Monday, February 24, 2014

Amazing Holocaust story


Tuvia Ariel’s amazing true story about a number from the Holocaust.

by Rabbi Hillel Goldberg

As a child growing up in the Bronx, the last four digits of Terry Noble’s phone number were 7401. Coincidence: When Terry was assigned a social security number, the last four digits were 7401. And years later, when he found himself as a volunteer on a kibbutz in Israel – where he now called himself Tuvia Ariel – he worked with a carpenter whom he respected. The carpenter was a wiry, solid man, dedicated, the silent type. Ariel learned that he was one of the few who had escaped Auschwitz and survived, that he then joined the Polish partisans, then the British Army. It sent him to Palestine, where he deserted to join the Palmach, the Jewish fighting force, and helped Israel win her independence in 1948.
Quite a history.
Ariel had read the number tattooed on his arm. The last four digits were 7401.
But more than awe piqued Ariel’s curiosity about this survivor’s experiences in the Holocaust. Ariel had read the number tattooed on his arm. The last four digits were 7401.
“Don’t talk about it!” Ariel recalls the carpenter telling him forcefully, painfully. “I lost my whole family, my mother, my father; there was a brother in back of me, a brother in front of me – I’m the only one left. Don’t bring it up again!”
Ariel didn’t.
Except once.

Tuvia Ariel is a man with many stories. In fact, he is a story: the man who was once a famous musician’s adviser and arranged for kaddish to be recited for an estranged Jewish radical; the man who put in a stint at Yale Law School and was a soldier in the U.S. Army in Israel during the 1956 Sinai war. He tore the “USA” from his uniform and, looking like an Israeli, hitched his way down to the Sinai Peninsula, ready to fight, only to find that the war had ended two hours before.
I was told in advance how colorful Ariel was, but nothing prepared me for the likes of a comment he made one hour after I met him on Friday afternoon. I knew he had a new leg. I knew it was breakthrough for him. But who gives thought to such things? Who wonders what it is like to be without a leg, or with a new one?
Praying in the synagogue on Friday, I sensed nothing unusual as Mincha came to an end. Suddenly, Ariel approached me, almost in tears. “This is the first time in my life I prayed the Shemoneh Esrei standing up. I have never been able to address God like any other Jew, beginning the prayer by taking three steps forward, ending it with three steps backward…”
As follows:
He saved his life by cutting off his own leg as it got caught in a machine he operated on a kibbutz.
Ariel was raised in a non-observant home, in which theShemoneh Esrei was not recited. Then he went to Israel to volunteer. In 1967, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, he saved his life by cutting off his own leg as it got caught in a machine he operated on a kibbutz – a machine that sucked his leg into its grinder and from which the rest of his body escaped only by his quick and gruesome self-amputation. A little over ten years later he became a religiously observant Jew. By then he was rotating between a wheelchair, crutches, and artificial legs, which, however, could never keep him standing still long enough to pray theShemoneh Esrei.
Then, that Friday, he did it. After walking home (only three blocks), he choked up again, “That’s the longest I’ve walked in 22 years.”
He was fitted with a new leg only shortly before – the day the Berlin Wall crumbled. He found his new leg innocently enough. Ariel was in the United States at the beginning of 1989 on a business trip. He saw an advertisement, featuring a new kind of plastic developed for spacecraft, also used for artificial limbs. The ad featured amputees engaged in vigorous basketball, not from wheelchairs, but standing up, running, passing, even jump-shooting. A regular game.
Not with people amputated below the knee, but above the knee.
Ariel thought to himself that seeing this was like seeing a grandmother, who had died long ago, suddenly walking down the street. When he lost his leg 22 years earlier, he never thought he would see himself live normally again – and here were people just like he was, playing basketball.
He inquired and was directed to an advanced prosthetic clinic in Oklahoma City. For above-the-knee amputees the old system had the stump rest on the prosthesis, which caused pain and circulatory problems and often did not work well, sometimes not at all. Using the new, flexible, rubber-like plastic, the new prosthesis grips the stump, which not only relieves pain and circulatory problems, but also better channels the energy and movement of the stump into natural, leg-like movements.
Even in advance of receiving his own leg, Ariel was not satisfied to give himself new life. He wanted it for all the above-the-knee amputees in Israel. So he had a long talk with the prosthetists in Oklahoma City about bringing this technology to the Holy Land. They agreed to train Israeli prosthetists in Oklahoma City and to travel to Israel to train Israeli prosthetists there, provided only that Ariel supply the plane tickets.
Ariel’s goal reached even beyond making the technology available in Israel. He aspired to establish a “Hebrew Free Limb Society” to provide a limb to the amputee as a loan, until – only a person like Ariel has the right to make this pun – “the amputee gets back on his feet.”
Strictly speaking, it is not idealism that motivates Ariel. It is something more – his sense that he has been designated as an angel of God before. He has reason to think this, and the way he sees it, his years of suffering now make him a messenger again – to help those whom the world forgets. Why is he certain he has been an angel once before, thus able to be so once again?

Ariel volunteered on two kibbutzim. The one where he lost his leg preferred that he leave the country. He was an embarrassment to the kibbutz. But Ariel would not leave Israel, no matter what. It took him about five years of various struggles to get into tourism schools; and somehow, between cars, crutches and artificial limbs, which kept him in pain and then went bad altogether, he remained a tour guide for 15 years.
Toward the beginning of his career, when he was low man on the totem pole, he was assigned to pick up tourists at the international airport in Lod and to bring them to the main office, whereupon an experienced guide would take over.
He yanked up his sleeve to show Ariel a number tattooed on his arm. Ariel looked, almost went into shock.
One day he picked up an American, ostentatiously wealthy, ostentatiously dressed and mannered. Even crude. Ariel could not bring himself to be friendly, so he was formal. Halfway from Lod to Jerusalem, the tourist, a perceptive man, yelled, “Pull over!” Ariel pulled over. The man barked, “You think I’m just a materialistic American tourist, don’t you? Well, I’ve paid my dues!” He yanked up his sleeve to show Ariel a number tattooed on his arm. Ariel looked, almost went into shock, and before he knew what was happening the tourist was saying, “I lost my whole family … a brother in front of me, a brother in back of me…” Ariel’s mind burned.
The man’s face was florid. Ariel calmed himself, saying simply, “Was your brother’s name Shimon?” The red face turned white. “We’re turning around, I’m not taking you to Jerusalem.”
Ariel made a U-turn and drove one-and-a-half hours to the kibbutz where he had worked with the wiry carpenter, near Afula. The psychic noise in the car was palpable. Finally Ariel reached the kibbutz and then the carpenter shed. He saw his former supervisor for the first time in ten years. Without introduction, he said simply: “Was your brother’s name Reuven?”
The carpenter’s face turned white.
Ariel returned to the taxi, unloaded it, told his American tourist, “Come. I am bringing you to your brother.”
He led him to the carpenter shed, did not enter – did not want to infringe on the privacy of the moment – then made a U-turn and drove to the entrance of thekibbutz. He stopped, and wept.
When he had seen the number tattooed on the tourist’s arm, the last four digits were 7-4-0-2.
Excerpted from The Unexpected Road: Storied Jewish Lives around the World,by Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, Feldheim Publication

Big Tent killing us

The 'big tent' to nowhere

by Asaf Romirowsky
The Jerusalem Post
February 23, 2014
Be the first of your friends to like this.
More and more, we hear from faculty and students about the need to have an "open tent" or a "big tent," of ideas and opinions specifically, when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict. While the nature of public discourse demands expressing a multitudes of ideas and opinions, the kind of openness espoused by this big tent idea is in fact myopic and limiting in its own narrow scope. The notion is sold as a non-binding position, when in reality those that sell it are simply uncomfortable or unwilling to take a firm position.
The big tent thus gives the impression of openness, but actually only caters to left-of-center views.
The genesis of this in the American Jewish community lies in our need to be open and pluralistic, which is generally a good thing but can become self-destructive.
While the Diaspora Jewish community is hardly monolithic when it comes to Israel, Israelis or Israeli policies, mainstream Jewish groups and organizations since 1948 have adopted the line of "supporting the democratically elected government of Israel – Left, Right or Center – and ensure the safety and security of its citizens." Of course not blindly, but under the belief that a strong, united front benefits the Jewish community at large.
This is the line organizations such as Federations, AIPAC, AJC, ADL and others have adopted to show bi-partisan support for the democratically elected government in Israel. Yet, we are seeing today how this policy has been interpreted as a so-called right-of-center agenda.
That is, support for Israel is perceived as a right-wing agenda – this is a farce.
Those who make these claims have gone to extreme measures, even to a point of adopting the Palestinian narrative, as if to say that if we (Jews) will become more Palestinian than the Palestinians, peace in the Middle East would come about.
Thus, the extreme Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) has made J Street seem like the height of moderation. As Isaac Deutscher formulated in his "non-Jewish Jew" regarding the State of Israel, "on a deeper, historical level the Jewish tragedy finds in Israel a dismal sequel. Israel's leaders exploit in self-justification, and over-exploit Auschwitz and Treblinka; but their actions mock the real meaning of the Jewish tragedy."
This has become the foundation for the adaptation and revisionism of the Arab-Israeli conflict among the Jewish Left, who feel the need to put aside their Jewishness to underscore their pluralism and openness.
Of late, these very issues were challenged by Hillel at Swarthmore College, where the students attempted to question Hillel's own stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict. To its credit, Hillel's newly- appointed international president and CEO Eric Fingerhut correctly held his ground and made it clear to Swarthmore where the red lines are, stating: "Your resolution [Swarthmore] further includes the statement: 'All are welcome to walk through our doors and speak with our name and under our roof, be they Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist, or non-Zionist.' This is simply not the case. Let me be very clear – 'anti-Zionists' will not be permitted to speak using the Hillel name or under the Hillel roof, under any circumstances.
"Hillel recognizes, of course, that 'organizations, groups or speakers that as a matter of policy or practice' violate these guidelines may well be welcomed on campus, according to the policies of the particular college or university. The Hillel on campus, however, may not partner with or host such groups or speakers.
This is entirely within our discretion as an organization, and we have clearly stated our intention to make these important decisions to protect our values and our critically important mission.
"Just as the university decides who will teach classes, and what organizations it will allow on campus, so Hillel will decide who will lead discussions in programs it sponsors and with whom it will partner."
Consequently, Hillel was criticized for limiting the debate on Israel – as if debating Israel's existence as a Jewish sovereign state fell within the realm of serious discourse. We have witnessed how the self-proclaimed "pro-Israel propeace" organization J Street has attempted to sell its agenda as the alternative to the "mainstream" and demand that the tent of the Jewish community stretch to include its views. The Jewish community for the most part opened itself to J Street. At least, until we saw the aggressively anti-Israel pro-boycott agenda advocated by many branches of J Street University begin to pop up demanding to be in the "big tent."
Now we see the even more extreme anti-Israel so-called Jewish Voice for Peace demanding that it be in the tent via its "Open Hillel" campaign. Where does it stop? Does the "big tent" allow those who wish to burn it down in, with flammable liquids and lit torches? The core of the problem regarding the "big tent" philosophy is that it has no red lines; everyone should be included, even at the expense of Jewish identity and survival of the Jewish state.
Israelis who live and breathe in Israel are hardly uniform in their own views, however, even those in leftist circles believe that Israel has the right to exist as a state in some capacity, within the 1949 or post-1967 borders. As such, one can understand why Israelis do not fully understand what is happening in the Diaspora with regard to these matters, as they have never faced the challenge of debating Israel's legitimacy in the environment we find on North American college campuses and many Jewish leftwing circles.
This is not to say that diversity of opinion and academic freedom should not be exercised. The difference is that there needs to be a differentiation between criticism and delegitimization, and between open discussion and self-inflicted annihilation.
Many, in their naiveté, have no grasp of how they fuel the anti-Israel groups on college campuses, groups like Jews for Justice in Palestine, the Muslim Studies Association and others who use this message to validate their own agendas.
What is even more problematic are those groups within the Jewish community who believe that this kind of "discussion" will further peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Finally, making a case for Israel becomes increasingly more difficult when Israelis and Jews decide to adopt a Palestinian agenda that detracts from the real issue behind the conflict: Mutual recognition of one another. And above all, mainstream Jewish groups have a responsibility to their stakeholders to establish clear lines that they will uphold while affording their constituents a wide range of opinions that fall within the realm of legitimate debate and public discourse. Being a "big tent" doesn't mean killing yourself to be in it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Iran gets closer and US does nothing

Translations of this item:

U.S. Poll: Israel Still Most Favored Mideast Nation

 U.S. Poll: Israel Still Most Favored Mideast Nation
Despite recent friction between Israel and the United States over Israel's construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Americans still view Israel as their most favored country in the Middle East, according to a new Gallup poll.
In fact, the 72 percent of poll respondents who say they have a "very favorable" view of Israel is the highest percentage since Gallup began the poll in 2010.
Back then, 67 percent viewed Israel very favorably, as did 66 percent last year.
The Gallup poll also found that 45 percent of Americans view Egypt favorably, up from 40 percent last year but down sharply from 58 percent in 2010.
As for Saudi Arabia, 35 percent view that nation favorably, while just 19 percent view Libya favorably, and 19 percent have a favorable view of the Palestinian Authority, virtually unchanged from 20 percent in 2010 but up from 15 percent last year.
Just 16 percent view Iraq favorably, and only 13 percent have a favorable view of Syria, an all-time low and the lowest percentage of all this year with the exception of Iran's 12 percent

Friday, February 21, 2014

Free Speech and the Left’s War on AIPAC

Free Speech and the Left’s War on AIPAC

The failure of the Senate to pass a bill authorizing additional sanctions on Iran if the current nuclear negotiations fail has emboldened some critics of the pro-Israel community. The inability of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to ensure the bill’s passage despite the support of a bipartisan coalition of 59 members of the U.S. Senate has some of the lobby’s detractors smelling blood even though it was unfair to expect it to prevail in the face of President Obama’s veto threats. Author and columnist Peter Beinartcalled last month for the administration to boycott the group’s annual conference next month and when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio offended his liberal fan base by endorsing the group, the writer was among a host of left-wing celebrities who signed a joint letter warning the mayor that he risked their ire by aligning himself with AIPAC. That letter set off a controversy since two of those who joined with Beinart to denounce AIPAC were prominent Manhattan Rabbis Rolondo Matalon and Felicia Sol. When some of their congregants at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun expressed their outrage at having their house of worship implicated in a scurrilous attack on AIPAC, Beinart, who mocked their support of Israeli democracy, in turn denounced them. Now Rabbi Eric Yoffie, former leader of the American Reform movement, has weighed in on the issue in an honorable attempt to try and put this matter in perspective in a Haaretz column and I believe his thoughtful article deserves a response.
According to Yoffie, both sides are well within their rights in this dispute. The rabbis were expressing a legitimate point of view and so were their congregants. While he sides with those who defend AIPAC, he took issue with my assertion that the claim that rabbis who wish to criticize Israel live in fear for their livelihoods is something of a myth. Yoffie believes such pressures exist and should be resisted. He wants all sides of the debate about Israel and AIPAC to speak up candidly for the sake of building a vibrant community where no one should fear to speak up. To a large extent I agree with that formulation. But the problem with the anti-AIPAC campaign as well as much of the efforts on the left to pressure or boycott Israel is that it is, at its heart, an attempt not to promote democratic discussion but to essentially disenfranchise Israeli voters and silence their American friends. That is why I must dispute Rabbi Yoffie’s effort to assign equal virtue to the positions of Beinart and the rabbis as well as to their critics.
Rabbi Yoffie is right that some liberal rabbis who criticize Israel may worry about offending some of their congregants as do others who are, as he notes, pressured from the left to disassociate themselves from the Jewish state. But my point was not to deny that such rabbis have their critics but to point out that efforts to restrain them are almost universally ineffective, as the continued tenure of the B’nai Jeshurun rabbis illustrates. Moreover, my point was not merely about the way rabbis use their pulpits to undermine Israel but to highlight the fact that, contrary to the myth promoted by the left, such figures, be they clerics or not, are generally richly rewarded by the praise of the secular mainstream media. For a Jew to speak out against Israel and/or AIPAC is to invite praise from a liberal media that is always eager to lionize such critics and to falsely portray them as courageous.
It should also be pointed out that the anti-AIPAC letter signed by Matalon, Sol, and Beinart was not about promoting diversity of views or a debate about the peace process so much as it was an attempt to shun and delegitimize AIPAC and its supporters. Though Rabbi Yoffie believes the signers crossed no “red lines” of offensive conduct, I would insist that by seeking to demonize AIPAC, those letter-writers were reinforcing the offensive and bigoted stereotype about the pro-Israel lobby promoted by those who see it as a conspiratorial group that doesn’t really speak for Jews and manipulates U.S. policy against American interests. No one is saying that AIPAC’s critics don’t have a right to voice their differences with the group, but what they want is not so much to debate it as to destroy it. Much as one would wish to bridge such differences, this is one argument where both sides are not right. One must either defend the right of the pro-Israel community to speak out on behalf of the democratically-elected government of the Jewish state as the BJ congregants have done or one joins with those who wish to isolate and pressure it, whether to save it from itself as Beinart thinks or to destroy it as the open anti-Zionists who signed the anti-AIPAC letter seem to want.
What is at stake here is not a right to speak up against Israel and AIPAC but the ability of the pro-Israel community to survive an all-out attack designed to silence it. As Rabbi Yoffie eloquently states:
I don’t agree with AIPAC on everything, but I agree with them most of the time; and the harsh dismissal of AIPAC by the signatories to the letter troubles me greatly. A Washington without AIPAC would not mean an Israel at peace; it would mean an Israel isolated and vulnerable, lacking the anchor that AIPAC has long provided and without which peace would be impossible.
Freedom of speech is not an issue in a community where dissent against Israel is widespread and generally rewarded with praise while supporters are often dismissed as stooges or hypocrites. Those who would destroy what Yoffie rightly called “Israel’s safety net” are not going to be silenced, but they should be held accountable.

Palestinians pay terrorists-how can there be peace?

Palestinians pay terrorists-how can there be peace?
American syndicated columnist Edwin Black, who provided an overview of his latest book, "Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terror in Israel."

Black, the son of Holocaust survivors who "has been in the human rights movement for nearly half a century," is not a right-winger. This is probably why Knesset members from a cross section of parties showed up, however briefly, to pay their respects. It also helps to explain the willingness of the British European parliaments to hear him out and take him seriously earlier this month, prior to his arrival in Israel.
He painted a chilling picture of the money trail, leading from the likes of George Soros, via "human rights" organizations engaged in a concerted effort to undermine Israel, and smack into the pockets of Palestinians who kill Jews.

Yes, he said, "A Palestinian can go from being a nobody to a somebody..., from rags to riches, just by blowing up a bus [in Israel] or breaking into a house and slitting the throats of some young [Israeli] children. As soon as he gets sentenced, he [begins to receive] a PA salary. It could be a few hundred dollars a month for a short sentence ... and up to several thousands of dollars a month for maybe killing 20 to 30 people and getting a 30-year sentence."

Nor is jail time a deterrent. "Nobody believes they're going to serve [a full] sentence," he said, "because they are going to be part of the next prisoner release, or of the next discussion even to have a discussion about a prisoner release."


This travesty is supervised by the Palestinian Prisoners Ministry and written into PA legislation. The law determines an ascending pay scale for terrorists: The more the carnage and the longer the prison term, the higher the salary.

According to Black, "This takes up $5 million to $7 million a month -- approximately six percent -- of the PA budget. If you add in the other payments [to terrorists] for weddings, social events, special bonuses, academic scholarships, it comes to 16% of the Palestinian budget. And where does the money come from? From American and European taxpayers."

Until the blood-for-money law is rescinded, he said, "There can be no peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ten reasons why the BDS movement is immoral and hinders peace

As a strong supporter of the two state solution and a critic of Israel's settlement policies, I am particularly appalled at efforts to impose divestment, boycotts and sanctions against Israel, and Israel alone, because BDS makes it more difficult to achieve a peaceful resolution of the Mid-East conflict that requires compromise on all sides.
Anti-Israel protestors in Melbourne, Australia in June 2010. (Image source: Wikimedia/Takver)
The BDS movement is highly immoral, threatens the peace process and discourages the Palestinians from agreeing to any reasonable peace offer. Here are ten compelling reasons why the BDS movement is immoral and incompatible with current efforts to arrive at a compromise peace.
1. The BDS movement immorally imposes the entire blame for the continuing Israeli occupation and settlement policy on the Israelis. It refuses to acknowledge the historical reality that on at least three occasions, Israel offered to end the occupation and on all three occasions, the Palestinian leadership, supported by its people, refused to accept these offers. In 1967, I played a small role in drafting UN Security Council Resolution 242 that set out the formula for ending the occupation in exchange for recognition of Israel's right to exist in peace. Israel accepted that Resolution, while the Palestinians, along with all the Arab nations, gathered in Khartoum and issued their three famous "nos:" No peace, no negotiation, no recognition. There were no efforts to boycott, sanction or divest from these Arab naysayers. In 2000-2001, Israel's liberal Prime Minister Ehud Barak, along with American President Bill Clinton, offered the Palestinians statehood, and the end of the occupation. Yasser Arafat rejected this offer—a rejection that many Arab leaders considered a crime against the Palestinian people. In 2007, Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians an even better deal, an offer to which they failed to respond. There were no BDS threats against those who rejected Israel's peace offers. Now there are ongoing peace negotiations in which both parties are making offers and imposing conditions. Under these circumstances, it is immoral to impose blame only on Israel and to direct a BDS movement only against the nation state of the Jewish people, that has thrice offered to end the occupation in exchange for peace.
2. The current BDS movement, especially in Europe and on some American university campuses, emboldens the Palestinians to reject compromise solutions to the conflict. Some within the Palestinian leadership have told me that the longer they hold out against making peace, the more powerful will be the BDS movement against Israel. Why not wait until the BDS strengthens their bargaining position so that they won't have to compromise by giving up the right of return, by agreeing to a demilitarized state and by making other concessions that are necessary to peace but difficult for some Palestinians to accept? The BDS movement is making a peaceful resolution harder.
3. The BDS movement is immoral because its leaders will never be satisfied with the kind of two state solution that is acceptable to Israel. Many of its leaders do not believe in the concept of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. (The major leader of the BDS movement, Marwan Barghouti, has repeatedly expressed his opposition to Israel's right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people even within the 1967 borders.) At bottom, therefore, the leadership of the BDS movement is opposed not only to Israel's occupation and settlement policy but to its very existence.
4. The BDS movement is immoral because it violates the core principle of human rights: namely, "the worst first." Israel is among the freest and most democratic nations in the world. It is certainly the freest and most democratic nation in the Middle East. Its Arab citizens enjoy more rights than Arabs anywhere else in the world. They serve in the Knesset, in the Judiciary, in the Foreign Service, in the academy and in business. They are free to criticize Israel and to support its enemies. Israeli universities are hot beds of anti-Israel rhetoric, advocacy and even teaching. Israel has a superb record on women's rights, gay rights, environmental rights and other rights that barely exist in most parts of the world. Moreover, Israel's record of avoiding civilian casualties, while fighting enemies who hide their soldiers among civilians, is unparalleled in the world today. The situation on the West Bank is obviously different because of the occupation, but even the Arabs of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Tulkarim have more human and political rights than the vast majority of Arabs in the world today. Moreover, anyone—Jew, Muslim or Christian—dissatisfied with Israeli actions can express that dissatisfaction in the courts, and in the media, both at home and abroad. That freedom does not exist in any Arab country, nor in many non-Arab countries. Yet Israel is the only country in the world today being threatened with BDS. When a sanction is directed against only a state with one of the best records of human rights, and that nation happens to be the state of the Jewish people, the suspicion of bigotry must be considered.
5. The BDS movement is immoral because it would hurt the wrong people: it would hurt Palestinian workers who will lose their jobs if economic sanctions are directed against firms that employ them. It would hurt artists and academics, many of whom are the strongest voices for peace and an end to the occupation. It would hurt those suffering from illnesses all around the world who would be helped by Israeli medicine and the collaboration between Israeli scientists and other scientists. It would hurt the high tech industry around the world because Israel contributes disproportionally to the development of such life enhancing technology.
6. The BDS movement is immoral because it would encourage Iran—the world's leading facilitator of international terrorism—to unleash its surrogates, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, against Israel, in the expectation that if Israel were to respond to rocket attacks, the pressure for BDS against Israel would increase, as it did when Israel responded to thousands of rockets from Gaza in 2008-2009.
7. The BDS movement is immoral because it focuses the world's attention away from far greater injustices, including genocide. By focusing disproportionately on Israel, the human rights community pays disproportionately less attention to the other occupations, such as those by China, Russia and Turkey, and to other humanitarian disasters such as that occurring in Syria.
8. The BDS movement is immoral because it promotes false views regarding the nation state of the Jewish people, exaggerates its flaws and thereby promotes a new variation on the world's oldest prejudice, namely anti-Semitism. It is not surprising therefore that the BDS movement is featured on neo-Nazi, Holocaust denial and other overtly anti-Semitic websites and is promoted by some of the world's most notorious haters such as David Duke.
9. The BDS movement is immoral because it reflects and encourages a double standard of judgment and response regarding human rights violations. By demanding more of Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people, it expects less of other states, people, cultures and religions, thereby reifying a form of colonial racism and reverse bigotry that hurts the victims of human rights violations inflicted by others.
10. The BDS movement will never achieve its goals. Neither the Israeli government nor the Israeli people will ever capitulate to the extortionate means implicit in BDS. They will not and should not make important decisions regarding national security and the safety of their citizens on the basis of immoral threats. Moreover, were Israel to compromise its security in the face of such threats, the result would be more wars, more death and more suffering.
All decent people who seek peace in the Middle East should join together in opposing the immoral BDS movement. Use your moral voices to demand that both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority accept a compromise peace that assures the security of Israel and the viability of a peaceful and democratic Palestinian state. The way forward is not by immoral extortionate threats that do more harm than good, but rather by negotiations, compromise and good will.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Obama's war on Aipac

on March 5, 2012. Photo by Joshua Roberts/ Reuters
Make no mistake: there's an organized campaign going on against AIPAC, and it is fueled by members of the Obama administration. So the plethora of articles and reports either calling to weaken AIPAC, or asking if AIPAC has already weakened, or reporting on the many recent failures of the organization – some real, some imaginary (AIPAC never opposed the appointment of Chuck Hagel) – is not a coincidence. It is a deliberate attempt to put the organization under stress, to force it to play defense, to keep it busy with having to take care of itself, rather than spending time on making life more difficult for the administration. The administration is busy with Iran negotiations and with an Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and it wants AIPAC off its back. That's the natural tendency of every administration – to want its hands freed from legislative pressure. The campaign in the press is one way of getting to such a result.
Of course, the reports aren't all off the mark: AIPAC was recently forced into making concessions in its battle to pass more legislative sanctions against Iran. "Its top priority, a Senate bill to impose new sanctions on Iran, has stalled after stiff resistance from President Obama, and in what amounts to a tacit retreat, AIPAC has stopped pressuring Senate Democrats to vote for the bill", the New York Times reported. One can look at this and see a huge failure of historic proportions, as some observers have, or merely acknowledge that in political life you win some and you lose some and that it's not over yet.
So yes, an alteration of the agenda is needed. But no, "the illusion of its invincibility" has not "been shattered", as Trita Parsi suggested. It wasn't "shattered" since such illusions of invincibility never existed. At least not in the mind of those with memories long enough to remember past achievements and failures. Running a lobby like AIPAC is like running a marathon; it takes patience, endurance, and the ability not to become breathless over every setback – quite the opposite of punditry.
The fight over Iran sanctions was a tough one to begin with. AIPAC was battling not just an administration but also the zeitgeist, the weariness of the American people of any sign of more conflict (this part Parsi gets right). Thus, AIPAC failed twice: once with the attempt to win votes for the approval of a strike on Syria, back in September – when it worked for the Obama administration. And once with the attempt to have stronger sanctions on Iran – when it worked against the Obama administration. The current tide of public opinion makes it hard for AIPAC to advocate for certain causes.
Whether it should support more sanctions on Iran (or an attack on Syria) is another matter. A worthy debate. Yet assuming that AIPAC lost these battles because of its tendency to support misguided policies would be ridiculous. And making such a claim is just part of the campaign to weaken AIPAC, a campaign fueled by the government and assisted by groups of Jews who have little understanding of the topics and even lesser understanding of the long-term consequences for the Jewish world if AIPAC is truly weakened. Those Jews are also organized and are encouraged by political advocates close to the Obama administration. This isn't the first time they prove to be the most useful tool against AIPAC.
Some of those Jews wrote a letter to the mayor of New York claiming that AIPAC "speaks for Israel’s hard-line government and its right-wing supporters, and for them alone; it does not speak for us". Well: that's an impressive number of erroneous statements in just one sentence. Firstly, because Israel currently doesn't have a "hard line" government. Centrist YeshAtid and Hatnuah are important members of the Israeli coalition. Additionally, the government doesn't have only "right wing supporters". In fact, the government is quite popular with the majority of Israelis, most of whom don't see an alternative to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Current polls give the Israeli left barely a quarter of the vote (about a third of the vote including the Arab parties). In other words: the Jewish attackers of AIPAC don't have an issue with a "hard-line" government – they have an issue with the people, with Israelis. To them, we are all "hard-liners" and hence, I assume, undeserving of their support. David Suissa was right to call this stance a "narcissistic chutzpah of the highest order".
Of course, the critics of AIPAC would argue that for the organization to retain its power it has to alter its policies and be more "representative" of the views of most Jewish Americans. I truly don't know what this means – AIPAC officially supports the two state solution, like most American Jews do. It supports Israel's demand to be recognized as a Jewish state, like most American Jews do. It supports sanctions on Iran, like most American Jews do. Look at the polls: a (small) majority of American Jews even support – support! – a military attack on Iran if talks fail. So I have my suspicions: for many critics of AIPAC an alteration of its policies means that AIPAC should change its mission from generally supporting what Israelis support and believe is good for their security, to opposing every move and every policy of the Israeli government. Still, one failure of AIPAC I'm willing to concede is its failure to be more attentive to the voices of dissenters within the Jewish community, and to have a better strategy for embracing them rather than alienating them. AIPAC wasn't smart enough to prevent its opposition from becoming the fashionable and hip posture.
Still, those Jews on a quest to weaken AIPAC should know better. They aren't just weakening the support for Israel, they are also weakening the communal power of the American Jewish community. This community has had great achievements when it acted with a unified voice – just read the story about the battle to free Russian Jews from their forced imprisonment within their country. But a community that is fractured, that doesn't speak with one voice, that is constantly attacking its own immune system, will be a weakened community. If AIPAC is the most visible manifestation of unapologetic, self-confident Jewish political power in America, weakening it would come with a price tag – and not just for those who want to see a robust Jewish support for Israel. It would come with a price tag for the American Jewish community.
Attackers of AIPAC are members of one of two groups: those who don't understand this simple fact – and those who don't much care for having a Jewish community. So yes, it is good news (reported by Jonathan Tobin) that some members of the "community"are looking to fight back

Obama’s War on Israel

obama-kerry_2747856bIf the left’s foreign policy these days had a slogan, it would be, “Boycott Israel, not Iran.” The double standard, dishonest as it is ugly, is also the motto of Obama’s foreign policy, which benevolently blesses Iran’s nuclear program with one outstretched hand in the name of peace and chokes concessions out of Israel to the terrorists with the other also in the name of peace.
Both peace plans are going disastrously according to plan.
Iran has made it clear that it will dismantle nothing and that it will go on developing ballistic missiles and nuclear technology. Its military commanders threaten to attack the United States and boast that their ships are encroaching on America’s maritime borders.
The Palestinian Authority has shed the last vestiges of democracy as its leader begins the tenth year of a four-year term and its elected legislature has been discarded in favor of the PLO Council. Instead of a representative government, the Palestinian Authority has reverted back to what it always was; the PLO.
A Palestinian state has receded into the figment of a dream as elections have become a distant memory and Hamas continues to hold Gaza, leaving a PLO mafia in the West Bank to maintain its monopoly on cigarettes and other commodities while passing around Western aid money to its terrorist militias.
The more Kerry pressures Israel, the more bellicose PLO leaders have become. Fatah officials have accused Kerry of threatening to poison Abbas, the Palestinian Authority’s current President-for-Life. The accusation is ridiculous, but the PLO, like Iran, is feeling emboldened by American weakness.
The softer American power gets, the harder its enemies hit.
Obama Inc. however has eyes only for Israel. Its officials and its allied media apparatus in New York and Washington have decided to hold Israel’s Prime Minister personally accountable for any criticism of Kerry and Obama not only by Israeli Jews … but also by American Jews.
An Obama Inc. official said that Obama and Kerry were disturbed over “Jewish activism in Congress” and that the administration had informed Israel of its displeasure over criticism of them by American Jews.  Holding Netanyahu accountable for the comments of American Jewish leaders is an ugly Alinskyite tactic in which Obama uses Israel as a hostage in order to silence domestic Jewish criticism.
“Shut up or the Jewish State gets it.”
The constant monitoring and suppression of Israeli criticism was so pervasive that Kerry’s handler, Jen Psaki, denounced a comedy video mocking his disastrous diplomacy put out by an Israeli political group, sight unseen, while discussing expectations that Israeli leaders would rein in criticism of Kerry.
Psaki described criticism of Kerry as “not an attack on him; that’s an attack on the process. And of course that kind of rhetoric we find unacceptable.” John Forbes Kerry had become the living embodiment of peace. The peace process, whether in Iran or Israel, had become reducible to peace. Opposing it meant opposing peace and supporting war. And Kerry had become reducible to the process and therefore to peace. Louis XIV had only claimed to embody the State. Kerry claims to embody peace.
Meanwhile Kerry makes poorly coded threats about international boycotts and intifadas to Israel while promising Jerusalem to the PLO.
The lack of options is the theme of both peace plans. Sanctions on Iran mean war, claims Obama. A failure to reach a deal that will let Iran keep its nuclear program also means war. And so, in true Chamberlainian fashion, the only alternative to war is to accept any offer that the enemy makes.
The willingness to accept any deal is the traditional negotiating posture of the losers of a war, but when any alternative to a peace deal is considered unacceptable, the peace negotiators come to the table as the losers of a war that was never even fought because they had already surrendered in all but name.
When the Senate attempted a little bit of bipartisan pressure on Iran, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes began denouncing the vast Jewish war conspiracy and the left-wing of an already left-wing media shrieked that we were about to be plunged into a war by the Zionist warmongerers. The same outlets that give a hearing to proposals to boycott Israel, chant in angry unison that any boycott of Iran is an act of war.
Every good progressive in Obama Inc. and in its media corps knows that Iran, which took American hostages and murdered hundreds of Americans, is a victim of American foreign policy, while Israel, which is being cut up into a completely indefensible, broken territory for a peace that will never come, is its beneficiary. The terrorist peace processes are unworkable, but they were never supposed to work.
The peace process with the Palestinian Authority has always failed because it was always meant to fail. Peace was the brass ring that Israel was supposed to reach for, but never actually get close enough to reach, carving itself to pieces under the bloody knives of the negotiators in the hopes of proving its moral worth to the world. Dying so that it might be allowed to live. The Iranian deal is more of the same.
Perhaps there is enough tie dye in Obama’s blood for him to genuinely want a world without nukes, but if the US is to retain its nuclear capability, then like Oppenheimer and the other scientists who helped the USSR get the bomb in the name of world peace, he wants Iran to have the bomb for world peace.
Prime Minister Netanyahu thought that he might be able to trade one peace process for another, but he hasn’t even been able to trade concessions to terrorists for sanctions on Iran. Instead he has made the worst possible bargain, trading a self-inflicted punch in the face for an enemy’s kick in the teeth. Israel has once again ended up with the worst of both worlds in the name of peace.
Obama’s dual peace processes have the same agenda. They are both meant to destroy Israel. If the PLO can’t get the job done with intermittent terrorism and negotiations, maybe a nuclear Iran will. The goal is to create enough threats to Israel that it either ceases to be a viable state or simply ceases to exist.
The destruction of Israel flows naturally from the destruction of American power. Israel has to be undone, just as Mubarak was undone, just as the United States military was undone, to heal the humiliations of the Muslim world. The United States had to lose in Afghanistan and Iraq, it had to destroy its allies in the Middle East, to make Muslims feel good about finally defeating the United States.

AIPAC and Iran’s war against America

aipac Caroline  Glick

For its decision to pull anchor last Friday on its bid to pass new sanctions on Iran, AIPAC has been accused of slavish devotion to bipartisanship. Although the criticism is not without foundation, it is probably undeserved in this case.

AIPAC did not cut and run from the Iran sanctions fight because it consecrates two-party initiatives. It walked away because it lost.

If the Republicans controlled the Senate, it’s possible that AIPAC would have maintained its support for the bill’s immediate passage even in the face of President Barack Obama’s pledge to veto any sanctions law. But since the Democrats control the Senate, the bill was dead without Democratic support.

Once President Obama coerced Senate Democrats into ending their support for the bill’s passage, he killed the bill. And he didn’t kill it by making it a partisan bill per se. He killed it by making it impossible to pass the bill through the Senate.

In truth, AIPAC’s retreat from the Iran sanctions bill is probably a good thing. The pro-Israel advocacy group’s high-profile role in the US debate about Iran’s nuclear weapons program has caused US policymakers to confuse the issue.

Due in part to AIPAC’s leadership role over the past decade in getting anti-Iran sanctions passed through Congress, most Americans perceive Iran’s nuclear weapons program as an Israeli security problem, not an American problem. Since AIPAC is a lightning rod for isolationists in both parties, and for anti-Israel forces in the Democratic Party, its leadership role in the debate reinforced that perception.

Certainly it is true that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is the most acute threat that Israel faces to its long term survival.

But it is also the most acute national security threat facing the United States.

The Obama administration exploits AIPAC’s high-profile role in the Iran sanctions debate to accomplish two goals. With the American public’s interest and patience for foreign affairs at a low point, the White House has used AIPAC’s central role in the Iranian nuclear issue to discredit AIPAC.

The administration views AIPA C, and the American Jewish community more generally as an adversary in its bid to reposition the US on the world stage, by among other things, downgrading the US relationship with Israel to the level of EU-Israel ties.

Since last November, when the administration forged the deal with Iran that clears the path for Tehran to complete its nuclear weapons development in peace, the White House has actively endorsed the claim that AIPAC, or “the Israel lobby,” is using its supernatural powers on Capitol Hill to pass legislation that will force the US into war, for Israel.

This message was so incendiary that it became the focal point of news coverage of the Iranian nuclear weapons story.

And that in turn advanced the administration’s second goal.

That goal is to obfuscate the fact that Iran is working to acquire nuclear weapons, both as a means to become a regional hegemon, and to carry out its goal of destroying its enemies, including the United States.

Until Friday, the administration faced two obstacles toward achieving that goal: the Congressional sanctions bid, and Iranian behavior.

The sanctions bill wasn’t important as a sanctions bill per se. The sanctions placed on Iran’s economy over the past decade had either no impact or a marginal impact on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The sanctions bill was important because it demonstrated that it was the will of the American people, through their Congressional representatives, to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. In other words, it said that Obama’s diplomatic fetish is not the be all and end all of American power.

By killing the bill, Obama did far more than weaken AIPAC. Indeed, the real impact so dwarfs whatever harm was caused to the hated Jewish group that it exposes the entire debate on AIPAC’s power or lack thereof as completely ridiculous.

By defeating the sanctions bill, Obama showed the mullahs that the domestic constituencies in the US that oppose Iran’s nuclear program are powerless to stop it. In other words, Obama told the Iranians that they have no reason to maintain even a pretense of good will or faith.

In truth, since Iran’s phony moderate Hassan Rohani was elected to the presidency last summer, Iran’s positive signals to the West have been so weak, that in a previous era, when reality played a greater role in US foreign policy, they would have been laughed off as pathetic feints.

But at least they were there.

No more.

Just hours after the Democrats withdrew support for sanctions, (and AIPAC declared defeat), Iranian television broadcast a documentary of a simulated military attack on Israel and on US military targets, replete with drone and missile strikes on the USS Abraham Lincoln, downing US aircraft, and striking US military installations in the Persian Gulf.

One of the interesting aspects of Friday’s broadcast of “The Nightmare of Vultures,” is that it follows a much shorter computer-simulated clip of Iranian attacks televised in early November.

That clip was broadcast a week before the conclusion of the interim deal, which enables Iran to complete it nuclear weapons program. Notably, the earlier clips only showcased Iranian strikes on Israeli cities.

The computer-simulated attacks on US targets were not included.

Friday’s dramatization of Iran’s war against America was followed on Saturday first with a verbal assault on the US by Iranian dictator Ali Khamenei.

In a speech before military officers, Khamenei referred to the US as Iran’s “enemy,” and he said that Americans are “controlling and meddlesome,” and that US officials are “lying” when they express friendship with the Iranian people and when they “tell our authorities that they are not after regime change in Iran.”

Hours after Khamenei rallied his military forces with his stirring “hate America” screed, Iranian Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad of Iran’s Northern Naval Fleet announced that the fleet was on its way across the Atlantic Ocean, headed for America.

In his words, “Iran’s military fleet is approaching the United States’ maritime borders, and this move has a message.”

Then on Sunday, Iran dropped the bombshell.

Speaking to Iran’s ISNA news agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency, said that Iran will not allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to visit the Parchin military nuclear complex.

Parchin is believed to be the site where Iran is combining the enriched uranium and other components of its nuclear program and building its actual arsenal.

Most recently, in August 2013, the private satellite imaging company Digital Globe published new photos of the Parchin facility. According to the Associated Press, those images indicated that Iran may be building nuclear bombs at the site.

One of the many flaws of the interim deal with Iran was that the US and EU did not insist on inspecting Parchin. Given that Parchin wasn’t included, there was no apparent reason for the Iranians to restate the known fact that Parchin was not part of the deal. And consequently, Kamalvandi’s statement cannot be viewed as posturing.

It has to be seen as a threat.

AIPAC’s withdrawal from the sanctions debate may or may not be good for AIPAC. But lawmakers – from both parties – would do their country a great service if they use the occasion of AIPAC’s departure to place the domestic US debate where it should have always been – on the dire threat Iran’s nuclear weapons program constitutes for the security of the United States of America.

The author’s new book, The Israeli Solution: A One- State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, will be released on March 4.