Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lies and Distortions at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, Part I

This is the first of a series of posts detailing some of those lies and distortions. This entry focuses on the hatred emanating from Anna Baltzer, who bills herself as a Jewish American who grew up with what she calls the Zionist narrative but after hooking up with Birthright Unplugged learned the truth.

She now goes around the country spewing out anti-Israel propaganda and doing her best to delegitimize the state of her people and push BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against the only true democracy in the Middle East.

It would probably take a shrink to analyze her motivations, but Baltzer clearly loves the attention she gets from other Israel-bashers, who just love having an attractive young Jewish woman bouncing around with a microphone and a big smile on her face as she tells of alleged atrocities. She seems to be having the time of her life.

"Before I tell you about this occupation..." Baltzer displays a map detailing what she calls the "internationally recognized borders of Israel."

This is Lie Number 1, since there are no "internationally recognized borders of Israel." What she displays are roughly the armistice lines negotiated after Israel's war of independence. These lines were designated as temporary, pending peace agreements (which the Arabs refused to negotiate). The armistice agreements even specified the lines were not to prejudice the determination of permanent borders.

"Checkpoints are a big part of the occupation."

For more than twenty years after Israel captured the disputed territories from Egypt and Jordan, there were few checkpoints. The checkpoints are really the result of the terrorist offensive launched by the Palestinian Arabs after they rejected peace in 2000. Had the Palestinian Arabs even minimally adhered to their commitments under the Oslo accords, there would be no need for any checkpoints.

None of this context makes it into Baltzer's narration, since for her the Palestinian Arabs are the epitome of innocence and her own people are purely evil.

"Last February, Nablus was invaded."

Of course, no word about the terrorists from Nablus who were busy murdering innocent Israelis, or the fact that it was to go after those terrorists and thus save lives that Israel went into Nablus.

"... talk about torture, which is widespread in the Israeli prison system."

She likes to talk about torture, with absolutely no evidence, and omits the fact that the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled torture illegal. Indeed, Israel is probably the only country country in the world whose courts have acted to prevent torture, but Baltzer ignores inconvenient truths.

"Jewish Israelis are coming to live on Palestinian land."

For Baltzer, all land is "Palestinian land." One of her arguments was that prior to 1946 Palestinians owned 92 percent of the land and Jews owned only 8 percent.

This, of course, is total nonsense. She simply takes the proportion of land owned by Jews and gives the rest to the Arabs living in Palestine, despite the fact that the vast majority of the land was not privately owned. Nobody knows precisely how much land was owned by Arabs in Palestine, especially given the vast amount of fraudulent deeds they claimed, but it was likely in the neighborhood of 15 percent.

She also pretends the Arabs were Palestinians, but the Arabs in the territory didn't start adopting that identity until much later. In 1946 they still insisted they weren't Palestinian, but were simply part of the pan-Arabic nation, while it was the Jews in Palestine that were referred to as Palestinians.

The "US is giving Israel between $3 and $10 billion per year."

This was part of her phony argument that we are funding all the atrocities she is falsely attributing to Israel.

Ten years ago, it was technically true, since at that time our assistance to Israel totaled $3 billion per year, but it was decreased by $600 million each year for the last ten years, so last year our aid was just slightly above $2.4 billion.

If she had said that our assistance to Israel was scheduled to increase to between $3 and $10 billion per year next year, she would be technically correct, but misleading, since saying our assistance will be between $3 billion and $10 billion creates a far different impression than the equally correct statement that our assistance will be between $3 and $3.1 billion.

Conveniently, she says nothing about the nearly equal amount we give to Egypt (funds used to buy arms Israel needs to prepare to defend itself against), the large amounts we give to Jordan or the large amounts we are giving to the Palestinian Arabs, much of which winds up in the hands of terrorists. Also omitted are the huge amounts we effectively give to the Arab oil states like Saudi Arabia in the form of outrageous prices for oil, much of which gets recycled to fund Hamas, Hizbollah and Al Qaeda.

"All of this [Israeli communities in the disputed territories] on land that belongs to the Palestinian people."

Almost all the land in the disputed territories on which the Jewish communities have been built was either state land or land already owned or purchased by Jews. Many of the communities were built on sites where Jewish communities had existed before they were destroyed when Judea, Samaria and Gaza were ethnically cleansed by Jordan and Egypt.

But remember, Baltzer falsely claims that every inch that was not owned by Jews in 1946 was owned by Arabs. She even displays a slide (shown on this page) showing the alleged loss of Arab land.

The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, Connecticut annually runs an anti-Israel hate-fest it calls a "Tree of Life" conference. A more appropriate title would be "Aboretum of Death." It features a combination of distortions, half-truths and outright lies that virtually boggle the imagination.

A significant part of Baltzer's message of hate is the argument that the Jews control the American media and thus keep the "truth" from getting to the American people.

"You have to go beyond US mainstream media sources."

In 2006, she actually started talking about control of the media, but she's since cleaned up her act so that now she merely implies it.

"Regarding the Wall ... which Israel is building with our tax dollars [you won't hear it called the Wall in the United States and] I will call it censorship."

Aside from the fact that she either doesn't understand the meaning of the word censorship or is deliberately misusing it, she manages to accuse Jews of controlling the media and preventing the use of misleading terminology (since the barrier is almost all fencing, so calling it a "wall" is a distortion) without using the word Jews. There's no need to; the bigots she is appealing to know what she means.

Baltzer really hates the barrier and keeps harping on it. She keeps arguing that it does nothing to prevent terrorism, despite the irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

Additionally, she falsely asserts it was built mostly on "Palestinian" territory. "More than 80% of this barrier doesn't even touch the border" and much of it goes deeply into Palestinian land.

Of course, there is no border, although most of the barrier adheres fairly closely to the armistice lines, and there won't legally be "Palestinian territory" until the Palestinian Arabs agree on which parts of the disputed territory will be given to them and which parts will be incorporated into Israel.

"There is not a debate...Historian after historian has confirmed what Palestinians had been saying for decades" about Israel forcibly expelling them from their homes. "Having expelled 70-80% of Palestinians they achieved a Jewish majority."

Again, more blatant lies. While a relatively small number of Arabs were forced from their homes as a result of the Arab attempt to destroy Israel in 1948, most left of their own free will, whether as one of the unhappy consequences of the chaos of war or at the behest of their Arab brethren.

She talked about Arab children from outside Israel being brought into Israel to visit what were allegedly the villages their grandparents abandoned. "These children, given the framework of Zionism, will never be able to return because they're not Jewish."

Of course, if they're not able to return, it will not be because they're not Jewish; it will be because they will have continued to agree to peace with Israel.

In line with the theme that it was not just Israel's alleged actions to be criticized, but the very existence of a state for the Jewish people was illegitimate, she pointed to a slide of Israel's flag with a Magen David and sarcastically asked: "Look at this flag of Israel - is this a symbol of inclusiveness?"

Double standards certainly don't bother her. She seems to have no problem with the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran or any of the flags of predominantly Christian countries featuring crosses.

Baltzer actually defended Hamas, claiming they don't want to murder all Jews but just want to destroy Israel. "Is that anti-Semitism?"

For her misleading presentation, full of lies and distortions along with insinuations which at the very least encouraged whatever latent anti-Semitism her listeners harbored, Baltzer got a standing ovation.

If there was any doubt that Baltzer's ultimate goal was the destruction of Israel, it was laid to rest when during a question and answer period she said she had started out "thinking occupation bad, Israel good," but now realized that even if the so-called "occupation" ended the main problem (the existence of Israel) would remain.

If there's any good news, it was her admission that while she's tried to reach mainstream Jewish organizations, she hasn't had success, which is why she shifted her framework. She also complained about being called a self-hating Jew; being so unaccustomed to telling the truth herself, it apparently hurts when she hears it from others.

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