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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Arab-Jewish relations under Islamic Rule

Further to my historical survey of Arab Jewish relations under Muslim rule, Lyn Julius has pointed me to this article about Arab-Jewish relations that was inspired, in 2005 by remarks of Muammar Ghaddafi inviting Jews to "come home." Of course, Jews were never "home" in places like Libya, or else it was a very dysfunctional home. You don't get routinely stoned and insulted in your own home unless your family is dysfunctional.
Ami Isseroff
This article from the Spring 2005 issue of the Jewish Quarterly tries to cast some light on a contentious topic.

Dilemmas of Dhimmitude: Lyn Julius untangles the controversies about Jewish life in Arab lands

'I have not come to rediscover my memories, nor to recognize those I have distorted, nor to imagine that I could live here again. I came to bury all this, to get rid of it, forget it, even hate it, as we are taught to hate those who do not want us.

I now realize that I am behaving in a typically Jewish fashion. I came back to Egypt as only Jews do, asiring to return to places they were in such a rush to flee' – [Andre Aciman, [False Papers: essays in exile.]

Last year, the Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafy invited the Jews of Libya to 'come home'. In October, a Jewish delegation did return for the first time in almost 40 years - and was well received. They wished to visit their roots, renew business ties, seek the restoration of Jewish communal sites and compensation for lost property. (A follow-up visit of some 20 Israelis of Libyan origin was scheduled for March 2005, the first time Israeli citizens will have set foot on Libyan soil.) And Libya, anxious to be rehabilitated in the post-Saddam era, seems eager to usher in a new era of reconciliation.

Yet this was not the first time the Libyan leader had asked the Jews to return to the land of their birth. When he made a similar offer in 1975 ('Are you not Arabs like us, Arab Jews?'), Albert Memmi, the Tunisian-born French writer and intellectual, scoffed:

'Yes, indeed we were Arab Jews – in our habits, in our culture, our music, our menu. But must one remain an Arab Jew if, in return, one has to tremble for one's life and the future of one's children and always be denied a normal existence? We would have liked to be Arab Jews. If we abandoned the idea, it is because over the centuries the Muslim Arabs systematically prevented its realization by their contempt and cruelty.' 'Who is an Arab Jew?', in [Jews and Arabs[Chicago: O¹Hara, 1975]; this essay can also be read on-line here. ).

Even if it acknowledges that the Jews ever lived in the Middle East ­ an admission which undermines the oft-heard claim that Israel is a white, European, colonialist settler state - modern Arab historiography has marginalized the Jews and their ancient heritage to the point of invisibility, appropriating their achievements. Maimonides has morphed into an Arab scientist. Schoolchildren are taught that the sixth-century Jewish poet As-Samawaa'l and the medieval luminary Avicebron (Ibn Gvirol) were Muslims. How many know that a Jew helped write the constitution for the modern state of Egypt?

The very expression 'Arab Jews' is a misnomer to describe people who were living in the Middle East and North Africa 1,000 years before Islam and the seventh-century Arab invasion. From these communities sprang the Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Hillel and the philosopher Philo. In the last 50 years, after almost 3,000 years of unbroken presence, nearly a million Jews fled persecution and legalized discrimination and overcame much hardship to build new lives - mostly in Israel - where they now account for roughly half the Jewish population. The remaining 5,000 live reasonably securely in Yemen, Morocco and Tunisia, in spite of being targeted by recent Al-Qaeda bombings. But a key chapter of Jewish history is drawing to an irrevocable close.

Some have propagated the myth that the Jews left of their own free will, or were forced out by Zionist pressure. Israel itself has been complicit in drawing a veil over the Jewish narrative, emphasizing the romance of the Zionist 'pull' factor, while glossing over the unhappy circumstances of the 'push'. The comparatively neglected story of this Jewish exodus continues to live in the shadows.

So what is the truth about relations between Arabs and Jews? The issue is loaded with political implications for today. Consider two extreme views. If Jews and Arabs can be shown to have always coexisted harmoniously, then Arabs bear no responsibility for the existence of Israel; they are the undeserving indirect victims of European antisemitism. If, on the other hand, antisemitism is seen as endemic to the Middle East, that offers uncomfortably little hope for an end to the conflict. One thing is sure: a complex reality, varying from era to era, from region to region and ruler to ruler, does not lend itself easily to sweeping generalizations.

Ask Jews themselves about the life they left behind and they will wax lyrical about the scent of jasmine and lemon trees: sunsets over Alexandria harbour; samekh mousgouf, the fish grilled on the banks of the river Tigris; sleeping under the stars on the roof; a comfortable life of leisure and servants. Yet most of these same Jews fled for their lives with one suitcase.

Many Jews like to reminisce about their charmed lives and do not dwell on their hasty uprooting. But while these rosy images of the past reflect a genuine reality, Albert Memmi insists that it was temporary, a reasonably secure interlude lasting only for the duration of the colonial era, a matter of a few decades.

So what were Arab-Jewish relations like historically? Again there are two extreme competing answers to this question. On one view, Jews and Christians enjoyed the status of a 'protected' minority under Islam, and the Jews in Muslim Spain enjoyed a golden age of peace and prosperity. Others argue that Jews and Christians were 'protected' only from extermination and were never anything but second-class.

Muslims took control of the Middle East through [jihad ­ religious wars of conquest. The indigenous Christians and Jews were spared conversion and death if they abided by certain terms of a dhimma agreement. They had to pay a special tax, the jizya, cede the centre of the road to Muslims, ride only donkeys, not horses. They could not build a synagogue taller than a mosque, could not testify against Muslims in court, could not bear arms, and had to wear distinctive clothing. In short, their status was one of institutionalized inferiority and humiliation.

However, like all other dhimmis, writes Norman Stillman in The Jews of Arab Lands (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1979), the Jews

'enjoyed extensive communal autonomy precisely because the state did not care what they did so long as they paid their taxes, kept the peace and remained in place.'

There were massacres, but these were rare and only occurred when the Jews were thought to have stepped out of line.

The golden age myth

One of leading writers on Islamic history, Bernard Lewis, believes the golden age in Spain is a myth - Jews were persecuted by both Muslims and Christians:

'Belief in it was a result more than a cause of Jewish sympathy for Islam. The myth was invented by Jews in nineteenth-century Europe as a reproach to Christians ­ and taken up by Muslims in our own time as a reproach to Jews.

If tolerance means the absence of persecution, then classic Islamic society was indeed tolerant to both its Jewish and Christian subjects ­ more tolerant perhaps in Spain than in the East, and in either incomparably more tolerant than was medieval Christendom. But if tolerance means the absence of discrimination, then Islam never was or claimed to be tolerant, but on the contrary insisted on the privileged superiority of the true believer in this world as well as the next ([Islam in History: Ideas, Men and Events in the Middle East' [London: Alcove Press, 1973]).

The truth is that both extreme forms of Arab-Jewish relations (and many in between) could obtain in different times and different places. Conditions for the Jews were good in the early Middle Ages, worse in the later Middle Ages, dire under the Almohads, difficult under the Mamluks. Life was best in the centre of the Ottoman Empire, hardest on the periphery. As the European powers increased their influence and during the colonial era, Jews and Christians acquired near-equal status to Muslims. Crucially, however, conditions for the non-Muslim minorities deteriorated again when Arab nation states gained their independence. To blame was a sinister nexus of European fascism and an anti-western Arab nationalist movement. Today, a virulent Islamist strain of anti-westernism and antisemitism sweeping the Arab and Muslim world bears little resemblance to the more tolerant end of traditional Muslim attitudes.

When the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453, a good period began for the Jews. The Ottoman Turks populated the city not with fellow Muslims but productive and creative Armenians, Greeks and Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. Unlike Europe, where the Jews were the only minority, the Ottoman Middle East was a mosaic of religions and ethnicities. Jews, debarred only from the army and the diplomatic corps, rose to prominence as doctors, merchants and courtiers, at a time, to quote Professor Norman Stone's Foreword to Lord Kinross's study of The Ottoman Empire (Bury St Edmunds: Folio, 2003) when Christian kingdoms were shovelling heretics or Jews out to sea'.

Islam, unlike Christianity, did not view Jews as Christ-killers: ­ they were simply benighted unbelievers. As Bernard Lewis explains in Semites and anti-Semites (New York: Norton, 1986),

'The situation of non-Muslim minorities in classical Islam falls a long way short of the standard set and usually observed in the present-day democracies. It compares, however, favourably with conditions prevailing in western Europe in the Middle Ages, and in eastern Europe for very much longer.'

Lewis traces the infiltration of specifically Christian hostility towards Jews - with its blood libels, fears of conspiracy and domination, images of Jews poisoning wells and spreading the plague - to the high Middle Ages, when many Christians converted to Islam, and to the particular influence of Greek Orthodox Christians.

Over the centuries a Muslim family, the Nusseibehs, were the keepers of the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, not because the Christian sects squabbled among themselves (although squabble they did) but as a symbol of Muslim primacy. To escape their inferiority, Christians were at the forefront of twentieth-century pan-Arabism; the founder of the League of the Arab Homeland was a Christian.

Christians, more conspicuous and identified with the Ottomans' European enemies, deflected attention from the Jews. They bore the brunt of persecution ­ the 1915 genocide of over one million Armenians being the most extreme example. But their common dhimmitude did not make them any more sympathetic to their economic rivals, the Jews - quite the contrary. It was Christians, for example, who stirred up a blood libel in Damascus in 1840 (and on 34 subsequent occasions), a Christian who first translated The Protocols of the Elders of Zion into Arabic.

Dhimmitude on the fringes

In Iran, where there were fewer minorities, and in Yemen and North Africa, where Christianity had died out, the Jews led a miserable and degraded existence subject to a much stricter application of the rules of dhimmitude. They were confined to mellahs or ghettos and periodically subject to forced conversions. Whereas the Turks had introduced the fez in Iraq in 1808, so that religious groups should not be immediately recognizable by their headdresses, in Tunisia over a century later the social rules of dhimmitude were still in force, even under French colonial rule, and Albert Memmi's grandfather was still expected to wear the obligatory and discriminatory Jewish garb. Every Jew could expect to be hit on the head by any passing Muslim, a ritual which even had a name ­ the chtaka. Shi'ites subscribed to ritual purity prejudices until recent times. A Jewish friend who lived in Shi'a Bahrain tells how her grandmother once picked up some fruit to see if it was ripe. The fruit seller tipped his basket to the ground, crying out 'You have defiled it!' In Iran, Jews were executed for brushing up against Muslims in the rain, and so 'defiling' them.

Dhimmitude and Zionism

Why did Zionism elicit fury from the start? An explanation suggested by Francisco Gil-White in 'Whitewashing the Palestinian Leadership' (, 31 August 2003) is that

'the Arab upper classes saw dhimmitude as the cement of the social fabric, helping to guarantee the loyalty of the street. Many Arabs saw in the lowly status of Jews a confirmation of their own worth. And there was special contempt for the Jews, perhaps because, unlike the Christian case, no Jewish states existed to compete with Islamic states.'

The movement for a Jewish state in Palestine overturned the natural pecking order. When slavery was abolished, American whites in the Deep South responded by lynching black slaves. Similarly, as Albert Memmi writes,

'The Arabs . . . have not yet recovered from the shock of seeing their former underlings raise their heads, attempting even to gain their national independence. They know of only one rejoinder ­ off with their heads!'

In Histoire de chiens (Paris: Mille et Une Nuits, 2004), Nathan Weinstock, a former Trotskyist, claims that the breakdown of the traditional dhimmi relationship was one of the root causes of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Jews became the focus of Arab aggression, he believes, when in 1908 the Hashomer Hatza'ir pioneers of Sejera dismissed their Circassian guards - who protected their settlement against Bedouin raids ­ and replaced them with Jewish guards. For the Jews, this was an ideological statement of self-sufficiency. But for the neighbouring Arab [fellaheen, they had crossed a red line. They had reneged on their part of the dhimmitude agreement: the dog-like dhimmi, who was not allowed to bear arms, should always look to the Muslim for protection. The title of Weinstock's book is taken from the battlecry of those who slaughtered members of the old yishuv in Hebron in 1929: 'The Jews are our dogs!' Because the targets were indigenous Jews, not Zionists, he argues that Palestinian nationalism was predicated on bigotry.

Continued here: What were Arab-Jewish relations really like?

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Kuwaiti Daily Al-Qabas on "the Zionist Cockroach"

i think he means this as an insult mehitabel.


Kuwaiti Daily Al-Qabas on "the Zionist Cockroach"

In a December 11, 2009 column titled "The Zionist Cockroach" in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas, Kuwaiti columnist Fakhri Hashem Al-Sayyed Rajab compared the Zionists to cockroaches capable of survival in any situation, and said that they used dishonorable means to assure their continued existence. He wrote that the Zionists had taken over the world and caused everyone worldwide to hate the Arabs and the Muslims, while the Arabs failed to display a unified stance and kept their reaction to themselves. "There are [various] types of cockroaches: wingless, winged, German, American, Asian. Cockroaches are among the most primeval of the earth's creatures; they can withstand harsher conditions than any other creature, and adapt rapidly to their environment. They say that there are 4,000 kinds [of cockroaches]. The cockroach can survive a week or two without its head, and a month without food. It can withstand many times more radiation than a human can, and will fight to survive.

"I compare the Zionist to the cockroach: For thousands of years, the Zionist has fought [to remain] alive, by all possible means: plunder, exploitation, deceit, killing, and 'laying [its] eggs' across the world so that its offspring will continue to exist until Judgment Day.

"The Zionists have managed to quietly take over the world, imperturbably... and now they are the most powerful force in the world – not in physical strength and weapons stockpiles, but in their power of thought, economics, and planning in all countries, so that [these countries] obey them, and whoever opposes them must watch out. A simple declaration against them means a cruel attack by them – and antisemites beware!

"Their power, and their veins, branch out to southwards, northwards, westwards, and eastwards, and it was recently learned that the Zionist lobby has infiltrated the British government. An investigation is now underway to uncover where the[ir] funds are coming from and what group is providing support.

"Unfortunately, with us Arabs, everything remains in the heart, even our heartfelt reactions.

"We heard about Switzerland's stance regarding the ban on building new minarets, and we did not hear about the united Arab position condemning this action. None of us disagrees that there is a Zionist cockroach behind every issue that arises and is fabricated against the Arabs, particularly the Muslims. These are the [Zionists'] plans; making the foreign world hate the Arab and Muslim existence; occupying Palestine, the Golan, Sinai, and Lebanon; ; for 9/11, and up to the [Swiss] minaret ban. Maybe in the future they will forbid us from entering their countries.

"Our craftiness is in dance and roulette games; see what [the Zionists] have attained by means of [craftineess in ] science and politics, [and what] we have attained by means of oppression and domination!

"In essence: Woe to the nation whose ignorance has made it the laughing-stock of all other nations!"[1]


[1] A line from a poem by the classical Arab poet Al-Mutanabbi.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

The little Mumbai survivor - a year later

This is the story of three year old Moshe, whose parents were murdered by Islamist terrorists in the Mumbai attack one year ago. Please try to keep this heart wrenching story in mind, when attempting to fathom the cynicism and depravity of those who blame the attacks on the "Mossad" and those who published their evil drivel.
Ami Isseroff
Orphaned Toddler Doing Well a Year After Mumbai Attack
A Year After Parents' Murder by Gunmen, 3-Year-Old Mumbai Orphan Is Doing Well
JERUSALEM, Nov. 26, 2009 —
Little Moshe's mother and father, Rabbi Rivka and Gabriel Holtzberg, were killed moments after the gunmen entered Chabad House, the Mumbai Jewish community center they ran.
His Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel, found Moshe sitting on the floor beside their blood-stained bodies and, with great presence of mind, whisked him to safety.
Images of the traumatized little boy emerging from the besieged building were soon beamed around the world. His cries for his dead parents days later at a memorial ceremony later broke hearts.
Now, a year after the four-day attacks that began Nov. 26, Moshe and nanny Samuel are still living together in the Israeli town of Afula, in the home of his maternal grandparents, Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg.
Moshe, 3, is doing well, his uncle, Shmulik Rosenberg, told ABC News this week.
"He started kindergarten in September and is doing well," he said. "He's a very happy child but he still asks about his parents a lot. We tell him they are in heaven."
Samuel, an Indian Catholic, is slowly adapting to life in Israel but plans a vacation to her beloved Mumbai in December. She misses the Indian city's energy and scale, she said. The bond between her and Moshe, who recently celebrated his birthday, is strong and she is committed to staying by the child's side for as long as she is needed, Samuel said.
Meanwhile, Moshe has settled into a touching daily routine.
"Every day, when Moshe wakes up, he looks at a picture of his parents and says good morning," uncle Rosenberg said. "And before he leaves the house, he says goodbye to them in the same way."
Although Moshe is beginning to lead a normal life, his uncle said, memories of that fateful day still haunt him.
"He remembers some of what happened even though he doesn't understand," Rosenberg said of the shooting and bombing attacks that killed at least 173 people. "For example, he'll say, 'Why did they [his parents] fall on the ground? Why did they look so sad? And why didn't they answer me when I called out to them."

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Good news for Jews - we're taking over Britain

According to UK Channel 4, the "Israel Lobby" (AKA World Jewish conspiracy) is poised to take over Britain when and if the Conservative party comes to power, since an all powerful Jew conspiracy has permeated the corridors of British power. The next British monarch will be Ikey I, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, and the Menorah will be printed on British bank notes. The Channel 4 documentary evidently has compiled a list of the Jew lovers in the Conservative party, preparing to subvert the innocent British people, about to pass legislation that forces pubs to serve Manischewitz wine and kosher snacks. It must be the influential Jewish conspiracy that is responsible for tacit recognition of Sharia law and other pro-Zionist moves of the Zionist Occupied British government. The same Jew lobby was no doubt responsible for the spate of British Boycott Israel initiatives. Them Jews will get you every time, right?
Or is the documentary evidence of a quite different trend in Britain? What do you think?
Ami Isseroff
Israel lobby 'big influence in UK'
The programme links Hague, left, and Cameron to the Conservative Friends of Israel [EPA]
A British documentary has alleged that any future Conservative government will be disproportionately influenced by a powerful pro-Israeli lobby in the country.
Channel 4's Dispatches programme on Monday said that at least half of the Conservative shadow cabinet are members of the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), one of a number of pro-Israel lobby organisations.
The prorgramme, entitled 'Inside Britain's Israel Lobby', said that such organisations make up "one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain", but that "little is known" about these groups and their associated individuals.
CFI members and their businesses are alleged to have donated more than $16.8m to the Conservative Party over the past eight years.
The alleged donations include tens of thousands of pounds to William Hague, after he was appointed shadow foreign secretary in 2005.
The documentary alleged that Lord Kalm, a CFI member and significant donor to the Conservatives, threatened to remove Hague's funding after he said that Israel had used "disproportionate" force during its war in Lebanon in 2006.
David Cameron, the Conservative leader, is alleged to have promised not to repeat the conjecture.
Stuart Polak, CFI's director, disputed the figures in the UK's Guardian newspaper.
"CFI as an organisation has donated only £30,000 [$50,000] since 2005. Each of these donations has been made transparently and publicly registered," he said.
"In addition to this £30,000, it is undoubtedly the case that some of our supporters have also chosen, separately, to donate to the party as individuals."
The Dispatches documentary also claims that Poju Zabludowicz, a Finnish billionaire and chairman of Bicom (the British Israel Communications and Research Centre), gave $25,000 and $84,000 donations to Cameron and the Conservative Central Office respectively.
Zabludowicz has a business interest in a shopping centre in Ma'aleh Adumim, an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank deemed illegal under international law.
Bicom organises briefings on and trips to Israel for journalists. The CFI and the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) group, which is described in the documentary as "less unquestioning in its support of the Israeli government than CFI", plays a similar role, accounting for 13 per cent of the total number of paid-for foreign trips for MPs and candidates.
'Openness needed'
Zabludowicz told The Jerusalem Post newspaper that the Dispatches programme "seems to have a predetermined agenda".
"Some people have suggested that the production team felt compelled to 'balance out' their two recent programs exposing the footprint of radical Islamism in the UK," he said.
"I come to this conclusion with a heavy heart, having been led [through] a not-so-merry dance over the past 10 days by the programme-makers.
"Bicom is an advocacy organisation. We work with journalists every day. It is in our DNA to put our side of the story forward and to be transparent."
While the programme said that the donations are legal, one of its makers, David Oborne, a political columnist for the British Daily Mail newspaper, said that more needs to be known about the Israeli lobby's workings and power.
"There is nothing resembling a conspiracy," he wrote in the Guardian.
"The pro-Israel lobby, in common with other lobbies, has every right to operate and indeed to flourish in Britain.
"But it needs to be far more open about how it is funded and what it does ... mainly because politics in a democracy ... should be out in the open for all to see."
In 2006, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, two American academics, released a paper stating that Washington's support for Israel was predicated by a hugely powerful Israeli lobby in the US.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Anti-Israel chorus reaches a crescendo

Reflections on the New Antisemitism

by David Solway

The Hebrew Scripture is replete with passages of unforgettable beauty, and many of the most beautiful are to be found in the Book of Psalms. Psalm 119, the longest in the book, is studded with such pearls, in particular verses 103-05, which read (in the King James translation):

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get
understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

These words resonate ironically today, when the words one hears and reads everywhere around us about Jews, about Zionists, and about the state of Israel are not "sweet" but sharp and bitter. The "precepts" we receive in the various media, print and electronic, do not promote "understanding" but seem instead to justify "every false way." The biblical "lamp" seems to have been extinguished and the "path" is shrouded in darkness.

The most recent case in point comes from the left-leaning Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, which reported in a double-truck spread on August 18, 2009, that Israeli soldiers regularly abduct Palestinians to harvest their innards for the international organ trade. (This is the same daily that, on Easter 2003, referred to "the crucifixion of Arafat.") The source for this ludicrous fable consists of a number of Palestinians whose depositions are accepted as gospel. How Swede are their words! The story now comes full circle back to its Palestinian source to be confirmed by the Palestinian news agency Ma'an (which is, incidentally, financed by Denmark and Holland). The feature cites a certain "expert" whose evidence for the claim consists of a rather peculiar factoid, namely, that Israel returns the bodies of Hezbollah fighters minus their organs! The obvious question remains unasked: why would Israel send back these scavenged bodies if it wished to avoid detection and avert a scandal? The absurdity is palpable, but logic and common sense are clearly beyond the cognitive abilities of anti-Semites. And then, as we know, there is the inconvenient medical fact that the organs of people who do not expire under clinical conditions, when organs can be removed immediately, are not viable for transplant.

Anyone who is even remotely familiar with the Palestinian propaganda machine and the robust Antisemitism of the Swedish media and officialdom (not to mention Norway, Spain, the UK, and several other European countries) might consult another verse from Psalm 119: "The wicked have laid a snare for me." And indeed they have. The most popular Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, cleared the way for its Swedish counterpart to launch its newest calumny, publishing an article on August 8, 2009, accusing Jews of creating swine flu as part of a pharmaceutical conspiracy to profit from the sale of antidotes.

The despicable lies perpetrated by Aftonbladet and De Telegraaf are only the latest in what seems like an endless chain of defamatory utterances and slanderous fictions about the Jewish people and the Jewish state. We recall the notorious Mohammed al-Durah hoax , in which the Palestinian 12-year-old was ostensibly shot by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) at the Netzarim junction in Gaza on September 30, 2000, propagated by the France TV 2 network and picked up by every major news outlet on the planet. We now know that the episode was rehearsed, directed, and staged with the collusion of Palestinian stringers and cameramen. It constitutes perhaps the most conspicuous contemporary chapter in the never-ending and constantly mutating hate-campaign against the Jewish people.

Then we had the so-called Jenin massacre , which turned out to be anything but, except for the 22 young Israeli soldiers who died trying to avoid civilian casualties when an American-style air strike would have done the job of scrubbing out the terrorist nest. Next, the blame for the 2006 Lebanon war was laid at Israel's doorstep although the conflict was triggered by the Hezbollah incursion into Israeli territory, resulting in the kidnapping and killing of several Israeli soldiers. Britain's Independent went so far as to accuse Israel of using uranium-tipped weapons, a claim so manifestly outrageous it defies both reason and belief — and should rightly have defied publication.

An investigation is now proceeding under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council into Israel's conduct during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. There is not so much as a mention in its mandate of Hamas' seven-year rocket barrage against civilian communities in southern Israel which provoked the long-deferred Israeli response. Note well. It is not Hamas - a terrorist organization whose charter promises the annihilation of the Jewish state, which has deliberately violated international law by using its own civilians as human shields, firing missiles from its own population centers, storing ammunition in hospitals and mosques, and commandeering ambulances as troop carriers, and that continues to hold a kidnapped Israeli soldier in illegal detention - which is being investigated. It is Israel that is being singled out for condemnation, the country of which British military expert Richard Kemp, in a BBC interview in January 2009, said: "I don't think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza."

The world is once again thirsting for Jewish blood, an ironic reversal of the old blood libel canard. We see this vampiric appetite expressed in a multitude of different ways: in the international media, as we have observed; in the theater ( My Name Is Rachel Corrie , Seven Jewish Children ; in film (Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ ); in opera (the antiphrastic staging of Camille Saint-Saen's Samson et Dalila in Antwerp in May 2008, with the Philistines cast in the role of the Israelites and the Israelites as the oppressors of the Philistines); in the tarnished and largely one-sided reports of NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (the latter soliciting funds from Saudi Arabia ); in international conferences on racism ( Durban I and II , which turn into flagrant anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatefests); in the General Assembly of the United Nations (whose current president, Miguel d'Escoto Brockman , is an outspoken opponent of the Jewish state); on university campuses where Israel Apartheid Week i s one of the hottest shows around; in Barack Obama's defaulting on the commitment of the previous American administration regarding the natural growth of Israeli settlements and construction in East Jerusalem; and so on, ad vomitatum.

And there seems no way at present of evading the growing pandemic of anti-Jewish feeling and anti-Israeli denunciation that is infecting the contemporary world. "What is new about the new Antisemitism," writes Phyllis Chesler in The New Antisemitism , is "that it is worldwide. … Jews are being verbally and visually attacked everywhere." The Jew is someone for whom there is no elsewhere. This is my definition, but there have, of course, been many definitions of the Jew over the millennia, most of them pejorative. I need not rehearse them once again, for the Dictionary of Received Opinion is open to all and readily available. It is, in effect, the one dictionary that need not be purchased, lodged in the inner life of the West like a demonic version of the Gideon Bible in hotel room drawers.

There is no disputing this. What the great English Renaissance author Sir Thomas Browne called the Pseudodoxia Epidemica (or Dictionary of Received Opinion) is especially rich and hospitable when it comes to the vilification of the Jew. In his master work of that title, Browne set out to dispel common prejudices of every kind, a Herculean effort which, fraught with "discouragment of contradiction, unbelief, and difficulty," he described as the "disswasion from radicated beliefs." Concerning the Jews, he is in no doubt about the ubiquitous and diabolical error of such "radicated beliefs." "In the conceit of the evil order of the Jews," he writes, "Christians without a farther research into the verity of the thing, or enquiry into the cause, draw up a judgment upon them." It is only the "more ocular discerners" who know otherwise.

Today, it is not only Christians (or Muslims) who "draw up a judgment upon them" but, as Chesler indicates, a vast, secular, politically correct, mainly liberal-left constituency busily adding a sheaf of extra pages to the common Pseudodoxia, comprising a thick appendix of stigmatic designations. Obviously, this has mainly to do with Israel, conceived as the new Jew on the block and the national incarnation of the "longest hatred" as it manifests among us. Anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli sentiment has become so pervasive that it reminds me of the philosopher Nicholas of Cusa 's definition of God as a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. But in our demented age the definition applies not to love but to hatred, not to the worship of the Lord but to the derogation of the "satanic" Jew.

The fact must be faced. Although there are writers of integrity, talent, and impressive scholarship, truly "ocular discerners," who have taken up the defense of Jews and of Israel, it seems increasingly like a fruitless struggle. The words of Israel's defenders in the infosphere are simply unable to fill the ever-expanding circle of hostility, deprecation, and vengefulness in which Jews and the Jewish state now find themselves. It is, rather, the words of their adversaries that proliferate and block out the horizon of discourse — the invidious message of those who should never be taken at their word.

Thankfully, there is a countervailing fact as well, which has to do with the long history of courage against all the odds and the unprecedented resilience of the Jewish people — and, of course, with those honorable and gracious advocates for truth and decency who come to the defense of Israel. As hapless as the battle may seem at times, there can be no reneging. "Nor have we let fall our penne," wrote Browne, even though we "are oft-times fain to wander in the America and untravelled parts of truth." Browne was a devout man who would have based his practice on a passage like that of verse 130 of the above-quoted psalm: "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple." I would add only the hopeful rider: and to the sophisticates as well.

But for those of us who are not religiously observant, the imperative to speak, write, and act remains in force. In the interests of the survival of Israel and the integrity of the West, and despite all the impediments raised against the simple truth, we need to get the word out.

David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity , and is currently working on a sequel, Living in the Valley of Shmoon. His new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, will be released by CanadianValuesPress, an imprint of Mantua Books, in the fall.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

All about Israel boycotts and the anti-Israelism of the left

The problem of Israel boycotts is not new. This piece by Amos Kenan originally appeared in the Israel daily newspaper Yediot Achronot shortly after the Six-Day Way and was widely circulated among American Jewish students in North America looking for an answer to the anti-Israel New Left. Please keep in mind the context of the late-Sixties as you read these words.

Seek Peace and Pursue It


A Letter to all Good People

By Amos Kenan

I am for Cuba. I love Cuba. I am opposed to the genocide perpetrated by the Americans in Vietnam. But I am an Israeli, therefore I am forbidden to take all these stands. Cuba does not want me to love her. Someone has decided that I am permitted to love only the Americans. I don't mind so much that someone, especially the good people everywhere, have decided to outlaw me. I shall be able to get along without their help. But I do mind that I am not permitted any longer to love and hate according to my feelings, and according to my political and moral inclinations, and that I am refused invitation or even admittance to parties held by the good people. I am not permitted any longer to toast justice with a glass of champagne. I am not permitted to eat caviar and denounce the Americans. I am not permitted to stroll in the sun-drenched streets of Havana, arm-in-arm with my erstwhile good friends from St. Germain, Via Veneto and Chelsea, and celebrate the memory of Che Guevara, casting a threatening look at imperialism. I am also finally and absolutely forbidden to sign petitions of all sorts for human rights.

This situation drives me slightly out of my mind. Therefore I wish to relate a few confused, disconnected stories. Perhaps some good man will find the connection. One day an Israeli submarine sank in the Mediterranean with its 69 crew members. Its SOS was answered, among others, by the British, Turkish and Greek fleets. The Russian navy, which cruised very close to the location, did not join in the search. Moscow radio, in its Arab broadcasts, took the trouble to denounce the countries whose ships rushed to help the lost submarine. It is a sacred principle of seamen of all nations to hasten to the aid of distressed vessels. The Israeli submarine was not on a war mission, and Israel is not in a state of war with the Soviet Union.

I am not so naive as to believe that this is anti-Semitism, Soviet style. I have never believed that the Russians are guided, in their calculations, by such powerful and sincere emotions as anti-Semitism, which is common to both progressive and reactionary camps. I know that the Russians conduct a cool and considered pragmatic policy, and are guided by clear political considerations. This was a political move, carried out as a part of a political game. The meaning of this move can only be: Israel must be isolated from the civilised human community. The rules that apply to the civilised community, rules of honour, consideration and mutual aid, do not apply to me. I am out. There is only one more step to the conclusion: the shedding of my blood is no crime.

Forgive my brutal way of putting things. I cannot conceive of it otherwise. If this was a move in a game, the game must have an object. The object is the penetration of the Middle East, and let us assume, for the sake of arguments, that this is for the purpose of advancing world revolution and the overthrow of imperialism. The Middle East contains 100m. Arabs and 2.5m. Israelis. But it is not so easy, in our enlightened world, to wipe out 2.5m. people. A reason, and a justification, are needed. You cannot wipe out just like that. First of all you must outlaw. Therefore you must not invite an Israeli communist party to a convention of communist parties. Therefore you must not invite a leftist Israeli author to a conference of leftist authors in Havana. There are no more class distinctions. There are only national distinctions. Even an Israeli leftist is an imperialist. And an oil sheikh is a socialist. Therefore it is permissible to compare me to the Nazis. It is permissible to call me a Gauleiter. It is permissible to mobilize all of the world's conscientious people against me—and without them you cannot do it—and all this because there is an object looming beyond the horizon, an object for the sake of which this tactic is justifiable and useful.

Until quite recently, I also belonged to the Good People. Meaning that not only did I sit in cafes and sign petitions for the release of political prisoners in countries not my own, not only did I join proclamations, after sipping my aperitif, for the release of the downtrodden from the yoke of imperialism in places I shall never reach; I also did something against what seemed to me to be oppression and injustice in my own country. During the 20 years of the existence of the State of Israel I helped with my pen, in my regular newspaper column, the fight against the injustices committed against the Arab minority. And not by the pen only, but also in demonstrations, and also when arraigned before a military tribunal. I am used to being called a traitor by local patriots. During the Six Day War, in June 1967, the battalion I served in was ordered to supervise the demolition of four Arab villages: I considered it my duty to desert from my unit, to write a report of this action, and to send the copies to the General Staff of the army, to members of the government and to Knesset members. This report has been translated and circulated in the world as a proof of Israel's crimes.

But permit me to conclude the story. The action I undertook was in flagrant violation of any military law. I have no idea what would have happened to a Red Army soldier were he to violate national and military discipline in such a manner. After returning to my unit, I was ordered to present myself—I, in rank a private—before the general commanding all the divisions on that front. He told me that he had read my report, and considered it his duty to inform me that what had occurred was a regrettable error, which will not recur. Deep in my heart I disbelieved his statement that this was only a mistake. I was convinced that whoever ordered such an action did not expect such resistance from within—the men of my battalion refused to carry out the order—and was alarmed at the impression such an action might create abroad. But I was glad that he found it necessary to announce that this was only an error. I asked him how he intended to ensure that the 'error' will never recur. On the spot he signed an order permitting me free movement in all occupied territories, so that I could see with my own eyes that such an action had not recurred.

But since then, in all the peace-papers in the world, my report about the destruction of villages has been reprinted over and over again, as if it happened only yesterday, as if it is happening all the time. And this is a lie. It is like writing that witches have been burnt at the stake in England—omitting the date. I hereby request all those who believed me when I reported a criminal act, to believe me now too. And those who do not believe me now, I hereby request to disbelieve my former report too, and not to believe me selectively, according to their convenience. I should also add that the town of Kalkiliya, which began to be demolished during the writing of my report, is now in the process of being rebuilt, after the expelled inhabitants have been brought back.

This does not mean that other injustices are not perpetrated now. The less you fight me, the more you would help me fight them. Even the most leftist of men will not consent to be slaughtered when a sword is pointed at his throat. Even when the sword is a progressive one, it does not make it any the pleasanter. The trouble is that not a single serious person in the world believes today that Israel was really in danger of being annihilated. This is the optical illusion of 1968. The gigantic Goliath is threatening little David. The fact that Goliath is a giant, and that David is small, is only an optical illusion. If Goliath triumphs and tramples David under his feet, it is a sign that he really is a giant. But if little David beats the giant, people say: the giant David has trampled poor little Goliath in the dust. I claim that Israel played the role of David. And I claim that even now, after the stunning victory, it still is little David who has indeed beaten the stunned Goliath, but Goliath still is a menacing giant. Today, no less than in June 1967, Israel is in danger of annihilation. Unless the enlightened world mobilises now, immediately, perhaps it will be too late. But I am afraid that there are not many people in the world today who will be sorry if victorious David is destroyed. A bitter suspicion rises in me that even the most enlightened among the most progressive people still adhere to the Christian tradition that they imbibed with their mothers' milk: Jew, stay on the cross. Never get off it. The day you get off the cross and hurl it at the heads of your crucifiers, we shall cease to love you. Today the Arabs boast of waging a revolutionary guerrilla warfare. They claim to have copied the Viet Cong method of warfare and to apply it in the Middle East. They march with Che Guevara's picture. This makes me laugh. Just as Che Guevara's picture hanging in the luxurious salons of Montparnasse made me laugh. I have always wondered whether Che Guevara had a picture of Che Guevara hanging in his salon. What is a Viet Cong? The Viet Cong is not white flags on buildings. The Viet Cong means fighting to the last man. The Viet Cong of the Middle East, whether those who demonstrate with Che Guevara's picture like it or not, are we. We are prepared, at any moment to wage the battle to the death. After the death camps, we are left with only one supreme value: existence.

Our existence today, is inconvenient for those who work at the global balance of power. It is more convenient that there should be two camps, one white, the other black. We number, as I said before, only 2.5m. people. On the global map, what is the value of a few hundred thousand leftists, opposing the Eshkol government policy and striving for a genuine peace with the Arabs, who strive to liberate themselves from the one-way dependence on American power? Somebody has already decided to sacrifice us. The history of revolution is full of such sacrifices since the days of the Spanish War. At one time world revolution had been sacrificed on the altar of the revolution in one country. Today the calculation is somewhat subtler. Today they try to explain to us that there is an Arab socialism. That there is an Egyptian socialism, and an Algerian socialism. There is a socialism of slave-traders, and a socialism of oil magnates. There are all kinds of socialism, all aiming really at one and the same thing—the overthrow of imperialism, which happens to be one and indivisible. Once there was only a single kind of socialsm, which fed on principles, some of them moral. On the day that morality died there was born the
particular, conventional socialism, changing from place to place and from time to time, for which I have no other name but National Socialism.

I want to live. What can I do if Russia, China, Vietnam, India, Yugoslavia, Sartre, Russell, Castro, have all decided that I am made all of a piece? It is inconvenient for them to admit that there is an opposition in Israel too. Why should there be an opposition in Israel if in the Popular Democracies in Cuba or Algeria, there is only one party? And perhaps they do have pangs of conscience, but they have made their calculation, and found out that I am only one, only 10, only 100,000; and on the other side there are tens of millions, all led like a single man, in a single party, towards the light, towards the sun. And if so, who am I? I will tell you who I am: I am the man who will confuse and confound your progressive calculations. I have too much love for this vain world, a world of caviar, television, sunny beaches, sex and good wine. You go ahead and toast the revolution with champagne. I shall toast myself, my own life, bottle in one hand, rifle in the other. You send Soviet arms to Egypt. You isolate me. And in order to make it easier to isolate me, you change my name. My flesh, which you eat, you call fish. You don't want to protect me— neither against the Arabs, nor against the Russians, nor against Dayan or Johnson.

Moreover, when I try to call on you and tell you that I am against Dayan, against Eshkol, against Ben-Gurion, and ask for your help, you laugh at me and demand that I should return to the 4 June borders, unconditionally. Hold it! I refuse to play this game. If you give me back the pistol with which I tried to kill you, I won't kill you. Because I am a nice fellow. But if you don't give it back to me, I shall kill you, because you are a bad fellow. Why were the 4 June borders not peace borders on 4 June but will become peace borders now? Why were not the U.N. partition plan borders of 1947 peace borders then but will become so now? Why should I return the bandit his gun as a reward for having failed to kill me? I want peace peace peace peace peace peace peace. I am ready to give everything back in exchange for peace. And I shall give nothing back without peace. I am ready to solve the refugee problem. I am ready to accept an independent Palestinian state. I am ready to sit and talk. About everything, all at the same time. Direct talks, indirect talks, all this is immaterial. But peace. Until you agree to have peace, I shall give back nothing. And if you force me to become a conqueror, I shall become a conqueror. And if you force me to become an oppressor, I shall become an oppressor. And if you force me into the same camp with all the forces of darkness in the world, there I shall be.

There is no lack in Israel of rabid militarists. Their number is steadily increasing, the more our isolation becomes apparent. Nasser helps Dayan, Kosygin helps Eshkol. Fidel Castro helps the Jewish chauvinists. Who of the world's giants cares how many more Jews, how many more Arabs, bleed to death in the Sinai sands? There is no lack here of mad hysterical militarists. All those quiet citizens who went out to war with K.L.M. handgrips and in laundry trucks, who scribbled on their tanks: 'We want Home' . All those who fought without anger, without hatred, only for their lives, are becoming militaristic, convinced that only Israeli power, and nothing else in the world, will ever help us.

The only ones who are prepared to defend me, for reasons I don' t like at all, are the Americans. It is convenient for them, for the time being. You are flinging me towards America, the bastion of democracy and the murderer of Vietnam, who tramples the downtrodden peoples and spares my life, who oppresses the Negroes and supplies me with arms to save myself. You leave me no other alternative. You don' t even offer me humiliating terms, to be admitted through the rear door into the progressive orgy. You don' t even want me to overthrow my government. You only want me to surrender, unconditionally, and to believe the spokesmen of the revolution that henceforth no Jewish doctors will be murdered, and that they will limit themselves to the declaration that Zionism is responsible for the riots in Warsaw.

Very funny. The truth is that I and Sartre, two people with the same vision, more or less, with the same ideal, more or less, and if I may be permitted to impertinence, with the same moral level, more or less, are now at the two sides of the barricade. We have been pushed to both sides by the cold calculations of the people who sent us, or abandoned us. But the fact remains—these are not Americans shooting Russians, or capitalists shooting socialists, or freedom-fighters shooting the oppressors. It is I, shooting Sartre. I see him in my gun sights; he sees me in his gun sights. I still don' t know which of us is faster, more skilled, or more determined to kill or be killed. Neither do I know who shall be more lucky—the one who has no other alternative, or the one who acts out of choice. One thing is clear to me; if I survive, I shall mourn Sartre's death more than he would mourn mine. And if that happens, I shall never be consoled until I wipe from under the heavens both the capitalists and the communists. Or they me. Or each the other. Or all destroy all. And if I survive even that, without a god but without prophets either, my life will have no sense whatsoever. I shall have nothing else to do but walk on the banks of streams, or on the top of the rocks, watch the wonders of nature, and console myself with words of Ecclesiastes, the wisest of men: "For the light is sweet, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun

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Swedes stand by blood libel, insist on investigation, condemn envoy apology

The Swedish government retracted its ambassadors condemnation of an an anti-Semitic canard published in AftonBladet, Sweden's largest newspaper, that claimed that the IDF kills Palestinians in order to harvest their organs for transplants. After Sweden's ambassador to Israel, Borsiin Bonnier, apologized for the article, opposition Green Party spokesman Per Gahrton said Bonnier should be recalled and taught the basics of Swedish freedom of speech. YNET reported:
Sweden's Foreign Ministry on Thursday said a response by the Swedish Embassy in Israel to a report by the Aftonbladet news saying IDF soldiers killed Palestinians in order to harvest their organs does not represent the government's stance.

The embassy had stated that the report was "appalling". But the Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman said, "The embassy in Tel Aviv responded in accordance to Israeli public opinion, however the Swedish government is committed to freedom of the press."

She added that Israel had not issued an official complaint on the report.

Another Swedish government spokesperson, Anders Jorle said, "The Foreign Ministry would not have acted in the same way" as the ambassador.

The editor of Aftonbladet, Jan Helin, said, "It's deeply unpleasant and sad to see such a strong propaganda machine using centuries-old anti-Semitic images in an apparent attempt to get an obviously topical issue off the table." Helin called it an opinion piece raising questions of Israel in the context of a suspected link to Israel in that U.S. case. He denied any suggestion of anti-Semitism from his paper.
There was nothing in the presentation of the article to indicate that it was supposed to be an opinion piece rather than a factual article. The dodge of disseminating lies as facts and then claiming it is "opinion" is a common one, though some journalistic standards officially forbid such behavior. Helin now has the best of both worlds, since he can defend the libel as just "opinion" while at the same time insisting that it is a "topical issue" that should be discussed, implying that it is true or has some basis in fact. It seems the blood libel is always "topical."

If a person publishes an opinion piece stating that a Martian is impersonating the President of the United States, is it just nonsense or a topical issue that should be discussed? If I write that Holocaust survivors remember Jan Helin's father as a volunteer SS Einsatzgruppenfuhrer who participated in the Babi Yar massacre, I am after all just quoting a source, right? It doesn't have to be true. Is it an opinion piece or a topical issue? How about if I quote witnesses who insist they saw a homosexual orgy with the participation of Donald Bostrom, author of the article, and editor Helin, both dressed as Gestapo officers? How can the public be protected from random inventions of racists and sensationalists if every such claim can hide behind the defense of "opinion piece" and get the protection of "freedom of the press?"
Ami Isseroff

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sweden revives blood libel against Israel

"Legitimate criticism" of Israel reached new lows of depravity in Sweden when Sweden's leading daily newspaper revived the medieval blood libel accusation against the IDF. in a sensational article titled ""Our sons plundered for their organs"(Swedish article is here: Based on this accusation, "Anti-Zionist" Web sites and e-mail lists are hurrying to circulate the "news" that the IDF kills Palestinian Arabs in order to extract their organs for transplants.
The reporter, one Donald Bostrom, assembled a farrago of unrelated stories about illegal organ trafficking from Israel, including a story about the arrest of a New York Jew engaged in selling kidneys contrary to Israeli law. He used hearsay and rumor from Palestinians about the fate of relatives killed during the Intifada:
I was in the area and worked on a book when I several times was contacted by UN staff who were concerned about the development. Those who contacted me felt that body theft actually took place, but that they were unable to act. On behalf of a television company, I then went around and spoke to a large number of Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza....
"'Our sons are used as involuntary organ donors,' relatives of Khaled from Nablus said to me, as did the mother of Raed from Jenin as well as the uncles of Machmod and Nafes from Gaza, who all had disappeared for a few days and returned by night, dead and autopsied. - Why did they keep the bodies up to five days before we can bury them? What happened to the bodies in the meantime? And why is the autopsy when the cause of death is obvious, and in all cases against our will? And why are the bodies returned at night?".
Evidently, the rumors spread due to ignorance of forensic autopsy procedures and Jew hate, encouraged by UN personnel. Bostrom described in detail the case of one Bilal Achmed Ghanian, 19, whose body was returned after autopsy after he was killed in 1992. It is probable, but unclear, that the victims were dead when they were evacuated. Of course, organs cannot be harvested from cadavers. Bostrom quoted an IDF denial and explanation that the autopsies were routine, but Bostrom implied that the denial is false:
The routine autopsy of killed Palestinians, as told by the army spokesman is not true in reality in the Occupied Territories. .
The use of rumor and hearsay, and more especially the unrelated material about illegal organ traffic, make it clear that Bostrom set out to intentionally libel Israel and the Jewish people. The Israeli ambassador lodged a strong protest, but this can hardly be a deterrent to people like Bostrom. If a similar report about Muslims had been published in a Scandinavian journal, wouldn't there be violent world wide demonstrations as there were after the Danish Muhammad cartoons?

Swedish Jews claim Bostrom is a known anti-Semite and AftonBladet has published similar articles. The Swedish Embassy in Israel has apologized, but a culture editor of Aftonbladet told Haaretz that the publication stands by the story and insists on an "international investigation" of the alleged nefarious Jewish activities.
The libel of organ stealing is not new and may have originated with Yasser Arafat himself. According to a 2002 Honest Reporting article:
the Islamic Association for Palestine reported that Yasser Arafat "has accused the Israeli apartheid regime of murdering Palestinian children and youths and extricating their vital organs for organ transplants."
It is one thing when racist Palestinian leaders make accusations of Jewish blood libel, but quite another phenomenon and much more ominous when they appear in a respected northern European "Nordic" country journal. It seems that there are no longer any real limits to what may be published under the guise of supposedly "legitimate criticism of Israel." A competing Swedish newspaper has published a horrified editorial.The liberal Sydsvenskan - southern Sweden's major daily ran an opinion piece of Mats Skogkär called "Antisemitbladet" (a play on the name Aftonbladet):

"We have heard the story before, in one form or the other. It follows the traditional pattern of conspiracy theory: a great number of loose threads that the theorist tempts the reader to tie into a neat knot without having been provided with any proven connection whatsoever..."
"Whispers in the dark. Anonymous sources. Rumors. That is all it takes. After all we all know what they [the Jews] are like, don't we: inhuman, hardened. Capable of anything," the opinion piece says. "Now all that remains is the defense, equally predictable: 'Anti-Semitism' No, no, just criticism of Israel."
The tale is not told in a cultural vacuum of course. The stories of Bilal Achmed Ghanian and the others are backed by a rich European tradition of "legitimate criticism" of Jews. They have joined the European pantheon of fraudulent blood libel martys, which includes numerous "saints" revered by the Catholic church for many years, such as Saint Andreas of Rinn , Saint Simon of Trent, and Saint Hugh of Lincoln. Aftonbladet has carried on in a more modern tradition of Nordic journalism, illustrated by the following twentieth century cartoon from the Westdeutchen Beobachter, also considered "legitimate criticism" by its defenders:
Blood Libel

Ami Isseroff

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mennonite "Peace" group hypocrisy on Iran

A letter from Dexter Van Zile. He has asked us to blog about it - everyone, so we have. It is truly pitiful that Mennonites are carrying on a shameful relation with the worst Ayatollahs in Iran while they are murdering their own people.

Hello Everyone:

As you know, the Mennonite Central Committee has been one of the more vociferous and unfair critics of Israel.
This pacifist group has allowed its prophetic voice to be used as a weapon of war against Israel.

Its activists have also worked to legitimize Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the eyes of the American people.
When I've spoken with the people from the MCC about their dialogue with Ahmadinejad, they respond by saying that it is a good thing to keep the lines of communications open even with people we regard as "enemies." They also state that they have expressed their concern to Ahmadinejad about his comments regarding Israel.

Now that the Iranian regime has revealed itself to be quite willing to use violence to suppress its opposition, the MCC, whose activists have met with Ahmadinejad, have fallen silent.

They are not using the lines of communication that they said were so necessary to maintain.
On June 15, I wrote a post on CAMERA's website about this silence.

I have recently updated this post with some new information that frankly caused my jaw to drop. In short, the MCC has engaged in dialogue with with scholars from the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute (IKERI) located on Qom, Iran. This institute is directed by Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, described by The Star (Toronto) as "spiritual adviser to Iran's hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

One dissident described Mesbah-Yazdi as "the most dangerous Mullah in Iran." The Toronto Star reported that Mesbah-Yazdi is "is a strong advocate of the death penalty, public flogging and the use of suicide bombers against "enemies of Islam."

It's obvious enough to state that if Israel were behaving the way the regime in Iran is behaving, the MCC would not hesitate to issue a ringing condemnation.
I don't know how any of you want to use this information, but please, read the post [article is below ]. If you've got a blog, please blog on it. Feel free to quote my message in its entirety. [That's what we did!]
Dexter Van Zile
Christian Media Analyst
PO Box 35040
Boston, MA 02135-0001
617-789-3672 Voice
UPDATED: Mennonite Central Committee Silent on Iran

When it comes to rehabilitating his image in the United States, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can count on the Mennonite Central Committee for assistance.

The organization has sponsored two dinners and an interfaith pilgrimage to Tehran during which Christian leaders have met with the Iranian President and offered kind words about the man afterwards.

Now that events demonstrate that Ahmadinejad is the public face of a brutal regime willing to suppress the people it governs, the organization has fallen silent.
After more than two days of protests and violence in Iran, the MCC has not published any statement about the regime on its website, nor does it have any plans to.
On the morning of June 15, 2009, CAMERA sent an email to Ed Nyce, the MCC's Media and Education Coordinator asking whether or not the organization was going to issue any statement about Iran.
Nyce's response, which came on the afternoon of June 15, was succinct and direct:

"We have no plans to issue a statement."

When asked in subsequent communications (email and a voice message) why the MCC had nothing to say, Nyce reiterated in an email that the MCC has "no plans to issue a statement."

The MCC's silence about the events in Iran is remarkable given its highly visible campaign to legitimize Ahmadinejad in the U.S. This campaign began in February 2007 when the MCC organized a meeting of Christian leaders with the Iranian President in Teheran. The delegation held a press conference in Washington, D.C. upon its return to the U.S. Christian leaders reportedly challenged Ahmadinejad about his anti-Semitic statements, but their complaints had little apparent effect. Four days after the delegation's meeting Ahmadinejad appeared in Sudan, where according to Islamic Republic News Agency (Iran's official news service), he said "Zionists are the true manifestation of Satan."

In September 2007, the MCC organized an ecumenical dinner attended by Ahmadinejad and numerous Christian leaders in New York City.

The leaders met with the Iranian president after he addressed the United Nations on September 26, 2007. According to The New York Times, Albert Lobe, executive director of the Mennonite Central committee told Ahmadinejad "We meant to extend to you the hospitality which a head of state deserves."

Lobe's obsequiousness was apparently a response to the treatment Ahmadinejad received at Columbia University on Sept. 24, when the school's president Lee Bollinger called him "a petty and cruel dictator."

The MCC organized a similar dinner with Ahmadinejad in September 2008. After this meeting, MCC officials reassured the American people that the Iranian President had no desire to destroy Israel militarily, but merely supported a "one-state solution" to the conflict in which "Israelis and Palestinians elect a single government to represent both peoples."
When it comes to portraying Ahmadinejad in a sympathetic light, or condemning Israeli policies, such as the construction of the security barrier, the Mennonite Central Committee has been quite vocal. But when it comes time to assess the behavior of the Iranian regime in light of the Christian gospel (which it uses so often to judge Israel), the group falls silent.
UPDATE - June 24, 2009

In addition to sponsoring the two dinners and interfaith pilgrimage mentioned above, the Mennonite Central Committee has had multiple face-to-face contacts with scholars from the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute (IKERI) located on Qom, Iran. This institute is directed by Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, described by The Star (Toronto) as "spiritual adviser to Iran's hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

According to a report in the The Star, a May 2007 meeting between scholars from the institute and Mennonite scholars at the University of Waterloo sponsored by the MCC provoked a protest from Iranians in Canada. The Star reported:

"We're not against dialogue but the Mennonites are naïve if they think they can open one with these people," said Haideh Moghissi, a York University sociologists who with 17 others signed a protest letter sent to the university.
She says Mesbah-Yazdi and his followers are "at the forefront of oppression in Iran," responsible for silencing all intellectuals who disagree with the regime.
"It hurts to know that while people are losing their lives over there, some people are opening the door to 'dialogue' over here. Why doesn't the institute open it back there?"

The Star also reports that Mesbah-Yazdi "is a strong advocate of the death penalty, public flogging and the use of suicide bombers against "enemies of Islam."

"He is the most dangerous mullah in Iran," says Saeed Rahnema, director of York University School of Public Policy and Administration, who spearheaded the protest.

Despite complaints from Iranian dissidents about the meeting in 2007, the MCC sponsored another dialogue with scholars from IKERI in Qom on May 24-27, 2009.

According to an article about the most recent meeting published on the website of Conrad Grebel University College (which sent scholars to the dialogue), the participants witnessed "active campaigning on behalf of presidential candidates."

The article also states that at the conference's end, "the Mennonite delegation expressed its gratitude to IKERI for unsurpassed hospitality, delicious meals, comfortable accommodations, and excellent conference meeting space."

IKERI apparently treated its Mennonite guests with more respect and deference than the Iranian government has shown to its own citizens. According to CNN, witnesses report that government security forces are beating people like "animals."

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