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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Chicago Tribune on the resurgence of anti-Semitism

This otherwise excellent article by Russell Working about ant-Semitism in the Chicago Tribune, on THE RESURGENCE OF ANTI-SEMITISMm leaves one issue undecided:

Some people, including many Jews, who decry anti-Semitism as very real and extremely ugly trace its worsening to Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. It can be a tricky topic, holding Israel accountable for its actions toward Palestinians without condoning anti-Semitism.

"You don't want to say it's Jews' fault that there are anti-Semites," said Jesse Bacon of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago. "But it's more a question of what could we concretely do in keeping with our own values to lessen this problem. And I would suggest that would be reaching a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
Mr. Working raises the issue but doesn't really settle it. Perhaps there is something not quite right about Bacon's reasoning.  It seems to me that there was anti-Semitism before there was an occupation, and I remember reading something about a Holocaust even before there was a state of Israel. Mr. Bacon doesn't seem to have taken that into account. I even remember that there was a blood libel in Damascus over 150 years ago, before the rise of Zionism.  Not only that, but the leader of the Arab Palestinians opposed to the creation of Israel, the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al Husseini was not exactly known for his love of the Jews. In fact, he organized SS Einsatzgruppen in Yugoslavia and ensured the deaths of thousands of Jews.  Isn't it at least equally true that if we want to bring about peace in the Middle East, then we need to reduce the level of anti-Semitism in Arab countries, which preceded both the occupation and the creation of the State of Israel?
Mr. Working started well, but he seems to have abandoned his original idea as he progressed in the article. Initially he wrote:
Imagine you're walking down Michigan Avenue when a madman in soiled pajamas and a tinfoil Viking hat strides up. He hands you a photocopied cartoon of an ogre with a Star of David on his chest. The creature is devouring a baby. You speed up. So does your new friend. He mutters: Hey buster, listen up. See, it's all their fault. These wars? They're to blame. The Holocaust? They bought it on. They bake the blood of children into matzos. They use "Tom and Jerry" cartoons, Lions Clubs and AIDS to dominate the world. You know who I mean: The Jews.

So how to deal with this fellow?
I ask you, Mr. Working. If Israel withdraws from the West Bank and Gaza strip, do you think that the man with the tinfoil hat is going to change his mind about the Jews? It is a good question to put to Mr. Bacon as well.
And Mr. Working continued:
The Hamas charter blames Jews for evils dating to the French Revolution. The document also may be history's first revolutionary manifesto that lists, as a cause for war, an imaginary plot by Jews to control the world through Lions and Rotary clubs.
Indeed, and did you remind Mr. Bacon of the above fact? And did you consider together the implications of the fact that the abovementioned sweet and reasonable Hamas movement are in charge of the Gaza strip? The man with the tinfoil hat is the one who is controlling the peace process unfortunately, and his rockets and suicide bombers are not made of tinfoil. Perhaps getting the man in the tinfoil hat some help or putting him where he can't do any harm is a necessary condition for progress in peace in the Middle East.
Ami Isseroff  

No hatred so common
By Russell Working
September 30, 2007

Imagine you're walking down Michigan Avenue when a madman in soiled pajamas and a tinfoil Viking hat strides up. He hands you a photocopied cartoon of an ogre with a Star of David on his chest. The creature is devouring a baby. You speed up. So does your new friend. He mutters: Hey buster, listen up. See, it's all their fault. These wars? They're to blame. The Holocaust? They bought it on. They bake the blood of children into matzos. They use "Tom and Jerry" cartoons, Lions Clubs and AIDS to dominate the world. You know who I mean: The Jews.

So how to deal with this fellow? A) Secure him a professorship at a leading university. B) Hire him to produce a television series. C) Appoint him to a position of power and allow him to deliver policy speeches to UN agencies. D) All of the above.

If you answered "D," you are on to something. Or so one is tempted to conclude when considering the resurgence of the ancient madness known as anti-Semitism.

In its scope, anti-Semitism is rare among Earth's infinite hatreds. Hutus exterminated Tutsis in Rwanda, Christians are targeted in China and Iraq, and Muslims see persecution in many lands, from India to France to the U.S. Discrimination is a daily fact of American life, not just for blacks but for Asians, Latinos and Native Americans.

But few hatreds unite such a vast range of establishment voices worldwide. The perfidy of the Jews is espoused by Syrian authors, Lebanese TV anchors, Italian cartoonists, Egyptian newsmen and heads of state from Malaysia to the Mediterranean. And it is coming home to roost once again in Europe.

Matthias Kuentzel, a German scholar who has traced the influence of Adolf Hitler in the Muslim world, says Judeophobia is at its worst level since the Nazi era. The Middle East conflicts fuel anger at Israel, but this is more than just frustrated people blowing off steam.

It is a demonology that encompasses all Jews, wherever they live or whatever their stand on Israel. It is an "infrastructure of the soul" for those who embrace it, Kuentzel says.

Consider: The madman's tirade above was based on real sources:

Editorial cartoons across the Middle East and Europe portray Israelis as ogres who devour babies, drawing on medieval and Nazi imagery.

The Irish News--following the lead of many other media--published a cartoon last year depicting an Orthodox Jew controlling Pentagon policy.

A store on Devon Avenue in Chicago sells books by a Turkish author who argues that Zionist leaders cooperated with the Nazis in organizing the Holocaust against their own people.

In 2003, a Lebanese television series dramatized Jews kidnapping and murdering Christian children and draining their blood to make matzos. In a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute, a rabbi munches the unleavened bread and observes, "This one is tastier and holier because it was kneaded with pure blood, the blood of Joseph." Similar claims routinely circulate in the Islamic world.

The Hamas charter blames Jews for evils dating to the French Revolution. The document also may be history's first revolutionary manifesto that lists, as a cause for war, an imaginary plot by Jews to control the world through Lions and Rotary clubs.

Egyptian and Jordanian newspapers have reported that Jews were selling drug-laced gum. Other accounts blame the spread of AIDS on Jewish doctors purposely infecting children with HIV.

A cultural adviser to the Iranian Education Ministry went on state television last year to explain that "Tom and Jerry" was part of a Jewish plot to improve the image of rodents, because Jews are, after all, regarded as "dirty mice."

It's not just the Islamic world in which bigotry threatens. The Community Security Trust, a British group that helps Jewish organizations set up security, tracked 412 attacks on Jewish targets outside Israel in the 25 years following 1968.

Stores were bombed in Paris; Lima, Peru; and Melbourne, Australia. In 2003, bombs at two synagogues in Istanbul killed 25 and wounded more than 300. A bomb outside a kindergarten in Vienna in 1982 failed to go off. It takes a certain level of indoctrination to conclude that 5-year-olds pose a danger so grave they must be eradicated with TNT.

The United States tends to be a safe part of the world for Jews, but it takes only one nut to endanger others. Last year a gunman offered his contribution toward the liberation of Palestine by forcing his way inside a Seattle Jewish center with a gun in the back of a 14-year-old girl. He then wounded five women and shot another dead, police said.

The man has pleaded insanity. How that distinguishes him from other anti-Semites is another issue.

(A word here on terminology: Arabs often say that because they are Semitic peoples, it is absurd to call an Arab "anti-Semitic." But the term traditionally has been defined as an animus toward the Jewish people, and that is how it is used here.)

Some people, including many Jews, who decry anti-Semitism as very real and extremely ugly trace its worsening to Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. It can be a tricky topic, holding Israel accountable for its actions toward Palestinians without condoning anti-Semitism.

"You don't want to say it's Jews' fault that there are anti-Semites," said Jesse Bacon of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago. "But it's more a question of what could we concretely do in keeping with our own values to lessen this problem. And I would suggest that would be reaching a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

In Britain last year, attacks on Jews and other anti-Semitic incidents reached their worst level on record, according to the Community Security Trust. A parliamentary report last fall concluded that anti-Semitism is going mainstream in the United Kingdom, and that "has contributed to an atmosphere where Jews have become more anxious and more vulnerable to abuse and attack than at any other time for a generation or longer."

Studies in the European Union and Russia have drawn similar conclusions.

Among the British victims was Jasmine Kranat, a north London Jewish girl who went with a friend to buy fruit and yogurt to make smoothies for a sleepover last summer. On the bus home, a group of Asian and black teenage girls boarded the bus.

"One girl asked me, 'Are you English or Jewish?' " said Jasmine, who was 12 at the time, in a phone interview.

She answered, "I'm English," but the girls attacked her. Ignoring her friend, who was wearing a crucifix, the teens beat and stomped Jasmine, fracturing her eye socket and knocking her out. Jasmine's friend dragged her off the bus, and Jasmine was hospitalized.

The turning point in the resurgence of anti-Semitism was a UN-sponsored anti-racism conference in South Africa in 2001, said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based group that battles bigotry worldwide.

That week, Iranians stormed a Wiesenthal news conference and turned over tables. Thousands of Muslim trade unionists demonstrated against Israel, some waving signs that read "Hitler was right." Police said they couldn't guarantee Cooper's safety if he left his hotel. And delegates voted to strike a condemnation of anti-Semitism from the conference's final statement.

As Cooper and about 30 other Jewish delegates walked out, some 3,000 people purportedly committed to battling racism worldwide hooted and jeered.

"The script for what it is we are struggling against was consecrated at that conference," Cooper says.

Last month, planning began on a follow-up gathering to the 2001 anti-racism conference in Durban. Jewish groups are already bracing for Durban II in 2009, fearing it will bring more anti-Semitic bashing of Israel.

An inventory of recent oral and written attacks on Jews by people of power and stature is as long as it is appalling.

Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayyis, imam and preacher at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, beseeched Allah to annihilate the Jews, reported the Middle East Media Research Institute. After all, he said, they are "the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs." Imagine the riots if Pope Benedict XVI spoke this way about Muslims.

In April, the acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council prayed this about Jews and Americans: "Allah, count them and kill them to the last one and don't leave even one."

Surveying the intra-Palestinian fighting in Gaza, Egyptian liberal author Kamal Gabriel recently wrote that the battle with Israel had transformed from hatred of Zionism to a loathing of all Jews. And that "culture and psychology of violence," once unleashed, threatens Palestinians too.

"It starts with the Zionist enemy who is occupying the Holy Land, and then the violence and the hatred spread dangerously, like fire, in the psyche of the one over which [the violence and hatred] have gained mastery," Gabriel wrote. These destructive tendencies "consume everything around them?and the first thing they consume is the light of reason."

Try telling that to the guy in the tinfoil hat.

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Ahmadinejad at the UN - Transcript and issues

The full transcript of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 2007 address to the United Nations is given here. Ahmadinejad's "opting out" of cooperation with the Security Council raises a number of issues regarding Iran's nuclear development program, which are complicated by fresh revelations and even boasts that Iran may have a concealed nuclear program in addition to the facilities now under IAEA inspection.
Read it -- think about it. Perhaps it doesn't mean what you think it means.
Ami Isseroff

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Friday, September 28, 2007

UCU academic boycott of Israel defeated

The academic boycott of Israel proposal that had achieved so much notoriety, was squelched Friday when the UK University and College Union (UCU) announced, after seeking legal advice, that a boycott would be unlawful and could not be implemented. This episode should make Israel boycott opponents think really hard about their strategy in the future, and gain a better understanding of the reasoning behind the Boycott Israel campaigns.

A union resolution last May had called for discussion about the boycott in union branches, but curiously, nobody checked if the proposal was legal. After finally getting legal advice, the union's strategy and finance committee unanimously adopted the recommendation of UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt that the union should immediately inform branches and members that a boycott call would be unlawful and cannot be implemented.

The legal advice given to the union stated that: "...It would be beyond the union's powers and unlawful for the union, directly or indirectly, to call for, or to implement, a boycott by the union and its members of any kind of Israeli universities and other academic institutions; and ... the use of union funds directly or indirectly to further such a boycott would also be unlawful."

The advice further warned that "to ensure that the union acts lawfully, meetings should not be used to ascertain the level of support for such a boycott."

So what is the point? The point is that it would have been no problem to investigate the legal aspects of the boycott before the vote, especially since the UCU motion was based on previous motions. UCU was the product of a merger of two unions. The Association of University Teachers (AUT) had passed a boycott motion and then reversed it, and then the NATFHE (National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education) voted to Boycott Israel. They went even further and voted to support the nice Hamas.

In a better world, it would not occur to academics to support a group of reactionary gangsters like Hamas, or to delude themselves that such support represented a "progressive" cause, or to boycott the universities of a country because they disagree with the political policies of that country. Legal coercion would not be necessary. But we don't live in a better world, we live in this one.

In all the time that has passed since the boycotts were first proposed, it would have been no problem at all to check the legal implications of such decisions, but nobody did it it. Either that, or they had checked and didn't care. The point of the boycott resolutions is not in the actual results they might or might not obtain, but in the great stir and discussion they cause, putting the spotlight on Israel. A good part of this publicity is due to well meaning supporters of Israel. In effect, tiny groups of fanatics are able to use these boycott calls to leverage on the substantial resources of supporters of Israel and ordinary decent union members in order to bring their odious ideas to the attention of the public and lend them the air of legitimacy that comes with notoriety.

And so, I ask again - "Are we victims of the Israel boycott con? "

Ami Isseroff

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Rafael [Israel Military Industries] announces SpotLite-M Enemy Fire Detection System

Rafael Welcomes SpotLite-M to Family of E/O Enemy Fire Detection Systems
(Source: Rafael Armament Development Authority Ltd.; dated Sept. 25, issued
Sept. 28, 2007)
With thanks to

HAIFA, Israel --- Rafael Armament Development Authority Ltd. reveals a new member in its SpotLite Family of electro-optic enemy fire detection systems. The SpotLite-M joins the SpotLite-P (previously SpotLite Mk 2) as the mobile version of the well-known system that is capable of accurately and immediately detecting, locating and thereby enabling reaction to enemy fire sources, such as small arms fire, RPGs and anti-tank missiles.

The inability to accurately locate enemy fire causes many casualties, ineffective and excessive firing and most importantly, keeps the initiative on the battlefield in the hands of the enemy.

The SpotLite-M solves this problem by precisely detecting and locating the shooting enemy in real-time while on the move. Within seconds, the vehicle under fire can react to the threat by using a remote controlled weapon station, changing positions, releasing a smoke screen or other countermeasures. Simultaneously, coordinates of the firing source can be sent to any shooter capable of receiving those coordinates, whether it be a tank, attack helicopter, anti-tank missile, sniper, etc.

The heart of the system is comprised of advanced image processing capabilities with a sophisticated camera developed by Rafael which enables target detection and location at more than the effective range of the various threats. SpotLite-M allows quick and accurate threat detection during the day and at night with up to 360° coverage. In addition to land platforms, the SpotLite-M is also suitable for aerial and naval platforms.

"The SpotLite-M provides the best solution for one of the most serious problems for mobile platforms on any battlefield and that, is finding the enemy and being able to react in real-time," says David Stemer Corporate VP
and General Manager of Rafael's Missile Division. "We are confident that it will attract the attention of our customers worldwide."

The project is being funded by several customers and the installation of a prototype onto a vehicle is Rafael's next major milestone to be completed by the end of 2007.

RAFAEL designs, develops, manufactures and supplies a wide range of advanced defense systems. These leading edge products include naval, air and ground precision weapons, electro-optic systems, electronic warfare (EW) systems, C4I and unmanned systems, acoustic defense systems, armored protection and training systems.


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Who is starving Gaza??

Next time you read about the evil Zionists who are starving the poor residents of Gaza, and who do not want peace,  consider this:
Most of the 54 mortars fired Wednesday landed near the Sufa crossing terminal. The mortars fired Thursday by Hamas militants targeted crossing points at Eretz and Kerem Shalom. There has also been a great deal of intelligence on Hamas' plans to target the crossing points into Gaza.
As such, a paradox has emerged in which the Israeli government, the U.S. and Fatah believe that by exerting greater pressure on the Gaza Strip's residents, the people will overthrow the Hamas regime there, while the Islamic group is doing its best to shut down the crossings - perhaps assuming that if the civilians suffer more, they will side with Hamas.
Senior Hamas officials deny that they intend this. Ismail Haniyeh says Hamas is interested in opening the crossings, but he was hard-pressed to explain the obvious attempt by Hamas militants to destroy the crossings.
"The military wing decides its targets in an effort to bring an end to the siege over the Strip," he told Haaretz.
But how is shooting at the crossings expected to contribute to lifting the siege? Only Hamas seems to know the answer.
Among the militants continuing the attacks are those encouraged by Iran. As for Hamas, it is keeping to the limits it has set for itself: It claims responsibility for the mortar attacks, but the Qassam attacks are being outsourced to other groups it supports.
These attacks are expected to intensify as we close in on the summit scheduled to take place in Washington in November.
Every time there is movement toward peace, the attacks intensify. What is the conclusion?
Ami Isseroff

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce established

Last update - 06:31 26/09/2007    
Principled investment - the idea behind divestment, can work both ways.
By The Associated Press

Gov. Rick Perry announced on Tuesday the establishment of the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce, an agency meant to foster economic exchange and academic collaboration between the two.
Perry also said he has asked the directors of the Employees Retirement System and Teachers Retirement System to divest their funds from companies doing business with Iran. The governor said Texans will not condone Iran's support of terrorism.
"I personally believe that any company that does business with Iran is actively assisting those who seek to harm American men and women who are serving in the Middle East and funds terror attacks on our allies in the region," Perry said.

"And so, today, as we usher in a new era of relations between Texas and Israel, we speak of a grand vision of a world where terror is defeated by kinship, economic partnerships create new opportunity and people are free to work and live in peace," he added.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has previously called for the destruction of Israel - an American ally in the Middle East.
Texas is Israel's third largest U.S. trading partner, and the newly formed chamber is the first such statewide agency partnering with another country, the governor's office said.
"Israel has a highly educated work force and is the site of valuable academic research. That has led 14 U.S. states to create formal programs to promote economic ties with the Middle Eastern country," said Asher Yarden, Israel's consul general in the Southwest.
"Israel's technology industry was created to sustain homeland security and defense," Yarden said.
"That could benefit Texas, which, like Israel, shares concerns about the security of its border," Perry said during his visit to an engineering and research lab at the University of Texas at Dallas - which conducts research in audiology, computer science, nanotechnology, space science and telecommunications.
The Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce - created by the governor's office and the
Israel-American Chamber of Commerce - will be based in the Dallas suburb of Richardson.
"Trade between Israel and Texas has grown quickly, particularly in the telecom, defense, biomedical and computer software and hardware fields," said Russell Levine, the new chamber's chief executive.

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Did the Israeli FM meet with the Syrian Foreign Minister?

FM Livni denies report she met with Syrian counterpart in N.Y.

A Nazareth-based publication reported on Thursday that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had met with her Syrian counterpart Walid Moallem in New York this week. Livni's camp denied the report.

The Arabic-language weekly publication Al-Sinara reported that Livni and Moallem had met at the New York home of the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. The publication, which cited Arab diplomatic sources in the United States as the source of the report, said that the emir surprised the two foreign ministers with a proposition to arrange a meeting.

According to the report, Livni received special authorization from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to meet with the Syrian official. The Israeli and Syrian ambassadors to the United Nations were also present at the meeting, Al-Sinara reported.

The meeting revolved around the urgent need to calm the escalating tensions between Israel and Syria, the report added.

The report is a bit thin, but it is not impossible. Topics for conversation in the alleged meeting might include the upcoming peace conference, the "alleged" Israeli air attack in Syria, the "alleged" Syrian support for Hezbollah and many others. Perhaps they even discussed Rami Khouri's intriguing offer to trade Lebanese land for Israeli peace with Syria.
Ami Isseroff

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nadia Abu el-Haj and the revival of racist genetics

The false science of racial genetics, developed to its fullest extent by certain people in a certain country in central Europe, was thought to be dead. This "science" was based on the assumptions that modern nations or peoples constitute distinct "racial" groups, and that it is possible to prove political points based on "scientific" racial characteristics. For example, the "negroid race" was thought to be inferior, the "Aryan race" was thought to be the true inheritors of Europe and world dominion. As for the Jews, better not ask.
Two articles about Columbia Professor Nadia Abu el-Haj merit our attention in this regard:
The above takes on the dubious contention that Jews don't come from the Middle East, a contention generally advanced by racists and often disproved. It began, of course, with the speculations of Arthur Koestler that Jews are descended from Khazars, since dispoved as well, but ubiquitous among articles by anti-Zionists and Holocaust deniers. The question nobody raises is "who cares?" Arabs did not originate in North Africa, but nonetheless claim sovereignty over large parts of it. The identification of peoplehood with "race" was an invention of the Nazis, since discredited.
And Nadia Abu el Haj and Junk DNA. It seems el Haj is hard at work on the genetics aspects of the Jewish problem. Her conclusions are junk science, of the type that was done in a certain European country around 1938.  
Ami Isseroff

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Much ado about Gaza

Barak says large-scale Gaza operation is fast approaching
Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 26, 2007
If it is done before the summit conference, it would look very bad. After that, weather conditions are bad. So what is he talking about, and why is he talking about it?
Generally if IDF is going to do, they don't talk. If they talk, they aren't going to do.
Ami Isseroff

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Ahmadinejad Columbia remarks removed from his Web site

Guess what?
But then they eliminated the whole QA it seems (see here for transcript) :

by PageOneQ

The official website of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has removed a portion of a transcript of his speech yesterday at Columbia University. In the scrubbed section, part of a question and answer period, Ahmadinejad said there are no homosexuals in Iran.

In a statement released by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission the organization noted that the comments had been removed from the Persian language version of the site, but left in the English transcription of the speech. Following an inquiry by PageOneQ made to the Iranian embassy, the entire question and answer period has been removed from the site.

PageOneQ and Raw Story reported Monday on Ahmadinejad's comments (Story - Video). In response to a question on the execution of gays in Iran, Ahmadinejad said there were no homosexuals in his country.

"In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country," he said. Audience members booed and howled at the guest. "In Iran we do not have this phenomenon, I don't know who has told you that we have it," he added.

"The first reaction of many of us was to join in the astonished response to President Ahmadinejad's clearly outrageous view that no lesbian or gay people live in Iran," said IGLHRC executive director Paula Ettlebrick. "But, the whitewashing of his comments from the eyes and ears of most Iranian citizens speaks to something more troubling. His denial attempts to simply erase from public view the lives of men and women who face regular abuse in his country. Perhaps he knows he could not credibly get away with such a denial among his own people."

The president's website normally contains full transcripts of Ahmadinejad's speeches. According to IGLHRC, no Persian language papers have reported on the remarks. "To date, not a single Persian-language media outlet in Iran - including Iran's official news agency, IRNA, and the semi-independent news agencies, ISNA, Mehrrnews and Farsnews, and the Wednesday morning newspapers - has reported on the President's comments," said IGLHRC's statement.


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Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Slander?

More about Nadia Abu El-Haj

Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Slander? [on Nadia Abu El-Haj]
by Aren M. Maeir
The Columbia Spectator (Columbia University)
September 21, 2007

With the decision on whether or not to tenure the controversial historian Joseph Massad still pending at Columbia, Barnard College has begun the process of deciding whether to tenure yet another controversial young Middle Eastern scholar.

Nadia Abu El-Haj, a social anthropologist and an assistant professor at Barnard, has written a study of the effect that archaeology has had on the ideological fashioning of the modern State of Israel, "Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society".

Reviews by scholars intimately familiar with the state of archaeology in Israel (including the present writer) have pointed out that the book is replete with inaccuracies, faulty research (both methods and tools of research), and displays a very strong ideological bias which strongly taints the book, the research, and needless to say, the conclusions. Her work displays her lack of the necessary tools of research (such as a working knowledge of Hebrew) to enable a close study of Israeli society, and her opinions are unsupported by the evidence. The book's only strength is that it conceptualizes Israeli archaeology within the dogmas of post-colonial theory.

At Barnard as at Columbia, certain departments appear to be so deeply in thrall to the late Edward Said, that scholarship is valued not for rigorous methodology or mastery of a body of evidence, but according to the rigor with which it conforms to the orthodoxies of post-colonialism.

Of course, Abu El-Haj has every right to publish shoddy work. I am reminded of a legendary story told about a meeting of the prestigious American Oriental Society years ago at which a young scholar gave an embarrassingly poor paper. After he had finished, there was an uncomfortable silence in the crowd, until W.F. Albright, the noted scholar of the Near East, got up and said, "We have just heard a fine example of the grand old American tradition of the freedom of speech."

My current claim against Ms. Abu El-Haj is on another ground. As part of her attack on the practice of archaeology in Israel (and, in her opinion, its constant and ongoing misuse for ideological purposes), one of her primary modi operandi is slander. In her book she attacks, harangues, vilifies and slanders respected archaeologists in the field. In particular, she abhorrently attacks professor David Ussishkin of Tel Aviv University, one of the most respected archaeologists in the Near East, excavator of Lachish, Jezreel and currently, Megiddo. Abu El-Haj accuses David Ussishkin of "bad science," of using bulldozers "in order to get down to earlier strata which are saturated with national significance, as quickly as possible" and in such a way that "the remains above it were summarily destroyed." He did so, she asserts, despite the fact that anonymous British archaeologists "strenuously objected." Abu El-Haj cites the same anonymous archaeologists to assert that Ussishkin used "large shovels, pickaxes and large buckets in order to move through the earth," "moved through dirt rather quickly" and ignored "smaller remains" in an effort to reach "architectural structures" "that can illuminate the history (the chronology of identity)" of the Jewish national connection to the land.

This is analogous to accusing a surgeon of deciding whether to use a scalpel or a hacksaw according to the patient's ethnic "identity." The slanderous, and one must add, baseless accusations against Ussishkin (which he has publicly denied, see: is, in effect, an attempt to prevent him from doing his work.

Abu El-Haj's goal is to de-legitimize Israeli archaeology because of what she sees as its relationship "to the Israeli state and society and the role it played in the formation and enactment of its colonial-national historical imagination and in the substantiation of its territorial claims." Abu El-Haj asserts that "what was considered to have been ancient Jewish national existence and sovereignty in their homeland" is a mere Zionist "myth." By accusing David Ussishkin and other esteemed archaeologists of bulldozing through upper strata because of the "nationalist politics guiding [their] research agendas," she endeavors to call into question the validity of the work of highly respected scholars who have devoted careers to uncovering the history of this land. They have done so not merely with regard to the times of the ancient Israelite kingdoms, but of every period from the Paleolithic to the Ottoman Empire, and they have done so with great devotion, using brushes, sieves, non-invasive ground-penetrating radar and other state-of-the art methodology.

Abu El-Haj is frank about her desire to reframe the "Jewish/Israeli belief in ancient Israelite origins ... as pure political fabrication." In her book, she seeks to de-legitimize all archaeologists now digging in Israel—and the facts they uncover in the ground—by lodging slanderous charges based on the testimony of anonymous witnesses.

Freedom of speech, and of research, does in fact have to be defended! Particularly against those who use a form of "newspeak" to de-legitimize respected practitioners of science and in effect, curtail their ability, and right, to conduct and publish their research.

The author is an Israeli archaeologist from Bar-Ilan University

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Anti-Zionist and anti-American quotes - Ahmadinejad in his own words

Following are some real anti-Zionist quotes from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
September 24, 2007:
Ahmadinejad about Homosexuals (Iran hangs them):
 In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country. (Laughter.) We don't have that in our country. (Booing.) In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have it. (Laughter.)  Ahmadinejad at Columbia University
Ahmadinejad on Islam and the West and related matters:
(from an e-mail distributed by
Religious extremism and martyrdom:
  • "We don't shy away from declaring that Islam is ready to rule the world." 1
  • "The wave of the Islamist revolution will soon reach the entire world." 2
  • "Our revolution's main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi." 3
  • "Soon Islam will become the dominating force in the world, occupying first place in the number of followers amongst all other religions."4
  • "Is there a craft more beautiful, more sublime, more divine, than the craft of giving yourself to martyrdom and becoming holy? Do not doubt, Allah will prevail, and Islam will conquer mountain tops of the entire world." 5
  • "What is important is that they have shown the way to martyrdom which we must follow.'' 6 [President Ahmadinejad's comments on an aircraft crash in Tehran that killed 108 people in December 2005].
  • Ahmadinejad praises Iran for being able to recruit thousands of suicide bombers a day. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad praised his country's ability to recruit "hundreds of suicide bombers a day," saying "suicide is an invincible weapon. Suicide bombers in this land showed us the way, and they enlighten our future.??????? Amadinejad said the will to commit suicide was "one of the best ways of life." 7
  • "This regime (Israel) will one day disappear."8
  • "The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm.9
  • Israel is "a disgraceful stain on the Islamic world" 10
  • Israel is doomed to be "wiped from the map" in "a war of destiny." 11
  • Ahmadinejad said that "the countdown for the destruction of Israel" has begun. 12
  • Zionists are "the personification of Satan."13
  • "In the case of any unwise move by the fake regime of Israel, Iran's response will be so destructive and quick that this regime will regret its move for ever." 14
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that the Holocaust is a "myth."15
  • "Them (the Wt) invented the myth of the massacre of the Jews and placed it above Allah, religions and prophets."16

Iran, its nuclear ambitions and sanctions:

  • "By the grace of Allah, we (will be) a nuclear power."17
  • Ahmadinejad fired off a fresh barrage of warnings to the United Nations, saying Iran did "not give a damn" about demands to freeze sensitive nuclear work. 18
  • "Iran does not give a damn about resolutions." 19
  • "The Islamic republic of Iran has the capacity to quickly become a world superpower. If we believe in ourselves... no other power can be compared to us." 20
  • "Iran's enemies know your courage, faith and commitment to Islam and the land of Iran has created a powerful army that can powerfully defend the political borders and the integrity of the Iranian nation and cut off the hand of any aggressor and place the sign of disgrace on their forehead." 21
  • "Our enemies should know that they are unable to even slightly hurt our nation and they cannot create the tiniest obstacle on its glorious and progressive way." 22
  • "In parallel to the official political war there is a hidden war going on and the Islamic states should benefit from their economic potential to cut off the hands of the enemies." 23
2 Pryce-Jones, David, ???????A Particular Madness????????Understanding Iran????????s Ahmadinejad,??????? National Review, May 8, 2006
3 Agence France Presse, April 28th, 2006
6 La Guardia, Anton, ???????????????Divine mission???????? driving Iran????????s new leader Ahmadinejad????????s confidence,??????? The Daily Telegraph, January 14th, 2006
7 Cohen, Dudi, ???????Iranian President lauds suicide bombers invincible,??????? YnetNews, April 1st, 2007
9 Baldwin, Tom, ???????The state of Israel will soon be history, says Iran????????s President,??????? The Times, April 15th, 2006
10 Agence France Presse, April 28th, 2006
11 Agence France Presse, April 28th, 2006
16 Ghazi, Siavosh. ???????Ahmadinejad qualifie de "mythe" l'Holocauste, ne c????de pas sur le nucl????aire,??????? Agence France Presse, 14 December, 2005
17 ???????Les prix du p????trole reculent avec la dissipation des craintes sur l'essence,??????? Agence France Presse, April 27th, 2006.
18 Agence France Presse, April 28th, 2006
29 Agence France Presse, April 28th, 2006
20 Agence France Presse, April 28th, 2006
21 Agence France Presse, April 28th, 2006
22 Agence France Presse, April 28th, 2006
Ahmadinejad On Israel and the Holocaust:
Source: here
August 28, 2007
"Zionists are people without any religion.  They are lying about being Jewish because religion means brotherhood, friendship and respecting other divine religions?
They are an organized minority who have infiltrated the world. They are not even a 10,000-strong organization."
(At a news conference in Tehran)


August 18, 2007 
"The Zionist regime is the flag bearer of violation and occupation and this regime is the flag of Satan. ?It is not unlikely that this regime be on the path to dissolution and deterioration when the philosophy behind its creation and survival is invalid."
(Address to an international religious conference in Tehran)
June 3, 2007
[Friendly intentions toward Israel]  "With God's help, the countdown button for the destruction of the Zionist regime has been pushed by the hands of the children of Lebanon and Palestine . . . By God's will, we will witness the destruction of this regime in the near future."
(Speech, as quoted by the Fars News Agency)

March 21, 2007
"It is quite clear that a bunch of Zionist racists are the problem the modern world is facing today. They have access to global power and media centers and seek to use this access to keep the world in a state of hardship, poverty and grudge and strengthen their rule. The great nation of Iran is opposed to this inhuman trend. Of course, the Iranian nation will stick to its rightful stance. The Zionists and their supporters do not know that they are using failed approaches to take on human values, human civilization, nations and the great nation of Iran. Admitting the right of the dear Iranian nation and submitting to justice and the rule of law are the best way to salvation and the best way out of the deadlocks they have created for themselves."
(from a recorded New Year's message aired on Iranian television)

February 28, 2007
"The Zionists are the true manifestation of Satan . . . Many Western governments that claim to be pioneers of democracy and standard bearers of human rights close their eyes over crimes committed by the Zionists and by remaining silent support the Zionists due to their hedonistic and materialistic tendencies."
(to a meeting of Sudanese Islamic scholars in Khartoum)

December 12, 2006
"Thanks to people's wishes and God's will the trend for the existence of the Zionist regime is downwards and this is what God has promised and what all nations want?Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out"
(Comments to Iran's Holocaust Conference)
November 29, 2006
[About the "Israel Lobby'] "What have the Zionists done for the American people that the US administration considers itself obliged to blindly support these infamous aggressors?  Is it not because they have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural and media sectors?"
(Letter from Ahmadinejad "to the American people")

November 13, 2006
[Friendly intentions toward Israel]
"Israel is destined for destruction and will soon disappear"
Israel is "a contradiction to nature, we foresee its rapid disappearance and destruction."
October 19, 2006
"The Zionist regime is counterfeit and illegitimate and cannot survive"
(as quoted by Iranian state television)
August 6, 2006
"They (Israel) kill women and children, young and old. And, behind closed doors, they make plans for the advancement of their evil goals."
(as quoted by Khorasan Provincial TV)
August 4, 2006
"A new Middle East will prevail without the existence of Israel."
(as quoted by Malaysian news agency Bernama website)
August 2, 2006
[Lebanon War] "Although the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime, at this stage an immediate cease-fire must be implemented."
(as quoted by Iranian TV)
"Are they human beings?... They (Zionists) are a group of blood-thirsty savages putting all other criminals to shame."
(as quoted by Iranian TV)

July 16, 2006
"The Zionists think that they are victims of Hitler, but they act like Hitler and behave worse than Genghis Khan."
(as quoted by the Iranian News Agency)
July 13, 2006
"The Zionists and their protectors are the most detested people in all of humanity, and the hatred is increasing every day."
"The worse their crimes, the quicker they will fall." 
"[Israel] has blackened the pages of history".
(as quoted by Iranian state television)
June 16, 2006
[Holocaust denial] "I think we have sufficiently talked about this matter and these Holocaust events need to be further investigated by independent and impartial parties."
"An event that has influenced so many diplomatic and political equations of the world needs to investigated and researched by impartial and independent groups."
"If it is true, then the response to this question should not be solved in Palestine. The Palestinian question should be settled as soon as possible.  If it is false, why should such measures be taken against the people of Palestine?"
(a news conference following a meeting with China's president)

May 28, 2006
"I believe the German people are prisoners of the Holocaust.  More than 60 million were killed in World War II . . . The question is: Why is it that only the Jews are at the center of attention?"
"We say that if the Holocaust happened, then the Europeans must accept the consequences and the price should not be paid by Palestine.  If it did not happen, then the Jews must return to where they came from."
(in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel magazine)
May 11, 2006
Israel is "a regime based on evil that cannot continue and one day will vanish."
(to a student rally in Jakarta, Indonesia)
April 24, 2006
''We say that this fake regime (Israel) cannot not logically continue to live. Open the doors (of Europe) and let the Jews go back to their own countries."
(In a news conference held on April 24, 2006)
April 14, 2006
"The Zionist regime is an injustice and by its very nature a permanent threat. Whether you like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation.  The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm."
"If there is serious doubt over the Holocaust, there is no doubt over the catastrophe and holocaust being faced by the Palestinians. Holocaust has been continuing in Palestine over the past 60 years."
(In a speech at the opening of the "Support for the Palestinian Intifada" conference on April 14-16 hosted in Tehran)
February 23, 2006
[About terrorist bombings in Iraq] "These heinous acts are committed by a group of Zionists and occupiers that have failed. They have failed in the face of Islam's logic and justice . . . They invade the shrine and bomb there because they oppose God and justice . . . But be sure, you will not be saved from the wrath and power of the justice-seeking nations by resorting to such acts."
(In a speech broadcast on state television, where Ahmadinejad suggested that the bombing of a major Shiite shrine in Iraq ?y Sunni insurgents was plotted by Israel and the U.S. to divide Muslims.)

January 5, 2006
"Hopefully, the news that the criminal of Sabra and Chatilla has joined his ancestors is final."
(To a group of Muslim clerics in the Iranian city of Qom, as quoted in the semi-official student news agency ISNA, in a reference to the illness of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon).
"[N]o Muslim nation would put up with this entity [i.e. Israel] in Islamic lands, not for one moment ? If it's true that the [Europeans] committed a big crime in World War II, then they must take responsibility for it themselves, and not ask the Palestinian people to pay the price ? Those countries that support this regime [Israel] were terrified at the suggestion that [Israel] should be relocated to their neighborhood. So why should the Palestinians and the countries in our region accept this entity?"
(In a speech before an audience in the Iranian city of Qom, aired on television)
January 2, 2006
"[The creation of Israel after World War II] killed two birds with one stone [for Europe] ? [The objectives achieved by Europe were] [s]weeping the Jews out of Europe and at the same time creating a European appendix with a Zionist and anti-Islamic nature in the heart of the Islamic world ?Zionism is a Western ideology and a colonialist idea ... and right now it massacres Muslims with direct guidance and help from the United States and a part of Europe ... Zionism is basically a new [form of] fascism."
(In written answers to questions from the public reproduced in several Iranian newspapers)
December 14, 2005
"Today, they [Europeans] have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets ? This is our proposal: give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them [Jews] so that the Jews can establish their country."
(Speaking to thousands of people in the Iranian city of Zahedan)

December 8, 2005
"Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces.... Although we don't accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, our question for the Europeans is: Is the killing of innocent Jewish people by Hitler the reason for their support to the occupiers of Jerusalem?  If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe -- like in Germany, Austria or other countries -- to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe."
(While speaking to reporters at an Islamic summit in Mecca)
November 27, 2005
"You [the United States], who have used nuclear weapons against innocent people, who have used uranium ordnance in Iraq, should be tried as war criminals in courts."
(During a nationally televised ceremony of the establishment of Iran's volunteer Basij paramilitary)
October 29, 2005
"They [the United States] think they are the absolute rulers of the world."
(Marching in a demonstration alongside a crowd of students in Tehran)
October 28, 2005
"They [International Zionist and Expansionist Policies of the World Arrogance, i.e. United States and Israel] are cheeky humans, and they think that the entire world should obey them. They destroy Palestinian families and expect nobody to object to them."
(Defending his earlier comments)
October 26, 2005
"Israel must be wiped off the map ? The establishment of a Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world . . . The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of the war of destiny.  The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land."
(In an address to 4,000 students at a program titled, 'The World Without Zionism')
June 19, 2005
 [About the UN] "It is not just for a few states to sit and veto global approvals. Should such a privilege continue to exist, the Muslim world with a population of nearly 1.5 billion should be extended the same privilege."
(In an interview with state television shortly before his election)
June 8, 2005
The UN structure is one-sided, stacked against the world of Islam.
(In an interview on state television)

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Christian persecution in Gaza

Those freedom loving Hamas are at it again. Next time Sabeel visits your church and tries to badmouth Israel, ask them if their secular democratic state won't look like this.

Gaza: Christian-Muslim tensions heat up

An attack on an 80-year-old Christian woman in Gaza City has triggered renewed fears among the 2,500-strong Christian community in the aftermath of the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.

Claire Farah Tarazi was the latest victim of anti-Christian attacks that have increased in the Gaza Strip since Hamas took full control of the area last June. Leaders of the Christian community strongly condemned the assault and appealed to Hamas to make an effort to protect Christians.

Tarazi said a masked man dressed in black clothes knocked on her door late at night and demanded all her money.

"He was carrying a club and a sharp tool," she said. "As soon as I opened the door, he pushed me inside and shouted: 'Where is the money, you infidel?' I shouted back: 'I'm not an infidel - I'm a proud Palestinian Arab.'"

Tarzai said the assailant beat her on her hands with the club, demanding that she hand over all her money and jewelry. "I was so terrified that I gave him two golden bracelets, a mobile phone and a few hundred shekels," she added. "But the man said that this was not enough and he hit me hard on the head with a tool he was carrying until I started bleeding."

The attacker then locked her in her bedroom and started searching the house for money and valuable items. "After he left the house, I managed to open another door into the bedroom which he hadn't noticed," she said. "Then I went to the neighbors and asked for help."

Tarzi's relatives told The Jerusalem Post that it was evident that she had been targeted because of her faith. "The fact that the attacker called her an infidel speaks for itself," said one of them. "He clearly knew that this was a Christian woman living alone. He would not have dared to do the same thing to a Muslim woman."

Representatives of various women's groups in the Gaza Strip who visited Tarazi expressed deep shock over the attack and called on the Hamas government to halt attacks on Christians. The women expressed concern over increased attacks on Christians in light of the absence of law and order in the Gaza Strip.

The assault on the elderly Christian woman is the latest in a series of attacks against Christians over the past few months. Since the Hamas takeover, Muslims have targeted a Christian school and church.

Father Manuel Musalam, leader of the small Latin community in the Gaza Strip, said masked gunmen torched and looted the Rosary Sisters School and the Latin Church.

"The masked gunmen used rocket-propelled grenades to storm the main entrances of the school and church," he said. "Then they destroyed almost everything inside, including the Cross, the Holy Book, computers and other equipment." Musalam expressed outrage over the burning of copies of the Bible, noting that the gunmen destroyed all the Crosses inside the church and school. "Those who did these awful things have no respect for Christian-Muslim relations," he said.

He estimated damages at more than $500,000. "Those who see the destruction will realize how bad this attack was," he said. "Christians have been living in peace and security with Muslims for many years, but those who attacked us are trying to sabotage this relationship."

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Continued (Permanent Link)

The Jewish Agency and immigration to Israel

Headline: PM: Jewish Agency still has key role in bringing Jews to Israel
OK - so let them bring Jews. What is it all about? Like everything else that is not about sex, it is about money and power. Groups like Nefesh benefesh and Nativ have succeeded in bringing many more Jews to Israel than the Jewish Agency, whose functionaries have not functioned very well in about forty years.

The Jewish Agency workers protested:

Following the decision, the Agency's workers union held a stormy meeting that resulted in a letter to Olmert accusing him of "breaking the old agreement between the Jewish Agency and the government of Israel over exclusivity in encouraging Aliyah and belittling the Agency's experience and its emissaries whose enormous efforts brought three million people from over the world to Israel."
The problem is that many of these people came to Israel in spite of the Jewish Agency rather than because of it.
Horrible regimes in Arab countries, as well as Nazi and Polish persecution, are among the factors whose "enormous efforts" brought those three million Jews to Israel. Nearly every immigrant has a tale of woe connected with the Jewish agency and its functionaries. Groups that were established to bring immigrants rather than to be the Jewish Agency have done much better in bringing immigrants from places like the North America, where nobody is chasing Jews out. Consequently, the government has made allocations of funds to these groups permanent. The Jewish agency meanwhile, has not been contributing its promised share to Nefesh benefesh, causing budgetary shortfalls.

A few modest suggestions -

1, The available funds should be allocated among the organizations in proportion to the number of immigrants they have brought to Israel, and the number they undertake to bring in the coming years.

2. A small number of jobs in these organizations - on the Israeli side - should be allocated to new immigrants. "Oleh mevi Olim" - an immigrant brings immigrants.

3. A special agency should be set up to bring back some of the estimated 800,000 Israelis living in North America.

4. The government should undertake to examine the reasons why Israelis leave, and to show yearly progress in stopping the "brain drain" of trained Israelis to North America and Europe.

Ami Isseroff

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Nadia Abu Al-Haj controversy continues

In case you were wondering about the tenure controversy over Nadia Abu El-Haj, the Palestinian who claims there was no kingdom of Israel in ancient times, here is a scholarly exposition of the issues and the current (as yet unresolved) status.
Some Professional Observations on the Controversy about Nadia Abu El-Haj's First Book
By Alan F. Segal
I did not want to talk about this controversy at first, especially while it was being decided at Barnard. That stage of the scrutiny is now over and the introductory paragraphs of the recent opposing Internet petitions show that plenty of bad faith is being exercised on both sides. That is what I want to address. The academy is not in danger from the Internet. Neither academic freedom nor freedom of speech are being eroded by outside discussions of this controversial book, though a great deal of the discussion seems to me to be simply uninformed. Professor Nadia Abu El-Haj has been accorded all the privileges given to every other faculty member, including choice of what to teach. The tenure procedures are going on as scheduled and I doubt that the Internet is having a negative effect on them. If anything, some faculty falsely think that academic freedom is under siege at Barnard and hence have increased their sympathy for the candidate. But the Internet is not the only enemy of reason in this battle. Barnard's Appointments, Tenure, and Promotion committee is elected and faculty elections can be decided by very small groups of people acting as provocateurs. Nor does that completely describe the possible ways in which this decision could have been affected by undisclosed personal biases. Even the confidential letter writers can be chosen and weighted to advocate for a specific outcome, as anyone who has served on tenuring committees knows. The result is that this particular tenure case is just as debatable for incidents and prejudices within our walls as outside it.
I have not made a secret of my opposition to this candidacy and, as a result, I too have had to deal with hurtful and prejudicial statements, mostly from within our community. But my objections have not been well understood by my colleagues. I have been labeled a fascist and an instigator, unfair to junior faculty, and the organizer of the opposition against her. I have also been directly accused by a person in some responsibility at Barnard of making a death threat against professor Nadia Abu El-Haj. Many have told me that I only oppose her because I am Jewish or because I feel I must represent the wishes of the Jewish community. None of these charges have any truth to them at all. But it has shown me that the Internet is not the only place to find inanities. We need to be more circumspect about our own discourse and polemics. So I welcome this chance to clarify my perspective.
Let me address only two of the issues that have been raised in this discussion: the notion that everyone who opposes Professor Nadia Abu El-Haj is a rightist engaging in a witch-hunt and the equally difficult notion that the central issue about professor Nadia Abu El-Haj's book on Israeli archaeology is her knowledge of modern Hebrew, one important issue from each side of the Internet discussion.
The issue is not only whether professor Abu El-Haj speaks Hebrew well enough to interview, or reads it well enough to understand scholarly arguments, assimilate them, and generalize about the value of Israeli archaeology. Literary skills are plainly much more advanced and important in this case than speaking skills. Perhaps she has read the newspapers in Hebrew, even though there are perfectly good English Web sites for all the newspapers she quotes, or spoken Hebrew to Israeli archaeologists, who regularly speak English to the volunteers in any case. She does make some simple mistakes in Hebrew at several important places in her book, especially in the chapters on Hebrew place names, but also including one that affects her conclusions about Israelis secularizing ancient concepts. Contrary to her opinion, "bayyit" does mean "temple" in ancient Hebrew: "the Hebrew terms secularizing in their effect insofar as the word 'temple' is absent" (p. 132). In any case, in her dissertation, on which the book is based, she states that most of her interviews were conducted in English or Arabic.
A parallel issue is her inability to deal with written sources: A book about Israeli archaeology, however abstract or sophisticated its theory may allegedly be, must be about archaeology done by Israelis, and must involve reading many books and articles in Israeli journals of archaeology but, pace Lisa Wedeen, chair of the political science department at the University of Chicago and scholar of the modern Middle East, there are too few Hebrew archaeological articles or books in her bibliography. There are few enough to wonder about the basis for her judgments about Israeli archaeology. I realize that there are other important issues in the book but this deficit must certainly be a crucial one.
In support of her thesis, professor Abu El-Haj presents Israeli archaeology as monolithic. She is either unaware, or simply does not tell her readers how fractious Israeli scholarship is, in general, or how impossible it is to come to any positive opinion or consensus about what Israelis think on any subject, ancient or modern. When she cites an Israeli archaeologist, she rarely cites any opponents but they are never lacking in Israeli journal literature. Also, one of her most trusted sources is an American writer on archaeology—a good writer, I think—but neither an archaeologist nor an Israeli and, hence, of limited use to her argument. She should disclose this, as she repeatedly relies on him in reaching her conclusions but does not alert her readers to the limitations of using him as a source. Perhaps she is unaware that he is an American science writer, a popularizer (an important skill for reaching non professional audiences), and not a practicing archaeologist? But she should be mindful and make the reader aware of his predilection for some scholars and against others, not merely accept his judgments without comment.
But the most important issue is how she handles evidence in general, and this concern manifests itself in several areas. One locus of her failure is the anonymity of her sources. A Barnard anthropologist in the religion department, roughly a decade ago, was turned down for tenure, in large part because of arguments from the anthropology department: She protected the identity of her major informant with a false name, even though she produced the "anonymous" person (who lectured at the college and answered all the questions of the search committee). At the time, the anthropology department was quite intransigent on this point. Now they are equally intransigent on the other side. A revolution in scholarly methodology? Let us not raise the implication of bias, only inconsistency. But I know for a fact that some very effective lobbyists for professor Abu El-Haj, associated with Barnard's anthropology department, did not even read her book until after the Barnard consideration was over.
A statement supported by one, anonymous, oral report is an unsupported statement, and several of such statements are crucial to professor Abu El-Haj's conclusions: that Israelis deliberately mislabel Christian sites as Jewish and tear down churches (p. 233, among others); that they use bull-dozers to level sites and wipe out evidence of Palestinian habitation (pp. 148, 153, 157). No respectable journalist would publish on the basis of one anonymous report and, if these were actually supportable, they would not have escaped notice for long in field reports or archaeological discussions, which can be quite vituperative in Israel. Israeli archaeologists have no fear of criticizing each other and are extremely talented writers, being literate in several languages. It's hard to believe any secret that could be bandied about to a hostile stranger reporter would avoid disclosure somewhere in their very argumentative journals and books.
Her most outrageous charge—that bulldozers are being used in contemporary archaeology (p. 148)—has been proven false by the field reports and the testimony of David Usshishkin, the person in charge of the Jezreel dig during the time in question and a very well known archaeologist with an impeccable reputation. What was used was a power arm, a much smaller and more refined instrument, perfectly acceptable in salvage digs as this sector was. (Incidentally, there was no Arab evidence at all in the sector in question.)
The chair of the anthropology department at Barnard (whose father, apparently, was once a bulldozer-using archaeologist) assured me that the difference between a power arm and a bulldozer is trivial. I do not think the difference trivial today, if it ever was. There is a huge difference between a giant leveling blade and a manipulatable, very small, power digging instrument but it is professor Abu El-Haj who emphasizes the importance of the use of bulldozers (p. 148-9). A great deal of the argument of the book depends on the charge being right as rain. But it is false, even misleading. The field reports bear out the Israeli archaeologist, not her. And if this is so in this extremely important case, should we not suspect that there are other egregious mistakes in her other single-sourced, anonymous, oral reporting—especially as the anonymous charges do not appear in the dissertation, the document which was vetted by a distinguished and responsible committee at Duke?
A larger and more pervasive issue concerns her inability to make judgments in biblical history. Her claims have been characterized by supporters in Spectator as follows: "Professor Abu El-Haj's disputed book made the argument that the state of Israel, like many other modern states, seeks legitimacy from ancient history at a damaging cost." This statement severely understates the claims of the book but it is a more accurate description of her dissertation, upon which the book was based. For the book, her further claims are that the production of Israeli archaeological knowledge is uniquely fanciful, more than other national archaeological schools, due to their colonial settler mentality, and that Israeli archaeologists perforce uniquely produce far more themselves than the evidence allows because they are citizens of this colonial settler state. This is announced at the very beginning of the book and is hard to miss: "the colonial dimension of Jewish settlement in Palestine cannot be sidelined if one is to understand the significance and consequences of archaeological practice..." (p. 4). I am only quoting a small portion of her discussion there, which goes on for some pages with further arguments about the added and uniquely colonial nature of Israeli archaeology, among other things.
Most pointedly, professor Abu El-Haj feels that there was no good evidence of Israelite occupation of the area before Israeli archaeologists did their work. She characterizes Israeli archaeologists as disguising myth as history: "the mythical character of the biblical narratives is effaced" (p. 127), as an example or "a tale best understood as the modern nation's origin myth was transported into the realm of history" (p. 104) as another. She ignores the possibility that the archaeologists may have been trying in good faith to ascertain what was historical, given their data and historical context. As she makes these claims she footnotes specific scholars from a particular school of biblical scholarship—"the biblical minimalists" (e.g., see reference to Thomas Thompson on p. 127). A person unfamiliar with biblical scholarship might miss the import of these references but the implication is clear. Professor Abu El-Haj has necessarily made some radical assumptions about what biblical history actually tells us.
When it comes to what can actually be known about Israelite occupation of the land, professor Abu El-Haj makes almost exclusive use of these biblical minimalists, no more than a handful of scholars really, out of the thousands at work in the world. Many of my colleagues at Barnard seem to believe that the biblical minimalism controversy describes fundamentalists on one side with rational discourse about the Bible on the other. Nothing could be further from the truth. Biblical minimalism concerns the nature of the evidence for Israelite presence in Canaan during First Temple times (ca. 950-587 B.C.E.). Being a biblical minimalist is not a crime; but the school is often consciously infused with modern Middle Eastern politics in ways that are hard to ignore.
Nevertheless, biblical scholars regularly read them, accept some small part of what they claim, and reject most other parts. Their questions, if not their answers, are always interesting. Professor Abu El-Haj frequently uses their most extreme conclusions about archaeology uncritically as proof that Israelis tell us more than the archaeological record shows. None of the minimalist scholars she relies upon for this purpose is actually a working archaeologist or an Israeli, though there are Israeli minimalist archaeologists, who mostly disagree with her.
But how could professor Abu El-Haj possibly make a decision about the claims of biblical scholars or archaeologists in the First Temple period? To make an independent, informed judgment, she would need to know not modern Hebrew conversation, but ancient Hebrew literature, and for the First Temple Period, which is her particular target, also Aramaic, Ugaritic (a significant Canaanite language), certainly all the many and significant North West Semitic epigraphy (inscriptions) relevant to this period, comparative Semitic grammar and syntax, comparative literary studies in Akkadian and Egyptian, and biblical stylistics. These credentials are in no way unusual for graduate students in Bible, and many of them also study far more exotic languages—like Akkadian, Egyptian, Hittite or Sumerian—as well as develop an understanding of ancient Near Eastern culture and history. There are literally hundreds of inscriptions from the First Temple period, together giving much interesting and debated evidence of an ethnicity called Israel who worship a divinity called YHWH. The most important and longest of these inscriptions were discovered in the 19th and early 20th century, considerably before there was any country called Israel or any significant Israeli archaeology. In fact, one major and effective argument against the biblical minimalists is that they cannot adequately explain away this inscriptional evidence. She herself never engages the basic issues concerning the Merneptah Stela, the Moabite Stela, the Siloam Inscription, the Tel Dan Inscription, the evidence from seals and bullae or any of the important inscriptional finds but they speak strongly against her conclusions about ancient Israel. She has only disputed one ethnic identifier for Israel—collared rim pottery—but ignored several others: theophoric names, evidence of circumcision, the presence or absence of pig bones, stone jars and later, immersion pools, depictions of ritually important plants, depictions of ritual objects or the Temple or biblical scenes like the sacrifice of Isaac. As a result, she believes that Israel was not an historical presence in the land but a myth. Biblical minimalists normally stop disputing this at the beginning of the Second Temple period but she often appears to push it further, even to the time of Jesus.
Professor Abu El-Haj makes major judgments about the Jewish character of Jerusalem in New Testament times, including that Herodian Jerusalem was not a Jewish city, a most extreme opinion (p. 175-176). She also says that Jerusalem was not a Jewish city after the destruction of the Jewish state because Jews were in the minority during much of its recent history. Would she then consider that the old city of Jerusalem is not now an Arab city because Arabs are now a minority there? These are not casual observations but critical ones, logically necessary to her analysis of the errors of Israeli archaeological museums. By rights, to come to these conclusions she should also be familiar with ancient classical historians, Syriac and Greek, Josephus, Philo, and New Testament scholarship, to say nothing about early rabbinic literature and possibly Latin language and literature. Other than the odd quotation from Josephus, there is little evidence of this either. Without engaging these bodies of knowledge she has no grounds for siding with a bare logical possibility about the events which produced "The Burnt House," for example, against the consensus of international, not just Israeli, scholarship (p. 145).
Without many of these tools, she could not make a judgment about even a footnote or a textual reading in a biblical minimalist article, to say nothing of one of their many conflicting histories of biblical times, Old Testament or New. She merely takes only those statements which most agree with her own tenuous contentions, and that is something that no Bible scholar, no anthropologist, and no archaeologist should ever do.
But she has no choice: pretty much every other one of the virtually countless theories about Israelite settlement in First Temple times would disprove her hypothesis about Israeli archaeology. Not only does she not know these fields, but she does not tell her readers about them, or why they are necessary, or how decisions are actually made in biblical studies. So, it is no wonder that anthropologists, who cannot be expected to know these disciplines either, so easily go along with her. Nor can they be expected to know that her Palestinian claims to the lands of Jebusites (Jerusalem) and other Canaanites, for example, depend solely on the very Bible whose historicity she has just impugned and that all known records of these people list them as separate ethnicities (pp. 258-272).
I am not a member of the right wing in Israel or the United States or in Bible scholarship and I sympathize with the desire to have a diverse faculty. Professor Abu El-Haj appears to be an estimable candidate for tenure: a woman who likes to study her field in an interdisciplinary way and identifies herself as a member of a minority persecuted by various peoples in the world, by no means only by Israelis. But she is also, I think, an American citizen and certainly from a prosperous family, which gives her many advantages over her more unfortunate fellow Palestinians. Her identity and her far less polemical dissertation have benefited her in academic life. It is no wonder she has received so many prizes and honors and it is no wonder that so many Barnard faculty are for her candidacy without ever having read a word of her work or understood her lack of preparation for judging issues in biblical studies. It makes sense. We should be looking for people like her.
But the issue in a tenure scrutiny must be focused on the quality of the work. My opinion comes after having read her dissertation and her book carefully, after having served for six years on Barnard's ATP committee, and after having been a chair myself, charged with preparing cases in my department, as well as being professionally interested in the fields she needs to make her case. My judgment is "No." Her theory of the production of knowledge in science based on archaeology in Israel is worth little without clear substantiating data. The book is so tendentious that even were a second book-length manuscript available, which one normally expects in this field for tenure in our university, it would probably not change my judgment. Why should we be stampeded into tenuring her, just because there has been negative discussion of her work on the Internet? Ironically, she would have been more successful if she published her dissertation as it is. I respect her desire to add a whole new dimension to her work since her dissertation but it is clear to me that the whole enterprise was unsuccessful.
My negative evaluation has nothing to do with her ethnic identity, her gender, or even her opinions about modern Israel. Some people will disbelieve me but those people are essentializing me to dismiss the evidence without considering it. All the characteristics of her identity and development are reasons to have her on campus. A whiff of controversy, however, should not be fanned into a conflagration of prejudice guaranteeing her tenure. We all live in the Internet age and have to face the consequences. My reasons for turning her down are professional, not political. They have everything to do with her inability to deal in any scholarly way with her stated data. Her book has already been shown as insufficient and biased research by many published reviews from very competent Bible scholars and archaeologists, some of whom have been vilified and ignored for extraneous reasons. There would be many more such reviews if the book were better known among Bible scholars. How could any of this be good for teaching or for the scholarly reputation of Barnard? Columbia should take notice too. This is no time to compromise with hotheads of either side.
The author is the Ingeborg Rennert Professor of Jewish Studies at Barnard College.
TAGS: Alan Segal, Nadia Abu El Haj
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, the sentence "...but, pace Lisa Wedeen, chair of the political science department at the University of Chicago and scholar of the modern Middle East, there are too few Hebrew archaeological articles or books in her bibliography..." originally read "...according to Lisa Wedeen..." In fact, in an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, Prof. Wedeen praised Abu El-Haj's work as being "replete with Hebrew sources, both written and oral." Spectator regrets the error.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Education for peace is off the agenda

A good question. Where is the Issue of Education for Peace in the Olmert-Rice-Abbas Initiative?
Peace is plainly going to require a reversal of the education that Palestinian Arabs have been getting over the past fifteen years, and changes in Israeli education as well. By education, we must mean education in the broadest sense of the  term, including media, culture, religious and political rhetoric.
Ami Isseroff

Jerusalem Issue Brief

Institute for Contemporary Affairs

founded jointly at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

with the Wechsler Family Foundation


Vol. 7, No. 15    25 September 2007


Where is the Issue of Education for Peace

 in the Olmert-Rice-Abbas Initiative?


Dore Gold



  • When former U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross sought to understand the failure of the Oslo peace process of the 1990s, in which he was an active participant, he zeroed in on the need to bring about a "transformation" of political attitudes that the Palestinian leadership failed to encourage. Ross pointed to the education that Palestinian children received, concluding "that no negotiation is likely to succeed if there is one environment at the negotiating table and another on the street."


  • The Roadmap insists in Phase I that "all official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel." There are no negotiations whatsoever about Palestinian statehood, according to the Roadmap, until the Palestinians' Phase I obligations are fully met. Only after Phase I obligations are met, the Quartet then convenes an international conference in order to "launch a process, leading to establishment of an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders."


  • In the past, the U.S. Congress has taken the firm position that a Palestinian state should not be recognized until the Palestinian Authority takes "effective steps to ensure that its educational and communications systems promote the acceptance of Israel's existence and of peace with Israel and actively discourage anti-Israel incitement."


  • The current effort of Secretary of State Rice to facilitate Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for a November 2007 joint declaration in Washington over the parameters of a future Palestinian state essentially circumvents the Bush administration's own 2003 Roadmap sequence.


  • The planned Olmert-Abbas declaration, it will be argued, is only an outline of a "political horizon" for the future. But how can Israel obligate itself on sensitive issues of borders or security already if it is in the dark over what kind of Palestinian neighbor it will have, especially if that neighbor still teaches the toxic hatred that undermined previous efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace?



Why Oslo Failed


The U.S. and Israel are in the midst of intense negotiations to prepare a joint Israeli-Palestinian declaration for the planned Washington peace conference scheduled for November 2007. The intended purpose of the declaration is to provide a "political horizon" for the future Palestinian state that presumably will strengthen politically moderate elements in the Palestinian Authority (PA) who prefer a negotiated settlement of the conflict with Israel over the Hamas strategy of ongoing "resistance." The underlying assumption of this diplomatic approach is that Palestinian moderation will grow by focusing on the most difficult permanent status issues - and giving the Palestinians a taste of the shape of a final settlement - instead of getting bogged down in other interim goals of peacemaking.


Yet one of the glaring oversights in this strategy is the whole issue of the Palestinians' commitment to undertake programs for their schools to advance education for peace and to halt incitement more generally. Since Yasser Arafat's death in November 2004, incitement has abated in some respects. There are no calls in Palestinian Authority-controlled media on the Palestinian population to enter into active conflict with the Israel Defense Forces as there were at the height of the Second Intifada. Nonetheless, in 2007 there has been an ongoing use of hostile terminology, even in Fatah-dominated news outlets, including references to towns within pre-1967 Israel, like Ashkelon and Sderot, as being "occupied." And virule nt anti-Semitism continues in the Hamas media. Worse still, throughout 2007, political cartoons in the official PA daily al-Hayat al-Jadida utilized anti-Semitic motifs which dehumanize Jews as insects or as a sinister worldwide force with blood on its hands.1


When former U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross sought to understand the failure of the Oslo peace process of the 1990s, in which he was an active participant, he zeroed in on the need to bring about a "transformation" of political attitudes that the Palestinian leadership failed to encourage.2 Yasser Arafat, according to Ross, "continued to promote hostility toward Israel."3 Ross pointed to the education that Palestinian children received at summer camps. He concluded "that no negotiation is likely to succeed if there is one environment at the negotiating table and another on the street."4 Given the critical im portance that Ross assigns to this issue in his effort to grapple with the lessons of the peace process from nearly a decade of experience, it is striking that in the public discourse concerning the upcoming peace conference, almost nothing has been said about Palestinian incitement or the Palestinian educational system.


Moreover, the need to address the fundamental issue of incitement in the Palestinian education system appears to be growing. During the visit of a delegation of U.S. Congressmen led by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) to Ramallah in August 2007, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad frankly admitted that the Palestinian Authority was not promoting a program of education for peace: "You wouldn't call our curriculum a 'peace curriculum.'" This response came after successive questions on the subject by members of Congress, who perceived Fayad's statement as an admission that efforts to stop the incitement had not been successful. Cantor interpreted his response to mean that there wasn't willingness on the part of the PA to insi st on a peace curriculum.5



Little Improvement in Palestinian Textbooks


The Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, which has prepared five analyses over the years on the content of Palestinian Authority textbooks, is now completing a sixth analysis of PA textbooks for the years 2006 and 2007. Dr. Arnon Groiss, who is heading the project, noted some improvements in eleventh grade Palestinian textbooks during 2005 in which the name "Israel" appeared for the first time in maps in the text. References to ancient Jewish history were also mentioned, as well as the importance of inter-religious tolerance. However, there now seems to be a regression to the use of more hostile language including references in the latest twelfth grade texts to jihad and martyrdom. Emphasis on the need f or steadfastness against the enemies of Islam returned to the texts for the twelfth grade as well. "Israel" was removed from all the maps in the text. Moreover, religious education in the West Bank is being handled through the Palestinian Ministry for Religious Endowments (Awqaf) - even under the Fatah-dominated government in the West Bank - which still uses older textbooks. This arrangement allows the Palestinian Authority to circumvent any minimal reforms instituted in the Palestinian Ministry of Education and to maintain hostile propaganda against Israel in Palestinian schools.



Education for Peace was an Oslo Requirement


The idea of halting Palestinian incitement and promoting education for peace has been a legal undertaking that the Palestinian leadership took upon itself throughout the Oslo peace process. In Article XXII of the September 1995 Interim Agreement (Oslo II), Israel and the PLO agreed "to foster mutual understanding and tolerance." They specifically obligated themselves to "abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda, against each other." Finally, Israel and the PLO agreed to "ensure that their respective educational systems contribute to the peace between the Isra eli and Palestinian peoples."


Abbas personally agreed to defining "preventing incitement and hostile propaganda" as a "Palestinian obligation" in the January 1997 Note for the Record that accompanied the Hebron Protocol. The Note for the Record was signed by Dennis Ross, on behalf of the United States. In the October 1998 Wye River memorandum, the Palestinians undertook to issue a decree which built on the Interim Agreement and the Note for the Record, prohibiting all forms of incitement to violence and terror "and to establish an enforcement mechanism."6


To its credit, on the declarative level the Bush administration has repeatedly spoken up about the problem of incitement. For example, in January 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Arab states to boost the peace process by ending anti-Israel incitement.7 In March 2007, she revealed that the U.S. was discussing with the Palestinians an end to incitement against Israel in schools, and to print maps that included the State of Israel.8


These statements aside, the primary question is how combating incitement is woven into the legal fabric of the obligations of the parties as the peace process proceeds. What happens if the Arab states or the Palestinians persist to foster racial hatred? Does the international community just move on and expect fresh concessions from Israel in order to keep up forward momentum? What happened to past U.S.-Israel understandings on reciprocity - that Israel does not proceed forward until the Palestinians fulfill their obligations?



The Road Map: End Palestinian Incitement Before Negotiations


The April 2003 Quartet Roadmap, drafted under the auspices of the U.S., the European Union, Russia, and the UN Secretariat, also touched on the issue of incitement, but it is less detailed than the Oslo Agreements. The Roadmap envisions a three-phase diplomatic process toward the establishment of a Palestinian state. At the outset of Phase I, the Roadmap obligates the Palestinian leadership to issue an "unequivocal statement reiterating Israel's right to exist in peace and security." There are no negotiations whatsoever about Palestinian statehood, according to the Roadmap, until the Palestinians' Phase I obligations are fully met.


Besides demanding an "unconditional ceasefire," the Roadmap insists already at this initial phase that "all official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel."9 This language makes only an implicit reference to Palestinian educational institutions. Subsequently in Phase I, the Palestinian Authority is supposed to begin dismantling the military infrastructures of terrorist organizations, while the Arab states must halt all funding to them (e.g., Saudi aid to Hamas).



Bypassing the Roadmap?


Only after Phase I obligations are met, the Quartet then convenes an international conference in order to "launch a process, leading to establishment of an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders." Indeed, in the past, the U.S. Congress has taken the firm position that a Palestinian state should not be recognized until the Palestinian Authority takes "effective steps to ensure that its educational and communications systems promote the acceptance of Israel's existence and of peace with Israel and actively discourage anti-Israel incitement."10 Up until this time, there has been strong bipartisan backing in Congress which has included Senator Hillary Clinton's (D-NY) embrace of the February 2007 Palestinian Media Watch report on Palestinian textbooks in the U.S. Senate.11


The current effort of Secretary of State Rice to facilitate Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for a November 2007 joint declaration in Washington over the parameters of a future Palestinian state essentially circumvents the Bush administration's own 2003 Roadmap sequence. Under such conditions, critical Palestinian obligations appearing in the Roadmap tend to be superseded in preparatory discussions by the larger permanent status issues, like borders, Jerusalem, and refugees.


It is in this context that the Palestinian obligations to educate schoolchildren for peace - and not jihad - can fall between the cracks, despite the lessons from the Oslo years of the importance of assuring a transformation of Palestinian attitudes and eradicating incitement. This leaves Israel highly exposed, for while Rice has been working with Abbas and Olmert, according to Ahmed Yusef, political advisor to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Fatah and Hamas have been engaging in secret backchannel negotiations to restore their relationship.12


The planned Olmert-Abbas declaration, it will be argued, is only an outline of a "political horizon" for the future. But how can Israel obligate itself on sensitive issues of borders or security already if it is in the dark over what kind of Palestinian neighbor it will have, especially if that neighbor still teaches the toxic hatred that undermined previous efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace?


*     *     *




[1]"The Distribution of Virulent Anti-Israeli and Anti-Semitic Hate Propaganda Continues in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Although Incitement in the Official Media Has Abated under Abu Mazen," Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S.), December 5, 2005, See also "PMW Cartoons," Palestinian Media Watch, September 11, 2007,

2 Dennis Ross, The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004), p. 765.

3 Ross, p. 766.

4 Ross, p. 769.

5 Author's e-mail exchange with Rep. Eric Cantor, September 23, 2007.

6 "The Wye River Memorandum," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 23, 1998. See

7 "Rice Says Syria Risks Long-Term Rift with U.S. Over Iraq Role," Voice of America,, January 18, 2005,

8 "Rice to Palestinians: End Incitement Against Israel,", March 21, 2007,,2506,L-3379571,00.html.

9 "A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," Press Statement, Office of the Spokesman, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, April 30, 2003,

10 Aaron D. Pina, "Palestinian Education and the Debate Over Textbooks," Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, April 27, 2005, .

11 "Senator Hillary Clinton Introducing PMW Report on Palestinian Schoolbooks," Palestinian Media Watch, February 8, 2007,

12 Khaled Abu Toameh, "Abbas Ready to Settle Tough Issues," Jerusalem Post, September 20, 2007,


*     *     *


Dr. Dore Gold, Israel's ambassador to the UN in 1997-99, is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and author of The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City (Regnery, 2007).






This Jerusalem Issue Brief is available online at: 


Dore Gold, Publisher; Yaacov Amidror, ICA Chairman; Dan Diker, ICA Director; Mark Ami-El, Managing Editor. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (Registered Amuta), 13 Tel-Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel; Tel. 972-2-561-9281, Fax. 972-2-561-9112, Email: In U.S.A.: Center for Jewish Community Studies, 5800 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore, MD 21215; Tel. 410-664-5222; Fax 410-664-1228. Website: © Copyright. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.


The Institute for Contemporary Affairs (ICA) is dedicated

to providing a forum for Israeli policy discussion and debate.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Transcripts: Ahmadinejad at Columbia, Press Club

The full transcripts of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's performances in the United States can be viewed here:
For those who remember, it is reminiscent of the visit of Khrushchev to the United States.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Triumph of International Zionism - Israeli dates in Morocco

Outrageous - those Jews are at it again. The Jew-Zionist conpiracy has been selling dates in Morocco to innocent sons of the prophet. The faithful cry out: Israeli Dates Flood Morocco in Ramadan
From this article we get the following bits of "information:"
"Trademarked "Bat Sheva" - the Hebrew name of the town of Beersheba "
The Israeli-Arab conflict dates back to the 1948 when well-armed Israeli militants bombarded Palestine and forced its natives into a panicky flight to establish the state of Israel.
A very alternative narrative to be sure.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, September 24, 2007

EU Funding (or not) of Polish anti-Semitism

is simply untrue, as the story states:
A European Commission official said Monday that there is no authorization for transferring the funds, and that the project was one of many under consideration.
If the project is under consideration, that doesn't mean it will NOT be funded.
Here's what the EU is "considering" funding:
Rydzyk has recently received press for several anti-Semitic statements he has made on the radio station and at the college, which he founded and heads. He recently told students that Jews use the American financier George Soros' money to seize control of Poland, and regularly blames Jews of being greedy.
"Public figures in Poland have expressed sorrow for the pogrom after the war against the Jews in Jedwabne only because they received Jewish bribes ... All of the claims by Jews of the injustice that was caused to them had one goal: to extort money from the Polish," Rydzyk has been quoted as saying.
The Polish weekly Wprost published excerpts from a lecture Rydzyk allegedly delivered at the college, where he is quoted as criticizing Lech Kaczynski, the president, for bowing to pressure to compensate people - many of them Jews - for property nationalized by the postwar communist government, and for donating land for a future Jewish museum when Kaczynski was Warsaw's mayor.
"You know that it's about Poland giving $65 billion dollars to the Jews," Rydzyk reportedly said. "They will come to you and say: give me your coat. Take off your pants. Give me your shoes."

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent
Contrary to previous reports, the European Union will not give 15 million Euros to the College of Social and Media Culture - a Polish college headed controversial Catholic priest Tadeusz Rydzyk, who is accused regularly of disseminating anti-Semitism.
A European Commission official said Monday that there is no authorization for transferring the funds, and that the project was one of many under consideration.
The European Commission hastily disassociated itself from the affair after Holocaust survivor organizations launched a campaign to block the move, and Noah Flug, chairman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, asked EU Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso to prevent the transfer of funds to the institution, and Holocaust survivor organizations launched a campaign to block the funding.
 The College of Social and Media Culture, is affiliated with Rydzyk's radio station Radia Maryja, which itself has been accused of regularly hosting Holocaust deniers on its programs.
In addition to accusations of anti-Semitism, the institution is widely considered to oppose the European Union. The intention to fund the college was interpreted by some as an attempt by the EU and the government of Poland to silence one of the union's loudest opponents.
Rydzyk has recently received press for several anti-Semitic statements he has made on the radio station and at the college, which he founded and heads. He recently told students that Jews use the American financier George Soros' money to seize control of Poland, and regularly blames Jews of being greedy.
"Public figures in Poland have expressed sorrow for the pogrom after the war against the Jews in Jedwabne only because they received Jewish bribes ... All of the claims by Jews of the injustice that was caused to them had one goal: to extort money from the Polish," Rydzyk has been quoted as saying.
The Polish weekly Wprost published excerpts from a lecture Rydzyk allegedly delivered at the college, where he is quoted as criticizing Lech Kaczynski, the president, for bowing to pressure to compensate people - many of them Jews - for property nationalized by the postwar communist government, and for donating land for a future Jewish museum when Kaczynski was Warsaw's mayor.
"You know that it's about Poland giving $65 billion dollars to the Jews," Rydzyk reportedly said. "They will come to you and say: give me your coat. Take off your pants. Give me your shoes."

Continued (Permanent Link)

'I am with Israel': One Arab-American's salute

Despite all the spit, kicks & insults, the Jews would rather build than destroy

So, it was with great disappointment that I came across one of Qabbani's poems written in the late 1990s, entitled, "I Am With Terrorism." I hoped the title would prove ironic. It didn't. Not even close. In fact, it is one of themost naked, awful pieces of anti-Israel, anti-U.S. drivel I've ever read.

Witness this rhetorical device in which he is able to insult two peoples with one poetic stone:

"I am with terrorism as long as this new world order is shared between America and Israel half-half"

And that is actually one of the more moderate sections of the poem. As an Arab-American, I came away from reading it with a real sense of despair. If one of the great voices of Middle East poetry can do nothing more than recycle the Arabs-as-victims stance, justified in horrendous acts of violence against their "oppressors," then what hope is there ever that Arabs and Israelis will ever know true peace?

Having just passed the sixth anniversary of 9/11 - and in the midst of a new conversation about the so-called "Israel Lobby" that allegedly dominates U.S. foreign policy - I want to offer an antidote to that toxic verse and the other vitriol that has poisoned too much Arab thought.

Israel, with all its imperfections, remains the beacon of light for the Middle East. For that reason, I wish to salute her, not only as one of America's greatest allies in the war on terror, but as one of the true miracle countries of this time or any other.

With no apologies to Qabbani, I give you my twist on his verse:

"I am with Israel

because a people so long denied bread and freedom,

crushed under the wheels of pharaohs, emperors, czars and Führers,

has done more than any other people to free the world from itself.

What single people in history have contributed more to faith, science, philosophy and the arts?

And done so against the greatest odds, with a sword at their throats...

I am with Israel

because my people, so long in the desert,

have not had the courage to acknowledge the great teachers among them,

but instead have turned on them,

blamed them for all evil and shed their blood...

What other people could crawl away from the wreckage of the Holocaust

and, instead of seeking revenge, build the miracle called Israel?

Why, as Wufa Sultan has asked, have there been no Jewish homicide bombers?

Perhaps it is because despite all the spit, kicks and insults they've faced,

along with the constant threat of extinction,

the Jews would rather build than destroy.

I am with Israel

because I am with life,

and because beyond its verdant desert,

Israel offers the knowledge that those most desirous of peace and freedom

are a people who have so long been denied it,

and who with all they know of the world,

look still toward Jerusalem and reach for their enemy's hand."

Dabul, an editor with the American Congress for Truth, is author of "Deadline," a novel about terrorism.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Measheimer and Walt - Yet again

This doesn't require much comment, except to note a peculiar phenomenon. English professors rarely comment on issues in nuclear physics or neurophysiology, and neurophysiologists and Middle East experts almost never comment on issues in the development of the sonnet as a poetic form. But English Professors are often quite eager to comment on the Middle East.

Ami Isseroff

Book on Jewish conspiracy hits new low for academics

Sam Heller

Apparently, Sterling Professor of English David Bromwich has something of a sideline at The Huffington Post. In addition to his writings elsewhere, he has posted intermittently on that liberal blog-hub; One of these postings came to my attention via (Ph.D.) alum Michael Rubin's post on The National Review's blog.
As one might expect of "HuffPo," Bromwich's Sept. 4 posting, "Iraq, Israel, Iran," is filled with the typical inane jibber-jabber about "the war party" and the president's "favorite tame senator" (Lieberman, duh). While I wasn't interested in that - because really, who is? - my attention was caught by Bromwich's glowing endorsement of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's new book, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy."

For those who don't keep pace with political science or the latest efforts to uncover the insidious Jewish conspiracy behind the world's wars (really, either one), there's been controversy surrounding Mearsheimer and Walt. It began with their London Review of Books article (on which this new book expands), "The Israel Lobby," in which they argued that American support for Israeldefies strategic and moral logic. It can only be attributed to "the Lobby," a Jewish cabal that has hijacked American policy. "The Lobby" (which doesn't roll off my tongue like "Evil Jew Super-Conspiracy," but I guess I don't have a Ph.D.) "increases the terrorist danger that all states face" and "has made it impossible to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Worst of all, "the Lobby's campaign for regime change in Iranand Syriacould lead the USto attack those countries." In the absence of "the Lobby," "preventive war would not be a serious option" and, moreover, we could "enlist [Iranand Syria>, the principal state sponsors of al-Qaida in Iraqand the Iraqi insurgency] in the struggle against al-Qaida and the Iraqi insurgency, where their help is badly needed."
Honestly, I'll never read their book - I've got important books for my senior essay not to read first - but there's plenty to dislike about their earlier Frankenstein's monster of ignorance and hoary anti-Semitic tropes (sorry, I meant "serious scholarly article"), and plenty of great critiques of it - my favorite is Eliot Cohen's "Yes, It's Anti-Semitic" from the Washington Post.

Of course, according to Bromwich, this makes Cohen "a shameless slanderer of Mearsheimer-Walt." Bromwich generously concedes, "the evidence of Mearsheimer and Walt suggests that Israelwas never the prime mover of the Iraqwar" - and, although their article gave a distinctly different impression, we Jews appreciate Bromwich's magnanimity. Oh, wait: "But now the American war with Iranthey [Israel>] originally wanted is coming closer." "The hottest cries for another war have been coming this summer from Joe Lieberman," inspired by "his appetite for multiple theaters of conflict," "the congealed memory of all the wars he never fought" and "his crusty lust for con-qwust" (guess which one I made up). But he wouldn't push for war without permission from "Vice President Cheney, a close and admired friend." So the Jew is the bloodthirsty henchman and the gentile the bloodthirsty behind-the-scenes manipulator? Oops, sike: Cheney wouldn't "permit a high-profile lawmaker whom he partly controls to set the >United States and Israelon so perilous a course unless he had ascertained its acceptability to Ehud Olmert." Ah, so the Israelis have secret veto power over American policy. My world makes sense again.

Of course, the "chief orchestrater of the second neoconservative war of aggression" is Elliot Abrams, with "his reckless love of subversion" - sounds like that pesky dual loyalty! According to Bromwich, Abrams "presides over the Middle Eastdesk at the National Security Council" - a job description two years out of date, as he was promoted in 2005. Regardless, Abrams is unfit for the job he doesn't hold because of his 1997 book "Faith or Fear," an entreaty to American Jews to keep their religious identity distinct from secular American culture. To this end, Abrams says, "It is the very nature of being Jewish to be apart - except in Israel- from the rest of the population." Bromwich theorizes that "when he wrote those words, Abrams probably did not expect to serve in another American administration," as he couldn't have expected "to occupy a position that would require him to weigh the national interest of Israel, the country with which he confessed himself uniquely at one, alongside the national interest of a country in which he felt himself to stand 'apart … from the rest of the population.' " Ah, so, unencumbered by career ambition, Abrams let loose his secret Jew-feelings; therefore, "his words of 1997 ought to alarm us into reflection." Employing the hypothetical example of a Hindu "director of the South Asia desk of the National Security Council" who had made similar comments about Hindus (and also "recently channeled 86 million dollars to regional gangs and militias bent on increasing … tension," which seems without real-world parallel), Bromwich asks: "Would we not conclude that something in our counsels of state had gone seriously out of joint?" Bromwich makes a good point, namely that we're lucky we don't have to worry about the Hindus - unlike those J-O-O's.
According to Mearsheimer and Walt, one of the ways "the Lobby" menaces American democracy is by "put[ting] pressure on particular academics and universities" - presumably by bringing those academics' ugly comments to public light. Well, Yale students and alumni: Here we have a Yale professor touting a book that has been derided as a failure of scholarship and a retread of ancient blood libels as something that "deserves to be widely read and discussed" and "could not be more timely" - apparently because we're on a Jew-set course for war with Iran>. Contrary to Mearsheimer and Walt's wishful thinking, of course, there's no unitary Lobby (or, again, Evil Jew Super-Conspiracy) to resort to here. In the real world, there's not much we can do about professor Bromwich's article - save be embarrassed that Yale's name is somehow attached to it.
Sam Heller is a senior in Pierson College. His column appears on alternate Fridays

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Why Israel is not attacking Gaza

There are a lot of good reasons why Israel should attack Gaza, or there seem to be. But there are other over-riding considerations, as I argue here - Israel's Gaza Dilemma. Israel needs to give the Hamas a chance to hang themselves. They are doing a good job of it, since every day that they rule in Gaza makes their rule more and more unpopular. Palestinians generally insist that the Hamas government is unbearable. Eventually they might understand that the thing to do about an unbearable government is to replace it.
Ami Isseroff

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Sabotaging moderate Muslims

Guess who wrote this?
"Islamist fundamentalist groups, which have concentrated virtually all their efforts on recruitment and consolidating forces, fear the open door from which the winds of independent thought might shake their unity of rank. Thus, their members have been left to create the contours of the fundamentalist dream on the basis of ancient works of jurisprudence. As a result, they have become even more rigid than their leaders and have come to form a powerful pressure group within the movement that not only hampers their leaderships' ability to proclaim fresh ideas but also restricts their leaderships' manoeuvrability, which is one of the essential prerequisites for any drive to attain a dream. What remains, then, is the vast ability to cause problems, bring down disaster on others and generally obstruct progress and development. "

Was it a Zionist Islamophobic Neocon? An advocate of war of civilizations? If we believe some Western whitewashers of Islamist fanaticism, only such people would write bad things about the nice Islamists like the Hezbollah, the Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood Group (see for example, Islamism: Perception versus Reality )

But in fact, it was written in Al Ahram newspaper, by Salah Eissa. In Muslim societies troubled by Islamist (or Jihadist) extremism, there is a growing movement of justifiable alarm and disillusionment with the extremist views and the narrow and reactionary concepts of society that these groups want to impose. Where "Islamist" or more properly "Islamic" political parties have succeeded democraticaly, in countries such as Turkey, they have abandoned, at least temporarily, the ambition of imposing Sha'aria law on all of society.

Paradoxically, in the West, the Islamist fanatics have recruited a coterie of apologists, who insist that any criticism of Islamism is "Islamophobia," and that Westerners had better learn to love restriction of intellectual life, persecution of homosexuals and repression of women in the interests of dialogue and multipluralistic liberal values. This paradoxical acceptance of an ultra-reactionary movement by "liberals" threatens to sabotage the efforts of moderate Muslims to return their societies to sanity, and to find a reasonable and progressive path between the corruption and failure pan-Arabist dictators and reactionary sheikhs on the one hand, and the threat of totalitarian religious societies posed by Islamists.

Ami Isseroff

Islamist inertia
In shutting the door to change, difference and reason, contemporary Islamist movements bind themselves to a mummified past, writes Salah Eissa*

Since 1979, when the Iranian revolution succeeded in toppling the peacock throne and founding an Islamic republic, "The Islamists are coming!" has been a cry that voiced the hopes of some and the fears of others.
For Islamist groups across the Arab- Islamic map, the Iranian revolution rekindled dreams of a victory of their own, even though these groups still suffered the after effects of successive waves of assault waged against them by Arab nationalist regimes from the early 1950s to the mid- 1970s. Not only did these campaigns throw Islamist groups into organisational disarray, and most of their leaders into prison, they also succeeded in turning the majority of the Arab public against them while luring it to the Arab nationalist model which seemed poised to realise their social and national aspirations.
Nevertheless, in the aftermath of the Arab defeat in the 1967 war, the credibility of the Arab nationalist project waned and its popularity dwindled. By the time of the Iranian revolution, Islamist groups had just begun to emerge from their cocoons and present themselves as the alternative to all preceding national revival projects, as the untried path untainted by disaster and defeat.
Since then, all signs indicated that the Muslim fundamentalist movement was marching relentlessly forward. A military coup paved the way for their seizure of power in Sudan. They were steadily gaining ground in the parliaments in Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Algeria and, indeed, they won sizeable majorities in legislative elections in Palestine and Turkey. Their mounting popularity across the Arab world was also reflected in their growing, if not controlling, presence in many civil society organisations, notably in the occupational syndicates.
One factor that facilitated this progress was that some governments allied themselves with moderate Islamists in the hope of obstructing the danger of radical fundamentalists that espoused the use of violence. Some political parties and movements also pursued the same tactic, if for different ends, such as to combine forces against a common external enemy (the US and Israel) or against a domestic adversary (dictatorial regimes) or merely to hitch up with the Islamist trend in order to win more votes in the polls.
The West, spearheaded by the US, was alarmed at this development, in spite of the fact that it was instrumental in fostering it. The West had worked assiduously to destroy Arab nationalist governments that were once a bulwark against the fundamentalist tide. It also enlisted Muslim fundamentalists in its fight against communism. This alliance reached its zenith in the war to liberate Afghanistan from Soviet occupation and came to a reverberating close with the events of 11 September 2001.
But is the march of Muslim fundamentalists towards power in the Arab world, whether they succeed by coup or through democratic processes, irreversible? Has the civil state ended as a phase in political evolution and must we ready ourselves for a theocratic state?
The answer to these questions is affirmative if we judge solely by the balance of power between Muslim fundamentalists and other political forces. But it quickly moves to the negative once we take a closer look at the contradictions within the greater Islamist movement itself and unearth a number of weak points that could hamper its progress and perhaps thwart its goals entirely.
The problem with the Muslim fundamentalist project is that it is founded upon the utopian dream of reviving the Islamic state as it existed in its golden era. What is conspicuously lacking in the discourse of proponents of this project is a clear conception of the material means needed to resuscitate that past so many centuries after its death and to revive all the attendant circumstances that had enabled that state to flourish.
True, the ability of abstractions to tickle the deep religious grain of the Muslim people is a major reason for the widespread popularity of the fundamentalist project. However, when forced to come down to earth and deal with the difficulties that obstruct its path, or with the brass tacks of rule as dictated by balances of power and the various demands of reality, the project runs out of steam.
The fact is that the fundamentalist project has an Achilles heel. It posits a dream of reviving the glory of the Islamic empire but ignores the fact that what enabled that empire to flourish was its openness to other cultures and civilisations. This applies to Muslim jurists and theologians, as long as the doors to dialogue and the exercise of reason in light of the changes and challenges of contemporary reality remained open, furnishing a constant source of inspiration and renovation. Conversely, the decline of Islamic civilisation began when the door leading to the application of reason and independent thought was slammed shut. If their aim is to revive our ancient glory, proponents of the fundamentalist project should first strive to breach the gap between the 4th century in the Islamic calendar, when the door to ijtihad was closed, and the present, so as to be able to formulate a philosophy that suits the times in which we live.
But this seems unlikely. Islamist fundamentalist groups, which have concentrated virtually all their efforts on recruitment and consolidating forces, fear the open door from which the winds of independent thought might shake their unity of rank. Thus, their members have been left to create the contours of the fundamentalist dream on the basis of ancient works of jurisprudence. As a result, they have become even more rigid than their leaders and have come to form a powerful pressure group within the movement that not only hampers their leaderships' ability to proclaim fresh ideas but also restricts their leaderships' manoeuvrability, which is one of the essential prerequisites for any drive to attain a dream. What remains, then, is the vast ability to cause problems, bring down disaster on others and generally obstruct progress and development.
The danger, therefore, is not so much that "The Islamists are coming," but that they still have the power to obstruct progress towards democracy in Muslim countries.
* The writer is editor-in-chief of Al-Qahira weekly newspaper.

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Syria and Israel - What should Israel offer for peace?

It is easy for Syria to make a propaganda case regarding the Golan heights, because the issues concern maps and geography and treaties made between Britain and France many years ago. All of these are B*O*R*I*N*G. But the facts are as Alexander Yakobson reminds us. Israel offered to withdraw to the international border. That border is not the border of the 1949 armistice lines, which include Syrian gains in the Israeli War of Independence. Israel will have to make peace with Syria one day, but it should be peace based on international law, not Syrian propanda.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

More about distrust building and "reformed" terrorists

From the below, it is evident that Israeli security forces are not exactly naive about the intentions of "reformed" terrorists to be converted to peaceful coexistence, and track them as likely suspects. In this case, the reformed paragon of peaceful Palestinian proclivities was caught with eight pipe bombs, a rifle and a hand gun. Presumably, he was going to use them for non-violence exercises.
September 23rd, 2007
Wanted Tanzim operative arrested after returning to militant activity despite agreement

In a joint IDF, ISA and special Border Police force operation this evening in the village of Qalil, south of Nablus, the force arrested a wanted operative of the Tanzim terror organization, a Fatah offshoot.

8 pipe bombs, a rifle and a handgun were uncovered in the structure where the operative, Fares Natzer Hassin Abu Na'eem, was hiding. The bombs were detonated in a controlled manner by Border Police sappers.

The wanted operative, a 21 year-old resident of the village of Qalil, was involved in bombing and shooting attacks against IDF forces. Abu Na'eem was a party to the August 2007 agreement between the Palestinian Authority and
Israel, and had pledged to cease militant activity in exchange for being taken off the list of wanted operatives. Recent information received about Abu Na'eem indicated that he had returned to his militant activity, which
constitutes a severe violation of the agreement. As a result, it was decided to arrest him.

The IDF wishes to emphasize that those who signed the August 2007 agreement are valid subjects for intelligence tracking. Moreover, those who do not fulfill their commitments will be arrested.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Distrust building measure - IDF: Detained Tanzim member breached amnesty deal

How's this for confidence building?
A Tanzim member who was arrested by IDF forces operating near Nablus for his involvement in terror-related activities was identified as Fares Abu Ghanim, the military said.

Abu Ghanim was among a group of wanted terror suspects who recently pledged to stop their terror activity as part of the amnesty deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
How sad that the Palestinians are throwing away every opportunity, and how sad that Israel may be forced to make more such deals.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Rabbis against Zionism - returning evil for good

That makes perfect sense. Israel has so many friends, that of course we don't need any help or support from Christian evangelicals right?
The Chief Rabbinate has abruptly called on Jews to shun a major Christian tourism event, baffling and upsetting evangelical groups that traditionally have been big supporters of Israel,
More than 6,000 Christians from more than 90 nations are expected to arrive in Jerusalem this week to take part in the 28th annual Christian celebration of the weeklong Jewish holiday of Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, according to the event's organizers, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.
Thousands of Christians take part in the celebration annually, as do Israeli lawmakers, government representatives and ordinary Israelis. Rabbi Shlomo Goren, a former chief rabbi, personally welcomed participants one year.

But this year the Chief Rabbinate urged Jews to stay away from the event, saying some of the groups want to convert them to Christianity. Proselytizing is illegal in Israel.
"According to information that has reached the Chief Rabbinate, there are participants in this conference who convert Jews to Christianity and perform missionary activity throughout the year," said Rabbi Simcha Hacohen Kook, the chief rabbi of Rehovot, who took part in committee discussions of the matter. "This is against the law, so the Chief Rabbinate is calling upon Jews not to take part in the conference."
The group's organizers denied breaking the law.
"It is disappointing to learn that some rabbinic authorities are trying to discourage the Jewish public from participating in this traditional march," said the Rev. Malcolm Hedding, the ICEJ's executive director. "The ICEJ has never conducted any missionary programs in Israel and we clearly instruct our Feast pilgrims against such activity during their stay here."
National Religious Party MK Benny Elon, who heads the Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus, questioned why the rabbinate's ruling was handed down now, after the event has taken place for 27 years with the understanding on both sides that missionary activity was off limits.
A good question. My advice to Jews in Jerusalem - welcome our Christian friends with open arms. If any any of them try to convert you, my advice is: don't do it.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

More rumors about the Iran attack and Cheney

Here is the supposed plan:  Israel will provoke Iran a bit, not enough to do any real damage, but obliging the US. Iran will respond by dumping chemical warfare agents on Israel, eliminating the population of Israel and givng the US an excuse for intervening in Iran. What tiny flaw do you see in that plan?
Here is the way it is presented:
Citing two unnamed sources the magazine called knowledgeable, the magazine quoted David Wurmser, until last month Cheney's Middle East advisor, as having told a small group of people that "Cheney had been mulling the idea of pushing for limited Israeli missile strikes against the Iranian nuclear site at Natanz-and perhaps other sites-in order to provoke Tehran into lashing out."
So in other words, Wurmser did not say it, but two "unnamed sources." It also states:
It also quoted Wurmser's wife, Meyrav, as saying the allegations were untrue
Can't David Wurmser speak for himself?
It is not a likely story. Even Cheney can't be that that dumb, one would think.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

U.S. Military: No War with Iran

For all the war scare folks:
What part of that don't you understand?
"This constant drum beat of conflict is what strikes me which is not helpful and not useful," Adm. William Fallon said in an interview with Al-Jazeera television, which made a partial transcript available Sunday.
Fallon, the head of U.S. Central Command, wraps up a seven-nation tour of the region on Tuesday that included stops in Persian Gulf countries, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Many of the talks with military and political leaders were dominated by worries about expanding Iranian influence and U.S. accusations that Iran is supplying arms and training to Shiite militiamen in Iraq.
"I expect that there will be no war and that is what we ought to be working for," said Fallon during the Friday interview at Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar. "We should find ways through which we can bring countries to work together for the benefit of all .... It is not a good idea to be in a state of war. We ought to try and to do our utmost to create different conditions."


Continued (Permanent Link)

Columbia allows Ahmadinejad, not protesters

Free speech at Columbia is apparently limited only to enemies of the United States. Those protesting the appearance of Ahmedinejad will not be allowed to protest.

AMCHA denied access to protest at Columbia

For immediate release
September 21, 2007
Contact: Rabbi Avi Weiss: 718-884-0930


AMCHA - the Coalition for Jewish Concerns is planning a major counter - vigil of conscience at 115th and Broadway as Ahmadinejad speaks at Columbia University on Sept. 24th at 12:30pm.

AMCHA has also sent the attached letter to Columbia University president Lee Bollinger, protesting Columbia's decision to close the campus to outside demonstrators.

As the AMCHA letter indicates, "This limitation on non-University affiliated persons is particularly inappropriate here where the speaker and his considerable entourage is not affiliated with Columbia University."

Rabbi Avi Weiss, National President of AMCHA, indicated that "We've raised a voice against Palestinian disinvestment conferences at Ohio State, Duke, and Michigan amongst others.This is the first time a university campus has been closed off to us."

Should the university not grant AMCHA the right to protest on campus, AMCHA, as the letter indicates, "will consider pursuing legal remedies."

September 21, 2007
Via Facsimile and E-mail
Mr. Lee C. Bollinger
Columbia University
535 West 116th Street
202 Low Library
Mail Code 4309
New York, NY 10027
Dear President Bollinger:

This firm represents Rabbi Avi Weiss and Amcha the Coalition for Jewish
Concerns ("Amcha").I write in connection with the upcoming visit of Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, to the Columbia campus on Monday,
September 24.

Rabbi Weiss and Amcha intend to protest against Mr. Ahmadinejad but have
been advised that only Columbia University students and faculty will be
permitted on the campus on Monday, September 24, and thus, neither Rabbi
Weiss nor Amcha will be permitted to protest against Mr. Ahmadinejad at that

You are a First Amendment scholar of considerable repute and as such are, I
suspect, both sympathetic to and supportive of the First Amendment
principles of free expression that permeate Columbia's own policies and
regulations regarding demonstrations, rallies and picketing.Specifically,
Section 440 of Chapter XLIV of the Rules of University Conduct provides:

Demonstrations, rallies, picketing, and the circulation of petitions have an
important place in the life of a university.They are means by which protests
may be registered and attention drawn to new directions possible in the
evolution of the University community. . . . .

While the University as a private institution is not subject to the
Constitutional provisions of free speech and due process of law, the
University by its nature is dedicated to the free expression of ideas and to
evenhanded and fair dealing with all with whom it conducts it affairs.The
Rules of University Conduct are thus enacted by the University to provide as
a matter of University policy the maximum freedom of expression consistent
with the rights of others. . .

While the University certainly has the right to enact and apply reasonable
restraints on the time, place and manner of demonstrations, banning all
non-University affiliated persons from the entire campus is not such a
reasonable restraint.

This limitation on non-University affiliated persons is particularly
inappropriate here where the speaker and his considerable entourage (which I
understand will be permitted on the Columbia University campus) is not
affiliated with Columbia University.

I therefore ask that you advise by return facsimile today or on Sunday
whether the University will permit Rabbi Weiss, Amcha and others similarly
situated, onto the Columbia University campus on Monday, September 24, 2007
so that they may peaceably demonstrate against Mr. Ahmadinejad and the
hate-filled and offensive positions that he has long advocated.

Should the University not permit Rabbi Weiss and Amcha to demonstrate on
campus on Monday, September 24 in accordance with the University's own
policies and guidelines, Rabbi Weiss and Amcha will consider pursuing their
legal remedies.
Very truly yours,
Steven Lieberman
cc:Rabbi Avi Weiss

Continued (Permanent Link)

Making the world safe for Iranian Nuclear Weapons

Yet another review of The Israel Lobby - Dual Loyalties by yet another Jew.

The purpose of the Israel Lobby Book can be found in this sentence:

Now, Mearsheimer and Walt fear that Israel and the lobby will shove the United States into a new war with Iran: "They are the central forces today behind all the talk ... about using military force to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities. Unfortunately, such rhetoric makes it harder, not easier, to stop Iran from going nuclear."
OK, so why aren't Mearsheimer and Walt the central forces urging the US to take effective action against Iran? If they spoke out for effective action against Iran, it might help to stop Iran from going nuclear? The book is a not too subtle attempt to label the Iran issue a child of the imagination of the Jewish lobby.

Jews protesting that we don't have an Elders of Zion and don't use the blood of Christian Children to make Matzoth are NOT going to stop this sort of propaganda. We need an Emile Zola to take up our case - a non-Jew who sees the injustice and is willing to speak out.

Ami Isseroff

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Nuclear material seized in Syria?

The problem is, that Sarah Baxter and Uzi Mahnaimi, who wrote the story, have a history of "imaginative" reporting. It was Mahnaimi who invented the Israeli ethnobomb after all, and these two reporters also predicted that Israel would be attacking Iran last year. Their report continues:

Israeli commandos seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a daring raid on a secret military site in Syria before Israel bombed it this month, according to informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem.

The attack was launched with American approval on September 6 after Washington was shown evidence the material was nuclear related, the well-placed sources say.

They confirmed that samples taken from Syria for testing had been identified as North Korean. This raised fears that Syria might have joined North Korea and Iran in seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

Israeli special forces had been gathering intelligence for several months in Syria, according to Israeli sources. They located the nuclear material at a compound near Dayr az-Zwar in the north.

Evidence that North Korean personnel were at the site is said to have been shared with President George W Bush over the summer. A senior American source said the administration sought proof of nuclear-related activities before giving the attack its blessing.

Diplomats in North Korea and China believe a number of North Koreans were killed in the strike, based on reports reaching Asian governments about conversations between Chinese and North Korean officials.

Syrian officials flew to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, last week, reinforcing the view that the two nations were coordinating their response.
The deaths of North Koreans in the strike might be sufficient explanation of Israeli secrecy.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

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