectrum from ideological to venal to cowardice, to reveal to their audiences the moral depravity of the Palestinian side. The best current example of the obsession of the Western press with every blemish of the Israelis and their corresponding obliviousness to the Palestinians is probably the work of Ethan Bronner, the NYT mideast correspondent.

Here, Jeffrey Woolf fisks Bronner on the topic of the impact of religious impulses in the Israeli army during the Gaza war. One can easily imagine that the Palestinian version of this article would involve discussing their genocidal ideology, and a host of other problems that would make his remarks — even before Woolf’s corrections — pale in comparison. Alas, don’t expect them anytime soon.

Fisking Bronner on Religious Soldiers
[There is so much wrong with this piece, I decided to pull an Augean Stables.]

    A religious war within the Israeli Army

    By Ethan Bronner
    Sunday, March 22, 2009

    JERUSALEM: The publication late last week of eyewitness accounts by Israeli soldiers alleging acute mistreatment of Palestinian civilians in the recent Gaza fighting highlights a debate here about the rules of war. But it also exposes something else: the clash between secular liberals and religious nationalists for control over the army and society.

The credibility of these charges has since been seriously impugned and they are, in any event, extremely distorted. See here.

    Several of the testimonies, published by an institute that runs a premilitary course and is affiliated with the left-leaning secular kibbutz movement, showed a distinct impatience with religious soldiers, portraying them as self-appointed holy warriors.

    A soldier, identified by the pseudonym Ram, is quoted as saying that in Gaza, “the rabbinate brought in a lot of booklets and articles and their message was very clear: We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the non-Jews who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land. This was the main message, and the whole sense many soldiers had in this operation was of a religious war.”

The quote is second hand, therefore, suspect. Even if accurate, though, Ram obviously did not understand that מלחמת מצוה does not mean jihad. It refers to a war to defend Jews from attack or to conquer the land of Israel. The booklets do not stress the latter, only the former. Furthermore, since when is it bad to believe in God, in His Providence or in His promise of the Land of Israel to the People of Israel?

Islam, A Religion Like any Other? Tom Holland weighs in

Tom Holland is an extraordinary (non-academic) historian who normally specializes in ancient history. His latest book is an excellent survey of the year 1000 which takes my side in the debate over whether the population of Europe saw that as an apocalyptic year (my position) or not (most of the academic historians). His latest meditations on the failure of Christians (in his case, English [post-]Christians, to understand how fundamentally different Islam is from their own understanding of their own religion offer a fine counter-part to the well-meaning cognitive egocentrism of Chris Seiple.

Kingdoms not of this world
Tom Holland
Published 02 April 2009

To imagine that Islam can be transformed with a little nudge here and there into a kind of Church of England with hijabs is absurd, writes Tom Holland. For Christians and Muslims worship different gods, and this has a huge influence on the relationship between religion and state, even in the modern world

There is an optimistic notion, one popular among mystics and atheists alike, that all gods are essentially the same. “I am neither Christian nor Jew, neither Zoroastrian nor Muslim”: this may sound like a manifesto for the National Secular Society, but was in fact written in the Middle Ages by the great Sufi poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi. His vision of enlightenment, one which saw the reality of God as being akin to the veiled peak of a mountain, taught that the world’s religions, though called by different names, are all simply paths that lead to the one identical summit. The appeal of this philosophy, in a multi-faith society such as Britain’s, is obvious. Indeed, at a time when even our future king frets at the prospect of ruling as the defender of merely a single faith, it must have come to rank as the new Establishment orthodoxy. What could be less 21st century, after all, than to believe that the road to heaven might lead through the Church of England alone?

And yet, for all that, the pretence that peoples of different faiths are heading towards the one single destination does simultaneously stand in the finest tradition of Anglican humbug. The Church of England, ever since Elizabeth I declared herself reluctant to make windows into men’s souls, has been dependent for its existence on fudge. The pews may be emptier nowadays than they used to be, and yet the English, by and large, remain wedded to presumptions that are the theological equivalent of milky tea.

“That would be an ecumenical matter” – so Father Ted coached the deranged Father Jack to reply to anything, no matter how challenging, that might be put to him. The joke would have been even better suited to a vicar. The C of E was deliberately fashioned to provide Protestants with as big a tent as possible. Nowadays, with an urgent need to accommodate not only Catholics, but peoples from a non-Christian background as well, that tent necessarily has to appear yet bigger still. Hence, it would seem, the widespread Anglican conviction that there is no problem that cannot somehow be put to rights by an interfaith forum. Far from diluting the peculiarly English brand of Christianity, the ethos of multiculturalism is in many ways the quintessence of it.

Nevertheless, as the schism over homosexuality that is dividing Anglicanism itself has served wearyingly to demonstrate, compromise depends on people’s willingness not to push their own convictions too far. Unfortunately – or fortunately, according to on one’s point of view – not everyone is prepared to sacrifice deeply held principles on the altar of muddling through. Inevitably, the more grandstanding there is, the less sustainable becomes the fiction that people’s beliefs and ethics are all somehow of a kind. The big tent starts to look ragged, to come apart at the seams. A suspicion grows that the philosophy paraded daily on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day just might be wrong, and that the various gods namechecked before the eight o’clock news might not, in fact, all be the same.

The resulting sense of dislocation is hardly unique to our own times. The pagans of classical antiquity, who would cheerfully adopt the gods of alien pantheons and mix and match them with their own, were invariably brought to experience this sense of dislocation whenever they confronted Christianity’s one true God. Christians in turn might sometimes feel a similar uneasiness when obliged to contemplate the deity of Islam.

For instance, it is said that shortly after Muhammad’s death in 632AD the followers of the Prophet sent an embassy to Heraclius, the Christian emperor in Constantinople, demanding the surrender of his dominions and his conversion to Islam, on pain of invasion. “These people,” the emperor is said to have responded in some bemusement, “are like the twilight, caught between day and nightfall, neither sunlit nor dark – for although they are not illumined by the light of Christ, neither are they steeped in the darkness of idolatry.”

Not even Tony Blair at his most histrionic has ever put it quite like that – and, self-evidently, 7th-century Byzantium, with its murderous power struggles, its delusions of grandeur, and its imploding economy, was far removed from the Britain of New Labour. Nevertheless, Heraclius’s simile does pose in peculiarly acute form a question with which Christians have always had to wrestle: are the similarities between their own faith and Islam more profound than the differences?

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.

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.

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.

Redefining a Vampire: Europundit’s spoof on the death of Sheikh Yassin

On the 22 of March 2004, the Israelis assassinated Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in a targeted killing. The Israelis struck at this man because he was the spiritual advocate of the vicious Hamas strategy of suicide terror, which had attempted to turn all of Israel into a hell of fear and grief. The strike killed its target, two of his body guards and nine bystanders, including two of Yassin’s sons. The world was swept with an outpouring of outrage at the Israelis, and sympathy for the “poor, blind, parapalegic, spiritual figurehead” of Hamas. Indeed — mind you, this is 2004! — some worried that the assassination might harm the peace process.

The obituaries for this man were cloying at best, idiotic at worst. And they were everywhere. Except, of course, Nelson Ascher whose stealth obituary I reproduce below:

A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY

Indignation took hold of the whole world as soon as news transpired of the cold-blooded murder of Transylvania’s spiritual leader, Count Dracula. The militant and founder of the local anti-imperialist movement was a victim of what both human right organizations and specialists in International Law called an “extra-judicial execution”. The UK government took responsibility for the action, justifying it as a legitimate reprisal against an open enemy in a context of war. Diplomatic sources, on the condition of anonymity, disclosed that the aristocrat has been killed by members of the SAS under the command of the notorious Dr. Abraham Van Helsing.

The count, better known among his many friends as Vlad Tepes (Vlad, the Impaler) founded and has been leading for over 500 years the MLT (Movement for the Liberation of Transylvania). Though nobody disputed his popularity in the region, a popularity made obvious by the thousands of protesters who took immediately to the streets of Timisoara, Oradea, Cluj-Napoca and Tirgu Mures, his enemies insisted that he was nothing but a “vampire”, something his followers deny, claiming that “one man’s vampire is another man’s freedom fighter”.

The spiritual leader of the Transylvanians was finally found out by his killers yesterday in the crypt of his castle in Bran, 20 miles from Brasov, in the Central Carpathians. His spokesperson, Mr. Renfield, told our reporters that, cowardly caught during his morning nap while he was resting in his coffin, the defenseless old man had no chance to react against the high-tech wooden stakes with which the Americans supply abundantly the British army. He also assured us that “there are no vampires: they’re but an excuse to deprive us criminally of our lands and to justify this illegal occupation”.

The Uses of Antisemitism: More from Neslon Ascher (Europundit)

THE USES OF ANTI-SEMITISM

We all have spent too much time talking about the widespread anti-semitism in the Muslim world and discovering, to our surprise, that many in the West actually share this feeling, while many more couldn’t really care less. This is a mistaken approach.

Instead of trying to understand “why they hate us” and why they (and many others) hate the Jews (something I hope we’ll still be discussing for several generations), what we have to understand right now is: what is anti-semitism good for? What are the uses of anti-Semitism?

Whether those who manipulate anti-Semitism are themselves anti-Semites (or anti-Zionists or whatever), whether they personally share the hatred, all that is irrelevant right now. The historical roots of the hatred, its psychology and so on are not questions we have time to analyse, dissect, discuss endlessly nowadays. (And we’re still debating the Holocaust, how and why it happened etc., 61 years after the end of WW2, without having reached anything resembling consensual answers.)

We are spending precious time getting surprised or scared, wondering about the hatred itself, its depth and extension. That’s important, but not what’s most important or urgent. What we need to understand is that this hatred is being once again used cynically to obtain certain results.

Besides being anti-semitic themselves, the Nazis used anti-Semitism skilfully to subvert other countries and societies. Though Nazism was (among other things) a form of German expansionism, wherever there were anti-Semites the Germans would also find collaborators. Anti-semitism was used by the Germans to undermine from the inside countries, societies and armies that could or would stand up to them.

The Nazis managed to convince millions and millions of Frenchmen and Poles, Belgians, Norwegians etc. and, yes, Brits and Americans that, since they were fighting a common enemy (the Jews), they weren’t really the mortal enemies of France, Poland, Belgium, Norway, England and the US. Untold millions were eager to believe that Germany wasn’t really threatening them and their countries, that the Germans didn’t really want to conquer, exploit and kill them. Why? Because they either thought that they could make common cause with the Nazis against the Jews, or remained indifferent, neutral and defenceless. Since, when not actively loathing or persecuting them, they were indifferent to the fate of the Jews, they also believed it was none of their problem. Many of them even turned against those in their own countries who wanted to fight the Nazis and blamed them for putting everyone else in danger just to “protect the Jews”.

In short: if the Jews were used in the beginning as scapegoats, their main use throughout the war was as a tool to “divide and conquer”. Thanks to their sincere or opportunistic ant-semitism, the Germans were able to paralyse important forces in the countries and societies they wanted to defeat and submit.

Republishing an Obituary of Edward Saïd: The evil is too oft interred with their bones…

One of my newer but valuable commentators has posted in the comment section an obituary on Edward Saïd which he wrote in Portuguese for Folha de S. Paulo (Brazil). I think it deserves its own post. He prefaced it with the following remarks:

    When in 2003 I wrote Said’s obituary for my newspaper, maybe the only negative text on him to be published in the country’s press, 187 of our most famous intellectuals, writers and artists sent the paper not an answer, but a protest where, besides calling me a warmonger and a racist, they basically asked my boss to fire me (he didn’t). Even in such a far away place as my country, Said became a saint and whatever he wrote is holy writ, above criticism.

It’s a devastating obituary, and, I think, quite accurate. Amazing the editor allowed it, and stood by the author. Not amazing that a bunch of besotted intellectuals got indignant. Interesting that it solicited accusations like “racist,” and “warmonger.” There’s nothing of either sort in the obituary… just a (well-deserved) lack of polite respect for the dead.

EDWARD SAID (1935-2003)

The leukemia that a couple of days ago killed Edward Said lasted long enough for the polemicist and political activist who had settled in the US to watch his projects and hopes crumble.

Said owes his fame to having become the most articulate apologist for the « Palestinian cause », something that wasn’t all that difficult when one considers that most of his rivals in this field, whenever they’re not too busy blowing up school buses and pizza parlours, satisfy themselves spreading anti-Semitic forgeries like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Even so, although his prose reminds one of a post-modern English version of a deconstructionist French translation of the Germanic ravings of some Heidegger epigone, his academic dance of the seven veils with successive layers of Marxist, anti-imperialist and post-colonial jargon never hid the fact that his goals were fundamentally the same.

A large part of his so-called moral authority came from Said presenting himself as a refugee from a Palestinian homeland. In spite of having been put in doubt by his adversaries, the truth or falsity of this claim isn’t too important. The internal borders of the Arab world are all artificial and, half a century ago, loyalties there were established in relation to clans, families, cities or villages and religious sects, not countries or nations, an European import that has had no time to grow deep roots in the Middle East. The Palestinian nationality as a distinct identity has not begun to be developed before the 60s.

Be Afraid and Learn the Lessons of Eurabia: Nidra Poller nails it, alas!

I went yesterday night to a talk at a synagogue in Stoughton by Geert Wilder, the Dutch lawmaker now on trial in his homeland for “hate speech” as a result of his movie Fitna, and recently ejected from the UK by an administration cowed by the threat of 10,000 Muslims besieging Parliament if they let Wilder show his movie. No one’s problems better illustrates the pathetic condition of Europe than Wilder.

While this was a last-minute affair with announcements going on a mere days before the talk, the room was full (not just of Jews, Miss Kelley and a number of her friends, appropriately marked with ash on their foreheads were also there); and Wilder got three standing ovations. The talk will be posted on the internet shortly.

His message was: “It’s not 8:55, it’s 11:55… We are in the last stages of islamization of Europe… and it’s closer than we imagine… It could happen very quickly… the USA is losing an ally to an ideology of hatred… the European political and intellectual elites have been intimidated and are now behaving like Dhimmi.”

Wilders has run into problems because, apparently, he called for the Quran to be banned, although according to Bostom that was not so much a serious call for banning the Quran as a ploy to emphasize that if you’re going to ban texts for hate-speech then the Quran should be at the top of the list. In honor of Wilder’s struggle, I post here a thoughtful, eloquent, and hard-hitting piece by Nidra Poller on what the USA can learn from European folly.

MARCH 2009 OUTPOST NOW ONLINE

Europe’s Woes America’s Warning
by Nidra Poller

It is difficult to imagine how European nations could find the will and the ways to counter the subversive forces they have invited upon themselves and allowed to flourish for more than three decades. The current phase of global jihad, already underway in the much vaunted decolonization process, coalesced with the seizure of power in Iran by Ayatollah Khomenei (who had been living as a pampered refugee in France). But the American reader should be wary of concluding that Europe is lost…and the United States is standing firm.

On the contrary, all of Western civilization is under fire. As promised during the campaign, Barack Hussein Obama is making a radical change in American policy. Not of course the glorious change his worshippers promised themselves, but a troubling shift toward dhimmitude. The newly elected president lost no time in pleading guilty as charged by Muslim authorities and promising to refrain from further rebellion in order to receive their benevolent indulgence.

Similar methods produce similar results. Jihad forces in Europe — and in the United States — used Israel’s Cast Lead operation in Gaza as a pretext to organize virulent, violent pro-Hamas demonstrations. Because Europe is further down the path to surrender, the enraged pro-Hamas mobs were more violent, destructive, and physically threatening here than in the United States. But in both cases they advanced their dominion. This should be recognized as authentic conquest of territory by enraged mobs bearing down on hapless victims in an ominous show of force and not, as claimed and widely accepted, citizen demonstrators exercising their right to free speech.

Absolutely. As I argued almost five years ago, one of the major results of the al Durah affair was to allow the Arab street to take root in Europe. This is just the latest stage, and it’s most worrisome. Anyone reading this as “citizen demonstrators exercising their right to free speech,” is a useful idiot.

If you can carry signs equating the Magen David with the swastika, if you can scream “Jews to the ovens” in the face of Zionists in Ft. Lauderdale Florida, if you can storm into a synagogue in Caracas, Venezuela and terrorize the congregation, if you can bully the police in England, smash up the Place de l’Opéra in Paris, burn Israeli and American flags, shout Allahu Akbar without meeting resolute opposition, it means you can keep going and ultimately fulfill those murderous promises. Do American Jews understand what was acquired by these phony demonstrations that are really paramilitary operations? Wherever those enraged mobs set foot they transformed the streets into de facto waqf territory.

Precisely. This is a war that concerns gangs and territory. We in the West are badly equipped to handle it and (hence) to recognize it (i.e., if we can’t handle a problem, don’t have a solution, then don’t identify it as a problem).

Each successive crisis is an opportunity to ratchet up Jew hatred and the concomitant assault on Western civilization, achieving, step by step, tacit acceptance of the unspeakable. Here is how it works: first, the provocation. Jihadist attacks — thousands of rockets launched against Israel, a few airplanes flown into the WTC, capture and beheading of hostages, roadside bombs, inhuman pizzeria bombers, nuclear weapons programs — finally provoke a riposte. Bingo! The Muslim wailing machine goes into action. It is immediately picked up by complicit Western media and transmitted, with a Good Journalism stamp of approval, to public opinion. Israel, the United States and anyone else who dares to fight back is accused of war crimes, peace crimes, and original sin. This justifies subsequent acts of subversion and aggression against the free world.

It is a brilliant strategy, even if it involves the sacrifice of Muslim lives in order to pull it off. The pathetic, outrageous, inconceivable aspect of it is the role played by our own media.

When the United States used its formidable military force and assumed its international responsibilities, European nations, with rare exceptions, exploited opposition to “the war in Iraq” to undermine the American superpower. This agitation was exploited in turn by jihad interests to advance the Islamization of Europe… and by ricochet to influence domestic politics in the United States as Obamamania surfed on the theme of repairing America’s battered image.

So European resentment causes them to behave in self-destructive ways (striking at the only nation that has and can save them from their folly for what would be a third time), and American insecurity (which I run into among my colleagues all the time), takes European bad faith and cowardice as a model for us to imitate. It’s pretty amazing.

La Gauche est mort, mais elle ne s’en est pas encore aperçue: Luc Rosenzweig decortique ce grand cadavre à la renverse

Quand j’ai commencé à travailler le dossier al Durah, j’ai rencontré une personnalité extraordinaire, Luc Rosenzweig, ancien journaliste au Monde, et l’auteur, entre autres essais, de Lettre à mes amis propalestiniens, un argument puissant contre la folie d’une gauche qui soutient des fascistes juste parce qu’ils sont des palestiniens.

Il vient d’écrire un article sur la mort de la gauche qui ne cède rien à la vanité de ces gens qui se prennent comme l’avant-garde morale du monde (et donc, déteste surtout les juifs, leurs concurrents).

C’était la Gauche
Quand c’est fini, c’est fini

18 février 2009
Luc Rosenzweig

Le “Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure” de bon nombre de Françaises et de Français à la recherche de leur temps perdu pourrait bientôt être : “Longtemps, j’ai voté à gauche…” Les plus talentueux pourront alors commencer à évoquer dans la forme artistique de leur choix un monde disparu, pour le plus grand plaisir esthétique des générations futures.

La gauche est en train de sortir de l’Histoire, mais on la retrouvera, à coup sûr dans les romans, au cinéma, en BD, objet de mémoire et de thèses universitaires. Constater son décès n’est pas chose facile: son cœur a cessé de battre, son cerveau de fonctionner, ses poings de frapper, mais elle passe encore pour vivante dans les lieux où s’élaborent les représentations – instituts de sondages, IEP, services politiques des grands médias.

Je dirai plutôt que son coeur bat plus fort, moins son cerveau fonctionne.

gaza war protest
Gaza War protest San Francisco, January 2009. Photo Zombietime.

Et pourtant, tout observateur un peu attentif de la vie politique et intellectuelle de l’Europe et de ses dépendances devrait s’apercevoir que nous sommes en train de changer de paradigme.

La coïncidence du binôme sociologique dominant/dominé avec le binôme politique droite/gauche n’a certes jamais été totale, mais elle a tout de même permis, aussi imparfaite soit-elle, de structurer de manière plutôt satisfaisante la vie politique, et sociale et intellectuelle des démocraties au XXe siècle. Chacun la déclinait à sa manière, latine, scandinave ou britannique pour le plus grand bonheur des classes moyennes.

On lui doit une prospérité sans précédent, le développement inégalé dans l’Histoire des libertés publiques et individuelles, la protection collective contre les aléas de la vie, et surtout la fin de la guerre civile intra-européenne.

Ce modèle a néanmoins échoué à s’imposer à l’échelle mondiale : on serait bien en mal de distinguer où se situent la gauche et la droite, ou même le milieu, dans les régimes autoritaires et/ou corrompus qui sévissent dans la majorité des pays siégeant à l’ONU. Adversaire, puis régulatrice du capitalisme, la gauche n’est plus aujourd’hui que spectatrice d’un monde qu’elle a d’abord renoncé à changer, puis à comprendre.

Just below the “Criticism” of Israel

Interesting piece in the Independent. Too bad non-Jews can’t make this case.

Howard Jacobson: Let’s see the ‘criticism’ of Israel for what it really is

Emotions have run high over recent events in Gaza. And in this impassioned and searching essay, our writer argues that just below the surface runs a vicious strain of ancient prejudice

Wednesday, 18 February 2009
The language of protesters ‘determines the issue before it can be discussed’

I was once in Melbourne when bush fires were raging 20 or 30 miles north of the city. Even from that distance you could smell the burning. Fine fragments of ash, like slivers of charcoal confetti, covered the pavements. The very air was charred. It has been the same here these past couple of months with the fighting in Gaza. Only the air has been charred not with devastation but with hatred. And I don’t mean the hatred of the warring parties for each other. I mean the hatred of Israel expressed in our streets, on our campuses, in our newspapers, on our radios and televisions, and now in our theatres.

A discriminatory, over-and-above hatred, inexplicable in its hysteria and virulence whatever justification is adduced for it; an unreasoning, deranged and as far as I can see irreversible revulsion that is poisoning everything we are supposed to believe in here – the free exchange of opinions, the clear-headedness of thinkers and teachers, the fine tracery of social interdependence we call community relations, modernity of outlook, tolerance, truth. You can taste the toxins on your tongue.

But I am not allowed to ascribe any of this to anti-Semitism. It is, I am assured, “criticism” of Israel, pure and simple. In the matter of Israel and the Palestinians this country has been heading towards a dictatorship of the one-minded for a long time; we seem now to have attained it. Deviate a fraction of a moral millimetre from the prevailing othodoxy and you are either not listened to or you are jeered at and abused, your reading of history trashed, your humanity itself called into question. I don’t say that self-pityingly. As always with dictatorships of the mind, the worst harmed are not the ones not listened to, but the ones not listening. So leave them to it, has essentially been my philosophy. A life spent singing anti-Zionist carols in the company of Ken Livingstone and George Galloway is its own punishment.

I’m assuming that Howard Jacobson is a Jew, and running into the post-2000 phenomenon that struck so many Jews who had the nerve to defend Israel even minimally in the wake of the Muhammad al Durah blood libel. Non-identified Jews solicited the consistent comment, “I didn’t know you were Jewish,” and non-Jews ran into the same comment:

People who didn’t know me would say “I didn’t know you were Jewish, Richard.” I’d say “I’m not.” And they’d say “Well why are you doing this?” But that’s ridiculous. If I was making a film about cot death, people wouldn’t assume I had lost a child to cot death. If I was making a film about Islamophobia, nobody would say “We didn’t know you were a Muslim.” But there is this assumption that anti-Semitism is something that’s just made up by the Jews, and nobody else would ever really pay any attention to it.

There’s both the evidence of mental dictatorship, and the paralysis of the West in the face of Jihadi anti-semitism.