We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East. (From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

Friday, 27 February 2015

"Moral Condescension By The Self-Righteous & Self-Regarding Over A Foreign State They Have Decided They Have The Right To Pass Judgement On"

'.... On many, too, too obvious levels, it's possible to take issue with the cultural boycott of Israel for its muddled thinking and double standards. After all, if UK artists should refuse invitations to take Israel's cultural funding “blood money," then, I really have to ask myself, what's different between this an accepting state support from, say, the UK Film Council (stand up Mike Leigh and Ken Loach), or the Arts Council? For some reason, these artists are so sophisticated in their political thinking that they can take money from the government that has spent the last two decades bombing Serbs, Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans, and Syrians, and make no moral connection between one and the other, while turning their noses up at Israeli cultural funding. How doesn't the actions of one's own government not connect with you when having to make the tricky decision to accept or decline funding for your latest art exhibition/theatre production/film project?'


So writes J.J. Charlesworth, associate editor of ArtsReview magazine, regarding the recent notorious  boycott statement by 100 "Artists for Palestine" (AFP) and 600 spear carriers.

He continues, inter alia:
'To claim to be acting in solidarity with the Palestinians against their oppressors sounds grandly left-wing, but this is where, in my mind, the politics of Artists for Palestine get muddled. AFP declares that Israel has never faced “sanction, or any threat of sanction, from Western governments." What does that statement imply? AFP seems to be saying that Israel should be punished by the West, with economic isolation, with sanctions, maybe even with military intervention (who knows where it would draw the line?) if Israel doesn't conform to the standards of behavior acceptable to liberal and left-leaning Western artists.
What AFP is really saying is that it treats Israel as no more than any other pariah state that needs to be dealt with sternly by the well-meaning, paternalistic Western powers, in just the same way that they deal with all those other misbehaving rogue states out there. AFP writes approvingly of the “many countries around the world that face retribution by some or all of the ‘international community' for breaching international norms." And while that term “international community" is put in weirdly embarrassed scare-quotes, AFP seems happy for the international community (meaning, I guess, the big Western powers) to get stuck in, only disappointed that it has not done so in Israel. “We" bomb and sanction Syria, Iran, Russia, Zimbabwe etc., etc., so the logic goes, why not Israel too?
AFP's position, then, while sounding like an old-fashioned left-wing declaration of solidarity with those oppressed by the puppet states of Western powers, turns out to be something more like a chorus of liberal cheerleading in favour of yet more Western intervention. As if that hadn't already caused enough chaos and bloodshed in the world. AFP would like Israel to bow down to the “international community's" own proper regard for those other convenient constructs of Western power, “human rights" and “international law"─principles which never seem to apply to our governments when they intervene in the affairs of other, less morally pure states (and always for “humanitarian" reasons, of course).
http://edgar1981.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/incredible-new-boycott-announcement.html
This isn't really solidarity with the Palestinians, it's moral condescension by the self-righteous and self-regarding over a foreign state they have decided they have the right to pass judgement on. But the tragedy is that the relationship of subservience to Western interests that AFP seeks to impose with regards to Israel, is the same one that will eventually be applied to Palestinians. Any settlement based on bringing Israel “to heel" won't mean the liberation and self-determination of the Palestinian people; it'll mean forcing them, and Israelis, to accept whatever arrangement Western governments will decide is best for them. Whatever AFP may think, the cultural boycott of Israel is an instrument, unwitting or otherwise, for the moral vilification of Israel whose consequence can only be greater interference by Western governments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict....
[T]o mount grandiose displays of your own moral rectitude, while refusing to think through what power relationship you are actually lending support to, is not something the rest of us should feel obliged to support. Luckily, another group of artists and art world people have mounted their own criticism of the UK boycott, gathering hundreds of signatories to their more critical questioning of the logic of the cultural boycott....'
Read more here


As Charlesworth reminds us, there's an alternative statement from arty types online, roundly condemning the boycott of Israel.  Dating to last October, it's long, and observes in part:
'.... Over the past months topics including the occupation of the West Bank, Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, Palestinian resistance and its struggles, international solidarity and boycott movements, and criticism of Israeli policies, have been taken up in the arts arena with heightened intensity. We are deeply concerned by several aspects of how such issues are approached.
....We see dialogue as a critical part of any conceivable peace resolution between Palestine and Israel, and are troubled by the tendency among international boycott movements—particularly cultural boycott movements supported by individuals in the arts—which make dialogue impossible. Such dialogue inside Palestine and Israel is difficult, and is only made more precarious by unilateral international boycott. Underlying these movements, we fear there is an upswing of anti-Semitic attitudes and attacks, which seem to convey varying degrees of intentionality. Neglecting or simplifying significant historical legacies, Israel is treated as a paradigmatic colonial power, and is boycotted in a way that no other country is. Such discrimination and double standards, whether explicitly stated or implied, demand to be addressed.
....All [recent]calls and open letters were signed by a large number of individuals and groups affiliated with the arts fields; respected friends and colleagues among them. All these events took place in a climate where the Gaza war alongside its many atrocities provoked numerous anti-Semitic incidents, including physical attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions—none of which was reflected or even mentioned by the groups and contexts appealing for boycott. None of these groups condemned Hamas, an organization with an openly anti-Semitic agenda, which seeks the destruction of Israel. We are worried by this silence, which could either imply that the BDS Arts Coalition and similar initiatives are not equipped to discern anti-Semitic discrimination, or that such discrimination is ignored for tactical reasons. So we decided to share some critical reflections, mostly related to the BDS agenda.
.... Boycott is not necessarily an emancipatory act of solidarity with the oppressed and in opposition to the oppressor. The Jewish experience especially in Europe reflects a contrasting effect: anti-Jewish boycotts were once organized against the Jews to exclude them from social, economic, and political life. In these cases, boycott had no anti-colonial implication. Instead, it functioned as a means of oppression by the dominant societies toward Jewish minorities. We are concerned that the language used and political strategies advocated by international boycott movements—among other Left-identified political groups—take the conflict between Israel and Palestine to epitomize neo-colonial evil as such. This view frames the conflict as part of a non-specific eternal battle between good and evil, between “oppressed” and “oppressors.” We ask for a critical approach to dichotomous narratives: Within the tendency to reduce the conflict between Israel and Palestine to that between good and evil, boycott is often romanticized as a political strategy and there is a great danger that the nature of colonial oppression, or of evil, is simplified. Particularly in the case of internationally-staged cultural or academic boycott movements, we fear the tendency to support polarized views.
....If boycott, divestment, and sanctions are considered as appropriate strategies to contest injustice through international solidarity movements, why are they not applied to the other uncountable countries committing injustices? Why didn’t anybody boycott cultural workers from Serbia and Croatia because of the genocidal war crimes committed by their respective countries? Why not boycott Spain for occupying the Basque country, Great Britain for oppressing Northern-Ireland, India for occupying Kashmir or Angola for occupying Cabinda? Shouldn’t we divest from Germany for waging war on Afghanistan, from Russia for invading Chechnya and Crimea or from Turkey for occupying Kurdistan? Why not lobbying for sanctions against China and Myanmar for suppressing freedom of speech, against Brazil and Canada for denying the First Nations’ rights, and against the US for maintaining and deploying the world’s largest military complex? Is it because “someone” decided that Israel ranks as the most unjust country in the world? And if yes: why is that the case?
Could it be that we feel too comfortable in our privileged lives, our civic rights, or our consumerist culture enabled by some of the above-mentioned states and their institutions—but still want to oppose oppression on ideological grounds? We believe that the collective desire for a “signifier of oppression” is exactly what makes Israel the only target of current international boycott movements.
It is important to not ignore the history of anti-Jewish discourse. Anti-Jewish boycott has often accompanied anti-Semitism as one of its dangerous manifestations. Contacts with Jews have been historically avoided; Jews were not accepted in merchants’ guilds, trade associations, and similar organizations. In many European countries toward the end of the nineteenth century, the anti-Jewish boycott became one of the basic weapons used for victimizing the Jewish population. After the Nazi rise to power in Germany the government publicly announced a general anti-Jewish boycott.
....The BDS movement has been criticized by various actors across the political spectrum for applying the double standards we hereby mention. The conflict is emotionally highly charged, especially for most Palestinians and Israelis and for a lot of other Jews, Arabs, and others related to it. It is also understandable that activists are attracted to the subject. But when the emotional and political engagement in this conflict grows out of proportion to the extent that it becomes virtually and publicly a mass phenomenon, it may be time to ask: why Israel?
....In our view, BDS’s simplifying narratives, together with its biased demands, foster an atmosphere that enables and even provokes attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions. We are concerned by the under-representation of positions in support of both the Palestinian cause and Israel’s right to exist—and by the tendency to dismiss any questioning of the international Palestinian solidarity movement as right wing pro-Israeli propaganda....'
Read it all here

Meanwhile, what impact is BDS having?
A deleterious one for the Palestinian economy, according to this recent article.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

"Right Now, The Main Threat Is From The Islamists .... I Think Sweden is Slowly Waking Up"

The quoted words in the header are those of Swedish Jewish community leader Lena Posner-Körösi, against the background of increased fears for the safety of her country's Jews following the recent violence in Paris and Copenhagen.


 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1u3faty5frs)

Meanwhile, writes veteran international Jewish leader and Jerusalem Post columnist Isi Leibler:
'Successive Israeli governments have failed miserably to meet the challenge of global anti-Semitism, not providing the leadership demanded of a Jewish state in these turbulent times and leaving Diaspora Jews to their own devices.
The global anti-Semitic tsunami, an unprecedented surge of feral hostility compounded by the Internet, emanates from a combination of factors: rabid Muslim anti-Semitism and violence, demonical anti-Israelism of the Left, and traditional cultural and radical Jew-hatred of the Right. It has impacted on Jewish communities everywhere but ironically is most acute in Europe, the continent drenched with Jewish blood during the Holocaust....
In the United States, the Goldene Medina, despite the strong public and congressional support for Israel, many Jews are stunned by the anti-Israeli hysteria generated by the Left and some liberal media and shocked by the toxic levels of anti-Semitism displayed on many college campuses.....
.Overall, Diaspora Jews are under enormous stress, confused and frequently divided as how to respond to the upsurge of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic onslaughts.
The global Jewish bodies purporting to combat these vicious trends all have limitations and have proven unable to provide the necessary direction on a global basis....
It is now crucial to create an umbrella organization to serve as an ongoing forum to exchange views, provide direction, and determine and coordinate global strategies against anti-Semitism....
But this project should not merely be perceived as a support for Diaspora Jewry. Israel itself has a major vested interest in creating such a global consultative body. We are currently being overwhelmed in the war of ideas and it is incumbent upon us to identify the anti-Semitic elements in the campaigns that seek to demonize us.
As severe as it is, anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism in Europe and most countries is more rampant at the grass-roots level than is currently reflected in government policies. Should we fail to reverse the tide, governments pressured by their Muslim communities and other constituents increasingly radicalized against Israel will inevitably lead to a further downgrading of relations with Israel...."
Read Isi Leibler's entire article here

(Incidentally, I've moved my "blog archive" from towards the bottom to towards the top of my sidebar. 

I've done this because I occasionally write more than one blogpost per day, and sometimes the earlier post of the day tends to get overlooked in favour of the later one.

 So please take a look at the "menu"!

Thanks!)

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

"America & Russia Must Be Brain Dead in Ignoring IS’s Increasing Threat To Their Vital Interests in the ME" Warns David Singer

Here is the latest article by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer.  It is entitled  "Islamic State: Egypt wakes up – when will America and Russia?"

Writes David Singer:

Whilst the American-led coalition continues its largely ineffectual air strikes in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State has spread its barbaric tentacles into Libya with alarming rapidity.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for:
1. Attacking Tripoli’s downtown luxury hotel in January  – the Corinthian  – which left 11 dead
2. The brutal mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Christian Copts
3. A multi-pronged suicide attack that killed at least 45 people in the town al Qubbah in Libya’s east.
 4. Seizing the university in Sirte – deposed dictator Muammar Gadaffi’s hometown.
 Egypt’s President – Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi – has called for intervention by the United Nations:
“What is going on in Libya could change this country into a breeding ground that could threaten the whole region, not only Egypt. Egypt, the Mediterranean Basin and Europe have to deal with this problem because the mission was unaccomplished, was unfinished by our European friends. We abandoned the Libyan people as prisoners to extremist militias.” 
An emergency meeting of the UN Security Council was told this week by Libya’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Dayri:
"Libya needs a decisive stance from the international community to help us build our national army's capacity and this would come through a lifting of the embargo on weapons ... so as to deal with this rampant terrorism"
The Security Council ignored his plea – and with good reason.

Libya currently has two Governments – one located in Bayda and the other in Tripoli. In November 2014 Libya’s Supreme Court held the Bayda Government to be illegal and unconstitutional – a decision ignored by its two principal backers – the United States and the European Union.

Removing the arms embargo – in force since 2011– would mean new shipments of arms could risk ending up under Islamic State’s control.

The UN special envoy to Libya – Bernardino Leon – has said that Islamic State and other militants can only be defeated with a united Libyan government in place that has strong international support.
Any expectation that the United Nations can mediate between these rival Governments to forge a unity government to end ongoing hostilities and divisions in Libya is fanciful. Leon himself has frankly admitted the immediate threat Libya faces from Islamic State:
"In Libya, Islamic State has found fertile ground in the growing post revolution political instability, capitalizing also on the weakness of state institutions and state security sector"
EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini has also acknowledged Libya’s parlous situation.
"What we are seeing today in Libya is a double threat: it is a threat of a country that is breaking apart and of a country where Daesh (Islamic State) is taking power and infiltrating"
President Obama’s urgently needs to rethink his September 2014 assessment that Islamic State:
1. Is not Islamic
2. Is not a state but only a terrorist organisation with no other vision
3. Can be degraded and destroyed by an American-led coalition 
Professor Deborah Lipstadt has succinctly summed up President Obama’s continuing political blindness:
“He has bent over backwards to try to separate [Islamic State] from Islam. Sometimes people try to keep an open mind. And when you have too open a mind, your brains can fall out.”
Islamic State continues to morph as groups such as “Province of Sinai “ – creating mayhem and havoc in the Egyptian desert area neighbouring Israel and Gaza –  swear allegiance to it

Islamic State will continue acquiring territory whilst military action remains unauthorised by a United Nations Security Council resolution.

America and Russia must both be brain dead in ignoring Islamic State’s increasing threat to their vital respective interests in the Middle East.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A Jury's Award: Spot The Difference

A significant story, with far-reaching implications, breaks.

First, as reported in the New York Times:


More here

Secondly, as reported by the BBC:

 More here

Can you spot the missing word and its derivatives?

But it's not just an issue of semantics: by refusing to use the T word, the BBC fails to convey the essence of the case and import of the judgment.

Shame, shame, shame on them.

Iran: The End of the Game

As explained by Memri.org:
A domino show held in the city of Gonabad, in the Razavi Korasan Province of Iran on February 16 focused on Iran's nuclear project. During the show, domino structures depicting obstacles to the progress of Iran's nuclear project - such as the assassination of scientists, sanctions, the Stuxnet virus, and various phases in the negotiations - were collapsed and were replaced by messages affirming Iran's nuclear achievements. The show featured US-related models, such as the word "CIA," the RQ-170 drone, and the US flag, some of which were collapsed. In addition, the word "ISIS" was set ablaze. The show ended with a missile destroying a domino structure of an Israeli flag. A short video and many images were posted on various Iranian websites.

As also explained by Memri.org:
In an Iranian TV interview, IRGC [Iranian Revolutionaryy Guard Corps]Deputy Commander Hossein Salami said that after years of research, they had tested the use of a ballistic missile against a ship when he was IRGC airforce commander. "This missile demonstrated that we were one step closer to destroying an aircraft carrier," he said in the interview, which aired on IRINN [Islamic Republic of Iran News Network] on February 9, 2015.
(Video here)
Meanwhile, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is doing all it can to downplay the nuclear threat to Israel and undermine Netanyahu.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Taken For A Ride: Balls & A Chain

All aboard! One of the recent sights of London
It seems that in common with other news outlets even the BBC has been taken for a ride by a news agency's error, and in the process has taken the public for a ride.

"More than 1,000 people in 'ring of peace' outside Oslo synagogue" headlined a BBC report yesterday, for instance:
'A group of young Muslims has gathered more than 1,000 people to form a "ring of peace" around Oslo's main synagogue....
"We want to demonstrate that Jews and Muslims do not hate each other," co-organiser Zeeshan Abdullah told crowds in front of the synagogue on Saturday.
"We do not want individuals to define what Islam is for the rest of us. There are many more peace-mongers than warmongers."
Norway's Chief Rabbi Michael Melchior sang the traditional Jewish end of Sabbath song outside the synagogue.
It was the first time co-organiser Hassan Raja had heard the song, he said.
Ervin Kohn, head of Oslo's Jewish community, described the event as "unique".
Hajrah Arshad, another of the eight organisers of the event, said it showed "that Islam is about love and unity'.
Alas, as reported with photographs here, as well as (don't miss it either) here, it was all exaggeration, hyperbole, misrepresentation, and wishful thinking.

Far from being a warm and fuzzy judeophile, an organiser of the supposed love-in is on record as saying that da Joos did 9/11:
",,,,Chishti confirmed on Saturday in an interview with Verdens Gang, a Norwegian tabloid, that he delivered a speech in Oslo on March 22, 2009 on the alleged involvement of Jews in planning the 9/11 World Trade Center bombings in New York. The speech’s title was “Therefore I Hate Jews and Gays,” the newspaper reported, though Chishti said he was not the one who came up with the title.
“There were several thousand Jews away from work in the World Trade Center, and why there were more Jews in Mumbai when Pakistani terrorists attacked than usual?” he said then, repeating the conspiracy theory that Jews knew in advance of the 2001 Twin Towers attack that killed thousands. “Jews are a small group, but everyone knows that they have a lot of power.”
And the 1000-strong human chain consisted of around twenty people, who far from forming a ring around the synagogue formed a line out front instead.

Very nice of that score or so of individuals and all that, but unfortunately the gesture is hardly going to dent the Islamic antisemitism which bedevils much of Europe.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

"There Is An Ill-wind of Hatred Blowing In The House of Islam & It Has Been Blowing For A Very Long Time Indeed"

The Rev Dr Mark Durie is one of Australia's foremost academic scholars of Islam and is also an Anglican priest.

He has written a two-part article on ISIS and its war on Christianity which is not of import to Christians alone.  In it  he states, inter alia:
'.... I ... wish to record, as a Christian and a pastor, my intense protest at the White House official statement of February 15 2015 concerning this event [the cold-blooded murder of twenty-one Copts in Libya].  This makes no mention of the reason the twenty one were killed: their Christian faith.  This culpable denial dishonours them, as it dishonours me and Christians everywhere.  
The White House statement claimed that “ISIL’s barbarity knows no bounds. It is unconstrained by faith, sect or ethnicity.”  Not true.  The Islamic State’s actions are constrained by its theology, and in this case its targets are also determined on religious grounds; they were Christians.  It is not an endorsement of the killers’ Islamic beliefs to acknowledge that these jihadis follow a form of Islam, and that their sect and faith does constrain their behaviour accordingly. 
President Obama has defended his administration’s misrepresentations on the grounds that the radicals are “desperate for legitimacy” so “They try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam.” But these are not desperate people.  They are shockingly confident in their beliefs. They do not “try to portray themselves” as Islamic: they sincerely believe they are. Christopher Hitchens got it right over a decade ago when he suggested of Al Qa’ida recruits that “they believe their own propaganda,” and “absolutely subscribe to the tenets of their version … of their religion, Islam.”
Obama also stated that “we must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.”  This too is nonsense.  A lie is a deliberate intention to deceive, and these self-described jihadis are – at least by their own understanding – speaking the absolute truth when they claim to speak for Islam.....
As Graeme Wood comments in an important recent Atlantic Monthly article, the Islamic State adherents are constantly referencing Islam’s sacred texts. In their everyday speech, “Koranic quotations are ubiquitous”.  This film [the video of the Copts' executions]  is no exception.  For anyone who knows anything about Islam it is impossible to view this film without being aware of the heavy constraining influence of the Qur’an and the Hadiths on the script.  These references are essential for understanding the true context, meaning and intent of the film.

.... There is a double standard in the house of Islam.  Examples are legion. The Jordanian royal house has been prominent in speaking up against attacks against Christians in Iraq and Syria, yet at the time when the Common Word letter was being released to the Christian world in 2008 under Jordanian royal sponsorship, its own Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought had posted on its website fatwas by its Chief Scholar – the former Mufti of Jordan – which declared death for Christians for the crime of leaving Islam, and even identified one person by name ...
King Abdullah has on the one hand been a champion of the rights of displaced Christians in the Middle East, and God knows they surely need one.  On the other hand he has held up the notorious Pact of Umar as evidence of Jordan’s history of religious tolerance:
“Jerusalem, which is, regrettably, subject to the worst forms of Judaisation today, stands witness to fourteen centuries of  deep, solid and fraternal relations between Muslims and Christians, enhanced by the Pact of Omar [ibn al-Khattab], and promoted by my grandfather, Sharif Hussein bin Ali, may God bless his soul.”
In contrast to this historical revisionism, the renowned Muslim jurist Ibn Kathir, accurately described the intent and effect of the conditions of the Pact of Umar as guaranteeing the continued degradation of Christians under Islamic rule:
“This is why the Leader of the faithful ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, demanded his well-known conditions be met by the Christians, these conditions that ensured their continued humiliation, degradation and disgrace.”
.... The problem is that as long as Muslims allow derogatory words like mushrik ‘associator, polytheist’ and kafir ‘infidel’ to be applied to Christians, while also preaching Qur’anic verses which denigrate non-Muslims, the hostility and hatred can only continue.
As long as the highest legal authorities of the Islamic mainstream continue to assert the right of Muslims to kill those who leave Islam, bursts of extreme religious hatred such as we have just seen in Libya can only continue.
As long as Muslims claim that the well-documented brutal slaughters of Islamic conquest and the ensuing oppression of nations under the Islamic system of dhimmitude were a mercy to the world, the ‘opening’ up (al-futuh) of dark nations to light and truth, hatred towards non-Muslims will continue to arise in the house of Islam.
The fundamental problem is not peculiar variants of extreme religious worldviews, it is a deeply engrained religious worldview that is not acknowledged by many who hold it.  Those who, like King Abdullah, allow it room to breathe by claiming that it is something other than what it really is are as much a part of the problem as the violent jihadis who are proud to own the worldview.
In the house of Islam, hatred has deep roots stretching back through time.  In 1836 Edward Lane reported in The Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians that it was standard practice in many Cairo schools to require Muslim school boys to invoke daily curses on the heads of Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims.  In essence these curses called for the looting, killing and enslavement of non-Muslims.   It is only against the backdrop of inter-generational hatred that a television series on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion could have become mainstream viewing in Egyptian society, and continuing kidnapping, rape and killings of Copts are perpetrated without justice for the victims.
There is an ill-wind of hatred blowing in the house of Islam and it has been blowing for a very long time indeed.  When this wind is whipped up into a tornado, the world is appalled, but it is the constant steady breeze of hatred that is the root of the problem....' [Emphasis added]
Read Marh Durie's entire sobering article here and here