Monday, March 30, 2009


The hit TV show 'The Office', which originated from the UK and reproduced for an American version, is coming to Israel!
The cast will include a variety of Israeli types - an Arab warehouse manager, an ultra-Orthodox saleswoman and a bitter Russian accountant. The Israeli answer to David Brent, the obnoxious boss of the U.K. program, will be named Avi Meshulam, though an actor has yet to be pegged for the role.
I'm actually excited for a TV show for once.
In response to the news, Gervais told the U.K. newspaper The Guardian, "I am thrilled and amazed that Israel is making 'The Office' with local writers, directors and actors. I mean, who ever heard of Jewish entertainers?"
I'm already laughing and they haven't even started filming.

Darfur Muslim Refugees demonstrating in Israel to support ICC

Check this out. Israel, the only country that welcomed the inconceivably persecuted peoples of Darfur, joyfully rallied to celebrate the decision to prosecute the Islamist President of Sudan for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm pro-democracy, not pro-Palestine

I happened to stumble upon the Palestine "Think" Tank website today. I wanted to learn a little bit the "thinking" and "logic" that goes behind the Palestinian reasoning for disbanding a Jenin youth orchestra after performing in front of Holocaust survivors in Israel. I'll show you a few excerpts from the related article in the PTT and the website's "About" page.

"Shame on us!" That's the title of the article written by Khalid Amayreh, a "journalist" from the West Bank, about the disbandment of the youth orchestra I talked about above. Most sensible would think Amayreh is pointing the shame on the Palestinian authorities for disbanding the orchestra. Unfortunately, sensibility is one quality Amayreh lacks. Amayreh is pointing the shame towards the Palestinian authorities, but not for disbanding the youth orchestra, rather for letting these children perfom in Tel Aviv in the first place. Here it is in full:

Warning: The following material contains excessive amounts of ignorance and hate.
It is really hard to write on this subject without getting angry. We all know the extent to which Israel can be evil and satanic. After all, we Palestinians have been on the receiving end of Israeli savagery for decades.

In fact, being thoroughly tormented and killed by the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the holocaust has always been and continues to be “the” Palestinians’ way of life.

However, for some Palestinians to allow themselves to be duped to sing and play music to their oppressors and child-killers is simply beyond the pale of human dignity.

It is at least as insulting and humiliating as some Jews were forced or duped to play music to SS, Gestapo and Wehrmacht soldiers during the Second World War. In both cases, the act was meant to humiliate the victims and rob them of the last visages of human dignity.

And now, Jews in Israel are doing the same thing to Palestinians, Nazism’s vicarious victims.

Last week, a few innocent kids from the Jenin refugee camp were surreptiously taken to Tel Aviv to “cheer up and take part in peace-promoting activities.”

However, once there the kids were unceremoniously driven to a reception where they were made to play music and sing to “holocaust survivors,” some of them are former members of the Hagana and Irgun terrorist gangs who had taken part in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and expulsion of Palestinians form their homeland.

God knows how much Palestinian blood did these so-called “holocaust survivors” shed in 1948 and subsequent years. Certainly, Deir Yasin, Tantura, Dawaymeh, and the numerous other massacres were not committed by UFOs. They were committed in cold blood by these very people our children are now cheering up.

Shame on us a thousand times!

Some of the kids were instructed to utter words that should never be uttered by the victims of Zionism. One of the participants reportedly dedicated a special song to Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier taken prisoner by Palestinian fighters in Gaza nearly three years ago. No mention, not even an allusion, was made of the estimated 10,000 Palestinian political and resistance prisoners languishing in Israeli dungeons and concentration camps.

But the kids apparently felt they had to say anything they were asked to say in order to show gratitude for the Jewish “peace contractor” who got them out of the ghetto, otherwise known as Jenin refugee camp, even for a six-our outing in Tel Aviv.

I am not against showing genuine sympathy with the victims of the holocaust. However, a sympathy that is manipulated to justify, rationalize or even extenuate the crime against humanity that is Israel is worse than a crime if only because it serves to promote and perpetuate oppression.

As human beings, we Palestinians do sympathize with all victims of Nazism, Stalinism and imperialism, the wept, the over-wept, and especially the unwept who constitute the vast majority of victims.

Having said that, however, I strongly believe that no honest person under the sun has the slightest right to demand that we pay the price for what the Nazis did or may have done to European Jews nearly 70 years ago.

We didn’t send Jews to the ovens. The Germans did. We didn’t starve Jews to death as Jews are doing to us today in the Gaza Strip.

We didn’t incinerate Jews in Gas chambers as Jews have recently incinerated Palestinian children with White Phosphorus.

Hence, of all people in this world, Palestinians must never be made to feel guilty for what the Nazis and other Europeans did to Jews. I say so because a feeling of guilt, even a modicum of guilt, on our part, would be construed or misconstrued as a vindication of Zionism, the Nazism of our time.

There are additional reasons that make the latest insensitive manipulation of Palestinian suffering especially ugly and dishonorable.

First, nearly all the young musicians who were taken to Tel Aviv came from the Jenin Refugee camp. For those who have forgotten, this is the very same refugee camp that Israeli tanks pulverized in 2002. According to eyewitnesses, Israeli tanks and bulldozers destroyed homes right on top of innocent civilians, including the physically handicapped, while dozens of innocent civilians were systematically massacred, very much like Jews were at Ghetto Warsaw. The massacre at the camp was so hideous that Israel refused to allow UN officials to access the camp to inspect what happened.

Well, again the Nazi analogy is inescapable. Just imagine surviving Jewish children from Treblinka or Bergen Belsen made to sing to SS soldiers!!

Second, the disgraceful concert in Tel Aviv comes on the heel of Israel’s genocidal assault in Gaza where Israeli warplanes showered the children, women and men of coastal enclave with White Phosphorus and other missiles and bombs of death while Israeli Jews were gleefully celebrating the “victory on Hamas” and Israeli rabbis preoccupied with classifying gentiles into “children of light” and “children of darkness.”

In Gaza, the Zionist Jews exposed their shame to all the people of the world by acting like primitive barbarians and murderous savages.

Hence, the utter shamefulness of sending Palestinian children to Tel Aviv to help Israel’s hasbara efforts whitewash Israel’s pornographic barbarianism in Gaza.

Finally, it is obvious that the PA bears much of the blame for this disgraceful event. The PA should never allow so called “cultural exchanges” and “cultural normalization” with the murderers of our children, the very state whose leaders and military commanders view us as “scum, vermin and animals” that ought to be exterminated.

Unfortunately, the PA itself encourages some demoralized Palestinians to endear themselves to Israel, even in the cheapest of manners.

The often cordial meetings and exchanging of kisses between Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert, the butcher of Gaza, leave one and only impression, not only on the children of the refugee camp in Jenin, but also on TV viewers around the world.

As you can see from the above, it contains massive amount of ignorance, hate, and fascism - what they accuse Israelis of being. I couldn't believe this is real. It's like we talk two different languages.

The funny thing is, I thought the performance by the Jenin youth orchestra put the Palestinians in better light, showing their good side. Unfortunately, they don't like their good side, or rather what we in the West think is good, is not what they think is good. How am I, a two-state solution advocate, supposed call myself "pro-Palestinian" as well as pro-Israel when other pro-Palestinian advocates are ignorant and hateful? I support the two-state solution because I think that it is unhealthy for Israel to hold on to land where people can't vote. But, as Hillel said, "If I do not advocate for myself, who am I?" As long as we differ on what is obviously good, I can't advocate for Palestinian rights.

Now lets move on to their About page. It should tell us a little bit more about the Palestinian movement. Here are a few excerpts:
It is the belief that Zionism is wrong. Zionism is racism. For Zionism to happen, it means the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of the land of Palestine. We accept nothing about Zionism as being positive, yet we believe there are some people who don't know exactly what Zionism is, and therefore assume it is something different than an ideology, and therefore, is beyond criticism.
This is as expected. It is the result of generations of Arab propaganda. Unfortunately, even the Arab "moderates" teach their children the same.
We believe that the just struggle of the Palestinian people is the greatest liberation struggle of our times, and we aim to render service to their cause through presenting as many aspects of their history, culture and struggle as we can.
"Greatest"? This is why the media, especially the Arab media, is always focused on Israel. It is the cause of the greater Arab nationalism led by various people of the time, most notebly Nasser of Egypt.
[...] since the full realisation of the potential of people in the entire Arab world has been hindered for far too long by the "International Community".
Looks very similar to Article 13 from Hamas' charter:

Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight. "Allah will be prominent, but most people do not know."

Now and then the call goes out for the convening of an international conference to look for ways of solving the (Palestinian) question. Some accept, others reject the idea, for this or other reason, with one stipulation or more for consent to convening the conference and participating in it. Knowing the parties constituting the conference, their past and present attitudes towards Muslim problems, the Islamic Resistance Movement does not consider these conferences capable of realising the demands, restoring the rights or doing justice to the oppressed. These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of the Muslims as arbitraters. When did the infidels do justice to the believers?

"But the Jews will not be pleased with thee, neither the Christians, until thou follow their religion; say, The direction of Allah is the true direction. And verily if thou follow their desires, after the knowledge which hath been given thee, thou shalt find no patron or protector against Allah." (The Cow - verse 120).

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.

The PTT has plenty of criticism of Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah's Palestinian Authority. I haven't seen anything yet about Hamas. The rest of the About page sounds like old German and Soviet propaganda during WWII.

New Ideas vs Old World

Last week, a Palestinian youth orchestra "serenaded", as the NYTimes article called it, a group of Holocaust survivors in Israel. Unfortunately, Palestinian authorities disbanded the youth orchestra from the West Bank after performing calling the Holocaust a "political issue."
"She exploited the children," said Hindi, the head of the camp's popular committee, which takes on municipal duties. "She will be forbidden from doing any activities.... We have to protect our children and our community."

The move highlights the sensitivity of many Palestinians over acknowledging Jewish suffering, fearing it would weaken their own historical grievances against Israel.
I don't know about you, but I saw the performance as a gesture of peace and good will. It's too bad the children are more mature than the politicians. I am waiting for the day an Israeli orchestra can tour through Arab countries. I am waiting for the day I can take a car and drive from Jerusalem to Beirut to Damascus to Baghdad.

If the Arabs are going to turn everything to a political issue, it is time that they "own up" to their treatment of minorities; own up to the estimated 900,000 Jews that fled or were expelled from Arab/Persian countries. Own up to the alliance that Arab leaders had with Nazi Germany in the 1930's and 40's.

My family fled Tunisia in 1961. It is perhaps a similar story to many Palestinian families. But I, and most Jews from Muslim countries, do not hold grudges against their countries of origin. I do not ask for any compensation.

I believe the reason the Palestinian Arabs hold a grudge, while the Mizrachi/Sephardic Jews do not, is because they let themselves be pawns in the greater schims of Arab leaders. Their entire focus is on Israel. Hardly a beep about Arab policy to keep Palestinians in "refugee" camps for generations, or discrimination to keep them poor. Israeli Arabs, and to an extent the Palestinian in the occupied territories, live in much better conditions than the Arabs around Israel. Who has a greater chance to go to medical school, an Israeli Arab or a Jordanian, Egyptian or Saudi?

Before the intifadas and without the various terrorist Palestinian organizations, Palestinians in the territories could have "enjoyed" the benefits of Israel, including medical care. I'm not saying that there should be one-state, it wouldn't solve the reason for why we need a Zionist Israel. If the Palestinians want to vote, than the two-state plan is the only way.

The NYTimes and Khaled Abu Toameh of the JPost have more details on the story.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What I'm reading (or watching)

1. Review of "The Israel Lobby" by CAMERA showing how fraudulent Walt and Mearshiemer are.

2. Article about a how Palestinians used George Orwell's Animal Farm play to criticize local politics.

3. Article by an Israeli Arab journalist about the hateful agenda of 'pro-Palestinian' activists on American campuses.

4. Interview of the Arab journalist mentioned above. The video is about how Western media anti-Israel bias is hurting Israel and the Palestinians as well.

5. Video lecture from the Jerusalem Center about war crime allegations against Israel and International Law.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Palestine victim of Arab betrayal

The following article is so powerful, that I want to show all of it.

INTERNATIONAL donors pledged almost $4.5 billion in aid for Gaza earlier this month. During the past few years it has been very painful for me to witness the deteriorating humanitarian situation in that narrow strip where I lived as a child in the 1950s.

The media tends to attribute Gaza's decline solely to Israeli military and economic actions against Hamas. But such a myopic analysis ignores the problem's root cause: 60 years of Arab policy aimed at cementing the Palestinian people's status as stateless refugees to use their suffering as a weapon against Israel.

As a child in Gaza in the '50s, I experienced the early results of this policy. Egypt, which controlled the territory then, conducted guerilla-style operations against Israel from Gaza. My father commanded these operations, carried out by Palestinian fedeyeen (Arabic for self-sacrifice).

Back then, Gaza was already the front line of the Arab jihad against Israel. My father was assassinated by Israeli forces in 1956.

It was in those years that the Arab League started its Palestinian refugee policy. Arab countries implemented special laws designed to make it impossible to integrate the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab war against Israel.

Even descendants of Palestinian refugees who are born in another Arab country and live there their entire lives can never gain that country's passport. Even if they marry a citizen of an Arab country, they cannot become citizens of their spouse's country. They must remain Palestinian even though they may have never set foot in the West Bank or Gaza.

This policy of forcing a Palestinian identity on these people for eternity and condemning them to a miserable life in a refugee camp was designed to perpetuate and exacerbate the Palestinian refugee crisis.

So was the Arab policy of overpopulating Gaza. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, whose main political support comes from Arab countries, encourages high birthrates by rewarding families with many children. Yasser Arafat said the Palestinian woman's womb was his best weapon.

Arab countries always push for classifying as many Palestinians as possible as refugees.

As a result, about one-third of the Palestinians in Gaza still live in refugee camps. For 60 years, Palestinians have been used and abused by Arab regimes and Palestinian terrorists in their fight against Israel.

Now it is Hamas, an Islamist terror organisation supported by Iran, that is using and abusing Palestinians for this purpose. While Hamas leaders hid in the well-stocked bunkers and tunnels they prepared before they provoked Israel into attacking them, Palestinian civilians were exposed and caught in the deadly crossfire between Hamas and Israeli soldiers.

As a result of 60 years of this Arab policy, Gaza has become a prison camp for 1.5 million Palestinians. Both Israel and Egypt are fearful of terrorist infiltration from Gaza - all the more so since Hamas took over - and have always maintained tight controls over their borders with Gaza. The Palestinians continue to endure hardships because Gaza continues to serve as the launching pad for terror attacks against Israeli citizens. Those attacks come in the form of Hamas missiles that indiscriminately target Israeli kindergartens, homes and businesses.

And Hamas continued these attacks more than two years after Israel withdrew from Gaza in the hope that this step would begin the process of building a Palestinian state, eventually leading to a peaceful, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There was no cycle of violence then, no justification for anything other than peace and prosperity.

But, instead, Hamas chose Islamic jihad. Gazans' and Israelis' hopes have been met with misery for Palestinians and missiles for Israelis.

Hamas, an Iranian proxy, has become a danger not only to Israel but also to Palestinians as well as to neighbouring Arab states, which fear the spread of radical Islam could destabilise their countries.

Arabs claim they love the Palestinian people, but they seem more interested in sacrificing them. If they really loved their Palestinian brethren, they would pressure Hamas to stop firing missiles at Israel. In the longer term, the Arab world must end the Palestinians' refugee status and thereby their desire to harm Israel.

It's time for the 22 Arab countries to open their borders and absorb the Palestinians of Gaza who wish to start a new life.

It is time for the Arab world to truly help the Palestinians, not use them.

Nonie Darwish, who grew up in Gaza City and Cairo, is the author, most recently, of Cruel and Usual Punishment (Thomas Nelson).

Have you used the Palestinians lately?

Monday, March 23, 2009

What I'm reading this morning

Harry's Place has 3 new great articles/posts up today.

1. The first is a guest post by Tori Egherman. The following are three excerpts which are intriguing:
A nineteenth century French diplomat described Persians as “full of adoration for the country itself, they do not believe in any means of running it.” [...]

It’s fantastic to be an American in Iran. In fact, I doubt there is a more pro-American population outside of Texas. Why? Because we have not compromised with a corrupt and despised regime as we have in other parts of the world. [...]

Most Iranians would like to be facing West and would embrace the opportunity to do so. I say, give them the opportunity. Let’s talk. Let’s open the embassy in Tehran. Let’s travel to Iran. Let’s open our universities. Let’s wrestle. Let’s pretend that the regime is here to stay.
You should read the whole post but these three excerpt are a good briefing.

2. This is another guest post by Kamran Ashtray, the husband of Tori. Kamran is Iranian, and Tori is an American.

3. David T shows the hypocrisy of South Africa in regards to morality and the influence of money. SA banned the Dali Lama from the world peace conference that leads up to the 2010 SOCCER World Cup. Why? China is heavily invested in South Africa. Go to the link to have a laugh.

Friday, March 20, 2009

All the rage

I noticed something peculiar today. The biggest story in the Western press about Israel in the past two days has been about the publication of testimonies by Israeli soldiers about the killing of civilian Palestinians in Gaza. One of the two Israeli newspapers that published the testimonies was Haaretz. I saw the Haaretz article yesterday but it’s not featured on the front page anymore. That newspaper is most famous for its criticism of the Israeli government.

Why I care and defend

The following is a post I made on iKibbitz:

For my first real post on iKibbitz, I’d like to talk about why I sometimes advocate for Israel. I just read MJ Rosenberg’s post called “The Real Israel Is Its Own Saving Grace” in the Israel Policy Forum’s blog. It made me think a lot about my relationship with the state I talk a lot about. I defend and argue about Israel in increasingly uncertain times. This is at a time that I, as a young man, am going through changes of opinion and perception. So this is my attempt to step back and question myself why I do what I do, mainly advocate for Israel.

A simple answer would be because Israel is the state where I was born. But in a few months, the day would come that marks the time which I have lived in the US for over half my life, my country, my home. If, for the purpose of gaining security clearance to get a job in my chosen field of study (engineering), I had to eliminate my Israeli citizenship, I would do it with no reservation. Another simple answer I could give you is that the Land of the Israel rightfully belongs to the Jews and was stolen from them two thousand years ago. But that’s not why I care. That land would always be the Jewish homeland, but if Israeli society moved to the middle of Timbuktu, I wouldn’t have hardly cared about what happened on the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

A superficial answer would be because of Zionism, the need for a state for Jews to be governed by Jews to defend Jews. Not an untrue nor a bad answer for why I defend Israel, but not a very deep one. As I have alluded to before, the one basic principle of Zionism that I would give up is that the state be on the land, to save it from no longer being Jewish and democratic.

The main reason why I defend Israel is because I know it, I enjoyed it, and I know that Israelis can make a country which is a good place to live. I know what Jews are capable of, and as long as the Jews have a state, we can continue this golden age. In my first year (5th grade) in the US, the class that I learned how to read and spell English the most was social studies, not my English or ESOL class. That year I learned about how the American patriots fought for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” I didn’t see those principles of America as something new, something that I didn’t hold dear as an Israeli, they were just very well articulated in America’s founding documents. I can make a very lengthy post on why some of America’s founding principles can be partially credited to the Jewish tradition, but I’ll save that for a later day. So basically, I love Israel because I love America. Two countries that stood up to tyranny and organized and fought against it.

When the United States was 61 years old, plenty was wrong and ugly with it, mainly slavery. But because the basic principles were sound, it has a good nation. I believe that Israel’s principles are also sound. The only difference is that Israel isn’t protected by two great oceans and lives in a region of the Old World, where the seemingly New Ideas of liberty and equality haven’t been welcomed with that famous Middle Eastern hospitality. If history is any guide, the fight that Israel is fighting, a fight that even America hasn’t experienced, is the most difficult and thus needs all the help that it can get.

This author is the creator of the Old World New Ideas blog and iKibbitz.

I'll try to make my writings on both sites appear more timely. As soon as I make significant progress on the Wordpress theme I'm making, I'll start to write more often.

About iKibbitz

I made an introductory post to my new website. It pretty much says what the site is all about. Here it is:

This is the very first post on iKibbitz. You may very well be our first reader. So what are we, and who is behind all of this? To help explain the purpose of this website I’ll tell you about kibbitz.

Kibbitz - In Yiddish, it’s spelled kibets, and it’s related to the Hebrew “kibbutz” or “collective.” But it can also mean verbal joking, which after all is a collective activity. It didn’t originally mean giving unwanted advice about someone else’s game - that’s an American innovation.

So how does that translate into a website? Well, this is what bloggers do. They give “unwanted” advice, or rather, commentary on anything. Except we are going to do it collectively! No, we aren’t trying to spread socialism into the blogosphere. We are trying to use the power of the collective to make the bloggers more successful, i.e. get more readers. Contributing bloggers can keep their own websites, but we want their content to be shown on our website as well.

Let me make this clear, we aren’t here to replace the newspapers. We wouldn’t be here with out the hard work of journalists. How else would we get the news? We are here to share our commentary on our favorite commentators and news stories. We are also going to talk about our own experiences, what ever our contributors want to talk about. Well, maybe not everything. No wack-a-doodles (Antisemites etc.) and crazy college stories.

So who is going to contribute? At first it is going to be just Comrade Tovya and I, Monsieur Ginger. Soon we are going to ask our favorite bloggers to join our enterprise. We don’t know every blogger so if you are interested in joining us, contact us.

As you may have noticed, kibbitz is a Jewish word, so the iKibbitz community will tend to be Jewish. But we don’t want to be limited by it. At first, we want to focus on what Jews like to talk about - politics, culture, Israel, Middle East, etc. But eventually we are hoping to get non-Jewish contributors as well. We welcome all. We don’t know where this enterprise will take us. Tovya and I are here to set the foundations, and the community will push us forward. We’ll be strong when the iKibbitz community is strong. Enough with the slogans.

Like good Jews, Tovya and I disagree on many things, and we respect that. We encourage criticism from our readers and fellow contributors. We are here to engage. We just want everybody to be honest about themselves and their opinions. We expect everybody in the community to be respectful of each other. If you aren’t respectful in this home, we reserve the right to use what ever power is given to us as website administrators.

People blog for many reasons. They blog because of the freedom that comes with it. They blog because it is an opprotunity to share their opinions. What ever your reason for blogging is, we are here to facilitate that. We are not a Left-wing website nor a Right-wing website. We are a community website. So we expect the community to respect that and you to respect the community.

We are still working on the kinks and knots so bear with us. I hope this will be the beginning of a beautiful kibbitz.

I'll add the site to my blog roll here so you find it easily.

New cooperative blog

Hello readers. You may have noticed that the number of posts have declined this month. The reason is because I'm working on creating a new website. It's called iKibbitz and I'll tell you more about it soon. If you are a blogger who is interested in working on a joint blogging website go to iKibbitz and contact me. I've been learning a lot of html/css/javascript lately so I can make my own WordPress theme. If you are a blogger that knows how to make a wordpress theme and is interested in joining me, or just want to offer your services for free, give me a holler. This project is still in the construction and design stages but I already started to contribute. I'll tell you more about the project in the next post.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Muslims moving forward

I want to share with you two articles I read in my local paper, the Baltimore Sun.

The first is about Egypt's first female mayor.

Eva Habil Kyrolos wears the distinction lightly as she tends to law and order and social matters in Komboha, the village her great-great-grandfather was granted in the 19th century. [...]

"People from nearby towns used to mock us, 'Oh, you have a woman mayor now,' " said Osama Gamel, a car mechanic, mimicking the needling chirps of those who poke fun. "But you know what? She's better than a man."
The second was a column by

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another one bites the dust

Chas Freeman, Obama's appointee to become the head of the National Intelligence Council, withdraw himself from the selection process. The "Israel Lobby" will get the credit, but it doesn't take a genius to determine that a man who worked for and probably paid handsomely by the Saudi and Chinese governments, should not work in American Intelligence. His defenders would say that his relationships and comments toward those governments have nothing to do with the motive of his critics. That's the most immoral defense ever. He's still bad. If that's not moral relativism, I don't know what is.

HT: Z-Word.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Chag sameach! I almost forgot, it's Purim.

On 1948, Refugees, and Nationalism

I have long accepted that Israel is partially responsible for the situation of the Palestinian refugees who were displaced in the Israeli-Arab war of 1948. People were aligned into two sides knowingly and not. The Arabs lost, a state with borders was created, and people who were caught on the wrong side of that border were expelled.

There are two significant differences between the Israeli and Arab treatment of the "other." One, Jews from Arab countries had nothing to do with Zionism and Israel. While the Palestinians were involved in the war and were very aggressive toward all Jews in the decades preceding the war. Second, Israel did not expel all the Arabs in her borders and gave them citizenship in a democratic country. Sure, Israeli Arabs face discrimination in measurable ways, but you can't completely blame the Israeli political system nor the nature of Jewish Israelis toward people of other religions. Israeli Arabs face discrimination because they have in countless ways sympathized with the enemy - the Palestinians regardless of their militancy toward the state which gave them citizenship. 30% percent of the medical students in the top Israeli University, Technion, are Arab.

While I see that Israel has done great things letakken (to fix) this problem of Arab and Jewish refugees, I still believe that more should be done. I used the Hebrew word in the previous sentence because it is part of the Jewish concept of tikkun olam which means fixing the world. When there is a problem, we must work towards a solution. Some solutions may take great time and labor, but as humans, I believe we are obligated to do so out of principle (Kohlberg's 3rd level of morality). I would say we are obligated letakken haolam by God but since I don't believe in God, I say principle developed by inner conscience.

So what's the solution? I'm not sure, and any of the people that I highly respect don't have a solution either.

Since the Palestinians are having it so bad, why do they maintain in pursuing the cause of redominating (did they actually ever have sovereignty over it?) the historic land of Palestine? The Palestinian cause isn't just a national liberation movement, it is a movement of conquest as Hamas and the PLO have told us many times. I still believe that the majority of Palestinians want to dominate Israel proper.

60 years ago, the sovereign state (or rather 'Islamic Republic' if history is any guide) of Palestine failed to come into fruition. Since a Palestinian state has never existed, what makes the Palestinians a nation? And what fuels this passion after failing countless times?

They say the the land "from the river to the sea" is the ancestral homeland of the Palestinians. But what made that specific land so important. Haven't their ancestors ever been anywhere else? Why isn't the region of Mecca and Medina, where the religion of the most militant Palestinians, their ancestral homeland? The reason is because the events that occurred in the last 100 years, their war with the Jews, are the most important events in their historical narrative and culture. Which is kinda sad considering their lack of achievements in culture and civilization building - art, technology, business, civil liberties, and religious enlightenment. If I was Palestinian, I would rather look take home when Islamic high culture was the good in this world rather than the dark Christian Europe of the medieval ages.

A civilization requires statehood and culture. The Palestinian civilization or nation also has a distinct culture. This culture rose dramatically in one year, 1948, and would forever would be characterized by this - Nakba Day. American culture is characterized by it's war for independence for principles of freedom, liberty, and equality (what the British monarchy denied them) as described in its founding documents - Independence Day.

Every country is born out of violence and war. The Palestinian nation was created likewise. The principles behind the failed Palestinian war for independence were centered around the land (which was denied to them by Israel) and pan-Arab nationalism (which is what fueled support among Arabs for the Palestinian cause). Their culture has been for so long centered around perpetuating violence to over come that one great failure - Nakba. It doesn't matter if others are trying to exploit them as long as they are supported to overcome the failure. Nakba, the Catastrophic Failure. That is my humble non-scholarly characterization of Palestinian nationalism and its cause.

Palestinian nationalism's focus on the land has fluctuated in recent years. The movement has evolved somewhat. Self-determination has been the focus of the movement since Oslo. Unfortunately, its main supporter, Fatah, has lost favor with the Palestinians in recent years. Land would never lose great focus in the eyes of Palestinians. What is the peace process all about? It is land for peace, which is a totally corrupt idea. Not self-determination for peace, a more noble goal. That's why Gaza was so explosive. Israel thought that if it would give self-determination to the Palestinians in Gaza, there would be peace. But to the Palestinians, it was land for peace, or rather less war. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a supporter of negotiations and the two state solution. The conditions aren't there yet for progress in the peace process.

Every citizen of a country knows what his basic duty is. In America it is to defend the principles detailed in the its founding documents. In Israel, it is to defend the principles of Zionism, which I would briefly characterize as creating a state for Jews so that we can defend ourselves when nobody else would. Unfortunately Israel does not have a constitution which details the state's democratic and liberal principles therefore has to constantly be checked from within. The basic duty of a Palestinian on the other hand is to accomplish what they think their ancestors failed to do in 1948. Every human being needs a sense of belonging. One gains this sense by fulfilling the duties society has placed on him. If a Palestinian strays away from this path, even if they are for noble goals, he is not Palestinian. He's a collaborator at best, an actual Israeli at worst.

Because Jerusalem is unusually central to the Palestinian cause compared to the principles of Palestinians nationalism I stated above, I would say that Islam is also a central part of the Palestinian nationalism. Current radical interpretation of Islam is another fuel for Palestinian nationalism. Since no Jewish ultra-nationalist party in Israel has ever experienced the support of Israelis like Hamas has experienced the support of the Palestinians, I would say that Zionism hasn't used the Jewish religion as one of its main principles. Israel's founders were very secular. Hamas' founders were extremely religious as you can see in their charter.

I wouldn't say that Zionism and its materialization in the State of Israel hasn't never suffered from extreme interpretation of Judaism. It is suffering from this right now as is evident from the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Israel has suffered because of this in treasure and support because of this. As long as Israel's leaders and majority in society do not commit to this religious influence into policy, it would be safe.

So why am I talking about this? This is just another defense of Zionism and Israel. We want solutions. Well, I have no idea who I am writing to. I'm looking for a solution to the refugee problem. It is hard to feel that it is my responsibility when the Palestinian cause is stuck in perpetual violence because it failed at creating a state. It is still waging its revolutionary war.

When the Palestinians themselves truly paint their cause as a noble one, a cause of freedom, liberty, and equality, I can give a hand. But what is the main word which they use to characterize their cause? It is "Justice." It is perceived like a call for revenge. What made Zionism a noble cause was not inflicting "Justice" upon the oppressors of the Jews. It was so people won't be able to oppress the Jews anymore. Not by making them weaker, but by making us stronger through a nation-state. There was a huge debate in Israel when Germany offered them monetary compensation. They called it "blood money." What is Justice? When human lives are concerned, you can't get things back. You can get property back but the disputed land isn't just property. It is the subject of war where human lives are lost. That is what Palestinians want. They want their lives back, lives where the Jews were some tiny powerless minority. That is the case when the vast majority of Palestinians support attacks targeting civilians - terror.

When the people of Nineveh were transgressing against God, He told Jonah to be his prophet and tell the Ninevites to repent. Jonah didn't want to do this because he wanted them dead, they were the enemies of the Israelites. God on the other hand did not require the Ninevites to sacrifice their lives for the transgressions they have committed. He only required that they repent.

So how are Israelis and Palestinians supposed to repent? Well, eventually Israel is going to have to end occupying the West Bank and stop the war of attrition in Gaza. The Palestinians would have to reform the very essence of their culture which I believe can happen with intense Westernization of the territories. It might seem like I am ignoring my dark characterization of Palestinian culture but it is not really. Opinions can change and if the Palestinians decide that the goal is to make it so that they won't be oppressed anymore is more important than getting the land back, all would be swell.

Steve Cohen

Who was Steve Cohen? I had no idea till today. I said "was" because he died recently.

Engage reports:

Steve was a socialist and a campaigner against all racism, including antisemitism.

Steve was the author of “That’s Funny You Don’t Look Antisemitic”, published in 1984 and re-published by Engage in 2005. This was a landmark argument against antisemitism on the left.

Steve also wrote this memorable and angry response to a boycott motion passed by the old Higher Education trade union NATFHE in 2006.

I started reading That's Funny. Cohen called himself an anti-Zionist Zionist because he said that Zionism is both racist and anti-racist. To understand that, I suggest you read it because it is a very deep book (which you can read online from the link).

Just some thoughts

Since I haven't been blogging much recently I decided to reprint a comment I left on this post from Comrade Tovya's Zion Report.

Here it is:

I watched some videos of the protest. The people up front of the protest, those banging and jumping on the police vans spoke entirely in Arabic.

I disagree with Tovya on this. Islam as a religion is not the cause of fascism in the Muslim/Arab world. Islam as a political movement is ONE reason why the Arab world is so fascist. When Imams or Islamic leaders such as Haniyeh, PM of Hamas in Gaza as well as an Imam of a Gaza mosque, become top political leaders of a party, the tend to blur the lines between civil laws and religious laws. Religion by nature is fascist because anyone who disagrees with official dogma or religious authority is by nature heretics. When the center of political power in Europe was with in the Church, Europe tended to be fascist. If the Arab world can look up to secular leaders (who can leave observant lives, just not be religious leaders), it would become more liberal.

Religion needs a form of Talmud which is accepted as religious opinions which sometimes can conflict but are otherwise accepted and not heretical. They are guides, not absolute laws. Different interpretations of Scripture must also be accepted. When certain elements of Islamic authority become fascist as we have seen in recent history (as well as ancient history), violence ensues.

The second reason there is fascism in the Arab world is because of tribalism. I won’t get into it now.

The notion of the separation of Church and State is ingrained in every American school child, at least for those who go to public and secular schools. I don’t know what religious schools teach except the Jewish high school I went to which was very liberal and pluralistic so it taught American ideals.

Israelis are so lucky that Israel’s founders where secular and dominated Israeli politics for so long. The foundations of democracy and liberalism are strong in Israel but like all foundations, repair is sometimes needed overtime. Jewish Israelis are surprisingly united. Who would have known that people who came from so many different countries all around can overcome their differences to create a state together. It partially has to do with the army, and also partially to do with how Torah treats Jews as a nation(Also because we had a common enemy). But how it was infused with secular and liberal ideals is quite an accomplishment. This accomplishment is why Israeli Arabs get the best treatment in terms of services and political opportunity in the Middle East.

Critics of Israel like to call it “ethnocracy” and “apartheid” but we all know that it is bull because Israel is way too liberal and secular for those terms. In the Middle East, an ethnocracy is when one tribe rules all - Syria for example. But Jews are way too diverse and don’t have a tribal hierarchy to rule like that. The best chance for an Arab in the Middle east to rise economically and politically is in Israel - if they are citizens of course.

Critics of Israel like to characterize the Israeli Palestinian conflict as ethnic clashes but the conflict is way too complex to just call it that. Perhaps in the 20’s and 30’s the conflict was actually about ethnic collide which I say is absolutely not the Jews fault. But Jewish Israeli political evolution has moved beyond that and sees an OLD WORLD in the Palestinians where Islamic fascism and tribalism are always lurking - a place where Jews can’t thrive. Where can a Jew thrive? In a place where liberalism and secularism are in the foundations. That’s why Israeli Jews will always resist outside forces from changing the state’s form. Radical changes would give an opening to radical forces such as Islamic fascism and tribalism.

Tovya responds:
My opinion is not that Islam as a religion is fascist, but the way that Islam is interpreted is Fascist by and large.

Like I’ve stated time and time again, not every Muslim follows the dogma of death–but unfortunately those who follow the peaceful route are largely ignored or are to scared to speak up.

So is Islam fascist by itself? No, but once upon a time, Christianity was fascist in its interpretation as well. Had I been writing this blog in the 17th century, I would have written precisely the same thing that I am writing about Islam today.

Christianity grew up and began to interpret their doctrine in a much more peaceful manner as it evolved. Islam, ironically, started off on a very high plateau and slowly descended downwards.

At one time, Islam created the great scientific knowledge of its day, and was much more welcoming to “unbelievers” than Christianity was during the same time period.

Some religion apparently enjoy evolving, and others seem to like dissolving.

I've been very busy lately working on a project with Tovya among other things. I can't tell you what the project is at the moment but I'll unveil it soon.

Criticism of Saudi Arabia is a Neo-Con thing now

I've been following the debate over the Obama's administration's appointment of Chas Freeman to head the National Intelligence Council. I've read Jeffrey Goldberg's, Jon Chait's, and the Wall Street Journal's take on this. I've also read Stephen "The Israel Lobby" Walt's, James Fallows', and M.J. Rosenberg's defense of Freeman. If you haven't read Chait's "elegant takedown" of Walt yet, I recommend you do so.

Now that there is a new administration in the White House it looks like everything is flipped over our heads. As Matt Welch points out, the "Bush neo-cons" were the ones criticized by Lefties for being connected to the Saudis and for not caring about Human Rights there. Now these same Lefties are defending Freeman who is a Saudi apologist and a payed shill of the clan.

Now let me make this clear, I'm a Lefty, was very much opposed to countless Bush administration policies, including the Iraq war, and a supporter of President Obama. But this reversal of principles by some of the Left reminds me how hypocritical Israeli critics are sometimes and one should not be ashamed to agree on issues with the Right.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still a supporter of Obama, but I must take issue with this. Freeman defenders say that he is not afraid of telling "truth to power" and that a national intelligence analyst doesn't need to be able to make moral distinctions. This is ridiculous.

Welch concludes:
This is a man with warped judgment, and I'd rather not pay his salary, let alone have him screening important national intelligence. If that's the modern hate-fiction definition of "neocon," then perhaps it's time for a new definition.
I concur.

(HT: Jeffrey Goldberg)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hypocrisy Week

This week is Israel Apartheid Week. I have already written about why Israel isn't an apartheid state. But here is the reason in the flesh - Ishmael Khaldi, the Israeli deputy counsel general in San Francisco, and as the name suggest he's not Jewish but an Arab Bedouin writing for the Chronicle newspaper:
For those who haven't heard, the first week in March has been designated as Israel Apartheid Week by activists who are either ill intentioned or misinformed. On American campuses, organizing committees are planning happenings to once again castigate Israel as the lone responsible party for all that maligns the Middle East.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The poster up top is a "spoof [which] shows the same boy being used as a shield by militants launching rockets at Israel, while journalists film the boy.

It was created by Australia-born David Guy, 54, from Rehovot, and his son's best friend, 23-year-old Guy Gurfinkel from Shoham, who will
begin studies at the Bezalel Academy of Arts next year. "

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ni’lin pays tribute to Jewish victims of the Holocaust

You don't see this everyday:
BETHLEHEM – Every Friday, the West Bank village of Ni'lin is home to some of the most violent clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian, Israeli and international demonstrators.

Each week, activists from the village's Land Defence Committee stage demonstrations at the Separation Barrier which cuts off as much as half the village's farmland and water from its inhabitants.

As a reporter for a Palestinian news agency in Bethlehem, I too travelled to Ni'lin, but last weekend beheld a spectacle perhaps more remarkable than these weekly Barrier protests: Villagers had set up an exhibition to coincide with the United Nations-declared International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January, an exhibition organised by Ni'lin's Popular Committee Against the Wall.

Hassan Moussa, the exhibition's organiser, spoke to me over the phone from Ni'lin. And despite the hot-headed rhetoric coming from both sides that weekend (a number of protesters were tear-gassed just hours before), Moussa explained that the exhibit was organised with the most noble of intentions.

"This is a way of extending our sympathy for the Jews," and the Palestinians' way of extending that sympathy "to the Israeli people, themselves," he says.

"Nobody thinks war will lead to peace and security. It will lead to more violence and hatred and agony, as well as suffering to this area, which is neither in our interest, nor the Israelis."

Since late January the people of Ni'lin have opted to complement their demonstrations with something "to show the Israelis that we feel sorry for them."

As a Palestinian activist, Moussa says he also wants to convey his suffering: "My suffering will not lead to peace. When I lose my land, it's like losing your heart from your body."

The village's Municipality hosted the Holocaust Remembrance Exhibition at its headquarters in Ni'lin, where organisers say more than 1,000 visitors have paid tribute to the victims of Nazi atrocities committed against Europe’s Jews.

The exhibition of posters and texts, provided by an Israeli Holocaust museum, details "the genocide that was committed against the Jewish people during the 1930s and 1940s in Germany and in other parts of Europe," Moussa explains.

"We admit that there was terrible pain inflicted on the Jewish people as a result of this genocide," he says. "We are feeling sorry for this genocide.”

Moussa added that "the Palestinians have no connection at all with that genocide… It is our fate to live on this land so we have to live in peace—only peace can bring security," he explains.

"We feel sorry for you," Moussa says when pressed for his message to the Israeli people. "Our hand is extended in peace; we are ready to make peace with the Israeli government."

"We want peace for the people of Israel, and the people of Palestine and the people of the world, as well," he says. "This is our way to express this message; it is our message to the whole world."

The exhibit is not only intended for Israelis, though a number have attended. "Frankly speaking, the people who came and visited the exhibition, [for the] first time saw something about this genocide," Moussa says. "They heard some from their history books, but this is the first time they saw the pictures."

The most common Palestinian reaction after seeing the horrifying images, Moussa tells me, is that "they feel sorry; they feel really sorry for the [Jews], once they see the posters."

One in five of the village's 5,000 residents are estimated to have viewed the exhibition, with hundreds more from Israel and elsewhere in the West Bank. It is still open to the public at the village's municipality building.

"We received so many visitors," Moussa says. "Even some Israeli activists came to have a look at the exhibition." Particularly interested were those Israelis whose ancestors survived the Holocaust: "They came and they appreciated the idea."

"And they expressed their sorrow for us," Moussa notes. "Their message, as well as my message, is to create a new type of generation that really believes in peace."
Thanks to Jewschool.