Tuesday, December 17, 2013

... when they will love their children more than they hate the Arabs

Are you fluent in Hebrew? Check this Facebook posting by Jewish nationalist leader Baruch Marzel

OK, I can't read Hebrew either, so here's a translation by Amy Kaufman:

“In (the settlement of – A.K.) Yitzhar live righteous people.
The Samaria Council sent an Arab bulldozer operator to plow the snow.
The residents sent him away. When they were asked to make an exception and compromise just this once because it’s an emergency situation, the residents answered ‘We’ve been without electricity for 3 days and we’re willing to stay another two months without electricity as long as we don’t let the enemy make a living.”

To add some context, a big snowstorm caught Israel unprepared, just like the Mount Carmel fire of 2010 had done, largely because the money Israel could devote to civil defense is instead spent on deadly weapons. The storm affected the lives of both its legal citizens and the illegal Jewish squatters in the West Bank. But the latter would rather leave their own children without power than allow an Arab help them.

Yet the Jews are the ones supposed to educate their children for peace, even as the Arabs educate theirs for hate of the Jews. Now what would you expect this Arab bulldozer operator to tell his children? Of course he should tell them to love the Jews. His teachings could go along these lines:

"Dear children, today I was turned down by the Jews of Yitzhar when I tried to clear their streets of snow because I'm an Arab. However, you should not hate the Jews. It is true that these particular Jews get generous subsidies as well as military support from the government of Israel, which was overwhelmingly elected by Israeli Jews and is ardently supported by organized Jewish communities worldwide. But there are Jews who are not racist -- non-observant Jews disowned by their Jewish communities, attacked by their journals, mostly intermarried, who are sympathetic to the cause of the oppressed Palestinian people. Because of these Jews who no one in their right mind would consider to be even remotely representative of the Jewish people, you should not hate the Jews."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"To be expected from Arabs"

The Jerusalem Post has a story about a girl, aged 16, from the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth who was attacked by a 51-year-old man who happened to be a relative and neighbor of hers. The man was indicted, along with an accomplice, for spilling acid on her face some twenty days ago after learning she was to marry a Jordanian man. The two had been, according to the indictment, sexually abusing the girl for the last few months.

The tragedy seems to be a very welcome piece of news for the Jerusalem Post's commentariat. They are especially excited that it's Israeli Arabs who are involved in this crime. A selection of the comments follows:

lnfidel  3 days ago

"She also said that her daughter had recently become engaged to a student living in Jordan shortly before the attack began."
"Gag order" or not, everything, including the above quoted text in the article, points to "the religion of peace", as the probability of a Jew or Christian getting engaged to someone in Jorden, has to be diminishingly small.

Joseph  NoRighty  19 days ago

If her finace is Jordanian it's more likely she's Muslim. The acid attack tends to be in Muslim societies.

Mickey Oberman  20 days ago

Wooing Muslim style.

leo Deutsch  20 days ago

to be expected from arabs!!!!!!!!!!!!

The girl was taken for attention to the Ramban Medical Center. David Ratner, the director of public affairs and spokesman for the Center, asserted:

This is something more fitting to Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan. It’s not something people expect here.

Pick any day of any week of any month of the year and the country where the largest amount of acid-attack stories comes from is, far and away, India. The crime is so endemic in the country that an organization exists exclusively devoted to stopping it. So why would Mr. Ratner name three other countries as those to which acid attacks are "more fitting"? Maybe he had some religion in mind?

Mr. Ratner's assessment only adds to the misinformation spread by the mainstream media, which usually carries stories, complete with gruesome pictures, of women splashed with acid in Muslim countries, while largely ignoring the prevalence of the crime in the whole of South and Southeast Asia, as well as several African countries like Nigeria, Zimbabwe and South Africa. I leave it to the reader to do the Googling for themselves.

Perhaps more to the point, you're not likely to learn from Western media about acid attacks among Israeli Jews -- but they exist. On 5 June 2008, Ynet reported:

A 14-year-old girl from Beitar Illite was taken to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem after an unknown person spilled acid on her face, legs and stomach, causing light burn wounds. The act has been attributed to a representative of the so-called 'modesty guard' in this town where religious and secular residents are increasingly at bitter odds.

The story describes how the attackers mistook the girl for her sister, who had been warned by the "modesty patrol" not to wear "immodest" clothing. Unlike in the case of the Nazareth attack, which had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with lust, the Betar Ilit attack was perpetrated because of the criminals' Jewish belief that women should go around modestly dressed. It's true that not all Jews think alike, but it is also true that the Jews who don't haven't made a credible effort to stop the fanatics within their religion. Evil prevails where good people do nothing.

Curiously enough, I haven't seen any follow-up stories about the Betar Ilit girl, or any description of how she was left after the attack, or, of course, any pictures. While conspiracy theories are not my weakness, one can't help but notice a failure on the media's part to adequately investigate this Jew-on-Jew acid attack.

By way of another example, a fresh intra-Jewish acid attack was reported only yesterday by Ynet:

Teen pours acid on his sister in Kiryat Ono mall Investigators say attack result of long-standing dispute between the two; sister suffers light facial burns

So that despite Mr. Ratner's inability to fathom an acid attack in Israel, it has happened and it happens, be it for religious reasons or as part of family disputes. It is something to be expected not only from Arabs but also from many other peoples in the Asian and African continents, including Hindus, Cambodians, Christian Nigerians and -- Jews.

Monday, March 11, 2013

CAMERA in need of more correction (or: a bad day for the MLK quote)

In my previous entry, I related how CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, had to take back their assertion that Martin Luther King had said his famous, but disputed, quote equating anti-Zionism to antisemitism in 1968. Their current correction reads:

Clarification: An earlier version of this article attributed Dr. King’s comment to a 1968 appearance at Harvard. To clarify, professor Seymour Martin Lipset and Congressman John Lewis, a disciple and associate of Dr. King, both point out that the comment was made shortly before King’s death, but did not name the precise date. Lipset asserted the comment was made in Cambridge, Mass., and Lewis cited Harvard University as the location.

So that CAMERA is currently saying that King said the quote in Harvard, albeit on an unspecified date.

Enter Martin Kramer, an Israeli professor very much worried that Wikipedia lists the quote as disputed. In a well-documented article, Kramer proved that Martin Luther King traveled to Boston in October 1967 on a fundraiser and was invited to Marty Peretz's  house in Cambridge, together with his aide Andrew Young, who would later become the US's Ambassador to the UN and the mayor of Atlanta. It was there, Kramer asserts, that King said the quote. In his words: "We now have a date, an approximate time of day, and a street address for the Cambridge dinner, all attested by contemporary documents." Kramer goes on to state:

And just to run the contemporary record against memory, I wrote to Peretz, to ask whether the much-quoted exchange did take place at his Cambridge home on that evening almost 45 years ago. His answer: “Absolutely.” I’ve written twice to Andrew Young to ask whether he has any recollection of the episode. I haven’t yet received a response.
So will the guardians of Wikiquote redeem this quote from the purgatory of “disputed”?

To put things in context, Marty Peretz is a well-known Zionist fanatic and anti-Muslim bigot, who has resorted to dishonesty to advance his cause. "Lying for the crown" is a behavior one would expect from him. The fact that Andy Young hasn't corroborated the quote doesn't help either (although even if he had it wouldn't mean much; after 45 years, memories tend to be blurred: personal recollections about issues one is not very much involved with are not usually reliable).

But remember, CAMERA quoted Congressman John Lewis, a disciple and associate of Dr. King, as also confirming the quote, in an article first published in the San Francisco Chronicle which eventually was adopted by the US Congress and made its way into the Congressional Record, V. 148, Pt. 1, January 23, 2002 to February 13 2002. In that article, Lewis states:

During an appearance at Harvard University shortly before his death, a student stood up and asked King to address himself to the issue of Zionism. The question was clearly hostile. King responded, “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.”

So that Kramer claims that the quote was said at a dinner at Marty Peretz's home, while Lewis claims it was said at Harvard. If one is right, the other is wrong, and vice-versa. What we have here is what appears to be a number of people interested in supporting a pro-Israel narrative (Kramer, Peretz and Lipset out of ideological motives; Lewis because he needs the money of his Jewish donors), all claiming that Martin Luther King Jr. equated anti-Zionism to antisemitism, but unable to get their act together as regards the details.

I expect CAMERA to clarify this mess; as long as they don't, the world has every right to doubt the authenticity of MLK's quote, and Wikipedia is fully justified to describe it as disputed.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Hasbara Buster forces CAMERA correction

On January 21, 2009, I wrote a post about Martin Luther King's alleged quote, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.” The phrase, allegedly said by King to an anti-Zionist black student, is likely an invention of an arch-Zionist by the name of Seymour Lipset, who published it after King's death without providing a single verifiable detail. Lipset didn't specify when or where or to whom the phrase was uttered. In my post, I stated:
Do we have further details from other sources? Well, yes; CAMERA claims that King's words were pronounced "in a 1968 appearance at Harvard." Is that so? Er no. On the day of his death, the Harvard Crimson (the university's students' paper) reported:

The Rev. Martin Luther King was last in Cambridge almost exactly a year ago--April 23, 1967.

So that CAMERA is wrong on this (which, by the way, debunks the often-made claim "CAMERA may be biased but it's always factually correct"). All other references to the King quote are either explicitly based on Lipset's article or verbatim transcriptions without attribution.

The Wayback machine is a site that stores screenshots of webpages from all over the Internet. The sites are periodically scanned for changes, so that given a certain page you can know the full history of changes made to it. Up to 17 June 2009, the CAMERA page I linked to contained the wrong information that the King quote came from a 1968 appearance at Harvard, as can be seen in the Wayback snapshot from that day.

Then on 26 February 2010 the CAMERA page was modified. The reference to the exact year of the King quote was deleted, and the following text was inserted:

An earlier version of this article attributed Dr. King’s comment to a 1968 appearance at Harvard. To clarify, professor Seymour Martin Lipset and Congressman John Lewis, a disciple and associate of Dr. King, both point out that the comment was made in Cambridge shortly before King’s death, and did not name the precise date and venue.

To the best of my knowledge, no one had called out CAMERA over its inaccuracy before I did. I think I'm not wrong if I say that it was my post which forced CAMERA to correct itself.

Is this important? Yes, it is important, because it proves that CAMERA does not check its statements for accuracy, and because that leaves us with no concrete detail, let alone solid evidence, as regards the claim that MLK ever equated anti-Zionism to antisemitism.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Deconstructing the blood-libel charge

For there to exist a blood libel certain key elements must concur. There must exist a reference to some gruesome practice (not necessarily involving blood, which can reasonably not be taken literally, but brutal and disgusting in any event), and it must be asserted that such a practice is carried out by individuals because they belong to a certain group.

But that alone is not enough to configure a blood libel. You can claim that a certain group does outrageous things as part of their traditions and the claim still be true. For instance, ultra-Orthodox Jews in New York have a mohel (ritual circumcisor) lick their newborn sons' blood after their foreskin is cut -- a procedure that has sometimes transmitted herpes to the babies, two of which have died, while another two were left with irreversible brain damage. If I report on this barbaric procedure, it paints the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in a very bad light, but it's not a blood libel, because while the element of blood is present, the element of libel is not.

This has not deterred Zionists and other Israel apologists from describing as blood libels what actually are uncomfortable truths about Israel or the organized Jewish community. Any suggestion that the Israeli army was complicit in the Sabra and Shatila massacres, for instance, is described as a blood libel, even when it is quite reasonable to ask how a paramilitary group could enter a camp without the regular army controlling the zone (i.e., Israel's) giving its consent. (On the other hand, the country of Poland is perpetually chastised for allowing its Jews to be murdered by the Nazis, even when they, unlike the Israelis at Sabra and Shatila, would have been themselves killed if they had tried to stop the massacres. The suggestion that the whole country is partly responsible for the Holocaust is not considered a blood libel in this case.)

In a recent article on a site called Fathom, Norman Geras again makes the blood-libel charge against British writer Caryl Churchill, whose play Seven Jewish children -- A play for Gaza purports to describe the way Israeli Jewish children are raised. In the work, written in the context of the Cast Lead operation of 2008-2009, several parents discuss what to tell their children about that unequal war. Geras:

This play puts into Jewish mouths the view that Palestinians are ‘animals’ and that ‘they want their children killed to make people sorry for them’; but that there is no need to feel sorry for them; that we – the Jews – are the chosen people and that it is our safety and our children that matter; in sum, that ‘I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out’. I will not insist here on how this echoes the blood libel; it is enough that Churchill ascribes to the Jews, seeing themselves as chosen, murderous racist attitudes bordering on the genocidal. On the face of it, one would think, this is a clear candidate for antisemitic discourse.
Churchill, however, disavowed that charge when it came from critics. She did so on the grounds of what one might call an innocent mind. No antisemitism had been intended by her. On the one hand, the blood libel analogy had not been part of her thinking when she wrote the play; on the other hand, those speaking the offending lines in it were not meant to be Jews in general, merely individual Israelis. Churchill is evidently innocent here of any memory of the figure of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, long thought of, despite his being only one character, as putting Jews in a bad light. She is innocent, too, of her own generalising tendencies in naming her play ‘Seven Jewish Children’ and then linking the broad themes of the Jews as victims of genocide and as putative perpetrators of it in their turn.

Note how casually Geras takes it as a given that Churchill's descriptions amount to a blood libel. After misrepresenting Churchill's answers to her critics, Geras compares her text to The Merchant of Venice, in which a true blood libel is made. In the Shakespeare play, the Jewish character of Shylock lends money to a man on condition that he will remove a pound of flesh from the borrower's body if the loan is not paid back. When the debt is not honored, Shylock intends to carry out his barbaric vengeance, until he is shamed in court by a young Christian lady disguised as a lawyer.

There is no historical evidence that Jewish money lenders ever did this because they were Jewish. If there was, it would not be a blood libel. But there is none.

Churchill's assertions, on the other hand, accurately reflect views widely held by Jews, including those whose writings heavily influence other Jews. Some Jewish parents in her play, in fact, want to tell their children that the Palestinians are "animals" and that ‘they want their children killed to make people sorry for them’, as Geras correctly notes. Some other of the Jewish parents in the play won't care if the Palestinians are wiped out. But are these claims outlandish? Let's see.

1) With regard to the view that Palestinians are animals, Moshe Feiglin, who became a Knesset member in the last election,  has said "You can't teach a monkey to speak and you can't teach an Arab to be democratic. You're dealing with a culture of thieves and robbers. Muhammad, their prophet, was a robber and a killer and a liar. The Arab destroys everything he touches." Here we have a direct analogy to animals, as well as other dehumanizing statements, made by a politician from Likud, the party in power in Israel. Also, Ovadia Yosef, the leader of the Sephardi party Shas, has called Arabs "vipers."

But it is not high-profile leaders alone who make such comparisons. The rank-and-file think-tank writer also chips in frequently, in op-eds as well as in position papers, stripping the Arabs of any sign of humanity. In a recent Jerusalem Post story, Martin Sherman wrote:

To employ a rather stark metaphor – and without wishing to impute canine qualities to humans of any kind, if one insists that one’s antagonists are “cuddly poodles” rather than “vicious rottweilers,” one cannot expect others to understand why “rottweiler” action is appropriate.
Clearly, however, Israeli diplomats cannot portray Palestinian society in its true light: as a cruel, brutal society where women are suppressed, gays are oppressed and political dissidents are repressed; a society where journalists are harassed, press freedom is trampled, political opponents are lynched, honor killings of women by their male relatives are endorsed or at least condoned, and homosexuals are hounded.
That must be left to civil society intellectual warriors.

After carefully distancing himself from ascribing to the Arabs the qualities of an attack dog, Sherman proceeds to recommend that Palestinians be treated like attack dogs. He then dehumanizes the Palestinians by describing their society as one of purely barbarian behavior, suppressing any possibility that parents can be caring or that the people can love each other. It's as if someone stated that Israel is a country where Arabs are lynched, civil marriage is not allowed by law, the interior minister says that gays are sick and state-paid rabbis forbid their followers from renting houses to Arabs -- all of which are true, but do not tell the whole story.

2) With regard to the view that the Palestinians ‘want their children killed to make people sorry for them’, it has long been mainstream thinking in Zionist circles. Über-Zionist Alan Dershowitz wrote:

In order to maximize their own civilian casualties, and thereby earn the sympathy of the international community and media, Hamas leaders deliberately fire their rockets from densely populated civilian areas. The Hamas fighters hide in underground bunkers but Hamas refuses to provide any shelter for its own civilians, who they use as "human shields."

Dershowitz (indisputably one of the most influential Jewish writers as regards the I/P conflict) says almost word by word what Churchill makes the Jews say in her play. Geras must be perfectly aware of this article (and of the several ones in a similar vein that Dershowitz has published over the years), yet I don't recall him (or anyone in the organized Jewish community) calling out Dershowitz for that outrageous assertion -- which means it is acceptable to mainstream Jews. How can it be a blood libel to expose it in a play?

3) As for the ‘I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out’ bit, of course this is not a majoritarian position among Jews, but the important consideration here is whether it is mainstream enough to have a Jewish parent in a play (among several ones, not all of them holding the same positions) express it. And it looks like yes. In the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza, Jews from all over Israel flocked to the place to watch the bombing of the strip live. This has attracted attention from several news corporations. The Danish television did a report on it:

Actually, Churchill's play is an understatement. It's not that the Jews in this video wouldn't care if the Palestinians were wiped out. They're clearly enjoying it, helping themselves to coffee from a machine especially brought for the occasion, as if they were on a picnic. One of the Jews, identified as Keren Levy, actually hopes for the city of Gaza to be taken off the ground.

Similar reports have been published by The Wall Street Journal and by Mondoweiss, among others. In the Mondoweiss post, again we see Jews enjoying the destruction of the city:

Scott Roth @scottroth76
2 assholes drinking beer and smoking cigarettes while they watch Gaza get bombed. Fun times! pic.twitter.com/GYCCC1nz

Now of course this is not majoritarian behavior in Israel, but certain attitudes are so shocking that the mere fact that they are publicly and proudly displayed points to societal tolerance therof. When both neutral media, leftwing sites and rightwing, pro-Zionist newspapers all report on different instances of a practice, it means that it is not marginal -- or at least not enough not to be mentioned as part of the possible reactions of an Israeli parent.

So that I fail to see where exactly the blood libel lies. Churchill describes phenomena that exist and are widely reported, while a libel is basically a false statement about someone. Getting angry at her, rather than at the Jews who adopt such regrettable positions and behaviors, is clearly an instance of shooting the messenger.