Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Misdirected Criticisms and Accusations

One of the favorite techniques of Israel-haters is to falsely accuse Israel of that which its enemies are guilty.

This same technique is also often employed against supporters of Israel.

So it was recently when at least two letter writers falsely accused me of lying … while including several demonstrably false assertions in their letters.

It's important to not let lies go unanswered. The following response of mine was published today, March 31, 2009, in The New Britain Herald.

By coincidence, I had met the new editor of The New Britain Herald the night before.

UConn professor responds to his critics

To the editor:

Norton Mezvinsky and Ghassen E. El-Eid have both sharply criticized my observations about the oppressive atmosphere and anti-Israel bias at Central Connecticut State University. Their letters contain clearly false information in conjunction with invalid logic while lowering the level of debate, with Mezvinsky falsely accusing me of "utilizing the 'big lie' technique" and El-Eid falsely accusing me of fabricating "blatant lies."

Mezvinsky disputed my observation that not a single probing question was asked of Mark Perry during his appearance at CCSU, claiming "as reported in The Herald, there was indeed some questioning of and a bit of disagreement with a few points made by Perry."

There was no such reporting in The Herald, as one may verify by simply reading the article written by reporter Scott Whipple.

Similarly, El-Eid disputes my characterization of earlier letters by Mezvinsky and Sadu Nanjundiah as "an attempt at character assassination" of Rabbi Stephen Fuchs.

Nanjundiah referred to Rabbi Fuchs using the terms "his ilk" and "his cohorts." Both the implication and the goal are obvious.

El-Eid mocks me for alleged "profound ignorance," challenging my statement "that Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood."

The Council on Foreign Relations, publisher of "Foreign Affairs," states "Hamas grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood, a religious and political organization founded in Egypt with branches throughout the Arab world" in its profile of Hamas.

Perhaps the single most revealing instance of Mezvinsky's eagerness to ignore facts when they conflict with his agenda is his disputation of the reality that Israel, a liberal, Western-oriented democracy, is the only state in the Middle East which respects human rights, writing "we must logically conclude what he [Stein] said is purposely false."

Mezvinsky's logic is invalid. He also relies on questionable allegations from sources notorious for their anti-Israel bias, such as UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Authority), which has admitted having Hamas terrorists on his payroll and has allowed its schools to be used to launch rockets against Israeli civilians.

There is a slight degree of accuracy in one assertion made by both Mezvinsky and El-Eid: I listened to Mark Perry and, despite my chagrin, did not challenge any of Perry's absurd claims. As someone who is neither a student nor faculty member at CCSU, I felt I should defer to those directly associated with CCSU; I was also curious to see whether the students and faculty at CCSU were too cowed to buck what Mezvinsky falsely accused me of calling the "poisonous anti-Israel atmosphere" at CCSU and ask any of the obvious questions. As I observed in my earlier letter, they were and they didn't.

As a society, we depend on an educated citizenry with the courage to question the opinions of the so-called "experts." Our national financial crisis is just one example of how serious errors are made when too many people blindly follow and fail to question the "experts."

Our colleges and universities have a singularly important role in encouraging that freedom to question; I hope in the future I will see evidence of Central Connecticut State University embracing that obligation.

Alan H. Stein, Ph.D.
President, PRIMER-Connecticut
Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics, University of Connecticut

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spotlight on Hatred: Christians Who Hate Jews So Much They'd Rather Destroy Themselves Than Live in a Democracy

I first saw this posted on the PalestinianChristians mailing list on Yahoo.

That group is dominated by people who have so much hatred they support the fanatics in Gaza who have been decimated what little has survived in the Christian community there.

In this post, they demonstrate some of the depths of their hatred, castigating the Pope for planning to share some empathy with Jews rather than beginning his visit to Eretz Yisrael by showing solidarity with those trying to destroy the Jewish state.

It may also be found on the Holocaust Denial web site <Revisionist Review>.

This is not pleasant reading, but it does help generate more understanding of the depths of the hatred of the enemies of the Jewish people and Israel.

Archbishop Theodosius: Pope not welcome in Jerusalem

By Israel Shamir

"Pope Benedict is not welcome in the Holy Land in the present circumstances", - said Archbishop Theodosius of Sebaste, the highest ranking native Palestinian Christian clergyman in Jerusalem, after it was announced in Israel that the head of the Church of Rome will begin his May pilgrimage to the Holy City with obeisance to the Jewish Holocaust Memorial "Yad Vashem'.

- We are not against the Pope's visit to Yad Vashem, but before expressing solidarity with the Jews, he should show solidarity with the Christians of Palestine. We have our own tragic memories; our Yad Vashem is in Gaza, said the Archbishop, and then added: "let the Pope begin his visit with Gaza first".

[Of course, if the Archbishop lived in Gaza, he would probably have been murdered by the leaders of the Islamist Thugocracy of Hamastan. Living in the tolerant, democratic state of Israel, he is free to peddle his hatred, kept safe from those who really hate him by the people he hates most.]

Tall and fortyish, blue-eyed, of commanding presence, the Galilean-born Archbishop is a citizen of Israel, an outspoken critic of Jewish excesses and a most visible supporter of the One Democratic State idea calling for full equality for Jew, Christian and Muslim in the whole, undivided Holy Land. Archbishop Theodosius Atallah Hanna is a man of his own mind: he refused to meet with President Bush, befriended the Muslim Mufti of Jerusalem and defended Pope Benedict when he was attacked for what was considered anti-Muslim talk. Now he expresses the feelings of many Palestinian Christians, this oldest Christian community in the world. While the Church of Rome was established by Christ's apostle St Peter, the Church of Jerusalem was established by Christ Himself. In many villages and towns of the Holy Land memories of the Saviour's presence still linger. The majority of Jerusalem Christians belong to the Archbishop's Orthodox church, while a minority are Catholic.

Regarding the papal visit, the Catholics and the Orthodox are of one mind. Before the Gaza war, Father Manuel Musallam, head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Gaza, said that it is Gaza's right not to die, and if it dies it will be in the battlefield. The Catholic believers, priests and monks of the Holy Land forwarded the Pope a secret letter calling on him to postpone his visit to some future time. The Vatican read the letter but decided to disregard it. Now, when the blood shed by Jews in Gaza is still warm, Israel will certainly portray this visit as a sign of papal approval.

[The Jews, of course, are expected to turn the other cheek while Palestinian Arab fanatics, Muslim and Christian, launch rockets at their civilians.]

"If the Pope wants to come to the Holy Land, he should begin the visit by coming to the local Catholic church in Gaza", said Archbishop Theodosius Atallah Hanna. "The church was denied visits by the priests and bishops, and Gazan Christians were unable to worship in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. At first, the Pope should meet with Palestinian Christians, who carry the light of Christ in the darkness of Israeli occupation. Otherwise, this is not a visit to us, but a visit to Israel, an item on the Pope's agenda vis-a-vis the Jewish organizations. We ask the Pope to speak for the people of Palestine, for Palestinian Christians are part and parcel of Palestine. Palestinian Christians suffer together with their Muslim brothers. Let the Pope advocate our cause", said he.

Many Palestinian Christians feel that the Vatican has become a plaything of Jewish intrigues. Why does Vatican spend so much effort trying to woo and please the Jews? Is not the Church of Rome still an independent body? Why is the See of St. Peter heeds to Jewish veto even regarding church affairs?

The Pope's visit to the Holocaust Memorial is troubling.

The Museum adjacent to Memorial contains some rude defamation of the late Pope Pius; and the Jews have refused to remove it.

[This, of course, is a reference to the Pope who, through his silence and quiet acquiescence, was effectively a collaborator with the Nazi's Holocaust.]

Even worse, the Holocaust is used to justify mass murder in Gaza; coming first to Yad vaShem sends a wrong symbol of accepting Jewish superiority over Christendom.

Moreover, the Holocaust Memorial is a religious symbol, an idol of a new heathen, godless cult. Its boss Dr Judah Bauer has openly denied God and the Creation, while its previous boss is considered a war criminal and his extradition is being sought.

Tom Segev, a prominent Israeli writer, correctly said that the Holocaust has become "an object of worship." Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League has declared: "The Holocaust is a near successful attempt on the life of God's Chosen children and, thus, on God himself".

We know of a near-successful attempt on the life of God's Son, and thus on God Himself, and it took place in Jerusalem, on Calvary. Yad va-Shem is a pretender, a place of idolatry. Abraham refused to pay obeisance to idols -- why can't the Pope follow his lead?

The forthcoming visit of the Pope was engendered by a ruse: traditionalist Bishop Msgr. Williamson was re-communicated with the Church, and at the same time his interview regarding the Jewish holocaust was aired. The scandal was enormous. If Williamson were to blaspheme Christ and the Church he would be applauded for his free mind; as things are, the Pope was forced to beg forgiveness of his "elder brothers the Jews," and even depart on this Canossa-like trip with its scheduled meetings with Israeli war criminals.

In Palestine, the Pope and the Catholics may learn a thing or two from the Church of Jerusalem. Despite its minority position in the Jewish state, the Orthodox Church is still free and un-subverted.

[A situation which is only possible because Israel, alone among states in the Middle East, is a democracy and protects rather than persecutes its minorities.]

Its theology is shiningly, implacably triumphalist; we believe in Christ and in victory of Orthodoxy as we celebrated it last Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent. Our Church is universal and catholic, for we of Jerusalem and Moscow, Antioch and Constantinople are joined by one communion, though we do not have a single shepherd. We have no elder brothers; we have no Zionists in our midst. We have no special relations with Jews - unless they want to join. We reject heresies, and we do not hesitate to anathematise heretics, including the popes of Rome who went too far in their desire to submit to worldly powers. Our Church does not seek better public relations, she does not change her rules in a vain attempt to attract more worshippers. She venerates icons, but does not bow down to idols.

[She does, however, provide support for the fanatical Palestinian Muslims which will destroy her if given the opportunity.]

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gaza and Darfur: Some people matter more than others

By Savo Heleta

This is from the Sudan Tribune.

March 25, 2009 — The recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza created fury and protests around the globe and especially in the Arab and Muslim world. A number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa saw some of the largest demonstrations in their history that condemned the killings of civilians and children by the Israeli forces.

At the same time, the Middle Eastern media, such as Al Jazeera, had a 24/7 coverage of the conflict.

One has to wonder why the Darfur conflict has never received similar attention.

Since 2003, Sudan’s western province of Darfur is an epicenter of a conflict between the mainly African rebels and the Arab-controlled government of Sudan and its proxy militias.

As in Gaza, the civilians in Darfur are paying the highest price. It is estimated that over the last six years about 200,000 people have died in Darfur from fighting, starvation, and diseases. The United Nations and aid agencies estimate that over two million Darfurians, out of a population of about six million, are currently living in refugee camps.

Even in the grimmest moments in Darfur, in 2003 and 2004, when the entire communities have been brutally destroyed by the government forces and their militias, a very few people in the Arab and Muslim world protested and condemned the killings of innocent Darfurians. Up to this day, not one Arab or Muslim leader has publicly criticized Sudan’s actions and atrocities in Darfur.

Suffering in the hands of an Arab regime

The Sudanese ruling elite portrays itself as an Arab regime both at home and abroad. Some would say this helps explain the lack of concern for the Darfur conflict in the Arab world. However, both sides in Darfur are Muslim and Darfurians, both Arabs and Africans, are Sudan’s most devout Muslims.

Rami Khouri, a Lebanese journalist, thinks that the silence in the Arab world "is not specific to Darfur or Sudan, but rather reflects a wider malaise that has long plagued the region: Arab governments tend to stay out of each other’s way when any one of them is accused of wrongdoing, and most Arab citizens have been numbed into helplessness in the face of public atrocities or criminal activity in their societies."

This changes only when Muslims suffer in the hands of non-Muslims – Americans, Russians, Serbs, or Israelis, to name a few. Then the Arab and Muslim governments and organizations are very active in condemning the atrocities while citizens show solidarity with the victims and demonstrate against "crusaders, infidels, or Zionists."

But when Muslims suffer on a large scale in the hands of an Arab regime, then there is barely any condemnation of the violence and crimes in the Arab and Muslim world.

Even though millions of innocent Muslims have been the victims in Darfur over the last six years, the fact that they are the victims of an Arab regime seems to prevent the Arab public and governments from often even acknowledging the suffering and humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur.

Darfurians matter less than Gazans

Ahmed Hussein Adam, the spokesperson of the Justice and Equality Movement, currently the most powerful Darfur rebel movement, have condemned the killings in Gaza but "observed with deep regret and sorrow the political, diplomatic, and humanitarian mobilizations for the civilians in Gaza, while [the Arab countries] adopted a dismissive attitude for the safety and security of civilians in Darfur."

Adam says that it is shameful that many in the Arab world seem to "consider blood of the people of Darfur [to be] less important than the blood of the people of Gaza."

Abdel Wahid Al-Nur, the leader of one faction of the Darfur rebel Sudan Liberation Movement, thinks that "if the Arab and Islamic countries mobilized 10% of what they [have done recently] for Gaza," they could have stopped the suffering of millions in Darfur long time ago.

Throughout the Darfur conflict, the Arab League stood by Sudan and defended its dismal actions. When the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor decided to seek an arrest of Sudan’s president for the alleged war crimes and genocide committed in Darfur, the League slammed the move and called it an "unbalanced stance."

After the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, the Arab and Muslim world continued to support the Sudanese regime. Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Saudi Arabian foreign minister, said his country "stands by Sudan with our heart and soul" despite the indictment.

In the aftermath of the recent Gaza conflict, however, the Arab League immediately called on the United Nations to "form an international committee to investigate Israeli crimes in Gaza and set up a criminal court to try Israeli war criminals."

It is appalling that the people of Darfur, who have suffered unspeakable atrocities since 2003, do not matter to many in the Arab and Muslim world only, it seems, because their tormentors are Arab Muslims and not Jews or Christians.

The killings of children and civilians in Gaza have be condemned in the strongest terms possible. But what about the innocent people in Darfur and their anguish and suffering? They are human beings, too!

Savo Heleta is the author of "Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia" (March 2008, AMACOM Books, New York). He holds an Mphil degree in Conflict Transformation and Management from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Friday, March 27, 2009


By Mitchell Bard

Executive Director, AICE [American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise], which includes the Jewish Virtual Library and publishes Myths and Facts, one of the most valuable resources available for Israel advocacy and promoting peace.

Before the school year started, I wrote that the expectation was that this would be a good year for Israel on campus. During the summer, there were no indications of any problems and, in fact, the fall had little anti-Israel activity and a good deal of positive programming from pro-Israel students.

Not surprisingly, the situation changed dramatically in the wake of the war in Gaza as students returned to school from their winter break to find an invigorated anti-Israel movement mounting protests against the Israeli operation.

The war ended, but anti-Israel activities have continued and are reaching a level of intensity that we have not seen since its height.

What is different now is that in addition to the campuses that are known hotbeds of hostility, anti-Israel incidents have occurred at a variety of schools, many of which have never had these problems before. A couple of incidents have also been unusually virulent and involved more serious physical threats to Jews than we are accustomed to seeing.

Some of the hostility is being driven by faculty, who I have repeatedly warned are the greatest threat to Israel's standing on campus. Professors with political agendas have been particularly active in the last several weeks and used the Gaza war as a catalyst for bashing Israel.

Thus, at a number of campuses, faculty have organized panels to discuss the war where Israel's point of view either is not represented at all or is offered by one person opposed by multiple representatives of Hamas. The faculty has also been energized to renew efforts to divest from Israel and instigate an academic boycott.

Typically, some incidents have been blown out of proportion, such as the story of Hampshire College divesting from Israel. As it turned out, this small school did not divest, as some pro-Palestinian students claimed, because of Israeli politics, but made some changes in its portfolio based on its broader agenda of politically correct investing. The publicity the story attracted gave many people a false sense that the anti-Israel lobby was gaining ground on campus when in fact no schools are divesting from or boycotting Israel.

One of the interesting aspects of the current anti-Israel ferment is that it is not being coordinated by any central organization as was the case in the past when Arab student groups were motivating student agitation around the country. Today, the Internet drives a lot of the activity and individuals and small groups can mobilize supporters through blogs and Facebook groups.

One explanation for the persistence of the anti-Israel activity may also be the change in the US administration and the expectation that President Obama will radically change US policy - shifting from the historic stalwart support of Israel to a more aggressive posture that would involve pressuring Israel to dismantle settlements, end the "occupation" and capitulate to other Arab demands.

Believing that they played a key role in his election, these students also may think they can demand the adoption of such positions. Viewing the situation from Washington, however, there is no reason to believe at this point the Obama administration will be any less supportive of Israel than its predecessors.

One consequence of the escalation of anti-Israel activity on campus is that students have once again been thrown largely on the defensive after spending the last few years on offense and focusing more on a positive depiction of Israel.

Pro-Israel faculty continues to be a disappointment in their failure to speak out against the misuse of the university by demagogic colleagues and to insist that "academic" forums have some scholarly basis. They have also failed to organize events that might present a more accurate picture of events. Visiting Israeli scholars we are sponsoring around the country are among the rare exceptions to this deficient response.

I just returned from speaking at four campuses in the Toronto area, including York University, where an angry mob in February drove Jewish students to seek refuge in the Hillel office.

Most students told me that with the exception of that incident, the campuses were pretty quiet. Even Israel Apartheid Week passed with little fanfare at most universities. Despite some of the horror stories I'd heard, my experience was very positive, with groups of energetic pro-Israel students attending my lectures at York, Toronto, Guelph and Waterloo.

The few dissidents in the audience were respectful and asked reasonable questions. One, for example, was an unabashed Hamas supporter, who had no problem with that group's agenda. Another was a conflicted Jewish student who desperately wanted me to say that criticizing Israel's right to exist didn't make someone an anti-Semite.

The question now being asked is whether the current situation represents a new phase in the campus war or just a momentary blip. "Israel Apartheid Week" has passed and that is likely to be the high-water mark for the anti-Israel groups. The pro-Israel students will now have their chance as they begin to have celebrations associated with Israel's Independence Day, though they are likely to be on a smaller scale this year because so much effort was spent on the 60th birthday events.

The semester is also coming to an end for most colleges, so little time is left for further anti-Israel agitation. Some students will then graduate and an unpredictable summer lies ahead. Barring any major events, it is hard to know whether Israel's detractors will pick up where they left off, start from scratch or simply be out of steam. A lot will depend on the actions of the Israeli and American governments and whether a peace process is reinvigorated.

It is clear, however, that high school seniors will need to be prepared for the possibility of entering a hostile environment where their knowledge and commitment will be tested. Returning students will also need to be ready to hit the ground running with positive programming as well as answers to the attacks they are likely to face from detractors.

AICE [American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise] will again sponsor approximately two dozen visiting Israeli professors, but their reach is limited.

Groups that work with faculty will need to do a far better job of mobilizing the academic community to organize lectures and conferences that have real scholarly content and to do a better job of ensuring that their colleagues and the broader university community is not abused to promote hate, anti-Semitism and pseudo scholarship.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mahmoud Abbas Supports Blockade of Gaza

Abbas didn't exactly use those words, but how else does one interpret a call for Europe to boycott Hamas? Can he just mean Europe should shun Hamas but others shouldn't? That, of course, would be hypocritical.

Abbas's government urges Europe to shun Hamas

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Western-backed government warned European states on Monday against easing a boycott of Hamas Islamists, saying it could put unity talks at risk.

Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said he relayed that message last week to European leaders during talks in Brussels.

Egyptian efforts to reconcile Abbas's secular Fatah faction, which holds sway in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, have so far been unsuccessful.

The talks, held in Cairo, were adjourned last week without agreement on the shape or agenda of a proposed unity government that would oversee the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip after Israel's offensive, as well as prepare for new elections.

Negotiations are expected to resume but big differences remain, including over demands by Fatah that Hamas agree to abide by interim peace agreements signed with Israel. Hamas has refused to make such a commitment.

[This is most amusing, since Fatah has never abided by those agreements.]

The Islamist group, which beat Fatah in a 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election, is shunned by the United States and the European Union as a "terrorist" organisation for refusing to renounce violence, recognise Israel and abide by interim agreements.

But some European states have limited contacts with the group and hold out the possibility of further engagement if the group, which seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after routing Abbas's forces there, softens its stance on Israel.

Malki said European overtures could undermine the unity talks by giving Hamas the impression that "the international community, and especially the European Union, is ready to change its position towards Hamas", whether the group agrees to abide by interim agreements or not.

"There wouldn't be any harm if (European states) talked to Hamas after we reach a reconciliation agreement and after Hamas joins the parties committed to the agreements," Malki said.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Atmosphere at CCSU called oppressive

Published in The New Britain Herald, March 11, 2009.

To the editor:

During the last few days, The Herald has published letters from Norton Mezvinsky and Sadu Nanjundiah unfairly attacking Rabbi Stephen Fuchs for his cogent observations regarding the culture of anti-Israel bias on the Central Connecticut State University campus. Their attempt at the character assassination of a deservedly well-respected rabbi is consistent with their support of the Arab and Muslim war on Israel, which at its heart is attempted genocide, essentially national assassination, of the Jews living in Israel.

The problems at CCSU involve something even more fundamental than the one-sided, hate-filled events to which Rabbi Fuchs referred.

As I observed at the recent appearance of Mark Perry, there is an oppressive atmosphere discouraging free inquiry.

Academic freedom is an essential component of higher education. It is meant to promote the expression of the unorthodox and protect those whose ideas may be unpopular. This is not as an end but as a means to bring a diversity of opinions to college and university campuses and promote the intellectual growth and maturity of students.

Unfortunately, it appears that academic freedom has been abused at CCSU in order to do just the opposite.

After Perry spoke, not a single probing question was asked, not even concerning his assertion that both the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian Arab offshoot Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, were fundamentally secular organizations, an absurd claim that formed one of the major themes of Perry's presentation.

Nor did anyone raise any questions about the fact that Perry was introduced as a senior advisor to Yasser Arafat for 17 years. Since Arafat died in 2004, Perry had to be advising Arafat at least as early as 1987, long before Arafat started pretending he was interested in anything other than the destruction of Israel, and probably years before since it generally takes quite a while before someone becomes a senior advisor.

It wasn't just that so many of those attending, including students and faculty, bought the malarkey Perry was selling. As indicated by a significant number of listeners refusing to applaud, there were some perceptive enough to see through Perry but they were apparently too intimidated to ask any questions.

The Orwellian situation in which students are taught that Israel, liberal, Western-oriented democracy, the only state in the Middle East which respects human rights and one which has made enormous concessions in pursuit of peace, is evil, that fundamentalist Islamist terror groups like Hamas, which refuse all offers of peace and deliberately launch rockets at kindergartens are innocent victims, is merely a symptom. The students attending Central Connecticut State University and the public which supports it deserve an institution that encourages independent, critical thinking and intellectual growth.

Alan H. Stein, Ph.D.

President, PRIMER-Connecticut
Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics, University of Connecticut

Chas Freeman Demonstrates His Critics Were Right

The following is extracted from a statement from Chas Freeman about his withdrawal of his previous acceptance of the ill-conceived invitation to chair the National Intelligence Council.

It demonstrates that he indeed is unsuited for such a position.

Unfortunately, the problems go deeper; the fact that Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, would even consider such an appointment does not bode well for the operation of our national intelligence in the near future.

The full text of Freeman's statement may be found <here>.

You will by now have seen the statement by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair reporting that I have withdrawn my previous acceptance of his invitation to chair the National Intelligence Council.

I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office. The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue. I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country. I agreed to chair the NIC to strengthen it and protect it against politicization, not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group to assert control over it through a protracted political campaign.

The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East. The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth. The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors.

[This vicious lashing out at Jews, with undercurrents of anti-Semitism, is hardly indicative of the objective analysis one needs from the chair of the National Intelligence Council. It continues in the rest of Freeman's angry statement.]

There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government - in this case, the government of Israel.

[This is a not-very-subtle accusation of treason.]

I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel.

[And this is a parroting of the bigoted rantings of Walt, Mearsheimer and Jimmy Carter.]

It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.

The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues. I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government.

[Again, accusations of treason.]

JTA has published an article The Freeman fight: Was it all about Israel? by Eric Fingerhut indicating that Freeman's knee-jerk hatred of all things Israeli was only the tip of the iceburg in terms of the inappropriateness of Freeman for any important intelligence post - or any foreign policy post for that matter.

Once again, it has been the Jews who have served as "the canary in the coal mine."

If it was opposition to Freeman's hatred of Israel which led to his withdrawal from this appointment - rather than there really being other factors behind the scenes and his using the Jews as a convenient scapegoat - then we in America have again been well-served by our friendship with Israel.

Air Force Efficiency in Emek's OR

This was sent by Larry Rich, Director of Development & International Public Relations for Israel's Emek Medical Center in Afula.

Before an Israeli Air Force jet takes off on any mission, a comprehensive check list is performed by the multi-disciplinary team who are responsible for every aspect of the flight. The teams include mechanics, weapons' technicians, ground crews, pilots and navigators. There is no room for error, so the aircraft and the mission are scrupulously check listed so everyone knows exactly where the plane will be flying and why. The unparalleled successes of our Air Force are testimony to the worth of this system.

Dr. Orna Blondheim, CEO of the Emek Medical Center, was a member of one of those Israel Air Force teams during her military service and she remembers well the lessons she learned. There is no substitute for thoroughness, double checking and verification of details and Dr. Blondheim deeply understands how this proven theory applies to healthcare.

During the past year, EMC has incorporated this comprehensive check list system into its Operating Rooms prior to every surgery. Present for the verification of details are the patient, surgeon, anesthesiologist, assisting physicians and OR nurses. Verbal and written confirmation is performed to verify the patient's name, the part of the body that is to be operated on, the readiness of surgical instrumentation relevant to that particular procedure, double checking medical gas systems and final clarification that everyone present knows their position and relative responsibilities during the procedure. Only then, after all signatures are affixed to the document, is the patient anesthetized.

It is precisely this air force-type efficiency that accounts for EMC's internationally recognized standards (JCI accreditation) in patient safety. Dr. Blondheim explains the parallels between an Air Force mission and surgery: 'Both represent highly complex procedures that depend upon a multi-disciplinary team of experts that need to perform in perfect unison for there to be a successful outcome to the mission. There are inherent dangers in every flight as well as in every surgery. Medical literature testifies that many unfortunate human errors could have been avoided.'

Dr. Blondheim initiated a unique tour of an Israeli Air Force base for senior EMC surgical staff where the practical elements of the pre-flight check list system were discussed in depth. Today, this is standard practice prior to every surgical procedure in every medical discipline in the Emek Medical Center. The people of Israel have once again benefited from EMC's uncompromising drive for better patient safety.

Support Emek Medical Center

Larry Rich
Director of Development & International Public Relations
Israel's Emek Medical Center
Phone in Israel ... 972-04-649 4417
Mobile in Israel ... 972-0505-737 641
Phone in New York ... 646-546 5970
Fax in Israel ... 972-04-652 2642
Email ... rich_l@clalit.org.il

Mailing address:

Emek Medical Center
Afula 18101

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Double Standard at the Waterbury Observer, Part V

This should probably be considered Part VI of the exchanges regarding the double-standards observed at The Waterbury Observer.

In Part I, I posted the text of the column I had submitted.

In Part II, I posted an anti-Israel screed he published in the January issue despite his clear indication that he wouldn't be publishing anything else on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In Part III, I posted a letter I sent to him pointing out the double standard being observed in The Waterbury Observer.

In Part IV, I posted the text of the column asserting Ross had co-founded AIPAC when he was no more than five years old.

I then posted the text of a letter I sent responding to the misrepresentation in an editors note and blatant factual errors in the February column referred to in Part IV.

Last week, I ran into John Murray in the locker room at the YMCA and asked him whether he received that letter.

He tersely responded that he had received it but was not going to publish it, saying he was going to "put a stop to it," referred to name calling and then ran away as I tried to discuss things with him.

Since I was not given the opportunity to discuss things with John, I sent him the following letter, which will probably be the final chapter in this saga.

Dear John,

If you actually meant what you said when we ran into each other in the Y and will stop publishing not only the responses to the irresponsible, error-filled anti-Israel diatribes but the screeds themselves, it will be a step towards responsibility even though you are not permitting me to respond to the personal attacks on me published in the January issue.

I had hoped to have a brief, civilized conversation with you, but since you clearly didn't want to talk, running away even as I was trying to respond to your terse statement that you were going to "put a stop to it," I'll mention some of the things you didn't let me say in person in this open letter.

First of all, you referred to "name-calling." While the writers of the anti-Israel screeds published in The Waterbury Oberver engaged in personal attacks and one may argue they also engaged in name-calling, those of us responding to those screeds did neither.

Although some may consider it a fine distinction, I commented on what Marilyn Aligata and George Hajjar wrote, but did not attack them personally. Similarly, in my letter which you are not publishing, responding to Marie-Therese Saad's error-filled screed, I commented on some of the more astounding factual errors, but did not personally attack her.

(This does not necessarily imply any moral or ethical superiority; it may merely reflect the reality that the Israel-haters have such a weak case they'd have to be virtually silent if they didn't resort to misinformation, disinformation and personal attacks.)

Personally, I think you owe me a public apology for your editor's note regarding my letter in the February issue.

Although any intelligent person reading my letter would realize your note effectively completely misrepresented what I had written about your double-standard (giving your decision not to publish anything more on the Arab-Israeli conflict as an excuse for not publishing a column of mine but then publishing Hajjar's diatribe), it's likely not everyone reading your note actually read my letter and of those who did some probably did not notice the disconnect between my letter and your note.

Finally, your stated decision to "put a stop to it" does not absolve you of the ethical responsibility, incorporated both in the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Statement of Principles of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, to "promptly and prominently" correct the blatant factual errors in Saad's column published in the February issue of The Waterbury Observer.

I'll remind you of the two errors I mentioned in my earlier letter:

1. Saad's assertion that Dennis Ross was a co-founder of AIPAC, an organization that was started when he was approximately five years old.

2. Saad's assertion that Dennis Ross was a member of AIPAC.

You would, of course, have the same obligation to issue corrections if there had been any factual errors in any of my letters or columns, although that point is purely academic.

In any case, I look forward to the end of double-standards in The Waterbury Observer regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.



Within an hour of sending that message to John Murray, I was sent the following response.
I wish you well in your passionate pursuit of justice. There will be no apology from the Observer to you, because none is due.
Good luck in the future.


The refusal to issue the corrections called for by the various ethics standards is not unexpected. We shall see whether John follows through with his resolution to "put an end to this," making this the final chapter in the saga.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Clash of Mentalities

This is a cogent analysis which, although not mentioned, relates to one of the major problems in public relations for Israel: Most Westerners just cannot relate to the problems Israel faces because they connot conceive of the mentality of Israel's enemies. They expect that if Israel acts in ways that would be perceived as conciliatory by Westerners, the Arabs would reciprocate. The fact that Israel's enemies are so stubborn is, for them, evidence that Israel has not been conciliatory enough and pressure Israel for ever more concessions when the reality is that those very concessions just feed Arab intransigence and lead to more conflict, war, terror and death.

A tragedy of misconceptions

By Michael Bar-Zohar
The Jerusalem Post

A survey published on February 5 by the prestigious Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, a Palestinian polling institute, indicates that 46.7 percent of the Palestinians believe that Hamas defeated Israel in the recent fighting in Gaza; 50.8% (compared to 39.3% last April) believe that the rocket attacks should continue, and only 20.8% believe that they are harmful to Palestinian interests. Finally, 55% are convinced that terrorist acts should continue.

These figures illustrate a major aspect of the confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians and, on a wider scope, of the West and the Arab world: a tragedy of misconceptions, a confrontation of two societies that do not understand each other and naively believe that people on the other side have the same way of thinking and reasoning as them. As long as both sides persist in this erroneous perception of each other, there is going to be no peace in the Middle East.

In 1997 the Four Mothers organization was founded. Its goal was the full pullout of the IDF from south Lebanon. Every year, Four Mothers said, we are losing 25 to 30 soldiers in the battle with Hizbullah. Isn't it a pity to sacrifice these young lives? Let's pull out of Lebanon, and the Lebanese will leave us in peace. The Four Mothers won and in 2000 prime minister Ehud Barak evacuated every single inch of Lebanese territory.

But the result was the opposite. Nobody in the Arab world believed that Israel had pulled out of Lebanon because of its concern for 25 casualties a year. The retreat was perceived in the Arab world as a victory by Hizbullah over the IDF, and the logical conclusion of Hizbullah and other extremist organizations was that they should continue fighting till Israel's final defeat. The late Faisal Husseini, a respected Palestinian leader, once told me openly: "Michael, if you don't agree to our demands [about Jerusalem], we'll talk to you in Lebanese." Even the sophisticated Husseini thought that the Hizbullah formula was the one that brought results.

The same misconception guided prime minister Ariel Sharon when he carried out the unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005. He was right in pulling out the settlers who shouldn't have been there in the first place. But Sharon also believed that the military pullout from the entire Gaza Strip would convince the Gazans of our goodwill. Their perception, though, was different. "Israel retreated because it was defeated by us," a Hamas spokesman said, "therefore let's intensify our battle, and we'll destroy the Zionist entity."

The United States made a similar mistake when in 2006 it insisted on carrying out free elections in the West Bank and Gaza. Washington, intoxicated with the mantra of free elections, failed to understand that Western democracy does not always work in Arab lands. The American experts wouldn't listen to the warnings of their Israeli colleagues who predicted a sweeping victory of the Hamas extremists. That was what finally happened.

Bringing democracy to Iraq also was one of the major arguments for the war against Saddam Hussein. We can only hope that the democratic regime created there will hold after the US troops' departure. The enthused American experts who promoted the idea seem to have forgotten that the only periods when Iraq's parliamentary regime worked was when strong leaders ruled the country with an iron fist.

THE MISTAKE of casting our own image on the opponent was repeated during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Israel believed that by destroying major parts of Lebanon's infrastructure - roads, bridges, power stations - it would make the Lebanese people turn against the Hizbullah that had ignited the conflict. That could be true in Israel or in America, where public opinion weighs heavily on the political scales, but not in Lebanon. In Gaza, too, the massive destruction by the IDF didn't convince the Gazans that Hamas caused the disaster; on the contrary, their support for Hamas and its operations even grew.

I often read articles by learned experts who explain how we'll get rid of the nuclear danger in Iran. "We'll tell them that if they do this to us, we'll do that to them," they say, or "the Iranian people will revolt against the mullahs," or "the Iranian economy is in shambles, they cannot feed their people if they continue their nuclear project."

Well, the threats of American pundits don't seem to bother the Iranian leaders; the Iranian people will not revolt; the only potential rebel is the army, as in all Muslim countries, and so far the army is very happy to build a nuclear weapon; as far as the poor state of the economy is concerned, the Iranian leaders couldn't care less. Iran's glory and its return to the status of a great regional power are much more important to them.

We have to understand that the Middle Eastern nations don't think the same way as the Western nations do. They have their own logic, and their perception of events is different from ours. Words and promises and commitments don't have the same meaning to them as they have for us. This is not a judgment, but a statement of fact. Therefore, we should make an effort to understand their way of thinking and of reacting to our moves before we engage in negotiations with them.

But as long as we keep trying to project our way of thinking on millions of Muslims, or analyze their words and deeds with Western logic, we'll not achieve any progress in our relations with them.

The writer is a former member of the Knesset and the biographer of David Ben-Gurion and Shimon Peres.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Comedienne of the Week: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

Pillay called fears that Durban II would be hijacked by Israel-haters "unwarranted."

This has to be one of the funniest things anyone in a position of "responsibility" has said in a while.

Tellingly, the article in The Jerusalem Post was accompanied by a picture showing Pillay addressing the Human Rights Council special session on the 'The Grave Violations of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including the recent aggression of the occupied Gaza Strip.'

There is no such thing as "Occupied Palestinian Territory" and the only group occupying the Gaza Strip is Hamas. The agression came from the Gaza Strip and continues, with more than a dozen rockets launched at Israel from Gaza over the weekend, one hitting a school.

Unwarranted would be an apt description of that session of the travesty known as the UN Human Rights Council, but certainly not regarding the next session of what is supposed to be a conference on racism but is scheduled to be a racist conference.

UN rights chief appeals for Durban 2

The UN rights chief on Monday rejected fears that the upcoming "Durban II" conference on racism might be hijacked by critics of Israel, and urged countries to make the meeting a success by focusing on global issues.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the April 20-25 conference has been disparaged in the media and attacked by a lobbying campaign of those who fear a repetition of the anti-Israel moves that marred the first racism conference in 2001.

"This is unwarranted," Pillay told the UN Human Rights Council.

She urged all countries to put aside "narrow, parochial interests and reflexive partisanship" and work for an agreement that would help eradicate discrimination.

"Failure to do so may reverberate negatively on the full spectrum of human rights work and mechanisms for years to come," Pillay said.

She did not name any countries specifically. But the Obama administration said Friday the US would boycott this year's conference unless its final document was changed to drop all references to Israel and the defamation of religion. US officials are also pressing European nations to boycott the conference unless there are revisions to that statement.

The latest draft of the Durban II text, which was released in Geneva on Monday, continued to single out Israel, as past versions have done.

Like the previous text, the new draft does not mention Israel by name but alludes to it, as when it speaks of how occupation has harmed the Palestinians. Israel is the only country in the text to be singled out in this way.

The draft states that Israeli policies are racist and a contemporary form of apartheid. One version mentions "deep concern at the plight of Palestinian refugees and other inhabitants of the Arab occupied territories, as well as displaced persons who were forced to leave their homes because of war and racial policies of the occupying power and who are prevented from returning to their homes and properties because of a racially-based law of return."

Meanwhile, Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), the umbrella organization for Jewish communities in Europe, called upon the EU on Monday to show strong leadership and to boycott the conference, scheduled to take place in Geneva.

Calling the language and tone of the Durban II Draft Outcome Document "completely unacceptable for an official UN document," Kantor stated, "Now is the time for EU countries and leaders such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to take the lead on issues of human rights and racism in the UN and to make a strong and clear stand against the Durban Review Conference."