Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Latest SLANT on Anti-Semitism and the Middle East

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The decision by the United Methodist Church's Pension Board to divest from the five largest Israeli banks and one Israeli company is something we need to stand up and challenge.  I do not believe that the majority of Methodists support this move at all, and I've posted what's below on the Church's web site.

It is very sad to read that the United Methodist Church's Pension Board has included five Israeli banks among the 39 it is blacklisting.
This lumps Israel in with countries like Sudan, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Syria - a designation that makes no sense whatsoever.
The reason behind the decision is that these five banks invest in and support what the Church views as illegal construction of, support for and financial assistance to settlements in Judea, Samaria and the West Bank, according to its public statements.
Strangely enough, the Palestinian Authority Banks and those controlled by Hamas in Gaza are not listed, despite the fact that the PA Charter requires that no Jews be allowed to live in any emergent Palestinian State, while Hamas not only prohibits them, but calls for killing all Jews and their supporters worldwide.
And of even more interest, there is no blacklisting of banks in places like China (which has occupied Tibet since the early 1950s), Morocco (which has occupied the Spanish Sahara - once an independent country - for more than 20 years), Russia (which invaded and seized 20% of the Ukraine last year), Armenia (which seized 20% of Azerbijian more than 20 years ago and ethnically cleansed it), Lebanon (where the terrorist group Hezbollah has undermined the government, militarily supports the Bashar Asad regime in neighboring Syria and blew up the US Marines Barracks as one of its countless documented terrorist attacks, while also calling for the elimination of Israel), etc.
Egypt, which has closed its border with Gaza and razed 1,100 yards of land adjoining that border and is flooding the smugglers' tunnels that run under that border, gets a free does Venezuela, which has done more to undermine democracy in South America than any other country save, perhaps, Cuba (which also gets a free pass, despite its history of persecution).
Another question to be raised is: if the issue is financial activity in Judea and Samaria, exactly what boundaries is Israel supposed to exist within? According to every site I've checked, Judea included everything from the Tel Aviv area to ALL OF JERUSALEM, and south well past Beersheva. It also included Shiloh, Shechem (now known as Nablus), Jericho and a host of other familiar names that the Palestinians claim as their own.
So, if construction inside Judea is illegal - and if you check the map, you'll see that biblical Samaria also included the rest of modern Israel - exactly where is the Methodist Church setting Israel's boundaries?? Or, has it constructively called for the abolishment of the Jewish Homeland?
Furthermore, under international law, the West Bank was illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948-67 (where was the United Methodist Church during those days?) and Gaza was illegally occupied by Egypt during the same period. However, Israel is not an "occupier" because there was NEVER a country of "Palestine," and there is no centuries-old history or holidays, unique language or customs, etc., for this Arafat-created entity.
It is also shocking that the United Methodist Church closes its eyes to the persecution of Christians in every other country in the Middle East; in fact, by condemning Israel's banks and others, it gives what I hope is unintended tacit support to those other nations in which there is no religious freedom, in which churches are being burnt, in which no one can publicly wear a cross or display a bible, and in which conversion to Christianity is punishable by death.
This is a terrible decision and needs to be rescinded immediately.
Map of the Territory of Judah and Judea in Ancient Israel. Judea and the surrounding territories (Southern Israel). The locations that have an underline…

Monday, January 11, 2016

Letter to PBS Frontline About "Netanyahu at War"

This insightful critique was sent to PBS by Daniel H. Trigoboff and is posted here with the permission of the author.

Dear Frontline Staff:

I am writing to express both a modicum of praise and some important concerns regarding the Frontline Episode "Netanyahu At War" which was aired on WNED-TV Public TV on 1/5/16 at 9PM in Buffalo, New York. It is commendable that at times comments from interviewees across the political spectrum in Israel and in the United States were presented, and that at times Mr. Netanyahu's perspectives were somewhat articulated.

Nonetheless I came away from this program with some strong concerns and objections. These were related to frequent bias against the Prime Minister, embodied both in some aspects of format and also in the content of many of the narrator's and interviewees' comments.

With regard to format, it was notable that many of Netanyahu's perspectives, views, and experiences were immediately followed by comments from a plethora of anti-Israel and anti-Netanyahu sources, and then the show would move on to a different issue or topic. Journalists know well that the final comment on a news story or political matter is often the one that stays with the public, and therefore this positioning of the negative comments reflected implicit bias in the broadcast format. A fairer rendition would have had a much more even split between anti-Netanyahu and pro-Netanyahu final comments.

This was particularly evident with regard to the narrator, whose voice often intoned "the truth" after the presentation of some statement or action of Netanyahu's, which was far more often than not contradictory to the Prime Minister's positions or actions. Also global negative statements were often permitted about Netanyahu, such as "...people like Netanyahu, you don't get a second chance..." by Ari Shavit, a well known extreme leftist author, but no similarly generalized positive comments were in evidence. Another example was interviewee Martin Kalb's statements that "...he doesn't and didn't want to have a deal with them (Palestinians)," as though Kalb was telepathic, or as though Netanyahu's many concessions to Palestinians - releasing dozens of convicted Palestinian murderers from jail, offering to negotiate with no preconditions, remaining supportive of a Palestinian State despite ongoing Palestinian terrorism and conduct expressive of their wish to destroy Israel, pulling Israeli troops out of Hebron and signing a treaty advancing the Oslo process - were of no value. Furthermore after detailing some of these concessions, the documentary implausibly proceeded to focus on "how difficult Bibi was making it."

A particularly odious example of this documentary permitting an interviewee to claim anti-Netanyahu telepathy was the statement, referring to Rabin's assassination, that Netanyahu "...knew what was coming and accepted it." Furthermore the documentary often returned to interviewees making obviously hostile telepathic statements about Netanyahu's inner workings like Marvin Kalb, who stated "what kind of objectivity could this man (Netanyahu) bring." Like Shavit, who alleged that Netanyahu has a "fortress mentality" about Israel, and who compared Barak Obama to sanctified political figures like Nelson Mandela, but who, in discussing Netanyahu's alleged "pessimism" couldn't bring himself to compare Netanyahu to any similarly commendable illustrative historical figure, for example Winston Churchill.

There were also numerous specific problems with content. To begin with, "Palestinians" were not displaced by the 1967 war, as the disputed territories were then controlled by Jordan and Egypt. There was no country of Palestine then, nor has there ever been such a country. In fact up until 1964 the Arabs steadfastly insisted that there was no such entity as "Palestine," and that the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria were indistinguishable from the Arabs of the surrounding Arab countries.

Furthermore, Saeb Erekat was allowed to claim disingenuously that prior to Oslo both sides "knew nothing but to shoot." The documentary did not point out that in 1967, Israel offered to withdraw from Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip in return for peace, an offer which was spurned by the Arabs in favor of continuing violent efforts to destroy Israel. So it wasn't both sides that knew nothing but to shoot, it was one side, and that side continues to this day to engage in endless violence against Israeli civilians.

Martin Indyk was permitted to lie by claiming he sat next to Netanyahu at Rabin's funeral, and that Netanyahu's primary focus at that event supposedly was his own political fortunes. Yet photographs of that funeral circulating today make it clear that Indyk was not sitting anywhere near Netanyahu, and therefore could not possibly have overheard anything Netanyahu said.

Ari Shavit was permitted to lie about the outbreak of the Second Intifada by falsely claiming "...Boom! It exploded...", when in fact subsequent interviews with several of Arafat's minions revealed that this round of violence was planned months in advance by Arafat, who wished to torpedo any peaceful process or resolution of the conflict.

The myth of spontaneous Palestinian violence was further intoned by Diana Buttu, the former PLO negotiator, when even cursory examination of Palestinian media and leadership statements on a daily basis reveals violent incitement and murderous antisemitic slurs that would be completely at home in Nazi Germany. The documentary failed to mention this incitement or examine its role in fomenting violence.

The documentary opened its discussion of Israel's legitimate war of self defense in Gaza in 2008-9 by completely failing to reference the cause of the war, to wit, unceasing attacks by Hamas. Instead the only exploration of that event was a discussion of Israeli "...targeting..." of Palestinians, and the only pictures shown were of horrified or grieving Palestinians. Where were, for example, any pictures of terrified residents of southern Israel in shelters, under attack by Hamas terrorists?

The documentary focused on the allegedly "outrageous" behavior of Netanyahu in lecturing Obama in the Oval Office in 2011, while giving relatively short shrift to the truly offensive conduct of the Obama Administration in springing an important policy change detrimental to Israel's national interests - advocating a return to the 1967 Armistice Lines as a starting point for negotiations, instead of maintaining the decades long American and Israeli positions that borders will arise out of negotiations, not precede them - on Netanyahu the day before he was to arrive in Washington for a scheduled visit. Unfortunately the documentary didn't cover this diplomatic history, which made this Obama Administration pronouncement so problematic.

The documentary focused on what it mistakenly represented as an exaggerated, overblown response by Netanyahu to the egregiously flawed deal with Iran, while papering over the actual problems with this deal which justified Netanyahu's anguish. The documentary went so far as to permit Martin Indyk to state in hyperbolic fashion that Netanyahu was "no longer rational" in his attempts to articulate the problems with the flawed Iran deal.

Yet these problems are now becoming all too evident as Iran flouts the international community by testing prohibited missiles, while threatening to terminate this deal every time it is called to account for its aggressive behavior, which recently included firing missiles near American Navy ships. And permitting Indyk to sling mud in this fashion, without permitting an opposing view to be voiced - i.e., it wasn't Netanyahu who was being irrational in opposing the deal, it was the Obama Administration's irrationality, short sightedness, and over focus on the President's legacy that led it to conclude a deal that was basically a surrender to Iran - was hardly responsible journalism.

The documentary concluded with the narrator stating that the "violence returned to Israel," without mentioning the cause, as though somehow "the violence" had been away somewhere on vacation. In fact what happened was that Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian propagandists launched a series of dangerous anti-Semitic libels and slanders about Israel and Jews "threatening Al Aksa Mosque," glorifying stabbing and other attacks against Jews, and continue to do so to this very day. They are directly responsible for precipitating the current wave of violence against innocent Israeli civilians, which didn't just "return" despite the failure of the documentary to include these important facts.

So although this documentary did include a modicum of balance at times, a lack of objectivity and a clear bias against PM Netanyahu were in evidence all too often. Frontline should broadcast some corrections of the errors in this documentary, and redouble efforts to cover events in the Middle East or in Israel with a higher degree of objectivity.

Daniel H. Trigoboff, Ph.D.
Williamsville, New York

Friday, December 18, 2015

Sick Irony Behind Terror-Fighting Bloc

This letter was published in the Waterbury Republican-American on Friday, December 18, 2015.

Reading how Saudi Arabia has created an Islamic bloc to fight terror groups, I couldn't help but think of the sick irony that one of the bloc's members is the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority is led by Mahmoud Abbas, who also is the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Fatah, the terror groups which, under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, effectively invented modern terrorism and continue to invent new terror strategies. Abbas himself was instrumental in setting off the latest wave of Palestinian terror attacks, which in the last few months, has seen hundreds of knife attacks and motor-vehicle-ramming attacks against Jews in Israel, the disputed territories and elsewhere.

The terror tactics the Palestinians originate for use against Jews never stop with the Jews. Their knifing-attack tactic already has spread to London and Paris.

One wonders whether Abbas considers his recent spirited declaration, "We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem," an integral part of his fight against terror groups. One also wonders whether that fight will include the terror groups he heads.

Alan Stein
Natick, Mass.
The writer, a former Waterbury resident, is president emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility In Middle East Reporting) and founder of PRIMER organizations in Massachusetts and Israel.

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Dream to Be Fulfilled

The following was written by Rabbi Ervin Birnbaum as part of the Shearim newsletter. Shearim is an award-winning Russian outreach program in Netanya founded by Rabbi Birnbaum a quarter century ago. Rabbi Birnbaum continues to lead Shearim and to serve as rabbi emeritus of Bet Israel Masorti Congregation in Netanya.

Dear Friend,

68 years ago 640 thousand Jewish residents of Israel and tens of thousands throughout the globe were glued to the radio anxiously waiting for the results of the United Nations vote that could bring an end to two thousand years of homelessness of the Jewish People. On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted for the Partition of the Land of Israel into a Jewish State and an Arab State in an attempt to rectify a historic injustice inflicted upon our People. Two-thirds of the world’s nations at the time understood that the Jews have an inalienable right to return to their ancestral Homeland where King David ruled, where King Solomon built the Temple, where the prophets chastised the people in unforgettable dramatic accents, from which they were driven by the Romans, to which they never stopped turning in their prayers, which became their portable Homeland irrespective of where their fate and foes drove them for temporary refuge. This was 68 years ago today.

And today, 68 years later, the United Nations has the temerity to wind up the year by passing 23 condemning resolutions, of which no less than 20 are chastising and censuring Israel for aggression in its glaringly evident attempt to merely safeguard the sovereignty granted to it 68 years ago by that august assembly. No less than 20 resolutions censuring Israel, and only 3 resolutions reserved for Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Mali, Tibet, Algeria, Sudan and other nations combined, involved in cruel fratricidal wars and acts of unspeakable terror. Which United Nations made sense and spoke in the name of truth and justice? Which United Nations is driving humanity toward self-destruction and oblivion?

Where is this world heading for? Could it still stop in its tracks, tear off its blindfolds, and readjust its compass? I fervently hope so. We are now precisely a week before Chanukah with its promise of light breaking through the darkness. It is but a tiny light, yet it  manages to dispel tons of darkness. Does it hold out a glimpse of promise that mankind too shall yet be able to clamber out of the hole it dug for itself and reach out for the sun, for the stars?

I am quite certain, my friends, that all of you are joining me in the fervent prayer that man will yet regain his balance and learn to bask once again in the glorious light of justice and freedom. I trust in the promise of our tiny Chanukah lights that speak about miracles of yore – and miracles of today.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

France Must Offer Land for Peace

France Must Offer Land for Peace

By Steven Plaut

This may also be viewed where Steven Plaut originally posted it, on his Zionist Conspiracy blog.

In the aftermath of the series of protests in Paris against occupation by activists and militants, who have grievances, we bring you the French plan for peace, based on France's Mideast policies.  It is the only way to solve the problem of ISIS activism in Paris.

First, we all agree that territory must not be annexed by force. Therefore, we can also agree that Germany has a moral right to demand the return of Alsace-Lorraine, for the French aggression in 1945 and its consequent occupation must not be rewarded. "A full withdrawal for full peace" should operate here. Further, France must agree to the return and rehabilitation of all ethnic Germans expelled from Alsace-Lorraine after World Wars I and II, as well as all those they define as their descendents.

But this, of course, is just the first step toward a solution, as no aggression can be rewarded—and France has much other stolen territory to return. It took Corsica from Genoa, Nice and Savoy from Piedmont; as the successor state, Italy must get back all these lands. By similar token, territories grabbed from the Habsburgs go back to Austria, including Franche-Comté, Artois, and historic Burgundy. The Roussillon area (along the Pyrenées) must be returned to Spain, its rightful owner. And Normandy, Anjou, Aquitaine, and Gascony must be returned to their rightful owners, the British royal family.

Not even this not enough for the sake of peace. Brittany and Languedoc must be granted autonomy at once, recognizing the Breton and Occitan Liberation organizations as their legal rulers. This leaves the French government in control over the Île de France (the area around Paris).

That, however, still does not solve the problem of the Holy City of Paris, sacred to artists, gourmets, and adulterers. The Corsicans obviously have a historic claim to the Tomb of the Emperor Napoleon, their famed son, as well as the Invalides complex and beyond. For the sake of peace, is it not too much to ask that Paris be the capital for two peoples? The French authorities must agree to prevent French Parisians from even entering the sacred tomb area, lest this upset the Corsicans. Let the Eiffel Tower be converted into a mosque.

The Saint Chapelle and the Church of Notre Dame of course will be internationalized, under joint Vatican-art historical auspices. Indeed, the French should consider it a compliment of the highest order that so many people see Paris as an international city.

The French have nothing to complain of. They will enjoy the benefits of peace and retain control of the Champs Elysées.

Actually, come to think of it, even the Champs Elysées may be too much. Recalling the French position that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel, perhaps the true French capital is not Paris at all, but Vichy.

The Dueling Narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

This is a letter submitted to The New York Times by Arthur Toporovsky in response to an article by Jodi Rudoren entitled "The Dueling Narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."

The old story of the blind men and the elephant serves to show us how, by focusing only on a certain part of a whole, each person can walk away from something with a completely different perception of what they have encountered.  However, while witnesses to the events may be prone to bias due to their nationality or other factors, that does not change the fact that there is potentially an objective reality to be had.  If we consider "The story of Shorouq" we might ask, "which pieces of evidence are verifiable?".  Where are the videos of her veils and cloak being torn at?  Can the Israeli police show the Facebook message? These are the "proof" that any critical thinker might ask for.  If nothing else, the fact that she did actually stab someone and was shot by that very person does mean something.  Of course, if one is predisposed to disbelieve anything that an Israeli says, doubt then becomes almost impossible to overcome.

Sadly, Ms. Rudoren's retelling of the shooting of Bassel Sidar at the Damascus Gate is full of questionable statements.  While the picture published by the Israeli police shows what is known as a "butterfly knife," which is often seen in martial arts films, she describes it as a pocketknife of the "kind Boyscouts use."  Of course this picture is not provided for the readers of the article.  She also quotes "many people" who insist that he was not carrying a knife, and that if there is one then the Israelis must have "planted it."  Ironically, this also occurred on live television as Ayman Moyhelin, of MSNBC, started broadcasting immediately after the shooting, and as the video that his crew had recorded played onscreen, assured the audience that he had seen that the Arab's hands had been empty.  At that moment, the anchorman, Jose Diaz-Balart interrupted Mr. Moyhelin to point out that the video he was broadcasting clearly showed that the Arab had items in both hands, and that the item in his right hand was clearly consistent with reports of a knife.  Mr. Moyhelin immediately and ineffectually tried to repackage his statement, but it was clear that he had been caught in a lie.

People under President Mahmoud Abbas have acknowledged that he knew that 13 year old Ahmad Manasra was not dead when he accused Israel of "executing him" and have tried to insist that the supposed mis-statement was due to a grammatical error.  Of course, they do not even attempt to address Saeb Erakat's statement that the video shows the boy being beaten by "settlers" while the police stand by.  It is worth noting that the very video that shows the boy on the ground, and which records a man's voice harassing him, also shows him getting up off the ground. Still, why should the obvious truth stand in the way of using a good visual image to promote more anti-Israel sentiment? Why shouldn't Ahmad be portrayed as an innocent victim?  Even though Prime Minister Netanyahu's assertion that Haj Amin al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, was the primary force who prevented Nazi Germany from allowing the Jews to emigrate and inspired the genocide is incorrect, it is certainly more debatable than Pres. Abbas' or Mr. Erakat's comments.  Husseini did intervene to prevent Jewish emigration on multiple occasions, and letters show that he did specifically insist that the Jewish people in question be kept in areas where they would be killed.  Husseini personally witnessed the operating procedures of the death camps and was responsible for raising several divisions of Bosnian Muslim SS soldiers, who were responsible for killing 90% of Bosnia's Jewish community. While Husseini was not the "architect" of the genocide, he was far from a bystander, and surely has substantial blood on his hands.  By comparison, anyone looking at the video of Ahmad Manasra can see that he is not dead, nor was he being beaten by anyone, despite the accusations by Pres. Abbas and Mr. Erakat.

Ms. Rudoren reports that Hanan Ashrawi has twice "raised the possibility" that the Israelis were planting knives, but also that she has no proof at all.  One has to wonder, shouldn't the group eye-witness testimony reported at the Damascus Gate incident by Ms. Rudoren be proof?  Then again, one has to consider the shooting of Muhammad al Khasbeh, where multiple Arab eye-witnesses eagerly reported that he had been trying to climb the wall so as to get to the Al Aqsa Mosque for prayers.  Ironically, it was pro-Arab B'Tselem which obtained and released a video that clearly showed Mr. al Khasbeh hurling a rock into a windshield and then running away. One also has to consider events from Gaza, confirmed by Arab human rights group Al Mezan, where the Arabs consistently denied any casualty's combatant status, as they had been encouraged to do by Hamas.  This pattern of making accusations without evidence or basis is hardly something new.

It is fascinating that in an attempt to demonstrate parity between the two sides we once again see an article in which evidence of Arab dishonesty is matched, for the most part, by Arab accusations of Israeli dishonesty that "must" be happening.  Even when both sides have been shown wrong, such as with the video of Mr. al Khasbeh, it is only the Israeli statement, that he was shot as he was an immediate danger, that is publicly refuted, while the Arab statement, that he was totally innocent, is not mentioned at all.  In this case, the predominant evidence is that the Palestinian Arabs are lying, and there is no logical reason to try to depict both sides as being exactly the same.  The Arab insistence that any Arab who suddenly stabs an Israeli standing nearby is "resisting" instead of "attacking and that every Jewish man, woman or child is a valid target is surely a big part of this, but that is not something that the Western media wants to discuss.  Perhaps it needs to be.

Monday, November 9, 2015

No, There Won’t Be Another Krystallnacht, Not In Israel

No, There Won’t Be Another Krystallnacht, Not In Israel

By Rabbi Ervin Birnbaum

This message was sent by Rabbi Birnbaum to the Shearim mailing list. Shearim is the award-winning Russian outreach program Rabbi Birnbaum started in Netanya a quarter century ago. To learn more about Shearim, check the ESRA Magazine article, "She’arim Netanya Celebrates," which may be found at If you wish to make a contribution to Shearim, use the contact information at the end of that article.

Dear Friends,

Today is November 9, the anniversary of the night in 1938 when there were “spontaneous” outbreaks throughout Germany.

The violence was aimed against 300 Synagogues, all Jewish homes and property, and Jewish persons of whom 70,000 were sent to concentration camps and 36 killed. So much glass was broken in the process of fury, that the night was given an appropriate name, “Krystallnacht” (the Night of the Broken Glass). The violence was allegedly justified because of the murder of the third secretary of the German Embassy Ernst Von Rath in Paris by a Jewish lad Hershel Grynspan.

Proper historic perspective does not allow us to accept the excuse of Von Rath’s death as the reason for this first manifestation of unbridled violence against the Jews by the Nazis. We recall that in February 1936 a Jewish youth killed the Nazi Gauleiter of Switzerland, Willhelm Gustloff, without repercussions at the time. We are also cognizant of the fact that there were many anti- Jewish acts in Nazi Germany prior to Krystallnacht, such as the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, the economic boycotts of 1933 the book-burnings of the same year, and more. Therefore the reason for having reached this new stage of unprecedented physical violence needs to be traced to newly developed circumstances by November 1938.

Indeed, in July 1938 – in the wake of Austria’s Anschluss by Nazi Germany and the consequent utter public humiliation of the Jews of Vienna – 32 nations met in Evian, France, for the specific purpose of alleviating the plight of the Jews. Nine days they deliberated on the fate of the Jews. The Nazis voiced their readiness to permit the emigration of Jews at $200 per head. Only the Dominican Republic showed readiness to help. The others wiggled out of any obligation. Canada wanted only agricultural workers.

The Swiss delegate declared that “Switzerland has as little use for these Jews as has Germany”. The United States would not go beyond its annual German immigration quota of 25,900, with each immigrant requiring a police permit of good behavior, obviously unavailable to Jews. And so on. It became clear – as a result of this fatal conference intended to help the Jews – that the Jews are unwanted the world over.

Evian turned out to be a triumph to Germany. The world chose to live complacently and not pay attention to manifestations of Inhumanity. Hitler received a green light to move forward relentlessly toward a “Judenrein” Nazi empire, and eventually a “Judenrein” world. The unwillingness of the nations to rise in protest, or go beyond the clicking of tongues paved the road for the murder of Six Million Jews. Actually, instead of lifting a hand to help the helpless Jews, the civilized nations of the world In their silent acquiescence joined hands with Hitler in accomplishing his satanic goal.

Today we see a virtual repeat of the civilized world’s behavior in 1938. Israel is the one-and-only Jewish State. It is accused and condemned by the United Nations, by the European States and the other cultured and not-so-cultured nations for every step it takes to defend itself from the bestial attacks of adversaries whose main purpose is to erase it from the face of the globe. We are not asking for another Evian. We saw what happened to us when we lived among the nations and allowed our fate to be deliberated and determined by them. No, thank you. We do not want a repeat of the recent past still within human memory.

We blame not so much the Palestinians, and not so much the Arabs for their cruel distortion of history, as we blame first and most of all the cultured and civilized nations for not making the slightest effort to distinguish gross lies from evident truths, and historic justice from fanatic madness. One wonders which is more incredible – the degeneration of the mad “Al Akza defenders” or the depraved disinterest of the civilized and cultured world?

No, there won’t be another Krystallnacht, not in Israel. Even though we seem to stand today, as we did in 1938, against a substantial part of a barbaric civilized world, even though we are repeatedly seared and wounded, we are invincible. We may be exposed to storms and floods, but the sun of Israel shall not set anymore.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Case is Clear: Moral People Must Stand With Israel

The following was written after reading an article about Roger Waters participating in the annual anti-Israel program at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme which is sometimes referred to as the "Tree of Hatred Conference." It was submitted to The Day of New London and is being revised after receiving feedback from the editors. If a later version is accepted for publication, that will also be posted here, but since any version acceptable to The Day is likely to be far weaker, this is still being posted.

The Case is Clear: Moral People Must Stand With Israel

By Alan H. Stein

Reading the article, "Taking a stand after Pink Floyd," about Roger Waters participation in the anti-Israel hate-fest at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, misleadingly entitled the "Tree of Life conference," reconfirmed something most people already know: many celebrities are not very intelligent.

On Sunday night, when I came back after playing tennis, ironically at the same time the "Tree of Life conference" was starting in Old Lyme (because my tennis game was in Israel and there's a seven hour time difference), my wife said I'd better call my cousins in Beersheva to check that they were all okay. She had seen on the news that there had been yet another Arab terror attack, one of the bloodiest yet in the current wave, this one at the central bus station in Beersheva. Fortunately for us, our relatives were safe; unfortunately, other families weren't as lucky.

In Israel, it was just another routine day, with dozens of attempted terror attacks.

Israelis have given up on peace, at least for the foreseeable future. They've tried, again and again, and have paid a heavy price. In 2000 and again in 2001, they offered the Palestinian Arabs 95 percent of the disputed territories - territory to which they have historical, legal and moral claims which exceed those of the Palestinian Arabs - only to be met with Yasser Arafat's terror offensive. In 2005, they gave away Gaza, only to be hit with tens of thousands of rockets. In 2008, they trumped their 2000 proposal, offering Mahmoud Abbas the equivalent of all the disputed territory, only to have him walk away from negotiations. For all practical purposes, he's never returned.

On the other hand, Abbas, almost universally but falsely labeled "moderate," has blatantly violated virtually all his commitments under the very Oslo accords to which he owes his office, in which he's now serving his eleventh year of his four year term. He has repeatedly lied, to his own people and to the world. A week ago he went on television and, among other blatant lies, knowingly and inflamingly falsely accused Israel of "executing" an "innocent" Arab boy despite the documented fact that "innocent" boy was very alive and well, being treated in an Israeli hospital after being hit by a car after he had taken a knife and attacked several Israelis, including a young boy, with a knife.

The current upsurge in terrorism should be called the "Mahmoud Abbas Terror Offensive," since it was ignited by Abbas' incendiary and false accusations that Israel was changing the status quo on the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount happens to be, by a large margin, the holiest site on earth for Jews. For Muslims, it's a distant third, leagues behind Mecca and Medinah. Yet, since recovering the Old City, including the Temple Mount, from Jordanian occupation after being attacked in 1967, Israel has given tremendous preferential treatment to Arabs and Muslims. Except when it's forced to curtail access during terror offensives, Israel gives virtually free, 24/7 access to the Temple Mount to Muslims. In sharp contrast, Jews - and Christians - are restricted to a few hours a day, a few days a week, through a single gate. Last year, only 12,000 Jews managed to visit the Temple Mount, in sharp contrast to the approximately 4,000,000 Muslims who freely visited.

That comparison bears repeating: four million Muslims, twelve thousand Jews. That's more than three hundred times as many Muslims as Jews.

Incredibly, Israel also prohibits Jews from praying on the Temple Mount. It does not even allow Jews to bring prayer books to the Temple Mount, for fear of offending Muslims.

Although Israel is very successful at preventing Jews from bringing prayer books, indeed any religious objects, to the Temple Mount, it has not been very successful at preventing Arabs from bringing rocks, firebombs and other weapons into Al Aksa Mosque, effectively turning that holy mosque into a weapons arsenal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, disparagingly described as "right-wing" even more often than Mahmoud Abbas is called "moderate," has repeatedly assured everyone he will maintain that status quo, one which so gravely discriminates against his own people.

None of that kept the "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas from accusing Israel of trying to change that status quo, scream that he would not allow Jews to desecrate their holiest site with their "filthy feet," and proclaim "we bless every drop of blood
that has been spilled for Jerusalem."

For Abbas, Arabs throwing firebombs from Al Aksa Mosque is perfectly holy, but Jews coming near with their "filthy feet" is desecration.

Every drop of blood that has been spilled over the last month is on the head of Abbas.

Although there are some complicated aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the sub-conflict between the Palestinian Arabs and Israelis, and neither side is completely blameless, at its core it's very simple: while Israelis yearn for peace and have demonstrated their eagerness by making enormous, painful, one-sided concessions and offering even greater ones, the Palestinian Arabs are clearly still unwilling to countenance the existence of the world's only Jewish state on any terms.

For those who love peace, value human rights and all the other values America and other liberal, Western democracies cherish, the moral imperative is clear: they must stand with that tiny state of Israel, the one state in the Middle East that not only shares their values but is the world's frontline state in defence of those values.

How ironic that, at the same hour that yet another fanatical Arab terrorist was trying to massacre Israelis at a bus station, on a day when dozens of other terror attacks were thankfully thwarted, at a time when moral people have no choice but to stand with Israel, Roger Waters and the others at the "Tree of Life conference" were gleefully working to boycott that beleaguered democracy.

One thing is clear: no good can come from such celebrations of hatred.

Alan H. Stein, Ph.D., is a former resident of Waterbury, Connecticut who now splits his time between Natick, Massachusetts and Netanya, Israel. He is professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut, former president of the Jewish Federation of Waterbury, president emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Iran Treaty Analogy

This reached PRIMER by a circuitous route. Author unknown.

Let’s say you have a religious fanatic living on your block. He periodically threatens to kill you and your family. He also threatens some of your neighbors, especially your Jewish friends next door. In fact, he threatens to wipe them off the map.

Now, you and your neighbors desire to live in peace. So you ban together and sit down with your fanatic neighbor, to negotiate a circumstance where you can all live in peace. You reach an agreement where the fanatic gets a bunch of cash up front and a machine gun but no bullets. In fact, he is prohibited from having bullets for 15 years. Now you don’t trust him because he’s been known to cheat in the past so you say “we trust you but we will verify.” To which he says I will monitor myself to insure I don’t get any bullets.

You agree.

Satisfied with the agreement you go to bed that night … do you sleep?

Nope, didn’t think so. Neither would I.

Think about it!!!!!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Mr. Obama, Try These Arguments for Your Iran Deal

A friend asked me to analyze the column by that name written by Nicholas Kristoff. It seemed a shame to just send my analysis to her, so here it is, with some closing advice to the president about how he should try to undo the damage caused when he failed to use the leverage Congress gave him in the past.

This analysis includes quotes from Kristoff's column followed by analyses.

It would be a catastrophe for American influence in the world if Congress killed the Iranian nuclear deal.

Congress has rejected or sent back for renegotiation over 200 treaties, including over 80 multilateral treaties, without any serious consequences for American influence in the world. There's no basis for asserting it would be any different for this one. European leaders have privately told Malcolm Hoenlein they were very unhappy with the deal, acquiesced only because of immense pressure from us, and would not be unhappy if Congress rejected the deal and there was an opportunity to try to get a better one. It might be a catastrophe for Obama's prestige, but not for American influence.

Constituent calls to congressional offices are overwhelmingly against the deal, and with Senator Chuck Schumer defying the White House by opposing it, the opposition is more bipartisan than the support is. That's tragic, for killing the deal would infuriate many allies, isolate America rather than Iran and ultimately increase the risk of ayatollahs with nuclear weapons.

See above. There's no basis for these assertions, while there's plenty of evidence that the deal increases the probability Iran will get nuclear weapons.

The great majority of arms experts support the deal, some enthusiastically, some grudgingly. They recognize shortcomings, but on balance, as 29 of America's leading nuclear scientists and arms experts wrote in an open letter last week, it has "much more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated nonproliferation framework."

None of which have worked. And the holes in the agreement make it inaccurate to refer to the constraints as "stringent."

Likewise, three dozen retired American generals and admirals released a joint letter declaring the deal "the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons."

After which about 190 retired American generals and admirals released a joint letter asserting the opposite and the number who have expressed agreement is now over 200.

Iran would go from maybe a few months from a bomb to a year away. The agreement doesn't solve the underlying problem, but it may buy us 15 years.

Maybe. Maybe not. Probably not. Iran only goes from a few months to a year if it adheres to the agreement. With entire nuclear infrastructure intact, just not using some of it for a while, if Iran decides to make its final sprint and reactivates the mothballed centrifuges, it will be no further from breakout than today, perhaps even closer since it will be improving its infrastructure. Indeed, we're committed to helping Iran improve its nuclear infrastructure.

Yes, it would be nice if Iran gave up all its enriched uranium. But isn't it better that it give up 98 percent of its stockpile than that it give up none?

It's not giving it up. It's diluting it and will be able to re-enrich it when it decides that's in its interests.

Everyone knows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel opposes the deal, but not everyone realizes other Israelis with far more security expertise support it. Ami Ayalon, former head of Israel's Shin Bet security service, describes it as "the best possible alternative." And Efraim Halevy, former head of the Mossad, says, "What is the point of canceling an agreement that distances Iran from the bomb."

It's obviously absurd to call this horrible deal "the best possible alternative." They don't give reasons for their opinions. On the other side, the leaders of all the mainstream parties, including those in opposition, are unanimous in their opposition to the agreement. One would expect Herzog, Livni and Lapid to take the position opposite to that of Netanyahu, but they're standing firmly with him in opposition to the agreement even as they criticize him for not being effective enough in his opposition.

Second, it's true that Iran may try to cheat, but it's easier to catch and stop the cheating with the deal than without.

It may be marginally easier to catch cheating, but not by much. Iran's leaders aren't idiots. so they'll almost certainly not bother to seriously cheat at their declared sites (from experience with their cheating on the interim deal, they know Obama won't call them on their cheating unless he has no choice), cheat at the undeclared non-military sites in ways it's confident it can hide the evidence in 24 days, and do its serious cheating at its military sites to which it's been very clear it will never allow outside access.

At this point, having abandoned the sanctions, we're not going to be able to stop their cheating, with or without the deal.

That 1994 agreement was indeed flawed, and North Korea violated it. But even so, in the eight years the agreement was in place, North Korea made zero nuclear weapons, according to American intelligence estimates. After the deal collapsed in 2002, the Bush administration turned to a policy of confrontation, and North Korea then made perhaps nine nuclear weapons.

The deal collapsed when the CIA discovered North Korea was secretly enriching uranium for weapons.

Third, if all goes south, or if Iran is stalling us and after 15 years races to a weapon, we retain the option of a military strike.

Against a much stronger Iran and a nuclear infrastructure we've actually helped them secure against attack.

To me, this deal is ugly and flawed - and infinitely better than the alternatives. The criticisms of the deal strike me as reasonable, but the alternatives that the critics propose seem unreasonable and incoherent.

Proponents keep repeating that as a mantra, but it's just his opinion. There have been many reasonable alternatives put forth.

So President Obama should hit the restart button. He should acknowledge that the deal has shortcomings but also emphasize that it must be judged not by a referendum on its terms but rather as a choice: deal or no deal.

The first assertion is right. But it's not a choice between deal or no deal; it's a choice between this deal or trying to get a decent deal. One rule in bargaining is that if you're not willing to walk away from a deal, you're going to get taken. Congress would be doing Obama a tremendous favor if it rejected the deal; it would be giving him the chance to bargain effectively. Unfortunately, it's impossible to expect him to accept the gift.

He can also take steps to reassure doubters. We could boost funding for the International Atomic Energy Agency to make oversight more effective. We could do more to speak up for human rights in Iran and to counter Iranian meddling in the region, especially in Syria.

He should do all that, but it won't provide much reassurance. I'll explain what Obama should do after the next comment.

Gen. Brent Scowcroft, the patriarch of Republican security experts, tells me that he supports the Iran deal in part because it exemplifies American leadership on a crucial global issue.

Neither party has a monopoly on leaders making insupportable arguments. This deal is the antithesis of what American leadership should be.

I agree, and for Congress to kill it will not just set back American leadership, it will also increase the odds that Iran gets the bomb.

There he goes again.

Advice for President Obama:

Okay, here's what President Obama should really do and still can if he decides the safety of the world is more important than saving face:

He should secretly work with the remaining undecided Senators to make sure the filibuster doesn't succeed.

After he vetoes the resolution rejecting the deal, he should quietly work with the Congressional leadership to secretly orchestrate announcements by enough legislators that the bellicose behavior of Iran, including the chants of "Death to America," and the revelations about the secret side deals have led them to reconsider and they will vote to override Obama's veto. He should thus secretly ensure that Congress does override his veto.

He should then go back to the P5+1 and essentially tell them, "Look, guys, I thought I could pull it off, but Congress just will not go along with a deal that ends the sanctions so quickly, has so many potential problems with verification and doesn't automatically snap back all the sanctions if we catch Iran cheating, not to mention while Khamenei keeps shouting 'Death to America' and still holds Americans hostage. I don't have any choice. America is a democratic country. We've got to go back, start over and get to a deal that will actually work."