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Thursday, November 26, 2009

The little Mumbai survivor - a year later

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/11/little-mumbair-survivor-year-later.html

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
By SIMON MCGREGOR-WOOD and JORDANA MILLER
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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Friday, May 22, 2009

Big choice at York University Israel debate

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/05/big-choice-at-york-univeristy-israel.html

One state or one state, take your pick at the York University debate on "paths to peace." This is a wide and fair choice, really. You can have a secular Palestinian democracy like Syria or an Islamic Republic like Iran. Yes, "peace" can be achieved by destroying your enemy. It would not be the first time that peace was achieved through genocide.
Good thing Jeff Halper is invited. No hate-Israel gathering could be complete without Jeff Halper, who has done a monumental job of discrediting the cause of peace and Palestinian rights and turning it into an insane mockery. Halper is a veteran of the hatemongering fake "peace" movement.
The worst aspect of these activities is that the bad, fake peace makers inevitably drive out the good ones and make it impossible for them to work by delegitimizing the cause of peace. If the Palestinians do not want self-determination, it is their business, but they needn't try to foist this idea on the Jews.
It is really sad that York university has succumbed to this sort of cheap racism and Stalinist debating style. The terror groupies already tried to hold an "Israel Apartheid Week" at York University. You'll be glad to know that one of their speakers was scheduled to be "Sahabphan Jesuthasan. York Student, President, Tamil Students Association." The problem of the Tamil Tigers terrorists, one of the most notorious suicide terror groups, was since settled in a most satisfactory manner, by eliminating the group and killing their head, proving that it is possible to win an assymmetric war. Terrorists are not invincible. Nobody counted the civilian casualties. Sri Lanka declared a national holiday. If you will, it is no legend. Yes, peace can be achieved by wiping out your enemy. However, those who wish for that kind of "peace" should take into account that it is probably their side that will get wiped out.

YORK UNIVERSITY VS. ISRAEL:

"ACADEMIC FREEDOM" OR ACADEMIC FARCE?

Gerald M. Steinberg

Chair, Political Science, Bar Ilan University

and Executive Director, NGO Monitor

The President of York University in Toronto has issued a statement attempting to defend his university's sponsorship of an event headlined "Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace", scheduled for June 22 to 24. This response to intense criticism of the program attempts to portray serious criticism as an attack on academic freedom. However, in examining the details and the debate over this event, and in the context of vulgar anti-Israel activities and physical intimidation of Jewish students at York, these bland words are a diversion -- a straw man aimed at deflecting criticism, and blocking the important public debate over the role of university campuses as battlefields in the Arab-Israeli narrative wars that perpetuate the violent conflict.

York's defense seeks to answer the public statement issued by Hershell Ezrin, head of the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA). This analysis was based on a careful examination of the speakers and their topics, which reveals that this conference "aims to explore a one-state, bi-national solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, the imposition of which would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish state. The conference will include a number of speakers who are recognizable for their roles as organizers and outspoken proponents of 'apartheid week' and the Israel boycott movement."

Far from an attack on academic freedom, such criticism highlights the very absence of the free exchange in a marketplace of ideas which is the indispensible foundation for academic freedom. The extremely complex history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and multiple dimensions of peace efforts contrast starkly with the narrowly constricted ideologies reflected in the list of 44 speakers. This information is readily available using the internet, and had the eleven sponsors -- six from York, four from Queen's university and a government funded research framework -- exercised "due diligence", they would have found that many of the speakers are virulent anti-Israeli activists, and are far removed from academic work to understand complex issues through research and debate. In other words, it is the conference that constitutes a brutal attack on academic freedom, rather than the analysts and critics.

For example, the first speaker on the list is Ali Abunimah, who runs a propaganda internet site known as the "Electronic Intifada", specializing in demonization of Israel through articles such as "Why Israel won't survive".. Abunimah is also affiliated with a political organization (PCHR) based in Gaza that systematically distorts and exploits the language of human rights – also to attack Israel. Abunimah's groups frequently condone Palestinian terrorism using the euphemism of "resistance" and terms like "apartheid" and "racist" in reference to Israel – the exact opposite of promoting compromise and a two state solution. Attempts to feature speakers like Abunimah under the banner of peace research is dishonest, and rather than attempting to prevent this criticism by pretending that academic freedom is at stake, York university officials should welcome the analysis

While the ideological bios and activist records of all 44 speakers would fill dozens of pages (a task that the sponsors at York University should undertake as a public service), a few more illustrations are useful. Jeff Halper is another veteran pro-Palestinian campaigner, far removed from any academic pursuits. He runs a small organization that claims to oppose the demolition of Palestinian houses, but most of his activities are aimed at generating support for the Palestinian narrative. He recently participated in sailing a few small boats from Cyprus to Hamas-controlled Gaza, hoping to engage in publicity-generating confrontations with the Israeli Navy. Halper often appears in support of Naim Ateek, whose speeches include classical antisemitic references, such as accusing Israel of "crucifying Palestinians". The context of Palestinian mass terror attacks, the mangled bodies, and the hatred against Israelis that promotes this inhuman behavior, is entirely erased.

An Israeli columnist recently witnessed Halper urging "his Muslim listeners in an American university to reject the Arab Peace Initiative, because it serves the Muslim tyrants. He told his listeners that Israel is actually a force that serves world capitalism, in the framework of the attempt to make enormous populations in the world disappear. The antisemites could not have said it better." To label such activities as promoting peace or remotely connected to university discourse is an insult to intelligent people. Recently, Halper's main benefactor, the European Union, rejected his application for renewed funding, but YorkUniversity – for reasons yet to be explained – is giving him the façade of academic legitimacy.

Amidst the long list of speakers, there are also few genuine academics – whom critics might dismiss as fig leaves for the hard-core propagandists -- but even here, the ideological range runs from strongly critical of Israel (but accepting the legitimacy of Jewish sovereign equality) to extremely critical (one-state promoters, tantamount to "wiping Israel off the map".) Although there are many academics whose research goes beyond one-dimensional Israel bashing, and examines the failures of Arab, Palestinian, and Moslem leaders to contribute to peace making, these dimensions are conspicuously absent from the program. In this Orwellian twist, the use of "academic freedom" is a mask for the crude censorship at York.

With so many obvious distortions, the defense offered by the President of York University is a farce. Without a free market of ideas, academic freedom, and even the concept of a university, is meaningless. Given a conference which fails to even hint at the complexity of the issues, the result is not censorship, but the transformation of the university into a macabre circus that sells hatred, martyrdom and murder.

In a free society, the circus, like the university, is open to all – as P.T. Barnum observed, "There's a sucker born every minute". But in the Middle East, such farces will only serve to fuel the vicious warfare and mass terror which has taken the lives of tens of thousands of Israelis, Palestinians, and others, and is escalating into nuclear confrontation. And York University has become an accomplice in this crime.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

When Shalit comes marching home again

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/03/when-shalit-comes-marching-home-again.html

The Israeli ethos of "not leaving anyone" behind is embedded in our national psyche. In his 1956 Diary of the Sinai Campaign, Moshe Dayan expressed his admiration for troops who risked their lives to bring back wounded and dead comrades, and opined that this sometimes irrational devotion was nonetheless necessary to maintain the espirit de corps of the IDF. But after the Suez Campaign, Israeli POWs had to suffer patiently until honorable prisoner exchanges were arranged. And most regrettably, the prisoners of the Lavon affair were not released.

Continued - When Shalit comes marching home again

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

The young Adolf Hitler: Furor over fuhrer name

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/12/young-adolf-hitler-furor-over-fuhrer.html

Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag, zu unseren jungen Führer.

Last update - 14:06 17/12/2008
3-year-old Adolf Hitler finally gets his name on his birthday cake
By The Associated Press


The father of 3-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell is asking for a little tolerance, after a New Jersey supermarket refused to decorate a birthday cake with the child's full name on it.

Heath Campbell and his wife, Deborah, are upset not only with the decision made by the nearby ShopRite, but also with an outpouring of angry Internet postings in response to a local newspaper article about the cake.

Heath Campbell, who is 35, said in an interview Tuesday that people should look forward, not back, and accept change.

"They need to accept a name. A name's a name. The kid isn't going to grow up and do what [Hitler] did," he said.

Deborah Campbell, 25, said she phoned in her order last week to the ShopRite. When she told the bakery department she wanted her son's name spelled out, she was told to talk to a supervisor, who denied the request.
Karen Meleta, a spokeswoman for ShopRite, said the Campbells had similar requests denied at the same store the last two years and said Heath Campbell previously had asked for a swastika to be included in the decoration.
"We reserve the right not to print anything on the cake that we deem to be inappropriate,"Meleta said. We considered this inappropriate.
The Campbells ultimately got their cake decorated at a Wal-Mart in Pennsylvania, Deborah Campbell said. About 12 people attended the birthday party on Sunday, including several children who were of mixed race, according to Heath Campbell.
"If we're so racist, then why would I have them come into my home?" he asked.The Campbells' other two children also have unusual names: JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell turns 2 in a few months and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell will be 1 in April.
Heath Campbell said he named his son after Adolf Hitler because he liked the name and because no one else in the world would have that name.
On Tuesday he wore a pair of black boots he said were worn by a German soldier during World War II.
Campbell said his ancestors are German and that he has lived all his life in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, which is across the Delaware River from Easton

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Fatwa Watch: Fatwa prohibiting voting for a Chistian Candidate in Sudan

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/10/fatwa-watch-fatwa-prohibiting-voting.html

The question is, whether people will follow the Fatwa or the columnist.
October 6, 2008 No. 2072
Sudanese Columnist Criticizes Fatwa Prohibiting Voting for a Christian Candidate

The unprecedented nomination of a Christian candidate for Sudan's presidential election, by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, a party representing the former southern Sudan rebels, has caused public upheaval, and sparked numerous reactions in the Sudanese press.

In response to the party's nomination of its chairman Salva Kiir Miardit, the Sudanese daily
Al-Watan published a fatwa by Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hassan forbidding Muslims from voting for a non-Muslim candidate in any election, whether local or general.(1) In the Sudanese daily Al-Sahafa, columnist 'Omar Al-Qarai criticized the fatwa, as well as how the Sudanese ruling party exploits religion for political purposes.(2)

Following are excerpts from Al-Qarai's column:


"No One Has Noticed the Speciousness Of This Fatwa"

"The fatwa… [issued] by a religious scholar known from his appearances in the media, which bans a Muslim from voting for a non-Muslim in elections, has caused turmoil in the streets of Sudan. The reason for this is not [the ban's] religious import, but its political implications, and also [the fact that] its publication was timed, for propaganda purposes, to precede the upcoming elections.

"However, no one has noticed the speciousness of this fatwa. As a consequence of the 2005 peace agreement [between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement], the Muslims in the North, including the sheikh who authored the fatwa, agreed that a non-Muslim should be appointed vice-president of the republic… This non-Muslim would bear responsibility at the highest level for the country and its residents, and in particular, for the Ministry of Religious Endowment, which appoints the imam preachers who issue such bizarre fatwas.

"If Islam does not allow voting for a non-Muslim to promote him to a position of power, why does it allow a non-Muslim to become a ruler without being voted in? Why does this sheikh speak to us about voting but fail to discuss the Islamic view of propitiating non-Muslims and accepting them as rulers over the Muslims?

"[Is it conceivable that] the author of this fatwa, and his superiors in the Ministry of Religious Affairs and in the Ministry of Religious Endowment, would obey this non-Muslim ruler and accept his authority, and then forbid us to vote for him?"

"The Fatwa Presupposes That... Justice, Loyalty, Honesty, Wisdom, Expertise, and [a Work Ethic] Cannot Be Found in a Non-Muslim... This Contradicts Our Practical Experience"

"According to the correct religious knowledge, which is based on the basic principles of Islam, this fatwa is a priori invalid; it clearly shows this mufti's ignorance of the veracity of religion and of the times in which we live. The fatwa's lack of validity stems from its premises, which are false both intellectually and traditionally. Indeed, the fatwa presupposes that the qualities of justice, loyalty, honesty, wisdom, expertise, and [work ethic] cannot be found in a non-Muslim. Consequently, he cannot be elected to conduct our affairs, nor can we accept his authority. This contradicts our practical experience, which shows that many non-Muslims are better qualified for [such positions] than Muslims, whether from a professional or ethical standpoint…

"When at the turn of the past century Imam Muhammad 'Abduh visited Britain, he made a famous remark: "In England, I found Islam but not Muslims, while in Egypt, I found Muslims but no Islam!" It is in non-Muslim countries, rather than in Muslim states, that 'Abduh found the characteristics of justice, loyalty, honesty, and responsibility, which justify the allocation of public offices to individuals…

"In Sudan, our brief experience with the national unity government(3) has shown that the government of southern Sudan has dealt with corruption, by investigating the incidents, meting out punishment to parties involved, and even firing several senior officials and appointing others in their place.

"As for the government of northern Sudan, although it is aware of corruption [in its midst], based on reports by the state comptroller, we have not heard of a single senior official who has been fired or tried on this charge. If so, which side is it proper for a citizen to vote for, if he wants a functional administration that acts for the good of the country, [disregarding] narrow personal interests?"

"Islamic Law… Permits Accepting Assistance from Non-Muslims in Performing Tasks For Which They Are More Qualified than Muslims"

"Perhaps this sheikh mufti is not familiar with, or does not accept, the Islamic knowledge that is rooted in basic principles. However, Islamic law [i.e. shari'a], compiled and interpreted by our ancestors in their books… permits accepting assistance from non-Muslims in performing tasks for which they are more qualified than Muslims.

"Our ancestors presented evidence to this effect from the [life of the] Prophet: When he and Abu-Bakr traveled from Mecca to Medina, they sought help from a polytheist who was expert in navigation.

"In the Islamic state, there were writers, accountants, and treasurers of Zoroastrian, Christian, or Jewish origin. If at that time, [people] had had to be voted in to these positions, the honest Muslims of early [generations] would have voted for capable non-Muslims, since they would have recognized their qualifications and trusted their loyalty and [moral] character."


This Fatwa "Has Nothing Whatsoever to Do With Islam – Rather, It Is One of the Pillars Supporting the Election Strategy"

"This ill-advised fatwa has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam. Rather, it is one of the pillars supporting the election strategy of the National Congress [Party, headed by Sudanese President 'Omar Al-Bashir]. With the approach of election day, we will probably hear of more fatwas of this kind, which exploit the religions feeling of several foolish citizens in order to sell them the National Congress Party's worthless wares.

"In the past, mosques have been taken advantage of by this party in the worst possible manner for propaganda purposes, with both subtle and direct appeals being made to the worshippers to vote for its representatives. [The preachers] linked support for the National Congress with a war for the sake of Allah, warning time and again that whoever did not vote for it was doomed to burn in Hell!...

"A religiously motivated internecine war is a dangerous weapon, which has divided many a country [in the past], and will divide Sudan [as well], if wise people fail to expunge religious extremism from the political process…"


Endnotes:
(1) Al-Watan (Sudan), August 20, 2008.
(2) Al-Sahafa (Sudan), August 24, 2008.
(3) Following the signing of a peace agreement between the rebels of southern Sudan and the government, a national unity government was formed, incorporating the National Congress Party and Sudan's People's Liberation movement.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Arafat killed US diplomats, but US continued to negotiate with PLO

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/09/arafat-killed-us-diplomats-but-us.html

A story in Ha'aretz reveals that the CIA knew that Yasser Arafat had ordered the murder of the Ambassador and his deputy in Khartoum, Sudan, but Henry Kissinger  instructed the CIA to continue diplomatic contacts with Yasser Arafat's PLO before the Yom Kippur war. At the time, the US insisted it would not negotiate with the PLO. Later it claimed the negotiations concerned only security. In fact, there were secret diplomatic negotiations.
 
Diplomatic negotiations were held between Robert Ames of the CIA and the head of the Fatah's security apparatus, Ali Hassan Salameh, who was also the commander of the Fatah's Black September organization. Salameh was killed in Beirut in 1979 in an operation conducted by the Mossad and naval commandos.

Ames,  head of the CIA's Middle Eastern department, was killed in an Iranian-ordered attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983. 

Helms' documents reveal that Arafat sent Salameh to the talks without hiding his responsibility for killing American diplomats in Khartoum in March 1973. Ames also agreed to Salameh's requests and asked Washington about various diplomatic issues, such as the Nixon administration's intentions relating to Palestinian interests.

Salameh told Ames that the PLO was working to topple King Hussein and establish a Palestinian state in Jordan. Unperturbed, Washington responded that if the Palestinians want to negotiate a settlement, the U.S. would be happy to hear their proposals, but the toppling of existing governments through the use of force did not seem to be the most promising way.

Arafat threatened, via Ames, that he would burn Beirut if the Lebanese government acted against the PLO.
 
The newly-released material also describes the Egyptian initiative in the spring of 1973 to plead with the U.S., through Iranian channels, to reach an arrangement with Israel "on the basis of the Rogers plan," a withdrawal from the occupied territories captured in 1967 and placing them under international supervision. The Rogers plan did not promise, nor did Egypt offer, peace with Israel, though the Ha'aretz article mentions a "peace agreement."  

The documents also reveal that the US and others knew quite a bit about the planned Yom Kippur war well in advance. The Shah of Iran evidently knew of Egyptian attack plans, and recommended to Egyptian foreign minister Muhammad Hassan al-Zayyat that Egypt content itself with an artillery barrage against Israeli positions on the Suez Canal instead of an attack crossing the canal.

In a telegram Helms sent Kissinger - then Richard Nixon's National Security Advisor - on July 5, 1973, Helms reported that King Hussein of Jordan told him that Jordanian intelligence had learned of a Syrian attack to recapture the Golan Heights originally planned for June, that had been delayed but could take place at any time. One of the Jordanian intelligence sources was the commander of a Syrian armored brigade, and the Jordanians had obtained a copy of the battle plans, which had been coordinated with Egypt and Iraq.
 

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Are there limits to Stupidity?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/08/are-there-limits-to-stupidity.html

Snoopy T. Goon at Simply Jews has a friendly dispute with Norman Geras of Normblog. The question at issue is whether there are limits to stupidity. Geras asserted that there are limits to stupidity. His own contribution however, was not encouraging for his theory. He found a stupid quote by George Bush, but promptly found an even stupider distortion of the quote by a Guardian writer.  Presumably one could find a stupider (according to that definition of "stupid") discussion of the stupid distortion of the stupid Bush quote, and then someone would misunderstand the discussion and write up their misunderstanding and so on in infinite progression.   



Indeed, in Beg pardon, Norm 2, Snoopy insists there are no limits to stupidity,  He gives the example of Richard Silverstein equating all of the following: Palestinian Poet Mahmoud Darwish, Israeli dovish leftist poet Yehuda Amichai, Robert Frost and Ezra Pound. Amichai and Pound??? Darwish or Amichai as great as Robert Frost?  Give us a break.

 
But I have the temerity to differ with both learned gentleman. The examples they give are not examples of stupidity, but of arrogance, perversity, hypocrisy, bad taste or intentional and malicious distortion. All of these are unlimited. Stupidity must be limited, at least in Web logs.  If a person is sufficiently stupid they would be unable to write a Web log, so we are generally spared the worst examples of stupidity. Of course, one can alway argue about whether stupidiy exists independent of an observer, like the question of the tree that may nor may not exist if nobody is looking. If a stupid Web log is not written, is it still stupid?  But that is a question for metaphysicians.
 
Likewise ignorance, an element whose natural abundance should never be underestimated, must be limited. A theoretically totally ignorant person would know nothing at all - there is a finite bound to this quality. 
 
These are each different qualities. I will illustrate some of the differences. 
 
1. Arrogance - In a private e-group, someone, an American,  insisted that knew all about the The Balfour Declaration and proceeded to "explain" it to me. That was arrogance. I often get lectured by such persons on the history of my country and my people.  I don't presume to lecture Chinese people on the history of the long march or the Ming Dynasty, but everyone seems to think they know more about Israeli history than I do, and they are always willing to impart their "knowledge." I have 'learned" some very strange things from such people.
 
2. Perversity - The first point made by our would-be instructor was that contrary to Zionist propaganda, the purpose of the Balfour declaration was equally to protect the rights of the Palestinian Arabs as well as to grant a state to the Jews in Palestine. Since the declaration was quite soon rejected by the Arabs and immediately hailed by the Jews, and since everyone including Balfour himself as well as the League of Nations understood it as granting a national home to the Jews, it is perverse to claim that the declaration had, as a major purpose, equal to the promise to grant the Jews a state, the defense of Palestinian Arab rights. If it was so wonderful for the Arabs, why did they oppose it?
 
3. Ignorance - At this point I asked our would-be mentor what he thought the Balfour declaration was. He averred that it was a letter from Lord Balfour to a British colonial officials in Palestine. When the Balfour declaration was issued as a letter to Lord Rothschild, head of the Zionist organization, there were no British colonial officials in Palestine. There wasn't even a Palestine. The Turks did not call it that. General Allenby would not reach Jerusalem until over a month later. Of course, had our lecturer known that the declaration was a letter granted as a favor to Lord Rothschild and the Zionists, he could hardly have believed that it was about protecting the rights of Arabs in Palestine.
 
4. Stupidity - After admitting that he had no idea what the Balfour declaration was, the man nonetheless continued to insist that he knew more about the Balfour declaration than the rest of us, me included, and that his interpretation had to be correct! This also illustrates the quality of Chutzpa, which is not lacking either.
 
5. Hypocrisy - This element is probably present is super-abundance, and in limitless quality as well. Consider that many of the very same people who insisted that Israel's reaction to the Hezbollah was "disproportionate" in the Second Lebanon War, now insist that Russia was perfectly justified in invading Georgia, inflicting massive casualities and commting war crimes because Georgia invaded South Ossetia. Where are all the shocking photos of dead Georgian civilians? Where are the protests and condemnations of rights groups? The silence is defining.
 
There is also a lot of bullshit of course. Intellectual bullshit has always been available in limitless quantities and in any desired quality.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
  

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Censored: A tourist's view of Israelis practicing the art of normalcy

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/07/tourists-view-of-israelis-practicing.html

Believe it or not, the writers of mighty Ha'aretz are reaching out to try to censor little old me. Here is one of two instances. I will report the other one elsewhere if time permits.

Brigitta Moll from Cologne Germany visited Israel as a tourist for a few weeks. Evidently that made her into an expert, as all such tourists are. So Haaretz published her article: First impressions of a European in Israel to tell people of the world what Israel is like. She seems to have come with the idea that she is entering a war zone, and so she diligently gathered material in support of her views. If Israelis act like almost anyone else, it must be because we are pretending and hiding the truth.

The truth is, that even in the worst days of the Intifada, Israelis were far more likely to die of traffic accidents (or coronary occlusion) than of suicide bombings or other terror attacks, as Brigitta notes. At the time, and during the Second Lebanon War, nobody pretended that things were "normal" here. But the truth is also that generally Israelis, like everyone else, go about their business most of the time and do not even think of the conflict. We are busy here with other things as well. The conflict is one aspect of life, but not an all-consuming one. If anything, the accusation of Palestinian Arabs is that for Israelis they are invisible. It is not entirely an unfair accusation.

Israelis have also developed, to some extent, a certain familiarity with and contempt for danger. The sight of soldiers in the streets has not been familiar in Europe for a long time. Israelis are used to seeing soldiers in the streets, in their own homes (our kids) and in the mirror for that matter. It has been that way for 60 years now. That is "normal" for us. It must strike visitors as odd. But objectively it is really not especially dangerous here. This normality is somewhat maddening to those who think we are all "bad guys" who should be suffering, though tourists will find it reassuring.

If Ha'aretz editors really think Israel is under such immediate danger, it is difficult to understand why they publish so many articles that are critical of Israel. When the guns are shooting, the pen of criticism is generally silent.

But the stereotype of Israel as a target of suicide bombers, as a country of fearful Jews anticipating a second Holocuast persists. It is exploited for different purposes by the right and the left in this country, and Brigitta's article must've filled the editorial bill for such articles.

Israel has many things to offer tourists - holy places for religious people, topless beaches for those who want sun and sex, bauhaus architecture in Tel Aviv, nightlife, quaint corners of life preserved from other periods of Middle Eastern history. But Brigitta came to write about the conflict it seems, so none of these attractions are evident in her article. But if she wanted to write about that, why didn't she come to Sderot when the Qassam rockets were falling, rather than writing about Tel Aviv? Isn't it strange to come to a peaceful city and write only about the conflict?

Air travel and fast boats have made the world a small place. It is very strange to read such a "travelogue" article, appropriate to the days of Richard Burton or perhaps Marco Polo, when today any interested European can come to Israel and see what is here for themselves, rather than seeing it through the peculiar lens of Brigitta Moll.

After telling her readers that Israel looks normal on the surface, Brigitta Moll felt the compulsion nonetheless to show that Israel is really only about the conflict. She wrote that the normal animation surprises her. She wonders how people can cope with conflict ridden reality.

Brigitta evidently interprets everything she hears and sees to support her view. A graffiti about a "Secret Nuke Cellar" must certainly be a sign of conflict tension according to her, since Europeans never joke about war, Brigitta tells us. Really? During the Cold War there were many jokes in USA about nuclear war, and I remember that Danish and Italian tourist guides joke about the activities of their neighbors in World War II. Everyone has war jokes. Perhaps it is tactless to tell Brigitta this, but the German war jokes are quite famous, though often not very funny to others.

Brigitta finds a soldier who took a trip to India. This too must be all about the conflict, because the soldier says that sometimes you just have to get out of here. What, European young people don't take trips around the world? We find them in Israel and Jordan and Egypt and America and India. Are all these backpackers escaping some conflict in Europe we do not know about? It doesn't occur to Brigitta that it might be possible that young people want to see the world before settling down, and not be confined to our little, wonderful country. The wanderlust of Israeli youth must be due to the conflict.

Imagine that someone from the Middle East visits the USA as a tourist. They are convinced that Americans must think only of the war in Iraq. But all they see around them are people going to work, shopping or relaxing. So they seek out someone who says they went for a trip abroad to get some "space," and present that as proof that all Americans are obsessed about the war in Iraq.

Of course, most people will see what they are prepared to see and use it to justify whatever they believe. Such people can never learn anything new. They know all about it already. It is their privilege to write what they want, and it is up to the reader to beware, to come and see with their own eyes when they can, and judge for themselves.

If a travelogue still has any value today, it is to try to capture what a people really think about their country and their life, rather than perpetuating what others think about them. Brigitta did not have to come here at all to write her prejudiced opinions. All over the world there are such people, who think in terms of stereotypes: Spain is only about bull fights, Germans are only engaged in drinking beer, French people are always in bed and British have no sense of humor. These are OK for ethnic jokes, but they can't be the basis of reasonable journalism. Travel is supposed to broaden one's vistas and change the stereotypes, and travelogues should pass on realistic information, not more stereotypes.

That is hardly the end of the story. Brigitta has written to me that I must delete this Web log article because she does not agree with the way her text is being used in the blog. She protests that her article was intended to be "balanced." She came to a peaceful city and reported only conflict, and she thought that was "balanced." It does not not occur to her that I have the same license to see things through my eyes, as she has to see things through her eyes. Only Brigitta's opinion can be heard.

But Brigitta of course, did not ask the graffiti writer if that is how the graffiti was intended, and did not get permission to use it in the article. She did not ask me or anyone else if we agree with the way she portrayed our country, which she thinks is sensitive and balanced.

If I have somehow misinterpreted Brigitta's message, if she has not portrayed Israel as a place full of people obsessed with the conflict, then she failed to communicate very well in her article. If she has written about the theater and the concerts in the Mann auditorium and the beaches and the nightclubs, then maybe I have a reading deficiency because I couldn't find anything abut those things. It is not that Brigitta should not have been critical. There are bad things here. If she wrote about the nice or ill mannered people she met here, I missed that too. To visit Israel and not meet one rude person is really exceptional! If she noticed the disorder and regrettable uncleanliness of Tel Aviv streets, which must be striking to European eyes, I must've missed it. I could see only one thing in that article: conflict, conflict, conflict. It is not a problem of unfair criticism, but of a peculiar monomania.

I know that many people often misunderstand what I write as well. It is their privilege - the article has to stand on its own. It never occurred to me to try to silence them.

This is not the first time that Ha'aretz writers have attempted to censor my opinion of them. They have been given a great forum for their ideas, but they begrudge me this little one. More about that another time.

I have removed the text of the article, which you can find at Ha'aretz and judge for yourselves unless Ha'aretz has archived it.

I have not asked Brigitta to remove her article from Ha'aretz, on the grounds that I do not agree with the way she has used my country. But Brigitta should not be able to dictate to me what I can and cannot write. "Die Gedanken Sind Frei."

Ami Isseroff

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