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October 29, 2010

Jews in Arab Countries

In a column in Ha'aretz, the head of the Education Ministry's pedagogical secretariat asserts that

an Israeli who seeks a reliable depiction of past events cannot accept a mendacious historiography that portrays Jews as living prosperously and happily in Islamic states until Zionist colonialism and "Zionist aggression" ruined the idyll.

The same could be said for the media.

Posted by GI at 10:49 AM |  Comments (0)

October 26, 2010

New York Times reporter CAIRs about mosque

The line separating “all the news fit to print” and the oxymoron called advocacy journalism — that is, propaganda — looks blurry at The New York Times.

Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism said on September 20 that Times reporter Sharaf Mowjood, who authored several favorable articles about Manhattan’s “ground zero mosque, attended a two-day media training program in 2009 led by the mosque’s organizer, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

Rauf’s American Society for Muslim Advancement highlighted Mowjood’s coverage to support claims its news media training worked.

Mowjood, also a student at Columbia University’s graduate program in journalism, reportedly served as a lobbyist for the Council on American Islamic Relations before joining The New York Times. CAIR, subject of CAMERA’s Special Report, “The Council on American Islamic Relations: Civil Rights or Extremism?” was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the U.S. Justice Department’s Holy Land Relief and Development Foundation (HLF) trial. The founder of its Texas chapter was sentenced to 65 years in prison in the HLF case for helping raise millions of dollars for Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement. Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

In addition, in an out-of-court settlement with the Web site www.anti-cair-net.org, CAIR did not contest allegations that it was founded by Hamas members, that it was founded by Islamic terrorists and that it was funded by Hamas
supporters.

New York Times Metro Editor Joe Sexton defended Mowjood’s reporting. But imagine The Times hiring a former Jewish Defense League staffer, then assigning him or her to report on controversial activities of suspect American Jewish leaders, and finally defending the resultant puff pieces. Impossible? Could the “Gray Lady” be using a double standard?

Posted by ER at 03:19 PM |  Comments (0)

Juan Williams' firing clarifies NPR's federal funds

Reporting of National Public Radio’s controversial firing of news analyst Juan Williams often missed a key point about NPR’s funding. But not that by Washington Post staff writer Paul Farhi.

NPR executives frequently say that the network receives no more than two percent of its now $154 million annual budget directly from Uncle Sam. News media often echo the claim without scrutiny.

But as Farhi reported (“Juan Williams at odds with NPR over dismissal; Former commentator says comments on Fox News were taken out of context,” October 22), “the federal government provides roughly 15 percent of the revenue of public radio and TV stations, although less than 2 percent of NPR’s annual budget is directly subsidized by tax monies. The rest comes from corporate grants and programming fees from hundreds of NPR members stations. These stations, in turn, receive direct financial support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) [emphasis added], the entity set up by Congress in 1967 to pass federal funds to stations.”

Stations affiliated with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the television network, and with NPR also have received tens of millions of dollars from CPB in recent years for non-annual operating costs, including infrastructure conversion from analog to digital transmission.

Hence NPR and PBS executives’ regular appearances before congressional appropriations committees. NPR’s two-percent direct federal funding mantra, while true as a budget line item, misleads when invoked or reported without context about the network’s overall dependence on tax revenue provided by Congress.

Williams was fired after commenting on Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor” that “when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they’re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” He also criticized stereotyping by religion and distinguished between “good Muslims” and “extremists.” Nevertheless, NPR – which said it had objected to previous Williams’ comments on Fox, for which he also worked, as violating its own guidelines for opinion and speculation – dismissed him on October 21. Fox quickly hired Williams full-time.

Posted by ER at 12:53 PM |  Comments (1)

Hamas Militant Admits Most Palestinian Policemen in Gaza Double as Militants

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Israel was widely condemned by the UN Human Rights Council, by many in the media and by human rights organizations for inflicting heavy civilian casualties in its Cast Lead military operation in Gaza from Dec. 27, 2008 to Jan. 18, 2009. CAMERA pointed out that groups like B'Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International tend to give credence to claims by Palestinian rights groups like the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR ) that the vast majority of casualties were non-combatants while rejecting Israeli counter-claims. The UN's Gaza Mission Report (the Goldstone report) accepted Palestinian figures and rejected Israel's despite ample evidence that many alleged non-combatants were commemorated as Hamas martyrs (see analyses in extended information section below).

One particular point of contention was the status of policemen affiliated with the Hamas government. Between 240 and 255 Palestinian policemen were killed in the operation, most in the initial air strikes. These make up approximately 20 percent of all the fatalities in the operation. Whether they are categorized as non-combatants as Palestinians groups like PCHR does, or as combatants, as Israel does, is significant in terms of the ratio of combatants to non-combatants.

An admission by a militant named Abu Khaled, whose interview appeared in the Christian Science Monitor in its Nov. 1, 2010 edition, that "two thirds of Hamas policemen are police by day and Al Qassam by night" lends support to those who all along contended that the overwhelming majority of the police were Hamas militants. Al Qassam is the Hamas military formation which is also responsible for carrying out terrorist acts. Israel claims that at least 709 of 1166 Palestinian fatalities were combatants, approximately 61 percent. This figure includes the policemen as combatants. PCHR claims that only 236 of 1,417 fatalities were combatants, calculating 83 percent as civilians. Palestinian Policemen are described by PCHR as "non-combatants."


For a full discussion of the Goldstone report's handling of civilian casualty figures, see Alan Dershowitz's discussion of this in The Case Against the Goldstone Report: A Study in Evidentiary Bias.

The Institute for Counter Terrorism published a detailed analysis of Hamas casualties, concluding that 564 Hamas fighters were killed in the operation of whom 245 were members of police units. Israel's Ministry for Foreign Affairs has also published detailed information revealing the dual role of policemen as Hamas fighters.

Also see Jonathan Halevy's study detailing the high proportion of Palestinian policemen who were members of the Al-Qassam organization.

Posted by SS at 10:57 AM |  Comments (3)

October 20, 2010

Naim Ateek Lets It All Hang Out in ... Norway! (Thank You Google!)

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Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, founder of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center at Old South Church in Boston, October, 2007 (CAMERA)

Isn't the Internet wonderful?

Your friend and ours, Naim Ateek, speaks in Norway.

A local writer, Tor-Bjorn Nordgaard, interviews him and publishes an article about his conversation in a Norwegian newspaper -- Norway Today. He asks some pretty good questions and Ateek answers them without making any effort to disguise his contempt for Israel.

A few years ago, that would have been it. Ateek's message would languish for lack of translation. Maybe a few weeks, or a few months, or even a few years after the interview, somebody might have gotten around to translating the text into English.

But these days, thanks to Google Translate, readers in the United States can get an albeit imperfect translation of Ateek's message, which includes, interestingly enough, an accusation that Israel has practiced "jihad" against the Palestinians.

Maybe Google Translate got it wrong, but it's well within the realm of observed behavior. Ateek careens from one anti-Israel libel to another with great abandon and yet for some reason, he never lacks for supporters. Ateek has previously accused Israel of perpetrating "a slow and creeping genocide" against the Palestinians in a book that was endorsed by a number of people who should have known better.

Let us examine some of the treasures Google Translate provides to us.

He [Ateek] compares Israel's actions in 1948 with the Holocaust, says it is Israel's responsibility to create peace by entering [leaving?] Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem, calling Israel an apartheid state and calls on the international community to boycott and isolation.

Yes, there is some confusion to the translation, but you get the picture.

According to the translation, Ateek defended the message from the "Durban conference in 2001, which states that Israel is an apartheid state and calls the world's nations to expose Israel for total isolation, in the same way as originally made with the South Africa. "Through its actions, Israel has unfortunately moved to be a racist state, "he says, shows that there are Jews living in Israel who argue this."

Another gem:

"Israel began its existence on Palestinian ash. The world should not have allowed Israel to exist," he said.

And then there's this:

The big problem with the Jews is still not resolved, because most Jews do not want to Israel. There are still far more Jews outside Israel than in Israel. Most people would not be there, but the Zionists forced them there.

With this article, Nordgaard reveals a conundrum that Ateek's handlers must face every time he visits a country. For Ateek on tour, the only thing worse than not getting interviewed by the local press is getting interviewed by the local press. If Ateek gets ignored, that's bad. If people actually pay attention to what he says, that's worse.

This is not the first time Snapshots has made use of Google's translator. As with the previous instance, if there is anyone who is fluent in the original language (Norwegian), please post your translations in the comments section below and we will update our entry as the translations come in.

UPDATE 3:26 pm

One of Snapshots correspondents sends another article – this one describing the response of a Norwegian Bishop to Ateek’s talk.

According to Google’s translation of the article, Bishop Halvor of Bergen agrees with Ateek that God’s promises to the Jewish people regarding the land of Israel are no longer in force in light of the New Testament. This is pretty straightforward supersessionist theology.

As offensive as this is to many readers, the Bishop does not support Ateek’s calls for a boycott of Israel but instead expresses the hope that negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians will continue.

Bishop Halvor also states that “he follows [not] Ateek’s perception that it is only Israel's responsibility to create peace" and that "one can not place the Black Peter in only one of the parties." (Black Peter is a figure in Northern European mythology who accompanies Santa Claus and punishes bad children.)

The Bishop also denies there’s any equivalence between the Holocaust and the suffering endured by the Palestinians. He states “It's totally different stories, and the type of comparison will only make peace work a lot harder.”

Posted by dvz at 01:17 PM |  Comments (2)

October 14, 2010

Howard Jacobson, Man Booker Prize Winner, on Anti-Israelism

Howard Jacobson was just awarded the prestigious Man Booker Prize for his novel The Finkler Question.

It's as good a time as any, then, to recall his impassioned critique of anti-Israelism, academic boycotts, and other bigotry.

Some highlights follow, but you can read the whole piece here.

• "I am tired, myself, of deciding who is and who isn't [an anti-Semite]. Anti-Semitism, when all is said and done, is not the only crime on the block. You don't have to be an anti-Semite to be a blackguard. And you certainly don't have to be an anti-Semite to be a fool. Boycotters assure us of their innocence of anti-Semitism as though that settles once and for all the question of their intellectual and moral rectitude."

• "If anti-Semitism is repugnant to humanity, then it is no less repugnant to humanity to single out one country for your hatred, to hate it beyond reason and against evidence, to pluck it from the complex contextuality of history as though it authored its own misfortunes and misdeeds as the devil authored evil, to deny it any understanding (which is not the same as sympathy or succour), and - most odious of all - to seek to silence its voices."

• "To understand the motives of a suicide bomber and not the motives of those who seek to keep him out is to understand nothing. "

• "For an Israeli academic not to think exactly as they think on the campuses of Birmingham and Brighton is to be guilty of a crime for which the punishment is expulsion from the international community of thought. Will someone, in the light of that, explain to me what universities are for? Is not scholarship meant to constitute a sacred bond, an implicit assurance that here at least, in the free academy of the mind, the conversation will always go on no matter how bitter the disagreement, no matter how unorthodox or incorrect or even offensive the views expressed?"

Posted by GI at 05:10 PM |  Comments (0)

Hedy Epstein at Pilgrim UCC in Duxbury, MA

Pilgrim Church of Duxbury, part of the United Church of Christ, will be hosting a talk by Hedy Epstein on Oct. 24. The talk, which is open to the public and scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m., is billed in the church's October newsletter as giving listeners "new insight to the conflict in the Middle East."

Hedy Epstein is a German-born Jew who escaped from pre-Holocaust Europe in 1939. She rode on a child transport trip to Great Britain. Her family died at Auschwitz. She was a researcher for the prosecution at the Nuremburg Trials.

Today, she is a supporter of the Free Gaza Movement, a group that has worked to demonize Israel and undermine Israel's blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Hamas is an inheritor of the Jew-hatred that forced Epstein to flee Germany in 1939.

Nevertheless, here she is providing moral support to Israel's enemies several decades later. According to the ADL, "Epstein compared Nazi treatment of Jews to Israeli treatment of Palestinians" while speaking at Stanford University in 2004.

Epstein is, as acknowledged by Gene at Harry's Place, a “sad” figure. She's an 85-year-old woman who, for reasons of her own, seems more outraged by Israeli policies than she is by Hamas’ genocidal hostility toward Jews and Israel. This is not a new phenomenon.

One legitimate question congregants of Pilgrim Church could ask of Epstein is: What prompted the Free Gaza Movement to allow its recent flotilla to be used as cover for fighters associated with the IHH in Turkey.

A bigger, more important question that needs to be asked is: Why is Pilgrim UCC hosting Epstein? Does the church's "Board of Christian Outreach" which organized the talk honestly think that the world needs yet another talk by a Free Gaza supporter who has compared Israeli policies to those of the Nazis during the Holocaust?

Really? That qualifies as “insight”?

Let's be clear. The Pilgrim Church of Duxbury has the right to open its doors to whomever it wishes.

It would be nice, however, if Pilgrim Church of Duxbury and other UCC institutions were a bit more responsible in whom they invited and showed some discretion in the manner in which they dealt with issues related to the Jewish people and their homeland.

What is the Deal With the UCC Churches?

Epstein's appearance at Pilgrim Church of Duxbury is emblematic of a troubling pattern within the UCC. Things have improved since 2005 when the church’s General Synod passed an economic leverage resolution and an anti-security barrier at its 2005 General Synod.

Nevertheless, UCC-related institutions seem intent in assisting in the process by which Israel, Jews and Judaism is held up to very close scrutiny and the misdeeds of its adversaries ignored.

Earlier this year, leaders from both the UCC and the Disciples of Christ endorsed the “Kairos Document” days before the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) denounced the text as “supersessionist and anti-Semitic.”

And in October 2007, Old South Church, a UCC church in Boston, hosted a Sabeel conference in which Israeli policies were condemned while Hamas and Hezbollah were given a pass.

One speaker, Farid Esack, a Muslim theologian from South Africa, accused Israeli Jews of transforming their conception of Jewishness as part of a grand strategy to deprive the Palestinians of their homeland.

Esack told the audience:

It’s not as if we are dealing with a settled community, the ongoing attempts to make sure that more and more Jews come from all over the world, the manufacturing in many ways of Jewish identity. If you look at the Ethiopians and the Abyssinians and many of the Russians and people from Peru … highly dubious Jewish lineages. So the ongoing manufacturing of Jewish identities the ongoing ingathering and therefore the changing nature of this demography, who are the Palestinians supposed to recognize if the nature of those to recognize is changing all the time as a way of stacking the cards against them?”

Ugly rhetoric like this – reminiscent of the notion that Jews are changelings – is not enough to stop UCC churches from hosting Sabeel speakers. On Nov. 7, 2010, Sabeel’s founder, Naim Ateek, whose repeated use of anti-Jewish tropes to interpret events in the Middle East undermines his ability to act as a catalyst for peace and reconciliation, will speak at Riverside Church in New York City. (Riverside is affiliated with both the United Church of Christ and the American Baptist Churches.)

In sum, UCC leaders at both the local and national level assist in the intense interrogation of Jewish identity and self-understanding. When it comes time to address the Arab-Israeli conflict, UCC churches seem all-too willing to bring in people such as Epstein and Ateek.

These speakers will say little, if nothing about how Arab, Muslim and Palestinian self-understanding contribute to the continued existence of the Arab-Israeli conflict. But they will talk endlessly about Israel, Jews and Judaism.

Of the mainline churches in the U.S., the UCC has gone farther than most to reject Christian supersessionism or the notion that Christianity has replaced Judaism and that the Jewish people have no reason to exist.

The UCC, like other mainline Protestant churches and progressive Catholic institutions in the U.S., has done little to address Muslim supersessionism.

Both Christianity and Islam have had a difficult time affording the Jewish people a place in their respective theological and physical geographies and yet for one reason or another, mainline churches do not address this issue but instead bring in speaker after speaker who talk about Israel – and only Israel.

Just how serious are the UCC and its local churches about dealing with supersessionism if it ignores the problem as it exists in the Middle East?

Given the amount of attention mainline churches have directed at Israeli policies in the past few years, it’s about time they start addressing other parts of the story.

In other words, if mainline churches and progressive Catholics are truly interested in peace, they need to move beyond inviting speakers such as Epstein and Ateek.

Posted by dvz at 03:05 PM |  Comments (0)

October 13, 2010

South African Students Respond to Singling Out of Israel

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In the wake of a decision by University of Johannesburg's faculty Senate to "sever a longstanding relationship with an Israeli university unless certain conditions are met," South African university students and others are pushing back against what they call the "double standard ... used as a weapon to demonize a state and her people."

The Coalition for Clean Water, a student initiative, is circulating a petition strongly condemning the singling out of Israel, which it says harms South African society and deprives the country of much-needed technological innovations.

You can read and sign that petition here.

Posted by GI at 02:10 PM |  Comments (0)

October 07, 2010

'No bad Palestinians, please. We're journalists'

National Review, in its September 20 edition, has this brief:

“Khaled Abu Toameh is an invaluable Palestinian journalist who writes primarily for the Jerusalem Post .... One of his career-long themes is, ‘The Western media have no interest in reporting what Arab governments to do Arab citizens. They are particularly uninterested in reporting what the Palestinian Authority does to Palestinian citizens. They are interested only in perceived Israeli oppression of Palestinians.”

“His latest example is the arrest of seven university lecturers on the West Bank — who, according to their own accounts, were promptly tortured. The Palestinian Authority warned Palestinian journalists not to report about this case.

“But what was the Western media’s excuse? They ignored the story, as they regularly do. They are on the hunt for Israeli injustice, and anything else is a distraction or irrelevance.

“Some Western journalists explain that they are afraid of reporting persecution by Arab authorities: afraid of repercussions to themselves. Toameh .... wrote, ‘If you are scared, why don’t you stop writing about the conflict and start reporting about the weather or environment?’”

Posted by ER at 05:19 PM |  Comments (1)

October 04, 2010

How Countries Voted on the Flotilla Report

The UN's Human Rights Council recently voted in support of the flotilla report it commissioned. And as Robin Shepherd points out, "80% of participants in latest UN rights council vote against Israel ranked 'Not Free' or only 'Partly Free' by Freedom House."

Read his observations on the issue here. And for our analysis of the report itself, be sure to check out this article on CAMERA's Web site.

Posted by GI at 04:02 PM |  Comments (1)