Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Latest SLANT on Anti-Semitism and the Middle East

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The decision by the United Methodist Church's Pension Board to divest from the five largest Israeli banks and one Israeli company is something we need to stand up and challenge.  I do not believe that the majority of Methodists support this move at all, and I've posted what's below on the Church's web site.

It is very sad to read that the United Methodist Church's Pension Board has included five Israeli banks among the 39 it is blacklisting.
This lumps Israel in with countries like Sudan, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Syria - a designation that makes no sense whatsoever.
The reason behind the decision is that these five banks invest in and support what the Church views as illegal construction of, support for and financial assistance to settlements in Judea, Samaria and the West Bank, according to its public statements.
Strangely enough, the Palestinian Authority Banks and those controlled by Hamas in Gaza are not listed, despite the fact that the PA Charter requires that no Jews be allowed to live in any emergent Palestinian State, while Hamas not only prohibits them, but calls for killing all Jews and their supporters worldwide.
And of even more interest, there is no blacklisting of banks in places like China (which has occupied Tibet since the early 1950s), Morocco (which has occupied the Spanish Sahara - once an independent country - for more than 20 years), Russia (which invaded and seized 20% of the Ukraine last year), Armenia (which seized 20% of Azerbijian more than 20 years ago and ethnically cleansed it), Lebanon (where the terrorist group Hezbollah has undermined the government, militarily supports the Bashar Asad regime in neighboring Syria and blew up the US Marines Barracks as one of its countless documented terrorist attacks, while also calling for the elimination of Israel), etc.
Egypt, which has closed its border with Gaza and razed 1,100 yards of land adjoining that border and is flooding the smugglers' tunnels that run under that border, gets a free does Venezuela, which has done more to undermine democracy in South America than any other country save, perhaps, Cuba (which also gets a free pass, despite its history of persecution).
Another question to be raised is: if the issue is financial activity in Judea and Samaria, exactly what boundaries is Israel supposed to exist within? According to every site I've checked, Judea included everything from the Tel Aviv area to ALL OF JERUSALEM, and south well past Beersheva. It also included Shiloh, Shechem (now known as Nablus), Jericho and a host of other familiar names that the Palestinians claim as their own.
So, if construction inside Judea is illegal - and if you check the map, you'll see that biblical Samaria also included the rest of modern Israel - exactly where is the Methodist Church setting Israel's boundaries?? Or, has it constructively called for the abolishment of the Jewish Homeland?
Furthermore, under international law, the West Bank was illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948-67 (where was the United Methodist Church during those days?) and Gaza was illegally occupied by Egypt during the same period. However, Israel is not an "occupier" because there was NEVER a country of "Palestine," and there is no centuries-old history or holidays, unique language or customs, etc., for this Arafat-created entity.
It is also shocking that the United Methodist Church closes its eyes to the persecution of Christians in every other country in the Middle East; in fact, by condemning Israel's banks and others, it gives what I hope is unintended tacit support to those other nations in which there is no religious freedom, in which churches are being burnt, in which no one can publicly wear a cross or display a bible, and in which conversion to Christianity is punishable by death.
This is a terrible decision and needs to be rescinded immediately.
Map of the Territory of Judah and Judea in Ancient Israel. Judea and the surrounding territories (Southern Israel). The locations that have an underline…

Monday, January 11, 2016

Letter to PBS Frontline About "Netanyahu at War"

This insightful critique was sent to PBS by Daniel H. Trigoboff and is posted here with the permission of the author.

Dear Frontline Staff:

I am writing to express both a modicum of praise and some important concerns regarding the Frontline Episode "Netanyahu At War" which was aired on WNED-TV Public TV on 1/5/16 at 9PM in Buffalo, New York. It is commendable that at times comments from interviewees across the political spectrum in Israel and in the United States were presented, and that at times Mr. Netanyahu's perspectives were somewhat articulated.

Nonetheless I came away from this program with some strong concerns and objections. These were related to frequent bias against the Prime Minister, embodied both in some aspects of format and also in the content of many of the narrator's and interviewees' comments.

With regard to format, it was notable that many of Netanyahu's perspectives, views, and experiences were immediately followed by comments from a plethora of anti-Israel and anti-Netanyahu sources, and then the show would move on to a different issue or topic. Journalists know well that the final comment on a news story or political matter is often the one that stays with the public, and therefore this positioning of the negative comments reflected implicit bias in the broadcast format. A fairer rendition would have had a much more even split between anti-Netanyahu and pro-Netanyahu final comments.

This was particularly evident with regard to the narrator, whose voice often intoned "the truth" after the presentation of some statement or action of Netanyahu's, which was far more often than not contradictory to the Prime Minister's positions or actions. Also global negative statements were often permitted about Netanyahu, such as "...people like Netanyahu, you don't get a second chance..." by Ari Shavit, a well known extreme leftist author, but no similarly generalized positive comments were in evidence. Another example was interviewee Martin Kalb's statements that "...he doesn't and didn't want to have a deal with them (Palestinians)," as though Kalb was telepathic, or as though Netanyahu's many concessions to Palestinians - releasing dozens of convicted Palestinian murderers from jail, offering to negotiate with no preconditions, remaining supportive of a Palestinian State despite ongoing Palestinian terrorism and conduct expressive of their wish to destroy Israel, pulling Israeli troops out of Hebron and signing a treaty advancing the Oslo process - were of no value. Furthermore after detailing some of these concessions, the documentary implausibly proceeded to focus on "how difficult Bibi was making it."

A particularly odious example of this documentary permitting an interviewee to claim anti-Netanyahu telepathy was the statement, referring to Rabin's assassination, that Netanyahu "...knew what was coming and accepted it." Furthermore the documentary often returned to interviewees making obviously hostile telepathic statements about Netanyahu's inner workings like Marvin Kalb, who stated "what kind of objectivity could this man (Netanyahu) bring." Like Shavit, who alleged that Netanyahu has a "fortress mentality" about Israel, and who compared Barak Obama to sanctified political figures like Nelson Mandela, but who, in discussing Netanyahu's alleged "pessimism" couldn't bring himself to compare Netanyahu to any similarly commendable illustrative historical figure, for example Winston Churchill.

There were also numerous specific problems with content. To begin with, "Palestinians" were not displaced by the 1967 war, as the disputed territories were then controlled by Jordan and Egypt. There was no country of Palestine then, nor has there ever been such a country. In fact up until 1964 the Arabs steadfastly insisted that there was no such entity as "Palestine," and that the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria were indistinguishable from the Arabs of the surrounding Arab countries.

Furthermore, Saeb Erekat was allowed to claim disingenuously that prior to Oslo both sides "knew nothing but to shoot." The documentary did not point out that in 1967, Israel offered to withdraw from Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip in return for peace, an offer which was spurned by the Arabs in favor of continuing violent efforts to destroy Israel. So it wasn't both sides that knew nothing but to shoot, it was one side, and that side continues to this day to engage in endless violence against Israeli civilians.

Martin Indyk was permitted to lie by claiming he sat next to Netanyahu at Rabin's funeral, and that Netanyahu's primary focus at that event supposedly was his own political fortunes. Yet photographs of that funeral circulating today make it clear that Indyk was not sitting anywhere near Netanyahu, and therefore could not possibly have overheard anything Netanyahu said.

Ari Shavit was permitted to lie about the outbreak of the Second Intifada by falsely claiming "...Boom! It exploded...", when in fact subsequent interviews with several of Arafat's minions revealed that this round of violence was planned months in advance by Arafat, who wished to torpedo any peaceful process or resolution of the conflict.

The myth of spontaneous Palestinian violence was further intoned by Diana Buttu, the former PLO negotiator, when even cursory examination of Palestinian media and leadership statements on a daily basis reveals violent incitement and murderous antisemitic slurs that would be completely at home in Nazi Germany. The documentary failed to mention this incitement or examine its role in fomenting violence.

The documentary opened its discussion of Israel's legitimate war of self defense in Gaza in 2008-9 by completely failing to reference the cause of the war, to wit, unceasing attacks by Hamas. Instead the only exploration of that event was a discussion of Israeli "...targeting..." of Palestinians, and the only pictures shown were of horrified or grieving Palestinians. Where were, for example, any pictures of terrified residents of southern Israel in shelters, under attack by Hamas terrorists?

The documentary focused on the allegedly "outrageous" behavior of Netanyahu in lecturing Obama in the Oval Office in 2011, while giving relatively short shrift to the truly offensive conduct of the Obama Administration in springing an important policy change detrimental to Israel's national interests - advocating a return to the 1967 Armistice Lines as a starting point for negotiations, instead of maintaining the decades long American and Israeli positions that borders will arise out of negotiations, not precede them - on Netanyahu the day before he was to arrive in Washington for a scheduled visit. Unfortunately the documentary didn't cover this diplomatic history, which made this Obama Administration pronouncement so problematic.

The documentary focused on what it mistakenly represented as an exaggerated, overblown response by Netanyahu to the egregiously flawed deal with Iran, while papering over the actual problems with this deal which justified Netanyahu's anguish. The documentary went so far as to permit Martin Indyk to state in hyperbolic fashion that Netanyahu was "no longer rational" in his attempts to articulate the problems with the flawed Iran deal.

Yet these problems are now becoming all too evident as Iran flouts the international community by testing prohibited missiles, while threatening to terminate this deal every time it is called to account for its aggressive behavior, which recently included firing missiles near American Navy ships. And permitting Indyk to sling mud in this fashion, without permitting an opposing view to be voiced - i.e., it wasn't Netanyahu who was being irrational in opposing the deal, it was the Obama Administration's irrationality, short sightedness, and over focus on the President's legacy that led it to conclude a deal that was basically a surrender to Iran - was hardly responsible journalism.

The documentary concluded with the narrator stating that the "violence returned to Israel," without mentioning the cause, as though somehow "the violence" had been away somewhere on vacation. In fact what happened was that Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian propagandists launched a series of dangerous anti-Semitic libels and slanders about Israel and Jews "threatening Al Aksa Mosque," glorifying stabbing and other attacks against Jews, and continue to do so to this very day. They are directly responsible for precipitating the current wave of violence against innocent Israeli civilians, which didn't just "return" despite the failure of the documentary to include these important facts.

So although this documentary did include a modicum of balance at times, a lack of objectivity and a clear bias against PM Netanyahu were in evidence all too often. Frontline should broadcast some corrections of the errors in this documentary, and redouble efforts to cover events in the Middle East or in Israel with a higher degree of objectivity.

Daniel H. Trigoboff, Ph.D.
Williamsville, New York