Sunday, March 31, 2013

Blood libel back

Elder of Ziyon

Lebanese newspaper also says Jews drink Christian blood on Passover

Elder of Ziyon
As I wrote previously, the anti-semitism in Hanan Ashrawi's Miftah NGO is not an anomaly, rather, it represents mainstream Arab opinion.

On March 28, 2013, the Lebanese daily Al-Sharq published an article by Lebanese writer Sana Kojok that claimed that during Passover, the Jews eat matzah made with the blood of non-Jews. The article also called on the Palestinians to turn the Israelis' holiday from one of joy and pleasure into one of weeping and wailing.

Following are excerpts from the article:

"... The Zionist Jews have special holidays dedicated to them: Sukkot... on which they witness the beginning of the agrarian year... Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, which they celebrate for eight days, [and during which] they light candles every evening; for them, this holiday symbolizes the Jews' celebrations of the victory over the Greek rulers! [During] the holiday of masks, Purim, which is celebrated in early spring, religious Jews tell the story of Queen Esther, drink alcohol, and dress in costume.

"However, during the Jewish holiday of Passover, which begins today, strange and bizarre rituals are held, according to instructions by the Talmud: Houses are cleared of all leaven, that is, all bread and bread products containing yeast, which are called 'hametz' in Hebrew. Yesterday, they burned the bread in their homes because this needs to be done one day prior to the holiday.

"Additionally, on the holiday eve, the Zionist Jews eat unleavened bread which during its preparation is mixed with blood – but that blood must be from a non-Jew!! This unleavened bread is called 'matzah.
Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Settlements have nothing to do with peace

While critics of Israel keep saying that settlements are precluding the chance of peace, were the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table (which they have refused to do since the end of 2008), these offers might or might not be put back in play. Especially after the disastrous withdrawal from Gaza, which resulted in the territory becoming a huge terror base rather than advancing the chances for peace, the Israeli people are far more skeptical about such schemes. But were the PA ever to show its commitment to ending the conflict, anything would be possible.
But in the absence of such a commitment, talk about Israeli home building preventing peace is simply an attempt to divert attention from Palestinian rejectionism.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas did take up Netanyahu’s offer to conduct peace talks anywhere, anytime. Would the building in Arab areas stop such an initiative from succeeding?
As the Times relates, the sum total of Jews living in those neighborhoods amounts to approximately 2,200 people living in scattered homes and apartments. They, like the Jews living in far-flung settlements deep in the West Bank, would oppose being put into a putative state of Palestine. But were such an agreement truly promising peace, rather than a truce that would only postpone further Palestinian efforts to destroy Israel, it is not likely they would prevail in stopping such an agreement from being ratified or implemented. But if peace were really in the offing, the question arises: why would the presence of a few Jews in parts of their ancient capital be so offensive to the Palestinians?
Tobin Commentary
The fact is, it is not a few people whom the Times characterize as extremists that oppose a partition of Jerusalem. The overwhelming majority of Israelis think division of the city is unworkable and not likely to enhance the chances of peace. Moreover, unlike the editors of the Times and others who insist that only an Israeli commitment to leave parts of Jerusalem will bring peace, most Israelis understand the Palestinians aren’t remotely interested in peace on virtually any terms that would require them to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state.
Given the ongoing Palestinian hostility to Israel’s existence and support for terror, many Israelis would question the wisdom of further entangling the Jewish and Arab populations by building in Arab neighborhoods. But few would question the right of Jews to live there.
As the final Palestinian quoted in the piece says, the Arabs are still laboring under the delusion that the Jews can be made to think Jerusalem isn’t “their place” or “their land” and will be made to leave. So long as attitudes such as these prevail, peace is truly impossible no matter what Israel’s government or its citizens say or do.

New York Times continuing anti Israel bias

Inciting Intifada: A New Low for the Times

The bias against Israel in the press, and especially the New York Times, has become so steady and predictable that it can be difficult to muster outrage. But that doesn’t mean the Times isn’t still trying to make waves. Indeed, since the paper flaunts, rather than attempts to disguise, its hostility to Israel, it can be easy to miss when the Times crosses yet another line. And the paper and its editors have done so again this weekend with its depraved magazine cover article cheerleading a new intifada against Israel.
As Jonathan wrote yesterday, the Times has chosen to greet President Obama’s trip to Israel with the magazine piece on the Palestinian settlement of Nabi Saleh and the storyby Jodi Rudoren on the supposed injustice of allowing Jews to live in Jerusalem. Jonathan ably deconstructed the Rudoren piece and explained quite clearly why the author of the magazine piece, Ben Ehrenreich, who trumpets the nobility of anti-Zionism, lacks any credibility on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It can’t be argued that the Times didn’t know exactly what it was getting with Ehrenreich. And so it should be asked, instead, why the Times’s editors wanted a piece openly supportive of another intifada. After all, the article is crystal clear about its intentions. One key part comes late in the piece, when Ehrenreich writes:
That elite lives comfortably within the so-called “Ramallah bubble”: the bright and relatively carefree world of cafes, NGO salaries and imported goods that characterize life in the West Bank’s provisional capital. During the day, the clothing shops and fast-food franchises are filled. New high-rises are going up everywhere. “I didn’t lose my sister and my cousin and part of my life,” Bassem said, “for the sons of the ministers” to drive expensive cars.
Worse than any corruption, though, was the apparent normalcy. Settlements are visible on the neighboring hilltops, but there are no checkpoints inside Ramallah. The I.D.F. only occasionally enters the city, and usually only at night. Few Palestinians still work inside Israel, and not many can scrape a living from the fields. For the thousands of waiters, clerks, engineers, warehouse workers, mechanics and bureaucrats who spend their days in the city and return to their villages every evening, Ramallah — which has a full-time population of less than 100,000 — holds out the possibility of forgetting the occupation and pursuing a career, saving up for a car, sending the children to college.
But the checkpoints, the settlements and the soldiers are waiting just outside town, and the illusion of normalcy made Nabi Saleh’s task more difficult. If Palestinians believed they could live better by playing along, who would bother to fight?
That is an almost-perfect distillation of the choice before the Palestinians. On the one hand there is peace, prosperity, international integration, and political autonomy. On the other is armed struggle. As Ehrenreich notes, the “normal” life, the peaceful life, is “worse than any corruption.” Those are Ehrenreich’s words, and easy for him to say since he doesn’t have to stay there. But Bassem Tamimi, the subject of the story, confirms them. He says he didn’t struggle and fight and sacrifice for peace, for nice cars, for a college education for his children–for “normalcy” that is worse than any corruption.
But in fact the article pushes this line from the very beginning. The headline asks “Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start?” Note the word “will.” There will be blood, says the Times; who will get the glory? Incitement is the only theme of the piece. Ehrenreich explains the origins of the Nabi Saleh-based protest movement, marching first in 2009. But, Ehrenreich laments, the “momentum has been hard to maintain.”
He and others like him are doing their part, though. The villagers march each Friday, “joined at times by equal numbers of journalists and Israeli and foreign activists.” It isn’t clear why journalists and activists merit separate categories here beside for the propagation of a silly illusion that perhaps assuages some of Ehrenreich’s guilt. The activists may speak words of peace, but they are, he writes, “young anarchists in black boots.” Ehrenreich notes that “a pilgrimage to Nabi Saleh has achieved a measure of cachet among young European activists, the way a stint with the Zapatistas did in Mexico in the 1990s.” It isn’t about the Palestinians; it’s never about the Palestinians. But Ehrenreich and the others make sure not to tell the Palestinians that as they shove the Tamimis into battle, stand back and take pictures, and then get on a plane and fly home.
Bassem Tamimi condemns the Oslo peace process that gave the Palestinian leadership authority but no real power, as he sees it. As a result, Bassem is paid by the Palestinian Authority to do nothing, so he can stay home and stay care of his ailing mother and still receive a paycheck. But that’s not what he wants. When talk turns to the first intifada, Ehrenreich tells us, Bassem “speaks of those years, as many Palestinians his age do, with something like nostalgia.” They miss the armed conflict. “If there is a third intifada,” Bassem tells Ehrenreich, “we want to be the ones who started it.”
Throughout the piece, Ehrenreich continually brings up the prospects of a new intifada. What are its chances? What will be the “spark”? Is the village ready? The villagers try to sell the line that they are nonviolent, but that doesn’t even convince Ehrenreich, who points out that in fact they throw grenades, Molotov cocktails, and rocks like the one that put a young child in critical condition last week. A more important point is that, as Ehrenreich notes, past intifadas have only escalated; no matter where or how they started, they quickly became more and more violent. There is no way the intifada Ehrenreich, the Times magazine, and the Palestinian villagers encourage will be nonviolent. So, again: why does the Times want an article like this? We probably don’t want to know the answer.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Obama in Israel

ERUSALEM (AP) — Eager to reassure an anxious ally, PresidentBarack Obama on Wednesday affirmed Israel's sovereign right to defend itself from any threat and vowed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. He said containment of a nuclear-armed Iran was not an option and said the United States would do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from getting "the world's worst weapons."
Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his first visit to the Jewish state as president, Obama offered his personal commitment that the U.S. would stand by Israel in any circumstances that required it to act to protect its people. He said the U.S. and Israel would start talks soon on a new, 10-year security cooperation package to replace one that expires in 2017.
Obama also pledged to investigate whether chemical weapons were used this week in neighboring Syria's 2-year-old civil war, something he said would be a "game-changer" for current U.S. policy. In addition, he said he would continue to urge Israel and the Palestinians to relaunch the moribund peace process.
Speaking at a joint news conference, Obama and Netanyahu, who have sparred on numerous occasions in the past, presented a united front on Iran.
They stressed repeatedly that all options — including military ones — are on the table to keep Iran from acquiring an atomic weapon if the diplomatic track fails. And they brushed aside apparent differences over when the Iranian nuclear program might reach the point that military action is required.
"We will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining the world's worst weapons," Obama said, calling a nuclear-armed Iran a threat to Israel, the greater Middle East and the world.
Although Obama did not promise that the United States would act militarily against Iran if Israel decided that must be done, he offered an explicit endorsement for Israel to take whatever unilateral measures it deems necessary to guard against the threat.
"Each country has to make its own decisions when it comes to the awesome decision to engage in any kind of military action and Israel is differently situated than the United States," he said. "I would not expect that the prime minister would make a decision about his country's security and defer that to any another country any more than the United States would defer our decisions about what was important for our national security."
Netanyahu seized on the remarks, saying they were an important demonstration of America's steadfast alliance with Israel and part of making the carrot-and-stick approach a credible option to avoid the use of force.
"I am absolutely convinced that the president is determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons," he said. "I appreciate that. I appreciate the fact that the president has reaffirmed, more than any other president, Israel's right and duty to defend itself by itself against any threat."
Netanyahu said the carrot-and-stick approach now being employed to cajole Iran into proving that's its nuclear intentions are peaceful had to be bolstered by "a clear and credible threat of military action." Obama's recognition of Israel's right to act alone appeared to satisfy him on that score, and the prime minister beamed with delight in response to the new security pact talks.
On another issue of critical importance to Israel's security, Obama said the U.S. is investigating whether chemical weapons were deployed in Syria earlier this week. He said he was "deeply skeptical" of contentions by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government that rebel forces were behind any such attack.
Both the Assad government and Syrian rebels have accused each other of using chemical weapons in an attack on Tuesday.
Obama said the U.S. policy not to intervene militarily or arm Syrian rebels thus far is based on his desire to solve the problem with world partners. He rejected as "inaccurate" suggestions that the United States had done nothing to stop two years of bloodshed that has claimed more than 70,000 lives.
"It's a world problem when tens of thousands of people are being slaughtered, including innocent women and children," Obama said.
Obama's three-day visit to Israel, from its start earlier Wednesday, is designed to send a message of reassurance to a key ally.
At an extravagant welcoming ceremony, Obama declared that "peace must come to the Holy Land" and not at Israel's expense. U.S. backing for Israel will be a constant as the Middle East roils with revolution and Iran continues work on its nuclear program, he said.
"The United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend," Obama said after landing at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport.
"Across this region the winds of change bring both promise and peril," he said, calling his visit "an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations, to restate America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security, and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors."
Seeking to alter a perception among many Israelis that his government has been less supportive of Israel than previous U.S. administrations, Obama declared the U.S.-Israeli alliance "eternal."
"It is forever," he said to applause as Israeli and U.S. flags fluttered in a steady breeze under clear, sunny skies.
Before leaving the airport for Jerusalem, Obama offered a vivid display of the U.S. commitment to Israeli security by visiting a missile battery that is part of Israel's Iron Dome defense from militant rocket attacks. The United States has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing the system with Israel.
Obama and Netanyahu toured the battery, which Israel relocated to the airport for the occasion. They met and chatted with soldiers who operate the system that Israel credits with intercepting hundreds of rockets during a round of fighting against Gaza militants last November.
In his comments to reporters with Netanyahu, Obama also took note of the difficult way forward in the broader quest for Mideast peace, acknowledging that in recent years "we haven't gone forward, we haven't seen the kind of progress that we would like to see."
The president said he came to the region principally to listen, and hoped to return home with a better understanding of the constraints and "how the U.S. can play a constructive role."
Netanyahu, for his part, said he was willing to set aside preconditions in future talks with the Palestinians, adding that it was time to "turn a page in our relations."
Obama is to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Thursday to assure him that an independent Palestinian state remains a U.S. foreign policy and national security priority — even though he is bringing no new plan to restart negotiations with Israel.
Obama said he would outline his thinking in greater detail after he sees Abbas when he delivers a speech to Israeli university students, during which he will reiterate his position that a two-state solution is the only feasible outcome.
Although many Israelis warmly greeted Obama, Palestinians held several small protests in the West Bank and Gaza. Demonstrators in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip burned posters of Obama and U.S. flags, accusing the U.S. of being biased toward Israel.
In the West Bank, about 200 activists erected about a dozen tents in an area just outside of Jerusalem to draw attention to Israel's policy of building settlements. The tents were pitched in E1, a strategically located area where Israel has said it plans on building thousands of homes. The U.S. has harshly criticized the plan.
Associated Press writers Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank, and Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, contributed to this report.

Friday, March 15, 2013

NYT undermines Israel

Editorial: The New York Times is a Crypto-Nazi Paper

By Giulio Meotti
New York Times articles are not attacking the “occupation” anymore, but the very idea of a Jewish state
The New York Times has become the official paper of Israel’s Western would-be eradicators.
Joseph Levine's latest oped argued that Israel has no right to exist and that history should be reversed: “I conclude, then, that the very idea of a Jewish state is undemocratic, a violation of the self-determination rights of its non-Jewish citizens, and therefore morally problematic”. The New York Times' relentless attacks could well play out in ways that indeed attempt to put an end to Israeli sovereignty.
According to Levine's racist belief, “native species” originate in a certain place and that is where they “belong.” Hence, Israel’s "colonization" threatens the “original” Arab environment. This is pure and simple Nazism. The New York Times’ Israel-bashers use a style similar to the language used by anti-Semites the world over: Israel is inferior and must not enjoy the rights accorded to other peoples.
The New York Times articles are not attacking the “occupation” anymore, but the very idea of a Jewish state. The Times' incitement against Zionism is compulsive, full of half-baked truths and ill-disguised hysteria. The Times just hosted  an oped by Rashid Khalidi, the PLO supporter and anti-Zionist militant from Columbia University. In his latest column, he charges Israel of being an alien, settler entity, comparing its existence to South Africa's apartheid.
At the Times there are also those who do not advocate eradicating Israel, but work to remove any shred of justification for supporting it by following some elementary rules: promoting the myth of Palestinian "moderation", whitewashing terror groups and demonizing the "settlers".
As in the 1930's, when the New York Times downplayed the Nazi genocide of European Jews in order to avoid being seen as a “Jewish” newspaper, today Thomas Friedman, Roger Cohen (the dupe of Tehran) and Nicolas Kristof are the Jewish journalists who have been leading the charge in demonizing Israel and unabashedly praising the "Arab Spring" and Iran's "pragmatism".
Thomas Friedman plays a major role in shaping Obama’s plan for Israel’s return to the pre-1967 armistice line, which the late Abba Eban dubbed the “Auschwitz borders”. It was Friedman who wrote that the White House is “disgusted” with Israeli interlocutors. The famous Jewish columnist has always been a militant suporter of the Palestinian cause. According to the US columnist, Israeli settlers are a “cancer for the Jewish people” and those who “collaborate” in the building of settlements are “enemies of peace” and “enemies of America’s national interest”, no less.
“What Israeli settlers and Palestinian suicide bombers have in common is that they are each pushing for the maximum use of force against the other side”, he wrote after the killing of young grade-schooler Kobi Mandell. For Friedman, building a home on disputed territory is apparently the moral equivalent of stoning Jews - even school age ones -  to death. To equate the two, as Friedman always does, is to create moral mush. At age fourteen, Kobi was immobilized and stoned to death as was his friend, his body hidden in a cave. The terrorists soaked their hands in the boy’s blood and smeared the walls of the cave with it.
Friedman also crossed the Rubicon when he opined that "Jewish money" (note not Israeli money) caused the standing ovations Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, gave the Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu.
As far back as 1929, during the Arab riots, the local Times correspondent Joseph Levy boasted that he was a committed anti-Zionist. Eighty years later, when the Fogels were slaughtered in Itamar, the New York Times chose not to cover that event on the front page, nor to comment it.
And how to forget the "Pharisees on the Potomac” headline by New York Timescolumnist Maureen Dowd on what she considers to be the moral hypocrisy of Republican Party?
Every morning, opening the New York Times, the reader finds very accurate stuff about the Holocaust, the most extreme demonstration of Jewish powerlessness, (ignored and put on the back pages of the Times while it was taking place) along with opeds like that of Peter Beinart titled “To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements”.
While remembering the death of 6.000.000 Jews, the New York Timessuggests collective punishment for 600.000 living Jews. Nothing is more likely to stimulate violence against "the settlers" than such Holocaust vacuity.
The New York Times’ avid PLO supporters and propagandists are the descendamts of one of the most celebrated journalists of his time, the first New York Times Pulitzer Prize winner, Walter Duranty, who in the thirties fed the American public instantly-rewritten history of the famine in the Ukraine. By persuading the world that Stalin’s version of events was true, Duranty’s fairy tales cost thousands,if not millions,of lives.
The Times consistently ignores the genocidal anti-Semitism that governs Hamas and Hizbullah, described therein as "militant" groups concerned with the social welfare of Palestinians and Lebanese. The Times' articles from Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarem and Bethlehem during the Second Intifada could have been written about the Taliban in the Afghan caves. These depicted the Palestinian terrorists as freedom fighters meeting their noble fate.
That favorable press in the New York Times encourages the Arabs to believe they can get away with murder is a given. By reinforcing the Islamic claim that those who died on the Temple Mount were martyred defenders of holy places, mowed down by savage, unprovoked Israeli authorities, the New York Times also helped inflame millions of Muslims against Israel. By calling the area “Muslim compound” and omitting any mention of the Temple Mount or its Jewish connection, the New York Times convinced the world that Ariel Sharon had intruded upon a site holy solely to Islam, helping to trigger the second Intifada.
As the latest Levine's oped shows, the New York Times is a crypto-Nazi publication whose message is, plain and simple, “Jews, go home, again”. There is a Klezmer festival in Krakow this year.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Capitalism triumphs in Israel election

Israel’s Capitalist Election

As the Israeli elections loomed in January, reporters and pundits, biased by their own ideas about Israel and Israelis, failed colossally. Reports and analyses in a wide range of publications and media outlets—from the New York Times and the New Yorker to theIndependent, the Daily Telegraph, and Sky News—made doomsday forecasts about “right-wing entrenchment,” lamented the end of the two-state solution, and even predicted that the dramatic strengthening of a hawkish, xenophobic right would mean the end of Israeli democracy. 
Then, when the election results became known, the international media erred yet again, interpreting the surprising rise of the new Yesh Atid party as a victory for the left. In reality, the truly significant facts about the 2013 Israel elections were the predominance of domestic issues and the complete breakdown of the old dichotomy between right-wing hawks and left-wing doves that usually characterizes Israeli politics. Not since the 1965 elections, the last before the Six-Day War, was attention so completely focused on matters such as socioeconomic policies and draft-dodging by a rapidly growing ultra-Orthodox population. And because the vote was so heavily determined by internal issues, it revealed that a strong majority of citizens in a nation designed and built by socialists has moved decisively away from the dogmatic economic faith of its founders. Indeed, the heads of the three largest parties—Likud-Beytenu, Habayit Hayehudi (“Jewish Home”), and Yesh Atid (“There Is a Future”)—were outspoken in their support for smaller government and market capitalism.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud Beytenu is, for many Israelis, the deliverer of an American-style neoliberal capitalism. As finance minister under Ariel Sharon from 2003 to 2005, he implemented some of the most extensive economic reforms in Israeli history. Welfare transfers were cut, the pace of privatization was quickened, income taxes were lowered, and fiscal discipline was tightened. Netanyahu continues to advocate small government, low income taxes, fewer regulations, and less bureaucracy.
Two types of voters tend to support the sorts of economic policies championed by Netanyahu—the rich who want to protect their savings, and the poor but ambitious who want to take advantage of the freedoms capitalism has to offer. The second variety seemed to make up a large percentage of Likud’s voters. In 26 of 27 “development towns”—places like Lod, Beit She’an, and Sderot with low per capita income—Likud received a plurality of the votes. 
In contrast, a higher-end constituency voted for the television personality Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, which rose from nowhere to become the second-largest party after Likud-Beytenu. In many ways, Yesh Atid is no less pro-capitalist than Likud. The party’s platform advocates weakening Israel’s strongest unions (longshoremen, airport workers, Israel Electric Company) and lowering customs taxes in order to increase competition and lower consumer prices. Lapid took care not to scare away upper-middle-class professionals such as corporate attorneys and accountants who have benefited from Israel’s impressive economic growth: When Yesh Atid’s platform calls for cheaper housing or lower bank fees, it also promises to protect banking interests.
Lapid’s “third way” packaging was sophisticated. While praising free markets for encouraging business initiative and innovation uninhibited by government bureaucracy, he also criticized “cold-hearted” capitalism, noting the importance of “balanced regulations” that protect society from the “greed and rapaciousness” of individuals and conglomerates that would, given the chance, gladly shirk their responsibility to society. At the same time, he reassured those in the higher income brackets that he would not run his social program by taking their money. He emphasized the importance of equal opportunity and access to high-quality education, not welfare transfers.  
Lapid’s party won a plurality of votes in some of Israel’s affluent secular towns and neighborhoods surrounding Tel Aviv. And he did very well in middle-class towns as well. Yesh Atid received over a quarter of the votes in municipalities rated in the top fifth when it comes to factors such as per capita income, the number of new cars per family, and high school graduation rates. As the fact that it won only 16 percent of the vote nationally indicates, Yesh Atid performed disproportionately well with this key constituency. Indeed, in a survey of workers in the high-tech sector conducted before the election by the economic daily Globes, 35 percent said they would vote for Yesh Atid, by far the highest of any party.
In the same Globes survey, Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi came in second with 26 percent of the vote. This flew in the face of pre-election commentary suggesting that Bennett, a former Netanyahu deputy, was only doing well because he was a fresh new face for the settler movement. In fact, Bennett had appeal in the high-tech world in part owing to his reputation as a software entrepreneur whose company, Cyota, a developer of anti-fraud security software for financial institutions, was sold in 2005 for $145 million.
Nor can Bennett be so easily characterized as just another peace-treaty rejectionist. His rise marks the sea change that has taken place in the last two decades among religious Zionists. After serving in Sayeret Matkal, the most elite combat unit in the Israel Defense Forces (once totally dominated by Israel’s secular elite, including Netanyahu and his storied brother, Yoni, killed in the daring Entebbe raid), Bennett made the transition to a successful private-sector career before entering politics. Many of Bennett’s supporters are the religious equivalent of Lapid’s: an educated, upwardly mobile constituency. This new generation of modern Orthodox Zionist Israelis is made up disproportionately of doctors, lawyers, engineers, or high-tech workers. (Many even work in the media.) Like Bennett, a high number of religious Zionist men served in the IDF’s elite units or graduated from officers’ training. Military service provided these young men with unparalleled leadership experience, important contacts and social networking, and staggering responsibilities not only for the lives of the soldiers serving under them but also for multimillion-dollar military equipment. All of this made for a smooth transition to the business sector—particularly in the realm of high-tech. Like Bennett, who lives in Ra’anana, a town north of Tel Aviv with a high percentage of religious professionals and software engineers, many of Habayit Hayehudi supporters live in bourgeois neighborhoods inside the 1967 borders.
The election results are proof that the most significant sociological phenomenon in recent Israeli history—the economic protests that began sweeping the nation in the summer of 2011 and mobilized record numbers of protesters—were largely misunderstood. Leaders of the protests articulated decidedly left-wing economic views, calling for larger welfare transfers and attacking Netanyahu’s policies as being tilted in favor of the rich. But the vast majority of Israelis who took to the streets were not demanding more government spending. Consumer rights were in the forefront. They demanded that major food producers cease colluding with the large supermarket chains, and complained about the tremendous bureaucratic obstacles making anything from starting a business to building a house a headache. The Israeli middle class was fed up with the market inefficiencies, red tape, and unfair competition that artificially jacked up the cost of everything from cottage cheese to housing. They were not lamenting the breakdown of the welfare state.
If anything, mainstream Israelis were making it clear they were tired of paying too many taxes to support a population that did not work, while they served in the military and performed reserve duty from which others were exempt. By popular demand, one of the most burning issues facing the new government is the tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox who do not perform mandatory military service, are not schooled to integrate into the labor market, and inevitably end up becoming a drain on the rest of society. Thus the protests, and this election, found a way to connect the anger at big government with the anger at the special privileges granted to the haredi. Demonstrators resurrected Netanyahu’s analogy of “the skinny guy carrying the fat guy,” on which he ventilated in 2003 when he was finance minister. The “fat guy” represented the inefficient and wasteful public sector; the “skinny guy” was the productive, innovative private sector. 
In this atmosphere, the resourceful new leader of the Labor party, Shelly Yachimovich, was doomed to fail—and she did, adding just two seats to the 13 garnered in the 2009 elections under Ehud Barak, despite polls showing Labor getting as many as 17 seats. Yachimovich sought to retain Labor’s position as the party of social welfare while tacking to the center on diplomatic issues. She declared that settlements are not a “sin or a crime” and that state funding of them should not be abandoned. 
This conscious decision not to blame the country’s problems on the settlers or the settlements enraged many in Labor’s peace camp and may lead to her ouster, but the election results suggest she was on to something. Like Yachimovitch, Lapid sought to reassure voters he was not a leftist on security and statehood matters. He said he opposed the division of Jerusalem into two capitals, supported holding on to the large settlement blocs in the West Bank as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians, and chose to make his signal foreign-policy speech in the settlement of Ariel. Polls showed that between 40 and 50 percent of those who voted for Lapid defined themselves as “right-wing” on security matters. Yachimovitch was right to attempt to tap into this constituency. Her mistake was to advocate more spending for welfare. 
This total victory for market capitalism is all the more striking considering Israel’s socialist roots. Labor Zionism, which dominated Israeli politics in the pre-state era and for the first decades after the creation of the Jewish state, was openly antagonistic to free trade and commerce. The Jewish state’s founding fathers, such as Russian Labor Zionist ideologue A.D. Gordon, believed manual labor—particularly agriculture—bound a people to its soil and to its national culture, while capitalism was wasteful, unproductive, parasitic, and the source of Jewish suffering in the Diaspora. The Marxist Ber Borochov, another Labor Zionist ideologue, believed that a productive national existence required the creation of a Jewish working class. The view that Zionism was a social revolution driven by the collective farmers of the kibbutzim and moshavim and that the state should be directly involved in construction, agriculture, and industry was adopted by both Chaim Weizmann, the most important early international leader, and David Ben-Gurion, the state’s most important early political leader. 
Indeed, the impact of Israel’s socialist roots continued to be felt decades after the Jewish state ceased to be dominated by the Labor party. In 2003, while serving as finance minister, Netanyahu told the Israeli daily Ma’ariv that Ben Gurion “made the huge mistake of establishing a socialist state, and we have had to work for years to dismantle that faulty construction.”
However, the extent to which all walks of Israeli society adhered to socialist ideals has been both exaggerated and overrated. As historian Jerry Z. Muller pointed out in his book of essays, Capitalism and the Jews, “while the pre- and post-independence history of the State of Israel was ideologically stamped by socialist Zionism, the reality was more complex—and more capitalistic.” Two waves of immigration following the First World War brought thousands of entrepreneurs and professionals to the Jewish settlement in Palestine. First came Polish Jews, many of whom were owners of small businesses escaping the growing anti-Semitism of the early 1920s. They were followed in the next decade by German Jews fleeing the Nazis. These immigrants came with capital and skills they used to set up small factories in the cities.
As early as 1951, capitalist sentiments and a rejection of Ben-Gurion’s hardline socialism catapulted the General Zionist party—one of the parties later incorporated into Likud that ran on a platform of private enterprise and free markets—from seven to 20 Knesset seats in the election that year with the campaign slogan “Let us live in this land.” Even before it was joined by the Sephardim and Oriental Communities Party and the Yemenite Association, the General Zionist Party was the second largest after Ben-Gurion’s Mapai.
Another party, Herut, challenged Mapai’s political hegemony and eventually metamorphosed into Likud, which finally ousted the Labor Party (the successor to Mapai) after nearly 30 years of uninterrupted rule in 1977. From the first days of the state, Herut rejected Mapai’s socialist romanticization of the working class, valued the role of Jewish entrepreneurship, and argued that the future belonged to the bourgeoisie, not the proletariat. In a speech in Jerusalem in 1977, shortly after Likud won the elections and brought Herut leader Menachem Begin to the premiership, Nobel prize–winning economist Milton Friedman noted that “two Jewish traditions” seem to be at war in Israel. There was the new socialist tradition, characterized by belief in paternalistic and coercive government and rejection of capitalism and free markets. And there was a millennia-old tradition, developed out of the necessities of the Diaspora, of self-reliance and voluntary cooperation, of ingenuity in getting around government controls.
Acknowledging that there always were strong pro-capitalist forces within Israeli society, and in Jewish culture before Israel, can help us better understand the remarkable transformation of the Israeli economy, from a quasi-socialist, centrally controlled economy to a vibrant market economy driven by private enterprise. It also helps explain the 2013 election results. Long ago a majority of the Israeli public rejected the dovish position of the left on matters of diplomacy, security, and the settlements (though out of pragmatism most support some form of a two-state solution). The January 22 elections showed unequivocally that the left’s socioeconomic policies have been rejected as well. 
Diaspora Jewry as a whole—including the Jewish refugees who arrived in Israel—is strongly predisposed to the capitalist ethos. Jews were acutely aware that wherever they were given a chance to compete on a level playing ground, such as in western and central Europe before the war and, of course, in America, they have excelled. What works for individuals should also work for an entire nation.
Israelis understand that in order for a country without natural resources to thrive in a hostile environment, it must tap into its human capital. Doing so requires competitive markets and smaller government, both of which free up Israelis to innovate and give them an incentive to initiate. A.D. Gordon was wrong to propose that agriculture or other forms of unproductive manual labor bind a people to its soil. Only dynamic growth can produce the competitive, productive economy needed to ensure that the formerly stateless Jewish people can flourish in the land of Israel.
A nation with a population of less than 8 million that is capable of getting more companies listed on the major New York stock exchanges than any other country in the world aside from the United States, Canada, and China—as Israel has—will triumph, provided the conditions that enable such astounding productivity remain in place. On January 22, Israelis went to the polls and supported political parties that will ensure that the triumph of the Jewish state’s economy continues.

About the Author

Mati Wagner is the editor of the Jerusalem Post‘s editorial page.

Palestinian lies about death of child

Don’t Let Facts Hinder Israel-Bashing

The human costs of last fall’s outbreak of fighting between Hamas and Israel was all too real on both sides of the border. Civilian casualties in war are inevitable, but should never be seen as anything but a tragedy that should be avoided if at all possible. But the willingness of the Jewish state’s critics in the media to embrace a Palestinian narrative of Israeli beastliness has led to a double standard that has distorted accounts of the conflict. Palestinian terror attacks that lead to Israeli counter-measures tend to be ignored unless they succeed in achieving their goal of mass slaughter. Israeli attacks on terrorists are depicted as disproportionate with little context to put them in perspective. And when Palestinian children are killed in a conflict in which Hamas uses civilians as human shields, the result is often an emotional account in which images of supposed Israeli atrocities substitute for a reasoned explanation of what has occurred.
But occasionally, facts have a way of outstripping even the formidable Palestinian propaganda machine. An example of this came this month when, as the New York Timesexplains, a report from–of all sources–the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, had the audacity to point out that a highly publicized case in which the death of an Arab infant in Gaza was blamed on Israel was actually the fault of the Palestinians.
One may say that when a death such as this happens the identity of the person or force that pulled the trigger is almost beside the point. The child is just as dead no matter who did it. But in this case, the revelation that 11-month-old Omar al-Masharawi’s death was the result of a Palestinian rocket aimed at Israel that fell short of its target rather than of an Israeli army missile deliberately fired at his home goes straight to the heart of the slanted accounts of the conflict that are commonplace.
This particular child’s death was made a cause célèbre because his father, Jihad al-Masharawi is an employee of the BBC. In a graphic account broadcast on the network, al-Masharawi, who is a picture editor, claimed “shrapnel” from Israeli artillery hit his son and another relative. In the video, al-Masharawi tearfully demanded to know “what did my son do to die like this?” The response from many who viewed it was to damn the Israelis as heartless murderers. Those who cited the child as proof of the injustice of Israeli actions in the Gaza fighting now ring hollow.
The point here is not just to illustrate that many of those Palestinians who have died in the fighting with Israel were the victims of “friendly fire” from their own side. In a very real sense, Omar al-Masharawi’s death was not a mistake. It was just one more example of a deliberate policy of sacrificing Palestinian children on the altar of unending war against Israel. When terrorists launch missiles from Gaza at Israeli civilian targets, the creation of a fresh batch of Palestinian martyrs is more important to them than even the shedding of Jewish blood.
This is a terrible tragedy that has all too often been aided and abetted by an international media eager to use shocking pictures and videos meant to depict Israeli atrocities to put forward a skewed version of what has happened in Gaza.
In this case, just as with the celebrated case of Mohammed al-Durrah–the picture of whose death in his father’s arms after supposedly being shot by Israelis at the beginning of the second intifada became a rallying point for Palestinians–the fictional narrative of Palestinian victimhood trumped the facts. Even after the story was conclusively debunked, the image of the dying child remains an icon of the campaign to defame Israel.
Some of those who were killed last fall did die from Israeli fire (though the overwhelming majority of casualties were Hamas fighters not civilians) as its army sought to take out the terrorists who rained missiles down on targets in southern and central Israel. But the ultimate responsibility for the deaths of all civilians in Gaza falls on the shoulders of Hamas leaders who continue to pursue Israel’s destruction and don’t care how many of their own people must die to keep that vile dream alive. Most of those who wish to delegitimize both Israel and its right to self-defense will ignore the UN report. But the al-Masharawi case, in which a terrorist missile landed in Gaza rather than Israel, should make this truth a bit more understandable even to those accustomed to accepting whatever lies emanate from Hamas and its enablers. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Jewish Organizational Failure