Thursday, December 27, 2012

"The Mascot" - Truth or Fiction?

By Colleen Fitzpatrick

Barry Resnick spoke about this at the Bet Israel Masorti Congregation in Netanya on December 25, 2012. With its relevance to the media, we thought it appropriate to post this article, recommended by Barry, on the PRIMER web site. It originally appeared on JWIRE. 

The Mascot is the international best-selling Holocaust biography of Alex Kurzem written by his late son, Mark. The book centers on the elder Kurzem’s recovery of his identity as Ilya Galperin, his family’s lone survivor of the 1941 Jewish massacre in Koidanov, Belarus, and an eyewitness to the murder of his mother and two siblings...writes Dr Colleen Fitzpatrick.

The story was made into an award-winning documentary financed by the Australian Broadcasting Corp, and has been published by Penguin and its subsidiaries in 13 languages. The French company, Healthcliff Productions purchased the rights to the book and is planning to produce a full length feature motion picture.  After an exhaustive international three-year search for evidence, my colleague Dr. Barry Resnick and I have discovered no proof that Mr. Kurzem’s story is true, nor has it been established that he is Jewish.

Initial suspicions about Mr. Kurzem arose in the late 1990s during his first appearance at the Melbourne Holocaust Centre when he offered to say he was Jewish in return for $17,000 At the time, he was in debt because of a failed business deal.

Mr Phillip Maisel OAM, Testimonies Director at the Centre, nevertheless recorded Kurzem’s story and had the distinct impression that his interviewee was not being entirely truthful. “There was something strange about his story, something didn’t add up,” he told Michelle Coleman of Jwire’s Melbourne Bureau.

During a subsequent visit to the Holocaust Centre, Mr. Kurzem was overheard commenting that “the Holocaust is big business”. He was asked to leave.

We have copies of emails exchanged by Mark Kurzem with a cousin in 1998, commenting that it was “in his [father’s] best interests that as much money [as possible] is derived from his story to solve his problems”, along with attempts to obtain a “substantial cash advance” from this relative for the right to author the book.  In a subsequent email, the cousin commented that, “…it all boils down to money and [Alex’s] debt.   Mark plans to erase that debt any way he can. And I mean any.”

More recently, when Mr. Kurzem was asked to take a DNA test to prove his relationship to his alleged half-brother Erik Galperin, he told us he would do so if we paid him $100,000. At that moment, the DNA kit was in front of him on the table.

The financial motivations of Mr. Kurzem aside, there are doubts that he is Jewish, never mind being a survivor of the Koidanov massacre.  When he gave two video testimonies at the Melbourne Centre, unlike thousands of other survivors, Mr. Kurzem placed an embargo on the testimonies, forbidding their viewing in his lifetime without his permission.  Maisel, who has recorded about 2,000 testimonies including Mr. Kurzem’s, and who himself is a survivor, has stated that he does not believe Alex Kurzem is Jewish.  One reason he cites is that when a male survivor  is asked the critical question about how he hid the fact he was circumcised, the answer is usually complex and emotional.  According to Mr. Maisel, Mr. Kurzem couldn’t remember.

Even accepting that Mr. Kurzem might be Jewish, there are important historical inaccuracies in “The Mascot” that contradict his claim that he is Ilya Galperin, his family’s lone survivor of the Koidanov massacre. These include:

- No such Ilya Galperin is listed in Yad Vashem’s historical records as a victim of the massacre. Numerous Pages of Testimony for Galperin family members were submitted by Ida Krupitsky, the Galperin family genealogist, and Alex’s purported first cousin whose mother Fania died in the massacre;

-  According to The Mascot, as the massacre was underway, the Nazis halted it because of a bad thunderstorm, telling the remaining victims to come back the next day so the executions could resume, thus allowing young Ilya to escape that night. The Koidanov Yizkor book records a more believable scenario, typical of Nazi massacres. The killings were unannounced, efficient, and over in a matter of hours.

Mr. Kurzem has under his control several items that could confirm or disprove his story.  Yet he has not fulfilled his repeated promises to release them.  Besides the video testimonies mentioned above, and the DNA test that he has demanded $100,000 to take, Mr. Kurzem has not provided us with a copy of his application for reparations to the Jewish Claims Conference which could help substantiate his whereabouts during the Holocaust.

The Conference initially rejected Mr. Kurzem’s application, but later reversed its ruling so that he is now receiving reparations.  Mr. Kurzem widely claims that this reversal was based on the endorsement of his story by Minsk GILF Society Director Frida Reizman .  Close examination of the GILF certificate of endorsement indicates that the document might have been altered.  When confronted with this possibility, Mr. Kurzem told us that he has the original Russian version of the certificate and that “mistakes” were made in translating it into English.  We were recently contacted by an attorney for the Claims Conference in Germany who asked us if we had a copy of the Russian version of the certificate.  Evidently, Mr. Kurzem did not submit the original Russian version with his application, but rather his own English translation that he knew was not accurate. Why is that?

Having been instrumental in the exposure of two recent Holocaust literary frauds, Misha Defonseca’s Surviving with Wolves and Herman Rosenblat’s Angel at the Fence, I have become knowledgeable about the back story of the creation and marketing of such tales. In each case, the story emerged during a time of financial distress of the author. Over time, the story experienced substantial changes, both to enhance its entertainment value and to apply patches to explain discrepancies.  Each also contained numerous glaring historical errors.  Both stories took place a long time ago, in a place far away, making it difficult to confirm them. Each author concealed information that would have exposed the truth.  The similarities that The Mascot back story shares with these two works of fiction have raised questions about its veracity.

I met with Mr. Kurzem during a recent visit to Melbourne.  Although I was hoping for some evidence of the truth of his story, I was disappointed with his vagueness.  Once again, Mr. Kurzem told me he would send his video testimonies after he copied them, and he said he would think about taking the DNA test, but that first, he wanted to ask his half-brother Erik about it when he sees him in Belarus later in the year.  Although in interviews with the international media, Mr. Kurzem supplies explicit details of the murder of his mother and siblings, when I asked him if he was sure he saw his family killed, he told me that he had witnessed so much violence during the war, he couldn’t separate one memory from another. “A traumatic event like that, you remember in great detail,” says Maisel.

Mr. Kurzem not only has and will continue to experience substantial financial gain and recognition from his books and his movie, he also lectures internationally to school children, thereby feeding the next generation with what may be distortions of the truth. In the interest of preserving an accurate history of the Holocaust, and putting an end to suspicions that he is exploiting it for money and fame, we ask Mr. Kurzem to provide evidence that he is telling the truth, or we ask him to stop.

If Holocaust denial is evil, isn’t distortion of Holocaust history for financial gain, just as bad?

In the two Holocaust frauds cited above, relatives, friends, and acquaintances of the authors who knew them during the war were aware that their stories were fabrications. These individuals wanted to come forward with the truth, but either failed to get to the right people, or feared being attacked for their negative comments.  Once sufficient evidence was discovered contradicting each story, and one or two of these informants went on record, a flood of information came in from others that allowed us to debunk what was being sold as Holocaust truth.

We appeal to anyone who may have known Alex Kurzem during or after the war to provide us with information that either confirms or disproves his story.

J-Wire spoke to a representative of the Claims Conference who confirmed that Mr Kurzem had successfully applied for funds. The representative said that the German Government had been given the files for investigation.

Colleen Fitzpatrick, PhD is the President of Identifinders International.

Michelle Coleman contributed towards this article.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December Ponderings

Beryl Ratzer, author of "A Historical Tour of the Holy Land," periodically sends out an interesting newsletter. This is her December newsletter, which may also be read on her web site. 


Here we are, almost halfway through both Hanukah and December and I still haven’t fully processed the events of November. It began with a few days of long-awaited rain and, for me, with twelve days exploring the country, from the snowcapped Hermon Mountain in the north to sunny Eilat in the south, with twenty six delightful Australian tourists, interested in absolutely everything. 

What none of us expected was that their Israel experience would include a brief war, “Pillar of Defense” (in Hebrew “Pillar of Cloud” Ex 13:21), a rush to the bomb shelter in our Jerusalem hotel and a chance meeting with a family who were taking a vacation from their Ashkelon home which had been repeatedly attacked over the last months by rockets fired from Gaza Strip, that very same Gaza Strip which they had left when Israel evacuated it in 2005. 

For months the world turned a blind eye on the thousands of rockets, missiles and mortars raining down on Israeli towns and villages, fired from the Gaza Strip. When Israel decided to retaliate the world very briefly supported the Israeli precision bombing of strategic targets before returning to the customary condemnation of Israel and our “disproportionate” actions.

Then came the 29th of November the very date when, sixty five years ago, the UN voted to partition Palestine, then under British Mandate rule, into two entities, one for the Jewish Palestinians and one for the Arab Palestinians. Resolution 181 was joyfully accepted by Jews and vehemently rejected by the Arabs. The Jews established the State of Israel. As they had no claims of nationhood instead of doing the same, the Arabs declared war on the nascent Israel, a war which they lost and then called this missed opportunity a Naqba, a disaster.

On 29th November this year, 2012, the UN voted to recognize the Palestinians as a non-member state. In one fell sweep, UN resolutions 242 and 338 were tossed into the rubbish bin along with all the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, from the Declaration of Principles signed by PM Rabin and Yasser Arafat in 1993, the Wye River Memorandum in 1998, the Camp David Agreements and the Road Map.

The Palestinians no longer feel the need to recognize Israel, to negotiate a final settlement with Israel or to stop their attacks on Israel. Why should they? By winning the media war, the PR war, which has denied the history of the Jewish people in this land, despite written and archeological proof and virtually erasing all the previous agreements signed with Israel, all calling for direct negotiations, the world has given them all they asked for, and more, with no strings attached.

It has taken a long time but I think that most people here in Israel have come to realise that we have no one to rely on but ourselves. The world turned a blind eye while over six million Jews were slaughtered during WWII and the world is turning a deaf ear to threats to “wipe Israel off the map”, to the Palestinian glorification of those who will commit suicide if they can kill a few Jews at the same time, Jews – not Israelis, to the claim that Israel does not and has not any right to exist.

Nor is it concerned that the Palestinian demand for a state includes the proviso that it be totally Judenrein, absolutely without one Israeli or one Jew, which is the same thing as far as they are concerned, thereby proving that anti-Israel, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are one and the same thing. Hitler failed to achieve this in Europe but there are Arab and Moslem countries which have succeeded. 

Not surprisingly, overlooked is the fact that the more than a million Arabs, Moslem, Christian and Druze,  living in Israel are Israeli citizens with the right to vote in elections and have 16 members (out of 120) in the outgoing Knesset.  

Please take the time to see these two brief presentations, directly from ‘the horse’s mouth’.

In a world rife with civil wars, massacres, military revolts, starvation, human trafficking, women and child abuse, dictatorships and economic upheavals the world is pre-occupied with a potential plan to perhaps build a few thousand homes in Jerusalem, the three thousand year old capital of the Jewish people, area E1 which adjoins it and Israeli ‘settlements’ in general.

I doubt if there are many people that know the area E1 is a barren hilly piece of land a mere twelve square kilometers (4.6 square miles) in size, on the road which descends through the Judean desert from Jerusalem to Jericho. Try and picture the size. I also doubt also if many people know that the ‘settlements’ take up a mere 2% of all the land of the West Bank.

The world obsession with Israel is disproportionate to say the least. And it explains why we are beginning to realise how accurate were the words of the first century sage, Rabbi Hillel, who said "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if not now, when?"

This is the same Rabbi Hillel who, when asked to explain Judaism while his interlocutor stood on one leg, replied:  "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn."

In these days of political correctness I end with the innocuous “Seasons greetings”!

Beryl Ratzer
Author of "A Historical Tour of the Holy Land

Monday, December 10, 2012


The Torrington Register Citizen allows readers to post opinions anonymously in a feature called "Soundoff." This provides a service in allowing readers to express views that are unpopular, but it is also subject to abuse. Anti-Israel fanatics have used "Soundoff" as a vehicle for spreading their hatred with venomous attacks generally laced with lies. One such screed was published on December 8, 2012. That screed is included here, followed by a letter submitted in response.


In response to "'s clear that Israelis want nothing more than to live their lives in peace." Sound-off, Dec. 4. Really, that's all that they "want?" How about their plans to build thousands of new homes in West Bank "settlements" (aka land grabs? Don't they want those? How about the "Apartheid Wall?" How about the hundreds of nuclear bombs Israel possesses (while disallowing inspectors to examine, and refusing to sign nuclear non-proliferation treaties...something that Iran has already done a long time ago, by the way ). How about the two lines on the Israeli flag, flanking their symbol, that signify the Tigris and Euphrates rivers...their penultimate boundary goal? The Israelis want all of that, and lots more! The last thing that the Israeli government and many Israeli citizens want, is peace. Their actions and history are proof of that! Their most recent provocation, in which they bombed and incinerated a Hamas leader, touching off the Palestinians' determined but feeble bottle rocket response, is just more evidence of unbridled Israeli aggression. Peace? You must be hallucinating!

The Response

To the editor:

To partially respond to the cowardly hate-monger who repeatedly hides behind and misuses the anonymity of "Soundoff" to launch his error-filled diatribes against America's only real friend in the Middle East:

The Israeli flag has blue lines because its design was based on the tallit, the Jewish prayer shawl; the absurd claim that they represent the Tigris and Euphrates would be laughable if it has not been used to incite so much violence and hatred already.

If those two rivers were Israel's "penultimate boundary goal," then that democracy is certainly going about achieving that aim in a very strange way. It gave the massive Sinai back to Egypt. That area is now being used to smuggle large quantities of massive Iranian rockets to the terrorists in Gaza, rockets the anonymous writer refers to as "bottle rockets." It gave all of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, has already given about 40 percent of Judea and Samaria (aka the "West Bank") to the PA and has offered virtually all of the rest.

Thousands of those "bottle rockets" were launched at Israeli civilians - a war crime under international law - before what the anonymous writer refers to as Israel's "most recent provocation." As they say, the hostilities started when Israel began to fight back.

Recently, the Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal gave a well-publicized interview to CNN's Christiane Amanpour. He was praised as becoming more moderate when, out of one side of his mouth hs said "I accept a Palestinian state according to 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital ..."

But even more recently, speaking in Gaza at a rally commemorating the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, he spoke out of the other side of his mouth: "Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on an inch of the land. … We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take. … Jihad and the armed resistance is the only true path to liberation."

This is the nature of Israel's genocidal adversaries. The anonymous Soundoff writer, like so many anti-Zionist propagandists, falsely accused Israel of precisely what the Palestinian Arabs are trying to do.

Israelis want peace. Israelis dream of peace, Unfortunately, it takes two to tango. Until the Palestinian Arabs give up their dream of destroying Israel, those dreams of peace will remain a fantasy.


Alan Stein, Ph.D.
President Emeritus, PRIMER-Connecticut

Setting the Record Straight: Distortions of Commission and Omission

Alan H. Stein, Ph.D.

The degree of misinformation and misunderstanding relating to the issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict is astounding. Patently false information is pervasive yet is often taken as common knowledge and falsely transmitted in conversations, over the Internet, in the traditional media and even by governments.

The dissemination of misinformation ramped up even further than usual recently in the aftermath of the vote at the United Nations giving "non-member state status" to the Palestinian Authority, an entity that in some ways resembles a state but falls far short of meeting the standard criteria. Misinformation also followed the announcement by Israel about planning for building in its capital and in a suburb and about preliminary planning for building between them in what's known as the "E1 corridor."

One article published had the headline "Israeli settlement plan would split West Bank." Many news reports said the same thing while using different terminology, falsely asserting it would make a contiguous Palestinian Arab state impossible.

Some of the same articles included maps which conclusively illustrated the absurdity of the assertions.

The E1 corridor connects the suburb of Ma'ale Adumim with Jerusalem. It's a tiny area, roughly 4.6 square miles, jutting a tiny bit into the area known for thousands of years as Judea and Samaria, until recently when Jordan began calling it the West Bank. In no way would keeping E1 in Israeli hands split the West Bank.

In actuality, not keeping E1 in Israeli hands would split Israel. Ma'ale Adumim, less than 10 miles from Jerusalem, has a population of approximately 40,000 people. There's absolutely no way Ma'ale Adumim would not remain part of Israel in any conceivable peace agreement; everyone knowledgable accepts that. If E1 wasn't retained by Israel, then Ma'ale Adumim would be split from the rest of Israel, which would no longer be contiguous.

The portions of the West Bank given to the Palestinian Arabs would still be contiguous, but there's also no way a Palestinian Arab state in both the West Bank and Gaza can be contiguous, at least not without splitting Israel in two.

It must be noted that while contiguity is certainly a nice attribute, it's hardly necessary for the viability of a state. Our United States is split into no fewer than three areas, with Hawaii separated from the mainland by thousands of miles of ocean and Alaska separated by one of the largest countries in the world. If there is an Arab-Israeli peace, it will be far easier to travel between Ramallah and Gaza than it is to travel between New York and Anchorage.

The media is also guilty of contributing to false impressions by failing to include documented facts relating to items they do report.

As one example, the interim agreement signed by Israel and the PLO in 1995 included the provision "Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations."

The action by Mahmoud Abbas of going to the United Nations to gain status as a "non-member state" was a blatant violation of that provision, something one would never know from the general media.

This is not just a technicality, since it relates greatly to the question of the trust necessary for the "partners" to negotiate in good faith.

Related to that are the repeated references to a Palestinian Arab state based on the "1967 borders." These references ignore the fact that there were no borders in 1967, but merely armistice lines. More important, negotiations based on  those lines are a violation of the armistice agreements.

The armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan contained the provision: "It is also recognised that no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations."

Similar provisions were contained in all the armistice agreements, ironically at the insistence of the Arabs!

One may reasonably ask how one can trust negotiations when they are based on a violation of previous agreements?

Newspapers and other media have a responsibility to be accurate, to point out when officials are saying things that aren't true and also to include highly relevant information. When it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, they are failing on all three counts.

That Deadly Israeli House

We posted it here before we knew its origin. We now now this brilliant article is by Daniel Greenfield and was published in It may be viewed in its original form here

There are few weapons as deadly as the Israeli house. When its bricks and mortar are combined together, the house, whether it is one of those modest one-story hilltop affairs or a five-floor apartment building complete with hot and cold running water, becomes far more dangerous than anything green and glowing that comes out of the Iranian centrifuges.

Forget the cluster bomb and the mine, the poison gas shell and even tailored viruses. Iran can keep its nuclear bombs. They don't impress anyone in Europe or in Washington, DC. Genocide is equally not worthy of attention when in the presence of the fearsome weapon of terror that is an Israeli family of four moving into a new apartment downwind from Jerusalem.

Sudan may have built a small mountain of African corpses, but it can' expect to command the full and undivided attention of the world until it does something truly outrageous like building a house and filling it with Jews. Since the Sudanese Jews are as gone as the Jews of Egypt, Iraq, Syria and good old Afghanistan, the chances of Bashir the Butcher pulling off that trick are rather slim.

Due to the Muslim world's shortsightedness in driving out its Jews from Cairo, Aleppo and Baghdad to Jerusalem, the ultimate weapon in international affairs is entirely controlled by the Jewish State. The Jewish State's stockpile of Jews should worry the international community far more than its hypothetical stockpiles of nuclear weapons. No one besides Israel cares much about the Iranian bomb. But when Israel builds a house, then the international community tears its clothes, wails, threatens to recall its ambassadors and boycott Israeli peaches.

You can spit on the White House carpets and steal all the gold in Greece. You can blow up anything you like and threaten anyone you will, but you had better not lift a drill near Gilgal, where Joshua and a few million escaped Hebrew slaves pitched their camp.

Obama has yet to respond to the Muslim Brotherhood coup in Egypt. The gangs of paid rapists assaulting women in Tahrir Square on behalf of the Sharia state are nothing for the White House to worry about. Everyone has their standards and he and the international community have theirs. There are things that we all cannot abide. And for all the Miss America answers about ending war, hunger and people who wear plaid in public, the one thing that everyone will stand up against or sit down in opposition to is the Israeli house.

White House officials are already insisting that Netanyahu "humiliated" Obama by authorizing the building of houses. This is the worst Israeli crime since two years ago when the city of Jerusalem passed some houses through one stage of a multi-stage approval process while Biden was visiting the country.

Hillary called it an insult and spent two hours yelling at Netanyahu over the phone. Axelrod declared it an affront. Biden was so furious that he refused to come down for dinner until an hour later. For weeks the media howled that Netanyahu had humiliated Obama through the dastardly act of allowing one of the country's mayors to approve housing while the sacred presence of Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was intersecting with Israeli airspace.

Now that Netanyahu has gone to the mattresses, literally, by authorizing new housing, the media has begun braying that Israel has humiliated Obama all over again. They say that every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings. But every time an Israeli jackhammer roars, Obama stands, like that famous trash-mourning fake Indian, off Highway 1 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with a tear slowly making its way down one glistening cheek at the sight of another humiliating Israeli house.

According to the New York Times, which is never wrong, building more houses makes peace impossible. Peace, which is not in any way obstructed by rockets, suicide bombers, unilateral statehood bids and declarations of war, comes up against only one obstacle. The stout unyielding wall of the Israeli house. You can shell Israeli houses, bomb them and break inside to massacre the people living inside, but then after all that, Israel goes and builds more of those damn things.

Hamas shoots thousands of rockets and Israel builds thousands of houses. But Israeli houses generally stay where they're built, while Hamas rockets are as likely to kill Gazans as they are to put holes in the roofs of those dastardly houses. And in the arms race between houses and rockets, the Israelis appear to be winning. And that's not good for peace. If Israelis get the dangerous idea that they can just keep building houses and outlast all the talented rocketeers who spend their time with the Koran in front of one eye and the Anarchist's Cookbook in front of the other, then what hope is there for peace?

That is why no one cares much about Hamas rockets, which only kill Israelis, who most reasonable people in London, Paris and Brussels think have it coming anyway, but get into a foaming lather about an Israeli house. Killing Israelis has never been any obstacle to peace. Twenty years of killing Israelis has not dissuaded a single Israeli government from sitting down at the table to dicker with the terrorists. But an Israeli family living in a house is holding down territory that it will be harder to then cede to terrorists.

This peace plan, which has worked as well as fighting fire with gasoline, has not in any way been endangered by two decades of terror, but trembles down to its toes every time an Israeli hammer falls on an Israeli nail in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Because that land must go back so that rockets can be shot from it into Israel, so that Israel can invade it and reclaim it, and then sit down for another peace process to return the land from which the rockets will be fired, which will be invaded, which will be "given back" for peace.

And Israeli houses endanger this cycle of peace and violence. They endanger it by creating "facts on the ground," a piquant phrase that only seems to apply to houses with Jews. Muslim houses in no way create facts on the ground, even though they are built out of the same material and filled with people. Or perhaps they create the good kind of facts on the ground. The kind of preemption of negotiations that the professional peacemakers approve of.

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon has declared Israeli houses to be an "almost fatal blow" to the peace process. It is, of course, only an "almost fatal blow" because the peace process, like Dracula, cannot be killed. Israeli houses, fearsome as they may be with their balconies and poor heating in winter, are never quite enough to kill it.

Like the monster of a horror movie, the peace process always comes back and no matter how many blows the Israeli house delivers to it, a year later there's a sequel where the Israeli house is being stalked by the peace process monster all over again.

The army of lethal Israeli houses, which may not be built for another five years, if ever, seem formidable in the black newsprint of the New York Times, in the fulminations of Guardian columnists and the shrill talking pointation of CNN talking heads, but its actual potency is limited to housing Jewish families and infuriating international diplomats and their media coat hangers.

Europe is furious, Obama is seething, the UN is energized, and somewhere in Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wipes the grease out of his mustache and wonders what he could do to get this much attention. He briefly scribbles down some thoughts on a napkin but then dismisses it as being too implausible. As much as it might get the world's attention, there is just no way Iran can put up apartment buildings in Jerusalem.

Friday, December 7, 2012


This letter was published in the Waterbury Republican-American on Friday, December 7, 2012.

The United Nations has adopted a resolution recognizing the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a "non-member observer state" (Nov. 29 article, "Palestinians hope for leverage from U.N. recognition"). This disregards the fact the PA, essentially an independent state for more than a decade, does not possess the legal attributes that define a state. After all, given the composition of the U.N., if the Palestinian Arabs offered a resolution condemning Israel for the devastation brought on by Hurricane Sandy, it would pass overwhelmingly.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas says U.N. recognition will "enable" him to resume negotiations with Israel, negotiations he has assiduously avoided for the last four years after not even responding to an Israeli offer to give him just about everything he claims he wants.

The PA already has blatantly violated just about every important commitment it made in the 1993 Oslo agreements. Launching more than 10,000 rockets at Israel after pledging to abandon terrorism is just one of many examples. This bid for U.N. recognition is another, since the agreements specify neither party will act unilaterally to change the status of the disputed territories.

Even if Abbas returns to the negotiating table, why would Israel or any other country expect any agreement reached with him (or a successor) would be worth the parchment it's written on?

Alan Stein
The writer is president emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting; www.primerct. org).

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nader Raids Reality

It's interesting how Ralph Nader, who began public life by presenting well-documented information about the auto industry, has taken to writing fiction.

A recent venomous, anti-Israel diatribe written by Nader may be found on his website and in several newspapers.  Here are a handful of the more outrageous fabrications, misrepresentations and distortions and comments on them.

Nader: "Out comes the well-worn playbook by Israel's militaristic government that has worked to silence Israeli politicians and citizens who want a two-state solution."

Reality check:  The leader of the Israeli government has come out publicly and firmly in favor of a two-state solution. Nader is arguing the Israel's government is trying to silence its own leader!

Nader: "This is an opportunity to use and test advanced weaponry from the U.S., compliments of U.S. taxpayers, and squelch ongoing peace efforts, small and large, by Palestinians, Israelis and international peace advocates."

Reality check: There are no effective "ongoing peace efforts," for the simple reason that the Palestinian Authority refuses to allow them. Since not even bothering to respond to an Israeli offer way back in 2008 to establish a Palestinian Arab state in the equivalent of the entirety of the disputed territories, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to negotiate.

Nader: "The playbook's first chapter is provocation to upset a tense but workable truce with Hamas, the elected government of Gaza."

Reality check: Mr. Nader might try asking the residents of Sderot whether they believe a "workable truce with Hamas" existed. This year alone, nearly 900 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians before the start of Operation Pillar of Defense! Thousands of rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza during the "truce."

Nader: "Hamas was encouraged at its creation years ago by both Israeli and U.S. backers to counter the secular Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Bit of a blowback there."

Reality check: When Hamas was forming, there was a brief period during which it pledged itself to non-violence and there was some hope in Israel that it would become a reasonable entity. Period.

Nader: "Israeli government leaders are expert provocateurs when they wish to seize land, water or prisoners and upset any movement toward a peace that would create a viable Palestinian state back to the 1967 borders, which includes East Jerusalem."

Reality check: Israel long ago gave away the vast bulk of the territory which it found itself administering after the 1967 war. It has repeatedly given more territory to the Palestinian Authority and offered to give the Palestinian Arabs the equivalent of 100% of the disputed territory - despite the fact that Israel has at least as much of an historical, legal and moral right to that territory. Unfortunately, the leaders of the Palestinian Arabs have been unwilling to pay the necessary price: giving up on their dream of destroying Israel and living together in peace.

There were no "1967 borders," only temporary armistice lines. Indeed, at the insistence of the Arab countries, the armistice agreements contained the provision that the armistice lines had no political significance. One may reasonably consider negotiations based on those armistice lines to be a violation of the armistice agreements!

Nader: "When Israel came into being in 1948, it soon broke a UN truce and doubled its territory by taking the large area known as the Negev desert ,whose refugees ended up in the Gaza Strip."

Reality check: Israel was invaded by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia the day after it was reestablished in 1948. It greatly preferred peace, but was forced to defend itself in the Arabs' genocidal war. It ended up with more territory than called for in the UN Partition Plan, but the amount was far from double (a mathematical impossibility) and was a consequence of the Arab aggression.

Nader: "Now 1.6 million encircled and impoverished humans, blockaded and under siege by Israel, try to survive in an open-air prison little more than twice the size of the District of Columbia."

Reality check: Israel controls only its own boundary with Gaza and, as allowed under the Oslo Accords, sea access. Gaza also has a border with Egypt, which is now ruled by the Egyptian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is also a branch. Not only is it physically impossible for Israel to "encircle" Gaza, but Israel transfers immense amounts of humanitarian assistance to the people in Gaza. Astoundingly, this assistance continued even during the recent flare-up. One would be hard-pressed to find another example of a country providing assistance to the very people murdering its citizens!

Nader: "Israel's strategy of breaking cease-fires and truces over the years has been documented by Princeton University history professor emeritus, Arno J. Mayer, in his scholarly book Plowshares into Swords: From Zionism to Israel (Verso, 2008)."

Reality check: Nader isn't the only one who writes fiction. Note again the thousands of rockets launched by Hamas and other terror groups from Gaza during the so-called "cease-fire" before Israel finally defended itself recently.

Nader: "In late 2008, Israel broke a months-long truce with Hamas with an attack that took half a dozen lives. Modern Israeli missiles and crude Hamas rockets started flying to and fro."

Reality check: A concise summary of Operation Cast Lead may be found at , where it is pointed out "Israel's Operation Cast Lead comes after three years of suffering thousands of daily Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel's southern cities."

More specifically, from : "On June 17, 2008, after several months of indirect contacts between Israel and Hamas through Egyptian mediators, Hamas agreed to a cease-fire (tahadiya). Almost immediately afterward, terrorists fired rockets into southern Israel. Despite what it called a “gross violation” of the truce, Israel refrained from military action.1 In fact, during the six months the arrangement was supposed to be observed, 329 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel."

Clearly, by Nader's standards, a cease-fire is an arrangement during which Israel ceases to defend its civilians as Hamas continues to fire at them.

Nader: "When the Gaza invasion-massacre ended, there were more than 1400 Palestinian fatalities, including around 300 children, and many thousands of injuries, a population surrounded by destruction and deprived by this illegal blockade-siege of medicines, food, water, electricity and the other necessities of life."

Fact check: Anti-Israel fanatics love to scream "massacre;" the reality is that even Hamas later tacitly acknowledged the vast majority of casualties were terrorists, despite the fact that Hamas deliberately operated out of civilian areas and used civilians as shields. The proportion of civilian casualties was amazingly low, far less than is typical in urban warfare, even when civilians are not being used as shields.

Nader: "The current hostilities started in two stages. The first was a back-and-forth that saw an emerging truce broken decisively on November 14 when Israel pridefully blew up a car containing Hamas military chief, Ahmad al-Jabari who actually was leading the negotiations via Egypt with Israel for a longer-range truce."

Reality check: For Nader, a truce is emerging as long as Israel refrains from defending itself even as its citizens are bombarded by rocket fire.

Nader: "Back to Israel's playbook, chapter two can be called the instant, mandatory resolutions by the puppet show in Congress and the automatic one-sided mantra by the White House. "Israel has a right to defend itself," said President Obama, from the occupied, besieged, defenseless Palestinians, whose lands, water, homes, businesses and freedom of movement are being taken relentlessly by the raiding Israeli government that is not content with possessing 78 percent of traditional Palestine."

Reality check: Another mathematical impossibility, since Jordan is in control of roughly 78 percent of the territory of the Palestine Mandate. And rather than taking from the Palestinian Arabs, Israel keeps trying to negotiate a peace that would leave the Palestinian Arabs with most of the disputed territory, even after the Palestinian Arabs refused to agree to an offer to give them the equivalent of all the disputed territory.

Nader: "Finally, chapter three of the playbook is to make sure that the Israeli government advocates dominate the U.S. media - the talk shows, the news slants, and the opinion columnists. This is becoming less easy in an internet age. Which might explain that, along with homes, water wells, rescue teams, an ambulance, and other civilian installations, the Israeli air force already has bombed the office building housing Palestinian television studios and hosting media from the western world, including Fox TV. That is one indelicate way to tell these western journalists to get out of Gaza so that the truth about the immense civilian suffering and war crimes can no longer be told by them."

Reality check: Those on the PRIMER list know how humorous this assertion is. For at least 22 journalists, the decision of whether to stay in Gaza or leave was not their own decision; Hamas would not let them leave. (See .)

Nader: "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be resolved peacefully, without violence. During quieter times, more than half the Israelis supported a two-state solution. A few years ago, 61 percent of Israelis, polled by a prominent university there, favored negotiations with Hamas. A majority of Jewish-Americans, though unorganized, favor a two-state solution."

Reality check: Unfortunately, the Palestinian Arab leadership has repeatedly refused to accept a two-state solution.

Nader: "So what is the alternative? A one-state solution with both Palestinians and Israelis having equal rights? Noura Erakat, who teaches at Georgetown University, framed the dilemma back in August when she quoted former prime minister and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak, saying, after leaving his former post, "If, and as long as between the Jordan [River] and the [Mediterranean] Sea there is only one political entity, named Israel, it will end up being either non-Jewish or nondemocratic.... If the Palestinians vote in elections it is a binational state, and if they don't vote it is an apartheid state." (,8599,1962232,00.html) His rival, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the same thing."

Reality check: De facto, there are already three political entities in the area: Israel, the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority-ruled territories. Roughly 95 percent of the Arabs in the disputed territories are governed by either Hamas or the PA. It's not an ideal situation from Israel's perspective, but its existence until the Palestinian Arabs are willing to negotiate an alternative is a totally separate issue from the ethnic and democratic nature of Israel.

Nader: "Awareness of this pathway is leading some extremist Israeli politicians who call Palestinians 'vermin' and 'rats' to think about the day when they can, with suitable provocations, drive the Palestinians into the desert."

Reality check: Unfortunately, what Nader recognizes as extreme among Israeli politicians is mainstream in Palestinian Arab politics; indeed, this points to the heart of the conflict.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dinner With Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran

This op-ed by PRIMER Board Member Jay Bergman was published in the Litchfield County Times on Tuesday, November 13, 2012.

On Oct. 24 The Central Recorder, the student newspaper at CCSU, reported that when the U.N. General Assembly convened in New York in late September, Professor Ghassan El-Eid of the CCSU Political Science Department brought 12 CCSU students to attend a dinner with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran. In the article Mr. Ahmadinejad was described by students as "very smart," "not as radical as the western media portray him," "inclusive," "kind to everyone who asked a question," and someone who "really wants everyone to get along, be respected, and learn."

Professor El Eid is quoted as characterizing Mr. Ahmadinejad as "a pretty rational leader," whose views may be "controversial" but who is "very careful to support his arguments with facts."

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an anti-Semitic bigot who has denied the Holocaust while repeatedly making clear his intention to carry out a second one:

* "Today, they [Europeans] have created a myth in the name of Holocaust (Dec. 14, 2005)."

*"Israel must be wiped off the map (Oct. 26, 2005)."

*"The Zionists are the true manifestation of Satan (Feb. 28, 2007)."

*"I warn you to abandon the filthy Zionist entity, which has reached the end of the line. It has lost its reason to be and will sooner or later fall. The ones who still support the criminal Zionists should know that the occupiers' days are numbered. ... Accept that the life of Zionists will sooner or later come to an end (Jan. 30, 2008)."

*"They [the Western powers] launched the myth of the Holocaust. They lied, they put on a show and then they support the Jews (Sept. 18, 2009)."

*No "Zionists" were killed in the World Trade Center, because "one day earlier they were told not to go to their workplace (Aug. 7, 2010)."

*"The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumor (Aug. 17, 2012)."

On Feb. 4, 2012, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, claimed "jurisprudential justification to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel. In that, the Islamic government of Iran must take the helm."

The government of Iran savagely persecutes Bahai's and Christians. It tortures and executes homosexuals. It has killed Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has harassed, arrested, tried and barred from travel Iranian women's rights activists. In 1983 it approved and funded the bombing of U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon, killing 241 Marines. And in 2009 it ruthlessly suppressed the Green Revolution, in which millions of Iranians demanded the freedoms Americans enjoy.

It is appalling that CCSU students were used as props in a public relations campaign to legitimize one of the most murderous regimes in the world today. I seriously doubt that any professor at CCSU, or at any other college or university in America, would arrange a dinner for students with a kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan. And yet dining with a genocidal anti-Semite who wants to kill six million Jews is perfectly acceptable.

Jay Bergman is a professor of history at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

Dismissive Behavior-Perspective is Critical to Understanding Another’s Point of View

GS Don Morris, P.H.D.

Social media is used by so many around the world. Allow me a disclaimer from the top: I am not not social media savvy nor do I use it much. I do recognize it as a communication tool that seems to influence individuals’ points of view. These last couple of months I have increased my FB participation, basically in the form of reading others’ posts. From time to time I engaged in some political banter and not always with positive results. Certainly so many feel so “free” to express themselves and that brings me to the topic of this post.

Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. Attempting to honor multiple peoples’ plea for civility I noticed how quickly after the election my Democratic “friends” moved to position themselves as the moral authority when it came to any attempted discussion regarding the results. The civil and polite term I use is dismissive. When one cared enough to write a position different from their point of view their words or regrettably, they, themselves were dismissed from either being one who practiced veracity or one who simply held a contrary point of view. This was and is to this day followed up with a stern reprimand or disingenuous statement about the said position. In other words, the post and/or the person were dismissed. Yet, these same individuals demanded both in language and tone of their language that we must now move away from our long held beliefs and values and move towards their point of view-of course, employing, “for the sake of the country”. After all, they now had a mandate.

Let us examine some numbers to see if the preceding is accurate. I can only use the numbers available to me as of the writing of this post so please focus upon the main concept. Here are the popular vote totals for both parties:

R=48% plus         46%(2008 vote)
D=51%         53%(2008 vote)
3,258,999-vote difference

Now follows my interpretation. It appears that Mr. Obama won by slightly less than 3% of the vote; I’ll not squabble over new data. It is true that the Republicans increased their share of the popular vote compared to 2008 and the Democrat decreased their popular vote share compared to 2008. Terms like “resounding” used to mean enormous, huge, or colossal. You might imagine when I realize that over 120,500,000 votes were cast and the difference was 3.2 million votes I had difficulty accepting the adjectives describing the outcome. We can discuss this but please to suggest that the American people have endorsed, authorized or indicated ratification of his policies is to accept the concept of “majority rules.” It is more accurate to suggest that a little over half of the nation supports the President and just under half of the nation does not support his policies. Careful, if you dismiss this point of view does this mean no discussion or bi-partisan cooperation is possible?

I marvel at other data interpretations-keeping the House in the hands of the Republicans (change occurred in 2010) and this “change” didn’t work (no explanation provided individuals making said pronouncement) and in 2012 the Congress remains basically the same, some interpret this as we are all in agreement, legislators should return and get back to business. Business as defined by whom and by what criteria-are these two questions not useful to discuss?? What is the meaning beneath this arcane statement? What can we all agree to? How about addressing the coming financial cliff, might everyone involved put in the time, effort and perseverance it will take to resolve this before January 1?

Remember school elections-did you participate in any? Can you imagine how you might respond when you know 100 students were eligible to participate in the class president election and after the election you discovered that the “other kid” received over 100 votes and you received 30 of the votes.  Clearly you lost but does the math add up? Might you want an explanation?

Hopefully you can at least understand why some of us had a reaction that went something like this: “How in the world can that be? In Ms. James math class last week we learned this was not possible.” You are therefore not surprised when we hear the following, you might expect we would be a bit suspicious:

Obama Won %108 of Registered Voters in Ohio County


Energy is also a major concern for our nation especially as we attempt to increase jobs in this country.  So when we hear: Obama administration seeks to drastically limit oil shale development on western lands

You can imagine we might suggest that this is not a prudent energy move right now.

Even though you may think it is not necessary to prove your identity when you vote for the President of the USA and yet you willingly show your picture id when you go to the airport to travel to …  or to cash a check, you can imagine our interests were peaked when we read Crooked Politics: Obama Lost in Every State With Photo ID Law

Wait, you get to practice your non-dismissive civil behavior right now. When this entire voter picture id issue came up boy did it cause a stir? Any of us who dared to suggest that this is fair and consistent with public policy in so many of our daily lives, we were dismissed as racists, bigots and other unseemly names. I noted that by using this word tactic you wanted to close down my point of view and even ascribe negative characteristics to it and to me. Why the fear in having a dialogue about this sensitive issue?

Certainly human rights are important for all peoples-yes? This is true more now than ever before.  The Middle East is awash with thousands of women being either raped, murdered, attacked or denied basic rights; one of our greatest enemies, Iran, continues to move rapidly toward acquiring nuclear bombs; thousands of people are slaughtered in northern Africa; Europe’s economy is on the brink of collapse, we hope Germany will fund those going bankrupt; our economy is stagnate at all time lows; recession is predicted for 2013; 23 million Americans are out of work and you know the other horrific economic data points. Can you imagine our upset when instead of focusing on these issues; a “war on women” became a major theme of this election? Imagine our surprise when we heard As Andrew Stiles of The Washington Free Beacon reported on May 24, "of the five senators who participated in Wednesday’s press conference—Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), Patty Murray (D., Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) And Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.)—Three pay their female staff members significantly less than male staffers." Perhaps any thoughtful, caring person might then ask critical questions about who has “women’s’ backs.

As a father of a highly successful daughter involved in a major business in the USA I have always been concerned about her rights, her opportunities and together with her mother we did our best to ensure she had every possibility made available to her-she however did the work and on her own efforts has made her way. Has it been easy-ask her. Is life meant to be easy, ah, a question for another post. My point is this, as important as this topic is to individuals, to use it as a wedge issue (a Democrat introduced this phrase ) intentionally to alienate a gender is … For the sake of civility I shall not complete the sentence. We had and still have major economic and security concerns. We have a dysfunctional legislative group and our international reputation has changed-I know, I live in the Middle East and hear it, read it and see it every day. By the way it is not what you may think or believe.  It seems that both sides operate from different perspectives. It does the nation no good to berate and negate one another’s positions. This human situation requires leadership that operates with an ability to listen and hear what the two parties say. This nation deserves individuals willing to put country first.  Rather than dismissing this final statement how about sitting down for a coffee and beginning a new narrative-one void of political sound bites?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Iran seeks to destroy the Jewish people

Published in the Connecticut Jewish Ledger, September 24, 2012

Persons involved in Jewish life believe that all American Jews support and identify with the State of Israel. While that belief may be generally correct, there are undoubtedly exceptions.

Clearly,  some dichotomize between the State of Israel, on the one hand, and American Jews, including themselves, on the other. They blithely live their lives despite the very real, mortal threat to the State of Israel from Iran's imminent attainment of nuclear weapons capability.

The dichotomization can only go so far. I was struck by the observation offered by a rabbi on Rosh Hashanah that Iran does not seek merely to destroy the State of Israel. Rather, its goal is the destruction of the Jewish people.

As I thought about his comment, I realized that the rabbi was correct. No Jew, no matter how seemingly secure in Connecticut, will be safe from a nuclear Iran.  Iran showed its intentions toward the Jewish people by directing the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. The bombing was an attack on the Jewish people, qua Jewish people, and not merely on the State of Israel as a political entity. The bombing had no relationship to Israel until the IDF, as protectors of the Jewish people, arrived in the wake of the tragedy.

If Iran could wreak such destruction without nuclear weapons, consider the peril for all Jews when Iran next year has nuclear capability and, virtually automatically, nuclear weapons. We delude ourselves to believe that we can escape Iran's fanatical hatred of us as Jews by psychologically divorcing ourselves from Jews abroad. We share a common fate, as we did in the Holocaust, when Jews were killed without distinction. Oceans are no longer a barrier.

What should we do? It is incumbent on all Jews, Jewishly involved and non-involved, to use their best efforts to stop Iran before Iran reaches the so-called zone of immunity. This must be our priority. We must communicate with governmental leaders, write to the media, and support organizations and candidates who demonstrate urgency in dealing with Iran. Of transcendent importance, we must understand that all Jews are joined together as targets of Iran's irrational hatred.

Mark I. Fishman
President of PRIMER-CT (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Unpublished Letters

These letters have been submitted but have not yet been published.

New London Day
Submitted September 15, 2012

Reading David Ignatius's September 15 op-ed, "U.S. can't let Israel force it into Iran war," I couldn't help but think of how wonderful hindsight is.

The world was virtually unanimous in condemning Israel when it destroyed Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981; today, every sane person is grateful for that prophylactic action.

History will probably condemn Israel for not doing the same to Iran's nuclear program fifteen years ago.

I certainly don't want either the United States or Israel to be forced to take military action against Iran. I own a winter home in Israel and will probably wind up spending time in bomb shelters if there's a military confrontation.

On the other hand, I want a nuclear Iran even less, especially since with Iran developing ICBMs we won't be safe here in America, either. When we seem to be putting more effort into pressuring Israel not to take military action against Iran's nukes than we put into pressuring those mad mullahs, we only increase the long-term probability not only of war, but of nuclear war.

I'm currently reading "Why England Slept," the published version of John F. Kennedy's senior thesis at Harvard. The similarities to today's world are frightening. We need to wake up.

Alan Stein

New York Times
Submitted September 28, 2012

Re The Times' September 27 editorial, "Talking at Cross Purposes," about the United Nations speeches by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the headline was right on but the rest of the editorial was way off base.

Netanyahu devoted most of his speech to the most serious immediate problem facing the world today, the drive by Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. Rather than, as The Times incorrectly reports, trying to get the world to take military action, Netanyahu is trying to get the world to wake up and take serious action that has a chance of making military action unnecessary.

Netanyahu paid little attention to the Palestinian Arabs for a very good reason: there is no chance for any progress as long as Mahmoud Abbas continues to refuse to negotiate while putting his effort into demonstrating that Mitt Romney's comment about the Palestinians "not wanting to see peace anyway" was correct.

Alan Stein

Boston Globe
Submitted October 1, 2012

Re the October 1 editorial, "Palestinian Authority's woes are a problem for US, Israel," the PA could make a significant dent in its financial problems if it stopped spending 6 percent of its budget paying jailed terrorists and the families of suicide bombers. As just one example, it pays Abbas al-Sayyeed $3,000 per month. Al-Sayyeed is in jail because he planned the 2002 Passover seder massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya, blowing up 30 civilians.

The PA also puts 48 percent of its expenditures into Hamas-ruled Gaza and pays 60,000 former employees to sit home.

For the Palestinian Authority, wasting donated money is a strategic ploy. Since its inception its leaders have successfully made alleged and self-induced weakness into a weapon against Israel, whose leaders have shown far more interest in the welfare of the Palestinian Arabs than either Yassir Arafat or Mahmoud Abbas, the so-called "moderate" who in 2008 refused to even respond to an Israeli offer of a Palestinian Arab state in the equivalent of all the disputed territories and since then has generally refused to even sit down and negotiate.

Alan Stein


The statistics about payments to jailed terrorists and families of suicide bombers is available from many sources, including the Times of Israel article "PA spends 6% of its budget paying Palestinians in Israeli jails, families of suicide bombers," available at <>.

The statistics about Palestinian Authority spending in Gaza is also available from many sources, including the Commentary Magazine article "PA’s Fiscal Crisis Is Due to Gaza, Not Israel," <>.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Comment and Analysis: New York TImes, New London Day, Danbury News-Times

Short quotes from three recent items in Connecticut newspapers along with analyses of those quotes.

Item 1:

A letter, entitled "U.S. policies further isolate Israel," written by Ernie Cohen of Norwich and published in The Day on Saturday, September 29, 2012.

"Avraham Berg, former speaker of the Israeli parliament, laments that Israel is falling into theocracy where citizenship depends on belonging to the right synagogue and excluding everyone else."

While the conflicts between the ultra-orthodox and secular Jewish communities in Israel is one of their most serious problems, in quoting Berg the writer grossly exaggerates. In no way is Israel "falling into theocracy" and one's synagogue has absolutely no relationship to citizenship, either for current citizens or for Jews in the diaspora making aliyah.

Note that Avraham Berg has become a French citizen, "is in favor of abrogating the Law of Return and calls on everyone who can to obtain a foreign passport." (See the Ha'aretz article "Burg: Defining Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end" An Algemeiner article refers to him as a self-hating Israel and an anti-Zionist. He seems to be suffering from a variant of the Stockhold Syndrome.

"Israel's rapidly increasing Jewish population contrasts with an Arab population living behind barbed wire on the West Bank while new Jewish immigrants settle on more Arab lands."

This is absolutely false.

The Arab population is no more "living behind barbed wire" than the Jewish population. A separation barrier, in some places ordinary chain link fence, concrete barriers in some places where fencing is impractical, was built to protect Israeli civilians from the brutal terrorist campaign launched by the Palestinian Arabs after Yassir Arafat rejected peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state in 2000.

Re population increases, the Arab population in Israel is growing at a much faster rate than the Jewish population.

In the last year, the Jewish population grew by 1.8% and the Arab population grew by 2.4%. In the disputed territories, there are no Jews at all in Gaza. In the West Bank, Jews are restricted from building anywhere but within the boundaries of some existing communities, while Arab building, legal and illegal, is rampant. (See

Since Jerusalem was reunited in 1967, the capital city's Jewish population has increased by 157 percent while the Arab population has increased an astounding 327 percent! (See

The Jewish communities in the disputed territories are generally built on land that was either owned by Jews or was state land; very little can be honestly characterized as "Arab land."

"The prolonged occupation and opposition by Israel to Palestinian efforts to become a state is having moral consequences within Israeli society."

The Israeli government is publicly in favor of the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state and has twice proposed the establishment of such a state in virtually all (in 2000) or the equivalent of all (in 2008) the disputed territories. It is the Palestinian Arab leadership, not Israel, which has prevented the establishment of another Palestinian state.

For most practical purposes, the so-called "occupation" ended near the start of the failed Oslo process nearly two decades ago and any remnants remain only because of Arab terrorism and rejectionism.

"Israel today hasn't a single supporter in the middle East."

    Israel has never had a supporter in the Middle East, with the exception of Iran during the rule of the Shah and Turkey until the Islamist government under Erdogan. In each case, it was Islamist hatred rather than any action by Israel which changed friend into enemy.

"Americans have contributed to Israel's isolation by abandoning the peace process and exploiting biblical sentiments for political and military gains."

    It was Mahmoud Abbas, not either America or Israel, who destroyed and abandoned the so-called peace process.

"Christians and Jews alike need to ask themselves: 'If God walked across the Holy Land today, what would he see? Who would he help.'"

    The answer is obvious, but it's not the one which the letter-writer wishes the reader to incorrectly infer.

Item 2:

A New York Times editorial, published in The Times September 28 and republished as a guest editorial in The Day on Saturday, September 29, 2012.

"In dueling speeches, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel focused on drawing a red line for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities while the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, cataloged his community's many grievances against Israel and tried to revive the fading dream of a two-state solution."

    The editorial writer(s) infer too much; crossing a red line might lead to an attack, but one might conceive of other possibilities. They also falsely imply Netanyahu wants to attack; he's made it quite clear he would like to see Iran's nuclear program ended without military action, but believes that is far more likely to be achieved if there is a credible threat of military action.

    Most of the so-called grievances charged by Abbas were figments of his imagination and consequences of his refusal to make peace, or even negotiate, with Israel. He did nothing to revive the "fading dream of a two-state solution;" indeed, since the death of Yassir Arafat, he's been the chief roadblock.

"Both issues - Iran's dangerous nuclear ambitions and the Palestinian right to a secure state - need to be dealt with seriously, but neither man acknowledged the other side's priority nor articulated a common path forward. Mostly, the speeches showed how far peace efforts have gone off track."

    Netanyahu gave Abbas' anti-Israel rhetoric precisely the amount of consideration it deserved, 67 words. He pointed out: "We won’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN. That’s not the way to solve it. We won’t solve our conflict with unilateral declarations of statehood. We have to sit together, negotiate together, and reach a mutual compromise, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the one and only Jewish State."

    Abbas's rejectionism and refusal to negotiate has made the so-called "peace process" irrelevant, at least until he or a successor exhibits a willingness to negotiate.

    The Iranian nuclear program is arguably the most serious problem facing the world today and it was quite appropriate that the Israeli prime minister devote most of his speech to that problem. (That is not to say, if the world succeeds in keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of the mad mullahs in charge of Iran, that the consequences of the mislabeled "Arab spring" will not in the future present a more serious problem.)

"Netanyahu told the U.N. that he believes Iran's ability to make a nuclear weapon will be irreversible by next spring or summer, and he argued that a 'clear red line' must be drawn to warn Iran to halt its nuclear fuel enrichment or face military action. While that was a far more specific time frame than he had previously noted, his reference to next year seems to back away from earlier statements that seemed to suggest an Israeli strike much sooner."
    Indeed, Netanyahu made no mention of any attacks on Iran; his emphasis was on preventing military action. In his own words, "Red lines don’t lead to war; red lines prevent war." He gave illustrations of red lines drawn in the past which helped keep the peace: "Look at NATO’s charter: it made clear that an attack on one member country would be considered an attack on all.  NATO’s red line helped keep the peace in Europe for nearly half a century. President Kennedy set a red line during the Cuban Missile Crisis. That red line also prevented war and helped preserve the peace for decades."

    And he pointed out "In fact, it’s the failure to place red lines that has often invited aggression."

"Still, Netanyahu's speech continued to push a campaign that promotes military action when there is time for sanctions and diplomatic negotiations to produce a peaceful outcome. An Israeli Foreign Ministry report, disclosed by Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, on Thursday, acknowledged as much, saying that sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe are having a huge impact on Iran's economy and may be affecting the government's stability. The report urged that the sanctions be tightened further."

    The writers completely misread Netanyahu's intent, which is to prevent the need for military action. While the sanctions have had a significant impact on Iran's economy, they have yet to impact Iran's nuclear weapons program, which has actually been sped up. The point is that the sanctions and diplomatic efforts are unlikely to work unless they are backed up by a credible military threat.

"Abbas' complaints are no less important for both Israel, the Palestinians and the region. Using exceptionally sharp rhetoric, he accused Israeli settlers of undertaking 535 attacks against Palestinians in recent months, and he charged Israel with using settlement expansion and efforts to weaken the Palestinian Authority to destroy the prospect of a two-state solution. Netanyahu made a brief reference to wanting peace with the Palestinians, but there is no hope of meaningful negotiations anytime soon."

    The reason there is no hope for meaningful negotiations anytime soon is that there is no hope that Abbas will end his boycott of negotiations anytime soon.

    Just because Abbas makes outlandish accusations doesn't make those accusations true. Contrast, for example, his absurd accusations of Israel "judaizing Jerusalem" with the enormous Arab population increases in Jerusalem cited above.

    While there have been a relative handful of "price tag" attacks by radical Israelis against both Israeli government facilities and Palestinian Arabs, their quantity and seriousness are dwarfed by the continued Arab terrorism against innocent Israeli civilians. So far this year, well over 400 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza at Israeli cities and towns.

    Whereas the Palestinian Authority continues to incite against Israel, glorify terrorists and terrorism,  financially supports murderers of Israeli civilians and insists that Israel release all imprisoned Arab terrorists, the Israeli government acts vigorously against the fringe elements that attack Palestinian Arabs.

"After failing to get a process for talks going early in his term, Obama seems to have given up. Mitt Romney has suggested that he would do even less if he's elected. On the notorious videotaped when he was speaking at a private fundraising event in May, he disparaged Palestinians as "not wanting to see peace anyway" and said his approach was to "recognize this is going to remain an unsolved problem." He seems poised to encourage Netanyahu's intemperate posture toward Iran, no matter the consequences."

    Netanyahu is trying to get the world to prevent letting the mad mullahs in charge of Iran get there hands on nuclear weapons. In other words, he is trying to prevent a nuclear catastrophe and is trying to do that without military action. That's hardly intemperate.

    Regardless of his reasons, Romney's remarks regarding the Palestinian Arabs' disinterest in peace were accurate and, obviously, the Arab-Israeli conflict will remain an "unsolved problem" until both the Palestinian Arabs and the rest of the Arabs start having an interest in making peace.

Item 3:

An op-ed, entitled "Where I Stand; Bibi, bluster and Bain," written by Stephan Lesher of Southbury and published in the Danbury News-Times on Sunday, September 30, 2012.

"It may have gone unnoticed by many, but when Mitt Romney, the bagman from Bain, dismissed nearly half the American people as people who refuse to take personal responsibility for their lives, he also threw the Palestinian people and any hope for a Palestinian-Israeli two-state solution under the bus."

    PRIMER, of course, takes no position regarding any candidate's words or actions relating to anything other than the Middle East. Re Romney's words re the Palestinian Arab unwillingness to make peace, as noted above, they were accurate. In no way did they throw "any hope for a Palestinian-Israeli two-state solution under the bus;" indeed, since he isn't even a government official, he couldn't; on the other hand, at least in the near term, Mahmoud Abbas has already done it.

"Of course, when Romney told 150 donors at a Boca Raton, Fla. fundraising dinner last May (at $50,000 a plate) that 'I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel,' he was simply mouthing the party line from the blustering, bombastic, and eminently dangerous Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Romney's all-but-open political supporter in the 2012 American presidential race."

    Again, the comments re the Palestinian Arabs were accurate. His comments re Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have been accurate if made regarding Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, from whose "blustering, bombastic, and eminently dangerous" policies Netanyahu is trying to save the world.

"Indeed, the opposition leader in Israel, Shaul Mofaz, asked of Netanyahu in the Knesset recently, 'Who are you trying to replace? The administration in Washington or that in Tehran.'"

    Israeli politics are sometimes rather impolitic.

"As Netanyahu presses closer and closer to launching a unilateral attack on Iran, and continues relentlessly painting President Barack Obama as naïve in the extreme, it is, as journalist David Remnick wrote recently In the New Yorker, 'hard to overestimate the risks (he) poses to the future of his own country.'"

    It's interesting to note the conflict between Lesher's assertion and The Times' grudging acknowledgment that Netanyahu seemed "to back away from earlier statements that seemed to suggest an Israeli strike much sooner." Of course, consistency in unfair criticism of Israel has rarely been a consideration.

    It's hard to overestimate the risks not preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons would pose not just to Israel and not just to the United States, but to the entire world.

"It might be added that the risk extends to the United States as well because of the overwhelming pressure that would be brought on the administration to take military actions to support Israel in any counterattack."

    The risk extends to the United States because Iran considers us the "Great Satan" while Israel is merely considered the "Little Satan." Israel is the first target right now only because Iran has not yet developed missiles that could strike us. It's reasonable to expect that it will not be long before Iran's efforts to develop longer range missiles bring us into range, at which point they very well might ignore Israel in order to strike directly at us.

"As New York Times columnist Gail Collins suggested recently, the U.S. Congress will take almost any action 'designed to demonstrate total support for whatever Israel thinks a good idea.'"

    Whatever one thinks of Congress, it boggles the mind to take seriously an accusation that all of Congress is unpatriotic.

"What makes Netanyahu's determination to strike out at Iran so monumentally wrongheaded is that he has been ignoring the advice of almost every current and recently retired leader of the Israeli military and the country's major intelligence organizations as well as a clear majority of the Israeli population."

    Once again, Netanyahu is not determined "to strike out at Iran;" he clearly very much wants to avoid having to do so.

"Many of these current and former officials have said in public interviews that they are afraid that such an attack might spark a regional war as well as unify the Iranian people behind the country's none-too-popular regime.
"It is becoming clear that Netanyahu is not only playing to his right-wing supporters in Israel, but to the neo-cons in the US as well."

    Is it not possible that Netanyahu is simply trying to save both his country and the world from the gravest threat both face at the present time?

"The problem is that Romney is picking up on Netanyahu's rejection of Palestinians and of the two-state solution."

    Netanyahu has rejected neither. He has put the Israeli government firmly on record as supporting the so-called two-state solution.

"In its place, the Netanyahu policy of making life as difficult as possible for Palestinians will continue and presumably be adopted by a Romney administration should he somehow succeed in unseating President Obama."

    Au contraire, Netanyahu has worked assiduously to improve the lives of the Palestinian Arabs in the disputed territories, often over objections of Israelis who, justifiably, fear that he has put their lives in danger by removing most of the roadblocks and greatly increasing the numbers of Palestinian Arabs given permission to work in Israel. He has also lobbied foreign governments to increase their assistance to the Palestinian Authority and has even advanced tax money, effectively loaning the Palestinian Authority money, to help with its self-inflicted financial problems.

"The result would be continued and perhaps unending turmoil in the Middle East."

    There will be continued turmoil in the small Arab-Israeli portion of the Middle East until the Arabs, including the Palestinian Arabs, give up on their dream of destroying Israel. And, even in the event of an Arab-Israeli peace - not just a peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs - there will obviously be great turmoil in the Middle East for many years to come.