January 31, 2007
" 'Progressive' Jewish Thought & the New Anti-Semitism"
On January 31st, the New York Times published an inaccurately headlined article by Patricia Cohen: "Essay Linking Liberal Jews and Anti-Semitism Sparks a Furor." The essay in question, commissioned by the American Jewish Committee and written by Alvin H. Rosenfeld was entitled " 'Progressive' Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism." It was about so-called progressive Jews who oppose Israel's existence. It was not about all progressives and not about "liberal Jews" or those who oppose particular Israeli policies but support Israel's existence as a Jewish state.
However, when Patricia Cohen interviewed various people critical of Rosenfeld's essay, they essentially responded with ad hominem attacks, mischaracterizing the essay as one that is trying to stifle those who criticize Israeli policies. It would have been a much more informative and interesting article, not to mention more relevant to Rosenfeld's actual theme, if Cohen had pressed her interviewees to defend their statements questioning Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
For example, she didn't ask Richard Cohen about his statement in one of his columns: "Israel itself is a mistake." She didn't press Tony Judt to explain why he feels that Israel is an "anachronism" due to its predominantly Jewish character, yet he is not troubled by the many countries with a distinctly Muslim culture. And she didn't probe Tony Kushner on his numerous controversial comments about Israel, including: "the founding of the State of Israel was for the Jewish people a historical, moral, political calamity."
Since so many of the people she interviewed expressed harsh criticism of Israel, and appeared to feel it was absurd that they would be considered anti-Semitic as a result, it would have been extremely helpful for Cohen to include mention of one or both seminal works on how to differentiate valid criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism: Natan Sharansky's "3-D" test, or the criteria stated by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC).
The EUMC explains how to assess when valid criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism:
* Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.
* Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
* Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
* Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
* Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
Natan Sharansky provides a "3-D test": demonization, double standards, and delegitimation:
"The first D is the test of demonization. Whether it came in the theological form of a collective accusation of deicide or in the literary depiction of Shakespeare's Shylock, Jews were demonized for centuries as the embodiment of evil. Therefore, today we must be wary of whether the Jewish state is being demonized by having its actions blown out of all sensible proportion. For example, the comparisons of Israelis to Nazis and of the Palestinian refugee camps to Auschwitz.can only be considered anti-Semitic. Those who draw such analogies either do not know anything about Nazi Germany or, more plausibly, are deliberately trying to paint modern-day Israel as the embodiment of evil. "The second D is the test of double standards. For thousands of years a clear sign of anti-Semitism was treating Jews differently than other peoples, from the discriminatory laws many nations enacted against them to the tendency to judge their behavior by a different yardstick. Similarly, today we must ask whether criticism of Israel is being applied selectively. In other words, do similar policies by other governments engender the same criticism, or is there a double standard at work?
"The third D is the test of deligitimation. In the past, anti-Semites tried to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish religion, the Jewish people, or both. Today, they are trying to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish state, presenting it, among other things, as the last vestige of colonialism. If other peoples have a right to live securely in their homelands, then the Jewish people have a right to live securely in their homeland. " (Jerusalem Post, "Anti-Semitism in 3-D," Feb. 23, 2004)
But is the Premise Valid?
With the large number of Jimmy Carter's blatently false assertions exposed, a few anti-Israel activists are now arguing that it doesn't really matter if Carter systematically misstated and distorted facts. Let's not worry if Carter's book is riddled with errors, they say. Nobody can argue against Carter's premise—that Israel practices apartheid.
In fact, many informed commentators have debunked Carter's apartheid analogy. One extremely compelling rebuttal was made even before the publication of Carter's Palestine: Peace not Apartheid by a man more familiar than most with the horrors of apartheid. Benjamin Pogrund's reporting for South Africa's Rand Daily Mail, a newspaper described as "the journalistic conscience of apartheid South Africa," was instrumental in raising awareness of the conditions faced by black South Africans.
It is worth recalling, then, what Pogrund wrote in late 2005 about the apartheid analogy:
Apartheid is dead in South Africa but the word is alive in the world, especially as an epithet of abuse for Israel. Israel is accused by some of being 'the new apartheid' state. If true, it would be a grave charge, justifying international condemnation and sanctions. But it isn't true. Anyone who knows what apartheid was, and who knows Israel today, is aware of that. Use of the apartheid label is at best ignorant and naïve and at worst cynical and manipulative. ...
"Apartheid" is used in this case and elsewhere because it comes easily to hand: it is a lazy label for the complexities of the Middle East conflict. It is also used because, if it can be made to stick, then Israel can be made to appear to be as vile as was apartheid South Africa and seeking its destruction can be presented to the world as an equally moral cause. (from the December 2005 issue of Focus, published by The Helen Suzman Foundation)
For more of Pogrund's commentary, see here.
January 26, 2007
Former Carter Center Fellow Reveals Insider Details
Carter's Fabrications, Arrogance & Animus Toward Israel
Professor Kenneth Stein provides revealing insider details of how Carter's animus toward Israel and Israelis has escalated over the years into blind hostility. He describes how Carter has become so arrogant and agenda-driven against Israel that he refuses to accept as true the many facts that contradict his views. Stein provides several examples of how Carter has gone so far as to fabricate conversations and "history" to present Israel negatively and the Arabs positively.
My Problem with Jimmy Carter's Book
by Kenneth W. Stein
Middle East Quarterly
Jimmy Carter's engagement in foreign affairs as a former president is unprecedented in U.S. history. Because he regards the Arab-Israeli conflict as among Washington's most important foreign policy topics, he has written more than two dozen articles and commentaries about the conflict, eight in the past year alone. In these publications, Carter uses his credibility as a former president, Nobel laureate, and key player in the September 1978 Camp David accords and the Egypt-Israel peace treaty to unfold his set of truths and often to criticize U.S. policy. He relishes the role of elder statesman and believes that with his accrued wisdom and experience, he can contribute to solutions.
But Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Carter's twenty-first book and his second to focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict, is deficient. He does what no non-fiction author should ever do: He allows ideology or opinion to get in the way of facts. While Carter says that he wrote the book to educate and provoke debate, the narrative aims its attack toward Israel, Israeli politicians, and Israel's supporters. It contains egregious errors of both commission and omission. To suit his desired ends, he manipulates information, redefines facts, and exaggerates conclusions. Falsehoods, when repeated and backed by the prestige of Carter's credentials, can comprise an erroneous baseline for shaping and reinforcing attitudes and policymaking. Rather than bring peace, they can further fuel hostilities, encourage retrenchment, and hamper peacemaking.
[To read the entire compelling article, click here.]
January 25, 2007
Bethlehem Christians Speak Out
Khaled Abu Toameh of the Jerusalem Post reports today that
A number of Christian families have finally decided to break their silence and talk openly about what they describe as Muslim persecution of the Christian minority in this city.
The move comes as a result of increased attacks on Christians by Muslims over the past few months. The families said they wrote letters to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Vatican, Church leaders and European governments complaining about the attacks, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.
According to the families, many Christians have long been afraid to complain in public about the campaign of "intimidation" for fear of retaliation by their Muslim neighbors and being branded "collaborators" with Israel. . . .Fuad and Georgette Lama woke up one morning last September to discover that Muslims from a nearby village had fenced off their family's six-dunam plot in the Karkafa suburb south of Bethlehem. "A lawyer and an official with the Palestinian Authority just came and took our land," said 69-year-old Georgette Lama.
The couple was later approached by senior PA security officers who offered to help them kick out the intruders from the land. "We paid them $1,000 so they could help us regain our land," she said, almost in tears. "Instead of giving us back our land, they simply decided to keep it for themselves. They even destroyed all the olive trees and divided the land into small plots, apparently so that they could offer each for sale." When her 72-year-old husband, Fuad, went to the land to ask the intruders to leave, he was severely beaten and threatened with guns.
"My husband is after heart surgery and they still beat him," Georgette Lama said. "These people have no heart. We're afraid to go to our land because they will shoot at us. Ever since the beating, my husband is in a state of trauma and has difficulties talking."
The media has frequently passed on reporting Muslim persecution of Christians in Bethlehem. Let's see if media outlets likewise ignore the personal testimonies of abuse and pleas for help from Christians Georgette Lama and fellow Bethlehem Christians Samir Qumsiyeh and Edward Salama.
UPDATED: 'Ethnic Cleansing' Yemen’s Jews
Jan. 25 UPDATE: No major American media outlet or wire service has followed up on this story since it first became known. Ironically, the Arab Gulf News Service and the Agence France Press (AFP) have. Are newspapers like the New York Times looking to repeat their sorry record of under-reporting the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews?
Photo: Al-Watan website
Jan. 23 entry: While the plight of Palestinian refugees who left their homes during Israel’s War of Independence is a very popular topic in the world media, the story of the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees forced from their homes in Arab lands at the same time garners considerably less attention.
Now word comes that the story may be recurring today. Yediot Aharonot reports that:
Jewish residents of the Saada region in northern Yemen have received explicit threats to leave the area within 10 days from followers of radical cleric Hussein Badr Eddin al Houthi, according to the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan.
Following complaints from the threatened Jews, a meeting of the local authorities and the district's sheikhs was held.
The Jews demanded they be treated as equal Yemenite citizens, and at the end of the meeting a religious verdict determining the relationship between them and the Muslims was given.
This verdict, which was also signed by Jews, did not guarantee them immunity from threats.
The report emphasizes that Yemenite Jews do NOT wish to leave their home or Yemen itself:
Yemenite immigrants in Israel have been following these developments. Masoud, a resident of Israel's southern city of Beer Sheva who immigrated to Israel from Yemen six-and-a-half years ago said in an interview on Israel Radio that he was still in touch with his relatives in Yemen.
"Those who stayed are stubborn, they don’t want to come here…on Friday they told me that they got letters saying whoever doesn’t leave their home will be killed and have their children taken," said Masoud.
Regardless of the wisdom of the Yemeni Jews’ decision, it behooves the press to find out more about what may become a form of ethnic cleansing in which “Arab Jews” are once again victims.
UPI is carrying the story and we hope that other mainstream media outlets will follow suit. Let’s wait and see…
January 24, 2007
The Hezbollah Bombardment
Twice this week, the International Herald Tribune has referred to "the Israeli bombardment" of Lebanon in articles about internal conflict in Lebanon.
On Saturday-Sunday, Hassah Fattah (with Nada Bakri) reported:
Some analysts credit the alliance with helping stabilizing conditions in Lebanon after the Israeli bombardment in the summer as well as with helping change Hezbollah's focus from regional to local. ("Lebanon split on Christian leader")
And today, Bakri and Fattah report:
Early Tuesday, groups of protestors set up roadblocks along major thoroughfares leading into Beirut, blocking roads with burning tires and rubble that was said to be from buildings demolished in the Israeli bombardment of the city's southern suburbs last summer, and setting fire to vehicles. ("Strike led by Hezbollah brings Beirut to a halt")
This tendentious description obscures the fact that it was Hezbollah which initiated the war, with Hezbollah's July 12 rocket bombardment of Israeli towns and villages, and the accompanying crossborder raid in which Hezbollah killed and captured Israeli soldiers on Israeli soil. The employment of "Israeli bombardment" exonerates Hezbollah as a party to the war (not to mention initiator). It was Hezbollah, after all, which dragged all of Lebanon into war, a fact for which many Lebanese resent Hezbollah.
As Beirut Journalist Michael Young wrote in July:
Of course the people here are angry and anxious about the possibility of a widening of the Israeli attacks, but their rage, as they see the country being taken apart, is often directed against Hezbollah.
But why should this minor detail about Hezbollah's summer aggression get in the way of a story about Hezbollah's winter bullying of the Siniora government?
This would not be the first time that the Times commendably edited tendentious language out of a report that also appeared in the Tribune.
January 22, 2007
Temple Mount Tunnel Tales
The Palestinians are hard at work digging tunnels in Gaza. Simultaneously, they are making accusations about Israeli tunnel digging under -- where else? -- the Temple Mount.
As reported today in Ha'aretz:
The Islamic Movement's southern branch accused Israel yesterday of carrying out excavations beneath Jerusalem's Temple Mount.
MK Ibrahim Sarsour, who heads both the movement's southern branch and the Ra'am-Ta'al party, also claimed that the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) paid a Palestinian vendor $60,000 for his store near the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The IAA denied the accusation.
Earlier yesterday, the Islamic Movement's northern branch presented pictures taken two weeks ago that allegedly document excavations near the Temple Mount. Northern branch leader Sheikh Ra'ad Salah said that the excavations were meant to "create a stranglehold around Al-Aqsa Mosque, in order for the Israeli establishment to fulfill its darkest dreams of building a Jewish Temple [in its place]."
Ha'aretz points out that the Muslim authorities have a history of making such claims, almost always false:
Since 1967, Muslim organizations have often accused Israel of digging tunnels underneath Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to destabilize its foundations.
All these claims turned out to be false, with one exception: In 1981, the Religious Affairs Ministry carried out excavations in a preexisting tunnel that led beneath the Temple Mount. The excavations were brought to a halt by order of then prime minister Menachem Begin and then police minister Dr. Yosef Burg, and the tunnel's entrance was permanently sealed.
Al Dura II?
The investigations that exonerated Israel for the killing seven years ago of 12-year-old Mohammed Al-Dura did little to soothe the raging Muslim world. Once again, Israel has been blamed for the killing of a 10-year-old Palestinian child, and the death is expected to fuel Arab hatred of Israel. As the AP reported on Friday:
Meanwhile, the 10-year-old daughter of a Palestinian peace activist died Friday after being struck int he head days earlier by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli security forces in the West Bank. Abir Aramin's death was expected to further fan Arab anger against Israel.
Likewise, Greg Myre of the New York Times duly noted Saturday:
A 10-year-old Palestinian girl, Abir Aramin, died Friday from wounds sustained when she was hit by fire from the Israeli border police on Tuesday in the West Bank town of Anata, near Jerusalem, Palestinian witnesses and relatives said. Abir and her classmates were on recess from school when the Israeli forces fired on stone-throwing Palestinians with rubber bullets and stun grenades, according to the Palestinians.
Today, however, Ha'aretz reports that an autopsy ruled out rubber bullets as the cause of the fatal injury:
Ten-year-old Abir Aramin was apparently killed by a blunt object, and not by a rubber bullet, as some eyewitnesses claimed, according to the autopsy findings. . .
Police sources said on Sunday that autopsy findings indicated Aramin could have been killed by concussion from a shock grenade or by a thrown rock. However, they said, the findings were inconsistent with her having been killed by a rubber bullet: No bullet wounds were found on her body, and the skull injury that caused her death was a large one, whereas rubber bullets, even if they do not penetrate, usually make small wounds.
The autopsy was performed last Friday at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir, with a pathologist hired by Aramin's family in attendance. ("Girl allegedly killed by Border Police may have been hit by rock")
Thus, it appears that stone-throwing Palestinians, as opposed to Israeli border police firing rubber bullets (as initially reported), may very well have been responsible for the death of Aramin. The question remains how quickly and effectively media outlets can undo the damage.
CAMERA has contacted the AP and New York Times to request an update on this development. Stay tuned.
January 21, 2007
Ynet Covers CAMERA's Phillips Event
focused on the themes in her latest book, Londonistan, in which she argues that Islamist terrorists and their sympathizers are using Britain’s liberal and multicultural values to destroy it from within – and the British government is appeasing them in the process.
The book states that European security agencies have nicknamed Britain’s capital city “Londonistan” because of its status as Europe’s headquarters of recruitment, incitement, and funding for Islamist terrorism.
Carter Interceded on Behalf of Nazi
Below are two articles that detail how Jimmy Carter interceded in 1987 on behalf of the family of a former Nazi SS Guard. The U.S. had deported a Nazi concentration camp guard, who was a documented murderer, and Carter was apparently trying to get the government to allow the Nazi back into the U.S. so that his children and grandchildren could enjoy a normal family life - something the Nazi's Jewish victims obviously never had the opportunity to enjoy.
President Carter Interceded on Behalf of Former Nazi Guardby Daniel Freedman
New York Sun, January 19, 2007
Exclusive: Jimmy Carter Interceded on Behalf of Nazi SS Guard
23:47 Jan 18, '07 / 28 Tevet 5767
by Ezra HaLevi
A former U.S. Justice Department official disclosed to Arutz-7 that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s advocacy extended beyond the PA Arabs, when he interceded on behalf of a Nazi SS man.
Neal Sher, a veteran of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigation, described a letter he received from Carter in 1987 in an interview with Israel National Radio’s Tovia Singer. The letter, written and signed by Carter, asked that Sher show “special consideration” for a man proven to have murdered Jews in the Mauthausen death camp in Austria.
Update: A copy of the letter has been posted on the web by the New York Sun.
Click here to view it.
“In 1987, Carter had been out of office for seven years or so,” Sher recalled. “It was a very active period for my office. We had just barred Kurt Waldheim – he was then president of Austria and former head of the United Nations – from entering the U.S. because of his Nazi past and his involvement in the persecution of civilians during the war. We had just deported an Estonian Nazi Commandant back to the Soviet Union after a bruising battle after which we were attacked by Reagan White House Communications Director Patrick Buchanan.
“Also around that time, in the spring of 1987, we deported a series of SS guards from concentration camps, whose names nobody would know. One such character we sent back to Austria was a man named Martin Bartesch.”
Bartesch, who had immigrated to the U.S. and lived in Chicago, admitted to Sher’s office and the court that he had voluntarily joined the Waffen SS and had served in the notorious SS Death’s Head Division at the Mauthausen concentration camp where, at the hands of Bartesch and his cohorts, many thousands of prisoners were gassed, shot, starved and worked to death. He also confessed to having concealed his service at the infamous camp from U.S. immigration officials.
“We had an extraordinary piece of evidence against him – a book that was kept by the SS and captured by the American armed forces when they liberated Mauthausen,” Sher said. “We called it the death book. It was a roster that the Germans required them to keep that identified SS guards as they extended weapons to murder the inmates and prisoners.”
An entry in the book for October 10, 1943 registered the shooting death of Max Oschorn, a French Jewish prisoner. His murderer was also recorded: SS guard Martin Bartesch. “It was a most chilling document,” Sher recalled.
The same evidence was used by the U.S. military in postwar trials as the basis for execution or long prison sentences for many identified SS guards.
“We kicked him out and he went back to Austria. In the meantime, his family – he had adult kids – went on a campaign, also supported by his church, to try to get special treatment. In so doing they attacked the activities of our office and me personally. They claimed we used phony evidence from the Soviet Union – which was nonsense. They claimed he was a young man of only 17 or 18 when he joined the Nazi forces, asking for some sympathetic treatment and defense from our office, which they claimed was just after vengeance.”
The family approached several members of Congress. “The congressmen would, very understandably, forward their claims over to our office and when they learned the facts they would invariably drop the case,” Sher recalled.
But there was one politician who accepted the claims without asking for any further information.
“One day, in the fall of ’87, my secretary walks in and gives me a letter with a Georgia return address reading ‘Jimmy Carter.’ I assumed it was a prank from some old college buddies, but it wasn’t. It was the original copy of the letter Bartesch’s daughter sent to Carter, after Bartesch had already been deported.
“In the letter, she claimed we were un-American, only after vengeance, and persecuting a man for what he did when he was only 17 and 18 years old.
“I couldn’t help thinking of my own father who returned home with shrapnel wounds after he joined the U.S. Army as a teenager to fight the Nazis and hit the beaches at Normandy at that same age on D-day.
“On the upper corner of the letter was a note signed by Jimmy Carter saying that in cases such as this, he wanted ‘special consideration for the family for humanitarian reasons.’
“I didn’t respond to the letter – the case was already over and he was out of the country – but it always stuck in my craw. A former president who didn’t do what I would expect him to do - with a full staff at his disposal – to find out the facts before he took up the side of this person. But I wasn’t going to pick a fight with a former president. We had enough on our plate.”
Now, following Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Sher has decided to go public with the hope that a public made aware of Carter’s support and defense of a Nazi SS man will help illustrate why the arbiter of the Camp David Accords came out with a book defending the Palestinians after the landslide election of the Islamist Hamas terror group.
“It always bothered me, but I didn’t go public with it until recently, when he wrote this book and let it spill out where his sentiments really lie,” Sher said. “Here was Jimmy Carter jumping in on behalf of someone who did not deserve in any way, shape or form special consideration. And the things he has now said about the Jewish lobby really exposes where his heart really lies.”
Dollars Flushed Down the Tunnels
The next time a reporter writes about the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority, s/he should take into account yesterday's report from the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency, which states:
The spokesperson of the Fatah movement in the West bank, Jamal Nazzal, on Saturday accused the Hamas movement and government of spending millions of US dollars on the excavation of tunnels between the Gaza Strip's cities. He compared the network of tunnels in Gaza to that which Al-Qaeda established in Kabul.
Nazzal said that the tunnels, which have been discovered, indicate a huge project aimed at establishing an underground structure which he called, the "tunnels' republic," to which press and law can have no access.
According to the spokesperson, Palestinian minister of interior Dr Mahmoud Zahhar had recently confirmed that $120 million was delivered to the Palestinians, yet only $60 million entered the treasury. Fatah has demanded that the finance ministry reveal the whereabouts of those millions.
Here, then, is Palestinian confirmation of Israeli Ben-Dror Yemini's analysis that:
It is not a question of theories, however, but with facts: huge sums of money given to the Palestinians went down the drain, and opportunities to win independence and prosperity were rejected in favor of the supreme objective: wiping Israel off the map.
(Hat tip: IMRA)
January 20, 2007
Arabs in Israel
In today's Miami Herald, columnist Frida Ghitis writes about Israel's Arab citizens. While acknowledging that "Israeli Arabs, like minorities in many other countries, face obstacles in their path to equality," she points out that much the world has an "inaccurate image" of Israel as a racist state:
Here's something about Israel that will surprise you. After last summer's war between Israel and Hezbollah militias in Lebanon, researchers asked Israeli citizens -- Arabs and Jews -- if they would rather be citizens of another country. As one might expect after a war, patriotism was the order of the day. A huge proportion, almost 88.5 percent of Israeli Jews, said yes, Israel is the one country whose citizenship they preferred. But listen to this: Among Arab citizens of Israel, an astounding 73 percent agreed with the statement that they would rather be citizens of Israel than of any other country in the world.
That number is even more astounding because many Arabs in Israel admit they feel pressure to deny they like being Israelis. That, in fact, was the finding of a different survey. The first results came as part of a highly respected project called the Peace Index at Tel Aviv University. The second survey came from the Joint Israeli-Palestinian Public Opinion Poll. There, a majority -- 52 percent -- of Israeli Arabs agreed that, "many of the Arab citizens of Israel identify with Israel in private but refrain from expressing it in public due to social pressures."
January 18, 2007
Simon and Schuster's Accountability
In the controversy over Jimmy Carter's error-ridden new book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, the role of publisher Simon and Schuster has been largely ignored. The assumption, evidently, is that the company producing, promoting and profiting from a supposedly non-fiction history on a contentious topic, bears no responsibility for the book's accuracy - or falsity. Indeed, Simon and Schuster makes no pretense of assuring the factual merit of its product or of planning to redress errors.
Vice President of Corporate Communications Adam Rothberg told Publishers Weekly when asked whether S&S will change the book: "We're going to stick with the president's version."
In a Jan. 16 correction, the Boston Globe acknowledged that Carter's "version" of the West Bank barrier's route -- that it is entirely on Palestinian territory -- is incorrect.
On Palestinian Misery and International Aid
Ben-Dror Yemini of Ma'ariv comments on Palestinian misery, American and international aid, and Palestinian ungratefulness for the unmatched monetary assistance:
In all aspects of per capita aid for Palestinian development and well-being, they receive far more aid, for example, than Egypt. But the myth obstinately claims that the Palestinians are the “victims,” that they must be given more and more because perhaps, that will convince them to want peace and to abandon terrorism.
According to the World Bank report, during the aforementioned years, Washington contributed $344.73 million, while the European Union contributed $298.3 million. Japan is also at the top of the list, contributing $306.09 million. After them are Germany ($270.8 million), Norway ($221.38 million), Saudi Arabia ($133.15 million), the World Bank ($127.57 million), France ($52.71 million), Britain ($39.61 million), and Kuwait ($24 million). . . .
The world rained dollars on them and they replied with criticism. They were not the oppressed of the world, but rather the pampered of the world. Most of the inhabitants of Africa , who suffer far more, can only dream of aid in the quantity given to the Palestinians. . . .
To continue with the facts: funds for economic aid and human development and to prevent hunger are supposed to flow according to the condition of the needy community. Were the Palestinians the neediest community? Comparative data show that the Palestinians are far from last place on the poverty scale. While their GNP was not at Western levels, even among the Arab-Muslim countries the Palestinians are not the last on the list.
The Human Development Index for 2003 places the “occupied Palestinian territories,” as the Palestinian Authority is defined, in the 102 nd place out of 180 countries. Since 2003 represents the height of the intifada, one of the economic low points, and since the GNP during the 1990s was far higher, we can assume that during the 1990s the Palestinians were ranked closer to the top. In any case, even in the dire situation of 2003, the Palestinians were ahead of Algeria (ranked 103 rd ), Syria (106 th ), Egypt (116 th ), Morocco (126 th ), Yemen (156 th ) and certainly most of the countries in Africa and some in South America
Judea Pearl Warns About Al Jazeera English
In the International Herald Tribune today, Judea Pearl, father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, warns that:
even if Al Jazeera English waters down its alarmist content, it should still be seen as a potential threat: it will bestow respectability upon the practices of its parent network in Qatar, which continues, among other things, to broadcast Sheik Qaradawi's teachings.
A host of the Al Jazeera program "Sharia and Life," Qaradawi defended suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, stating: "Israeli society in general is armed," and in 2002 said, "We have the 'children bomb,' and these human bombs must continue until liberation."
Other problems with Al Jazeera as Pearl sees it are:
For example, the words "terror" and "insurgency" are rarely uttered with a straight face, usually replaced with "resistance" or "struggle." The phrase "war in Iraq" is often replaced by "war on Iraq" or "war against Iraq." A suicide bombing is called a "commando attack" or, occasionally, a "paradise operation."
Al Jazeera's Web site can be less subtle. On Dec. 12, after religious leaders and heads of state all over the world condemned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran for staging a Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran, the headline on the site read, "Ahmadinejad Praised by Participants of the Holocaust Conference in Tehran, but Condemned by Zionists in Europe."
In short, Al Jazeera's editors choreograph a worldview in which an irreconcilable struggle rages between an evil-meaning Western oppressor and its helpless, righteous Arab victims. Most worrisome, perhaps, it often reports on supposed Western conspiracies behind most Arab hardships or failings, thus fueling the sense of helplessness, humiliation and anger among Muslim youths and helping turn them into potential recruits for terrorist organizations.
January 16, 2007
Christian Leaders Condemn Palestinian Violence
After years of relative silence about the problems in Palestinian society that diminish the prospects for peace with Israel, religious leaders in Jerusalem have called for an end to violence between Fatah and Hamas, two factions that are poised to fight for dominance in the West Bank and Gaza. In a statement issued on Jan. 12, 2007, thirteen Christian leaders called for an end to violence in the West Bank and Gaza and warned against the prospects of a civil war between the factions. They also offered to act as mediators between Fatah and Hamas and called for arms to be taken off the streets.
While it is unrealistic to expect that Christian leaders will be able to act as a mediators in a Muslim-dominated conflict, or to expect that Hamas and Fatah will take their weapons off the street, the statement from Christian leaders comes at time of uncertainty when non-Muslims would have every reason to fade into the background of Palestinian society.
Christians in Palestinian society are a beleaguered minority subject to harassment and intimidation by the Muslim majority. Consequently, they are reluctant to criticize Palestinian leaders about problems in their society that undermine the prospects for peace with Israel. Instead, they broadcast a false moral narrative about the Arab-Israeli conflict to Christian audiences in Europe, North America and Australia. In this narrative, Israel is portrayed as an aggressor nation while the Palestinians are portrayed as innocent Christ-like sufferers who are in no way responsible for violence in the Middle East. This statement is a departure from that narrative.
To be sure, the statement is undercut by the relative silence on the part of the signatories about Palestinian violence against Israel and about Palestinian-on-Palestinian violence, both of which have been problems for years.
The statement is also undercut but the unrealistic and naive assertion that “Fighting and kidnapping opponents will not bring down the Separation Wall or end the embargo on the Palestinian people.” Palestinian terror attacks prompted the construction of the security barrier, and Hamas’s rejectionist ideology prompted the international community to withhold aid from the Palestinian Authority.
Nevertheless, Christian criticism of Fatah and Hamas, with nary a word of blame for Israel, offers a mustard seed of hope that Christian leaders, as beleaguered as they are, can hold a mirror to the society in which they live and insist that Palestinian leaders work for the betterment of the society they are called to govern.
January 14, 2007
Simon and Schuster Changing Its Tune?
The Los Angeles Times reports that Jimmy Carter spokeswoman Deanna Congileo
noted that Carter and his publisher, Simon and Schuster, "have said that if there are any factual errors, they will be corrected in subsequent editions."
Now, either this is another Carter falsehood, or Simon and Schuster is changing its tune. Last month, in response to CAMERA's New York Times ad which called on Simon and Schuster to correct factual errors, Adam Rothberg, head of S&S corporate communications, told Publishers Weekly:
“We’re going to stick with the president’s version.”
Also, the LA Times story covered Kenneth Stein's first detailed public comments since his resignation from the Carter Center. The Times reported that during his address Thursday in Los Angeles,
Stein . . . said that in two of the most serious errors, Carter misrepresented the wording of a key U.N. resolution and gave a false account of a 1990 meeting he held with former Syrian President Hafez Assad, which Stein attended.
See the CAMERA ad for more on Carter's distortion of U.N. Resolution 242. According to the Times, Stein is writing a review of Carter's book for Middle East Quarterly.
WND: Media Ignores Abbas Incitement
WorldNetDaily reports that the media has ignored Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' call at a huge Fatah rally to "raise rifles at the Israeli occupation." Aaron Klein writes:
Abbas went on to praise late Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel in March 2004.
He also used Quranic verses to claim Jews are corrupting the world.
"The sons of Israel are mentioned as those who are corrupting humanity on earth," Abbas said during a portion of his speech in which he criticized recent Israeli anti-terror raids in the northern West Bank.
Abbas anti-Semitic remarks and his call to arms against the Jewish state were not quoted in hundreds of English-language articles reporting on today's speech or by most major Israeli dailies, which featured pieces on their websites about the Fatah commemoration ceremonies.
A widely-circulated Associated Press article, titled "Abbas calls for respect at Fatah rally," states Abbas today called for rival factions to respect each other.
The AP quotes Abbas stating, "Shooting at your brother is forbidden," but the article stops short of quoting the rest of his sentence in which he recommends Palestinians use their weapons against Israel.
The AP article was featured on such top websites at the WashingtonPost.com and CBSNews.com
Articles by other news agencies and local Israeli papers also failed to quote Abbas' anti-Israel and anti-Semitic remarks.
January 11, 2007
More Letters of Resignation
Fourteen members of the Carter Center advisory board, including an US ambassador who served during the Carter administration, have stated in a sharply worded letter of protest that they are resigning their positions with the Center.
Read the letter here.
January 10, 2007
Emory Professor's Letter to Carter
As noted in CAMERA's Roundup of Commentary on Jimmy Carter's Book, Emory University's Dr. Melvin Konner has expressed serious concerns with Carter's new book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. He wrote an Op-Ed published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, as well as a letter to the Carter Center's executive director John Hardman.
The professor also sent another letter, this one addressed to Carter himself, which is certainly worth reading. That letter is reprinted below:
December 24, 2006
The Hon. Jimmy Carter
Former President of the United States
Dear President Carter:
Thank you for your prompt response to my column in Friday’s Atlanta Journal Constitution. I want to begin by reiterating my long-standing admiration for you and your life’s work, a devoted and meaningful Christian mission. Thank you for all the good you have done in this troubled world of ours.
It is because of, not despite, my admiration for you that I have been so dismayed by your recent book and the media appearances surrounding it. I have read with care your email message forwarded to me through Duncan Ross-Kinzie of The Carter Center. Your message consists mainly of quotations from your recent open letter to the American Jewish community, and I believe that the official response to that letter from the Anti-Defamation League answers your points adequately and shows that your open letter is not convincing. Nevertheless I will try to add to their response and personalize it.
First, you introduce the quotations with a paragraph directed to me. Regarding the “advisory committee,” it was mentioned to me in a telephone conversation with John Hardman on December 11. He asked me if I would be willing to join a group of people consulting with you in January at The Carter Center to discuss your book and media appearances and perhaps help mediate in the growing controversy between you and the American Jewish community. I said yes, but after careful thought and further observations of the ongoing controversy, I decided not to participate. My reasons are detailed in the letter, which, like this letter, is attached to my email to Mr. Ross-Kinzie. They are also substantively quoted in the news report by Ernie Suggs in the Metro section of Friday’s paper, which you may also have read.
You say you “have discussed the text with representatives of a number of supportive Jewish organizations,” implying that some Jewish organizations support your views. I would be very grateful if you could direct me to the supportive statements about your book issued by these organizations or their representatives. I am so far finding a very consistent opposition to your book and your stated views among Jewish organizations in the United States.
Now I will turn to the quotations from your open letter.
First, with all due respect, your attempt to justify your use of the word “apartheid” is completely unconvincing. I have lived my life by words, and I know that words have connotations as well as denotations. Words have histories. Your use of this word to describe the wall erected by Israel to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks is inappropriate and inflammatory. As Representative John Conyers (D.-Mich), a twenty-term congressman and a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in October, the use of this word "does not serve the cause of peace, and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong." He also said, “President Carter does not build upon his career as a proponent of peace in the Middle East with this comparison.” I would not be surprised if Rep. Conyers has received campaign support from Jews, but as you know The Carter Center receives a great deal of money from Arab sources, and it is not helpful to judge either his viewpoint or yours on that basis.
You say that you “have never claimed that American Jews control the news media,” but you have strongly hinted at this in many writings and public appearances. Here is what you wrote in the Los Angeles Times on December 8, also published on The Carter Center website:
For the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts. This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee and the absence of any significant contrary voices.
It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine, to suggest that Israel comply with international law or to speak in defense of justice or human rights for Palestinians. Very few would ever deign to visit the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Gaza City or even Bethlehem and talk to the beleaguered residents. What is even more difficult to comprehend is why the editorial pages of the major newspapers and magazines in the United States exercise similar self-restraint, quite contrary to private assessments expressed quite forcefully by their correspondents in the Holy Land...
Book reviews in the mainstream media have been written mostly by representatives of Jewish organizations who would be unlikely to visit the occupied territories, and their primary criticism is that the book is anti-Israel.
Each of these sentences I have just quoted is demonstrably false and has been effectively and publicly refuted by the Anti-Defamation League, Alan Dershowitz, and others, but that is not the most important thing about them. The most important thing is that they are the same kinds of statements that have been made about Jews by anti-Semites for over a century, the kinds of statements that have led to genocide. The Anti-Defamation League will soon publish on its website a compilation of the explicitly anti-Semitic web pages and publications that are making extensive and active use of your book and your other writings and statements. You are giving comfort to the worst elements in the voluminous discourse about Israel and the Jews.
You say that in your book you reiterated your “strong condemnation” of acts of terrorism. On the contrary, your book states on page 213, "It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel." Any intelligent reader will recognize that this sentence condones the murder of Jews until such time as Israel unilaterally complies with your prescription for peace. This sentence was quoted in full in the interview with me by Ernie Suggs that accompanied my editorial, but you did not address it in your letter to me.
You also ignored in your letter my most important criticism of your book and media appearances—an almost complete absence of any reference to the long, tragic history of Jewish suffering that led to the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Israel. I will repeat what I said in my editorial, a point you chose not to answer: the omission from your “Historical Chronology” of any events between 1939 and 1947 reveals an uncaring attitude toward the most important reason for Israel’s existence and of the historic events on a mass scale that have shaped this conflict for many decades. You apparently have chosen not to acknowledge or sympathize with the relentless history of Jewish suffering.
Professor Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian historian who occupies the Edward Said Chair at Columbia University, appeared on C-SPAN on October 17. He is no friend to Israel. He talked about his new book, The Iron Cage, which details a century of Palestinian failures to build a state or even to take serious steps in that direction. He also said something truly remarkable: The Palestinians have suffered greatly but they have had the misfortune to have their own experience overshadowed by a much greater suffering, that of the Jews of Europe. He went on to say that one cannot understand the conflict without acknowledging this fact.
In other words, a leading Palestinian historian who, like you, blames Israel for much of the suffering of his people, has a much subtler and more balanced view of what has happened in this tragically torn region than you have shown in your book and media appearances.
Of course Israel must share the blame for this tragic conflict. In fact, that is the definition of tragedy—a conflict of goods in which there are rights and blame on both sides. Your book and your media appearances have attempted to turn this tragedy into a melodrama, a battle of good against evil, in which little Israel—surrounded by hundreds of millions of angry Muslims in twenty-one Arab countries, not to mention Iran, now sworn to destroy it—becomes the great and powerful villain. I predict that the world will not accept your caricature of this tragedy.
With all due respect, your letter forwarded to me by Duncan Ross-Kinzie, consisting mainly of quotations from another letter, was not a serious response to my editorial or to the news report accompanying it. Nevertheless I have tried to be specific and forthright in my response.
I have not made as many visits to Palestine (yes, I use the word Palestine) as you have, but mine were close to the ground and not affected by a diplomatic entourage. I spent several nights in East Jerusalem in 2000 and made several visits to a family in Ramallah that had become dear to my daughter. I also spent a night in Jericho after a Palestinian friend and I evaded an Israeli army blockade to get to his home there. I have twice, in 2000 and 2004, spent several days with Palestinian friends in Amman who live there because it became intolerable for them to live in Palestine. And in 2004 I spent half a day with MachsomWatch, an organization of Jewish women in Israel concerned about Palestinian rights, at an Israeli army checkpoint deep in the West bank, helping to monitor the behavior of the young soldiers and try to prevent abuses. I understand that life has been very difficult for Palestinians and that it has gotten harder in recent years; I just don’t do what you do, which is to falsely put all the weight of blame on one side. I fully support a two-state solution and the creation of a Palestinian homeland; we might have that today if Yasir Arafat had accepted Ehud Barak’s offer—an offer that you, contradicting the testimony of President Clinton and others who were there—inexplicably continue to insist never occurred.
Very fortunately and appropriately, this Christmas Eve brings news of a step toward reconciliation between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas, with Israel transferring $100 million dollars to the Palestinian authority and lifting some travel restrictions. There is now hope for a prisoner exchange and a resumption of the peace process. This happy turn of events is of course not the result of your unfair and inaccurate book and public statements, but rather of Tony Blair’s recent efforts in the region. He met privately and appeared publicly with both leaders, answered reporters’ questions with knowledge, flexibility, and subtlety, and above all avoided placing blame on either party in this tragic conflict.
This is the kind of approach with which you achieved your most enduring legacy as president, the peace between Egypt and Israel. I don’t know why you have abandoned this immensely successful approach, but Tony Blair has taken it up, and as a result he will be a major factor in Middle East peacemaking in the future while you, I fear, will not. As the furor surrounding your book has shown—and indeed as all past experience with conflict resolution everywhere also shows--the blame game goes nowhere when the real goal is peace.
It seems to me that you are playing the blame game and are generating far more heat than light. Your book and some of your statements display a callous disregard for the relevant facts of history and the tragic suffering of two peoples locked in a deadly, intractable conflict. Jewish leaders consider many things you have said insulting not just to Israel but to the Jewish people and supportive of the worst elements among our sworn and relentless enemies. In my view, you are not advancing the debate, you are setting it back.
I sincerely hope that the Christmas spirit and the example of Jesus Christ will lead you to take a forgiving and fair path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, instead of the vindictive and counterproductive path you are now taking against Israel and against the Jewish people.
Melvin Konner, M.D., Ph.D.
Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor
Department of Anthropology and Program in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology
January 09, 2007
Ross on Carter's Map Manipulations
In his book, Mr. Carter juxtaposes two maps labeled the “Palestinian Interpretation of Clinton’s Proposal 2000” and “Israeli Interpretation of Clinton’s Proposal 2000.”
The problem is that the “Palestinian interpretation” is actually taken from an Israeli map presented during the Camp David summit meeting in July 2000, while the “Israeli interpretation” is an approximation of what President Clinton subsequently proposed in December of that year. Without knowing this, the reader is left to conclude that the Clinton proposals must have been so ambiguous and unfair that Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, was justified in rejecting them. But that is simply untrue. . . .
When I decided to write the story of what had happened in the negotiations, I commissioned maps to illustrate what the proposals would have meant for a prospective Palestinian state. If the Clinton proposals in December 2000 had been Israeli or Palestinian ideas and I was interpreting them, others could certainly question my interpretation. But they were American ideas, created at the request of the Palestinians and the Israelis, and I was the principal author of them. I know what they were and so do the parties.
It is certainly legitimate to debate whether President Clinton’s proposal could have settled the conflict. It is not legitimate, however, to rewrite history and misrepresent what the Clinton ideas were.
January 04, 2007
Tunnel vision in Gaza Strip
An expose' of arms smuggling via tunnels from Egypt into the Gaza Strip by Palestinian Arabs remains to be done. Associated Press reporter Sarah El Deeb has laid the foundation. In a dispatch datelined Rafah, Gaza Strip ("Gaza weapons smuggling flourishes," Dec. 17, 2006), El Deeb says that "when Israel withdrew [from the Strip in September, 2005], about 90 tunnels were operating. Now, there are at least 150, but the number is probably closer to 250, said one tunnel digger." This though Israel military incursions have resulted in discovery and destruction of dozens of tunnels.
AP describes as "largely unhindered" a tunnel-enabled arms race between the Palestinian Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) and Fatah (Movement for the Liberation of Palestine) factions. This even though "after Israel's pullout, Egyptian and Palestinian security forces were to have deployed to stop the smuggling."
According to Israeli sources, the article continues, "anti-tank missiles, tons of explosives and thousands of rifles have reached Gaza in the past year. Palestinian miltants said they have imported longer-range Katyusha rockets --- they fired one earlier this year --- plus the means to upgrade their homemade rockets to reach deeper into Israel."
Though the AP report terms smuggling through the tunnels "one of the biggest obstacles to any lasting Israeli-Palestinian truce," it lacks specificity. Hard facts on the quantity and quality of the weapons being brought in, their distribution among terrorist factions, and detailed analysis of the military and diplomatic implications of the build-up are still needed.
Fragmentary reports have circulated for at least half a year. In October, The Los Angeles Times cited Israeli officials as saying Hamas hoped to acquire weapons like those used by Hezbollah (Party of God) against Israeli troops in Lebanon last summer. YNETNews.com, the English-language Web site of Israel's largest daily, Yediot Aharonot, reported that Hamas had armed and trained a force of 7,500, based in part on "several dozen tunnels which were sophisticated, professionally quarried, and fully equpped with tracks and wheeled carts." As early as last June, The Jerusalem Post said "the amount of weapons and explosives smuggled into the Gaza Strip since disengagement was bigger than the total amount smuggled ... since the  Six-Day War," and included 11 tons of explosives.
The American media outlet that really tunnels into this story ought to contend for the Pulitzer Prize in foreign news coverage.
January 03, 2007
Full Text of Letter to Carter Center Director
A couple of weeks ago, CAMERA's Web site pointed out that Emory University professor Melvin Konner declined an advisory role with the Carter Center and its namesake, and we relayed excerpts from Dr. Konnor's letter.
We've now updated that posting with the full text of Konner's eloquent letter. Read it all here.
New York Times Considers Dropping Ombudsman Postition
Less than four years after introducing the position of "public editor" --serving as independent ombudsman -- in response to the Jason Blair scandal, New York Times editor Bill Keller is considering abolishing the position, according the New York Observer. In an email to the Observer, Keller declared that
Over the next couple of months, as [Public Editor] Barney’s [Calame] term enters the home stretch, I’ll be taking soundings from the staff, talking it over with the masthead, and consulting with [Publisher] Arthur [Sulzberger, Jr.]
According to the Times, the job of the public editor is to serve as the readers' representative, respond to complaints and comments from the public, and monitor the paper's journalistic practices. The Times' editors and journalists apparently feel they've had enough of being judged by an independent arbiter.
On the other hand, given Calame's lack of responsiveness to readers, it is no great loss to the public.
Dry Bones on Carter
January 02, 2007
Pubishers Weekly Writes About CAMERA Vs. Carter
Jimmy Carter is on the defensive over his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, according to a Publishers Weekly article about CAMERA's advertisement calling on Simon & Schuster to correct the former president's published falsehoods. Simon & Schuster executives expressed surprise at CAMERA's action but said they would "stick with the president's version."
For more on Carter's published falsehoods, read "Roundup of Commentary on Jimmy Carter's Book."
The Media Ignores Damning Evidence
Now that definitive evidence has emerged from the bowels of the U.S. State Department attesting to the fact that
The Khartoum operation [in which U.S. diplomats George Curtis Moore and Cleo Noel were kidnapped and murdered] was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasir Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, (PLO), and the head of Fatah
the U.S. media reacted with virtual indifference. As Caroline Glick notes in the Jerusalem Post:
First, how is it possible that the belated admission of a massive 33 year cover-up of the murder of senior American diplomats spanning the course of seven consecutive presidential administrations has been ignored by the US media? A Google news search for Cleo Noel brought up but a handful of stories - none of which were reported by the major news networks or national newspapers. . . .
The media's silence on the issue does not merely raise red flags abut their objectivity. By not availing the American public to the knowledge that Fatah and the PLO have been specifically targeting Americans for 33 years, the media has denied the American people basic knowledge of the world in which they live.
January 01, 2007
The NYT's 2006 Questionable 'Icons'
Michele McNally, assistant managing editor of photography for the New York Times, explains that the Times' Year in Pictures online feature is meant to include "images that become hopefully icons" in that they are "memorable," "historical," "sociological, sort of define what people do, what people do to each other" "psychological, it needs to have some sort of emotional impact" and "aesthetic."
Media observers who followed last summer's war between Israel and Hezbollah will immediately recognize the following image, which appears in Year in Pictures, as an "icon," but probably not in the way that McNally intended:
Other observations about the Year in Pictures:
* In one photographic essay, Tyler Hicks maintains that "Lebanese Red Cross workers have been hit while driving their ambulances." Back in July, the Times was apparently duped like many other media outlets during the fog of war. What's the Gray Lady's excuse five months later for continuing to report this disputed claim as fact?
* Although there are images of Israeli soldiers with weaponry, there are no images of, and very little comment about, Hezbollah fighters. Instead, the "historical" feature places a heavy emphasis on Lebanese civilian casualties, without mentioning that Lebanese claims about the number of civilian casualties have themselves become history.
(Hat tip: Ehud R)