October 30, 2011

Shalit, Terrorism & Legal Accountability

Over at It's Complicated there's reference to a post by Roee Ruttenberg at +972 Magazine that is a bit unusual.  Ruttenberg writes about some of released Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for Gilad Shalit, and says:
Some of the families of foreign-national or dual-national victims killed in these attacks could take their cases to their respective national courts and governments. A Palestinian prisoner like Ahlam Tamimi, one of the 27 woman being released, is being “exiled” to Jordan. Having been involved in an attack that left American and Dutch nationals dead, should could face extradition charges. Even if the Israeli Prime Minister signs a deal for their exchange, and the Israeli President official pardons them, does that hinder the rights of other leaders around the world to pursue them?
Israel may have had no choice but to let them go, but other countries might find it difficult to do the same, particularly if they have no soldiers being held by Palestinian groups, and even more so if they begin facing political pressure to pursue justice on behalf of their slain nationals.
To my thinking, jurisdiction might arguably extend beyond particular states to the ICC, or universally, if the states where they are found are parties and unwilling or unable to prosecute for war crimes or crimes against humanity.  And since the Palestinian Authority has even filed a Declaration recognizing the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, and also seems obliged to prosecute if requested.

Although welcomed home as heroes, ALL of these people are convicts, guilty of crime.  Some have committed offenses that fall within the Rome Statute.

An organization that currently seeks such accountability is Shurat HaDin—Israel Law Center, an Israeli based civil rights organization that litigates around the world for the rights of terror victims.

In late 2009, Shurat HaDin filed a petition to the High Court of Justice in Jerusalem demanding that terrorists who fire rockets into Israel be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as the Hague Convention and other international treaties, stipulate that deliberate targeting of civilians in the context of an armed conflict is a war crime, while deliberate and systemic assault against a particular civilian population constitutes a crime against humanity.  Conviction in these cases would carry a sentence without possibility of pardon or early release and include ineligibility to be freed in large scale prisoner exchanges.

Shurat HaDin follows the model pioneered by the Southern Poverty Law Center—a non-profit legal center that over the last four decades has successfully confronted and shut down racist groups across America. It generally "seeks to bankrupt the terror groups and grind their criminal activities to a halt - one lawsuit at a time." The flow of money to terrorists is their most important pre-occupation and their greatest vulnerability.

According to its web site, Shurat HaDin, using private civil suits, has obtained over $1 billion in judgments against terror organizations and state sponsors and $600 million in assets frozen. This compares with about $140 million frozen as a result of U.S. government action during the same time frame. It has also recovered over $72 million that went directly to the victims and their families, many of whom lost not only loved ones, but the basis of their livelihood.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 8, provides:
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
Article 2 to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says in pertinent part:
3. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes:
(a) To ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognized are violated shall have an effective remedy, notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity;
(b) To ensure that any person claiming such a remedy shall have his right thereto determined by competent judicial, administrative or legislative authorities, or by any other competent authority provided for by the legal system of the State, and to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy;
(c) To ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when granted.
Other states and parties should be unencumbered to to seek appropriate criminal and civil penalties.  The release by Israel should have no effect whatsoever, and Israel should freely provide evidence gathered in the investigation of these matters, particularly those involving core international crimes.  Or is it preferable to promote impunity and deny victims justice?

Kudos to Shurat HaDin, for using "lawfare" in a positive way against those who commit violent acts against civilians with intent to harm and terrorize as the objective.

I wonder if this is something the activist Left could support?

October 26, 2011

Universal Rights Come First

On another blog I read I made a comment today concerning universal versus relative human rights.  I am strongly in favor of the former, especially when relative rights seek to usurp the universal.

Human rights treaties generally provide for the  inability of individual states to comply with universal norms.  For example, Article 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights says that each party must act:
"to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights ... by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures."
This policy of flexibility with respect to the individual obligation of states to respect, protect and fulfill universal rights does not mean, however, that states must adopt an policy of strict multiculturalism.  Multiculturalism is just a tool to get to the objective, universal human rights, as agreed to in both international and regional human rights treaties.

In important regards, multiculturalism actually seems to have made matters worse.  For example, Europe is segregated.  Some cities have "no-go" zones where different laws than national statutes are enforced on the streets.  My guess is that only a minority of states parties actually practice multiculturalism.  The OIC, over 50 states, have now made the Universal Declaration subject to Islamic principles and interpretations set forth in the Cairo Declaration, which does not further a multicultural approach to law. 

One abuse concerns the present attempt to make blasphemy, which we do not recognize, into defamation of religion, which we will recognize.  The latter is simply a Westernized label for what is blasphemy, under the guise of universal human rights, used to install a cultural and religious norm that does not protect free exercise of religion, but violates the linchpin of Western values, free expression, upon which our post-WWII international community is arguably based.

I therefore stand as a liberal in favor of universal rights, not afraid to say that relative rights are subsidiary.  Universal rights are not absolute, but when in conflict with cultural rights, should be given the strong presumption in matters of state conduct.

This does not mean that discrimination by the state should not be tolerated, but there is no way possible to make a society free from discrimination either.

All this does not even consider the aspect of intentional action not to assimilate, llustrated by an Erdogan's message to German Turks.  This helps show that it is not only one side that is responsible to make multiculturalism work within the confines of universality.

October 24, 2011

UNGA 194 and the Denied Right to Resettlement and Compensation

Get into a discussion with an anti-Israel advocate about UN General Assembly Resolution 194, and invariably will come "proof" there is a legal "right to return" for Palestinian Arab refugees of 1948 and the millions of their descendants.  It makes me wonder how much these advocates actually know about history, or the lengths some will go to forget.

Setting aside the obvious, that UNGA resolutions are soft law and not legally binding, and the conditional nature of the Resolution's text, it's interesting to delve deeper to see how implementation was understood at the time by the Conciliation Commission it established.  This helps to show context and that little has changed.

Of course, the part of UNGA 194 always cited to emblazon the "right of return" is from Paragraph 11:

Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;

However, the second clause of Paragraph 11 instructs the Conciliation Commission "to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation...."

The Commission's first goal was to complete formation of the Refugee Office.  Once done in mid-1951, it started a new mediation effort to assist the parties in seeking solution of questions outstanding between them, offering to suggest specific solutions to specific problems for consideration.  The parties agreed and a conference was held in Paris from 13 September to 19 November.

The Commission reported its progress to the Secretary General on 20 November 1951. The Chairman noted from experience that "concentration on one or the other isolated paragraph of the resolution out of context had not helped promote peace." The necessary elements were "only useful if linked together according to an over-all plan."  As an example, the Commission referred to the mandate to facilitate "repatriation, resettlement and rehabilitation of refugees" that guided its proposals at the conference.

In its words:  "The interrelation of all the aspects of the problem was too obvious to be overlooked."

The proposals recognized that any solution of the refugee question would involve important commitments by Israel, but these required concurrent reasonable assurances from her neighbours as to her national and economic security. The solution proposed by the Commission envisaged the repatriation and integration of some of the refugees in Israel and the resettlement of others in Arab countries.
Discussion of the comprehensive set of proposals was to be preceded by a declaration of peaceful intentions by the parties in the form of a preamble.  The Commission's suggested text read as follows:
In accordance with the obligations of States Members of the United Nations and of signatories to Armistice Agreements, the [parties] solemnly affirm their intention and undertake to settle all differences, present or future, solely by resort to pacific procedures, refraining from any use of force or acts of hostility, with full respect for the right of each party to security and freedom from fear of attack, and by these means to promote the return of peace in Palestine.

The two sides submitted alternative language and there was no agreement.  The Commission found that the Israeli formulation "went beyond the preliminary statement the Commission considered practicable," while the Arab formulation "fell short of the intention as set forth in the preamble."  In spite of extensive discussions, formal and informal, the Arab delegations would not accept the Commission's proposed text.

Some of the relevant proposals affecting the refugees:
That an agreement be reached concerning war damages by mutual cancellation of claims.

That Israel agree to repatriation of a specified number of Arab refugees which can be integrated into the economy and who wish to return and live in peace with their neighbours.

That Israel accept an obligation to pay a global sum as compensation for property abandoned by refugees not repatriated, to be determined by the Commission's Refugee Office.
The wishes of the refugees required coordination with the practical possibilities of any proposed solution because "concrete conditions of repatriation and resettlement would undoubtedly influence the wishes of the refugees, and the expression of these wishes would in turn determine the extent of any repatriation plan."

The Commission acknowledged that the General Assembly operated under an assumption that refugees could without great difficulty return and resume their lives on the intact and unoccupied land and houses they had abandoned in their flight. The Commission was instructed to facilitate such movement, but it did not come to pass because of the well-known deadlock over the question of repatriation.

The Arab States insisted on a solution, at least in principle, of unconditional acceptance by Israel of the right of refugees to be repatriated, before agreeing to discuss other issues. For Israel no solution involving repatriation could occur outside an over-all settlement, nor could the right of return involve a repatriation operation of unknown extent.

The Commission's indicated that its proposals could only be successful if both parties, having the best interests of the refugees in mind, were willing to depart from their original positions in order to make possible practical and realistic arrangements towards the solution of the refugee problem.

Israel offered to accept a portion of the refugees, in full compliance with the resolution, but in context of the other parts of the resolution necessary to solve the questions outstanding and reach a full peace.  Conversely, the Arab solution required unconditional acceptance by Israel of the "right of repatriation" or no further discussion.

Sound familiar? In the meanwhile, to protect a "principle" of conflict, the Arabs leave the refugees to languish and suffer without choice as pawns in a larger conflict, supposedly in their "best interest."  Which response is more consistent with the Commission's words?  I have no problem understanding the difference in these two approaches to peace and promotion of human dignity.

One would think if re-settlement and compensation had been offered to the refugees themselves in 1951 that many thousands would have accepted and integrated into the other Arab societies.  There would not be this intractable issue today.  But Arab leaders chose to let them suffer to further conflict.

To conclude, the idea that Arab leaders are less rigid today is ludicrous, except in a world turned upside down.  Yet why today is there so little mention that Palestinian Arab refugees who want to live in Arab countries have the right to resettle in those countries?  Why are there no protests against these human rights violations by Palestinian and Arab regimes?  Do Palestinian supporters of “return” believe it is fair to make ALL the refugees return?  Is this illustrative of a double standard?

(Tip to EoZ)

October 23, 2011

"Single Thought" and Victimhood

My last post was based on an article by Wafa Sultan.  She actually lived in the eye of the beast, the Syria of Haffez Assad and experienced what occurs when one refuses to submit.  She tells us what she was taught from the start.  To hate Jews!  So many Leftist activists simply refuse to accept or even acknowledge this reality, and in the process deny a victim whose rights were violated.  Yet they constantly tell me they are the ones that stand for human rights!

It would be nice if the role play might cease for a moment in the Arab-Israeli dialogue.  Perhaps then an answer would come to my question about what motivates a person like Sultan to come forth?  Is she just a Zionist tool or, according to Time Magazine, one whose power, talent or moral example is transforming our world?  In truth, I cannot understand the objection to the argument she offers, particularly from a human rights perspective as I understand it to be.  Indeed, I see her as a proponent of human dignity.

Which brings me to look at another woman, one not of the Middle East, but the Left.  Her name is Pilar Rahola, and she is a Spanish Catalan journalist, writer, and former Member of Parliament, and member of the far Left.

On December 16, 2009 she gave a talk she called, Jews with Six Arms, which raised another set of questions for those activists that call call themselves pro-Palestinian.  Or are they just anti-Israel?

Rahola laments the state of the environment when it comes the Arab-Israeli conflict:
The problem that those of us who do not demonize Israel have, is that there exists no debate on the conflict.
She says we throw slogans, not information, full of prejudices, propaganda and simplification. One cannot sway from universal idea of criticizing Israel without risk to become suspect and unfaithful to the cause.  Why?

To adherents of the anti-Israel Left, she asks:
Why, of all the conflicts in the world, only this one interests them?
Why is a tiny country which struggles to survive criminalized?
Why does manipulated information triumph so easily?
Why are all the people of Israel, reduced to a simple mass of murderous imperialists?
Why is there no Palestinian guilt?
Why is Arafat a hero and Sharon a monster?
Finally, why when Israel is the only country in the World which is threatened with extinction, it is also the only one that nobody considers a victim?
The question about Palestinian guilt is certainly apt considering the aftermath of the Gilat Shalit release in exchange for 1,027.  I commend this blog at CiF Watch for context: Shalit after Hamas captivity vs Palestinian terrorists after Israeli incarceration: A visual/moral contrast.

Rahola's last question is the most critical, however.  Why is Israel not entitled to the same victim status that would most assuredly be accorded if it was not Israel?

As it affects her questions, she understands and articulates effects of antisemitism.
Just as it is impossible to completely explain the historical evil of anti-Semitism, it is also not possible to totally explain the present-day imbecility of anti-Israelism. Both drink from the fountain of intolerance and lies. Also, if we accept that anti-Israelism is the new form of anti-Semitism, we conclude that circumstances may have changed, but the deepest myths, both of the Medieval Christian anti-Semitism and of the modern political anti-Semitism, are still intact. Those myths are part of the chronicle of Israel.
She also raises the matter of Islamic antisemitism that "contaminates more than 1,400 million people, who are educated, massively, in hatred towards the Jew."

The anti-Israel Left remains oblivious to the fundamentalist and supremacist (racist) totalitarian strain within present day Islam that impedes ethical development and violently attacks the forces of Islamic moderation and toleration.
[It] uses the name of God to perpetrate the most terrible horrors: lapidate women, enslave them, use youths as human bombs. [...] If Stalinism destroyed the left, and Nazism destroyed Europe, Islamic fundamentalism is destroying Islam.
Rather, it is too wrapped up in a narrative that seems too narrow and illusory.
That is why, when someone tries to go beyond the “single thought” of criticizing Israel, he becomes suspect and unfaithful, and is immediately segregated.
Rahola shows the nexus between totalitarian movements and Jew hatred, an Orwellian dichotomy that we ignore at our peril.
Nothing seems strange. Jewish culture represents, as no other does, the metaphor of a concept of civilization which suffers today attacks on all flanks. The Jews are the thermometer of the world’s health. Whenever the world has had totalitarian fever, they have suffered. In the Spanish Middle Ages, in Christian persecutions, in Russian pogroms, in European Fascism, in Islamic fundamentalism. Always, the first enemy of totalitarianism has been the Jew. And, in these times of energy dependency and social uncertainty, Israel embodies, in its own flesh, the eternal Jew.
So there you have it.  Israel is embodies the eternal Jew, who remains an object of hate to far too many, grounded in an ugly history of persecution in new clothes, so much so that the community of states and the anti-Israeli activists are incapable of recognizing victim status.


October 21, 2011

Some stuff I would ask Activists on the Left

Several days ago I read what I considered a really strong article by Wafa Sultan, a self described enlightened and liberated Muslim, a psychiatrist who emigrated to the US from Syria.  The article, The United Nations and Human Rights Abuse, raised issues that I wish Leftist activists would address.

Usually, when such information as Sultan's is offered, the activists attack the messenger, failing to hear, authenticate, or simply acknowledge the messenger or victim of abuse.  Unless it is at the hands of Israel.  Then, even Pallywood can rise to truth!  As recently evidenced here and here.  When it involves antisemitism, endemic in the Arab world, as aptly described by Sultan, there are cries of malicious intent or bigotry.  How better to silence any discussion of substance?

Here, I think, are words to consider:
During my school years, I heard my teachers, family members, neighbors, and the media all bombarding us daily, throughout the Arab world. We, as small kids and young adults, were indoctrinated to share the anti-Semitic vitriol -- to despise and denigrate Jews.
  • God condemned the Jews because they falsified the Torah. How did I know it? That is what I was taught.
  • Since Jews forged the Bible, they were despised and depicted as pigs and apes. How did I know it? That is what I was taught.
  • Jews killed our prophets and were the enemies of Allah. How did I know it? That is what I was taught.
  • Therefore, the Jews represent an existential danger to all humanity, so their annihilation, as individuals and as a people, was and would be a legitimate service to God and mankind. How did I know it? That is what I was taught.
Yes, killing Jews was always presented to me and my classmates as a religious obligation. We absorbed this evil propaganda with our food and water, and with our school books, each and every day.
As a trained psychiatrist, I assert that seeds of hatred planted in the mind of a child, lead to immense hatred as the child grows into adulthood. Tragically, this hatred generates dangerous actions and even death.
So I would ask them.  Is what Wafa describes relevant to the issue of peace?  What can they offer of substance.  What benefit comes from attacking the author, in this case a Muslim who speaks from first hand experience to help raise our awareness and provide another perspective?  Why else would this person be motivated to open our eyes?

Sultan, of course, is critical of the UN, with an "abysmal record [...] neglecting Muslim women's rights; ignoring freedoms of faith and conscience; turning a blind eye to the fate of Muslim apostates sentenced to death; failing to address the brutal treatment of Christians and other citizens of Islamic nations, and for ignoring the rights of non-Muslim foreigners living or working in Muslim countries."  Is she just blowing smoke?  Or is there validity to her words?

To the Secretary General, she says:
Mr. Ban Ki-moon, please note that we, enlightened and liberated Muslims take notice. And we are enraged. Just as with Israel, the UN marginalizes enlightened and liberated Muslims, and treats them as pariahs. Elite government leaders, willfully blind Western media, arrogant Middle East studies academics and foolish UN representatives follow suit. All these presumably progressive, freethinking leaders have given their full support to Islamic totalitarian countries and rally behind their dehumanizing objectives at the UN.
I receive countless letters from Arab readers throughout the Middle East, expressing their desperate desire to live as free people with the same human rights we enjoy in the West -- and especially, freedom from Sharia!
One young Arab woman, a student, wrote to me only last month:
"They deprive us of any right to think, and ... remind us each time, how we will burn in hell. They terrorize us, and they do the same with the children. I would like that to stop. I try very hard to change things. I created a little group against sexism. And I hope to be able to defend Arab women one day."
Tell me Mr. Ban Ki-moon, who will defend this young student and her small group fighting Arab sexism and the atrocities committed against Arab women?
One could ask the Leftist activists the very same thing.  And what about the children, indoctrinated as soldiers of war?  The substance of these things, I find, the activists avoid like the plague.  I would love to hear their answers.  Better yet, what do they suggest to do to end these obvious violations of universal human rights affecting millions of victims, which I assume they care for?

October 16, 2011

A Blind Spot of Leftist Activists

I have been watching the Occupy Movement and the antisemitism that has surfaced among some protesters.  It seems to be tolerated and that is not good.  It points to a blind spot of Leftist activists.

The day Israel was reborn in its ancient homeland, Arabs tried to exterminate it and commit a genocide against the Jews.  They have been trying ever since, by war, by terror, and now current methods of delegitimization by “human rights activists” that demonize both Israel and voices for Jewish self-determination.

When Israel is the only country on the planet threatened with extinction, why is not considered a victim?

Many on the Left are simply too loathe to admit that Arab-Muslim societies actively engage in practices they falsely charge against Israel.  It’s like there’s no apartheid, racism, repression or torture in this world, except as committed by Israelis.  They invariably invoke liberal values, but should not liberals first address political ideologies and cultures that are hostile to liberalism?

When the disconnect is shown, charges of Islamophobia and racism often follow in the rush to enable and even embrace Israel’s adversaries.  Attempts by Left-wing activists to silence critics who question their obsession with Israel do not help millions of Arab-Muslims who suffer within discriminatory societies, and the relative silence from these proponents does not help eliminate human rights abuses in the Arab-Muslim world and elsewhere.

One day, perhaps, the activists may realize that even their Western notions are under threat, not to mention the societies they attack, that provide and advance human rights globally, even imperfectly.  It would remove the fog that clouds their vision and muddles their reality. 

October 11, 2011

Leftist Activists and Palestinian Rectitude

Happened to come across a great post at Harry’s Place today. It helps show, at least in my mind, where the so-called left in the USA is heading. I refer to the “so-called” left because one can rightly question if much of their behavior is liberal. Indeed, the left-right paradigm can often be just a means to oversimplify and label, rather than deal with the substance of issues and actions.

Cross-posted was a short essay entitled, “More Palestinian than the Palestinians?” by Professor Alan Johnson, Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Britain Israel Research and Communications Centre. A member of Labour Friends of Israel, he was writing in a personal capacity.

Johnson sets the stage by positioning two sides, as set forth by Ernest Bevin, the British Foreign Secretary, who in 1947 spoke about the Jewish desire for "the creation of a sovereign Jewish state" and the Arab insistence on resisting "to the last the establishment of Jewish sovereignty in any part of Palestine."  Bridging the gap is what peace and the two state solution is all about.

For many years, Labour worked with progressives in Israel and Palestine to create confidence building measures essential to a peace agreement. But at the party conference this year Johnson saw signs that many in Labour have forsaken the strategy for something much more dangerous:

becoming a kind of ultra-left Trotskyist external faction of the Palestinian movement; an isle of rectitude, always on the look-out for a "sell-out" by Abbas, always thinking the revolution is around the corner, if only a particular set of demands would be adopted.

He provides illustration:

At a packed Labour Friends of Palestine meeting in Liverpool, Fatah's Husam Zomlot  said that the full, untrammelled right of return for every Palestinian refugee ‘to their homes and farms' was ‘absolutely beyond negotiation.' He was cheered to the rafters.  When he promoted the idea of a reconciliation between Fatah and the fascistic Hamas, and was cheered again.  And when the chair of the meeting, New Statesman political editor Mehdi Hasan, opposed Abbas' UN application as a sell-out of the "9 million or so" (!) Palestinian refug­­ees who have the right of return, he met no challenge.

He makes the main point:
By encouraging Palestinian rejectionism and maximalism, by echoing the obstructionism of the pro-Iran Hamas, by stoking the fantasy of a full untrammelled right of return for every last Palestinian refugee, and by finding no place in its heart for the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination, these activists are more Palestinian than the Palestinians.
Rather than support progressives in both Israel and Palestine, they want to ban and boycott. Seeing only a morality play of innocent victims and cruel oppressors they propose to break links to the Israeli labour federation, the Histadrut (despite the federation's groundbreaking agreement with the Palestinian unions in 2008). By deploying polarising rhetoric these activists harm the ability of either side to move towards the other.
It goes without saying, the approach Johnson prefers is to foster conditions for a two state solution, listen to concerns across the board, and challenge those who seek to delegitimize Israel. He wonders which approach his party will choose.

The same is so for progressive activists in America. Will they choose to support the difficult road to peace and reconciliation based on the call to universal human rights for all, or the simple one with less obstacles where it’s easy and cool to be more Palestinian than the Palestinians? Because it looks like the latter, some among us must speak out.

October 9, 2011


If asked, many people would probably tell you that settlers in the West Bank are part of a messianic right wing movement committed to establish power in biblical Israel.  Americans who move to the settlements are often portrayed as gun-toting extremists.  This is the stereotype generally transmitted and reinforced by media.  But is it so black and white as we are informed?

According to an article that appeared in Ha'aretz on October 7, 2011, "The American settler you don't know" by Raphael Ahren, we may need to alter our perceptions.  The article concerns the findings of a University of Chicago history researcher, Sara Hirschhorn, in her doctoral dissertation, "American-born Immigrants and The Israeli Ultra-Nationalist Movement Since 1967."

Hirschhorn says that American Jews in the West Bank represent a very heterogeneous and dynamic movement.
"It doesn't necessarily fit into any preexisting categories. In addition to that, I believe that my findings bring the discussion out of this typical left/right discourse that we have developed when we talk about the settler movement. There is a very wide spectrum, which certainly runs the gamut of everything you can imagine."
Based on access to confidential records from the American consulate in Jerusalem, 45,000 settlers have American citizenship, or about 15 percent of the Israeli West Bank population, compared to 8.5 percent of all Israeli Jews, based on estimates of 500,000 Americans among Israel's 5.8 million Jews.
"Jewish-American immigrants [to the territories] were primarily young, single, and highly identified as Jewish or traditional but not necessarily Orthodox in their religious orientation," [...] They were primarily political liberals in the United States, voted for the Democratic Party and have been active in 1960s radicalism in the United States, participating in the Civil Rights Movement and the struggle against the Vietnam War. This perhaps does not necessarily correspond to the idea we might have in mind about who these people were before they came to Israel."
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is one example cited in the article, a native New Yorker who marched with Martin Luther King and considers himself a liberal. Hirschhorn said that many of these Americans see what they're doing in Israel as an extension of their radicalism in the United States, "in part as an expression of their own Jewish civil rights."

Hirschhorn's findings confirm the earlier research of sociologist Chaim Waxman, that an overwhelming majority of Americans viewed the role of the Messiah as "totally unrelated" to their immigration to Israel and their settling in the territories.  Rabbi Riskin confirmed this."I don't want to control people who don't want to be controlled by me," he once told a Gush Emunim leader, referring to the Arabs living in West Bank.

So the next time someone pursues the stereotype and demean settlers as a monolithic crowd, particularly with regard to Americans, a reminder is in order, that there is also a prominent and proud liberal tradition in the hearts and minds of the demeaned.  Of course, these demeaners might know this if they ventured from the echo chamber that allows a much wider, more nuanced story than a single narrative to explain the universe.

October 8, 2011

Canada signs Ottawa Protocol on Combating Anti-Semitism

Canada is seen by some as Israel's best friend.  It was the first country to withdraw from the anti-Semitic, UN sponsored Durban II and Durban III conferences.  It expressed serious concerns over the appointment of Richard Falk as the UN’s special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories after Falk compared Israel to Nazi Germany and authored an anti-Israeli article called "Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust."

Now, Canada has once again stepped forward.  It is the first country to sign the Ottawa Protocol on Combating Anti-Semitism. 

The Protocol, which was unanimously adopted in November 2010 at an international gathering hosted by Canada of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (ICCA) by some 140 parliamentarians from 50 countries, reaffirmed the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism as a template for fighting against anti-Jewish prejudice.

According to ICCA Chair, Professor Irwin Cotler, a Liberal MP and former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada: 
At a time when, as the Ottawa Protocol puts it, we are witnessing a global resurgence of antisemitism – the oldest, most enduring and toxic of hatreds – the Canadian initiative affirms the Ottawa Protocol’s Call for Action -  for governments to stand up and stand together in combating this paradigm of hatred.
The Protocol says: 
We remain alarmed by ongoing state-sanctioned genocidal antisemitism and related extremist ideologies. If antisemitism is the most enduring of hatreds, and genocide is the most horrific of crimes, then the convergence of the genocidal intent embodied in antisemitic ideology is the most toxic of combinations.
Agreeing to the Protocol is a commitment to institute tangible measures to combat antisemitism in all its forms, from classic anti-Jewish blood libels of medieval times to newer manifestations of this age-old hatred now masked in the language of anti-Zionism or anti-Jewish hatred disguised as criticism of Israel.  At the same time, it draws an important distinction:
Let it be clear: Criticism of Israel is not antisemitic, and saying so is wrong. But singling Israel out for selective condemnation and opprobrium – let alone denying its right to exist or seeking its destruction – is discriminatory and hateful, and not saying so is dishonest.
The protocol will help nations to measure and articulate their progress in combating anti-Semitism.  Among other things, members commit to:
Calling on our Governments to uphold international commitments on combating antisemitism – such as the OSCE Berlin Principles – and to engage with the United Nations for that purpose. In the words of former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, "It is […] rightly said that the United Nations emerged from the ashes of the Holocaust. And a Human Rights agenda that fails to address antisemitism denies its own history."
Calling on Parliaments and Governments to adopt the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism and anchor its enforcement in existing law. 

Encouraging the leaders of all religious faiths – represented also at this Conference – to use all means possible to combat antisemitism and all forms of hatred and discrimination. 

Calling on Governments and Parliamentarians to reaffirm and implement the Genocide Convention, recognising that where there is incitement to genocide, State parties have an obligation to act. 

Working with universities to encourage them to combat antisemitism with the same seriousness with which they confront other forms of hate. Specifically, universities should be invited to define antisemitism clearly, provide specific examples, and enforce conduct codes firmly, while ensuring compliance with freedom of speech and the principle of academic freedom.
It also seeks establishment of an international task force to identify and monitor hate on the Internet and the development of a comprehensive system to record all hate crimes, including anti-Semitic ones. 

Last November, Prime Minister Harper addressed the parliamentarians, and noted that when "Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand."

Canadian support is not simply a reflection of a right-wing government. "The differences between the Liberals and Conservatives are vastly overstated," said David Bercuson, the director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary and author of Canada and the Birth of Israel.

Taking a pro-Israeli stance is not without cost, however.  Canada lost its 2010 bid to Portugal for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. All 57 seats of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (now the Organization of Islamic Cooperation) opposed the Canadian nomination.  It was the first time since 1945 that Canada, a founding member of the UN, had not won a Security Council seat after having been elected in every previous decade.  Canada refused to water down its policy to curry the support of the UN’s despots and Muslim bloc to secure the seat.  As Harper told the parliamentarian gathering, "Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost." 
There are, after all, a lot more votes- a lot more- in being anti-Israel than in taking a stand. [...] The easiest thing to do is simply to just get along and go along with this anti-Israeli rhetoric, to pretend it is just about being even-handed, and to excuse oneself with the label of 'honest broker.'
Professor Cotler summarized the aspirations of those who pursue this issue: 
We trust that the Canadian initiative will inspire other governments to act – and parliamentarians to speak – in common cause. As Nobel peace laureate Prof. Elie Wiesel put it at the opening ceremony of the Conference, "Now is the time to mobilize a constituency of conscience on behalf of all humanity."
For as history has taught us only too well, while it may begin with Jews, it doesn’t end with Jews.

October 6, 2011

That Israel Must Disappear

So says the PLO Ambassador to Brazil, courtesy of Honest Reporting and Google Translate, in a story from Veja-Brazil, a popular Bazilian magazine.
"That Israel must disappear." And no one uttered a peep of protest! 
 Reinaldo Azevedo
Imagine if an Israeli diplomat from any spot said: "This Palestinian Authority must disappear ..." It would be a scandal. On Friday, in a speech to university students, Alzeben Ibrahim, Palestinian ambassador in Brazil, said in clear words: "That Israel should disappear."


So that did not weigh no doubt about what he was saying, made ​​it clear: "And is not the ambassador of Iran or President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad who is speaking." Soon, it became evident that he was not saying Israel must disappear from the West Bank.

Alzeben said: "Israel is preparing provocations for a new conflict.Doubt the origin of the next rocket leaving Palestine. " She stated that the counter-intelligence information according to which Israel is infiltrating agents into Gaza to fire missiles at their own territory, understand?

By saying that "that Israel must disappear," Alzeben throws the nature of the "fight", which many experts, including our own, refuse to admit.
Imagine that, Israelis will sneak in to Gaza and shoot rockets at their own people.  I must ask, facetiously, if anyone get lower than the Israelis?

And this is an ambassador on behalf of all Palestinians! 

Add to this the recent peace mongering by Abbas Zaki, member of the Fatah Central Committee, which aired on the Al-Jazeera network on September 23, 2011.

When we say that the settlement should be based upon these borders, President [Abbas] understands, we understand, and everybody knows that the greater goal cannot be accomplished in one go.


Who is nervous, upset, and angry now? Netanyahu, Lieberman, and Obama... All those scumbags.


If we say that we want to wipe Israel out... C'mon, it's too difficult. It's not [acceptable] policy to say so. Don't say these things to the world. Keep it to yourself.
I mean, why not! According to Deputy Rector of Al-Azhar University, Sheik Muhammad Ashur, on September 30, 2011, Jews are the offspring of pigs and apes.

I say to all my brothers and sisters: Jihad has become an individual duty incumbent upon each and every one of us, because our enemies have grown arrogant and have persisted in their great tyranny. In an even uglier display, they publicly declare their support and defense of injustice, even though they boast that they denounce any injustice and that they are the ones who legislate human rights.

But the rights of what human are they defending and supporting? They support the unjust oppressors, the offspring of pigs and apes.
And one wonders why Israelis and Jews are wary about Arab and Palestinian intentions?

However, among the "humanitarians" of the Western anti-Zionist elite, who constantly tell us how they support peace and justice, no one uttered a peep of protest!

(Tip to EoZ)

The Palestinian Cause and Antisemitism

The issue arises whether antisemitism has infiltrated into pro-Palestinian politics.  The argument now heard is that to fight antisemitism is “anti-Palestinian.”  Little has been done to challenge the argument.  As a result, an impression grows that pro-Palestinian activism promotes antisemitism.

Of course, criticism of Israel and its policies does not constitute antisemitism.  It must also be acknowledged that some Western anti-Zionists genuinely speak out at the defamation of Jews.  Some understand that support for the Palestinian cause will surely diminish if it becomes identified with genocidal racism.  Historically, explicit and undisguised antisemitism was generally opposed in their circles, but there are increasing examples of change.  This is especially the situation in Europe, and increasingly in the USA among the Western anti-Zionist elites, for lack of a better term.  (Suggestions welcome!)

One clear indicator of tolerance of antisemitism within pro-Palestinian politics regards Hamas, whose founding Covenant spews Jew hatred and whose officials repeatedly make genocidal threats.  To support Hamas’s political agenda against Israel, pro-Palestinian activists deny antisemitism, do not openly and vociferously call for Hamas to change, and even paint Hamas’s critics as racists and “Islamophobes.”  In my own experience, it matters little about the substance offered to illustrate behavior, of which I believe many are truly ignorant, but more to do with the ideology and "solidarity." 

The most cynical pro-Palestinian activists are not afraid to associate their cause with antisemitism.  Rather than harm the cause, they believe tapping into age-old notions of scheming, controlling, corrupting Jews helps to attract passionate supporters.  Objecting to antisemitism is presented as a Jewish trick and part of a conspiracy against Palestinians.  Look at virtually any comment thread at Mondoweiss or Comment is Free.

In any case, antisemitism dressed as a “pro-Palestinian” politics is growing and effectively unchallenged.  It has become mainstream.  To quote Atzmon: “The Tide Has Changed.“  Atzmon is supported by Mearsheimer and Falk, and there are so many other instances.

Over at CiF Watch, a post today reveals some of these "tide changers" who apparently signed a letter publicized by the Guardian.  Signed by dozens of anti-Israel activists, it argues that the EU not allow Israel to host an under-21 European soccer tournament and, more broadly, should exclude the Jewish state from the community of nations.

The letter is signed, among others, by:
Ken Loach, a film maker who’s accused Israel of adopting a policy of Nazi-like ”racial purity”,

Miriam Margolyes: A UK actress who has argued that Israel’s behavior causes antisemitism and makes her ashamed to be a Jew.

Nurit Peled: An Israeli academic who is opposed to Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, characterizes Zionism as inherently racist, and has justified suicide bombing as “the direct consequence of the oppression, slavery, humiliation and state of siege imposed on the Palestinians.”

John Pilger: An Australian journalist who routinely compares Israel to Nazi Germany, and even once even participated in a cross-border terrorist raid by members of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Jean Ziegler: Vice-president, advisory committee of the UN human rights council, who has promoted the work of Holocaust Denier Roger Garaudy, has referred to Israel’s leaders as “state terrorists”, and has depicted Israel in Nazi terms.
Apparently, these "moral voices" have declared Israel has no right to be treated as a member of the community of nations and should be completely isolated by the international community.  Wonder if the same can be said for some of the world’s worst human rights abusers, including China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Burma, and North Korea?

Back to the main point.  When advocates routinely conflate opposition to antisemitism with hatred of Palestinians, and neglect promotion of antisemitism and anti-Semites within their midst, then the connection between pro-Palestinian activism and antisemitism is reinforced and the question raised is the Palestinian cause now essentially antisemitic?

October 5, 2011

Robert L. Bernstein on Human Rights and Why Words Matter

Robert L. Bernstein is the former president and chairman of Random House and founding chairman emeritus of Human Rights Watch.

He is is presently chairman of the group Advancing Human Rights, an NGO to promote values of the Universal Declaration with a primary focus on unfree states that, unlike open societies, have small means to correct human rights abuses—a free press, active and independent NGOs, vigilant courts and legislatures.
AHR also examines current procedures for an improved understanding of the interplay between war and human rights and the treatment of international humanitarian law by human rights groups.  This is an areas where controversy exists concerning the methodology of "expert" analysis.

Bernstein wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post on September 27, entitled: "Why do human rights groups ignore Palestinians’ war of words?"  He begins:
Two dominant forces have defined Arab nations in modern times: autocratic leadership that has denied basic freedoms to its own people, and a deeply ingrained and institutionalized anti-Semitism, centered on a hatred of Israel. Freedom is a growing possibility in light of the Arab Spring, but for this freedom to lead to peace, progress must be made in ending hate speech and incitement to genocide. This is particularly true in Gaza, the West Bank, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran.
He believes a vote to add to the United Nations a new member state that calls for the elimination of its neighbor and glorifies terrorism will make peace harder to achieve, not easier. He cites Hamas’s blatant calls for genocide and deceptions of the Palestinian Authority, even when engaged in peace talks, such as Abbas's said flatly last October that “we refuse to recognize a Jewish state.”

He calls out human rights groups as "unwitting accomplices" and that "almost every mainstream human rights group has ignored hate speech and incitement to genocide, not only against Israel but against all Jews." 
Human Rights Watch, which I founded 33 years ago, continues to attack many of Israel’s defensive measures during war, yet it says nothing about hate speech and incitement to genocide. To cite just one example, the speaker of the Hamas parliament, Ahmad Bahr, called in April 2007 for the murder of Jews, “down to the very last one.” Imagine what leading human rights groups would say if this same speech and incitement were coming from Israel, aimed at the Palestinians.
He also faults human rights groups for choosing to focus primarily on Israel and discounting Israeli actions to protect civilians on both sides, steps approved by military experts, while "whitewashing Hamas’s desire to eliminate a whole country as just bluster and meaningless words." 
One would think that, of all organizations in the world, human rights groups would particularly believe that words matter. Words inform intent and influence action. Words and actions need to be taken seriously, especially when they are sponsored by governments.
To Bernstein and others, including myself, the real obstacle to long-term peace are words of hate and incitement to genocide effectively spread to Arabs, such as in Saudi textbooks, distributed in the Arab world and beyond, that label Jews “monkeys and pigs,” fomenting discord, radicalism and violence.

He concludes: 
The absence of criticism by the United Nations and human rights groups is more than just a lack of judgment and fairness. It is proof that the Arab Spring has yet to thaw the old thinking that has stymied progress toward peace for far too long. [...] Human rights groups should be leading this battle — not ignoring it.
This is what astounds me about so many in the human rights community, the clamor against one side and the virtual silence with regard to the other, as if the Universal Declaration is anything but universal in application, and must accede to cultural relativism.  This may also be attributable to a double standard, what Gerstenfeld calls "humanitarian racism."  More on that in a later post.  No matter the cause, there is no justification as I see it, nor any right to lecture others about what is dignity and tolerance.

As a postscript, Bernstein gave an incredible speech in Omaha about a year ago, the Shirley and Leonard Goldstein Lecture on Human Rights University of Nebraska at Omaha.  Entitled, “Human Rights in the Middle East,” it begins: 
You may wonder why a man just shy of his 88th birthday would get up at 5 in the morning to fly to Omaha to give a speech. Frankly, since accepting this kind offer, I’ve wondered myself. Here’s why. Having devoted much of my life to trying to make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights come alive in many places in the world, I have become alarmed at how some human rights organizations, including the one I founded, are reporting on human rights in the Middle East.
I highly commend the entire speech for anyone who cares about human rights, the Universal Declaration, and humanitarian law.

October 3, 2011

Between the Desert and the Sea

Saw the video below at Elder of Ziyon (EoZ), one of the best sites out there.

Besides being laughable, this perfectly illustrates elitist leftists with nothing better to do than show how clueless they are to the issues, safe and far from the front lines.  These particular folks may be from Australia, but are no less representative of many across Europe and the USA.

As I and others have have said, there are finite resources available to help the suffering, and this is what these people choose not only as an issue, but an obsession.

Also courtesy of EoZ and his friends at Google Translate, we learn that, according to a Palestine Times story, Hamas has committed:
  • 4303 terror attacks
  • 61 suicide attacks
  • 24 attempts to capture Israelis
  • 423 bombings
  • 90 sniper attacks
  • 146 ambushes
Not to mention the rockets!

I suspect our friends above cannot conceptualize in their minds, let alone their songs.