Tuesday, December 17, 2013

... when they will love their children more than they hate the Arabs

Are you fluent in Hebrew? Check this Facebook posting by Jewish nationalist leader Baruch Marzel

OK, I can't read Hebrew either, so here's a translation by Amy Kaufman:

“In (the settlement of – A.K.) Yitzhar live righteous people.
The Samaria Council sent an Arab bulldozer operator to plow the snow.
The residents sent him away. When they were asked to make an exception and compromise just this once because it’s an emergency situation, the residents answered ‘We’ve been without electricity for 3 days and we’re willing to stay another two months without electricity as long as we don’t let the enemy make a living.”

To add some context, a big snowstorm caught Israel unprepared, just like the Mount Carmel fire of 2010 had done, largely because the money Israel could devote to civil defense is instead spent on deadly weapons. The storm affected the lives of both its legal citizens and the illegal Jewish squatters in the West Bank. But the latter would rather leave their own children without power than allow an Arab help them.

Yet the Jews are the ones supposed to educate their children for peace, even as the Arabs educate theirs for hate of the Jews. Now what would you expect this Arab bulldozer operator to tell his children? Of course he should tell them to love the Jews. His teachings could go along these lines:

"Dear children, today I was turned down by the Jews of Yitzhar when I tried to clear their streets of snow because I'm an Arab. However, you should not hate the Jews. It is true that these particular Jews get generous subsidies as well as military support from the government of Israel, which was overwhelmingly elected by Israeli Jews and is ardently supported by organized Jewish communities worldwide. But there are Jews who are not racist -- non-observant Jews disowned by their Jewish communities, attacked by their journals, mostly intermarried, who are sympathetic to the cause of the oppressed Palestinian people. Because of these Jews who no one in their right mind would consider to be even remotely representative of the Jewish people, you should not hate the Jews."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"To be expected from Arabs"

The Jerusalem Post has a story about a girl, aged 16, from the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth who was attacked by a 51-year-old man who happened to be a relative and neighbor of hers. The man was indicted, along with an accomplice, for spilling acid on her face some twenty days ago after learning she was to marry a Jordanian man. The two had been, according to the indictment, sexually abusing the girl for the last few months.

The tragedy seems to be a very welcome piece of news for the Jerusalem Post's commentariat. They are especially excited that it's Israeli Arabs who are involved in this crime. A selection of the comments follows:

lnfidel  3 days ago

"She also said that her daughter had recently become engaged to a student living in Jordan shortly before the attack began."
"Gag order" or not, everything, including the above quoted text in the article, points to "the religion of peace", as the probability of a Jew or Christian getting engaged to someone in Jorden, has to be diminishingly small.

Joseph  NoRighty  19 days ago

If her finace is Jordanian it's more likely she's Muslim. The acid attack tends to be in Muslim societies.

Mickey Oberman  20 days ago

Wooing Muslim style.

leo Deutsch  20 days ago

to be expected from arabs!!!!!!!!!!!!

The girl was taken for attention to the Ramban Medical Center. David Ratner, the director of public affairs and spokesman for the Center, asserted:

This is something more fitting to Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan. It’s not something people expect here.

Pick any day of any week of any month of the year and the country where the largest amount of acid-attack stories comes from is, far and away, India. The crime is so endemic in the country that an organization exists exclusively devoted to stopping it. So why would Mr. Ratner name three other countries as those to which acid attacks are "more fitting"? Maybe he had some religion in mind?

Mr. Ratner's assessment only adds to the misinformation spread by the mainstream media, which usually carries stories, complete with gruesome pictures, of women splashed with acid in Muslim countries, while largely ignoring the prevalence of the crime in the whole of South and Southeast Asia, as well as several African countries like Nigeria, Zimbabwe and South Africa. I leave it to the reader to do the Googling for themselves.

Perhaps more to the point, you're not likely to learn from Western media about acid attacks among Israeli Jews -- but they exist. On 5 June 2008, Ynet reported:

A 14-year-old girl from Beitar Illite was taken to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem after an unknown person spilled acid on her face, legs and stomach, causing light burn wounds. The act has been attributed to a representative of the so-called 'modesty guard' in this town where religious and secular residents are increasingly at bitter odds.

The story describes how the attackers mistook the girl for her sister, who had been warned by the "modesty patrol" not to wear "immodest" clothing. Unlike in the case of the Nazareth attack, which had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with lust, the Betar Ilit attack was perpetrated because of the criminals' Jewish belief that women should go around modestly dressed. It's true that not all Jews think alike, but it is also true that the Jews who don't haven't made a credible effort to stop the fanatics within their religion. Evil prevails where good people do nothing.

Curiously enough, I haven't seen any follow-up stories about the Betar Ilit girl, or any description of how she was left after the attack, or, of course, any pictures. While conspiracy theories are not my weakness, one can't help but notice a failure on the media's part to adequately investigate this Jew-on-Jew acid attack.

By way of another example, a fresh intra-Jewish acid attack was reported only yesterday by Ynet:

Teen pours acid on his sister in Kiryat Ono mall Investigators say attack result of long-standing dispute between the two; sister suffers light facial burns

So that despite Mr. Ratner's inability to fathom an acid attack in Israel, it has happened and it happens, be it for religious reasons or as part of family disputes. It is something to be expected not only from Arabs but also from many other peoples in the Asian and African continents, including Hindus, Cambodians, Christian Nigerians and -- Jews.

Monday, March 11, 2013

CAMERA in need of more correction (or: a bad day for the MLK quote)

In my previous entry, I related how CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, had to take back their assertion that Martin Luther King had said his famous, but disputed, quote equating anti-Zionism to antisemitism in 1968. Their current correction reads:

Clarification: An earlier version of this article attributed Dr. King’s comment to a 1968 appearance at Harvard. To clarify, professor Seymour Martin Lipset and Congressman John Lewis, a disciple and associate of Dr. King, both point out that the comment was made shortly before King’s death, but did not name the precise date. Lipset asserted the comment was made in Cambridge, Mass., and Lewis cited Harvard University as the location.

So that CAMERA is currently saying that King said the quote in Harvard, albeit on an unspecified date.

Enter Martin Kramer, an Israeli professor very much worried that Wikipedia lists the quote as disputed. In a well-documented article, Kramer proved that Martin Luther King traveled to Boston in October 1967 on a fundraiser and was invited to Marty Peretz's  house in Cambridge, together with his aide Andrew Young, who would later become the US's Ambassador to the UN and the mayor of Atlanta. It was there, Kramer asserts, that King said the quote. In his words: "We now have a date, an approximate time of day, and a street address for the Cambridge dinner, all attested by contemporary documents." Kramer goes on to state:

And just to run the contemporary record against memory, I wrote to Peretz, to ask whether the much-quoted exchange did take place at his Cambridge home on that evening almost 45 years ago. His answer: “Absolutely.” I’ve written twice to Andrew Young to ask whether he has any recollection of the episode. I haven’t yet received a response.
So will the guardians of Wikiquote redeem this quote from the purgatory of “disputed”?

To put things in context, Marty Peretz is a well-known Zionist fanatic and anti-Muslim bigot, who has resorted to dishonesty to advance his cause. "Lying for the crown" is a behavior one would expect from him. The fact that Andy Young hasn't corroborated the quote doesn't help either (although even if he had it wouldn't mean much; after 45 years, memories tend to be blurred: personal recollections about issues one is not very much involved with are not usually reliable).

But remember, CAMERA quoted Congressman John Lewis, a disciple and associate of Dr. King, as also confirming the quote, in an article first published in the San Francisco Chronicle which eventually was adopted by the US Congress and made its way into the Congressional Record, V. 148, Pt. 1, January 23, 2002 to February 13 2002. In that article, Lewis states:

During an appearance at Harvard University shortly before his death, a student stood up and asked King to address himself to the issue of Zionism. The question was clearly hostile. King responded, “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.”

So that Kramer claims that the quote was said at a dinner at Marty Peretz's home, while Lewis claims it was said at Harvard. If one is right, the other is wrong, and vice-versa. What we have here is what appears to be a number of people interested in supporting a pro-Israel narrative (Kramer, Peretz and Lipset out of ideological motives; Lewis because he needs the money of his Jewish donors), all claiming that Martin Luther King Jr. equated anti-Zionism to antisemitism, but unable to get their act together as regards the details.

I expect CAMERA to clarify this mess; as long as they don't, the world has every right to doubt the authenticity of MLK's quote, and Wikipedia is fully justified to describe it as disputed.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Hasbara Buster forces CAMERA correction

On January 21, 2009, I wrote a post about Martin Luther King's alleged quote, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.” The phrase, allegedly said by King to an anti-Zionist black student, is likely an invention of an arch-Zionist by the name of Seymour Lipset, who published it after King's death without providing a single verifiable detail. Lipset didn't specify when or where or to whom the phrase was uttered. In my post, I stated:
Do we have further details from other sources? Well, yes; CAMERA claims that King's words were pronounced "in a 1968 appearance at Harvard." Is that so? Er no. On the day of his death, the Harvard Crimson (the university's students' paper) reported:

The Rev. Martin Luther King was last in Cambridge almost exactly a year ago--April 23, 1967.

So that CAMERA is wrong on this (which, by the way, debunks the often-made claim "CAMERA may be biased but it's always factually correct"). All other references to the King quote are either explicitly based on Lipset's article or verbatim transcriptions without attribution.

The Wayback machine is a site that stores screenshots of webpages from all over the Internet. The sites are periodically scanned for changes, so that given a certain page you can know the full history of changes made to it. Up to 17 June 2009, the CAMERA page I linked to contained the wrong information that the King quote came from a 1968 appearance at Harvard, as can be seen in the Wayback snapshot from that day.

Then on 26 February 2010 the CAMERA page was modified. The reference to the exact year of the King quote was deleted, and the following text was inserted:

An earlier version of this article attributed Dr. King’s comment to a 1968 appearance at Harvard. To clarify, professor Seymour Martin Lipset and Congressman John Lewis, a disciple and associate of Dr. King, both point out that the comment was made in Cambridge shortly before King’s death, and did not name the precise date and venue.

To the best of my knowledge, no one had called out CAMERA over its inaccuracy before I did. I think I'm not wrong if I say that it was my post which forced CAMERA to correct itself.

Is this important? Yes, it is important, because it proves that CAMERA does not check its statements for accuracy, and because that leaves us with no concrete detail, let alone solid evidence, as regards the claim that MLK ever equated anti-Zionism to antisemitism.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Deconstructing the blood-libel charge

For there to exist a blood libel certain key elements must concur. There must exist a reference to some gruesome practice (not necessarily involving blood, which can reasonably not be taken literally, but brutal and disgusting in any event), and it must be asserted that such a practice is carried out by individuals because they belong to a certain group.

But that alone is not enough to configure a blood libel. You can claim that a certain group does outrageous things as part of their traditions and the claim still be true. For instance, ultra-Orthodox Jews in New York have a mohel (ritual circumcisor) lick their newborn sons' blood after their foreskin is cut -- a procedure that has sometimes transmitted herpes to the babies, two of which have died, while another two were left with irreversible brain damage. If I report on this barbaric procedure, it paints the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in a very bad light, but it's not a blood libel, because while the element of blood is present, the element of libel is not.

This has not deterred Zionists and other Israel apologists from describing as blood libels what actually are uncomfortable truths about Israel or the organized Jewish community. Any suggestion that the Israeli army was complicit in the Sabra and Shatila massacres, for instance, is described as a blood libel, even when it is quite reasonable to ask how a paramilitary group could enter a camp without the regular army controlling the zone (i.e., Israel's) giving its consent. (On the other hand, the country of Poland is perpetually chastised for allowing its Jews to be murdered by the Nazis, even when they, unlike the Israelis at Sabra and Shatila, would have been themselves killed if they had tried to stop the massacres. The suggestion that the whole country is partly responsible for the Holocaust is not considered a blood libel in this case.)

In a recent article on a site called Fathom, Norman Geras again makes the blood-libel charge against British writer Caryl Churchill, whose play Seven Jewish children -- A play for Gaza purports to describe the way Israeli Jewish children are raised. In the work, written in the context of the Cast Lead operation of 2008-2009, several parents discuss what to tell their children about that unequal war. Geras:

This play puts into Jewish mouths the view that Palestinians are ‘animals’ and that ‘they want their children killed to make people sorry for them’; but that there is no need to feel sorry for them; that we – the Jews – are the chosen people and that it is our safety and our children that matter; in sum, that ‘I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out’. I will not insist here on how this echoes the blood libel; it is enough that Churchill ascribes to the Jews, seeing themselves as chosen, murderous racist attitudes bordering on the genocidal. On the face of it, one would think, this is a clear candidate for antisemitic discourse.
Churchill, however, disavowed that charge when it came from critics. She did so on the grounds of what one might call an innocent mind. No antisemitism had been intended by her. On the one hand, the blood libel analogy had not been part of her thinking when she wrote the play; on the other hand, those speaking the offending lines in it were not meant to be Jews in general, merely individual Israelis. Churchill is evidently innocent here of any memory of the figure of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, long thought of, despite his being only one character, as putting Jews in a bad light. She is innocent, too, of her own generalising tendencies in naming her play ‘Seven Jewish Children’ and then linking the broad themes of the Jews as victims of genocide and as putative perpetrators of it in their turn.

Note how casually Geras takes it as a given that Churchill's descriptions amount to a blood libel. After misrepresenting Churchill's answers to her critics, Geras compares her text to The Merchant of Venice, in which a true blood libel is made. In the Shakespeare play, the Jewish character of Shylock lends money to a man on condition that he will remove a pound of flesh from the borrower's body if the loan is not paid back. When the debt is not honored, Shylock intends to carry out his barbaric vengeance, until he is shamed in court by a young Christian lady disguised as a lawyer.

There is no historical evidence that Jewish money lenders ever did this because they were Jewish. If there was, it would not be a blood libel. But there is none.

Churchill's assertions, on the other hand, accurately reflect views widely held by Jews, including those whose writings heavily influence other Jews. Some Jewish parents in her play, in fact, want to tell their children that the Palestinians are "animals" and that ‘they want their children killed to make people sorry for them’, as Geras correctly notes. Some other of the Jewish parents in the play won't care if the Palestinians are wiped out. But are these claims outlandish? Let's see.

1) With regard to the view that Palestinians are animals, Moshe Feiglin, who became a Knesset member in the last election,  has said "You can't teach a monkey to speak and you can't teach an Arab to be democratic. You're dealing with a culture of thieves and robbers. Muhammad, their prophet, was a robber and a killer and a liar. The Arab destroys everything he touches." Here we have a direct analogy to animals, as well as other dehumanizing statements, made by a politician from Likud, the party in power in Israel. Also, Ovadia Yosef, the leader of the Sephardi party Shas, has called Arabs "vipers."

But it is not high-profile leaders alone who make such comparisons. The rank-and-file think-tank writer also chips in frequently, in op-eds as well as in position papers, stripping the Arabs of any sign of humanity. In a recent Jerusalem Post story, Martin Sherman wrote:

To employ a rather stark metaphor – and without wishing to impute canine qualities to humans of any kind, if one insists that one’s antagonists are “cuddly poodles” rather than “vicious rottweilers,” one cannot expect others to understand why “rottweiler” action is appropriate.
Clearly, however, Israeli diplomats cannot portray Palestinian society in its true light: as a cruel, brutal society where women are suppressed, gays are oppressed and political dissidents are repressed; a society where journalists are harassed, press freedom is trampled, political opponents are lynched, honor killings of women by their male relatives are endorsed or at least condoned, and homosexuals are hounded.
That must be left to civil society intellectual warriors.

After carefully distancing himself from ascribing to the Arabs the qualities of an attack dog, Sherman proceeds to recommend that Palestinians be treated like attack dogs. He then dehumanizes the Palestinians by describing their society as one of purely barbarian behavior, suppressing any possibility that parents can be caring or that the people can love each other. It's as if someone stated that Israel is a country where Arabs are lynched, civil marriage is not allowed by law, the interior minister says that gays are sick and state-paid rabbis forbid their followers from renting houses to Arabs -- all of which are true, but do not tell the whole story.

2) With regard to the view that the Palestinians ‘want their children killed to make people sorry for them’, it has long been mainstream thinking in Zionist circles. Über-Zionist Alan Dershowitz wrote:

In order to maximize their own civilian casualties, and thereby earn the sympathy of the international community and media, Hamas leaders deliberately fire their rockets from densely populated civilian areas. The Hamas fighters hide in underground bunkers but Hamas refuses to provide any shelter for its own civilians, who they use as "human shields."

Dershowitz (indisputably one of the most influential Jewish writers as regards the I/P conflict) says almost word by word what Churchill makes the Jews say in her play. Geras must be perfectly aware of this article (and of the several ones in a similar vein that Dershowitz has published over the years), yet I don't recall him (or anyone in the organized Jewish community) calling out Dershowitz for that outrageous assertion -- which means it is acceptable to mainstream Jews. How can it be a blood libel to expose it in a play?

3) As for the ‘I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out’ bit, of course this is not a majoritarian position among Jews, but the important consideration here is whether it is mainstream enough to have a Jewish parent in a play (among several ones, not all of them holding the same positions) express it. And it looks like yes. In the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza, Jews from all over Israel flocked to the place to watch the bombing of the strip live. This has attracted attention from several news corporations. The Danish television did a report on it:

Actually, Churchill's play is an understatement. It's not that the Jews in this video wouldn't care if the Palestinians were wiped out. They're clearly enjoying it, helping themselves to coffee from a machine especially brought for the occasion, as if they were on a picnic. One of the Jews, identified as Keren Levy, actually hopes for the city of Gaza to be taken off the ground.

Similar reports have been published by The Wall Street Journal and by Mondoweiss, among others. In the Mondoweiss post, again we see Jews enjoying the destruction of the city:

Scott Roth @scottroth76
2 assholes drinking beer and smoking cigarettes while they watch Gaza get bombed. Fun times! pic.twitter.com/GYCCC1nz

Now of course this is not majoritarian behavior in Israel, but certain attitudes are so shocking that the mere fact that they are publicly and proudly displayed points to societal tolerance therof. When both neutral media, leftwing sites and rightwing, pro-Zionist newspapers all report on different instances of a practice, it means that it is not marginal -- or at least not enough not to be mentioned as part of the possible reactions of an Israeli parent.

So that I fail to see where exactly the blood libel lies. Churchill describes phenomena that exist and are widely reported, while a libel is basically a false statement about someone. Getting angry at her, rather than at the Jews who adopt such regrettable positions and behaviors, is clearly an instance of shooting the messenger.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Policy... and facts on the ground

From the Jerusalem Post's talkback policy:
Talkback Policy Our aim is to provide the worldwide readership of The Jerusalem Post with a platform for lively but good-tempered debate. We do not tolerate abusive language, and such talkbacks will be rejected.

-  Priority is given to talkbacks that are brief and topical

- The Jerusalem Post reserves the right to limit the number of comments published

- Use of capital lettering in headlines and comment text will usually result in rejection by our moderating team

- Comments posted by registered users will be posted automatically, as long as they do not contain racist or libelous content or incitement to violence

- Guest comments are posted only after approval by our moderating team

- Talkbacks may be edited and shortened

To report service abuse, simply flag the comment in question.
(Emphasis mine.) What should we make, then, of the following comment?

My opinion is that we shouldn't make much. Despite its declared policy, I don't think the Jerusalem Post should police all comments published on its talkback. Widespread censorship ends up harming minoritarian views much more than majoritarian ones.

The fact, however, that such a blatantly racist comment has stood for 4 days without being flagged, and that it was praised by 19 people (against just 4 who opposed it), speaks volumes about the Jerusalem Post's readership, whose opinions, as far as I know, are fairly mainstream by Zionist standards.

But that is not the point I'm trying to make. The point I'm trying to make is that whenever comments containing setereotypes about the Jews are published in, say, The Guardian, Zionists declare the news outlet to be antisemitic for failing to purge the offensive text. The same behavior is not expected from papers that publish much cruder stereotypes about the Arabs or Muslims. This is part, of course, of an ongoing double standard, whereby the Jews are more entitled to protection against hate speech than non-Jews. Which is tantamount to bigotry against many people, not least among them the Jews themselves.

Monday, July 9, 2012

"But Israel punishes its haters"

Arab and Muslim leaders often say and do outrageous things that affect the Jews and Israel. Conversely, Jewish leaders often say and do outrageous things that affect the Palestinians, both the ones holding Israeli citizenship and those living in the Occupied Territories.

The standard Hasbara answer to the latter uncomfortable reality is that Jewish haters are punished by the state of Israel. Every time a rabbi spews his racist venom or an Israeli soldier beats a prisoner with a camera somehow managing to record the incident, the Hasbara troupe points to the fact that the affair is being investigated and, if found guilty, the perpetrators will be jailed. This is very reassuring of Israel's commitment to law and order -- in stark contrast with its Arab neighbors.

Or is it. An interesting experiment is to keep track of the "investigations" that are started, and see whether they ever result in a conviction. A Ynet story from two days ago would suggest otherwise. Under the headline Incitement case against Safed rabbi dropped, the story describes the acquittal of rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who was reported some time ago to have made overtly racist remarks against Arabs. These included:

"Arab culture is very cruel."

"Arabs have a different codes and norms that have become ideology. Such as the agricultural thefts, which have become part of Arab ideology."

"Their behavior is unpleasant. An elderly Arab lady who recently moved into our Amidar neighborhood has already become a nuisance. Every Shabbat 10 cars filled with Arabs visit her. They play music, make noise."

"Arabs treat their women according to social norms that are supported by the Quran which allow them to hit women – and with them these are not mild blows. These are blows with chairs –abuse that ends with the woman being admitted to the hospital."

"A Jew should not run away from an Arab. A Jew should chase away Arabs."

"Expelling Arabs from Jewish neighborhood is part of the strategy."

An "investigation" was started by Israel's attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein. At the time, the rabbi's supporters did not deny these statements -- nor did the rabbi himself, who instead moaned: "Journalists have freedom of press. Am I the only one subject to the law?" The investigation took into account that that in 2006 Rabbi Eliyahu struck a plea bargain with the State to avoid trial on incitement to racism charges over anti-Arab remarks he had made. The rabbi agreed to retract the statements attributed to him in the indictment and apologize to those who may have been hurt by them.

Fast forward to two days ago, and the AG has finally found Eliyahu not guilty. It suddenly turns out that the evidence is insufficient:

Weinstein decided to throw out the case at the request of the State Prosecutor's Office after investigators found no evidence that the quotes "correctly reflected the statements that were actually made."

Among other leads, the investigators probed the journalists who quoted Eliyahu; none had recorded his speech. According to the statement, some reporters admitted that they could have tweaked the content.

The prosecution therefore could not rule out the possibility of a discrepancy that could have occurred between Eliyahu's actual remarks and they way they were quoted.

The story also points out that:

The comments were purportedly said in support of an edict issued by Eliyahu and 50 other rabbis, warning followers against renting or selling homes to anyone who isn't Jewish.

Surely this is also cause for starting an investigation? Not so, according to the Attorney-General, who had dismissed that possibility from the beginning:

As for the halachic ruling, AG Weinstein said he decided not to launch a criminal investigation because it would be difficult to prove that the ruling was issued with the intent to incite, as required by law. Weinstein also mentioned that the rabbis would benefit from the protection the law provides in cases involving the use of quotes from the scriptures. The AG said that in general he tries to avoid criminal proceedings when it comes to halachic rulings unless they sanction physical violence on the basis of race.

I.e., Israeli law protects hate as long as it's Torah-based and it doesn't involve physical violence.

As I read that I recalled an incident that took place in 2008. An Israeli soldier, St.-Sgt. Leonardo Correa, had shot a bound and blindfolded prisoner in the foot with a rubber-coated bullet, with his commander, Lt.-Col. Omri Burberg, holding the prisoner's arm and looking on. The incident was videotaped by a Palestinian girl:

It occurred to me to find out whatever had happened to that soldier and officer. An investigation did get started. After failing a polygraph test, the commander admitted he had ordered the soldier to fire. The soldier also admitted to receiving the order and heeding it. Buried in his story, however, were these two striking paragraphs:

At the time of the shooting L. did not know it was being documented by a B'Tselem video camera. "There was an inquiry in the brigade. I explained the misunderstanding that occurred, the things I misunderstood, my mistake and it ended with that. Two weeks past (sic) and nothing happened, I thought I may go to jail, but no one said anything," he said.

After the video appeared in the media, the IDF quickly demanded an explanation from the regiment commander.

I.e., although the incident had been looked into within the brigade, it was only after the crime was exposed by the media that a public investigation was started, which makes one wonder how many similar events may go unreported, simply because there was no camera to film them.

To make a long story short, the investigation ended in January 2011. A Tel Aviv military court decided not only not to jail Burberg, but also not even to demote him. Some of the arguments were pretty ridiculous:

The soldier, St.-Sgt. Leonardo Correa, claimed that Burberg had ordered him to fire, but the officer told investigators that all he had told the soldier to do was “shake his gun” to scare the detainee who was lightly injured in the foot.

How you can scare a blindfolded person by shaking a gun goes beyond my comprehension.

Sgt. Correa, who heeded a clearly illegal order, wasn't thrown into jail either. Instead, he was demoted to the degree of corporal.

So that yes, Israel does investigate its haters. But punish them? Give me a break.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dershowitz strikes back -- with lies (yawn)

So there was this BDS conference held at Pennsylvania University -- one of the Ivy League institutions. Myself, I'm a fence-sitter with regard to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions -- I don't boycott Israeli products as such (although if I knew that they were made in the occupied territories, I would), while I think that divesting from Israeli companies makes sense only in certain specific cases. I'm more comfortable with the idea of sanctions.

In any case, this BDS event was organized at UPenn and, as might be expected, lots of Israel firsterssupporters rallied to organize counterevents that brought much larger attendances. This is not surprising since BDS is taking its first infant steps in the realm of mainstream discourse.

One of the anti-BDS events was a speech by the ineffable Alan Dershowitz. Under the headline Dershowitz strikes back, the StandWithUs site provides a raving review of the Dersh's presentation which, as can be predicted, consists basically of a regurgitation of tired Hasbara points. Of a somewhat higher interest is the Q&A, and in particular this exchange with a student:

During the question-and-answer session after the Annenberg presentation, one female student asked, "If an Arab student comes up to me and says, 'You took my land,' and I respond, 'Yeah, but we support gay rights,' how does that add up?"

Dershowitz said the answer is that the Jews didn't steal the land.

"The land on which Israel was established had a Jewish majority," he said. "In Israel's case, they bought the land, in this case from distant land owners, who lived in Syria and Lebanon. The Israeli policy of the yishuv was never to throw indigenous Arabs off the land.

"Israel's birth certificate is cleaner than the birth certificate of almost any other modern country in the world," he added. "Israel was established by law."

Notice Dershowitz's goal-shifting. In his last paragraph he seems to suggest that because Israel is cleaner than "almost any other modern country in the world," an Arab has no right to complain that his land was stolen. It's, of course, the case of the tax evader who claims he can't be jailed because other, worse criminals are free.

But to his credit, he does provide an answer to the student's question: the land was not stolen; the Jews bought it from "distant landowners" in Syria and Lebanon.

There's no denying that the Jews bought land in Mandate Palestine. But the land? Israel consists of some 22,000 sq km of land. By 1946, a year before the UN partition resolution, land ownership was distributed as follows:

This map was first published in the excellent Palestinian advocacy site PalestineRemembered.com, which in turn obtained the information from this United Nations document from the time.

As can be seen, the Jews didn't enjoy majoritarian ownership in any district. Quite on the contrary, in most districts of present-day Israel the land was overwhelmingly owned by private Arab citizens, with the Jews coming close (but still lagging behind) only in Haifa and Jaffa. This can be more startingly underlined by seeing a map of the land that the Jews did own:

Thus, the land was not bought from distant landowners. In fact, only about 1,500 sq km (some 6% of present-day Israel) was bought by the Jews. See here for the scanned relevant page of the British report "Survey of Palestine" published prior to the partition plan.

What happened, then, with the Arab-owned land? After some 700,000 Arabs were expelled or fled the 1948 war, their property was confiscated by the 1950 Absentee Property Law, whereby the real estate of those "absent" owners was transfered to a State Custodian, who in turn leased it to the Jews. Here are a few relevant paragraphs from this law:

2. (a) The Minister of Finance shall appoint, by order published in Reshumot, a Custodianship Council for Absentees' Property, and shall designate one of its members to be the chairman of the Council. The chairman of the Council shall be called the Custodian.

3. (b) The Custodian may appoint agents for the management of held property on his behalf and may fix and pay their remuneration.

4. (a) Subject to the provisions of this Law -
(1) all absentees' property is hereby vested in the Custodian as from the day of publication of his appointment or the day on which it became absentees' property, whichever is the later date;
(2), every right an absentee had in any property shall pass automatically to the Custodian at the time of the vesting of the property; and the status of the Custodian shall be the same as was that of the owner of the property.

The emphasized (by me) sentences can't be described in any other way than the Custodian stealing the Arab owners' land.

So that no, Mr. Dershowitz, the Jews didn't buy the land but some land which constituted a very small proportion of present-day Israel; and yes, what the Jews did with Arab-owned property is tantamount to barefaced thievery. And by the way, you've just been exposed once again as a straight-faced liar.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Iran threatened Israel": the umpteenth iteration of a lie

On the website of United With Israel, one of many pseudo-NGO's devoted to scare Jews into donating money for Zionist causes (such as the improvement of the editors' standard of living), there is currently a post titled Iran: We Must Attack Israel by 2014. Wow, I said to myself, they were right and I was wrong, and Iran has actually pledged to exterminate the Jewish state. The post, however, is a verbatim transcription of a Jerusalem Post story titled 'Iran must attack Israel by 2014' (quotation marks included in the original), so that here we have a first problem. It's not the same Iran (i.e. its government) claiming that it must attack Israel as some unnamed source stating as much. By slightly changing the headline's punctuation, UWI already managed to distort the story it was quoting.

But what was the story? In the first paragraphs, the JPost informs us that:

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's strategist provided the legal and religious justification for the annihilation of Israel and the Jewish people, in a document published on conservative Farsi website Alef. Reports of the document began to circulate the internet this week.

The document, written by strategy specialist Alireza Forghani, outlined the reasons why, "In the name of Allah, Iran must attack Israel by 2014."

So that this article is, in principle, written by "Khamenei's strategist" -- were you aware the Grand Ayatollah had one? Me neither. All of a sudden, however, this Forghani fellow pops up. The only internet mentions he gets are for this article of his, but we must believe he is the "strategy specialist" who advises the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader.

So that looking for more information on this frightening character I turned to the source of all wisdom. No, not God, MEMRI. The über-Zionist outfit reports on the story in what purports to be a scholarly analysis, with footnotes and all. The title is In Response to Escalating Threats between West and Iran, Iranian Official Calls On Regime To Attack Israel. An official? Let's read a few paragraphs:

As the reciprocal war of words between the Western and Iranian media escalated, and in response to Israeli declarations regarding the necessity of stopping Iran's nuclear program with a military strike, Alireza Forghani, a staunch supporter of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei[1] and, until recently, governor of Kish Province, called on the Iranian regime to attack and annihilate Israel. His article, titled "Iran Must Attack Israel by 2014" and published February 4, 2012 on numerous pro-regime websites,[2] follows an article he published a month ago praising jihad against the Americans and emphasizing the Iranians' hope for a war in which they would die as martyrs.[3]
Forghani's latest article contains two parts. The first expounds on the religious justifications, based on the Koran and the teachings of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, obligating all Muslims to attack Israel for stealing Palestinian lands and aspiring to take over the rest of the Islamic lands between the Nile and the Euphrates. According to the author, such an attack is obligatory, whether as defensive jihad (when Muslims are attacked by others) or as jihad in its basic sense (holy war against infidels).[4]

Notice that Forghani's article is a "response to Israeli declarations regarding the necessity of stopping Iran's nuclear program with a military strike." I.e., there does exist a concrete Israeli threat, and it's only in response to that threat that Forghani proposes a preemptive attack.

The following endotes provide evidence for MEMRI's claims:

[1] Forghani referred to Khamenei as "Imam" as early as September 2011. http://alireza-forghani.blogfa.com, September 3, 2011. He recently resigned his post as governor of southern Iran's Kish Province over tensions with pro-Ahmadinejad circles. Fars (Iran), December 24, 2011.
[2] The article, which originally appeared on Forghani's February 4 blog in both Persian and English, was published on websites aligned with Iran's moderate-conservative stream and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), such as Fars, Mashreq News, Jahan News, Alef, and Asr-e Emrooz.
[3] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No.4467, "Iranian Websites Publish Threats against U.S. Targets in Gulf," February 1, 2012, http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/6047.htm.

Notice that Forghani keeps a blog, where his article was originally published (i.e. it's not an original material from any Iranian State agency). Notice also that all the evidence for Forghani being a staunch supporter of the Ayatollah is that he referred to Khamenei as "Imam." That being said, something must be wrong with MEMRI's sources. For one thing, there's no Kish province in Iran. There does exist a Kish island, but for another thing, the only governor of that territory mentioned over the Internet is Madjid Shayesteh, who was incumbent at least until September 2011. But in any event, if Forghani resigned in December, he's an ex-official, not an official as MEMRI's headline claims.

Or is he? Ynet's coverage of the story claims he's a computer engineer, which would be more logical for a 28-year-old (MEMRI reports that he was born on August 31, 1983) than being an ex-governor of something.

Although MEMRI says that the article was published in both Farsi and English, it never gives us a link to the English version. Instead, it cherry-picks various paragraphs and presents them under scary headlines, but it's not clear if these are Forghani's or MEMRI's. Although the Zionist organization tries to induce us into thinking that Forghani wants to annihilate the Jews, there's no reference in the article to any Jews than Israel's.

Deep buried in the story (but, to MEMRI's credit, not omitted) is the following paragraph:

It would seem that the article, whose publication coincided with statements by Khamenei, in his Friday speech of February 3, about the need to wipe out the "cancerous growth" of Israel, is the regime's response to recent statements by Israeli leaders regarding the necessity of attacking Iran. While Forghani, who notes that his article expresses his own views and not necessarily those of the regime, states that Iran must take it upon itself to annihilate Israel, Khamenei has avoided pitting Iran as an active combatant against Israel, keeping his country in a supportive role of assisting other forces against Israel.

In this, and only in this, MEMRI seems to concur with the other sources. The JPost reports that:

Claiming to only represent the personal opinion of its author, and not the Iranian government, the doctrine was published on a website believed to have close ties with the Ayatollah.

Ynet, for its part, informs its readers that:

Forghani, who describes himself as an enthusiastic supporter of the Iranian government and a former member of the Revolutionary Guard's Basij militia, stressed that the opinions presented in his post are his own and do not represent the regime's position.

Notwithstanding which, the Daily Mail reported:

'Kill all Jews and annihilate Israel!' Iran's Ayatollah lays out legal and religious justification for attack

So that an article that called to attack Israel in a preemptive strike in response to an existing Israeli threat, and which was written by a young man who may be a strategy advisor to Iran's supreme leader or the ex governor of an ill-defined polity, but most probably a computer engineer, and which, moreover, explicitly claimed to reflect the writer's opinions only, is suddenly transformed into a hateful call to kill all Jews made by none other than Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

That's how Zionist myths are manufactured, and how they gain circulation. By providing endless bits of slightly false information, Zionist sites and news outlets manage to transform an irrelevant event in the blogosphere into one more reason why Iran should be nuked.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The caveat. Always look for the caveat

It is well known that the Israeli Supreme Court banned torture in 1999. It is far less well known that it didn't. Now how can this be? How can something be forbidden and allowed at the same time?

The answer is that all Israeli landmark decisions that apparently uphold Palestinian rights come with a caveat that renders them irrelevant. In the case of the torture ruling, it allowed recourse to the necessity defense and permitted investigators to use torture to meet immediate and otherwise unavoidable grievous threats to innocent life. And guess what: since then, every time Israel wants to torture someone it labels him or her "a grievous threat to innocent life," et voilà, business as usual.

I was reminded of this only the other day, when a Ynet story under the title
Gov't to withhold aid from settlements caught my eye. The auspicious lede read "Ministers decide to exclude 70 West Bank settlements from national priorities map; The story was covered up, officials say." By then I was sure that this decision had a clause that would allow the settlements to apply for prioritarian treatment anyway. The only doubt was how it would be worded. But why had that decision been made in the first place? The article first gave us the context:

The government has decided to exclude 70 West Bank settlements from the list of national priority areas, Ynet has learned Thursday.

The list asserts which towns across the country are to receive grants and benefits aimed at boosting the communities' economy and making them more attractive for new residents and investors.

On Sunday, the government voted to approve an updated version of the list, which included the 70 settlements. A day later, it was proposed to remove towns that are located beyond the Green Line from the priority map; the initiative was put up to a telephone vote, and was passed by a 15-10 margin. Several ministers abstained from the vote.

Then came the reason for the decision:

Government sources estimate that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was concerned that including the settlements in the list will hurt the latest efforts to restart the peace talks with the Palestinians. Due to this fear, the West Bank communities were deemed ineligible for automatic aid.

How "concerned" of Mr. Netanyahu. He has enough conscience to understand that the settlements will be a hindrance in the peace process, but not enough not to build them.

By then, however, I had grown a little impatient. I didn't have to wait much, though, since the following paragraph gave me what I was looking for:

The settlements can still apply for incentives, but the decision to grant them these benefits is left up to the government.

So what do you think will happen in the next few months? What are you saying? That most, if not all, of the 70 settlements will apply for incentives? And that in most, if not all, of those cases the government will decide to grant them? Are you kidding me? Are you suggesting Israel acts in bad faith? But yes, you got it right and that's what will in all likelihood happen.

So that next time a Zionist brings up a suspiciously democratic Israeli decision or piece of legislation, don't think too much and confront your hypothetical pro-Israel friend with one simple phrase: it's the caveat, stupid.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

B'nai B'rith to Argentina: censor things we don't like

The following comic strip was published by the Argentinian daily Página/12:

Even if you have no Spanish, you'll identify the figure of Adolf Hitler in it, and you'll realize it purports to depict a concentration camp.

If you do have Spanish you'll agree that it isn't funny at all (partial translation in the blockquote that follows), and it plays on the suffering of concentration camp inmates, which expectedly will anger and offend Holocaust survivors.

Now is it antisemitic? Here's what the B'nai B'rith had to say about it:

B'nai B'rith Strongly Condemns Anti-Semitic Cartoon in Argentine Paper: Comic Strip Portrays Dance Party at Concentration Camp, Hitler Appearance

B’nai B’rith International condemns in the strongest terms possible an anti-Semitic cartoon strip, “FieSSta,” (the capitalized “SS” referring to the Nazis) by Gustavo Sala published in the Argentine paper Página 12 and calls on the country’s government to denounce the daily newspaper under the country’s anti-discrimination law.

The cartoon strip’s main character, DJ David Gueto (a caricature of the French DJ David Ghetta) plays music in a concentration camp. At first, the prisoners don’t want to dance because they feel there’s nothing to celebrate, saying: “do you know that they kill us in gas chambers and make soap with us?” Hitler then appears and convinces them to dance because “life is short.” Hitler then thanks the DJ, saying: “If they are relaxed, the soap will be better.”

B’nai B’rith expresses its deep outrage and revulsion toward this cartoon, its creator and the newspaper that chose to publish it.(...)

“This cartoon strip is beyond offensive—it is frightening. It epitomizes the blatant, ongoing anti-Semitism that still exists, in 2012, throughout the world,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.

Now I would say there's a very objectionable point about this comic strip: it repeats the canard that the Nazis made soap from their victims. This is an insult to German rationality, since making soap from corpses made no sense and would have been a waste of resources. While many Jews have disseminated the canard, historians (Jewish or not) have discarded it. Other than that, the strip correctly claims that the inmates were exterminated and that gas chambers were used to that effect. So where's the antisemitism? Is the Holocaust denied? Are the Jews stereotyped? No and no. Are the Jews ridiculed?

One might say yes, but actually we don't know who the prisoners are. They are not shown with a Star of David stitched to their shirts. The B'nai B'rith is indulging in a racism of its own by taking it for granted that the inmates in the strip are Jewish, thus forgetting that Gypsies and Soviet prisoners were also sent to the gas chambers. But let's suppose that the strip's author had Jews in mind. Yes it is offensive. Yes it is making fun of victims of genocide. But no stereotypes are used, and that is the smoking gun absent which talk of antisemitism is unreasonable.

Not content with calling antisemitism what really isn't, the B'nai B'rith proceeds to give its advice to the Argentinian government:

“We hope the Argentine government swiftly and strongly utilizes its anti-discrimination law to take the appropriate route to quell this and any further anti-Semitic behavior,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs.

There does exist an anti-discrimination law in Argentina, but it doesn't cover this case. Let's see the relevant articles:

Article 1: Any person who arbitrarily prevents, obstructs, restricts or in any way diminishes the full exercise on an egalitarian basis of the fundamental rights and guaranties recognized in the Constitution will be obliged, at the damaged person’s request, to suspend the effects of the discriminatory action or stop performing it, and to repair the moral and material damage caused. To the effect of the present article discriminatory actions or omissions determined by such motives as race, religion, nationality, ideology, political or trade-unional opinion, gender, economic position, social condition or physical characteristics will be particularly considered.

Article 3: A prison term of 1 month to 3 years will be imposed on those who participate in an organization or disseminate propaganda based on ideas or theories of superiority of a race or group of people of a certain religion, ethnic origin or color, which are aimed at justifying or promoting racial or religious discrimination in any form. The same punishment will be meted on those who by any means encourage or incite to persecution or hate against a person of group of people because of their race, religion, nationality or political ideas.

Clearly, neither article says anything about callously mocking someone else's suffering, even if a specific group is singled out for ridicule.

So that the B'nai B'rith is not actually demanding for the law to be enforced; it's asking for censorship (disguised as anti-discrimination) to be used against things that they (or I, for that matter) don't like. The government, naturally, won't take the advice, and the myth of an antisemitic Argentina (Argentina, where the foreign minister is Jewish) will make the rounds of the Jewish press once again, maybe persuading 10 or 12 young Jews to emigrate to Israel. Which is very convenient for the cause of Zionism, even if absoloutely inconvenient for the causes of truth and intellectual honesty.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The thin-walled Israeli Jewish glass house

An article's title can convey either its subject or its thesis. Thus, the title of Shaul Rosenfeld's recent Ynet story "Israel's shameful Arabs" can be inerpreted as meaning "this article will deal only with those Israeli Arabs who are shameful" or "the thesis of this article is that Israeli Arabs are shameful." Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the former is meant (although you and I know that a story titled "The US's exploitative Jews" would not enjoy the same benefit of the doubt).

The article targets Israeli Arab lawmakers, whom Rosenfeld finds to act, well, shamefully. Ahmad Tibi, a member of Knesset best-known for having coined the catchphrase "Israeli is democratic and Jewish: democratic for the Jews, and Jewish for the Arabs," is slammed in the first place for having stated:

The shahid is honored throughout the history of nations. He is the one who blazed the trail for us. No value is more noble than martyrdom... Israelis are ignorant with regards to the term 'shahid' and misunderstand it. It refers to anyone who was killed by the occupation for the homeland or died for a national cause.

The shahid is a martyr, and it is well-known that all countries have martyrs whom they venerate. Since Tibi makes no mention of any particular martyr, we don't know if he's including terrorists among their numbers. "A national cause" may include killing civilians, but since he doesn't explicitly say so, he enjoys plausible deniability, which is all that counts in the eyes of Zionists.

I have a hard time understanding why Rosenfeld finds this outrageous. Israel honors the terrorist David Raziel, who masterminded the murder of scores of innocent Arabs with bombs in markets. As his admirer Meir Kahane described:

On July 6, 1938, time bombs were put in milk cans and placed in the Arab market place in Haifa by an Irgun member dressed as an Arab porter. In the explosion that followed, 21 Arabs were killed and 52 wounded.

Two days later, the Irgun threw a bomb into a crowd of Arabs waiting near the bus terminal near Jaffa Gate; three were killed and 19 injured. A week later, on a Friday, as Arabs left their mosque at the foot of David Street in the Old City, an electronically detonated mine went off killing 10 Arabs and wounding 30.

On July 25, 1938, a 30-kilogram explosive went off in the Arab marketplace in Haifa. Hidden in a barrel of sour pickles, it killed at least 35 Arabs and wounded 70 more. The Arabs were terrified; the Jews were hysterical. Raziel was content.

One month later, the Irgun switched to Jaffa, a nest of the worst gangs of Arab vipers in the country. An Irgun member, once again dressed as an Arab porter, placed a bomb in the Arab Dir-a-Salach marketplace. The official version listed 21 Arabs dead and 35 wounded. In reality many more went to Islamic heaven.

February 27, 1939, proved to be yet another "Black Day" for the Arabs as the Irgun, sensing the impending collapse of Arab terror in the face of Jewish vengeance, attacked three cities. In Haifa, two powerful explosions went off, one at the ticket window of the railroad station in East Haifa and the other at the Arab marketplace. At least 27 Arabs were killed. Half an hour later, in Jerusalem, three Arabs were killed and six wounded in an
Irgun explosion on David Street, while another died after being attacked on an Arab bus passing Mahane Yehuda.

Finally, in Tel Aviv attacks on Arabs near the power station in the north and in the Salama district in the south killed three more.

But Raziel has been thoroughly rejected by Zionists, hasn't he? Er no; let's read on:

David Raziel was a terrorist, a murderer who went against everything that was "Jewish." Today, one may visit a settlement due west of Jerusalem named Ramat Raziel and live on Raziel Street in East Talpiot in Jerusalem. One may hear talks on the glory of Raziel and see mementos of him at the Herut headquarters on King George Street in Tel Aviv and may look up paeans of praise of him from the speeches of Yitzhak Shamir, Menachem Begin and Moshe Arens.

So that Tibi honors the shahids, but we don't know exactly what people he's talking about. On the other hand, the Jews of Israel honor Raziel, whom we know to have been a monstrous Jewish terrorist who killed countless civilians. What's the problem?

Rosenfeld goes on to bash Hanin Zoabi, another Israeli Arab MK, along with other unnamed ones. He claims:

These Arab MKs also board various Gaza-bound ships or visit Hamas leaders or enlightened Arab rulers such as Gaddafi, may he rest in peace.

This is in line with the article's lede, which states "Arab parliamentarians endorse tyrants, terrorists while slamming 'undemocratic' Israel."

One has the right to slam an undemocratic country, even as one visits undemocratic leaders. It's called freedom of conscience. But if you think one doesn't enjoy that right, then you must be consistent. You must never have made friends with dictators.

And here's where file photos come in handy.

South Africa's prime minister John Vorster (second from right) is feted by Israel's prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (right) and Menachem Begin (left) and Moshe Dayan during his 1976 visit to Jerusalem. Photograph: Sa'ar Ya'acov
South Africa's prime minister John Vorster (second from right) is feted by Israel's prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (right) and Menachem Begin (left) and Moshe Dayan during his 1976 visit to Jerusalem. Photograph: Sa'ar Ya'acov

Yes, you got it right. Israel invited South African dictator John Vorster in the heyday of Apartheid.

Rosenfeld would have been better advised to take a legalistic approach, such as "visiting Lybia was illegal." But since he tries to slam Arab lawmakers citing moral considerations, his attempt fails miserably, because he's throwing rocks from a glass house, and a very thin-walled one at that.