Monday, December 26, 2005

Hanukkah Sameach!

Today is the first day of Hanukkah. Hag sameach! I hope everyone reading this has a very happy holiday. Just don't eat too many latkes or sufganiyot, OK?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Visiting Israel: A Muslim Perspective

Earlier this month a most refreshing article appeared on the Internet. Dr. Tashbih Sayyed, the editor-in-chief of Pakistan Today and Muslim World Today, a Pakistani-born Muslim now living in the United States, wrote about a visit he and his wife made to Israel. What was so wonderful about this article is that it successfully debunks the very negative view of the Jewish State painted by the hard left in this country and indeed the mainstream left in Europe. It stands in stark contrast to so much of what we read on the Internet and hear from sources like the BBC that I'm certain some reading it will simply disbelieve it. Yet, in my experience it is very much accurate and describes the Israel I know and love. The original article can be read on the Muslim World Today website. He explains the purpose of his trip:
I wanted to see if there was any truth in the media allegations that Israel was an apartheid state, undemocratic and discriminatory.
His interest in the article is clearly on how Muslim Israelis are treated and also on the desire of most Israelis to live in peace with their neighbors. Here are some high points:
My understanding of the Jewish State was confirmed when the entry form that I needed to fill before landing in Tel Aviv did not ask for my religion as is the law in Pakistan. Also, unlike Saudi Arabia, no one in Israeli immigration demanded from me any certificate of religion.

As the El Al approached the Promised Land, I continued to shuffle the list of charges made routinely against Israel by its enemies.

  • Israelis live in a perpetual state of fear.
  • Israel is undemocratic.
  • Muslim Arab citizens of Israel do not have equal rights

Dr. Sayyed goes on to describe how his experiences proved these charges to be false and recounts his conversations with Israeli Arabs.
But here, protected by Israel's democratic principles, the Muslim Arab citizens of Israel are afforded all the rights and privileges of Israeli citizenship. When the first elections to the Knesset were held in February 1949, Israeli Arabs were given the right to vote and to be elected along with Israeli Jews. Today, Israel's Arab citizens are accorded full civil and political rights entitled to complete participation in Israeli society. They are active in Israeli social, political and civic life and enjoy representation in Israel's Parliament, Foreign Service and judicial system.
I could not find Israelis acting in vengeance against their Arab compatriots.
On my way from the city of David to the Royal Prima hotel in Jerusalem, I asked my Palestinian taxi driver how he feels about moving to the territories under Palestinian Authority. He said that he could never think of living outside Israel. His answer blasted the myth spread by anti-Semites that Israel's Arab citizens are not happy there.
Arabic, like Hebrew, is an official language in Israel and underlines the tolerant nature of the Jewish State. All the street signs call out their names in Arabic alongside Hebrew. It is official policy of the Israeli government to foster the language, culture, and traditions of the Arab minority, in the educational system and in daily life. Israel's Arabic press is the most vibrant and independent of any country in the region. There are more than 20 Arabic periodicals. They publish what they please, subject only to the same military censorship as Jewish publications. There are daily TV and radio programs in Arabic.

Arabic is taught in Jewish secondary schools. More than 350,000 Arab children attend Israeli schools. At the time of Israel's founding, there was one Arab high school in the country. Today, there are hundreds of Arab schools. Israeli universities are renowned centers of learning in the history and literature of the Arab Middle East.

My sincere thanks to Dr. Sayyed. I can only wonder if he will now be the subject of a fatwa for daring to write something nice about Israel.

I encourage everyone to read Dr. Sayyed's article in full and to share it with their friends, particularly friends who tend to be anti-Zionist in their views. It's awfully hard to dismiss an article written by a Muslim intellectual that debunks the myths about Israel that so many in the Muslim world and even in the West wish to perpetuate.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Opening Rafah: A Recipe For Disaster

Today the border crossing at Rafah was opened with much fanfare and very positive news coverage worldwide. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the occasion which will give the Palestinians a border with Egypt free of Israeli supervision. Perhaps ominous were some of President Abbas' comments, in particular:
The achievement we are celebrating today belongs first and foremost to the martyrs, wounded, prisoners, and all Palestinians who have sacrificed plenty in this struggle.
Why is this ominous? He credits the intidafa and the ongoing Palestinian terrorism. This is a tremendously important point. This opening is happening in the absence of any peace process. There is absolutely no reason that the weapons smuggling from Egypt into Gaza that used to occur in tunnels and was, at times, stopped by Israeli forces, can now happen much more freely. This will allow heavier and more dangerous weapons into Gaza and ultimately Palestinian areas of Judea and Samaria. In the absence of a peace process, and in a period of escalating terrorism promised by Islamic Jihad and Hamas, will result in the deaths of many more innocent Israeli civilians. When the Israeli government responds as it must to protect it's citizens the net result will also be many more dead innocent Palestinian civilians.

The agreement to open Rafah was only agreed to by Israel after Secretary of State Rice played hardball in the negotiations. We have no way of knowing what threat she held over the head of Prime Minister Sharon to get the agreement. I do believe, however, that there is no threat she could have made, up to and including breaking diplomatic relations, that justifies the Prime Minister not standing up to the United States in this case, much as Prime Minister Shamir did when the first President Bush demanded an end to building in settlements. The net result then was a freezing of loan guarantees. While that undoubtedly hurt the Israeli economy at the time then Prime Minister Shamir put the interests of Israel ahead of warm relations with Washington.

Please do not misunderstand me. I fully understand that if Gaza was sealed off the chances for any sort of meaningful Palestinian economy would be nil. I understand that Palestinians, including many innocent people, would suffer. In the context of an interim peace agreement and a cessation of hostilities I would be all for Rafah being open. The sad truth is that the Palestinain Authority hasn't taken even the first step required by the Roadmap peace plan, specifically the end to incitement and the fighting of terrorism. Israel should not have been required to do anything which endangers it's citizens until the Palestinians took that very simple first step, the first obligation they agreed to, as a reciprocal measure for the pullout from Gaza. The whole point of the Roadmap was reciprocal measures by both sides. It was never meant to be a series of endless concessions by Israel with no movement whatsoever by the Palestinians, and yet that is precisely what Secretary Rice and the Bush administration have demanded.

Ted Belman, writing on the far right Arutz Sheva website did an unusually honest and frank assessment of why Israel agreed to open Rafah. While I generally find Arutz Sheva's commentary to range from anywhere from insane to beyond the fringe, this piece was an unusually good analysis. Nathan Guttman, writing in the Jerusalem Post, referred to the agreement as Condi's coup, stressing the importance not only for Israel and the Palestinians, but for the Bush administration's involvement in Middle East peacemaking. He sees some good possibly coming from this. I wish I could be so optimistic.

So long as the Palestinian leadership is praising "martyrs" and nodding and winking at terrorists more freedom of movement for Palestinians equals more dead Israelis. I wonder how long it will be before my family has to bury a victim of Palestinian terrorism. We've been lucky so far. I fear Condoleeza Rice, who I'm sure has the best of intentions, has insured that our luck will run out.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Rare (for me) Praise For the Bush Administration

Anyone who has read my blogs knows I am no fan of President Bush or his administration. I have often been critical of the President's policies towards Israel, particularly in the wake of the disengagement from Gaza. I felt (and still feel) the Palestinians must make some reciprocal move and start living up to their responsibilities under the Roadmap. The first phase calls for the Palestinians to halt terror and incitement. They haven't even vaguely begun to do anything of the sort and there was Secretary of State Rice demanding more Israeli concessions.

Today, however, the Bush Administration, especially U.N. Ambassador John Bolton got it 100% right. Under intense pressure from the U.S. the U.N. Security Council today condemned Hizbullah for it's attacks on northern Israel this week. Algeria was the only nation that balked. The French wanted to "balance" the resolution by condemning Israeli violation of Lebanese airspace. In the end, however, the Security Council condemned the attacks much as it should.

The Israeli press has called this trail blazing as it is the first time Hizbullah has been condemned for cross border attacks or, as the resolution puts it, "acts of hatred". This follows by just a few weeks the first ever condemnation by the U.N. of the leader of an Islamic nation, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for statements against Israel. Today's condemnation would not have happened without John Bolton or the Bush administration standing firm, and as a result I must give them due credit. Of course, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

On the other hand, I was one of the few Democrats I know who supported the Bolton nomination in the first place, largely because of his work to get Resolution 3379, equating Zionism with racism, revoked. I also felt then and still feel now that the United Nations needs major reforms and that Mr. Bolton may be exactly the right sort of Ambassador, one critical of the U.N., to push for change.

In light of today's resolution I have to wonder if there is hope for the United Nations yet.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Intimidation of Jewish Students on American College Campuses

Sympathy for the Palestinians is pretty easy to understand. It is normal and natural for any liberal, open minded, compassionate person to feel empathy towards people who are poor, downtrodden, and oppressed. Yes, many of us know, intellectually, that much of the Palestinian's suffering is self-inflicted, as in the case of the destruction of greenhouses in Gaza (see my post of September 29th) which could be providing food, employment, income and hope to the people of Gaza, or by their own leadership (see my post of September 8) in walking away from the peace process and starting a war of terrorism instead. That knowledge doesn't stop us from feeling sympathy for people who are, unquestionably, suffering under miserable and often chaotic conditions. There are others who either aren't as well informed or else have an agenda and use this natural sympathy for the Palestinian people as justification for anti-Zionism (inevitably arguing, at least indirectly, for the destruction of the state of Israel) or, worse, outright anti-Semitism. Just plain old-fashioned hatred and discrimination can never be justified.

There is a piece by Leila Beckwith this week on the Opinion page of the Los Angeles Jewish Observer about the intimidation Jewish students face on University of California and California State University campuses. To quote Ms. Beckwith:
...the biased and inaccurate presentation of the Israel/Arab conflict by instructors and guest speakers creates an intimidating environment for Jewish students, and is inconsistent with a university's mission of pursuing truth through critical inquiry and honest discourse.
She writes about protest by "Jewish faculty at the University of California and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East" and an open letter to Governor Schwarzenegger and an online petition. The letter, in part, states:
The problem of Jewish students being intimidated in the classroom and on the campuses of the University of California and California State University was recognized by Governor Grey Davis in a letter in June 2002 to President Atkinson of the University of California and to Chancellor Reed of the California State University system. In this letter, Governor Davis stated his concern about anti-Semitism on California campuses and asked for a system-wide, comprehensive plan.
The petition is simply to ask Governor Schwarzenegger to, in Ms. Beckwith's words:
...implement former Governor Gray Davis's directive to college administrators: to review existing courses and to ensure that campuses are "forums for intellectual inquiry and not vehicles for discrimination, intimidation and hate."
I encourage everyone who is reading this to follow the links in this blog entry and read the letter for yourself and join the over 2,800 people from all over the world who have signed this petition. Whatever your feelings about the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel I would hope that you are willing to stand up against intimidation, anti-Semitism, and bigotry in all its forms.

The sad fact is that what we are seeing in California isn't an isolated case. Conditions at Columbia University in New York were so bad it led to the making of the film Columbia Unbecoming. To quote the Columbia Unbecoming website:
The anti-Israel campaign on college campuses differs greatly from legitimate criticism of Israel's policies; it hides behind the language of human rights and national liberation to demonize Israel, Israelis, and their supporters. It includes the national divestment movement and promotes a one-sided and misleading view of the Middle East conflict that favors Israel-bashing over fair and honest discussion.

Too often, individual professors drive animus toward Israel and pro-Israel viewpoints on campus by using their positions to promote a narrow political agenda that clashes with free and open inquiry. Sometimes such animus is directed at students who dissent from the professors' political point of view.

Those of us who value higher education need to stand up for intellectual honesty and an approach to all conflict, not just the Arab-Israeli conflict, that looks at all sides of an issue, not just the side that is politically fashionable.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Shana Tovah

Shana Tovah! May you have a happy, healthy, and sweet new year.

I'll be back with more political commentary after the holiday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wanton Destruction in Gaza Bodes Ill for the Future

The torching of synagogues and the looting and destruction of greenhouses in Gaza doesn't bode well for a future Palestinian state if one is to ever exist. Indeed, the destruction of those synagogues makes it far more unlikely that Israel will concede areas with important Jewish holy sites in Judea and Samaria. The greenhouses, donated to the Palestinian people by wealthy American Jews who bought them from the former settlers, used to provide Israel with $60 to $100 million in agricultural exports annually. They could have provided ample food for Palestinians now dependent on international food aid and jobs for thousands of the largely unemployed Palestinian population in Gaza. Instead the people of Gaza will remain poor and destitute.

Of course, as my previous post pointed out, the press is bending over backwards not to portray it this way. We will undoubtedly hear over and over again, as we have for the past five years, how Palestinian terrorism is due to the “hopelessness” of their situation and that, in turn, will be blamed on Israel. Why can't the blame be put where it belongs: on the Palestinian leadership which made excuses for this behavior rather than trying to prevent it? The Palestinians themselves destroyed what would have given them the means to feed themselves and would have given them an income and the beginnings of a sustainable economy. Instead American and European taxpayers will continue to subsidize “hopelessness” and “despair”, corruption, graft, thuggery, and terrorism.

The destruction of the synagogues, which could have become community centers for the Palestinian people, is even more serious. If the Palestinians continue to disrespect, defile, and even destroy Jewish and Christian holy sites, as they did at Joseph's Tomb, the Church of the Nativity, and most recently in Gaza, how can they be entrusted with some of the most important sites in Judaism, such as the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron? The sad fact is that they cannot. Israel must now consider extending the security fence to take in the Jewish sector of Hebron and the settlements in the Hebron hills, much as a finger of territory was walled off to protect Ariel in western Samaria. This, too, will cause much international condemnation, but what choice does Israel have?

Certainly Israel cannot turn over part of Jerusalem. which is the holiest place in all of Judaism. For millennia Jews have prayed “next year in Jerusalem”. Despite the insistence by the Palestinians and most recently by the Jordanians that the Jewish people have no historical or religious claim to Jerusalem, this flies in the face of Jewish and Christian belief and three thousand years of history. As I have pointed out in the past, throughout the five centuries of Ottoman rule Muslims were a minority in Jerusalem while Jews and Christians were the solid majority. During most of that time the Jewish people alone were a majority in the city.

So long as the Arabs as a whole and the Palestinians in particular deny Jewish and Christian history they cannot be entrusted to preserve or respect it. That, in turn, means that significant parts of the West Bank cannot be turned over to them. That, in turn, makes an independent state truly unlikely.

One last question: since when is the torching of Jewish holy sites OK with the press? Why the uproar over American soldiers at Guantanamo Bay allegedly mishandling a Koran if destroying synagogues is OK? As Jack Englehard pointed out in the piece I quoted and linked last week it seems only Muslim holy sites are considered holy by the press anymore, This double standard, like all the double standards in Middle East reporting, disgusts me. Why must every media outlet claim to be unbiased, fair, balanced, or even handed when, in fact, they promote a specific agenda even when the facts simply cannot support their position?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Politically Correct Language and Extreme Media Bias

Author Jack Englehard wrote this really good piece which accurately described the media bias in reporting Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. It highlights the BBC (which I've called the British Bias Corporation) and The New York Times for really amazing redefinition of terms. I was going to write a piece about this but Mr. Englehard has done such a brilliant job I'd rather link his.

I am dismayed, as usual, that this is only making the rounds on right wing sites. It seems that saying anything uncomplimentary about the Palestinians is now simply not acceptable with a large part of the political left. This has been a quandary for many normally leftist supporters of Israel. It is easy to understand why in the context of the one sided and often, as Mr. Englehard points out, ridiculous reporting that goes on. If someone actually believes the BBC not to be hugely biased and believes their reporting they'd have no choice but to see all Israelis as heartless monsters and all Palestinians as saints.

Here are some excepts from Mr. Englehard's piece:
The dictionary defines "looting" as "to rob, steal, pillage." But, in its first reports on Gaza, where Palestinian Arab mobs were, well, looting, the New York Times came up with a nifty twist to avoid the L-word. There was no looting going on, only "looking for usable materials".

Our friends in Print and Broadcasting are having difficulties putting a shine on this Palestinian Arab rampage that's been in progress ever since the Israelis departed. Obviously, we need a new dictionary, or the same dictionary that they're using over there at the Times, the BBC and wherever truth needs to be camouflaged.

CELEBRATION, for example, usually means "to express happiness," but it means something entirely different when describing the total takeover of Gaza by Palestinian Arabs. In this case it means rage and rioting, or, indeed, "looking for usable materials." When the new inhabitants of Gush Katif ransacked the greenhouses left behind by the Israelis, and, like termites, tore down everything that stood, they were celebrating.

HOLY PLACES used to refer to places of worship of all religions. Not so anymore. Holy Places refers only to mosques and other Muslim shrines. Churches, for example, are not Holy Places ever since Arab terrorists invaded the Church of the Nativity (April 2, 2002), used it as a latrine, and hardly anyone complained. They also ripped the place apart, no doubt "looking for usable materials." More recently, like yesterday, the new inhabitants of Total Gaza set fire to about 25 synagogues and this, indeed, is seen by the world as a step toward peace.

Torching synagogues can also be found under TO CELEBRATE.


PAIN. Only Muslim Arabs are entitled to pain. Here, for example, is the BBC's Orla Guerin reporting from Gaza: "Palestinians came streaming to the settlements that caused them so much pain! Israel stole 38-years from them; today, many were ready to take back anything they could." The Israelis who were evicted from their homes felt no pain. Is that clear? Also, thanks to Ms. Guerin and the BBC, we know that "Israel stole 38 years from them."

This sets a new standard for totally objective and thoroughly unbiased journalism.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Missed Opportunities

“The Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” -Abba Eban

The Palestinians, first at Camp David and then at Taba, had been presented with offers from Israel that were good enough that many moderate Arab leaders encouraged Yasser Arafat to accept. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Mahmoud Abbas were among those urging Arafat to finally make peace with Israel. He dismissed the offer as “insufficient” and never made a counteroffer. He chose intifada, a war of terror, over peace.

Despite many attempts by the supporters of and apologists for the Palestinians to try and pin blame on Israel or President Clinton for the failure of the peace process, if one doesn't try and revise history it is clear that President Clinton and former U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross are correct in placing the blame squarely and solely on the shoulders of Yasser Arafat. Occupation would have ended. The Palestinians would have been independent. Their response was interpreted by most Israelis as spitting in their collective faces, and rightly so. Dennis Ross has repeatedly stated that Arafat was “incapable” of making peace.

In 1967, when most Israelis were celebrating the victory in the Six Day War, my father called occupation “bad business”. He didn't see much to celebrate. My father was, in my opinion, a very wise man. The past 38 years of Israel's attempt to rule over roughly three million Palestinians has been an unmitigated disaster resulting only in bloodshed. I'm not sure there is much of anything Israel could have done to diminish the hatred and anti-Semitism in the Arab world but the continued occupation gave the Arabs an excuse to be anti-Semitic that was acceptable to the wider world community. The additional land gave Israel some additional security from conventional attack but as time passed it became less clear that the continued occupation was worth the cost.

Occupation never had to happen. The Arabs could have prevented it if they had wanted to. In the wake of the Six Day War then Prime Minister Levi Eshkol offered to return all the land Israel had just captured in exchange for diplomatic recognition from the Arab world and peace. The Arab League, meeting in Khartoum, unanimously rejected the offer.

The Oslo Accords gave both sides hope. Yasser Arafat single handedly dashed those hopes. Despite articles to the contrary by those engaging in moral equivocation and those promoting the Palestinian cause, I see no evidence to make me believe otherwise. In 2000 the Palestinians had two chances to end occupation and have an independent state. Those opportunities were, as usual, missed.

The withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria brings a new opportunity for the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas to demonstrate that they can, in fact, govern a nation and end their terror war. Doing so would undoubtedly lead to either further disengagement or a genuine revival of the peace process. Sadly I see no willingness on the part of the current Palestinian leadership to do so. True to form, they will not miss this opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Attacked From Both the Right and the Left

I've been watching the coverage, both on U.S. and Israeli television, of the removal of the settlers from Gaza. It is honestly heartbreaking. Some of these people had lived there all their lives. If this was part of a peace agreement maybe it wouldn't be so bad. To know that it may end up being a base for terrorism makes me all the more upset. Yes, I've supported disengagement, and yes, I think it was necessary. It doesn't make it any easier to watch.

I have, in my writing both in this blog and in various other online political fora, steadfastly defended Prime Minister Sharon's disengagement plan. In some liberal circles any defense of a Prime Minister from the right, from Likud, is somehow a betrayal even if this Prime Minister is, in effect, implementing what was originally proposed by Labor. He must, of course, have ulterior motives, like perhaps annexing the West Bank.

In conservative circles supporting any withdrawal from Eretz Yisrael is equally a betrayal. Prime Minister Sharon is seen as a traitor by the right. This Beth Goodtree piece is a good example of how much the Prime Minister is being villified for pulling out of Gaza. Since I support him I must be some kind of self-hating Jew and I am effectively supporting the first step in the destruction of Israel. At least that's what some of my e-mail says.

I see both sides as ideologically motivated. I see neither as saying anything vaguely factual. I am not an idealog. I am a pragmatist and I maintain my support.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Why Disengagement Was Necessary

The following was written by an Israeli posting to a conservative forum. He sent it to me as well. I happen to respect him and agree with what he has written so I will post it here,with permission, but anonymously as requested:

In order to protect 8,500 settlers in Gaza we needed as many or more soldiers -- and we still couldn't keep the settlers safe. The situation is untenable and unsustainable. There is no way to adequately protect 8,500 Jews in the midst of 1.3 million hostile Arabs. It can't be done.

If we keep all of the territories Arabs become the majority west of the Jordan in short order. How can we remain a Jewish state and a democracy if we have to incorporate these Arabs into our population? Simply, we can't. This is why the Palestinians started talking about a "one state solution". We can never permit that to happen.

Gaza is a crowded, poor, desolate hole. We tried to give it to Egypt. They didn't want it back. We tried to give it to Jordan. They don't want it either. Nobody does. It is ungovernable and unmanageable.

What Israel needs is secure borders and safety for its citizens. We take away the easy targets for the terrorists and wall them in with the most sophisticated barrier known to man. If the attack from within their walls the IAF can respond without fear of killing any Jews.

Security and demographics both argue for disengagement. If it also, as a side benefit, improves our standing in the world and makes the Palestinians look like barbarians, that is all for the good.

Why the national religious movement enjoys so much support from the American right, and why the American right seems to want Israel to hold onto Gaza at all costs, is totally beyond me.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Taking Responsibility

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa yesterday became the latest Palestinian official to claim that Gaza will still be "occupied" even after every last Israeli departs. The Palestinians want to have full control of their borders. (The border between Gaza and Sinai, the Philadelphi Road, will be turned over to Egypt under an agreement made between Israel and Egypt.) The want full control of the sea lanes off the Gaza coast and the airspace. In other words, they want free and unfettered access to arms to use against Israel. The Palestinian demands are reasonable under a peace agreement, not when the two sides are still effectively at war.

Claiming Gaza is still "occupied" even without an Israeli presence is also a way for the Palestinians of attempting to escape any responsibility for what follows after the pullout, at least in the eyes of a largely sympathetic world community. If Gaza descends into chaos Israel will be at fault. If Hamas takes over it will be because Israel failed to cooperate sufficiently with the P.A. and failed to "end occupation". If al-Quaeda sets up shop in a major way that, too, will be blamed on Israel. Never mind that there have been reports of links between Palestinian terrorist groups an al-Qaeda for years. The Bush administrations bizarre turn in taking the Palestinian's side in these issues, led by Secretary of State Condoleeze Rice's recent calls for Israel to make the concessions the Palestinians demand doesn't help matters any.

Not taking any responsibility is nothing new for the Palestinians who seem completely unready and perhaps incapable of running a country. The Palestinian Authority demanded that settlements be destroyed rather than using the housing for their own impoverished people. Hothouses and other agricultural development in Gush Katif is being removed rather than being used to feed Palestinians now dependent on international food aid, again as demanded by the Palestinians. The Palestinians have turned down every opportunity to truly end occupation and to have an independent country, preferring war to the incredibly generous offers made by Prime Minister Barak at Camp David and later at Taba in 2000. 97% of the West Bank, all of Gaza, redividing Jerusalem, desalination plants to insure adequate water, and compensation for refugees was simply "insufficient" according to Yasser Arafat and no counteroffer was ever made. The Palestinians preferred to go to war. For what?

The Palestinian media often refer to Netanya or Haifa or Ashdod or even Tel Aviv as the "occupied Palestinian coast". Once again the Palestinians offer Israel only one kind of peace: the peace of the grave.

Now, like it or not, through unilateral Israeli action the Palestinians find themselves forced to govern themselves, at least in Gaza and northern Samaria. They want "occupation" to end? OK, let's give them what they say they want. Israel should stop supplying water, electricity, and health care at a set date. Give the Palestinians enough time to build their own hospitals, power stations, and desalination plants. After all, they receive billions in foreign aid that, up until now, have gone to line the pockets of corrupt officials and to fund their war. If Israel is going to take blame for Palestinian suffering anyway then let Israel stop supporting the Palestinians in any way.

The Palestinians want occupation to end. Fine. Let them start taking responsibility for themselves for once.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A New, Different Audience

Up until now my Israel & Aliya blog has been linked or quoted, as far as I know, only on political websites and blogs, including some sites that have an agenda I seriously disagree with (i.e.: the right-wing conservative forum Free Republic.) To say that I disagree with people there most all the time would be a mild way of putting it. Still, I don't at all mind if American conservatives support Israel. I actually appreciate it. I do want them educated on the issues involved. The larger my audience, the more diverse, the better.

Starting today this blog is being streamed to (Thanks, Mary!) My personal blog and the blog about my pet ferrets have been streamed there for a little while. I avoided adding this blog because I wasn't sure it was appropriate and I didn't want to create controversy. After seeing other political postings and after a discussion on one of the LinuxChix lists that encouraged me to go ahead I asked Mary to include this blog. The discussion reminded me why I like being involved in LinuxChix: it's a group of very intelligent, open-minded women (and some men) who are more than willing to see different viewpoints. So... if you are reading this for the first time from the website, welcome!

Hopefully my writing will prompt some people to do some independent research on the nature and causes of the Israeli-Palestinian and wider Israeli-Arab conflict and encourage people to look at things in a different way that they perhaps might have done before.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Google News To Include Palestinian Propaganda?

In my very first post explaining the purpose of this blog, So Many Lies, So Little Time, I lamented:
So much of the media has bought into the mythology and revisionist history sold by Palestinian propagandists it really does make me ill. For Americans, Europeans, and others throughout the world who have never been to Israel, who do not have any historical context on the conflict, and who do not get their news from a variety of sources tend to accept whatever their favorite media outlet says as the unvarnished truth.
We accept that the web, however, has a tremendous diversity of viewpoints from virtually every perspective. I would never claim that this blog doesn't have a bias though I do try and post factual information and backup my claims with links to source stories when I can find them on the web. Our search engines, however, we assume are unbiased and work to some sort of algorithm that is purely mathematical or logical and free from bias. Indeed, this is the explanation Google uses to make us understand why a search on the word "Jew" yields, as one of the first entries, an anti-Semitic hate site called Google is good enough to apologize for the fact that their search engine parameters turn up hate sites so prominently.

In this context it is impossible for me to fathom why Google would choose to feed equally hateful anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda as if it was news from a respected site. Still, that is precisely what the right-wing web site Front Page Magazine is alleging in an article by Lee Kaplan published today. While I find the politics of Front Page Magazine an anathema to my own liberal values I am also unable to imagine why they would want to smear Google. I am left to conclude that this might well be true. The good news is that the Front Page Magazine is a call to action to prevent this type of change on Google News.

The article states that Google is about to give news agency status to the International Solidarity Movement, which, as their URL implies, is, in fact, a site for international solidarity with the Palestinian cause and, indeed, Palestinian terrorism. While claiming to be a peace movement the ISM has repeatedly leveled false charges and claimed false "Israeli atrocities". That's fine when they are viewed as a Palestinian group. Palestinian propaganda is well known. If, on the other hand, you feed these stories as "news" under the Google name the result is that people believe these big stripey lies are an accurate reporting of the news.

Take the Front Page Magazine article with a huge grain of salt if you like. I certainly do because I don't trust them to be an honest news source. I do, however, believe their call to write Google makes sense. Ask Google about this. After all, if its true then I'll will concede to the inevitability of Farber's Fourth Law: "Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows." I'll align myself with right-wingers and join them in saying:
If you'd like to contact Google News, email them at
I do think this is tremendously important not only if you are a friend of Israel but if you simply value the truth. Let the conflict with the Palestinians be judged based on fact, not propaganda. I have always felt that the facts weigh heavily on the side of Israel.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Disengagement Begins Tomorrow

Disengagement, as Prime Minister Sharon calls it, or unilateral separation, as former prime Minister Ehud Barak called it, or withdrawal, or whatever other term you like, begins in earnest tomorrow when settlers from Gush Katif will be moved to Nitzanim as part of Israel's pullout from Gaza. Interior Minister Ophir Pines (Labor) gushed about the preparations for the evacuees in Nitzanim, which are, in reality, double wide mobile homes.

Let's be honest about disengagement: this is definitely what Prime Minister Sharon meant by "painful concessions", with an emphasis on the word "painful". It has caused deep divisions in Israeli society and among Jews the world over. The Prime Minister himself called the decision to pull out from Gaza "the most difficult decision" he has ever made and it has resulted in scorn and protest from many who were once his staunchest supporters.

I have been a strong supporter of both the Prime Minister and of disengagement. I have no illusions that it will lead to peace. I don't believe for a minute the current Palestinian leadership is at all interested in peace. (See my blog entry of July 28, 2005.) I have believed the so-called Roadmap has been a non-starter from the beginning because the Palestinians have done nothing to ever live up to any of their commitments. I also believe there is no way that Israel can sustain ruling over millions of hostile Arabs, nor can they fight the terrorists among the Palestinians with little Jewish communities in the midst of Palestinian population centers.

This piece, though, is not for those who support disengagement. It's really for those who do not. Like it or not the Israeli government, in the person of the Prime Minister, in the Cabinet, and in the Knesset as a whole has approved this withdrawal. It is legal, it is a decision that was arrived at by the majority of the democratically elected representatives of the Israeli people, and it has been upheld at every turn by Israel's courts. Polls in Israel show that it is still supported by a majority of Israelis.

Now that disengagement is arrived we need to respect this decision, allow it to happen, and put our differences behind us. Our enemies do not distinguish between Jews who support disenagegemnt and those who oppose. They don't distinguish between religious and secular. We're all Jews and/or Israelis and they will kill us regardless of where we stand politically given the chance. Disengagement is here and all legal and peaceful means to stop it have been turned aside. What the consequences, positive or negative, of pulling out of Gaza will be continue, at this point, to be mere speculation. Only time will tell. The consequences of not remaining united and standing firm against Arab and Islamic terrorism can only be negative.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Palestinian Terms for Peace

The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism.
-- PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein, March 31, 1977

Let us, for the sake of argument, assume Mr. Muhsein's statement was and still is accurate. There is certainly plenty of independent evidence to support it. Look for the term "Palestinians" in any writing dating from prior to the birth of the State of Israel in 1948. The term, at that time, most often referred to Jewish resident of Palestine, most of whom had no other country to call home. There were certainly references to both Jewish and Arab Palestinians at the time, but when talking about nationality the terms Jew and Arab were the two existing national identities.
Without Jerusalem there will be no peace. Peace starts in Jerusalem and ends there. Peace starts by recognizing our right to return, to self-determination, the establishment of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital and the cessation of settlement. construction
--Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, July 26, 2005

Mr. Qurei (a/k/a Abu Ala) is demanding that millions of Palestinian Arabs must be allowed to settle in Israel. This is what "right of return" means. He also insists on "self-determination". We must assume that should Palestinians become a majority in Israel they are demanding the right to run the country. The are also demanding Jerusalem, of course, which is holy to the Jewish people. The last time part of Jerusalem was under Arab rule the courtyard of the Western Wall was used as a garbage dump.

It would seem Prime Minister Qurei adheres to Mr. Muhsein's vision. First a "two state solution" as called for under the Roadmap, and then the Palestinians take over the Jewish state and eliminate Israel as we know it.

The terms for peace Prime Minister Qurei and President Abbas continue to demand amount to an offer to Israel of only one sort of peace: the peace of the grave. If you don't believe me ask one of the leaders of the Israeli left. Yossi Sarid is a Member of Knesset (MK) from Yahad, the farthest left party in the parliament. Under Prime Minister Ehud Barak he, along with party leader Dr. Yossi Beilin, were part of the "peace cabinet" working for an agreement with Yasser Arafat. Here is what MK Sarid, then Minister of Education, had to say in 2000:
There is one issue that can topple everything, and that is the right of return. It is very important that they understand and internalize this. The meaning of the right of return means Israel's suicide. As far as I know, we don't have any plans to commit suicide.
Those are indeed the terms for peace with Israel demanded by the Palestinians: commit suicide. In light of this, and the myth of longstanding Palestinian national identity, why is the Bush administration now again pushing the Roadmap? The Palestinians themselves continue, on a daily basis, to insist they have no interest in peace unless peace is a euphemism for the destruction of Israel. Surely that isn't what the President wants, is it?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

British Bias Corporation

Every so often I get into an online or telephone discussion with British friends or just folks who hang on the same lists I do about the BBC. I frequently hear from them how the BBC is not biased against Israel. I almost always do a double-take. These are generally intelligent, reasonably open minded, fair minded and often liberal people. They sincerely believe what they are saying.

I will admit any day of the week that I am a news junkie. I spend an inordinate amount of my free time keeping up on the news. I am especially interested in the news from Israel and the Middle East as a whole for a very simple reason: much of my family lives there. Therefore it is very much in my personal interest that whatever will allow Israel to live in peace and security happens. Like most sane people I don't want to bury a family member, someone I grew up with and care about.

The reason the BBC is important is that it was, and for many still is, a highly regarded and trusted source for news. Not for me. Not anymore.

Oh, and just to admit my oh-so-obvious bias again up-front: I am pro-Israel. I am a Zionist. I am, by birth, an Israeli. My father fought in the 1948 War of Independence. My great uncle moved to what is now Israel in 1926. I have very deep roots there and I plan to move there myself at some point. Honest enough for you?

That does not mean I am oblivious to the suffering of Palestinian Arabs who no more want terrorism or war than I do. I have no objection to the BBC or anyone else factually reporting on that suffering. I tend to blame the Palestinian leadership for prolonging their suffering. I know enough about the conflict and Israeli government policy to know that if the Palestinians wanted to live in peace side by side by Israel they could do so.

The idea that the BBC is biased and, at times, outright fabricates stories to support their agenda is nothing new. I am not at all the first to bring up such an idea. Trevor Asserson, a British lawyer, has been asserting just that. His views are seen in an interview titled What Went Wrong at the BBC. Mr. Asserson, along with Lee Kern, is responsible for a site dedicated to BBC bias called Now I do expect some to dismiss these assertions and websites as right-wing propaganda. The fact is that my own viewing, listening, and reading of BBC versus other media from around the world tells me that they are, in fact, quite accurate.

On February 18, 2005 the BBC apologized for a false report claiming an Arab IDF soldier had been jailed for refusing to shoot Muslim children. Such reports are not only false but add fuel to the fire of the intifada. Many studies have shown that long after such apologies and retractions the original stories are still believed. If this was an isolated case it could easily be forgiven. Sadly it is anything but a single error. A March, 2003 BBC film titled Israel's Secret Weapon, dealing with Israel's nuclear weapons program, made the patently false claim that nerve gas was used against the Palestinians. The BBC never apologized for this falsehood, and in the words of the BBC's Richard Sambrook, "...we stand behind the veracity of the film".

Bias can also be seen in choosing which events to cover and which to leave out of a news program. David Margolis, in his piece titled Bad News: Why Israel is Losing the Media War reports how, in 2001, the BBC's Paul Adams was roughed up twice. Once was by Palestinians in Bethlehem; the second time was in Elon Moreh by right-wing Jewish settlers. Both events, in my view, were wrong and worthy of coverage. The BBC chose to include the incident in Elon Moreh in its report but not the incident in Bethlehem. Why? Is there an agenda here?

I could list dozens of additional examples to back up my view that the BBC does, in fact, have an anti-Israel agenda. Would it convince my British friends and correspondents? I doubt it. They've grown up believing in the BBC much as I grew up believing in the New York Times. The difference is that I know the Times has bias. Oh, and for what it's worth, I have given kudos to both the New York Times and the BBC when they have done a good job. It's really a pity that I spend much more time taking both to task.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Justifying the Fence: A Surprising Source

The New York Times is often harshly critical of Israel. OK, not all the time. Much of their reporting is factual. Some, however, does seem to have a bias. Today, however, there was a truly excellent article titled In Most Cases, Israel Thwarts Suicide Attacks Without a Shot. Yes, there are successful attacks, most recently on July 12 in Netanya. To quote a relevant point:

Israel is also building a separation barrier - an electronic fence and in some places a huge concrete wall - to make it harder for would-be bombers to enter Israel.

That, of course, is the whole point of the fence: to stop terrorism and save lives. "Unilateral separation", as former Prime Minister Barak termed it, or "disengagement", to use current Prime Minister Sharon's preferred term, is all about making the conflict nearly impossible by keeping the two sides apart. Ehud Barak's famous line "Us here, them over there" is often portrayed by apologists for Palestinian terrorism as racism. It is the Palestinians who want the territories to be Judenrein and Israel is accommodating that wish, at least in Gaza. It is portrayed as an "apartheid fence" yet Israeli Arabs, who comprise 18% of the population, are full citizens of Israel. The Palestinians wish to expel the Jewish population from the territories much as Jordan and Egypt did in 1948. Gush Etzion was Jewish before 1948 yet it is unacceptable to the Palestinians that there are Jews there now.

Of course the Palestinian leadership opposes separation because it prevents their armed struggle. It saves lives on both sides but the Palestinian leadership, who could have had a state in 1967, in 2000, and could have one in short order now, seem to be more interested in terrorism. The PA website still shows all of Israel as part of "Palestine". Who is guilty of apartheid? Who is guilty of terrorism? Of racism?

I commend the New York Times for portraying the fence correctly for a change. It's about time. To quote Ariel Sharon: "If there was no terrorism there would be no need for a fence."

The real victims, of course, are ordinary Israelis and Palestinians who would like nothing better than to live in peace and get on with their lives. Who is responsible for this victimization: those who try to stop the violence by building a fence or those who carry out terrorist attacks and can't accept the existence of Israel?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Another Accusation of European Appeasement

In private e-mail my recent post accusing the European Union, or at least its leadership, of apeasement or even collaboration in the War on Terror received some fairly harsh replies from friends and family who, like me, are on the left side of the political spectrum. Europe, I was told, is only doing what's in it's own interests. Why is destroying Israel or funding terrorism in Europe's interest? Well... they have a large Muslim immigrant population, I'm told. OK, add pandering to appeasement and collaboration in my list of accusations.

To emphasize the point, former Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar, accused the E.U. of appeasement during a visit to Israel last month:

Europe likes appeasement very much; this is one of the most important differences between us and the States.


In Europe, Israel is not very popular, not only this (Sharon) government, all governments. Most Europeans support the Palestinian cause.

The article went on to quote Mr. Aznar as saying that the motivation for European policy toward the Middle East is to "distinguish itself" from the United States. This, in more politically correct diplomatic language, echoes former European Union M.P. Ilke Schroeder's accusation of Europe deliberately funding Palestinian terrorism to fight a proxy war against the United States.

We see these accusations coming from knowledgeable European politicians on both the right and left. Isn't it time we stop ignoring them? Isn't it time we stop making excuses for our European "friends and allies"?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The European Union: Channeling the Spirits of Chamerblain and Pétain

An Associated Press report tells us that the European Union has renewed contacts with Hamas despite strong Israeli objections. It seems the E.U. is even considering reviewing whether or not to continue to consider Hamas a terrorist group. Tell me this: how many suicide bombings, Qassam rocket attacks, shootings, and other forms of murder of innocent civilians are required before a group is permanently branded a terrrorist group? If such attacks are ongoing (and they are) why would anyone in their right mind consider Hamas anything other than terrorists and murderers? (OK, today's Qassam attacks were claimed by Islamic Jihad, but many recent attacks were carried out by Hamas.)

I understand that the Europeans fear that Hamas is coming to power in the Palestinian controlled territories. Israelis fear that too. The correct response should be to reject the idea of giving a state or any other sort of recognition to unrepentant terrorists who are sworn to Israel's destruction. Instead European leaders seem to be channeling the spirit of Neville Chamberlain and would rather appease Islamist terrorists. It seems they have learned nothing from their own history.

Arab culture, to it's credit, includes a keen awareness of history. I am certain the parallel I am drawing is one that is not lost on Hamas. They will undoubtedly see this as European weakness. So, of course, will all the other various and sundry Islamist terrorist groups who wish to destroy western civilization.

I am, perhaps, not reading enough into this. There may be more to it that Europeans repeating past appeasement. Perhaps what we are seeing is deliberate collaboration. Perhaps the Europeans are really channeling the spirit of Philippe Pétain. This theory fits the claims of former E.U. member of parliament Ilke Schroeder (Green Party, Germany) who accuses the E.U. of deliberately funding Palestinian terrorism as part of a proxy war against the United States in a speech given in New York on December 22, 2003. Then MP Schroeder stated:

The Europeans supported the Palestinian Authority with the aim of becoming its main sponsor, and through this, challenge the U.S. and present themselves as the future global power. Therefore, the Al-Aksa Intifada should be understood as a proxy war between Europe and the United States.

It is an open secret within the European Parliament that EU aid to the Palestinian Authority has not been spent correctly. The European Parliament does not intend to verify whether European taxpayers' money could have been used to finance anti-Semitic murderous attacks. Unfortunately, this fits well with European policy in this area.

Either way, the leaders of the European Union have much to be ashamed of. These are our allies? It's not at all clear they are on the same side as we are in the War on Terror.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Personal notes and the road to aliyah

It has been a long while since I posted. International bias against Israel is as strong as ever. Anti-Semitism in Europe, particulary in the United Kingdom, seems to be spreading or at least is more openly out there. Anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic propoganda to rival that of the Nazis is seen daily in the Arab world. I have little hope for peace anytime soon. I fear the threat Iran now poses to Israel and fear even more that dealing with that threat is being postponed way too long. I should write about these things. I should rant and protest and publish and get my thoughts out into the universe.

I have been living in "interesting times" since my last post. I moved to Cincinnati the first weekend of last November for a new job. I have since watched the company that was supposed to be my last employer in America decide to downsize. Development Services was done away with and one person from that group moved into what I thought was to be my position. I expect to be laid off this week. That will likely mean more time for writing.

It also makes me wonder why I moved for a job. Promises made, promises broken. I am now counting my pennies. I am very close to the amount Nefesh b'Nefesh claims I need to make aliyah and survive the first six months, at least if I sell some things that I can easily sell (radio equipment, my car). I have the huge advantage of supportive family in Israel. While I will continue to go through the motions of looking for a job here or back in Raleigh I am more and more thinking that aliyah sooner rather than later may be the right answer for me.

As soon as I can get my ducks in a row, meaning a "pilot trip" (including finding housing), settling my affairs in the States, doing appropriate Israeli paperwork and wending my way through the bureaucracy, I could leave America forever. Don't get me wrong, I love America as much as any other American. It is a country that is continuing to export the jobs in my field at a breakneck pace and three nations: India, Ireland, and Israel, are the main recepients. Israel is getting a lot of the jobs requiring the highest level of skill and guess where I fit in? Heck, I can be unemployed in Israel just as well as I can be unemployed here. It seems I am more likely to be gainfully employed long term in Israel. Oh, and yes, I even have a prospect there. Employed or not at least I would be accomplishing one of my life goals.

I had always assumed that I would only go after paying off all my debts. After all American wages are higher than Israeli wages. It would be more difficult in Israel, right? Maybe not. I have averaged 6-7 months of actual work the past three years. Even if I had to take a 50% pay cut with 12 months a year of work maybe I could still make progress. The last five months have helped but they have not helped enough.

So... aliyah may be happening soon and my ability to write about Israel may increase temporarily during a new job search coupled with perhaps planning the big move. We'll see...

Oh, and yes, the Palestinians stilll hate us as does the Arab world at large. There is no real or meaningful movement to peace. Oh, and yes, I am considering moving into a war zone. Such is the life of a Jewish American of Israeli parentage who has watched her family, little by little, do precisely the same. Even my mother speaks of at least splitting time and she is in Israel right now. Why not me already?