Sunday, October 31, 2010

Potentially, Israel Faces a Second Holocaust

Phyllis Chesler wrote this for the rally-demonstration "For the truth, for Israel" held in Rome October 7. It is already available on several web sites and blogs, but we wanted to post it to the PRIMER-Connecticut blog as well because Professor Chesler will be speaking in New Haven, at Yale, on November 18.

Chesler will be speaking at the Antisemitism in Comparative Perspective Seminar Series organized by The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA). The title of her talk will be "How Scapegoating Israel Diminishes the Rights of Women in the Middle East." It is scheduled for 4:15-5:45 p.m. at ISPS (Institution for Social and Policy Studies), 77 Prospect Street, New Haven.

YIISA holds seminars most Thursday afternoons during the academic year. The seminars are open to the public and well worth attending for those who are nearby. The schedule may be found on the YIISA Seminar Series web page.

Many of the articles by Chesler may be found on her web site

Potentially, Israel faces a Second Holocaust.

Indeed, many Europeans continue Hitler’s war against the Jews by supporting fifty seven Islamic apartheid nation states against the single Jewish democratic state.

The worldwide media has become totally “Palestinianized” and Stalinized. Palestinians—even the haters, terrorists, and torturers, are naught but noble, innocent victims. Israel has literally become Orwell’s 1984 “Goldstein,” whom propagandized mobs are taught to scapegoat for their every conceivable sorrow.

The ideological assault against Israel has escalated. Daily, hourly, in every language, the media repeats Big Lies. Israel is the “Nazi, apartheid” state, the “colonial” aggressor. What a neat trick. Bloody Muslim imperialism and Islamic religious and gender apartheid are thus denied and projected onto Israel.

Israel is essentially, existentially, “evil.”

In 2005, Ahmadinejad said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” In 2006, he said that the Middle East would be better off “without the existence of the Zionist regime” and that Israel would “soon be wiped out.”

President Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust, but really, he feels Hitler did not go far enough. Thus, he is taking up where Hitler left off—Ahmadinejad’s intention is a clearly stated genocidal one.

No one is stopping him.

We—the world’s civilians—are now all Israelis. The same world which refused to stop the airplane hijackings and human bombs which blew up countless Israeli civilians has now inherited this whirlwind. As they say: It starts with the Jews but it never ends there.

Recently, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that: “To delegitimize Israel is an affront not only to Israelis but to those everywhere, in every part of humanity, who share the values of a free and independent spirit.” However, while his speech, delivered in Israel, was a very warm one, Blair also seemed to suggest that Israel’s best approach to combat the “delegitimization efforts” was to “always be a staunch and unremitting advocate and actor for peace.”

In other words, Israel, alone among nations, must earn the right to exist by being “good.” If we applied this standard to Iran, Sudan, Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia, they would have ceased to exist long ago.

Dear Mr. Blair: Israel has always been in favor of “peace.” The intransigence and solution lie elsewhere with the Palestinians, the Arab world, the Muslim world, and with the so-called “international community” which have collectively hardened their hearts against Israel. In 1975, the United Nations resolved that “Zionism is a form of racism” and has since passed 322 resolutions condemning Israel and not one condemning any Arab country.

Europeans and Americans have launched countless petitions to boycott Israel-only. Fifty Israeli and 150 American artists have just launched a performance boycott against the Israeli city Ariel. Meanwhile, they or their colleagues continue to perform in Cairo, Ramallah, Riyadh and the United Arab Emirates. Free spirited theatre people have allied themselves with the most regressive and repressive of ideologies and condemned Israel, the only country that does not honor murder women, or jail and torture dissidents, artists, or homosexuals.

Obama’s United States, along with the western intelligentsia, wrongly blame Israel for the peace failure; they believe that it would be “racist” or “Islamophobic” to expect the Palestinians to first accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state as a precondition for any real peace negotiation. Instead, the American media blames Israel for “not caring about peace.” Human rights organizations and medical journals blame Israel only—although in 2009, the founder of Human Rights Watch finally criticized his own organization for doing so.

Our theatre boycotters wish to be seen as "anti-racists;" yet, and tragically, by holding Arab and Muslim countries to much lower standards, and by condemning their inhabitants to continued Islamist barbarism, they fail every ethical test of non-racism. And, their anti-Zionism is an unacknowledged form of anti-Semitism/racism which remains a politically correct pleasure.

Big Lies and monstrous hatred have gone global. Stand against this. Stand for the values of the Enlightenment, stand for truth over lies. Otherwise, we will all be bombed back into the Arabian 7th century, the women who survive will wear burqas, we will all be ruled by theocratic barbarians.

More than the lights will go out, and not just over Europe; this time, the lights will dim over the entire world.

Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D. is emerita professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at City University of New York. Well known author of fifteen books, including Women and Madness (Doubleday, 1972), The Death of Feminism: What's Next in the Struggle for Women's Freedom (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and most recently, The New Anti-Semitism, she is the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women's Health Network. Prof. Chesler is often on international media and is a frequent contributor to INN as well as FOX News, Pajamas Media, and Middle East Quarterly.

Israel Needs a Partner

This was submitted to the New Britain Herald as a letter to the editor, but was never published.

To the editor:

It's disappointing that the Associated Press article "Abbas Asks US to Step Into Settlement Dispute," published September 8 on the eve of the Jewish New Year, helps spread misleading Arab propaganda while totally omitting any reference to the statements of the supposedly "moderate" Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas which demonstrate the heart of the problem: the continued refusal of the Palestinian Arabs to end their drive to destroy Israel and instead negotiate, in good faith, the peace that is in the best interest of all the people involved.

In the Palestinian Authority's own Al-Ayyam newspaper, Abbas is quoted as saying "If they [the Israelis] demand concessions on the rights of the refugees or the 1967 borders, I will quit. I can’t allow myself to make even one concession."

This, of course, is in keeping with traditional Arab intransigence; in the seventeen years since the start of the failed Oslo Process, the Palestinian Arabs have failed to make a single meaningful concession, even as Israel has made countless tangible and painful concessions.

Obviously, a meaningful peace requires good faith negotiations by both sides - not just by Israel - with meaningful compromises made by both sides - not just by Israel.

Until the Palestinian Arabs, under Abbas or under a future leader who is actually interested in peace, is prepared to seriously negotiate in good faith and stops threatening to walk away at the flimsiest of pretexts, there is no serious chance of peace.

If Abbas would stop demanding that the heart of Eretz Yisrael be made judenrein, free of Jews, it might signal there is finally some hope.

Israel can't institute peace by itself. It needs a partner.


Alan Stein

Remarks By Dennis Ross at AIPAC National Summit

PRIMER offers מזל טוב to Bob Fishman, Executive Director of JFACT, the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut, since his son Ben works for Dennis Ross and helped to draft this speech.

We only wish the remark "Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas represent unique Palestinian leaders committed to non-violence, negotiations, and state-building.  Their interest in peace represents a strategic opening" was true.

Abbas has, unfortunately, energetically avoided negotiations; the Palestinian Authority under his leadership continues incitement; both Fayyad and Abbas are publicly threatening to even more blatantly violate their commitments under the Oslo Agreements by unilaterally declaring a Palestinian Arab state.

It is imperative that the American government make it abundantly clear that if the Palestinian Arabs carry out that threat, they will face an American veto of any United Nations Security Council Resolution endorsing such a deplorable move and will finally stop encouraging Arab intransigence by making the Palestinian Arabs pay a price for refusing to negotiate peace.

The American government needs to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.


Office of the Press Secretary


October 25, 2010

Remarks by Dennis Ross, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region

AIPAC National Summit

Hollywood, FL

October 25, 2010

As Prepared for Delivery -

Thank you for inviting me here today to your National Summit.  It is always good to get out of Washington for a day, although coming down to Florida without playing golf means I'll have to come back soon.

Thank you, Howard, for your continued leadership of this fine organization.  And thank you, Rosy, for your continued friendship to President Obama and his administration.

It is always a pleasure to speak to AIPAC, one of the most active and well-informed foreign policy groups in the country.

I want to spend some time talking to you today about an issue you care deeply about and where the AIPAC membership has been deeply engaged: Iran.  It is also the issue on which I spend much of my time.

When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to your Policy Conference in Washington six months ago, she laid out the Obama administration's fundamental approach to what is one of the most complicated and serious challenges facing the United States today.  It is an approach rooted in the fundamentals of diplomacy and statecraft: building leverage through creative and persistent diplomacy to change the behavior of a government insistent on threatening its neighbors, supporting terrorism, and pursuing a nuclear program in violation of its international obligations.

The first step in this process was making an unmistakable offer of engagement to the Iranians to show their government - and the rest of the international community - that we were committed to resolving our long-standing differences with Iran through peaceful diplomacy on the basis of mutual respect.  We recognized that during the years of not talking, Iran significantly expanded its nuclear program and sowed its breed of terror and coercion across the region.

Engagement was also designed to take away excuses: the excuses of those in Iran who focused on blaming us for the failure of diplomacy; and the excuses of many in the international community who would not support additional pressure on Iran, because the United States was too often seen as part of the problem and not the solution.

And finally, engagement clearly signaled to Iran that there is a path of peace it could take by fulfilling its international obligations and restoring the confidence of the international community in the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.

Iran's own behavior over the past two years, however, has demonstrated that it prefers defiance and secrecy to transparency and peace.  Iran continues to provide incomplete information about its nuclear program to IAEA inspectors.  When it revealed last September that it had constructed a covert enrichment facility outside Qom, Iran only raised greater suspicions about its nuclear program.  The Iranian government's continued repression and intimidation of its own people following the presidential election last year demonstrated the lack of respect it shows even to its own citizens.  And in the Middle East, Iran continues to rely on tactics of intimidation and coercion to gain influence, a pattern clearly on display during President Ahmadinejad's provocative recent visit to Lebanon and through Iran's ongoing support for Hizballah.  

So the combination of our diplomatic initiative and Iran's behavior has helped build a broad-based international coalition that is now imposing significant pressure on Iran to change its behavior.

But that coalition did not emerge on its own.  It required President Obama's commitment and leadership on this issue.  Over the past 18 months, the President has consistently devoted more time to this issue than almost any other national security challenge.  It has been a focal point in his meetings and conversations with President Medvedev of Russia and President Hu of China, with our European partners, and other key international leaders around the world.  The President's focus on this issue has been matched with the same level of intensity by the rest of the administration, especially Secretary Clinton and our new National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, who tirelessly orchestrated our diplomatic campaign.  As a result of these efforts, we produced United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, which established the most comprehensive set of sanctions on Iran to date.

UNSCR 1929 bans a wide range of Iranian activities including ballistic missile activity, Iranian investment in nuclear industries abroad, and the export of certain heavy weapons to Iran, which the Russians in particular have used as the basis for canceling the sale of an advanced air defense system to Iran.

The resolution provides mechanisms for inspecting Iranian cargo and seizing contraband, and requires member states to exercise vigilance when conducting business with any Iranian entity, including the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iran's shipping firm IRISL.

The resolution highlights the potential linkage between Iran's energy sector revenues and procurement, proliferation, and its nuclear activities and.  And perhaps most significantly, the Resolution calls upon member states to prevent all financial services, including banking, insurance, and reinsurance if there are reasonable grounds to believe that such services could contribute to Iran's nuclear or missile programs.  This provision, in particular, has provided the legal basis for states to take additional strong steps of their own.

Following the passage of 1929, we have seen the EU, and others in the international community from Australia and Canada to Japan and South Korea adopt additional sanctions measures of their own.  The EU prohibited the opening of new outlets of Iranian banks, the establishment of any new correspondent accounts by Iranian banks, and the provision of insurance or re-insurance to the Government of Iran or any Iranian entity.  In other words, Iran is no longer able to conduct business as usual abroad.

And of course, with strong encouragement from AIPAC, Congress amplified all of these measures by passing the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, which the President signed on July 1.  This was a completely bipartisan bill indicating that the entire American political spectrum views the challenge of Iran as a foremost national security priority of the United State.

This legislation makes it increasingly difficult for companies doing certain business in Iran to do business with the United States.  It makes it harder for the Iranian government to purchase and trade refined petroleum and the goods, services and materials to modernize Iran's oil and natural gas sector.  It makes it harder for the Revolutionary Guards and banks that support Iran's nuclear programs and terrorism to engage in international finance.  And companies that want to work with the United States government must now certify that they're not engaged in prohibited business with Iran.

When Secretary Clinton spoke to you in March, she noted, "Our aim is not incremental sanctions, but sanctions that will bite."  I think it is fair to say that over the last several months, we have produced biting sanctions.

Here are some of the results we have observed since the adoption of USCR 1929 and the additional sanctions measures:

·         More and more international companies and foreign subsidiaries of American companies have stopped doing business in Iran.  These include:  Toyota, Kia, Daimler, Lukoil, Allianz, Lloyds, Royal Dutch Shell, and many others.

·         Major fuel suppliers, such as Total and TUPRAS are cutting back fuel shipments to Iran, forcing Iran to divert its own fuel production capabilities to cover domestic needs.

·         At the same time, investors in Iran's energy sector are pulling out of projects, making it far more difficult for Iran to modernize its infrastructure or develop new oil and gas fields.  These include Royal Dutch Shell, the Spanish firm Repsol, and the Japanese energy firm INPEX.  Iran has been unable to increase production despite the presence of large oil and gas reserves, and its actual production will likely begin declining in the near future as a result of these difficulties.  Iran has limited abilities to advance Liquified Natural Gas projects, because the western companies with the required specialized technologies and services are now unwilling to work in Iran.

·         Earlier in October, the Iranian rial experienced a sudden drop in value by 10-20 percent, and the Central Bank had to intervene to stabilize the currency.  Iran is struggling to sell its currency abroad and access hard currency from its traditional suppliers.  The currency run is symptomatic of the public's concern that the government is mismanaging the economy.  With an unhealthy and unstable banking sector, Iran's currency problems are likely to get even worse.

·         Bazaari merchants in several cities including Tehran and Shiraz went on strike in July and again in October to protest government plans to impose value added taxes on certain guilds.  These are the kinds of reactions we can expect to see from Iranians as the government moves to raise funds to make up for economic mismanagement.

·         And we have already seen the Iranian government postpone a decision to implement a drastic cut in domestic subsidies due to the unrest it expects will take place when it has to raise prices on heavily subsidized gasoline and other important items.  With high unemployment and inflation, Iran has little margin for error.

The point here is that the pressure on Iran only continues to grow.

As my colleague Stuart Levey from the Treasury Department circles the globe explaining sanctions measures to governments and companies, and highlighting the risks of doing business with Iran, we expect that more banks and more industries will continue to cut ties with Iran.  The Iranians are a proud people - and rightfully so.  Their heritage and civilization are worthy of international respect and admiration.  But the Iranian people are now experiencing isolation because of the actions of their government.

Sanctions, like engagement, were always intended as a tool, not as an end to themselves.  There is no question Iran has been surprised by the magnitude of the sanctions and the depth of support for them in the international community.  They can no longer rely on those in the international community they thought would block such measures on their behalf.

Ultimately, we hope that the severe pressure Iran faces today will compel a change in behavior.  The door for diplomacy is still open and we certainly seek a peaceful resolution to our conflict with Iran.  But should Iran continue its defiance, despite its growing isolation and the damage to its economy, its leaders should listen carefully to President Obama who has said many times, "we are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."

Before I leave you today, I'd like to say a few words about the Obama administration's relationship with Israel, which is of course foremost on your minds.

I was fortunate to be able to visit Israel with then-Senator Obama in the summer of 2008.  I saw through his engagements with Israeli officials and with the Israeli people, including in Sderot, that he immediately understood Israel's unique situation, its achievements, and the many threats it still faces.  The President has insisted repeatedly that our commitment to Israel is rock solid.  I see this commitment every day in the serious and unique manner in which we work to improve Israel's security.

Just last week, I participated in the U.S.-Strategic Dialogue, a biannual event that includes a comprehensive exchange of views on regional issues crucial to both the United State and Israel.  It is a serious discussion among inter-agency representatives from both sides, and this administration has upgraded the level of our participation.

But more importantly, the Strategic Dialogue is just one of many, ongoing, and high-level exchanges that occur regularly between the United States in Israel.  I'm not aware of another country that we engage more regularly on such a wide range of issues.  These types of exchanges not only provide opportunities for discussion of ideas on policy, but they also help solidify connections between our two governments.  Over the last two years, I have seen four-star generals, intelligence officers, and high-ranking diplomats all develop personal relationships with their Israelis counterparts.

Frankly, this degree of coordination is unprecedented.  I have participated in these types of discussions for the last 30 years, and they have never been as intense or focused, reflecting the serious cooperation that we have today with Israel.

But our commitment to Israel's security is defined not by talk.  It is defined by the kinds of actions and deeds that help make both of our countries safer and stronger in the face of common threats.  This year, President Obama decided to supplement our annual $3 billion in military assistance to Israel with a $205 million request to Congress to support Israel's indigenously-developed Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system.  This assistance comes in addition to the existing multi-year commitments we have made for jointly developing Israel's David's Sling and Arrow missile defense systems.

Our military regularly conducts exercises with the IDF, including the JUNIPER COBRA ballistic missile defense exercise in Israel a year ago that involved 1300 U.S. servicemen and women, as well as other exercises involving our Navy, Marines, and Air Force.  These commitments are real.  They are tangible.  And they solidify the truly special relationship between the United States and Israel.

This administration's commitment to Israel has also been demonstrated in our work to defeat efforts in international organizations to single out or delegitimize Israel.  Most recently, we successfully coordinated the opposition to a resolution at the IAEA General Conference singling out Israel's nuclear program for rebuke.  A similar resolution passed in 2009, but together with our international partners, we defeated the resolution last month in part because the Obama administration has restored America's standing in international organizations.  We will continue to stand up for Israel in these organizations, but there should be no mistake that our efforts are strengthened when Israel is actively participating in peace negotiations.

I don't have time to go through how we are working intensively to jump-start negotiations today, but I do want to close with a couple of points about the need for peace and the importance for both sides to take the strategic and historic decisions that are required to preserve a two-state solution before it is too late.

First, while we will continue to do whatever we can to support Israel's security needs and to fight efforts to delegitimize Israel, the only true way for Israel to gain the long-term security it deserves is through a genuine peace with its neighbors.  There is a struggle today in the region between radicals and pragmatists, between those aligned with Iran and those who are not, between those who reject peace and those who are prepared to coexist with Israel.  It is in our interests and in Israel's interests for the pragmatists to succeed in that struggle.  It is in our mutual interests to strengthen the pragmatists and discredit the narrative of the rejectionists - and real progress toward peace can make a significant difference in this struggle.

Second, there has been remarkable progress on the ground in the West Bank over the past two years in security and the economy.  I remember conversations not so long ago with Israeli security officials doubting that Palestinian security forces could ever take serious steps against terrorism.  Today, the situation is very different.  Palestinian security forces have reached new levels of training and professionalism, and they coordinate more closely than ever with their Israeli counterparts.  They are committed to stopping the kind of violence that only feeds the conflict.  Just last week, Palestinian security forces uncovered a large cache of weapons in Ramallah that can no longer be used in support of terrorism.  These positive developments will be difficult to sustain if the prospects for peace look less and less real.

Third, under Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Authority is building the kinds of transparent and effective institutions required for a functioning, independent state.  Fayyad has said many times that he models his efforts in part after Ben-Gurion's record of building the institutions of Israel so that the state could function once it was established.  Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas represent unique Palestinian leaders committed to non-violence, negotiations, and state-building.  Their interest in peace represents a strategic opening and it should not be lost.

Now, no one is more familiar with the challenges of reaching an agreement than I am.  And there are serious and difficult issues that must be resolved both in the near-term and in the long-run to achieve an agreement and ensure that it lasts.  I am certainly under no illusions about how hard that will be.   But no one should underestimate the strategic importance of peace for Israelis, for Palestinians, and for the United States.

I hope that as you continue to advocate on behalf of the United States and Israel, you will continue to advocate for peace, security, and the decisions that will be necessary to realize these objectives.

Thank you very much.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Understanding the News About Israel

When it comes to understanding the news about Israel, it’s not enough to read between the lines.

I used to defend the Israel coverage of The New York Times by explaining that, although even the allegedly straight news stories were biased, if one read the article with a jaundiced eye one could usually separate fact from opinion and figure out what really happened.

Unfortunately, that’s no longer true, with virtually every American newspaper, including The Times. (The situation outside America is even worse.)

The last month was particularly revealing, with several articles published in the Waterbury Republican-American going beyond bias to include unprofessional (and grossly misdirected) sarcasm and false information while omitting key information which would have contradicted much in the articles.

Some Examples

Much of this involved the reporting on the Palestinian Arabs again walking out on its direct negotiations with Israel, less than a month after they reluctantly resumed … only after effectively announcing they’d walk out in a month.

The excuse they used, as planned, was the end of Israel’s ten-month moratorium on construction in Jewish communities in the disputed territories. An article about this published in the Republican-American on October 16 ended with the sarcastic and factually incorrect sentence: “That so-called “moratorium” expired last month.”

That’s perhaps the most unprofessional single sentence I’ve ever read in any newspaper. Sarcasm is even more out of place than bias in a news article and this sarcasm was also grossly misplaced, since the moratorium was very real and caused significant hardship for families living in cities like Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumin and Beitar Illit.

This article - and every other article I read - also irresponsibly omitted crucial context, including the fact that when the moratorium was instituted the Israeli government clearly stated it was a one-time gesture which would not be renewed and was accepted as such, and praised, by the Obama Administration.

Also omitted was any mention of the fact that the Obama Administration promised the moratorium would be matched by conciliatory gestures by both the Palestinian Arabs and by Arab states such as Saudi Arabia. No such gestures were forthcoming, so once again Israel made a tangible and painful concession and got nothing in return other than increased pressure to make even more concessions.

An article on October 24, “Mideast sides eye mid-term vote,” expressed concern that the elections could affect “President Obama’s ability to coax concessions from Israel.”

The perspective of this article was that peace was being prevented by Israeli intransigence, omitting any reference to several statements made by Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority as well as the PLO and Fatah, which clearly show Arab intransigence is the problem. Indeed, Abbas admitted as much.

In early September, Abbas spoke about the core issues, such as borders, Jerusalem and refugees, and said “I can’t allow myself to make even one concession” and on October 15 he admitted that if he “showed flexibility on these issues the peace agreement would have been signed a long time ago.”

Amazingly, neither of these revealing statements were reported in any Connecticut newspapers and, although I’ve looked and asked about them, I’ve found no evidence of them being reported elsewhere in the United States. (I did find an article about the first in the Kuwaiti Times.)

One Last Example

Catholic bishops spent two weeks in October at a synod in Vatican City, issuing lengthy communiques after each session. The last two contained tiny references to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The October 23 communique contained the following references:

“We have evaluated the social situation and the public security in all our countries in the Middle East. We have taken account of the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the whole region, especially on the Palestinians who are suffering the consequences of the Israeli occupation: the lack of freedom of movement, the wall of separation and the military checkpoints, the political prisoners, the demolition of homes, the disturbance of socio-economic life and the thousands of refugees. We have reflected on the suffering and insecurity in which Israelis live. We have meditated on the situation of the holy city of Jerusalem. We are anxious about the unilateral initiatives that threaten its composition and risk to change its demographic balance. With all this in mind, we see that a just and lasting peace is the only salvation for everyone and for the good of the region and its peoples.”
“The citizens of the countries of the Middle East call upon the international community, particularly the United Nations conscientiously to work to find a peaceful, just and definitive solution in the region, through the application of the Security Council’s resolutions and taking the necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories.

“The Palestinian people will thus have an independent and sovereign homeland where they can live with dignity and security. The State of Israel will be able to enjoy peace and security within their internationally recognized borders. The Holy City of Jerusalem will be able to acquire its proper status, which respects its particular character, its holiness and the religious patrimony of the three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We hope that the two-State-solution might become a reality and not a dream only.”

The October 24 communique contained:

“Our Churches commit themselves to pray and to work for justice and peace in the Middle East and call for a ‘purification of memory,’ choosing the language of peace and hope and avoiding that of fear and violence. They call upon the civil authorities to implement the resolutions of the United Nations concerning the region, particularly the return of refugees and the status of Jerusalem and the Holy Places.”

These in themselves are highly biased and problematic: The so-called occupation effectively ended in the mid-1990’s when almost all the Arabs in the disputed territories came under the governance of the Palestinian Authority; the consequences the bishops ascribe to “occupation” are really a consequence of Arab terrorism and United Nations resolutions are notoriously one-sided and anti-Israel.

However, the report in an article in the Sunday Republican October 24 completely misrepresented the communique, saying the bishops demanded that Israel not “use the Bible to justify ‘injustices’ against the Palestinians.”

It also reported on some of the things which may have been said by some bishops in a misleading way, making it appear that those opinions were part of a consensus and falsely implying they were in the communique. For example, according to the article: “while the bishops condemned terrorism and anti-Semitism, they laid much of the blame for the conflict squarely on Israel.” This misleadingly makes it appear that the (unfair) blame was placed on Israel in the communiques, despite the fact no such attribution is in the communiques.

If We Are Not For Ourselves, Who Will Be?

Israel has many good friends outside the Jewish community, but everything starts with us.

Like every other country, Israel is far from perfect. However, despite slurs from the likes of Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer and Jimmy Carter, there is no shortage of criticism of Israel or debate about its actions.

What there is a shortage of is honest reporting about Israel’s drive to make peace and the nature of Israel’s enemies. It’s up to us, the Jewish community, to do what we can to correct the imbalance.

The first step is to keep informed. This is something that’s very difficult to do if we rely only on the standard American media. Fortunately, we have other resources to which we can turn, including Israeli newspapers, media monitoring organizations and even some blogs.

•The Jerusalem Post and Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s newspaper with the largest circulation, have excellent web sites.

•CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting, has an excellent web site . We can be proud that Charles Cramer, who grew up in Beth El, is one of the machers with CAMERA.

•In Connecticut, I’m proud to be part of PRIMER, Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting. Its web site is .

Both these sites contain links to many other useful sources of reliable information.

This is the beginning: reading the news with a healthy dose of skepticism and keeping yourself informed.

There is no end.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bias, Errors and Absurd Exaggerations

This was submitted to The New Haven Register on September 16, 2010. The editors several times indicated they planned to publish it, but after a month it has yet to appear the the probability seems close to 0.

The Register did not publish a single response to Stanley Heller's vicious anti-Israel letter, a hateful letter which should never have been published by any reputable newspaper.

To the editor of The New Haven Register:

In his letter published September 15, Stanley Heller falsely accuses George Will of writing a column "replete with bias, errors and absurd exaggerations."

That description does aptly describe Heller's own letter.

Almost everyone agrees with Heller that the election of Hamas represented the will of the Palestinian Arabs, but few sensible people agree with him that America and Israel should reward the Palestinian Arabs for electing a terrorist group committed to the destruction not only of Israel, but ultimately Western civilization as well.

Sorry, Stan: elections have consequences.

If anything has turned Gaza into anything resembling a prison, it is the repressive Hamas government its people chose. In contrast, Israel has been acting to mitigate the Gazans' self-inflicted disaster, pouring so much assistance into Gaza the people there reportedly have a higher standard of living than their neighbors in Egypt and Turkey.

It should be borne in mind that the participation of Hamas did violate the legal requirement that candidates neither "commit or advocate racism" nor "pursue the implementation of their aims by unlawful non-democratic means." Of course, so did the participation of Fatah.

Also worth noting: Mahmoud Abbas' term in office officially ended January 9, 2009.

The Palestinian Arabs are governed by two separate, warring governments of questionable legality, led by someone whose term of office ended long ago.

Given the absurdity of the reality, perhaps Heller can be excused for having a perverted perspective so divorced from reality.


Alan Stein
President, PRIMER-Connecticut

Friday, October 15, 2010

Abbas Admits Palestinian Arab Intransigence is Behind Continued Conflict

According to the article Abbas: We'll never sign deal demanding recognition of Israel as Jewish state published in Haaretz:

Abbas clarified that the PA would exhibit flexibility regarding the nature of the negotiations, but added that they would not negotiate on issues the Palestinian people consider principal matters.

"If we showed flexibility on these issues the peace agreement would have been signed a long time ago," Abbas said.

This goes beyond Abbas' oft-repeated insistence he would never compromise on any of his outrageous demands on the core issues; it's an admission there would have been peace a long time ago if the Arabs weren't totally intransigent.

Obviously, all the pressure exerted on Israel to make concessions only reinforces that intransigence which makes peace impossible. Intelligent policy would put pressure where it belongs, on the Arabs, including the Palestinian Arabs, and make them pay an increasing price for perpetuating war.

US Campaign to End the Occupation Boasts About Being a Hate Group

On October 14, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a press release identifying the top ten anti-Israel groups in America. Those hate groups are:

  • Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER)
  • Al-Awda
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • Friends of Sabeel-North America
  • If Americans Knew
  • International Solidarity Movement
  • Jewish Voice for Peace
  • Muslim American Society
  • Students for Justice in Palestine
  • US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

The last group on that list promptly sent out an email with the subject "Congratulations to Us--We Made ADL's List," in which it boasted about being included.

As is typical, the "End the Occupation" email was full of errors, misrepresentations and contradictions, but the very first sentence, "We were honored to learn yesterday that we made the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) top ten list of 'anti-Israel groups' in the United States," makes it obvious it (correctly) looks on itself as anti-Israel. It doesn't even pretend otherwise except for one lame sentence lost near the end, in which it unconvincingly protests "Of course, we dispute the ADL's facile characterization of our mission as 'anti-Israel.'"

Once again, we have confirmation of the wisdom in Golda Meir's observation that peace would come when the Arabs started loving their children more than they hate the Jews.

The following is the full text of the email from "End the Occupation;" we omit only those parts in which it pleads for money to help it promote its hate campaign.

We were honored to learn yesterday that we made the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) top ten list of "anti-Israel groups" in the United States. Read more about our accomplishment by clicking here.

Help us "thank" the ADL for its recognition of our work by replanting Palestinian olive trees, which Israeli settlers are currently uprooting and stealing fruits from.

[Plea for money.]

You can help us replant 1,000 olive trees in Palestine as a "thank you" to the ADL. Then, we'll give the ADL a nicely framed certificate showing how naming our coalition to the list enabled Palestinian farmers to remain steadfast on their land, despite Israel's attempted colonization and ethnic cleansing. [Plea for money.]

The ADL, which long ago abandoned its noble charter to fight racism--in favor of spying on U.S. peace and justice organizations, fanning the flames of Islamophobia, and defaming anyone who supports Palestinian human rights, named the US Campaign the "primary organizer of efforts to persuade the U.S. government to cut off aid to Israel." The ADL said that the US Campaign "function[s] as an umbrella organization [that] boosts cooperation among various anti-Israel groups."

Thanks, ADL, for recognizing our centrality in building a national movement to end U.S. support for Israeli military occupation and apartheid policies toward Palestinians and to change U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality. We appreciate it!

[Plea for money.]

Of course, we dispute the ADL's facile characterization of our mission as "anti-Israel." It's the same type of wrong thinking that produces the red herring that people who criticize U.S. foreign policies are "anti-American." That Bush-era mentality went out of fashion a long time ago.

[Plea for money.]