February 28, 2011
Has the Middle East Council of Churches Issued a Statement?
You may not have seen the video displayed below on any network television, but it is pretty compelling. Egyptian soldiers equipped with heavy equipment and armed vehicles are shown knocking down a wall built around a Coptic monastery. There’s the sound of gunfire and people shouting. If the events shown took place in Israel, you can be assured the confrontation would get wall-to-wall coverage. Here's the video:
The Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) which has done yeoman’s work detailing the ongoing assault on Christians in the Middle East, provides some detail here.
A quick summary is that after a bunch of criminals (including members of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood) were allowed to escape from prison during the Jan. 15 uprising, Coptic monasteries were subject to robberies and attacks.
In response, two Coptic monasteries built fences around their property in an effort to protect their lives and property. Sometime later, the walls were demolished by Egyptian soldiers equipped with heavy equipment and armored vehicles. In one instance, they were apparently incited to engage in this behavior by “a fanatical Muslim officer.”
Will this video go viral? Will this get coverage from the legacy media? Or will it be ignored because it’s not part of the story they want to tell?
February 27, 2011
Who Got Ha'aretz's Tongue on Libya?
Have you noticed how Ha'aretz has published very few editorials or Op-Eds concerning events in Libya? In contrast to the revolution in Egypt, about which Ha'aretz published dozens of opinion pieces and analyses, including editorials, the vast majority in support of Egyptian citizens, Ha'aretz has been largely mum on Libya.
Why the reticence to speak out in this case?
Perhaps editors are embarrassed by last year's editorial in defense of the delegation of Israeli Arab Knesset members who traveled to Libya and paid homage to Muammar Gadhafi. In the wake of the torrent of criticism of the trip, Ha'aretz wrote (April 30, 2010):
Hysteria gripped the right wing in the Knesset after an Arab delegation of MKs and dignitaries visited Libya. . . .The tongues of Habayit Hayehudi and National Union, two parties that could unite under the name "the Racist Union," were abruptly unleashed as though they were dealing with an unparalleled act of treason. . .
Libya is not on the list of enemy states. . . Libya signed the Arab League's peace initiative, holds the League's rotating presidency, and its ruler Muammar Gadhafi maintains excellent relations with the U.S. administration.
At the time, Snapshots noted that Ha'aretz's apologist editorial stood in stark contrast to criticism by Israeli Arabs including Salman Masalha and Ahmed Feead Mahameed, who wrote, among other things:
This week's visit to Libya by an Israeli Arab delegation signifies a loss of both political and moral orientation. . .
The visit did nothing to gain respect for either the delegation members or their constituency. . . .
Not only are such trips by Arab representatives to kowtow before Arab despots an insult to the intelligence, they also harm the just struggle of this country's Arab minority. . . .
[W]hat is the logic behind the Arab MK's trip to Libya?
Indeed, Ha'aretz's embarrassing flattery of Libya's insane leader who is now massacring his own people is surpassed only by the paper's support for the grovelling delegation of Arab MKs. Ha'aretz is now in no position to excoriate Gadhafi after having vilified "the Racist Union" for saying things a year ago which today the whole world understands.
So Ha'aretz faces a tricky dilemma, which it chose finally today to address with a single Op-Ed by Salman Masalha ("Arab MKs must beg for forgiveness for Libya visit"), in which he writes:
All the Arab public figures who went to Libya were as political mercenaries in the service of Gadhafi the tyrant. They should now publicly express remorse and beg forgiveness, first from the Libyan people and next from the Arab citizens they purport to represent.
A public accounting is not only necessary but would also show that they have learned their lesson and intend to mend their ways. If not, Israel's Arab citizens should turn their backs on them and toss them in the garbage, just as Arab nations are rising up against their corrupt leaders. And the sooner, the better.
-- By Yishai Goldflam. For the Hebrew version of this blog entry, visit CAMERA's Israeli site.
February 22, 2011
AP Pulls Erroneous Claim that U.S. Said Settlements "Illegal"
On Sunday (Feb. 20), the Associated Press circulated an article erroneously claiming the U.S. had declared settlements "illegal." By the end of the weekend, to its credit, AP replaced the article with an amended version that did not include the error.
The piece, by AP's Mohammed Daraghmeh, had originally asserted:
The Palestinians, along with the international community, say Israeli settlements on occupied lands claimed by the Palestinians are illegal. At Friday's Security Council meeting, the U.S. said it agreed with this position, but did not believe the United Nations is the appropriate place to resolve the dispute.
(The original language, which has been replaced on most sites across the web, can for now be found here.)
Had the American ambassador indeed told the U.N. told the Security Council that the U.S. deems settlements illegal, it would have been a significant change to the status quo. Ever since Ronald Reagan explicitly said settlements are "not illegal," no U.S. administration has reversed course to call them "illegal."
But Ambassador Susan Rice said no such thing. The word "illegal" doesn't appear once in her comments to the Security Council. And following to the Council's vote on a resolution referring to settlements as "illegal," Rice indicated that use of this word was in fact one of the reasons the U.S. had used its veto. She discussed the issue on Sunday's Meet the Press:
GREGORY: Before you go, I want to ask you about the U.N. vote on a resolution brought forward by the Palestinians to declare Israeli settlement activity as illegal. You, as the United States representative there, vetoed that measure because of the word “illegal.” The administration believes that settlements are illegitimate but not necessarily illegal. ...
RICE: First of all, David, we vetoed the resolution not only because of the word “illegal” but because our view is that we need to get the parties back to direct negotiations so that they can agree through direct talks on a two-state solution. That's the goal. And the problem with this resolution is it was one-sided. And it was designed -- not designed -- but it would have had the impact of hardening one or both sides and making it much harder for us to get them back to the table.
March Madness: Palestinian Hypocrisy Week
Palestinian Hypocrisy Week (aka "Israeli Apartheid Week") is coming up, and Israeli graphic artist David Guy, who brought us an illustrated fact-check to IAW in 2009, is back with his new artistic parodies:
Don't forget to visit www.IsraeliApartheidWeek.com for more information.
February 19, 2011
Another Quote from Al-Banna (The Liberal Anti-fascist)
At a certain point, it becomes nearly impossible to give Tariq Ramadan the benefit of the doubt. His recent description of his grandfather and founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, as an anti-colonialist and an anti-fascist is so demonstrably false that one has to wonder just how stupid Ramadan thinks Westerners are.
Does he think we have no translations of his grandfather's writings? Does he think we have no libraries where we can get our hands on these translations? Does he not know that when he makes outragous claims about Hassan al-Banna's alleged enmity toward colonialism and fascism that these claims will be checked by people who will actually, you know, read what al-Banna has written?
At the risk of boring our readers, Snapshots is providing yet another gem from the writings of Hassan al-Banna as translated by Charles Wendell, mentioned previously. In this passage, al-Banna expresses admiration for Adolf Hitler.
In an essay titled "To What Do We Summon Mankind?" al-Banna invokes Hitler to demonstrate the power of "patience, steadfastness, wisdom, and persistence" to bring weak political movements with "feeble resources" to the "pinnacle of success and fortune their leaders were hoping for." After listing the success of a few Muslim leaders to demonstrate this truth, al Banna writes:
And who would have believed that that German workingman, Hitler, would ever attain such influence and as successful realization of his aims as he has?
In his analysis of this quote in Flight of the Intellectuals, Paul Berman writes accurately "Hitler was the only non-Muslim name in al-Banna's list of exemplary models."
In other venues, Frere Tariq has argued that he should not be held accountable for his grandfather's writings, despite his tendency to lay claim to al-Banna's legacy before sympathetic audiences. (This tendency is well documented by Caroline Fourest, in her text Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan.)
The issue is not whether or not Ramadan should be blamed for his grandfather's writings. The question is why Frere Tariq offered such a distorted and whitewashed view of the Muslim Brotherhood's founder? Ramadan was the one who brought al-Banna into the discussion in his New York Times article about the organization. Instead of distancing himself from the more troubling statements offered by his grandfather, he whitewashed them altogether.
Why would someone committed to pluralism, dialogue and honest discussion behave in such a way?
February 18, 2011
Tariq Ramadan, Your Grandfather Was a Colonialist
In a recent article appearing in The New York Times, apologist for the Muslim Brotherhood Tariq Ramadan portrayed his grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood as an anti-colonialist.
This is simply not true. Al-Banna was a self-proclaimed colonialist. His own writings prove it.
In an essay titled "Our Mission" written to describe the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Banna described how the adherence to true Islam fulfills the impulse embodied by a number of different "patriotisms" offered by propagandists who compete with Islam for humanity's allegiance. In the essay, translated by Charles Wendell and published by the University of California Press in 1978 (Five Tracts of Hasan Al-Banna), the author lists a number of patriotisms whose impulses are better fulfilled by authentic Muslim practices. After detailing the problems of the "Patriotism of the Sentiment" and the "Patriotism of Freedom and Greatness" al-Banna writes
Or if they mean by "patriotism" the conquest of countries and lordship over the earth, Islam has already ordained that, and has sent out the conquerors to carry out the most gracious of colonizations and the most blessed of conquests. This is what He, the Almighty, says: "Fight them till there is no longer discord, and the religion is God's" [Q.2.193].
This is support for religious colonialism pure and simple. Readers will have to decide for themselves if Ramadan is either misinformed about his grandfather's beliefs, or if he is willfully mischaracterizing al-Banna's teachings.
February 16, 2011
Egyptian Mob Reportedly Yells Jew, Jew, Jew as Reporter is Sexually Assaulted
CBS news correspondent Lara Logan was sexually assaulted by a crowd in Egypt nearly a week ago. CBS has just today confirmed the incident. A New York Post story questions the delay in making the news public. The Post and other conservative news outlets like Foxnews report that the crowd was yelling "Jew, Jew, Jew" at her as she was being sexually assaulted. The Village Voice also mentioned the taunts and called for more exposure of the incident. But several other popular left and liberal news outlets like the Huffington Post, Daily Kos, CBS, the Washington Post and other sources omitted any mention of the crowd's anti-Jewish taunts. NPR's blog also did not mention the crowds taunts, but that didn't stop its talkbacks from featuring several comments attempting to change the topic by blaming Israel for trafficking in women.
None of the reports clarify whether the throng that assaulted her were members of what the media has mostly described as orderly, peaceful and pro-democracy demonstrations.
CAMERA has already documented the placards of Hosni Mubarak defaced with Jewish symbols. Logan apparently was previously accosted by Egyptian soldiers who accused her of being an Israeli spy. It is now apparent that hostile sentiment towards Jews is a component of these demonstrations that is not receiving much coverage.
February 15, 2011
Iran Expert: Iran's 1979 Revolution is a Cautionary Tale
Professor Abbas Milani, who is director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University, co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution, and author of the book The Shah, warns that what just happened in Egypt is "eerily reminiscent of the events in Iran in 1979." In a long interview with Michael Totten on Feb. 1, Milani compares the two, describing how a revolution for democracy brought about a brutal theocracy:
... I knew [the Islamists] were bad news. I knew that what they were going to deliver was not democracy. But most people had never read any of Khomeini’s writings because they were banned....Even those who were willing, like me, to actually read this stuff, we dismissed it because we were under the Age of Enlightenment illusion that religion is the opiate of the masses and that there is an inverse correlation between reason and science on the one hand and religion on the other. We believed that Iran was too advanced for these ideas.
He explains further on today's edition of NPR's "Morning Edition":
They [the clerics] began to take over initially by Khomeini returning to Iran...to very jubilant celebrations, delivered a very tough message and said "I would punch this government in the nose"...He said I will appoint a new government, and he appointed a very soft-spoken, liberal figure to be head of the transitional, provisional government of Iran, and the cabinet that he introduced was not at all a clerical regime. Immediately, of course, Khomeini appointed for each of these ministries his own representatives. So you had virtually from moment one, kind of a dual power: the government officially in charge of the ministry but the clergy representing Khomeini meddling in every affair, learning the ropes, learning what they could take over, which happened about a year after the revolution....
...[Khomeini] had talked about [a theocracy] in many of his earlier writings, but In '79...he realized what the people of Iran want is democracy. That's why he hid his intention...
Although in Egypt "there is no charismatic leader like Khomeini who could take over this movement," Milani acknowledges, "there is the Muslim Brotherhood" which is "well-organized and has deep roots in Egyptian society..." And while the Muslim Brotherhood has been trying to distance themselves from Khomeini and insists that what happened in Egypt is not an Islamic revolution but a democratic revolution, Milani does not believe them. Listen to the interview here.
February 14, 2011
H.D.S. Greenway Faults Israel for Responding to "Pesky" Massacre
For David (H.D.S.) Greenway, smearing Israel is a bit of a bad habit. Indeed, the Boston Globe columnist's desire to malign the Jewish state is seemingly more important to him than his obligation not to mislead readers.
At least one assertion in Greenway's Feb. 12 column, "Israel's close watch on Egypt," is so misleading that it amounts, in essence, to an outright lie.
Greenway paints the following scene of a war-hungry Israel:
[N]one of us who were there at the time will ever forget the rejoicing throughout Israel when Sadat and Prime Minister Menachem Begin said together: “No more wars.’’
That was the sublime moment that Israel failed to grasp, however. Instead of turning “no more wars’’ into a peace policy, Israel took it to mean that Egypt was now enabling Israel to make wars with other people. Within a year Israel sent its tanks into Lebanon up to the Litani River against pesky Palestinians ... .
We will never know how the Middle East might have looked had Israel taken no-more-wars more literally, instead of using Egypt’s forbearance as a license to continue occupation and make wars elsewhere.
Got it? Israeli leaders regarded the peace treaty with Egypt as a green light go to initiate war against Palestinians in Lebanon, whose "peskiness" was apparently rubbing them the wrong way. Or so Greenway indicates to his readers. (Merriam Webster's usage examples for the word "pesky": 1. I've been trying to get rid of this pesky cold for weeks. 2. the pesky problem of what to do with all the leftovers.)
Israel launched its Operation Litani on March 14, 1978. Three days earlier, Palestinian terrorists crossed into Israel from Lebanon and perpetrated what Israelis call the "Coastal Road Massacre," a bloodbath in which dozens of Israeli men, women and children were slaughtered.
Time Magazine called it "the worst terrorist attack in Israel's history," and added:
[S]hortly after Saturday's bloodbath, Al-Fatah, the commando group within Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization, claimed responsibility for the operation from its headquarters in Beirut. ...
The attack seemed to be the opening salvo of a new policy by Palestinian leaders, launched in Tripoli last December at the Arab states' rejectionist summit, to carry to Israel's soil the war against Sadat's peace initiative.
It may have been the worst, but it was hardly the only terror attack launched by PLO groups entrenched in southern Lebanon, whose mission was to kill Israelis and destroy the Jewish state.
Greenway's polemic notwithstanding, Israel of course never promised, explicitly or implicitly, that its peace treaty with Egypt meant it could no longer respond to acts of war emanating from other hostile countries. His readers, at any rate, wouldn't even know that there were any acts of war against Israel in 1978.
Sol Stern Exposes a Scoop that is Neither New Nor True
Writing at Jewish Ideas Daily, Sol Stern shows once again there's nothing new under the sun. In his prescient article "The New York Times Revises the Peace Process," Stern exposes how the New York Times exaggerates the prospects for peace and falsely claims to have a scoop on the process. Stern also reveals how a politican changes his description of past events in an apparent effort to burnish his reputation.
Stern ends his piece with a powerful admonition: "Delusions of 'peace,' it seems, can have a similarly debilitating effect on political leaders, the journalists who write about them, and the editors of influential newspapers."
Read the whole thing, here.
February 13, 2011
Soros Scapegoats Israel for Egyptian upheaval
In his Washington Post Op-Ed, “Getting Egypt right” (February 3) George Soros got it wrong.
Soros scapegoated Israel for the anti-government upheaval then gathering force in Egypt. He alleged that the Jewish state was “the main stumbling block” to reform in its neighbor, the largest Arab country.
Yet when Soros wrote, mass protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and elsewhere around the country focused on President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, political repression, economic stagnation, corruption, unemployment, rising food prices and other domestic issues. Numerous news reports made clear Egyptian demonstrators were inspired by earlier protests over many of the same causes in Tunisia that had led to the ouster of long-time ruler Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali. Egyptian demonstrations evinced relatively little overt anti-American or anti-Israeli sentiment.
Soros, who made his billions in international currency speculation, was an odd choice by The Post to opine on democracy-building in the Middle East, let alone Israel’s role. He once said that his sense of connection to Judaism “did not express itself in a sense of tribal loyalty that would have led [me] to support Israel.”
In his commentary, Soros caricatured the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the registered pro-Israel lobby, as “monolithic” when, in fact, AIPAC members and board members range from liberal Democrat to conservative Republican. Soros did not mention his own role, until recently covert, as one of the two main funders of J Street, a sort of anti-AIPAC. J Street has, among other things, urged the United States to support anti-Israel moves at the United Nations. Nor did Soros reflect on his criticism of the Bush administration for “actively supporting the Israeli government in its refusal to recognize a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas.”
Soros said his foundations stand ready to support the transition in Egypt. That will bear scrutiny: Among recipients of his largess is Sojourners, a left-wing Christian group that frequently denounces legitimate acts of Israeli self-defense.
Someone less interested in using — no matter how improbably — the latest news as a club to beat Israel and its supporters with, and more interested in democracy promotion in the Middle East, might have seen that there is a country in the region Egypt could use as a model for democracy, with free, fair multi-party elections, a free press, independent judiciary, minority and women’s rights and so on. Its name is Israel. What The Post saw in Soros is hard to tell. — Joseph Brewer, Washington research intern.
February 11, 2011
New York Times Fails to Insist Upon Factual Accuracy in Op-Ed by Muslim Brotherhood Leader
Over the years, the New York Times has affirmed that opinion pieces must adhere to a standard of accuracy. Former editorial page editor Gail Collins stated that columnists "are obviously required to be factually accurate." Op-ed page editor David Shipley explained in 2005 that "before something appears on our pages, you can bet that questions have been asked, arguments have been clarified...and factual, typographical and grammatical errors have been caught." Shipley then presented an example describing how an op-ed had to be revised because it attempted to argue a point based on erroneous facts.
On Feb. 10, 2011, the Times published an op-ed by Essam El-Errian, a member of the guidance council of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, that does precisely what Shipley warned against. El-Errian argued that
in more than eight decades of activism, the Muslim Brotherhood has consistently promoted an agenda of gradual reform. Our principles, clearly stated since the inception of the movement in 1928, affirm an unequivocal position against violence.
Mr. El-Errian’s piece skates over some important history of the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities. From 1936 until the Egyptian government cracked down on it in 1949, the Brotherhood had a paramilitary wing that carried out numerous assassination attempts against Egyptian and British officials and acts of violence against Jews both in Palestine and in Egypt. Regardless of whether one accepts the Muslim Brotherhood's current denunciation of violence (in Egypt, it still calls for jihad against Israel and American forces in the region), it is false to argue that it has always "unequivocally" advocated non-violence.
For further details on the history of the Brotherhood's violent past see below.
Barbara H.E. Zollner describes the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood’s paramilitary wing which was active from 1936 through 1949, until the Egyptian government suppressed it. In her book, The Muslim brotherhood: Hasan al-Hudaybi and Ideology, under the chapter heading, "The Secret Unit and Violence,” Zollner writes,
Like other political movements of the time, the Brotherhood had its own paramilitary unit, which was known as Secret Unit (Al-jihaz al-Siri) or Special Organization (Al-Nizam al-Khass). The beginnings of the combat unit go back to 1936, when the Brotherhood sent volunteers and arms to Palestine in support of the uprising. From then on the organization ran camps, where volunteers were instructed in guerilla warfare.
Its leader, Samih al-Ashmawi, was named deputy [second in command] of the Brotherhood in 1947. According to Zollner, the Brotherhood initially steered its military activities against the Jews and British in Palestine. In 1948, the Brotherhood raised an army of volunteers to invade the newly established state of Israel. But increasingly, the Brotherhood’s violent activities were directed towards domestic targets and threatened the Egyptian government.
In the year of 1948, the struggle between the Brotherhood and the then ruling Sa’adi government, under prime minister al-Nuqrashi, accelerated into a state of near persistent violence... there is no doubt that the Brotherhood was linked to an increasing number of assassination attempts, to the incitement of terror and to growing anti-Jewish violence.
This culminated in the assassination of Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmoud al-Noqrashi in January, 1949. Ibrahim al-Houdaiby, a great grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood’s second leader and grandson to its sixth leader, describes how the Brotherhood steered away from violence after the Egyptian government cracked down on it. In an article published by the Hudson Institute, The Primacy of Values, al-Houdaiby warns though that more Brotherhood recruits are familiar with the radical vision of ideologue Said Qutb than they are with the non-violent approach promoted by his great grandfather.
Qutb was executed by the Egyptian government after being arrested for planning violent acts against the Egyptian government. The Brotherhood officially renounced violence against the Egyptian government in ther 1970s after coming under pressure. To this day, however, its leaders, including the current General Guide, Mohammed Badie, advocate jihad against "foreign occupiers" and "Zionists."
Survey of Egyptian Attitudes Shows Cause for Both Optimism and Concern
A survey of Egyptian opinions reveals low support for the Muslim Brotherhood and for further imposition of Sharia law, but ambiguous results concerning Egypt's continued maintenance of peace with Israel and alignment with the U.S.
The poll of 343 randomly selected residents of Cairo and Alexandria who own cell phones or landlines was conducted on Feb. 5-8 by Pechter Middle East Polls and directed by David Pollock, a former U.S. official and current fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The Muslim Brotherhood is supported by 15 percent of the respondents. Instituting strict Sharia law and the corresponding need to make Egypt more Islamic are seen as a priority by a similarly small portion of the respondents.
Economic problems and official corruption are far and away the main concern of the respondents. The regime's perceived support for Israel is not a major complaint.
Former IAEA chief, Mohammed Al-Baradei, the object of considerable attention from the Western media, received only 3 percent of the votes in a presidential straw poll. Amr Moussa, former head of the Arab League, received the most votes at 26 percent, followed by Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and exiting President Mubarak with 17 and 16 percent. Mohammed Badi, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, received less than 1 percent.
A plurality of 36 percent to 27 percent support continued close relations with America, but a lopsided majority of 53 percent to 17 percent disapprove of U.S. President Obama's handling of the crisis.
The most positive results from the survey concern the respondents' low support for the Iranian government (19 percent), the Muslim Brotherhood (15 percent) and the Hamas government in Gaza (17 percent). However, the poll contains worrisome ambiguity concerning Egyptian attitudes on foreign policy.
When offered the following four choices:
1) Egypt should maintain its current alignment with the U.S.
2) Egypt should abrogate the peace treaty with Israel and join the "resistance" to it
3) Egypt should distance itself from the U.S. and follow Turkey's example
4) Egypt should restore full relations with Syria and Iran and join its coalition against imperialism and colonialism (ie-the US and Israel)
Only 19 percent selected the first option, the only favorable one to the West and Israel. The other three options were chosen by 18, 16 and 15 percent of the respondents, respectively.
It is important to note that this sample is from city dwellers with telephones. The majority of Egyptians do not live in Cairo or Alexandria and may not have cell phones or landlines. So this sample is representative of only a portion of the Egyptian population.
It is also important to recall that in the elections in the West Bank and Gaza in 2006, Palestinians voting for Hamas most often cited the economy and corruption as the most important factor. Yet, that mattered little in the end. Hamas won the election and did not moderate.
February 09, 2011
Redux: Media Untruth in 2005 Led Jihadists to Kill 14 People
The February 8, 2011 Hannity show (Fox News Channel) included an interview of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
The worst (moment of my tenure as Defense Secretary) – one of the worst – was the statement in the Press that someone in Guantanamo had flushed the Koran down the toilet. In the book I talk about that. There were riots in several cities and people were killed. Totally untrue, it never happened.
Exactly. Later they said if part of our story wasn't correct, we apologize. Of course the people they were apologizing to were dead. If those people (media) want to be first instead of accurate, that's too bad. I've never been in that business so I can't be critical of them. I just don't know what I would do. It was hard to see those kinds of things said. Of course, a lie races around the world 15 times before the truth gets its boots on.
In 2005, CAMERA reported the story here.
Turkel Commission on Gaza Legal Issues
In the Jerusalem Post a couple of weeks ago, Dan Izenberg provided a useful summary of the Turkel Commission Report's conclusions about international law and the Gaza Strip.
Is Gaza occupied territory?
The commission concluded that Israel stopped occupying the Gaza Strip after its unilateral withdrawal in 2005. This despite the fact that it controls all but one of the land crossings to Gaza and is in full control of its airspace and territorial waters.
Those who maintain that Israel still occupies Gaza argue that it has “effective control” over the territory for various reasons, including those noted above. But the members of the commission maintained that one would have to have “an unjustifiably flexible and novel interpretation of the term ‘effective control” in order to maintain that position. It would have to be based on acceptance of the fact that two different and opposing powers can exercise effective control simultaneously.”
It would also, the commission continued, need to be assessed against “the currently accepted approach in international law that occupation does not merely require military forces to be stationed in a certain territory, but also that the occupying power performs the functions of an existing government.”
The commission also argued that Israel does not maintain total control over land access to Gaza, and that neither control of airspace nor the imposition of a naval blockade amount to “effective control” over the territory.
The article, which can be read here, also summarizes the Report's answers to two additional questions: Has Israel violated its humanitarian obligations toward the civilian population of Gaza? Is Israel guilty of collective punishment in Gaza?
The Report was praised by the Commission's two international observers, David Trimble and Ken Watkin.
Muslim Brotherhood: Jihad is the Way
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has translated the fifth volume of The Laws of Da'wa (Islamic missionary activity) written by Mustafa Mashhur, who led the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from 1996-2002. The translated volume, entitled Jihad is the Way, describes the ideology and goals of the Muslim Brotherhood, which includes the establishment of a world-wide caliphate (Islamic Republic) and military Jihad when the time is most opportune. Below is a sampling:
"...the Islamic Ummah [nation]... can regain its power and be liberated and assume its rightful position which was intended by Allah, as the most exalted nation among men, as the leaders of humanity..."
"...know your status, and believe firmly that you are the masters of the world, even if your enemies desire your degradation..."
"It should be known that Jihad and preparation towards Jihad are not only for the purpose of fending-off assaults and attacks of Allah's enemies from Muslims, but are also for the purpose of realizing the great task of establishing an Islamic state and strengthening the religion and spreading it around the world..."
"...Jihad for Allah is not limited to the specific region of the Islamic countries, since the Muslim homeland is one and is not divided, and the banner of Jihad has already been raised in some of its parts, and it shall continue to be raised, with the help of Allah, until every inch of the land of Islam will be liberated, the State of Islam will be established,..."
Read PMW's translation here.
February 08, 2011
New Study Refutes Demographic Doom of Jews in Israel
Despite periodic claims from demographers such as that pronounced in 1987, when Arnon Sofer offered his bombshell forecast: "In the year 2000, Israel will become non-Jewish," a new study, released January 2011 by Yaakov Faitelson of the Institute for Zionist Strategies, disputes these predictions. According to Faitelson, the portion of the population that is Jewish is increasing rather than decreasing as a result of the increasing Jewish birthrate and declining Arab birthrate. The decline in the Arab birthrate in Israel is consistent with the trend throughout the Middle East. According to the study
The Arab percentage of the population of Israel [including Judea, Samaria and Gaza] may reach 41% in 2010 and then gradually decline to 31.2% of the Israeli population by 2050.>
According to the study,
In 1995 there were 2.34 Jewish births for every 1 Arab birth. In 2009-2010, there were 3.12 Jewish births per 1 Arab birth.
Bon Ton Brotherhood
A dispiriting assessment, with a media angle, from political scientist Ephraim Inbar:
Incredibly, the Muslim Brotherhood is getting much positive publicity in the Western media as a moderate Muslim political organization. This superficial media coverage papers over the Brotherhood’s extreme anti-Western, anti-modernist positions and its rabid anti-Semitism. The current bon ton is the desire to include this radical organization into the political system, ignoring its subversive character and its potential for establishing an Islamic republic in Egypt.
A Brooklyn College Professor Weighs in on the Petersen-Overton Controversy
Brooklyn College Professor of Philosophy Emerita Abigail Rosenthal has written a letter to the National Association of Scholars arguing that due process rather than academic freedom is the main issue in the controversial case of Kristofer Petersen-Overton, a 26-year-old pro-Palestinian activist and 2nd year grad student who was hired to teach a course about the Middle East and Arab-Israeli conflict. The Professor writes:
Due process was not followed in the hire. (A second-year student in the PhD program is under-credentialed to teach a graduate course, & his course syllabus, which included a history component, wasn't cleared with the History Dept.) Due process was also not followed in his firing. I think due process, rather than academic freedom, was the main issue here.
She notes that "it's probable that the Political Science Dept.'s rush to hire Petersen-Overton was connected to his views" and comments on the one-sided sanctioning of opinion and the hostile atmosphere for Jewish students on campus .
It seems to me that by now the campus has generated a hostile atmosphere for Jewish students & has conveyed the message (via the orientation text, via political theatre on campus, via this now-underscored hire, via the expanded "Israel Apartheid Week"), to students & faculty, that only one political view has official sanction, from the effective faculty & administration.
Read Professor Rosenthal's letter here.
Zionists Barred from "Never Again" Rutgers Event
Noah Glyn, a junior at Rutgers University and a CAMERA Fellow, was on the scene when pro-Israel students were banned from attending an event by BAKA: Students for Middle Eastern Justice which was premised on the claim that Israelis practice ethnic cleansing on Palestinians, who are like the Nazis' victims of genocide. Read his story here.
Dry Bones Cartoon on Egypt Worth 1000 Words
From Yaakov Kirschen at the Dry Bones Blog:
Western Media Ignore Anti-Semitic Imagery in Egypt
In Pajamas Media John Rosenthal notes the Western media's failure to report the recurring anti-Semitic imagery used by Egyptian protesters:
The use of the traditional symbol of Judaism to express hatred and contempt could hardly be described as anything other than anti-Semitic. And yet despite the clear visual evidence that it exists, this aspect of the protests has been almost entirely ignored by the reports in the Western media.
The current protest movement may or may not represent the advent of liberty and democracy and all things good for Egyptians. This remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: it represents the advent of the complete banalization of anti-Semitism as far as the Western media is concerned.
February 04, 2011
"Reasoned Discussion" at Commonweal?
Commonweal, a liberal Catholic publication that describes its editorial strategy as motivated by a desire to “reject sectarianism and to rely on reasoned discussion” fell short of that ideal when it published “The Battle For Egypt” on its website on Feb. 3, 2011.
The article, written by former Commonweal editor William Pfaff, is so hostile in tone that readers who miss the byline would have every reason to think that it was written by another denizen of the religious press in the U.S. – James M. Wall, former editor of Christian Century.
It’s that bad.
Here’s a rundown of the piece itself: After condemning the U.S. government for failing to prepare for the current crisis in Egypt, Pfaff states that the Israeli government’s response “has been more shocking.” Pfaff writes:
It seems to have panicked, rather than been confused and impotent like Washington. Israel, since it defeated the combined Arab armies in 1948, has believed it could only survive in the Middle East through total military domination of its Arab enemies, and through control of the Palestinians. Israel has been supported in this, more or less willingly, by every U.S. administration since Eisenhower—the last to say no to Israel.
The contempt initially shown toward Israel’s Arab enemies ended in 1973 after the Egypt and Syria’s surprise attack, the rise of Hamas (whose creation Israel too-cleverly supported to counter the Palestine Liberation Organization; how could religious enthusiasts harm Israel?), and the resistance of Hezbollah to Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which resulted in Hezbollah’s political predominance in Lebanon.
Lebanon could have become Israel’s passport to peace with other Arabs. When I first visited Beirut in 1955, Israel was already eyeing Palestine. At that time, the swagger of the Lebanese thought that, given unrestricted relations, they could easily outsmart and outtrade the Jews. The Zionists should have taken up that challenge.
Today the Israeli calculation is that if Mubarak goes, Egypt goes. If Tunisia goes, Morocco and Algeria go. Turkey has already gone (for which the Israelis have only themselves to blame). Syria is gone (in part because Israel wanted to cut off its access to water). Gaza has gone to Hamas, and the Palestine Authority might soon be gone too (to Hamas?). That leaves Israel amidst the ruins of its policy of military domination.
In Pfaff’s narrative, there is hardly any event in the Middle East that can’t somehow be blamed on Israel.
Lebanon failed to become “Israel’s passport to peace with other Arabs” because “the Zionists” were unwilling to take up the challenge of “unrestricted relations” with that country in the 1950s. Apparently, the PLO and Hezbollah had nothing to do with Israel’s difficulties with Lebanon. (Note: After Israel's founding in 1948, most people started referring to the inhabitants of Israel as "Israelis.")
Syria is “gone” in part because of disputes over water with Israel. The fact that the Alewite-minority regime in Syria uses Israel as a unifying scapegoat to maintain control over its people isn’t worth mentioning.
Turkey is now hostile toward Israel for reasons that Pfaff says are all Israel’s fault even if he can’t be bothered to say exactly why. Apparently, it has nothing to do with Turkey’s slow slide into Islamism under Recep Erdogan.
And Pfaff blames Israel for the rise of Hamas, which he describes as “religious enthusiasts.” (James M. Wall made a similar gambit when he referred to Hamas and Hezbollah as “Muslim non-governmental groups” in an article published in Christian Century in 2005.)
The changes in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, Pfaff writes, leave Israel “amidst the ruins of its policy of military domination.”
Exactly how does negotiating and achieving peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan fit into a policy of military domination?
Israel has a population of approximately six million people. Arab countries in the Middle East comprise a total population of approximately 300 million people. The prospect of it dominating its neighbors who outnumber it so handily is just incredible, which is why Israel negotiated treaties with Egypt and Jordan.
If Pfaff wants to celebrate the efforts of Egyptians to free themselves from a repressive regime, fine.
But that’s not what he’s doing.
Instead, Pfaff exhibits an unseemly satisfaction and glee at the challenges faced by Israelis as a result of the possible collapse of a regime that abided by the terms of the Camp David Treaty signed in 1979, which by the way, the Muslim Brotherhood, a well-organized opposition group in Egypt wants to abrogate.
Commonweal can publish whatever articles it wants by whoever it wants. It can even call an article published elsewhere on the Internet an “exclusive.”
But exactly what does Commonweal expect to achieve by publishing a piece like Pfaff’s? Does it really add to the conversation?
Sadly, the publication of such a hostile article on Commonweal's website is not out of character for the magazine. Its editorial on the tragedy aboard the Mavi Marmara in June 2010 indicates that the magazine has a difficult time covering issues related to Israel in a factual and comprehensive manner.
February 03, 2011
Anti-Israel Voices Exploit the Crisis in Egypt
Israel is such an enormous detriment to the United States, our relationship with the Israelis, that it's going to become clearer to Americans that this is just going to cost us blood and lives the longer we pursue this relationship with the Israelis.
Other serial Israel-bashers were not far behind. WBUR's "On Point" radio program with Tom Ashbrook invited former New York Times' foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer -- who has blamed the murder of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy by a Palestinian on the existence of Israel -- to present his views on the situation. Predictably, Kinzer turned the blame for the unrest in the Middle East toward Israel:
Sure, what people in Egypt want is an end to corruption, more economic development, and an end to political repression, but there's something else that's very important. These regimes that have come under such intense pressure in the Middle East are regimes that support American foreign policy in the Middle East. Fundamentally, they support the idea of accommodating Israel, supporting the settlement project in the West Bank, supporting the embargo on Gaza, and they also support the intense U.S. campaign against Iran.
Don Wagner Accuses Israeli Soldiers of Wearing Phalangist Uniforms
Regular visitors to CAMERA's website are familiar with Rev. Dr. Don Wagner, a Presbyterian "peace" activist who has compared Israelis to a "killer-vine" choking a rosebush in his backyard in Chicago.
Wagner is no longer teaching at North Park University in Chicago, but is now at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia. He is still engaged in anti-Israel activism. Speaking at an event in Buffalo a few months ago, Wagner accused Israeli soldiers of wearing Phalangist uniforms and murdering Palestinians at Sabra and Shatilla in 1982.
Ernest Sternberg, a member of the faculty at the University of Buffalo where Wagner was speaking reports at that Wagner said that “most likely many Israelis were in the Phalangists’ military uniforms and they denied responsibility.”
This is a new and novel accusation, Sternberg reports in a Feb. 2 article published by Scholars for Middle East Peace (SPME):
Both the New York Times and Washington Post covered the massacre extensively in late September 1982, and vociferously condemned Israel for its role, but none of the articles states that Israelis themselves had carried out the murders. The Encyclopedia of Genocide and the Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity contain detailed articles on the massacre, but neither mentions Israelis disguising themselves as Phalangists. The Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa has an entry that is highly antagonistic to Israel, and gives far more attention to it than to the Phalangist perpetrators, yet makes no mention of direct Israeli involvement in the killings.
Rashid Khalidi, author of Under Siege: PLO Decisionmaking During the 1982 War (Columbia University Press, 1986) and no friend of Israel, had extensive access to people on the ground during the 1982 war and to Palestine Liberation Organization leaders and documents, and represented PLO’s position at the time. He, too, makes no mention of Israelis dressing up as Phalangists.
Despite the enormous volume of slander against Israel easily found on the internet, a moderate amount of searching on my part turned up no other instance of this claim. In further searching, it may well pop up, floating on internet sewers. In the meantime, the “Israelis disguised as Phalangists” libel appears to have been invented at the University at Buffalo.
Wagner was speaking at a commemoration of the Sabra and Shatilla massacre organized by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee held on October 22, 2010.
Report: Coptic Christians Murdered in Egypt During Unrest
The Assyrian International News Agency reports that 11 Coptic Christians were killed on Jan. 30. AINA provides the following detail:
News of a massacre of two Christian Coptic families by Islamists just emerged from Upper Egypt with the return of the Internet connections after a week of Internet blackout by the Egyptian regime. The massacre took place on Sunday, January 30 at 3 PM in the village of Sharona near Maghagha, Minya province. Two Islamists groups, aided by the Muslim neighbors, descended on the roof of houses owned by Copts, killing eleven Copts, including children, and seriously injuring four others.
Anba Agathon, Bishop of Maghagha, told Coptic activist Dr. Mona Roman in a televised interview on Al-Karma TV that the killers are their neighbors, who seized the opportunity of the mayhem prevailing in Egypt and the absence of police protection to slaughter the Copts. He said that he visited today the four injured Copts, who escaped death despite being shot, at Maghagha General Hospital and they told him that they recognized the main attackers as they come from the same village of Sharona. They gave the Bishop details of what happened.
"The two families were staying in their homes with their doors locked when suddenly the Islamists descended on them," said Bishop Agathon, "killing eleven and leaving for dead four others family members. In addition, they looted everything that was in the two Coptic houses, including money, furniture and electrical equipment. They also looted livestock and grain."
Read the entire article here.
Geographically-Challenged Architecture Review
One would think that a journalist reviewing an architecture exhibit would have a handle on the relevant geography. Think again. A review today in the Los Angeles Times of the "Decolonizing Architecture" exhibition states that the exhibition is
driven by a simple but provocative question: If and when Israel decides, or is compelled, to leave the occupied territories in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, what should returning Palestinians do with the buildings, roads and bridges the army and the settlers leave behind? (Emphasis added.)
Um, hello? The fate of structures in the Gaza Strip is not a question, provocative or otherwise, since Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip, pulling out each and every last civilian and soldier in 2005, a dramatic event covered in depth by the Los Angeles Times at the time. (The only Israeli left in the Gaza Strip is captured soldier Gilad Shalit.)
Acceding to Palestinian requests, Israel leveled much of the single-family housing, which did not meet Palestinian needs. Israel, however, did not raze the synagogues and they were subsequently torched by Palestinian mobs. The Los Angeles Times' own stories about the Israeli evacuations and the fate of the remaining buildings include "Gazans Burn Synagogues in Israeli Soldiers' Wake, Jubilant Palestinians storm in after Israel refuses to raze temples in former settlements," (Laura King and Ken Ellingwood, Sept. 12, 2005) and "Gaza Sites Are Awash With Palestinians on a New Shore; After Israeli troops leave, thousands flock to a long-forbidden beach. Others cart off what remains from abandoned homes," (King and Ellingwood, Sept. 13, 2005).
The departing Israelis left in place most of the farmers' hothouses, which had been purchased by Jewish American philanthropists and turned over to the Palestinians. Rather than make use of the 3,000 greenhouses to help build the Palestinian economy, looters destroyed them. For details, see the Los Angeles Times' "Palestinians in Gaza Loot Greenhouse Equipment," (AP, Sept. 14, 2000).
The fate of settlements, past and future, has certainly been a challenging subject for the Los Angeles Times in recent days. The paper still owes its readers a correction on Saree Makdisi's false claim that the "Palestine Papers" show that Palestinian negotiators agreed to let Israel hold on to large West Bank settlements.
Journalists Under Attack in Egypt
Pro-Mubarak forces launch attacks on international journalists from CNN, AP, ABC News, Al-Arabiya, and more. Some are detained, and cameras are destroyed or confiscated.
February 01, 2011
Crisis in Egypt, Execution Binge in Iran
How is the Egypitan crisis affecting other countries? Jordan's King Abdullah dissolved his government and appointed a new one, charging it with bringing about "effective, tangible and real political reform." The Palestinian Authority is blocking Palestinians from holding protests in solidarity with the Egyptian uprising, while announcing that local elections will be held as soon as possible. In Syria, citizens have called for a day of protest on February 5. And Iran is taking the oppotunity to embark on a binge of executions.
Iriwin Cotler, a Canadian member of Parliament and human rights activist, writes about it in the National Post:
Iran is engaged in a wholesale assault on the rights of its own people, including a state-orchestrated wave of arrests, detentions, beatings, torture, kidnappings, disappearances and executions. Initially, all of this was overlaid with Stalinist show trials and coerced confessions; but now, even that pretense has been discarded.
Read the whole thing here.
Partisan Politics at Brooklyn College
A battle has erupted in Brooklyn College over the appointment of a pro-Palestinian activist to teach a graduate seminar on Middle East politics, with a focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict. A political science student enrolled in the class raised concerns over the syllabus, writings and anti-Israel leanings of the instructor, Kristofer Petersen-Overton, who is a 26-year-old graduate student himself.
After receiving multiple letters of protest over the appointment, including one from New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, the college rescinded the appointment -- a move that was subsequently reversed. The seminar will convene for its first class on Thursday. Meanwhile, students are petitioning the Brooklyn College administration and president Karen Gould to review and revise the slanted course syllabus.
Palestinian Journalist Behind on Palestinian Affairs
Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab apparently doesn't keep up with the Palestinian media. Writing in the International Herald Tribune last week (Jan. 25), he insisted that "Abbas has rejected all forms of anti-Israeli violence" and that Palestinian television has been "cleaned of anti-Israeli incitement."
Yet, as reported in the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida one day earlier, Abbas spoke in favor of an Arab war against Israel, stating: "I have said more than once that if the Arabs want war - we are with them."
Yet, even if Kuttab missed the paper that day, it stretches the imagination to believe that he missed all of the following: At a rally marking the five year anniversary of Yasir Arafat's death, Abbas praised the "noble" resistance, in which "we combined armed struggle with political activity." Similarly, speaking at a 2007 Fatah rally, Abbas declared: "We have raised our rifles against the occupation [ie, Israel] and that is a legitimate right." Likewise, Abbas was quoted in Jordan's al-Dustur in 2008, "At this present juncture, I am opposed to armed struggle because we cannot succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different."
It seems that Kuttab is also not a regular viewer of the "cleansed" Palestinian television, which recently ran broadcasts glorifying Dalal al-Mugrabi, the ringleader of the 1978 hijacking of an Israeli bus, in which terrorists massacred 37 civilians. One music video refers to the killers as "heroes... who shook the land, brought down mountains," and another praises them for having "no fear of death or the darkness of prison." A separate music video on the Fatah-controlled channel in December proclaimed: "By Allah, we won't throw down our weapons. We treat the rifle as a brother."