Thursday, February 26, 2015

I love deli, but I'm not so sure about "deli culture"

Times of Israel reports on a new documentary:

Pastrami on wry with the Texan macher keeping deli culture alive

Loosen your belts, the Deli Man is coming.

Erik Greenberg Anjou’s forthcoming documentary about the dying (but perhaps reviving!) culture of Jewish delicatessens is a meal with many courses. Part of it is history, about the links found in taste and smell to an Old Country that exists only in the memories of our elders. But another part is more celebratory, as today’s chefs search for a way to honor the past while still eyeing the future.

Among the more charismatic figures in the film is Ziggy Gruber, a macher in the Houston, Texas Jewish community and one of the more “purist” figures detailed in the movie. “Since he’s been a little kid, he’s been an 80 year-old Jew” is how Gruber is described in the trailer. His quest to preserve and promote old schul recipes is something of the spine of Anjou’s film.

I love good deli as much as the next guy, but this is very depressing.

Based on the trailer, for the people in this film, their entire connection to Judaism is a good pastrami sandwich, a few Yiddish phrases and Hava Nagila playing ironically in the background.

Practically none of the modern "Jewish delis" profiled in the traiier are kosher. So what exactly makes them "Jewish?"

There is something very sad about people who substitute "gastronomic Judaism" for the real thing. They are so concerned about delis disappearing - but it looks like that they don't care about Judaism as much as they care about Hungarian goulash and matzoh ball soup.

Judaism has a rich culture. Jewish food (in particular, American Jewish food from the first half of the 20th century)  is only a tiny part of that culture. It is sad that too many people seem to care more about this tiny subset of Jewish culture than they do about Judaism itself.

Nostalgia cannot be a lasting basis for people's connection to their culture. For a culture to survive, one live it today, not just remember it.

02/26 Links Pt2: New Israel Fund Should Be Shunned for Siding With Terrorists in New York Trial

From Ian:

New Israel Fund Should Be Shunned for Siding With Terrorists in New York Trial
The New Israel Fund has long believed in using the legal process to harm Israel—as made evident by Mr. Sfard assisting the PLO in court during this historic trial. Additionally, The NIF contributed to the infamous Goldstone Report, which accused Israel of “war crimes” during its 2009 war in Gaza and recommended indicting it in the International Criminal Court.
While my colleague and friend Ronn Torossian recently wrote in the Observer about the New Israel Fund’s support for Jewish groups that are against the Jewish state, I want to emphasize that the hatred of this organization for Israel seemingly has no boundaries. As Naftali Balanson, Managing Editor of NGO Monitor, an Israeli non-profit noted, Mr. Sfard “is at the center of the NGO industry that exploits the rhetoric of human rights in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
An all-black jury in New York found the PLO guilty of terror—and a New Israel Fund lawyer testified for the PLO. An A-list star, Scarlett Johannson, fights against the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement—and Jewish leaders from the UJA support the New Israel Fund as the JCRC lets them march in the Israel Day parade.
Those who stand with New Israel Fund are standing against Israel. To suggest otherwise is a lie. I urge anyone affiliated with the NIF to stop supporting this organization financially.
The New Israel Fund must be ostracized by the Jewish community. An ideal starting point? Do not allow NIF to march with its banner at the annual Israel Day Parade. Don’t allow the parade to be maligned by traitors whose activities prove they stand against Israel.
If you care for Israel, walk away from the New Israel Fund. There is no other choice. (h/t Yenta Press)
For terror-hit US families, vindication and tears after legal victory against PA
In the landmark verdict handed down by a 12-person jury in the federal case tried in New York, the Palestinian Authority and PLO were held accountable for seven attacks that took place in Jerusalem between January 2001 and January 2004, killing 33 people and injuring over 400. The Palestinian Authority has vowed to appeal the ruling.
“Initially I was elated to hear the verdict, then a minute later I was crying because my son is still dead,” said Katherine Baker of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, whose son Benjamin Blutstein, 25, was killed in a bombing of a cafeteria at the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus on July 31, 2002.
“I am glad that liability has been attributed to the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, but it doesn’t change my life,” Baker said.
Mark Sokolow, a New York lawyer who, together with his wife and two of his daughters, was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, said he also felt a variety of emotions when he learned that the victims had won the case.
Why did BBC News cut the word terror from the headline of an article about a terrorism trial?
On February 23rd the BBC News website published a report on both its US & Canada and Middle East pages about the verdict issued by a New York court finding the Palestinian Authority and the PLO liable for a number of terror attacks which took place during the second Intifada.
That decidedly minimalist BBC report was originally headlined “Palestinian groups face $218m Israel terror fine in US”. By the time its third version was published some three hours later, the word terror had been removed from the headline and the article now appears under the title “Palestinian groups face $218m Israel attacks fine in US“.
Remarkably, in a report about the outcome of a court case entirely about terrorism, that word does not appear at all.
No mention in Norwegian media…
One would have thought that with the amount of money that has been pumped into the PA, followed with guarantees that no Norwegian tax money ever has gone towards paying Palestinian terrorists, this little matter would have attracted some sort of debate.
Unsurprisingly, there is very little appetite to look into the realities of the blind and uncritical of the PLO and the PA.

An essay on Jewish humor from the 1890s

Continuing on my month of Adar posts on 19th century humor involving Jews, as both tellers and targets...

I came across an essay on Jewish humor written by none other than the Chief Rabbi of Britain, Hermann Adler, in 1893.

He traces the history of Jewish humor back to the Bible:

Some of the most devout and attentive readers of the Hebrew Scriptures may, perhaps, have failed to observe that even these pages contain illustrations of humor in its caustic form. And yet the scene on Mount Carmel, with all its sublime accessories, is not devoid of an element of grim jocularity.
The fale prophets of Baal have lept upon the altar, and cried to their idol from morning unto even, "O Baal, hear us!" Then Elijah steps forth, and mockingly exclaims, “ Cry ye louder, for he is a god ; he is perhaps talking or walking, or he is on a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth and must be awaked.” We have here the main elements of the ludicrous—— the degradation of something usually associated with power and dignity.

To the Talmud:
Rabbi Joshua was once on a journey. when he noticed a short cut across the fields. A child, passing along, said to him, “ Do not walk across the fields, you will be trespassing.” “ But," said Rabbi Joshua, “ is not this a public footpath ?” “ Ay,” rejoined the child, “ trodden out by trespassers such as you would be."

The sage pursued his way. As he entered the town, he noticed a little maid who was carrying a basket which was carefully covered. “Tell me, my good child," said the Rabbin, " What have you in that basket ?” The child answered, “If my mother had wished that every one should know the contents of that basket she would not have covered it.”

And to his own time:

We have been accustomed to think of the elder Mendelssohn as a subtle metaphysician, perpetually immersed in abstruse philosophic studies, and exclusively engaged in arousing his fellow-religionists from their mental apathy, and in exterminating the brutal prejudices that had so long prevailed against them. But he also took a keen pleasure in social intercourse, and delighted in amiable sallies of wit. The story of his courtship is not without its romantic touches. He loved a fair blue-eyed maiden, but he was ill-favored and crookbacked—an infirmity that had been increased by bending over the ledger by day and poring over the writings of philosophers by night. The first impulse of the maiden was to reject his suit. Shy and reserved though he was, he one day took courage and engaged in conversation with her. “Do you believe what our sages of old have taught, that marriages are made in heaven i” “Assuredly,” replied the pious maiden. “I have heard,” Moses Mendelssohn continued, “that in my case something weird and strange came to pass, You know what our ancient masters further teach on this head. At our birth the proclamation goes forth, this man-child shall be united in marriage with such and such a maiden. lt was told unto me that, when I was born, the name of my future wife was duly proclaimed. And the fiat went forth that she would be afilicted with an unsightly hump. Then my soul wailcd forth, ‘ A damsel that is deformed is apt to grow sour and ill tempered. A damsel must be fair, so that she may be amiable. Bencficent Creator, lay the hump upon me, and sufler this babe to grow up in beauty, charming all her beholders.’ " When the maiden had heard these words, her eyes beamed with love and admiration. And not many days elapsed ere she became the afiianced bride of the happy philosopher.
...A striking commentary was recently made by a Russian Jew on the judicial corruption which stains his country. He passed the Law Courts in one of the cities of the Empire, and noticed a fine statue placed in front of the building. “ Whom does that statue represent?'’ he inquires of a passer~by. “ Why, Justice, of course !” “ How sad,” exclaims the Jew, heaving a profound sigh, “that Justice should be relegated to the outside of the edifice and be altogether excluded from admission within!"

“Death is the beat physician,” said a witling to his medical attendant, who had been somewhat too assiduous in his professional visits. “ Why so?” asked the doctor. “ Because he only pays one visit."

A dialogue overheard at the Stock Exchange on a frosty winter’s day : “Mr. Moses, what would you advise me to buy to-day ?” “ Thermometers. of course; they are very low at present, and are sure to rise.”

A Mr. Goldsmith became a convert to Christianity. He thought it advisable to adopt a name with a more Gentile ring, and dubbed himself Mr. Smith. “ What a fool!” exclaimed a member of the congregation on hearing of the change; “ this is the first Jew who has thrown away his gold."

At a festive banquet, representatives of the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish clergy had been invited, and were engaged in pleasant converse. The Rabbi, faithful to the dietary precepts of his religion, partook of only a few of the dishes. An appetizing joint of roast pork was set on the table. The Catholic priest turned to his neighbor, and asked, “ When will the time come that I may have the privilege of serving you with a slice of this delicious meat?” “ When I have the gratification of assisting at your Reverence’s wedding." the Rabbi rejoined, with a courteous bow.

The US changes course (Vic Rosenthal)

Vic Rosenthal's weekly column:

Iranian bomb

Recently, I attended a panel discussion including the representatives of several of the political parties competing in our upcoming election. I found it quite interesting that the question of Iran barely came up. When I made a remark about Barack Obama being an enemy of the Jewish state, the fellow from Meretz called my opinion 'extreme' and said something about how Israel and the Palestinians needed a push to get together, and he appreciated Obama providing it.

Oh yes, I thought, the Palestinians and the phony 'peace' negotiations. I remember that. But in fact it hadn't crossed my mind, nor had the actions of the administration during the recent Gaza conflict. What prompted my remark about Obama being an enemy was the deal with Iran that is coming together right now, the deal that mainstream journalists are reporting is even worse than the Israeli leaks that so angered, yet again, the US president (it's funny how we infuriate him so easily, almost just by breathing).

This deal -- or rather, the realignment of the US towards Iran and away from its traditional allies in the Sunni Arab states and Israel that the deal exemplifies -- represents a real change in US policy. While previous administrations also have pushed the pointless Palestinian 'peace process' with more or less enthusiasm, the Obama administration is breaking entirely new ground with its pro-Iranian policy.

If -- and this is quite a big 'if' given Iran's historical behavior -- if Iran lives up to the terms of the deal as reported, the regime will not assemble and test a weapon for about 5 years. In return for this 'restraint', it will be able to continue enrichment of nuclear material as well as research and development in the areas of weaponization and delivery systems. Its continued violations of the non-proliferation treaty and the Security Council resolutions intended to enforce it will be ignored, and Iran's emergence as a nuclear-armed state will be fully legitimized.

If such an agreement were to be signed, it would make it much harder for Israel to argue that any action it might take against Iran was defensive. Israel would be portrayed as violating the international consensus that rendered Iran's program kosher. In my opinion, this is the main reason that Iran wants the deal. It certainly isn't afraid of US action!

The Hebrew term for negotiations could be translated literally as "give and take." This seems a strange negotiation, all give and almost no take. Quoting Henry Kissinger,
Nuclear talks with Iran began as an international effort, buttressed by six U.N. resolutions, to deny Iran the capability to develop a military nuclear option. They are now an essentially bilateral negotiation over the scope of that capability through an agreement that sets a hypothetical limit of one year on an assumed breakout. The impact of this approach will be to move from preventing proliferation to managing it.
President Obama believes that it is possible for the US to establish an alliance of sorts with Iran that will help it defeat the Islamic State and bring stability to the Middle East while at the same time permitting the US to safely withdraw its forces from the region. Not only is he acquiescing to Iran's nuclearization, he appears to have given Iran a free hand in Syria and Iraq.

Given the ideology of the Iranian regime, this represents an astonishing triumph of delusional wishful thinking. Here is how Maj. Gen. Ya'akov Amidror, former Israeli National Security Advisor and head of the research department of Israeli Military Intelligence described it:
From the point of view of the Arab Middle East, the decision to alter the course with Iran means that America is effectively choosing a side in the historical, centuries-old feud in favor of the Shiite minority, scaring the Sunni majority. By doing so, the Americans are encouraging the Shiites, who since the revolution in Iran 35 years ago have been the most dynamically negative force in the Middle East, a force which reaches far and wide via its terrorist group proxies.
Iran established Hezbollah in Lebanon -- and it is fighting on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria. Iran created the Islamic Jihad group as a Sunni proxy among the Palestinians -- to fight Israel. And Iran is helping Hamas, also a Sunni Palestinian organization -- to undermine the Palestinian Authority and also to fight Israel. Iran backs the Houthi rebels who have conquered Sana'a, and it prodded the riots in Bahrain, which were subdued with help from Saudi Arabia. Across the entire globe, the Iranians and their Hezbollah allies have carried out dozens of terrorist attacks against Israel, and the Americans are well aware of this. The U.S. is on the verge of partnering with this radical force, in the hope that doing so will bring about regional stability? It's hard to believe, but reports to this effect are multiplying.
The new American policy will turn the entire Sunni world against the US, Amidror notes, as well as encourage even more nuclear proliferation as the abandoned Sunnis nuke up in order to protect themselves against the aggressive and expansionist Iranian regime. It will encourage Iran to continue to export terrorism all over the world, including America's soft underbelly via Latin America.
It also represents a striking reversal of the commitment of most recent American administrations to the security of Israel. Iran stands behind almost every enemy of Israel today, from the tens of thousands of Hizballah missiles in Lebanon that can strike almost every location in the Jewish state, to the tunnel diggers and suicide bombers of Hamas, to the self-motivated stabbers and murder drivers in the territories. Right now, Iran is beefing up its forces in the Syrian Golan, creating yet another possible front for conflict.

Aligning with Iran and protecting Israel are inconsistent actions -- doing one precludes doing the other. To facilitate the possession of nuclear weapons by a regime that holds Holocaust denial conferences and cartoon competitions, that almost daily announces that Israel must and will be destroyed, and that almost entirely surrounds Israel with its military proxies, is nothing less than an act of aggression against the Jewish state.

This is why I called Obama an enemy of the Jewish state and the Jewish people, and why I don't consider that statement 'extreme' at all.

The relationship between Israel and the US is in the process of being torn apart, and it has nothing to do with 'protocol' or personal animosity between Netanyahu and Obama. It is a divergence over policy, a result of a conscious decision taken by the administration to reverse course in the Middle East and place the US in the Iranian corner. Unless the next American president sharply changes course yet again, the map of Israel's alliances will look significantly different in the coming years.

Vic Rosenthal lives in Israel and blogs at abuyehuda.com.

02/26 Links Pt1: US Congressman harassed on The Temple Mount; Abbas rejects PA rule over Gaza

From Ian:

US Congressman Dennis Ross Harassed By Muslim Agitators On The Temple Mount
Republican Congressman Dennis Ross (FL-15) visited the Temple Mount on February 18, 2015. The video clip clearly shows groups of fully covered female Muslim agitators following and harassing the Congressman and his group with calls of: "Allah Akbar" and "Leave!" among other things. The Congressman spent a full hour on the mount accompanying a group of Jewish visitors led by Yitzchak Reuven of the Temple Institute, during which he experienced anti-Jewish discrimination firsthand. He was witness to Jewish groups being separated and subjected to excessive security checks, then followed closely by Islamic Waqf guards to ensure that they don't partake in any form of prayer or non-Muslim worship. The group had to wait for over an hour before being allowed entry to the Holy Site, during which time hundreds of tourists ascended with ease. In addition the congressman's son was taken into a private room and body searched to ensure that he wasn't in possession of any religious paraphernalia.
When asked on camera, how he felt about the strange welcome he received, the Congressman responded: "It's a little bit of a different reception than what I am used to, but coming from a country that respects freedom of religion we respect what they are doing." He also commended the Jewish group for their perseverance and commitment to their own religious freedom at the site.
Yitzchak Reuven, who led the group commented: "It was a great honor to host Congressman Ross and his family on a tour of the Temple Mount, it was unfortunate that he had to witness the duress and harassment that Jewish visitors are subjected to on a daily basis. It is important to note that these agitators receive direct payment from extremist Islamic organizations for their efforts to intimidate us, but they will not scare us away. The number Jewish visitors to the site continue to grow."

Witness: Arab Women's 'Chain Mob' Keeps Jews Off Temple Mount
Jews who attempt to ascend to the Temple Mount have a great many obstacles placed in their way – and the latest consists of mobs of Muslim women who form human chains, effectively preventing anyone – especially Jews – from passing them.
Matan Nahum, a resident of Beit Horon, told Arutz Sheva that he and a friend who had attempted to visit the Temple Mount, and encountered just such a group – accompanied by mobs of children and youths who cursed, spit, and threw rocks at them.
The two then proceeded to an observation point on the north side of the Temple Mount, where viewers can see the site of the Holy of Holies, the most important part of the Temple – but, here, too, they were impeded by a “human chain” of veil-covered Muslim women, ululating, cursing, and spitting at the two Jewish youths who were unable to proceed, said Nahum.
“We found ourselves, two Jews, facing a huge crowd of Arabs who would not let us move,” Nahum said. “All the while, another large group of Arabs advanced on us, spitting and throwing objects, apparently planning to attack us.
Fatah Al-Awdah TV: Jews were corrupt and brought tragedy on Europeans
"Faced with the Jews' schemes Europe could not bear their character traits, monopolies, corruption, and their control and climbing up position in government. In 1290, King Edward I issued a decree banishing the Jews [from England]. Following him were France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Spain and Italy. The European nations felt that they had suffered a tragedy by providing refuge for the Jews. Later the Jews obtained the Balfour Declaration, and Europe saw it as an ideal solution to get rid of them."
[Originally broadcast on official PA TV, Jan. 1, 2013 and Nov. 11, 2014, re-broadcast on Fatah-run Awdah TV, Feb. 18, 2015]

UNRWA loves using dead babies for Pallywood fundraising

On February 2, I reported that Chris Gunness was looking for dead babies:

I predicted that UNRWA would produce a staged video with whatever families it could find for fundraising.

Sure enough, that's what it did, and Gunness calls the video "dramatic" and "great:"

The UN Multimedia division released the video, with script and description of the shots and narrative to spoon-feed the story to any lazy reporters who wanted it.

Gideon Levy of Haaretz dutifully complied.

The main victim profiled in the video, Salma al-Masry, does appear to have died of hypothermia as the family was staying in a temporary shelter in Beit Hanoun.

The end of the video is a bit more suspect:
Outside the al-Masry-family's tent, Mirvat's (Salma's mother] sister-in-law, Nisreen, 28. tells about her son Moemen who died at just 50 days old in the UNRWA school where the family had taken refuge.
SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Nisreen al-Masri, mother of baby Moemen:
"The child was sleeping in my lap. I felt that he was cold. I covered him and I put him to sleep. When I woke up at four in the morning he was blue and dead. I held him and I started to scream. They took him from me and went to the hospital and then they brought him back."
Isn't it an astonishing coincidence that Salma's cousin Moemen also died from the cold, even though he was in a presumably heated UNRWA school?

I can't find anything about Moemen but his death was not reported in any news media as far as I can tell.

UNRWA is not above shading the facts when it comes to fundraising.

Crossing the Line 2: The New Face of Anti-Semitism on Campus (Video)

An update to a classic video on hate against Jews and Israel on campus from Jerusalem U and Step Up for Israel:

The Guardian claims that the Mossad may have tried to dry up the Nile

From The Guardian, reporting about a secret cable from the South African spy agency:
Israel has been trying for decades, the report says, to undermine Egypt’s vital Nile water source so that it becomes preoccupied with water shortages rather than the Arab-Israeli conflict. “Towards this end Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology conducted extensive experiments, and eventually created a type of plant that flourishes on the surface or the banks of the Nile and that absorbs such large quantities of water as to significantly reduce the volume of water that reaches Egypt.”

The Guardian then adds its own color to try to make this absurd claim seem more realistic:
Intelligence agencies such as Mossad have a long history of conducting sabotage operations. There are shrubs, such as the tamarisk, that absorb vast amounts of water and can exacerbate drought. Advocates of removing the tamarisk claim that a full-grown tamarisk can consume more than 200 gallons of water a day. The tamarisk, though originally from Asia and the Middle East, can now be found in the American west.
It then concludes:
The allegation against Mossad could be true or preposterous. Either way it offers an insight into the thinking of intelligence agencies. If true, then Mossad is guilty of reprehensible tactics. If untrue, the South Africans are guilty of naivety in presenting this as fact.
It's 50/50! Could be preposterous! Could be true! After all, doesn't Israel regularly open up dams to flood Gazans?

The rest of the article shows pretty conclusively that the South African spy agency would report completely unfounded rumors as fact:
But in the world of espionage, today as in the past, spies peppering reports with half-truths, rumours, the outlandish and the downright ridiculous is par for the course, the secret cables show – and not that remote from the lucrative fantasies and inventions of Graham Greene’s fictional MI6 agent in Our Man In Havana.

Many of the reports, in spite of being marked “confidential”, “secret” and “top secret”, contain information openly available elsewhere, often written by journalists. One South African intelligence report on Israel’s Mossad quotes Chris McGreal, the Guardian’s former correspondent in Johannesburg and Jerusalem, who is now based in the US. “Chris McGREAL has claimed that ‘Israel provided expertise and technology that was central to South Africa’s development of its nuclear bomb’,” the report says.
Yet The Guardian reserves judgment about the Mossad Nile plot, giving credence to the idea that somehow South Africa's intelligence services infiltrated the secret Israeli program to dry up the Nile rather than assume that the rumor is just as absurd as the other ones it reports.

(h/t Jim)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Good Ron Dermer speech from January

I had missed this speech that Ron Dermer gave to an Israel Bonds dinner on January 25, but it is worth saving and reading:

Ladies and Gentlemen,
As purchasers of Israel Bonds, you have been true partners in building Israel.
And in the nearly 67 years of Israel’s independence, we should be grateful for many things.
We should be grateful that we have signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan that have endured decades of challenges.
We should be grateful that Israel has transformed itself from an agriculturally based economy to a global technological power.
We should be grateful that Israel is a world leader in medicine and science, and can boast of a dozen Nobel Prize Winners.
We should be grateful that Israel has world class museums, first rate restaurants, European League Basketball Championships and a country so exciting that Israelis actually have to go to Manhattan to unwind.
But above all else, the birth of the Jewish state should make the Jewish people grateful for three things: First, Israel gave us a voice. Second, Israel provided a refuge. Third, and most important, Israel enabled us to defend ourselves.
Now, everyone can appreciate the significance of having a refuge. For nearly seven decades, Jews fleeing oppression have found a home in Israel. They came from the killing fields of Europe, were driven out of hostile states in North Africa and the Middle East, were rescued from Ethiopia and arrived en masse when the iron curtain fell.
Today, it is the Jewish community of France that is flocking to Israel. Three years ago, 1900 French Jews made Aliyah. Two years ago, 3500 came. Last year, 7,000 came. This year, we expect 15,000 to come.
That’s nearly 3% of the French Jewish community – the equivalent of some 200,000 American Jews moving to Israel in a single year.
French Jews are coming because like Jews elsewhere in Europe, they live with a fear they have not experienced since the 1940s.
Their cemeteries and synagogues are desecrated, their schools are attacked, and their fellow Jews are murdered for being Jews.
For a few decades after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism in Europe was politically incorrect. But time has shown that this proved to be a notable exception rather than a new norm.
Anti-Semitism has once again become as European as Croissants.
And it is not just militant Muslims in Europe, who with their grotesque chants of Gas the Jews, spread the old poison. It also includes many European intellectuals -- only they mask the old hatred of the Jewish people behind a new hatred of the Jewish state.
When Nobel Laureates compare Gaza to Auschwitz, when the Middle East’s only democracy is singled out for boycotts, and when European governments fall over themselves to embrace a Palestinian government which is backed by a genocidal, terror organization, it’s not legitimate criticism of Israel. It’s anti-Semitism.
When 60% of the Human Rights Council’s resolutions are directed against Israel as hundreds of thousands are being butchered in Syria, gays are being hanged from cranes in Tehran, and scores of journalists rot in Turkish prisons, it’s not legitimate criticism of Israel. It’s anti-semitism.
A few weeks ago, the signatories of the Geneva Conventions convened for only the third time in their history to condemn a county - and guess what, all three times they have met was to condemn Israel.
They didn’t meet to condemn the Khmer Rouge for killing two million Cambodians. They didn’t meet to condemn the genocides in Rwanda or in Darfur. They didn’t meet to condemn the giant concentration camp that it called North Korea.
They met to condemn Israel, the most beleaguered democracy on Earth - where there is free speech, freedom of religion, independent courts, genuine elections and where the rights of women, gays and all minorities are protected.
And one more thing: When the International Criminal Court – a court that was founded in the wake of the Holocaust to be a permanent Nuremberg that would ensure that mass murderers are brought to justice – when that court goes after Israel for defending itself against a terror organization that fires thousands of rockets at its cities and uses its own people as human shields, it’s not legitimate criticism of Israel. It’s anti-Semitism.
But amidst all this hatred, and the threats to Jews living in Europe, one thing has changed.
Despite all the concerns regarding the future of French Jewry, one set of questions is not being asked today: Where will the Jews go? Who will take them in? Where can they find refuge?
Those questions are not being asked because Israel is the answer. And I am proud that my Prime Minister made clear to all French Jews that while they have the right to be protected in France, they will be welcomed with open arms in Israel.
And if they decide to come to Israel, they will not be treated as visitors from a foreign land but as family members who have come home.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
If people can appreciate the significance of Israel as a refuge, they can appreciate even more the significance of the Jewish people restoring our capability to defend ourselves.
They appreciate it because they know what happened to our people when we lacked that capability. They know that a defenseless Jewish people was once subjected to calamities of a scope and scale that is unprecedented in the history of nations -- centuries of persecution and blood libels, expulsions and countless massacres, and of course the most horrific calamity of all – the Holocaust.
They appreciate that the simple truth remains that if Israel’s enemies laid down their arms, there would be peace, but if Israel laid down its arms, there would be no Israel.
They appreciate that without the capacity to defend ourselves, Israel would not have survived five wars, two conflicts in Lebanon, 3 conflicts in Gaza, decades of terrorism and tens of thousands of rockets.
And they appreciate that Israel must have the power to defend itself by itself against the enormous threats we face today – from Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, terror organizations in the Sinai and the Golan, and of course from an Iran determined to develop nuclear weapons.
But if people can appreciate having a refuge and having the ability to defend ourselves, few seem to appreciate what it means for the Jewish people to finally have a voice – a sovereign voice that must be reckoned among the nations.
That became clear to me earlier this month in the debate over whether the Prime Minister of Israel should go to France for the solidarity march in Paris.
To me, his trip there was a no-brainer. After all, Israel constantly asks France to stand with us in our battle against terrorism. It’s only natural that Israel should stand with France in its battle against terrorism.
But there were those in Paris and even some in Jerusalem who thought that Israel’s presence there would divert attention from the united message France was trying to deliver against terror and focus it instead on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Now, those who think that what the French are facing in Paris is fundamentally different than what Israel is facing in Jerusalem simply don’t get it.
And it is precisely because of this wrongheadedness that is was imperative for an Israeli Prime Minister to be there.
He had an obligation to explain that Israel’s fight is their fight. He had an obligation to explain that the fanaticism that is driving Boko Haram in Nigeria, ISIS in Iraq and Syria and Al Qaeda throughout the Middle East is the same fanaticism that drives people to attack sentries in Ottawa, shoppers in Sydney, and cartoonists in Paris.
And he has an obligation to explain that this fanaticism is the same fanaticism that drives people to fire thousands of rockets from Gaza, stab passengers on a bus in Tel Aviv and hack worshipers to death in a synagogue in Jerusalem.
This fanaticism is not about this or that grievance. It is not driven by the policies of this or that Israeli government. It is bred by Palestinian leaders who glorify terrorists as heroes, name public squares after killers and who through their media and schools poison children with constant incitement toward Jews and Israel.
Ladies and Genetlemen,
In the battle against militant Islam, Israel is the canary in the coal mine.
Israel is an outpost of Western civilization, tolerance andpluralism in a region poisoned by tyrants and terrorists.
You know when we’ll know that what happened in Paris proves more than a powerful photo-op. You know when we’ll know that Europe has truly woken up to the dangers of militant Islam.
When they stop blaming the canary for the poison. When they stop blaming Israel for militant Islam and start standing with Israel against militant Islam.
But for that to happen, to enable Europe to begin to connect the dots – for our sake and theirs - Israel must not be silent. Israel must speak the truth. Fearlessly and unapologetically.
That is why it was so important for the Prime Minister to go to France. That is why it was so important for him to march in Paris and speak out.
And if was important for the Prime Minister to speak out in Paris about anti-Semitism and the threat from militant Islam, it is even more important for him to speak out in Washington DC about the dangers of a nuclear Iran.
The Prime Minister’s visit here is not intended to show any disrespect for President Obama. Israel deeply appreciates the strong support we have received from President Obama in many areas – the enhanced security cooperation, heightened intelligence sharing, generous military assistance and iron dome funding, and opposition to anti-Israel initiatives at the United Nations.
The Prime Minister’s visit is also not intended to wade into your political debate. Israel deeply appreciates the strong bipartisan support we enjoy in the American Congress -- where Democrats and Republicans come together to support Israel -- Just as Israel appreciates the wide and deep support that itenjoys among the American people.
Rather, the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington is intended for one purpose -- and one purpose only. To speak up while there is still time to speak up. To speak up when there is still time to make a difference.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Iran is the world’s most dangerous regime. It has already devoured four Arab capitals – Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Saana in Yemen – and it is hungry for more.
Iran is the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world, perpetrating or ordering attacks in 25 countries on five continents in the last four years alone.
Iran is responsible for the murder of thousands of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and hundreds of Marines in Lebanon. It is responsible for the bombings of US Embassies in Africa and for the twin bombings two decades ago in Argentina.
This reign of terror and violence has all happened without Iran having a nuclear weapon. Now just imagine how much more dangerous Iran will be with nuclear weapons.
And do not think that America is beyond Iran’s reach.
Today, Iran is building ICBMs - Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Now only in cartoons do ICBMS carry TNT. In the real world, they carry nuclear payloads.
And those ICBMS that Iran is building are not designed to hit Israel. Iran already has missiles for that.
Those ICBMs are designed to reach Europe and the United States – to reach New York, Washington and Miami.
For Israel, a nuclear armed Iran would be a clear and present danger.
Iran’s regime threatens Israel with destruction. Its leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, recently tweeted - in English - that Israel must be annihilated.
Iran has used Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other proxies to fire thousands of rockets and threaten Israel from Lebanon, Gaza, the Sinai and the Golan Heights.
Iran’s regime is both committed to Israel’s destruction andworking toward Israel’s destruction.
Today, the international community stands at the precipice of forging an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.
The agreement that is being discussed today is not an agreement that would dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons capability, but rather one that could leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state.
That is an agreement that could endanger the very existence of the State of Israel.
Now there may be some people who believe that the Prime Minister of Israel should have declined an invitation to speak before the most powerful parliament in the world on an issue that concerns the future and survival of Israel.
But we have learned from our history that the world becomes a more dangerous place for the Jewish people when the Jewish people are silent.
That is why the Prime Minister feels the deepest moral obligation to appear before the Congress to speak about an existential issue facing the one and only Jewish state.
This is not just the right of the Prime Minister of Israel. It is his most sacred duty -- to do whatever he can to prevent Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons that can be aimed at Israel.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
For nearly two thousand years, the Jewish people were a stateless, voiceless, and powerless people. We had no sovereignty, no voice in international affairs, and no capability to defend ourselves.
As storm clouds gathered against us, the Jews often had nowhere to go. They begged others to speak to Kings and Presidents on their behalf. They begged others to raise the alarm so that people of good will might heed their call.
And when those storms finally raged, the Jewish people pleaded with others to protect us, to give us shelter to survive another day.
Are there any survivors here tonight? Please stand up.
You know what it means to live in a world where the Jewish people had no state. You know what it means for the Jewish people to have no one to speak on their behalf.
You know what it meant to live in a world where the Jewish people have no power to defend themselves.
But today is not 1938.
The Jewish people are no longer stateless. We have restored our sovereignty in our ancestral homeland.
The Jewish people are no longer voiceless. Israeli Prime Ministers can address the United Nations and the American Congress, and Israeli Ambassadors can speak up in the world’s capitals and on CNN.
And most important, the Jewish people no longer beg others to defend us. We can defend ourselves.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Jewish people are a people who have survived all the evil that history has thrown at us.
And we will survive the evil that we face today.
But we will not do it by bowing our heads and by hoping that the storm will pass.
We will do it by standing tall and by confronting the storm with faith and courage.
And I have no doubt that as Israel stands tall, you will all be by our side – standing tall, standing proud, standing with Israel.

02/25 Links Pt2: Lumish: Americans support Israel, but do Democrats?; How Not to Help Palestinians

From Ian:

Michael Lumish: Americans support Israel, but do Democrats?
Needless to say, western journalists did more than their part in the defamation game as Matti Friedman has so nicely illustrated. It is as if they honestly think that Arabs have every right to try to kill Jews and if Jews fight back, this represents a form of aggression.
Meanwhile, of course, the academics – such as the vile SFSU Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, of Race and Resistance Studies fame, who advised the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) during a period when they were holding up signs calling for the murder of “colonizers” – were telling their students that Israel is a racist, imperialist, colonialist, apartheid, militaristic, racist state… despite the fact that it has far-and-away the best human rights record of any country in the entire region.
In any case, an ongoing campaign of defamation against the Jews painted them as modern monsters or the New Nazis and has succeeded in turning progressives and Democrats against one of the most persecuted people in human history… on moral grounds. The Jews of Israel may believe that they are acting in self-defense, but progressive Democrats know that they really act out of racism and white privilege, or Jewish Supremacism, or the shear lust for violence.
And this, ultimately, is why the Democrats have turned against the Jews.
They honestly think that the Jews of the Middle East richly deserve whatever beating they get.
Dexter Van Zile: How Not to Help Palestinians
Moon’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, also admitted (in 2006) that Israel was held to a higher standard than its adversaries. He said that “supporters of Israel feel it is harshly judged by standards that are not applied to its enemies – and too often this is true, particularly in some UN bodies.” Bourke’s book otmits all of this, but portrays concerns about the UN’s bias against Israel.
“Pro, pro, pro” activists justify their intense scrutiny of the Israelis by saying that because they are the more powerful party to the conflict, Israelis must be subjected to more intense scrutiny. But if these activists are going to advocate for the creation of a Palestinian state, they have an obligation to determine whether or not the Palestinian people and their leaders will be able to live in peace with Israel once that state is created. Sadly, while there is ample support to indicate that Palestinians cannot live in peace with a Jewish state, Palestinian Christians and Evangelical activists are loath to confront this evidence.
Leaders in both Hamas (which controls the Gaza Strip) and the allegedly more moderate Palestnian Authority, which controls the West Bank, routinely broadcast anti-Semitic imagery in the media outlets they control, inciting hostility on the part of their own citizens toward the people with which they need to make peace. To her credit, Bourke acknowledges that Hamas seeks Israel’s destruction, but she makes no reference in her text to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al Husseini, the man who, despite promoting vicious anti-Semitism in Palestinian society, is regarded as a hero by both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Christians cannot be pro-peace if they are not pro-truth. Sadly, this is a lesson that activists in the “pro, pro, pro” movement must learn.
A shattered Palestinian society: Interview with Bassem Eid
I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Eid after his last publication, which is a blog on Times of Israel that received a great deal of attention and that was the most popular blog for four days running.
In this interview, Mr. Eid provides an insider’s view of a Palestinian society that is divided and full of contradictions. Perhaps the biggest contradiction is that while Palestinians are still pursuing violence and revenge against Israel, they also have strong economic and even friendship ties with Israelis, and their culture has become strongly influenced by and integrated with the Israeli culture.
This interview and Mr. Eid’s work in general provide a view of the conflict that is starkly different from much of what is said by either side. It leads to us to realize that no one has ever really worked towards a feasible long-term solution for the Palestinians, not Israel (which is hardly unexpected considering the long-standing Arab hostility towards Israel), not the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), not the UN itself, not the international community, not the so-called pro-Palestinian activists in the West, not the regional powers, and not even the Palestinians’ own politicians and leaders.

David Ignatius looks for, and finds, reasons to support concessions to Iran

Last week, I posted about a nice interview by David Ignatius of the Washington Post of Israeli intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz where Israeli objections to an Iranian nuclear deal are spelled out in detail. Ignatius admitted that he had no counter-arguments, but he asserted that he still supported the deal.

Now, Ignatius' job was to find any arguments for what he already admitted he would support even if there weren't any.

Sure enough, he found them:

The administration’s response is that the agreement is better than any realistic alternative. Officials argue it would put the Iranian program in a box, with constraints on all the pathways to making a bomb. Perhaps more important, it would provide strict monitoring and allow intrusive inspection of Iranian facilities — not just its centrifuges but its uranium mines, mills and manufacturing facilities. If Iran seeks a covert path to building a bomb, the deal offers the best hope of detecting it.

If the current talks collapsed, all these safeguards would disappear. The Iranians could resume enrichment and other currently prohibited activities. In such a situation, the United States and Israel would face a stark choice over whether to attack Iranian facilities — with no guarantee that such an attack would set Tehran back more than a few years.
The deal taking shape would likely allow Iran about 6,000 IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz. The Iranians apparently wouldn’t install IR-2s, which operate twice as fast, and they would limit research on future models, up to IR-8s, that are on the drawing board. How these research limits would be monitored and enforced is a key bargaining issue. Another critical variable is the size of the stockpile Iran could maintain; U.S. officials want a very low number, with additional enriched material shipped out of Iran.
One official argues that the United States would be better off with 9,000 IR-1s and a small stockpile than with 1,000 IR-2s and a large stockpile. Netanyahu probably won’t address this issue in his speech to Congress, since he insists the only acceptable number of centrifuges is zero. 
The entire parameters of the talks are being misrepresented as if the US has no alternative between largely accepting Iranian demands or war. Ignatius is ignoring that the sanctions have been having an effect. Iran's Supreme Leader has said that his goal for the negotiations are the removal of sanctions.

It is far from clear that Iran will go full speed ahead with enrichment activities if the sanctions remain in place or are strengthened.

Which brings up the biggest problem with this article - its revelation that the White House has no idea how to negotiate with Iran.

For administration officials to tell the Washington Post that there is no realistic military action (which they have been saying for years anyway) signals to Iran that there is no threat of military action, ever. Moreover, the public break of the White House with Israel over this issue effectively neutralizes the threat of Israeli military action - an unstated threat that could have improved the US negotiating position significantly. In other words, the US has given up on its major disincentive to Iran without getting anything in return, the exact opposite of how negotiations are supposed to be done.

Kerry tells Israel that they cannot criticize the agreement since it hasn't been finalized, but at the same time says that it will not share the details with Israel. What message does that tell Iran?

It tells them that the US trusts Iran more than Israel!

The unnamed officials who are telling Ignatius that this is the best deal possible are simultaneously telling Iran that the US has no stomach to either threaten military action nor to maintain the sanctions.

As far as the substance of the argument, that Iran could go full speed ahead with its nuclear weapons program without oversight, this is a false assumption as well. There are still IAEA inspections and reports that have been consistently pointing out Iranian violations, which affect how Iran acts to an extent. Those reports (or Iran's rejection of any future inspections) can and should trigger serious warnings of more extreme sanctions and of military action.

Beyond that, the reported agreement does nothing to limit Iran's weaponization program - building rockets whose purpose is solely to carry a nuclear payload, for example. Secret Iranian nuclear facilities will remain secret with or without this framework. But with the framework in place, the world will no longer pay attention to Iranian violations; if the US walks away from a bad deal then there would be more effort made in monitoring Iran through espionage and open-source methods.

Ignatius' piece hurts the US in these negotiations. It shows a fatalistic White House that is not serious about truly addressing the Iranian threat. It shows a desperation for a deal, any deal that Iran would agree to. It shows how no amount of logic or facts will sway the White House and its cheerleaders who would rather craft a bad deal than no deal. And it does not seriously address a single one of Israel's substantive points about the dangers of the deal.

That's pretty bad.

(ht David G)

Actually, Most Israelis Want To See Tel Aviv Nuked Also (PreOccupied Territory)

Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory

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Actually, Most Israelis Want To See Tel Aviv Nuked Also
By the Rest of Israel

The rhetoric surrounding Bibi Netanyahu's scheduled speech to the US Congress about Iran's nuclear program represents just one more little storm obscuring one important detail: most Israelis want Tel Aviv to get nuked.

Let's just be straightforward about it. The place is a moral train wreck with a stifling inferiority complex. It can't make up its mind whether it wants to be European, American, Mediterranean, Levantine, Jewish, secular, or anything else - and no matter which identity it chooses, it can never fully or effectively embrace it. Just nuke the place and spare the rest of the country all the angst and shame. I promise we'll all be better off as a result, radiation poisoning and all. It'll be worth it just to be rid of the awkwardness of having to witness the wannabe.

"The first Jewish city" - well, yeah, technically that's true, in the sense that it was Jews who founded it - specifically to throw away their Jewishness. It's a place that doesn't know who it is, a city that no matter how hard it tries to look like Maurice Chevalier, always ends up more like Woody Allen. We're talking about a place that got itself designated a UNESCO World Heritage site for its plethora of Bauhaus architecture - really? Bauhaus? That's worth preserving? What's next, an award for high levels of air pollution? For the largest number of major thoroughfares likely to experience flooding when it rains? A good post-detonation crater might do wonders for the Ayalon highway's drainage. Then UNESCO can declare that site a work of art and fund its preservation. It would actually be an upgrade in artistic sensibility.

It would be bad enough if the place weren't so hoity-toity about pretending to be something it's not. Listen, the fact that you're the only city in the Eastern Mediterranean that hosts a Gay Pride Parade does not automatically turn you into San Francisco. Except for the part where the rest of us are kind of waiting to see whether an earthquake will strike you.

All of Tel Aviv's attempts to be like New York - a financial district, a world-renowned philharmonic, you know the drill - have managed to make the city resemble the Big Apple in one respect: everybody else hates and resents the place. Congratulations.

Remember how, after 9/11, all of the US suddenly loved New York? How, after Hurricane Sandy, the hate and resentment seemed to subside? Therein lies the key to getting the remainder of Israel to feel something positive for Tel Aviv: destroy the place.

Come on, Khamenei. We're counting on you.