Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Awaiting peace 30 years while serving community

This op-ed by Neil Berro was published in The New Haven Register, November 15, 2011.

Was it 30 years ago that I began my Jewish community service career, the week in March that President Ronald Reagan was shot?

When in college on my first trip to Israel in 1975, I barely knew there was such a thing as Jewish community service in which people worked full time. My mom always had done event fliers at the temple and my dad had volunteered in the early years to do the synagogue's financial books, while leaving the prayer books to higher authorities.

I always wanted to give back, believing it would never be possible to pay back the kindness and opportunities I was blessed to receive. Something in me said: Strive for social justice.

While American Jews still enjoy bountiful opportunities, there continues an unabated hate and terrorism campaign against Israel.

It is as if the enemies of Israel are unwilling to reflect upon needed reforms in their societies without being prodded by protests and revolutions. Even then, Israel remains the whipping boy and scapegoat for Arab and Muslim nations The Arab Spring has revealed how much work needs to be done to advance liberal democracy.

Israel in the last 30 years has built a largely modern society. Its scientists win Nobel Prizes. Along the way, Israel makes sacrifices of land for peace with uncertain commitments in return. Egypt, since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, has seen a breakdown in order in the sensitive Sinai Peninsula, where critical gas flows to Israel under the peace accord. On several occasions, sabotage has shut delivery while the Egyptians have been slow to restore contracted service, in an apparent attempt to raise prices.

Egypt's emerging electoral process includes many calling for the abrogation of the long-standing peace treaty with Israel.

With Iran making existential threats against Israel, with 100,000 Hamas and Hezbollah rockets ready and with nervous Arab regimes, such as Syria, threatening to deflect domestic attention by attacking Israel, Few can argue that Israel their has achieved a sense of permanence and peace with law-abiding neighbors. While Iranians speed to nuclear bombs, Israel must endure the bombast with the knowledge of history that those who threaten to kill Jews en masse mean what they say.

While 1,000 murderers and assorted serious felons are returned unharmed, Israel places an equivalent value on the life of one young soldier. Sadly, many a Jewish family will be saying Kaddish for the dead because of such a painful choice to obtain the release of Gilad Shalit, who became every Israelis' child. The 1,000 freed Palestinians are the equivalent of 1,000 freed Cheshire home-invasion killers - not exactly an axiom for reassurance or for the prospects for peace.

For me and many Americans of all backgrounds, there remains the hope and expression that Israel will soon enjoy a full and meaningful peace with her neighbors grown tired of excuses instead of internal progress.

It is a small hope at best. Yet, in the region there are growing numbers of Arabs and Muslims who realize the future is hopeless without change that begins at home.

I have worked and waited for this to happen for 30 years. I have raised money to post flabby, middle-aged guards outside kindergartens in Israel. No people anywhere should ever have to do that. Sadly, kindergarten children are a favorite target of Palestinian killers.

Peace is possible, but only if and when the hatred and fascist ideology that drove the Nazis and continues to drive some in the Islamic world is finally retired forever.

Neil Berro of New Haven has worked for Jewish and Israeli causes since 1981. Write to him at the Register, 40 Sargent Drive, New Haven 06511.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Open Letter to a BDSer

I was recently sent a copy of a misguided appeal calling on members of the New York University community to pressure TIAA-CREF to act against the only bastion of liberal values in the Middle East. As an alumnus of NYU, I wrote the following letter to one of the people propagating that misguided appeal. It is followed by a copy of the offending email.

Dear Ms. Katz:

For most practical purposes, any Israeli "occupation" ended in the mid-1990s, near the beginning of the failed Oslo process. All the Arabs in Gaza and roughly 95 percent of those in Judea and Samaria (aka the "West Bank") live under their own, albeit brutal and corrupt, governments.

Further progress awaits a turnaround on the part of the leaders of the Palestinian Arabs, who have repeatedly refused to accept the establishment of their own state in virtually all of the disputed territory and have refused to even negotiate with Israel for more than two years.

In practical terms, "Justice in Palestine" is impossible to achieve, since the injustices emanating from more than six decades of brutal Arab war on the Jews in their homeland can never be rectified. Pressuring Israel, the victim, only encourages continued conflict and, ironically, probably harms the Arabs more than anyone else.

Mahmoud Abbas has finally acknowledged the Arabs made a mistake in not accepting the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan. Unfortunately, he has not internalized the real, immoral aspect of that "mistake" and effectively repeats that mistake every day as he refuses to accept the existence of the world's only Jewish state and refuses to make peace.

If you are interested in promoting the welfare of the Arabs in the portion of the world the Romans renamed "Syria Palaestina" in their exercise in ethnic cleansing, I suggest pressuring the Palestinian Arabs and their leadership to end their glorification of terrorism, their continued assault of innocent Israeli civilians and their boycott of peace.

And, as an alumnus of NYU, I urge you to take advantage of the education you are being offered, learn to distinguish between truth and lies and propagate the former rather than the latter.

Alan Stein
Professor Emeritus
Department of Mathematics
University of Connecticut
Skype: alanstein

The following is the original, misguided appeal:

From: Sara Katz
Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2011 23:08:18 -0500
Subject: TIAA-CREF Campaign

Dear Professor,

I'm a sophomore in College of Arts & Science and a member of NYU Students for Justice in Palestine. Last semester SJP launched a campaign for NYU faculty, students, and staff to call on TIAA-CREF to divest its holdings in companies that profit from the ongoing US-backed Israeli occupation. We have only just begun to realize the support of the NYU community and hope to expand our campaign greatly over the coming months.

Following this letter is a list of the 174 faculty and staff members who have signed our open letter to Roger Ferguson, CEO of TIAA-CREF. For information regarding our campaign, please see the link below. If you are interested in signing the letter, you can either reply to this email or do so online:

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you!

- Sara Katz

View our campaign here:

Current Signatories:

1. Sandra Adams - Department Administrator, French, College of Arts and Science
2. Rodolfo Aiello - Senior Language Lecturer, Department of Spanish and Portugeuse, College of Arts and Science
3. Jonathan Alexander - Sherman Fairchild Professor of Fine Arts, Institute of Fine Arts
4. Awam Amkpa - Associate Professor of Drama, Social and Cultural Analysis; Director, Africana Studies, College of Arts and Science
5. Gary Anderson - Professor of Educational Leadership, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
6. Peder Anker - Associate Professor of History of Science
7. Sinan Antoon - Assistant Professor, Gallatin School of Individualized Study
8. Arjun Appadurai - Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
9. Karl Appuhn - Associate Professor of History, College of Arts and Science
10. John M. Archer - Professor of English, College of Art and Science
11. Aline Baehler - Senior Lecturer, Department of French
12. Michael Balter - Adjunct Professor of Journalism
13. Nancy Barton - Clinical Associate Professor of Art and Art Education
14. Adam Becker - Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Classics Director of Religious Studies
15. Thomas Bender - University Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History
16. Georgina Dopico Black - Associate Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
17. Ned Block, Julius Silver Professor, Departments of Philosophy, Psychology and Center for Neural Science
18. Neil Brenner - Professor of Sociology, Social and Cultural Analysis
19. Barbara Browning - Associate Professor of Performance Studies
20. Craig Calhoun - Professor of Sociology; University Professor
21. Christopher Cannon - Professor of English
22. Marisa Carrasco - Professor of Psychology and Neural Science
23. Vivek Chibber - Associate Professor of Sociology
24. Gene Cittadino - Clinical Assistant Professor, Gallatin School of Individualized Study
25. Robert Cohen - Adjunct Professor of German
26. Joy Connolly - Associate Professor of Classics
27. Frederick Cooper - Professor of History
28. Marty Correia - Assistant to the Chair, Dept. of American Studies
29. Medhat Credi - Arabic Language Lecturer; Middle East Studies Association; American Association of Teachers of Arabic
30. Raffaella Cribiore - Professor of Classics
31. Shamita Das Dasgupta - Adjunct, Law School
32. C. Daniel Dawson - Adjunct Professor, Gallatin
33. Patrick Deer - Associate Professor of English
34. María de Lourdes Dávila - Clinical Assistant Professor: Spanish and Portuguese
35. Dipti Desai - Associate Professor of Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human development
36. Muriel Dimen - Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychology
37. Carolyn Dinshaw - Professor of Social & Cultural Analysis and English
38. Ana Dopico - Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Spanish and Portuguese
39. Lisa Duggan - Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis
40. Stephen Duncombe - Associate Professor, Gallatin
41. Henry Em - Associate Professor, East Asian Studies
42. Kathy Engel - Art & Public Policy, Tisch School of the Arts and Faculty Administrator, Office of Community Connections
43. Paula England - Professor of Sociology
44. Khaled Fahmy - Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, History
45. Michelle Fawcett - Adjunct Professor, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development
46. Allen Feldman - Associate Professor, Media, Culture and Communication
47. Hartry Field - Silver Professor of Philosophy
48. Sibylle Fischer, Associate Prof. and Chair, Spanish & Portuguese
49. Juan Flores - Professor, Dept of Social and Cultural Analysis
50. Luis Francia - Adjunct Professor, Asian/Pacific/American Studies, Dept. of Social & Cultural Analysis
51. Elaine Freedgood - Professor, Dept of English
52. Rosalind Fredericks - Assistant Professor, Gallatin School of Individualized Study
53. Toral Gajarawala - Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature
54. Ahu Gemici - Assistant Professor of Economics
55. Patricia DeGennaro - Professor of International Security, Department of Politics
56. Michael Gilsenan - Professor, Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies
57. Gabriel Giorgi - Associate Professor Spanish and Portuguese
58. Ann Goerdt - Assist Professor of Physical Therapy
59. Jeff Goodwin - Professor of Sociology
60. Gayatri Gopinath - Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis ; Director of Gender and Sexuality Studies
61. Linda Gordon - Professor of History
62. Greg Grandin - Professor of History
63. David F. Greenberg - Professor of Sociology
64. Ed Guerrero, Associate Professor - Cinema Studies/Africana Studies
65. Nadia Guessous - Assistant Professor/Director of Graduate Studies, Hagop Kevorkian Center
66. Hanna Gurman - Clinical Assistant Professor, Gallatin School of Individualized Study
67. Hala Halim - Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies
68. Yukiko Hanawa - Senior Language Lecturer
69. Christine Harrington - Professor of Politics; Institute for Law and Society (Associated Faculty); and New York University School of Law (Affiliated Faculty)
70. Scott Hightower - Adjunct Faculty, Gallatin School
71. Denis Hollier - Professor, Department of French
72. Richard Hull - Professor of History
73. Colin Jerolmack - Assistant Professor of Sociology, Environmental Studies
74. Neville Kallenbach - Professor of Chemistry
75. Rebecca Karl - Associate Professor, History & East Asian Studies
76. Jair Kessler - Assistant Director, Remarque Institute
77. Arang Keshavarzian - Associate Professor, Department of Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies
78. Mehdi Khorrami - Clinical Professor of Middle Eastern Islamic Studies
79. Ilya Kliger - Assistant Professor, Russian and Slavic Studies
80. Michael Landy - Professor of Pyschology
81. Jill Lane - Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
82. Andrew H. Lee - Librarian for History, European Studies, Iberian Studies, Soccer & Politics
83. Tamer el-Leithy - Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
84. David Levering Lewis - Julius Silver University Professor and Professor of History, NYU and NYU Abu Dhabi
85. David Levene - Professor of Classics
86. George Levine - Visiting Professor of English
87. Jacques Lezra - Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Comparative Literature; Chair of Comparative Literature
88. Jocelyn Lieu - Adjunct Professor, English, Faculty of Arts & Sciences
89. Zachary Lockman - Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and History
90. Beatrice Longuenesse - Professor of Philosophy; Acting Director of Graduate Studies
91. Thomas Looser - Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, Director of Graduate Studies
92. David Ludden - Professor of History
93. Ritty Lukose - Associate Professor, Gallatin
94. Steven Lukes - Professor of Sociology
95. Holly Maguigan - Professor of Clinical Law
96. Jeff Manza - Professor of Sociology
97. Randy Martin - Professor and Chair of Art and Public Policy (Tisch)
98. H. Salvador Martinez - Professor Emeritus, Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Former Director of NYU in Spain
99. John Maynard - Professor of English
100. Anna McCarthy - Associate Professor of Cinema Studies
101. Aziz Mehdi - System Network Administrator
102. Eve Meltzer - Assistant Professor of Visual Studies, Gallatin School of Individualized Study
103. Ara H. Merjian - Assistant Professor of Italian
104. Adam Meyers - Clinical Associate Professor of Computer Science
105. Mona Mikhail - Emeritus professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies
106. Mark Crispin Miller - Professor of Media Ecology,
107. Mara Mills - Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication
108. Bella Mirabella - Associate Professor, Gallatin School of Individualized Study
109. Ali Mirsepassi - Professor of MEIS and Sociology, Gallatin
110. Sylvia Molloy - Schweitzer Professor of Humanities
111. Paul Monsour - Adjunct Professor, Courant Institute
112. David Thornton Moore -  Associate Professor, Gallatin
113. Ann Morning - Assistant Professor of Sociology; Center for Advanced Social Science Research
114. José Muñoz - Professor of Performance Studies
115. Vasuki Nesiah - Associate Professor of Practice
116. Mary Nolan - Professor of History
117. Sana Odeh - Faculty Liaison for Global Programs, Department of Computer Science
118. Bertell Ollman - Professor of Politics
119. Deborah K. Padgett - Professor of Social Work
120. Crystal Parikh - Associate Professor, Department of English and Social and Cultural Analysis
121. Michael Peachin - Professor of Classics
122. Haley Peele - Administrative Coordinator, Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
123. Ann Pellegrini - Associate Professor, Performance Studies and Religious Studies
124. Susan Pelosi - Adjunct Lecturer, Silver School of Social Work
125. Dana Polan - Professor of Cinema Studies
126. Maurice A. Pomerantz - Assistant Prof./Faculty Fellow Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
127. Mary Louise Pratt - Silver Professor and Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures
128. Rajeswari Sunder Rajan-Visiting Professor of English, Global Distinguished Professor of English
129. Arvind Rajagopal - Professor of Media, Culture & Communications, Steinhardt
130. Mark Read - Adjunct Professor, Gallatin
131. Timothy J. Reiss - Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and Distinguished Scholar in Residence
132. Nancy F Regalado - Professor of French, Medieval & Renaissance Center; Director, Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program
133. Erica Robles-Anderson - Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication
134. Andrew Ross - Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis
135. Kristin Ross - Professor of Comparative Literature
136. Everett Rowson - Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies
137. Deirdre Royster - Associate Professor, Sociology & Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
138. Martha Rust - Associate Professor, English
139. Josefina Saldaña-Portillo - Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis
140. Greta Scharnweber - Associate Director, Outreach, Hagop Kevorkian Center
141. Martin Scherzinger - Associate Professor, Media, Culture, and Communication
142. Frank Schiro - Professor, Vocal Performance
143. Nadrian Seeman - Sokol Professor of Chemistry
144. Eduardo Segura - Senior Lecturer, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
145. Burt Shachter - Retired Professor of Social Work
146. Lytle Shaw - Associate Professor of English
147. Stephen Schiffer - Silver Professor of Philosophy
148. Ella Shohat - Professor, Art and Public Policy; Affiliate with NYU Faculty of Arts and Science Department of Middle Eastern Studies
149. John Victor Singler - Professor of Linguistics
150. Laura Slatkin - Professor, Classical Studies, Gallatin School
151. Nancy Smith Amer - Department Administrator, Department of Classics
152. Alan Sokal - Professor of Physics
153. George Solt - Assistant Professor of History, East Asian Studies
154. Marie Cruz Soto - Clinical Assistant Professor, Gallatin
155. Robert Stam - University Professor, Cinema Studies
156. Justin Stearns - Assistant Professor in Arab Crossroads Studies, NYUAD
157. Constance R. Sutton - Professor of Anthropology
158. Helga Tawil-Souri - Assistant Professor, Media Culture and Communication
159. Nina Thomas - Clinical Associate Professor, Co-Chair, Relational Orientation at NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis
160. Paul Thompson - Associate Professor, Tisch School of the Arts
161. Sinclair Thomson - Associate Professor of History
162. Thuy Linh Tu, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis.
163. Jim Uleman - Professor of Psychology
164. James David Velleman - Professor of Philosophy
165. Daniel J. Walkowitz - Professor of History and Metropolitan Studies
166. Marc Walters - Associate Professor of Chemistry
167. Jeremy Walton - Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow, Religious Studies
168. Stephen Wangh - Affiliated Professor, Tisch
169. Sarah Waterbury - Staff, Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program & Institute
170. Barbara Weinstein - Silver Professor of History
171. E. Frances White - Professor, Gallatin and Social Cultural Analysis
172. Marilyn B. Young - Professor of History
173. Edward Ziter - Associate Professor, Drama
174. Angela Zito - Associate Professor of Anthropology, Religious Studies; Co-director of the Center for Religion and Media

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Open Letter to the Russell Tribunal

My name is Janis Just, and I am a political science student at the University of Cape Town. I attended the full proceedings of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine as I am covering it on behalf of a German newspaper. I attended in my individual capacity and am not part of any specific lobby group.

On Monday November 7, I attended the post Tribunal press conference. Organisers of the Russell Tribunal recognised me from a different press conference last week where I asked a question about Hamas’ violations of human rights. When attempting to ask a question this time, the organisers called me a “serious heckler” and a “Zionist activist”.

The first accusation is patently untrue, as I did not engage in any heckling whatsoever. As to the second accusation, I have no problem wearing this title. However, their labelling of me as a “Zionist activist” was their attempt to delegitimise my argument and me as a person. This is not only against any democratic convention, it is contrary to the stated intention of the Russell Tribunal itself - which is hears all evidence and seek the truth.

Simply for asking an uncomfortable question, which apparently did not fit with the agenda of the Tribunal, I was forcibly removed from the Russell Tribunal's official press conference. Not only was I not allowed to ask any questions, but in attempting to raise issues of concern, I was thrown to the floor, dragged out of the conference and threatened with more violence.
It would seem that my mere presence there constituted a threat so serious that I had to be removed by any means. What they were afraid of was not that I would disturb their session, but that I would expose their biased agenda.

I have laid a charge of assault against the Tribunal organisers. However, what concerns me more than the physical abuse to which I was subjected, is that a gathering of such eminent persons for a process that has the stated aim of attempting to examine testimony and uncover the truth, in the spirit of judicial enquiry, not only were not capable of hearing differing opinions, but that such opinions were forcibly silenced. That is far more reminiscent of the apartheid regime than any of the allegations levelled against the State of Israel at the Tribunal itself.
The question I wanted to ask and still need answered is the following: Hamas is not only responsible for murder, torture and human rights violations among their own people, but also for terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. What official position does the Russell Tribunal jury take towards the Islamist regime of Hamas ruling the people of Gaza?

To the jurists of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine: I demand an answer to my question and an apology from the organisers of the Tribunal for physically attacking me.

Janis Just

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Offensive Words and Policies Defined

GS Don Morris, Ph.D.

In the spirit of fair play and respecting others’ points of view and beliefs, we in the West have fallen into a most interesting and stealth- like trap. One, I might add, that is used by all groups who do not share our way of life in the West nor do they share our same sense of toleration and humanity. They have enabled a destructive narrative to consume all manner of public discourse and in turn produced national policies that are detrimental to our survival. The strategy of disrupt a society from within is replete with multiple tactics-the use of language is but one such tactic.

For reasons mentioned by many, the narrative of “offensive language and behavior” has been allowed to promulgate throughout all stratum of our society. The agents of academia and MSM accelerated the “offensive” language myth. Weapons appear in many different forms, words are the 21st century weapon of choice among many groups who have a design to tear down the West from within-unfortunately we are cooperating quite nicely!

The tactic is quite simple to understand and use. You know your enemy believes one should exhibit tolerance of others; you further know that you can undermine a person’s credibility and legitimacy by calling the man or woman a name that slurs his/her good standing inside a society. You know then that your enemy will refrain from challenging your words (fear of “offending”) and your enemy will either ignore or criticize anyone who dares make a challenge.  You have learned how to de-legitimize your enemy. You have used stealth-like words to neuter your opposition.  This accomplished,
allows you to demand specific policies supporting your beliefs and values while nullifying your enemies long held convictions.

Guess what? This tactic has produced value-added outcomes in our enemies’ war against us and we choose to ignore the fact we are at war, 21st century style war. For example, our Marine soldiers fighting so many miles away from home now must not urinate or spit in the direction of Mecca as it “offends Islamic human senses”. Yes, an edict has then been generated to our soldiers to change how where they perform a daily human activity. Absurd-yes and the reason I chose this one from thousands of examples. There are far more “serious” offenses that have resulted in humans being murdered, maimed and injured for life. Everyone remembers the Mohammed cartoon event and how could we forget the simple act of a female having a coffee with a male that leads to her death? 

As upsetting as these and other examples are for we Westerners to accept or even understand, we have chosen to “stand down” in the face of this war tactic currently in play here in the USA. This road of value submission leads us in a direction I do not want my grand children to engage. Therefore, I offer the following.

Offensive language does not exist except in the minds of those who choose it. I have found that individuals do not offend anyone; fact is I am the only one that can do this to myself.  Why do I write this? The state of being offended is simply my personal reaction to words and this is a learned behavior-therefore I can control it. Personally I believe that I am in charge of this not anyone else. No one was born “being offended”-rather, you learn to respond this way. 

Our enemies know this and have taught their people to respond and act in a particular manner to specific language as it produces the desired effect-we call this political correctness today. “Being offended” is an example of irresponsible behavior by the person claiming to be so offended.  Fact is, the person assumes no accountability, blames others and gives his “power” away to someone or something outside his abilities to be human.

What to do with this information? Consider the following immediate actions: 1. You are not responsible for any person’s perception; you are responsible for words selected. 2. From this moment forward speak your mind regarding what you believe about your beliefs and your values-they are as legitimate as the Islamists’ views. 3. Cease being concerned what others think about your intentions as no one but you knows your intentions. 4. Challenge anyone who falsely claims you are “offending” them-consider saying, “It is your choice to perceive what has been said as offensive and btw why do you choose being offended?  What is in it for you?” 5. Be clear what you personally believe, treat others with behavior as you would like to be treated and understand you no longer have to tolerate the intolerant. Doing the latter does not make you a good person, a righteous person, or a more moral person.  It does demonstrate weakness in the face of a confrontational situation. 

Now, if I did believe others could offend me, I might be offended when Islamists say or do the following:

Our G-d is the only G-d
Kafirs have only three choices…
Women must cover their body parts
Call to daily prayer
Want to build a mosque near the former Twin Towers
Cab drivers may interrupt my ride as he has to engage in prayer
Refusal to assimilate into our Western culture
Demand special prayer rooms for public schools
And so many more…

However, I do not get offended and I do take action against all of the preceding.  I ask that others stand up now and defend our precious culture and social institutions.  You see, our enemy has made its choice and cares not one bit about our feelings.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chemo vs Grads

No doubt, you have heard the news reports that Palestinian terrorists in Gaza are once again firing short and long range missiles into Israeli cities.  Totally unprovoked.  Yesterday, I happened to be visiting friends in the southern city of Ashdod and we were enjoying a quiet afternoon meal in their home when the air raid sirens began their ominous shrill.  Immediately, twelve of us huddled into their bomb shelter that doubles as a walk-in cabinet and we waited in absolute silence (as Israelis do) to hear “the boom”.  Hear it we did as a long-range grad missile landed not terribly far away.  It was time to head back home to the north.  During that drive, we listened intently to the news while additional barrages of grads were launched against Israeli civilian population centers.     

Today in Emek, I was leading a group of visitors from England on a tour of our School for Hospitalized Children.  I introduced the group to Arrif and his fifteen year old son, Mohammed.  They come from Gaza.  They have been ‘living’ in Emek for ten months as young Mohammed is being treated for severe facial cancer.  Arrif speaks fluent Hebrew and I conducted a simultaneously translated Q&A session between him and the British visitors …
Q.  How do you feel here, among the Jews of Israel?
A.  Perfectly normal and at ease.  Grateful – so very grateful.
Q.  What does your family back in Gaza say about Mohammed’s treatment here?
A.  They are amazed and they send their sincere gratitude.  They cannot believe what has and is being done for Mohammed and me.
Q.  Do you know that missiles are again being fired from Gaza into Israeli cities?
A.  Yes.  I am ashamed.  The politicians and extremists are not “the people”.  We only want to live a normal life alongside you.    


Many ask, considering the asymmetrical vortex we are caught in … why do you help ‘them’?  The answer is simple – because that is who we are.  

It’s chemo vs grads.  You decide what and who is the problem. 

Support Emek … an example the world can learn from.

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 ... 972-04-813 5608
Mailing address:
Emek Medical Center
Afula 18101

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Intentional misrepresentation of facts MSM?

GS Don Morris, Ph.D.

As I watch the unfolding of the Shalit exchange across multiple television news channels, including Israeli, France, CNN, BBC and UK I find the most of the reporting disconcerting. Why? The reporters are either ill informed, intentional in distorting the truth or truly ignorant. There is no other possibility.

Let me clarify a point repeatedly, across almost all of these news stations regarding Shalit’s abduction. He was taken on 25 June 2006 by Hamas terrorists from Gaza in a cross-border raid. A Hamas terrorist group attacked a Merkava Tank Mark 3, which was guarding the security fence and an army post, both in Israeli territory. During the attack, the commander and a fellow tank member were killed. Shalit was abducted near the Kerem Shalom crossing as was dragged under the security fence into parts unknown in Gaza. This is a critical point, Hamas terrorists illegally entered Israel and kidnapped Gilad. He was not engaged in a battle or a war and was not ever granted POW status. Why? Simple, he was kidnapped.

He was kept in primarily inhumane situation, his eyeglasses taken from him most of the time, he lived in solitary confinement, he was NEVER, not one time allowed a visit by the international Red Cross. We had no actual evidence that he was alive until two years ago. Still, after the infamous “still alive” video no visit permitted by any humanitarian or health organization. This alone is illegal in terms of International Law and at the very least demonstrates the inhumane character of our enemy.

For the MSM media to not even mention this background material is disingenuous when they present an empathetic view of the poor, just released, prisoners. For the MSM not to focus upon the released criminals, many of who engaged in barbaric actions murderers of primarily civilians breaches the integrity that should be displayed by professional journalists. I note that all of this was missing-I know they possess these minimal details and have chosen to with hold from today’s stories.

This is no small detail; it is central to my point that the MSM are misrepresenting entire experience today. They have contributed the following:

Lead the viewing public to believe that the prisoners should be released; it is after all only humane. Never mind that many are murderers serving over 15 consecutive life sentences, they should be viewed with empathy. No, they should be seen for what they are, first-degree murderers and they did not have the courage to take on fighters, they murdered innocent civilians. They murdered children, women eating pizza at a favorite pizza joint. Imagine you are enjoying a Little Caesars or Incredible pizza with all the toppings surrounded by your family and then in an instant they were targeted and blown to pieces.

These prisoners deserved freedom and annulment of their crimes of blowing up innocent civilians on busses, ask the Roth’s if they have any sympathy for these terrorists?

The MSM does not hold Hamas or Fatah speakers to the truth regarding using International law to justify their positions. They are using the day’s release event, as we knew they would, to lie to the viewers. Article 5 of the Geneva Convention does not apply as these two groups are not state parties to the Geneva Convention applies to their “fighters” are not legally “protected persons” under the definition of the convention.

Either the “journalists” do not know international Law or they do. Whichever is the answer to this statement my response is the same. Shame on the MSM for not holding these speakers to two points: 1. Are you not using this event for political outcomes? 2. You know as well as we know, the Geneva Conventions do not apply to you, why are you being so deceitful?

There will be peace in the Middle East before the MSM ever steps up and does their job correctly. They do hold us in Israel to a higher standard, sometimes known as hypocrisy.

Gilad was kidnapped, held in inhumane conditions for 5 years. Israel was held hostage by Hamas, the international community who supported the untold inappropriate ratio of terrorist prisoners to one Israeli and the media would have you believe the world should feel compassion for their families. No compassion for the hundreds and hundreds of innocent civilians murdered by these barbarians. The media speaks not one negative word about the celebrations in the Arab villages. The MSM speaks nothing about the inappropriateness of dancing and celebration by Arab “leaders” for having murderers released unjustly. No, instead they pitch how now maybe the Israelis may be ready to re-engage in talks with these ruthless people. Yet another lie-you know and I know we in Israel have not been the ones to negotiate-tell the MSM to stop supporting terrorists with their distortions.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Yom Kippur Israel Appeal

This is the Yom Kippur Israel Appeal given by Ed Berns at Temple Beth Sholom in Hamden, Connecticut. TBS regularly distributes a valuable Israel Matters newsletter to its members. Israel Matters is also available on the TBS website.

Shabbat shalom,

A year passes quickly. It seems like yesterday that I was on this bimah urging you to fight the demonization of Israel and to make Israel a daily part of your life. That you should make an investment of time to be knowledgeable about the issues that Israel confronts daily. And, ultimately, I encouraged you to leave your comfort zone and actively advocate for Israel. I could give the same speech today - it would be just as timely, but that wouldn't express what is affecting Israel this year.

A lot can happen in a year. If you were sitting here last year praying that in the year to come Israel would see peace, then today you are sitting here a very disappointed person.

We've all heard about the Arab Spring. Democracy rising from the ashes of dictatorships. Mubarak and Gaddafi overthrown. Great for the Arab street and great for the world, right? I wish I could tell you that the Arab revolution will ease rather than exacerbate tensions in the Middle East, but from the early returns it doesn't look like it will deliver as advertised.

Take Egypt, for example. With Mubarak deposed it didn't take long for the Muslim Brotherhood to emerge as the only unified political party and it is rapidly securing its hold on the country.  The recent takeover of the Israeli embassy, the nurturing of relations with Iran, and the removal of security forces in the Sinai that facilitates the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, all of these result in Israel having been better off dealing with a ruthless dictator who knew that a cold peace with it, rather than confrontation was in his, and Egypt's, best interests.

In the last twelve months, Israel's relations with Turkey have deteriorated from being one of the most mutually beneficial to one of confrontation. Using Israel's reaction to last year's Flotilla incitement as justification, Turkey has flexed its geopolitical muscles to become a power broker in the region. In the process, its political balance tilted away from the democracies in the West to fall more in line with the traditional Islamic view of Israel. By recalling its ambassador, Turkey severed relations with Israel. Most recently it threatened to send its warships with the next flotilla to Gaza, risking a military confrontation with Israel in the process. The view from those on the inside is that Israel's relationship with Turkey is not recoverable.

Needless to say, nothing good has come out of Iran. Speaking at the UN, Ahmadinejad enjoyed the opportunity to again blast both the US and Israel. This year's rant denied the Holocaust, calling it an excuse for the foundation of the State of Israel that represented "ransom to the Zionists." In the meantime, the Iranian march toward nuclear independence accelerated despite attempts to encourage it to abandon its plan.

To all of that instability, we must add the increased inflexibility of the Palestinian Authority. While refusing to sit down with the Israelis to negotiate an elusive peace, it simultaneously ignored the urging of the US and other Western nations and proceeded down the dead-end path of using the comfortable surroundings of the UN to declare unilateral statehood. In other words, the goal of the Palestinians was to achieve the land without achieving the peace.

There was one significant, bright spot to report. During the past twelve months, many felt whipsawed by the changes in President Obama's posture toward Israel. In May - for the first time publicly - the president announced that it was the official position of the US that Israel should negotiate peace with the Palestinians using the pre-1967 borders as the starting point. Remember: With those borders, parts of Jerusalem, including the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest place, would revert to Arab control. Ignoring realities on the ground, Israel would have to start fresh and negotiate for them. Notably missing was a pronouncement by the President that any peace agreement must recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and that Palestine must be for the Palestinians. This prompted a public rebuke - and more bad press for Israel - when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu responded that those borders were indefensible and would not be the starting point for renewed negotiations. Relations between Israel and the US had reached a very low point.

This month, in an incredible turnaround, President Obama spoke at the UN in response to the Palestinian bid for statehood. In a speech that has been described as missing only a portrait of Theodore Hertzl in the background, President Obama provided the strongest support for Israel of his presidency. The president stressed America's recognition of and commitment to Israel's security concerns. "Let's be honest," he said, "Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it" and "Israel's children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them." Capping his support, the president made the point he should have made in May when he very clearly articulated the land of Israel as the "historic homeland" of the Jewish people.

With all of that as background, I stand before you today to appeal to your love of Israel by asking that you affirmatively stand with and demonstrate your devotion to her. I know things are tight. But as we know, Israel is getting squeezed pretty hard, too.

As American Jews it is up to us to declare our solidarity with Israel. There are many ways to show your support, and with the variety of Israel-related charities and organizations you are sure to find one that fits your interests. Some you know well: Hadassah, tree planting through the Jewish National Fund, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, the organization dedicated to Israel advocacy and which the Rabbi and I are both members. These are wonderful organizations and well worth your support. There are many more, some of which you might not be aware. Some of those are described on the handout you found on your chairs this morning. For example, last night Rabbi Scolnic commented on the infrastructure needs of Israel, and mentioned the Carmel forest fires. If the needs of the Israeli firefighters resonates with you, you'll see on your handout an organization known as Friends of Israel Firefighters that raises funds to buy badly needed equipment.

My point is this: It really doesn't matter what you support so long as you do support. Get engaged, become invested. This is not the time to stand on the sidelines. There's a Yiddish proverb that goes, "If you don't want to do something, one excuse is as good as another." In other words, if you're not doing something, what does it matter why?

It is traditional in an Israel Appeal to urge the purchase of Israel bonds, and today is no exception. Investment in State of Israel bonds has helped cultivate the desert, build transportation networks, create new industries, resettle immigrants, and increase export capability. It supports a nation of extraordinary innovation that pushes the boundaries of modern technology. Israel has never defaulted or missed a single payment of principal or interest. An easy way to purchase Israel bonds is to donate to the TBS Israel Bond Fund. When sufficient amounts are accumulated, the synagogue purchases another bond.

The bottom line is this: As American Jews, we must demonstrate a common front in the support of Israel. Golda Meir had it right: "To be or not to be is not a question of compromise. Either you be or you don't be."

Be someone who supports Israel. Be someone knowledgeable about the issues Israel faces. Be someone who is willing to fight against the slander Israel faces daily. Be someone who responds to the media when you read something printed that portrays Israel in a false light. Be someone who visits Israel if you can. What I'm asking you today is to be.

I would be remiss if I failed to recognize June 25th as the fifth anniversary of the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit who has been held captive and incommunicado by Hamas. We pray for his freedom.

In conclusion, the Rabbi has asked me to inform the congregation that throughout the coming year he will be holding informational sessions about advocating for Israel. The first session is set for November 6th. He and I hope you will join us.

I wish you, your families, and Israel peace in the coming year.

L'shana tovah.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cartoon in The New Haven Register: Despicable and Incendiary

Editorial cartoons are supposed to be thought-provoking, but a responsible cartoonist does not mislead and does not promote hatred. Atlanta Journal-Constitution cartoonist Mike Luckovich did both in a hateful cartoon published in The New Haven Register September 26, 2011.

Ed Wood wrote the following letter about the cartoon to the Editorial Page Editor of The New Haven Register, Charles Kochakian

The cartoon may be viewed at

Dear Mr. Kochakian:

Even though I have reached my letters limit for the year, I
promised to keep sending them on topics which show up on the op-ed page
that I believe require a response. Mike Luckovich's particularly nasty
and biased cartoon today fit that category.

In it he has Benjamin Netanyahu saying "I'm finally willing
to accept a two-state solution." He is pointing to a map indicating that
Wyoming and Nebraska are the two states in which he wants the
Palestinians to end up.

I know that a free press should allow many points of view,
so I hope to see another cartoon soon which might go something like

"Mahmoud Abbas and the PA Finally Agree to a Peace Treaty" 

It could show Abbas signing the document while standing on
the beach of the Mediterranean with a whole fleet of payloaders pushing
all the Jews into the ocean.


Edward Wood

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Setting Stanley Heller Straight

After Stanley Heller's latest anti-Israel rant published in The New Haven Register, Ed Wood wrote the following letter to the editor. Heller is the leader of the Middle East Crisis Committee, a group with the singular goal of eliminating the world's only Jewish state, which happens to also be the only true democracy and America's only enduring friend in the Middle East.

Because The New Haven Register has a policy of not publishing more than four letters from a single individual in a year, Ed's letter wasn't published, but his message is worth reading.

Stanley Heller is, if nothing else, predictable. Again he laments the "unfairness" the Palestinians have experienced at the hand of Israel with a stubborn refusal to look at the facts. Here are some of them which he has ignored:

1) In return for decades of concessions, Israel has reaped only increasing scorn, contempt, and attacks from the Palestinians and their allies around the world.

2) When given the choice, the Palestinians chose Hamas to represent them whose goal to exterminate Israel has never changed.

3) The conflict between Israel, the Palestinians, and its Arab neighbors is very much a religious war, since their opponents adhere to a religion whose own Quran and teachings direct its followers to either convert, subjugate, or eliminate all those outside Islam. More and more these militant directives are being taken literally by Muslims, including the Palestinians.

4) A free society has no obligation to allow those very freedoms to be abused by those which would seek to destroy it. In fact it is obligated to protect itself and its citizens from this very thing.

5) By continuing their animosity toward Israel, the Palestinians have very much brought their present fate upon themselves.

To have peace ALL parties involved must truly be seeking it.

Unless the Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist, this will never come and all the U.N. declarations to impose peace will not be worth the paper they are printed upon.

Edward Wood

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ecological Considerations in the War Against Israel

The following letter was submitted to The Hour (Norwalk, Connecticut) immediately after that newspaper published virtually the same later twice in eight days. Although The Hour publishes almost everything sent to it, this letter has not been published, even after it was resubmitted about two weeks later just in case it got lost in cyberspace.

To the Editor:

It's encouraging to learn that in these days of diminishing resources, The Hour has initiated the revolutionary concept of "content recycling." The letter, "Nervy of the letter writers to suggest editorial policy," by Lynn Carlton published August 15 was almost identical to the letter by the same writer, "Defending Scott Kimmich," published eight days earlier and also similar in message to the letter by Aletha Carlton, "Focus the conversation on what is happening now," published just four days earlier.

Each of these anti-Israel letters, like Scott's, also recycle false information and unsupportable opinions. The latter are acceptable but the former, such as the obviously false assertion "Israel has … separate license plates for people of a different faith," are not. The known truth is that Israel issues the same license plates for all its citizens, whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim or adherents of any of the other faiths who practice freely in Israel. These license plates of course differ from those issued by the Palestinian Authority, the corrupt governing body for almost all the Arabs in the disputed territories.

Interestingly, these anti-Israel writers completely ignore the apartheid policies of the Palestinian Authority, which go far beyond issuing different license plates based on religion. The Palestinian Authority insists that no Jews will live in its future state and  long ago made it a capital crime to even sell land to a Jew.

Those who claim to be interested in human rights should be protesting the racist policies of the Palestinian Authority and its refusal to even negotiate with Israel.

In terms of suggesting editorial policy to The Hour, I would not suggest it stop publishing the anti-Israel diatribes by Scott Kimmich and the two Carltons, but I would suggest it pay more attention to Article IV of the Statement of Principles of the American Society of News Editors, which reads: "Truth and Accuracy. Good faith with the reader is the foundation of good journalism. Every effort must be made to assure that the news content is accurate, free from bias and in context, and that all sides are presented fairly. Editorials, analytical articles and commentary should be held to the same standards of accuracy with respect to facts as news reports. Significant errors of fact, as well as errors of omission, should be corrected promptly and prominently."

In other words, I suggest The Hour exercise its responsibility to eliminate the false information that pervades those anti-Israel letters and issue its own, official corrections when it inadvertently publishes false information.

I recognize such a policy would create tremendous difficulty for the anti-Israel writers, since it is very hard to make a case against Israel while sticking to the truth, but unfortunately sometimes life can be fair. And the anti-Israel fanatics certainly have plenty of illogical arguments they can continue to recycle.

Alan Stein

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rasheed Screed Trilogy, August 2011, Part 3

I sent a letter to the New Haven Register in response to Rasheed's screed and The Register was good enough to publish it on August 16. There are, however, some interesting differences between the letter published and the letter submitted. We include both, followed by some comments.

The Letter Published August 16

Questionable assertions about Gaza, civilian deaths

Jamilah Rasheed's Forum article, "Palestinians also struggle for freedom,"contains many questionable assertions.

Rasheed contradicts her assertion that the "Gaza Strip is an open air prison" with her acknowledgment that Gaza has an open border with Egypt.

Rasheed says Israel killed 1,417 civilians during Operation Cast Lead. This is blatantly false. Nobody knows how many Arabs in Gaza were killed and the number given by Rasheed is the highest estimate, including civilians and combatants, I've seen.

If one accepts Rasheed's inflated figure as the total, Hamas admitted that between 600 and 700 of those killed were combatants, so no more than 817 could have been civilians.

Most likely, the total number of casualties was below 1,200 and the number of civilians killed well under 500.

Alan Stein

Editor's note: Alan Stein is president of Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting-Connecticut.

The Letter Sent to the Editor

Dear Mr. Kochakian:

Jamilah Rasheed's August 9 Forum article, "Palestinians also struggle for freedom," contains many questionable assertions. Indeed, Rasheed herself contradicts her assertion that the "Gaza Strip is an open-air prison" with her acknowledgment two paragraphs below that Gaza has an open border with Egypt.

In the same paragraph as her assertion about Gaza being a prison, Rasheed falsely asserts Israel killed "1,417 civilians" during Operation Cast Lead. This is a blatantly false assertion which should not have been published and should be corrected by The New Haven Register.

Nobody really knows how many Arabs in Gaza were killed during Operation Cast Lead and the number given by Rasheed is the highest estimate of total casualties, both civilian and combatants, I've ever seen. Even if one accepts Rasheed's inflated figure as the total, even Hamas representatives ultimately admitted that between 600 and 700 of those killed were combatants, so that no more than 817 could possibly have been civilians.

Most likely, the total number of casualties was below 1,200 and the number of civilians killed well under 500. However, however generously one estimates the number of civilian casualties, Rasheed indisputably inflated the number of civilian casualties by at least 600.

While Rasheed's biased arguments are appropriately countered via letters to the editor, such a factual error calls for an official correction by The New Haven Register. Also, since Rasheed's Forum articles almost always contain blatant factual errors, we strongly urge you to carefully scrutinize future submissions from Jamilah Rasheed for factual accuracy.

Note: Two reliable sources, among many, for the Hamas admission are the Alan Dershowitz article "Finally, a Hamas Leader Admits That Israel Killed Mostly Combatants In Gaza," available at and the Jerusalem Post article "Civilian casualties, Gaza and the political war," available at .


Alan Stein


The original letter was sent directly to the editor, not to the address for letters for publication. It was clearly written as a request for The Register to issue its own, official correction of one of the factual errors in Rasheed's screed, not as a letter for publication. The Statement of Principles of the American Society of Newspaper Editors obligates newspapers to issue such corrections.

Instead of issuing that correction, The Register basically eliminated that portion of the letter and published it as if it was written for publication. It also eliminated the part where it was pointed out such false assertions should not be published in newspapers.

Rasheed Screed Trilogy, August 2011, Part 2

This letter was sent to the New Haven Register on August 9, the day Rasheed's screed was published. The writer was contacted by The Register, but as of August 17 the letter has not been published. It was submitted with the proposed title: "Bizarro world, parallel universe or just willingly ignorant?" along with an explanatory note to the editor, Charles Kochakian.

Note to Mr. Kochakian: I have probably exceeded my four per year limit on letter publication, but I think it is still important to send them in because I hope the "powers that be" at the Register will realize that there are probably a lot of us not at all fooled by Jamilah Rasheed, Stanley Heller, and the rest of the "Hate Israel - Hate America" crowd.

I understand why there has to be a limit to letter writers, but what irritates me is to not see it applied to someone like Rasheed who seems to have a much wider access to column space than the average Joe (or Josephine!), i.e. Faith Matters, Forum, and regular letters section.

Maybe you could look into this.

Nevertheless, do appreciate all the times you did feature my contributions and those of Neil Berro and Diana West, for example, who actually know what they're talking about!

The Letter Submitted

To the Editor:

I was and am a big sci-fi fan. When I was a kid, the top guy was Superman. Some of the comics feature a storyline based on a place called the Bizarro World where everything was reversed. Bad was good, good was bad, Superman, who was really a pretty sharp guy on our Earth, had a Bizarro version was probably the dullest pencil in the pencil box.

Star Trek featured an episode called Mirror, Mirror which featured an almost parallel universe but in which the benevolent Federation of Planets of our universe was brutal and warlike.

Lost in Space had an episode called "The Antimatter Man" in which John Robinson was captured and replaced by his evil opposite.

I'm wondering which of these places Jamilah Rasheed is getting her information because it certainly doesn't square with what I see anywhere in this universe on my planet.

She mentions in positive terms dictators being overthrown in the Middle East, which is good as far as it goes, but how often do thee places which lack a Judeo-Christian belief system invariably pick someone or something worse? Like Hamas, Hezbollah, or, in the case of Egypt a real possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood.

She mentions the plight of the Palestinians whose own choice of leadership is one of confrontation which will be satisfied only with the total destruction of Israel, something which they have proudly and publicly proclaimed - and then she can't seem to figure out that they are their own worst enemies.

Abetting them are the naive people who send "humanitarian aid" ships whose real goal is one of inciting confrontation in hopes of securing world sympathy when Israel has to take measures to protect itself.

One thing seems clear - either Rasheed and her like-minded proponents, or the rest of us have somehow materialized onto the wrong world or they are wishing to remain willingly ignorant of reality.

In either case, I hope they will open their eyes or perhaps Mr. Scott can either send us . . . or them . . . back home!

Edward Wood

Rasheed Screed Trilogy, August 2011, Part 1

The New Haven Register regularly published op-eds written by Jamilah Rasheed , coordinator of the Connecticut Islamic Speakers Bureau. Rasheed ironically has the email address, ironic since so much of what she writes is of, at best, highly questionable veracity.
The Register published one of her op-eds, more accurately referred to as a Rasheed Screed, on August 9, 2011, with the title "Palestinians also struggle for freedom."

We post three entries relating to Rasheed's latest screed. This one contains quotes from her screed along with comments about each.
The second will contain a letter sent to The Register but, as of today, unpublished.
The third will also contain two versions of a letter sent to The Register, the published version and the original.

The Quotes and Comments

Re the title "Palestinians also struggle for freedom":

The Palestinian Arabs certainly have a strange way of "struggling for freedom."
They rejected "freedom" in 1947, when an Arab state was proposed by the United Nations through the Partition Plan. The Zionists agreed. The Arabs rejected it and launched a war instead.
They rejected "freedom" throughout the period 1948-1967 when the currently disputed territories were under Arab occupation and an independent Palestinian Arab state could have been established unilaterally.
They rejected "freedom" after the Six Day War when Israel offered to withdraw from all the captured territory in exchange for peace.
They rejected "freedom" in 1978, when the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt called for the negotiation of autonomy for the Arabs in the disputed territories by they refused to negotiate.
They rejected "freedom" in 2000, when they were offered a state in nearly all of the disputed territory, even including parts of Jerusalem, and they instead launched a brutal terror offensive.
They rejected "freedom" in 2008, when they were offered a state in the equivalent of all the disputed territory and they didn't even bother to respond.
They've rejected freedom for the last two and a half years, during which they've refused to even pretend to negotiate with Israel.


Re "Sadly, the plight of Palestinians continues without intervention by the United States. ":

Au contraire, it would be a gross understatement to say the Obama Administration has given the self-induced and self-perpetuated plight of the Palestinian Arabs disproportionate attention. One might more reasonably argue that the Obama Administration has undermined the real interests of the Palestinian Arabs by being far too accommodating of their intransigence.


Re: "The total disregard for the brutality that continues against a population of more than 1.7 million is appalling.":

One wonders to what population Rasheed is referring. According to Wikipedia, the Arab population in Judea and Samaria is roughly 2 1/2 million and the population of Gaza is just under 1.6 million.
One also wonders about what "brutality" Rasheed is referring, since all those Arabs in Gaza and roughly 95 percent of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria live under their own governments.


Re: "The 60-year struggle of Palestinians has been encumbered by the failure of the Obama administration to deal firmly with the intransigence of the Israeli government."

The Israeli prime minister has repeatedly stated his willingness to agree to the establishment of another Palestinian Arab state and his willingness to make enormous concessions. He has made it clear he expects to give the Palestinian Arabs most of the disputed territory and even displace significant numbers of Israelis.
In contrast, Mahmoud Abbas, the so-called "moderate" leader of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and the PLO, has insisted he will never make any concessions on the core issues and admitted peace would have been made long ago had he been willing to show any flexibility.
"I can't allow myself to make even one concession." (Al-Ayyam newspaper, September 7, 2010)
"If we showed flexibility on these issues the peace agreement would have been signed a long time ago." (October 15, 2010)
Re "To live free in their place of birth is a dream deferred. Palestinians want to regain some semblance of their life before occupation.

Is Rasheed referring to their life before 1948, when Egypt occupied Gaza and Transjordan occupied Judea, Samaria and parts of Jerusalem? She certainly can't be referring to their life between 1948 and 1967, since their lives improved dramatically when Israel took over the administration of the disputed territories. Unfortunately, things have basically gotten worse since the Palestinian Authority took over near the start of the failed Oslo Process.
Among many other sources, the article "What Occupation?" by Ephraim Karsh, available at and originally published by Commentary in 2002, details some of the vast improvements in the lives of the Arabs in the disputed territories in the aftermath of the 1967 war.


Re " Their desires are no different from those any human being would want for themselves and their fellow citizens.":

Perhaps this is true for many, but they have certainly followed leaders who put far more importance on their desire to destroy Israel than on the welfare of their people.


Re "According to statistics gathered by the website,since Sept. 29, 2000, 6,430 Palestinians have been killed. Factored into this number is the attack on Gaza in December 2009 in which Israel bombarded Gaza for 23 days, killing 1,417 civilians.":

This is simply false. Even representatives of Hamas have conceded a large majority of those killed during Operation Cast Lead were not civilians but were fighters and operatives of Hamas and other terror groups. See "Finally, A Hamas Leader Admits That Israel Killed Mostly Combatants In Gaza," 
by Alan M. Dershowitz . See also .


 Re "The Gaza Strip is an open-air prison where food and water are restricted and unemployment is at 40 percent.":

Gaza has an open border with Egypt. If Gaza is an "open-air prison," then Hamas is the jailor.
Israel certainly tries to control its border with Gaza. In this way it is no different from any other state, although most other states don't have a government pledged to its destruction on the other side, nor do they have missiles launched at their citizens on virtually a daily basis. Amazingly, Israel also transfers massive amounts of humanitarian assistance to Gaza, helping the very people attacking Israel. This is virtually unprecedented in human history.


Re "Citizens of the world have to unite to free the people of Gaza and the West Bank from the debilitating assault on their humanity.":

To do that, they need to put pressure on the rulers of the Arabs in those areas, Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in Judea and Samaria, to treat their subjects like human beings.


Re "The revolution in Egypt brought a glimmer of hope to the Palestinian plight. The new administration in Egypt has opened permanently its border with Gaza.":

Rasheed contradicts her own assertion about Gaza being an "open-air prison."


Re "Organizations outside the occupied territories have been sending people into Gaza to assure Palestinians that they are not forgotten.":

Given the obsession of the United Nations with the Palestinian Arabs, there is no chance they are being forgotten. Unfortunately, international coddling of Arab rejectionism actually harms the Palestinian Arabs by encouraging their continued refusal to make peace.


Re "In June, American activists organized a U.S. vessel named Audacity of Hope that was to join a flotilla assembled by activists who were gathering to challenge the illegal Israeli economic blockade of Gaza.":

Even the United Nations, hardly friendly to Israel, recognizes that Israel's blockade, preventing some heavy weapons from reaching terrorists in Gaza, is legal. See, for example, the Haaretz article "Gaza flotilla probe: IDF used excessive force but naval blockade legal"  .

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Palestinians Stalling Mideast Peace Talks

Published in the Waterbury Republican-American Wednesday, August 3, 2011.

The July 28 article "Abbas wants mass rallies" omitted the context of its reference that "with peace talks stalled since 2008," Palestinian Arabs will ask the United Nations to recognize their "state."

Peace talks have been stalled since 2008 because Mahmoud Abbas walked out of the talks and, with the exception of a short, three-week interval, has been refusing to talk with Israel ever since. When one side refuses even to talk, it's difficult for the talks to be anything other than stalled.

The world should not let Abbas get away with his end run around negotiations, in violation of the solemn commitment made by the Palestinian Arabs and Israel to make no changes in the status of the disputed territories except through a negotiated agreement.

Time and again, Israel has made offers the Palestinian Arabs would have eagerly grasped had they any interest other than the destruction of Israel. We in America, and the rest of the world, need to stop rewarding Abbas for perpetuating a conflict he has admitted would have been resolved long ago had he been willing to show any flexibility.

Alan Stein

The writer is president of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting;

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Lesson of Tisha B'Av: We Are One … Or At Least We Need To Be

This was written for my synagogue bulletin. — Alan Stein

The "Three Weeks" lead up to Tisha B'Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, the date on which both the First Temple and the Second Temple were destroyed. This year Tisha B'Av, the 9th of Av, coincides with the 9th of August.

Rabbi Mendel Weinbach of Ohr Somayach writes, in "What do we get from Tisha B'Av?":

"The rebuilt Beis Hamikdash was once again destroyed and we were once again exiled because of the sin of 'unjustified hatred' of one Jew for another. ... Lack of tolerance, aggressive competitiveness and destructive dissension continue to plague our families and our communities. ... Unlimited love for our fellow Jew must replace the intolerance and hatred which caused our present exile."

The theme of the first General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) I attended was "We Are One," celebrating the unity of the Jewish people, was the most meaningful to me. Too many in our community don't realize we are one, with consequences potentially as devastating as the destructions of the Temples.

We have serious schisms between denominations.

The most uncompromising elements of the Orthodox rabbinate force Israelis to adhere to its standard regarding who is a Jew - while it's doubtful their own grandparents could have proven themselves Jewish under their standards.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Reform movement didn't help matters when it unilaterally adopted patrilineal descent, even though, in my opinion, their rabbinical arguments trump those of the Orthodox clinging to matrilineal descent. Large numbers of practicing Jews cannot marry in Israel because the Orthodox rabbinate refuses to accept their Jewishness.

Without compromise by all, prodded by an Israel government putting the welfare of its people ahead of narrow-minded coalition politics, we're heading towards a self-detonated explosion.

Israel continues to be surrounded by enemies bent on its destruction while many Jews, apparently suffering from the "Oslo Syndrome," collude with our enemies.

The Oslo Syndrome is akin to the "Stockholm Syndrome" which leads kidnap victims to sympathize and even act in concert with their abductors. I believe the term was coined by psychiatrist and historian Kenneth Levin, author of "The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege."

Hamas, Fatah and the PLO are all pledged, in their most basic documents, to the destruction of Israel. For example, Article 12 of the Fatah Constitution lists "complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence" as a goal. Fatah, led by Mahmoud Abbas, is considered moderate, and in the spectrum of Palestinian Arab politics it is. Both Fatah and the PLO may be less fanatical than Hamas, which rules Gaza and has launched more than 8,000 rockets at Israeli civilians in Sderot and other southern towns and cities, but all are united in their desire to annihilate Israel.

In the face of such hostility, one would expect all Israelis and all Jewish people in the Diaspora to be unified in their support for the Jewish state. Sadly, this is not the case.

The problem goes beyond internal debates and good-faith disagreements. There are Jews advocating and acting against Israel. Several of the staunchest Israel-haters here in Connecticut are Jewish. Some of the participants in the latest flotilla to Gaza, in support of Hamas and against Israel, were Jewish.

There are also groups which claim to support Israel but actively work against measures to support Israel. For example, early this year, J Street, which calls itself "pro-Israel," came out against an American veto of an anti-Israel resolution in the United Nations Security Council and co-sponsored a congressional mission to Israel with the viciously anti-Israel "Churches for Middle East Peace," a promoter of the BDS (boycotts, divestment, sanctions) campaign to delegitimize Israel.

For far too many Jews, the Oslo Syndrome is more powerful than identification with their own people, with the reality that "we are one." They do not understand that the people they are abetting hate them as much as they hate the rest of us.

Rabbi Weinbach begins his article with the assertion "we Jews have a long memory."

Unfortunately, the memories of some of us are not so long; some of us have forgotten, or never learned, the lessons of Tisha B'Av.