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Friday, September 30, 2016

A Hillary supporter on why comparisons of Trump to Hitler are dangerous

The tweet above, among others, have unfortunately enabled comparisons of Donald Trump to Adolph Hitler. No matter whom we support in the US Presidential election, those comparisons are repugnant and dangerous. This was posted to Facebook by a longtime friend who supports Hillary Clinton. Since I have some readers who unfortunately still support Hillary, please at least take this to heart.
I feel the need to put this thought on my wall again. I'm seeing more and more posts and articles analogizing Trump to Hitler. This is a very disturbing trend for many reasons. Here's just one: we're now starting to encounter a generation that has not met and will not meet anyone who lived through WW-II (much less the Holocaust). When they ask 'what was Hitler like?' and your answer [via your posts] is "Hitler was like Trump" ask yourself will those kids understand the enormity of the evil perpetuated by the Nazis if this is the comparison you're implanting in their impressionable minds? Trump is bad, yes, Trump is a danger, yes, Trump [may be] [is] a Fascist (Mussolini-style), but he is NOT a Nazi and he is NOT Hitler. Making this comparison cheapens the evil perpetuated by and done in the name of Der Fuehrer. [Rant over.]
Indeed. I don't think he's a fascist either, and I'm voting for him even though I would rather have seen a different Republican nominee. But in any event, those of you who compare Trump to Hitler are cheapening the Holocaust. Let your conscience deal with that. 

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Abu Mazen earns praise for plan to attend Peres funeral, but Fatah says he's 'destined for hell' and Hamas calls for 'days of rage'

'Moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen is drawing praise from the Israeli Left for his plan to attend Shimon Peres' funeral. Peres was the man who brought the 'Palestinians' in from the cold.

But Israel's Arab MK's are being criticized for ignoring Peres' death, while Abu Mazen's Fatah faction has described Peres as 'destined for hell' and his Hamas rivals are calling for 'days of rage' in response to Peres' death.

This is the second link from the above paragraph.
On the day after former Israeli President Shimon Peres passed away, Fatah demonized Peres as a murderer about to enter Hell. In a cartoon on Fatah's official Facebook page (shown above) Peres is shown trembling and handcuffed as the Grim Reaper shows or reads to Peres from an English language scroll the long list of "crimes" that the PA-Fatah accuse Peres of committing. In the background flames are seen, representing the fires of Hell that, according to Fatah, are awaiting Peres.
Likewise, official PA TV's "Israeli affairs expert" spoke about Peres. The "expert," an Israeli Arab named Fayez Abbas, described Peres as a man of war who should have been tried in the International Criminal Court, and as "the greatest fraud in the history of the Zionist movement." The essence of his message about Peres was that he succeeded in deceiving the entire world when he talked about peace:

Read the whole thing.

Official PA television is controlled by Abu Mazen....

And as you might imagine, Hamas has a lot to say.
The Hamas terror group urged Palestinians to hold a “Day of Rage” on Friday, coinciding with the state funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres, which will be held in Jerusalem on that day.

The call is meant to mark the one-year anniversary of the beginning of a wave of terror attacks, including stabbings and car-rammings throughout the West Bank and in Jerusalem, that launched in September 2015.
Hamas’s call follows a Wednesday statement by the group’s spokesman in Gaza that expressed happiness at Peres’s death.
A spokesman for the group, Sami Abu Zuhri, told AP on Wednesday that “the Palestinian people are very happy at the passing of this criminal who caused their blood to shed.”
He added, “Shimon Peres was the last remaining Israeli official who founded the occupation, and his death is the end of a phase in the history of this occupation and the beginning of a new phase of weakness.”
Meanwhile, Abu Mazen expressed sorrow over Peres' death... at least in English.
In a statement, Abbas said he has sent a condolence letter to Peres’s family expressing “sorrow and sympathy.”
He called Peres a partner in reaching a “peace of the brave” with the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. The three men shared the 1994 Nobel Peace prize for reaching the Oslo interim peace accord.
Abbas said Peres “exerted persistent efforts to reach a just peace from the Oslo agreement until the final moments of his life.”
Once again the 'Palestinian Authority' is speaking from both sides of its mouth.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Obama 'reflects,' sees himself as perfect

If I didn't know he was arrogant, I might think he was naive. From Barack Obama's 'reflections' while meeting with rabbis before the Jewish New Year.
As Rabbi Matanky noted, Rosh Hashanah is a time for reflection, and I'm not exempt from that. So, looking back on the last eight years, I'm both proud of what we've accomplished together, but also mindful of the work we have before us.
When it comes to the unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, we've taken a clear stand, and the recent signing of the Memorandum of Understanding constitutes the single largest pledge of military assistance in U.S. history to any country, totaling $38 billion over 10 years.
I made a commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and because of our principled diplomacy, every pathway to a nuclear weapon is now closed off. Iran has dismantled two-thirds of its installed centrifuges, shipped out 98 percent of its enriched uranium, rendered its plutonium reactor core unusable, and adopted the most comprehensive nuclear inspection ever.
On the global fight against anti-Semitism, we've worked in partnership with Israel and other countries to take a lead role in organizing the first ever U.N. General Assembly meeting to combat anti-Semitism last year.
And so on these issues and many others we have worked incredibly closely with many of you, allocating millions in assistance for Holocaust survivors, and ensuring that the U.N. finally recognized Yom Kippur as an official holiday, and more broadly, working to rebuild a sinking economy -- so that we've cut the unemployment rate by more than half, provided health care to 20 million people who didn’t have it before, ramped up our production of clean energy, signed a historic Paris agreement that hopefully will curb the accelerating speed at which our planet is warming and could threaten the future of our children and our grandchildren.
Of course, we've still got a lot of work to do -- on the refugee crisis, on criminal justice reform, reducing violence, and creating a political culture in this country that’s a little more functional. But a new year brings new hope, and the community represented on this phone call has always known what it means to stand up for the less fortunate, the stranger, the immigrant, the refugee. And so I'm confident that we can stand together and make sure that as we pass the baton to the next administration that we're going to be able to build on the enormous progress that we've already made.
I don't have time to begin answering, but he is arrogance personified. 

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Shimon Peres z"l

Greetings from Paris - Charles DeGaulle where once again Every Landing Always Late. They've admitted to two hours and fifteen minutes so far. And to think that I ran like crazy thinking I had only an hour and fifteen minutes to make a connection (American left more than two hours late from Charlotte last night, but made up much of that time on the way).

That's okay, because I will have some time to work after I finish this post (and maybe another one) and Paris may be one of the most appropriate places in the world to talk about Shimon Peres, who passed away this morning at the age of 93, because he was fluent in French and because in his later years he so emulated the French.

Israel owes a lot to Shimon Peres, especially our alleged nuclear capability, which was his doing in the early 1960's. I saw a Facebook post this morning that claimed that Peres 'saved' the country from hyperinflation in the 1980's, but the person who wrote it was a child at the time, and I was an adult. I don't believe that's accurate.

There was much that Peres did in his later years with which I disagreed. Oslo (which was done behind Yitzchak Rabin's back). His treatment of Jonathan Pollard. His playing fast and easy with Jewish lives to achieve his goals. His undercutting of Begin on the Osirak attack. In fact, his undercutting of Israeli governments generally in his later years, including during his term as President (a position he turned from an honorary position into a political one). And he was reviled by many in Israel.

But most distressingly, Peres never seriously protested the kind of myths promoted by the New York Times in its obituary of Peres. 

Honest Reporting proves conclusively that the assertion that Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount set off the intifada - a longstanding myth never protested by Peres - is false.
Palestinian Communications Minister Imad Al-Faluji, Al-Safir, 3 March 2001. (Translated by MEMRI):
Whoever  thinks that the Intifada broke out because of the despised Sharon’s visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque is  wrong.. . . This Intifada was planned in advance, ever since President  Arafat’s return from the Camp David  negotiations, where he turned the table upside down on President  Clinton.
Yasser Arafat’s wife Suha (pictured above) said the following (from Palestinian Media Watch):
On the personal level, I miss him very, very much. [Our daughter] Zahwa also misses him, you can’t imagine. She didn’t know him. She knows that Arafat sent us away before the [Israeli] invasion of Ramallah. He said: ‘You have to leave Palestine, because I want to carry out an Intifada, and I’m not prepared to shield myself behind my wife and little girl.’ Everyone said: ‘Suha abandoned him,’ but I didn’t abandon him. He ordered me to leave him because he had already decided to carry out an Intifada after the Oslo Accords and after the failure of Camp David [July 2000].
Imad Faluji, PA Minister of Communications:
Whoever thinks that the Intifada started because of the hated Sharon’s visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque is mistaken. That was only the straw breaking the Palestinian people’s patience. This Intifada was already planned since [Arafat] the President returned from the recent talks at Camp David [July 2000].” [Private filming of speech by Faluji, Dec. 5, 2000]
The Israel Project notes that American diplomat Dennis Ross recounts in his book The Missing Peace how the Israelis called Washington with proof that the Palestinians were “planning massive, violent demonstrations throughout the West Bank and the next morning, ostensibly a response to the Sharon visit.” Washington pressured Arafat to dampen the violence, but the Palestinian leader – again per Ross – “did not lift a finger to stop the demonstrations, which produced the second Intifada.

Who was Shimon Peres. Some interesting quotes are here. He did some good for the State of Israel, but he took many actions, especially in his later years, that were based on delusions of grandeur that harmed many people.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It's come to this: Saudi editorial blasts Abu Mazen for not responding positively to Netanyahu invitation

It's finally happened. A major Sunni Arab country has told Abu Bluff where to get off. And it's a big one: It's 'our friends, the Saudis.'
The editorial, published Sunday in the Saudi Gazette, a daily published in Jeddah that has a woman editor-in-chief, seemed to depart in tone from the widely-held position in the Arab world that Israel is responsible for the impasse with the Palestinians. It likened Netanyahu’s proposal that the two leaders address each other’s parliaments, to Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s 1977 invitation to Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to visit Israel, and implied it could also lead to a breakthrough. Begin made the invitation “and the rest is history,’’ the editorial said.

“For all its shortcomings, Camp David demonstrated that negotiations with Israel were possible and that progress could be made through sustained efforts at communication and cooperation,’’ it added.

As another example of how “official visits can bend the arc of history’’ the paper cited then-US President Bill Clinton’s 1998 visit to the Gaza Strip to address the Palestinian National Council on the day it deleted clauses calling for the destruction of Israel from the PLO charter.
Well, except that deletion had not legal effect, but let's leave that for now.
The editorial said that Palestinians had rejected overtures from Netanyahu with the explanation that his hard-line position on all core issues made dialogue impossible.

“But the Palestinians should note that at that time, Egypt and Israel were mortal enemies having fought three wars.’’

The editorial went on to second guess the Arab world for rejecting Camp David, saying “in hindsight if the provisions had been carried out, Israel and the Palestinians might not be in the impasse they are at present.’’ Saudi Arabia was a leader of the Arab opposition to Camp David.
'Moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen sent 'Palestinian' Christian mouthpiece Hanan Ashrawi out to respond.
‘’Whoever wrote this editorial is totally unaware of the reality of this so-called invitation,’’ said PLO spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi. “It is a very obvious public relations trick that’s been overused. If Netanyahu wants peace, let him abide by the requirements of international law, the two-state solution and the 1967 boundaries.’’ 
Ashrawi took issue with the analogy to Egyptian-Israeli peacemaking. “It’s not a question of Egypt and Israel, two countries that wanted to make peace, it’s a question of an occupying force that is destroying the other state and it’s about people under occupation who have no right and no power.’’
Funny. I don't recall Begin or Sadat imposing any preconditions... and I am old enough to remember.
Ashrawi said she thinks that “below the surface there are contacts [between Israel and Saudi Arabia] and all sorts of security considerations and Israel is positioning itself to be a regional power.’’ But she added: “No matter what happens, they won’t recognize or normalize with Israel because it hasn’t respected Palestinian rights and international law. Once the Palestinian issue is resolved things can move. Before that they might have secret contacts, but they can’t afford to lose their own constituency.’’
Except that the 'Palestinians' have made the 'Palestinian issue' impossible to resolve by rejecting any form of compromise. 

Here's betting that Abu Mazen and Ashrawi go to their graves without seeing any kind of compromise or 'Palestinian state.'

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Tweet #ThanksPapi and watch a Papi emoji pop up

If you tweet #ThanksPapi on Twitter, a Papi (David Ortiz) emoji pops up.


One of the all time greats! Go Red Sox!

(And yeah, it's a travel day and I'm at Newark Airport, and maybe if you're lucky I'll tell you all where I'm going).

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Federal Judge slams Facebook and its legal counsel for not taking terrorism seriously

Greetings from New York City, where I have been since Thursday evening and where I have been totally tied up with work. I have a few minutes now before a conference call - not enough to work but enough to post something.

On Thursday, a Federal Judge in Brooklyn told a shocked lawyer from Chicago's Kirkland & Ellis that the lawyer's client, Facebook, isn't doing enough to deter terrorists from using its site. And then the judge laid into the firm for sending a first-year associate (someone about four months out of law school at this time of year) alone to the hearing.
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn, New York, also accused Facebook’s lawyers -- by sending a first-year associate to a hearing -- of not taking seriously lawsuits with implications of international terrorism and the murder of innocent people.
“I think it is outrageous, irresponsible and insulting,” Garaufis told the attorney Thursday. The judge ordered Kirkland & Ellis LLP, the law firm representing Facebook, to send a more senior lawyer to the next hearing on Sept. 28 because he wanted to “talk to someone who talks to senior management at Facebook.”
Garaufis is overseeing two lawsuits in which more than 20,000 victims of attacks and their families accused Facebook of helping groups in the Middle East such as Hamas.
The judge noted similar suits haven’t been successful under U.S. law which insulates publishers from liability for the speech of others. But he said that doesn’t mean Facebook shouldn’t take it seriously and try to address the issue.
Isn’t the social media platform “basically putting together people who’d like to be involved in terrorism with people are are terrorists?” the judge asked. “Doesn’t Facebook have some moral obligation to help cabin the kinds of communications that appear on it?”
The judge didn’t stop there.
"Let’s put the law aside and talk about reality,” Garaufis said, less than a week after a bomb rattled the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, injuring 29 people. “The reality is that people are communicating through social media and the outcome of these inquiries, be it Google or Facebook, has the potential of hooking people up to do very dangerous, bad and harmful things in terms of international and domestic terror."
Federal judges have limited ability to address terrorism and don’t usually get involved in such cases until someone is arrested and charged with a crime, Garaufis said.
"Don’t you have a social responsibility as citizens of the world without having these plaintiffs come to me in Brooklyn?" he asked. “There are things you could do that don’t involve the courts or the judicial system."
Facebook said it’s committed to making people feel safe using the social network.
“Our Community Standards make clear that there is no place on Facebook for groups that engage in terrorist activity or for content that expresses support for such activity, and we take swift action to remove this content when it’s reported to us,” the company said in a statement. “We sympathize with the victims of these horrible crimes.”
A Kirkland & Ellis spokeswoman didn’t have an immediate comment on the judge’s remarks.
The page pictured above was deemed not to violate Facebook's community standards. But Twitter last week briefly suspended Professor Glenn Reynolds (known as Instapundit on social media) for making a sarcastic comment that didn't threaten anyone. Some 'community standards.'

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

88 US Senators sign letter to Obama opposing UN-imposed 'solutions' in the Middle East, 2 of Israel's best friends don't sign

Greetings from Boston's Logan Airport where I am having a travel evening. I'm headed to... Chicago.

88 United States Senators have signed an AIPAC-drafted letter urging President Obama to oppose UN attempts to impose a 'solution' to the Israeli-'Palestinian' conflict. Two of Israel's best friends in the Senate - Marco Rubio (R-Fl) and Ted Cruz (R-Tx) did not sign the letter. Here's why. The letter says
The only way to resolve the conflicts between the two is through direct negotiations that lead to a sustainable two-state solution with a future state of Palestine living in peace and security with Israel. This outcome would provide Israel with greater security and strengthen regional stability. We remain optimistic that, under the right circumstances, Israel and Palestinians can successfully resume productive negotiations toward this goal.
My guess is that Rubio and Cruz don't agree with two-state anymore. I wonder why. 

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Terror in New York City

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

I've been warning about this for years. There have been two attempted terror attacks in New York City this evening. The first was in Chelsea, on 23rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, around 8:30 pm.
And the second nearby on West 27th Street.
Earlier Saturday, there was an explosion at a 5-kilometer charity race in Seaside Park, New Jersey.

More here.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Don't celebrate the new US-Israel MoU

If you were thinking of celebrating the new United States - Israel Memorandum of Understanding signed by Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama this week, Eli Lake has a bunch of reasons why you shouldn't.
After all of this bad blood, in the last months of his administration, Obama has decided to sign an agreement with Israel that guarantees $3.8 billion per year between 2018 and 2028. On paper it seems generous. As Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, said Wednesday, this is the "single largest pledge of military assistance -- to any country -- in American history."
The fine print tells a different story. The key word in Rice's statement is "pledge." Congress is the body that appropriates the annual aid budget. When Obama is long gone, it will be Congress that doles out the money for Israel to spend on U.S. military equipment. So one aspect of the aid deal should raise eyebrows: terms saying that Israel will stop making its case directly to Congress for military aid.
Morris Amitay, a former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, told me he had never before heard of a president asking a sovereign country, as part of an aid package negotiation, not to lobby Congress.
At first Netanyahu didn't want to give up Israel's ability to ask Congress for more funding. But he relented. A secret annex to the memorandum signed Wednesday requires Israel to forgo any funding Congress would want to give it that exceeds what was in the aid agreement that expires in 2018.
It's unclear how restrictive the lobbying restriction will actually be. Israel doesn't lobby Congress much. Far more pro-Israel lobbying is done by Aipac, which comprises U.S. citizens. Could an agreement between Israel and the U.S. limit the rights of Americans to petition Congress? When I put this question to Aipac's spokesman, Marshall Wittman, he told me: "The agreement, of course, is only between the two governments. When the two governments reach an agreement on an issue, we give that factor great weight." For the time being, Aipac says it will lobby Congress to enact the terms of the new 10-year aid agreement signed on Wednesday.
Obama's 11th-hour aid deal is less than it seems, not only because the White House cannot appropriate and because the lobbying restriction is off target, but also because Obama's successors may not honor his pledge. Obama himself discarded an agreement with Israel's leaders that was made by George W. Bush and supported by Congress, to accept the legitimacy of some settlements in and around Jerusalem. (That agreement was made as part of negotiations to get Israel to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza.)
The White House also got its way on another key issue known as the "off-shore procurement" carve out, whereby Israel is allowed to spend around 26 percent of the U.S. aid on its own defense industry. In the new aid deal, Israel will spend all of the U.S. subsidy on U.S. defense equipment by 2024.
In this sense the U.S. aid to Israel is a subsidy to American defense companies. The U.S. also retains the leverage that comes from subsidizing around 20 percent of a sovereign nation's defense budget.
Of course, Israel doesn't even need the money. When the U.S. began giving Israel serious military assistance in the 1960s, the country's planned economy was minuscule. In the 1970s it faced a very real boycott, backed by wealthy nations like Saudi Arabia (as opposed to an inconsequential boycott backed by U.S. and European college professors). Back then, the Jewish State really needed as much help as it could get.
Today, Israel's economy is thriving. In the last 10 years, the country's gross domestic product has nearly doubled, to $230 billion. Israel has discovered great deposits of natural gas. Its lawmakers in recent years have discussed starting a sovereign wealth fund. Israel is a key partner with the U.S. arms industry.
I've heard it claimed that Netanyahu agreed to this because he 'fears' that if elected President, Donald Trump will force Israel to repay aid money. If that were true, as Lake points out, this deal would not stop Trump from doing that.

I suspect that the quid pro quo is much more immediate and relates to the Obama administration's behavior at the United Nations over its last four months in office.

But who knows if they'll honor that?

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

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US designates Hamas Television founder a global terrorist

It's certainly taken long enough, but the United States has designated Fathi Hammad, the founder of Hamas' al-Aqsa Television station, as a global terrorist.
The United States on Friday added a senior Hamas official, the Islamist group's former interior minister Fathi Hammad, to its "global terrorist" list.
Hamas, the Palestinian party controlling the Gaza Strip, has already itself been proscribed by the United States as a "foreign terrorist organization."
Under the new designation, U.S. citizens and companies will be banned from doing business with Hammad and any property he holds in areas under U.S. jurisdiction will be frozen.
According to the U.S. State Department, which issued the designation, as interior minister Hammad used his position to "coordinate terrorist cells."
The statement also said Hammad founded al-Aqsa TV, "with programs designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood."  
What took them so long?

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Maybe he should have just said 'Judenrein'?

A reminder once again that I am in Boston where the local time as I begin this post is 4:29 pm. It is still more than two hours before the Sabbath starts, although it started in Israel quite some time ago.

I'm sure that many of you heard Prime Minister Netanyahu's 'ethnic cleansing' remarks last week. For those who did not, let's go to the videotape.

Netanyahu's speech brought outrage from President Obama, from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and from Anti-Defamation League director Jonathan Greenblatt.

But as Northwestern University Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich points out, Netanyahu is right. The demand that 'settlers' (in this case another way of saying 'Jews') be removed from a territory as part of ending an 'occupation' is unprecedented.
When pressed, defenders of the Palestinian position characterize the demand as no settlers rather than the uglier-sounding no Jews. The claim is hard to take at face value, as the Palestinians have never objected to Israeli Arabs settling across the Green Line, as they have in significant numbers. But, granting its sincerity, what does international law say about the demand to remove settlers as part of a solution to a territorial conflict? To answer this question, as part of a larger research study on settlements, I examined the fate of settlers in every occupation since the adoption of the Geneva Conventions—eight major situations in total. The results highlight how extraordinary the Palestinian demand is.
There is simply no support in international practice for the expulsion of settlers from occupied territories. In the many situations involving settlers around the world, the international community has never supported expulsion, and consistently backed plans allowing the settlers to remain in a new state.
Settlement activity is the rule rather than the exception in situations of belligerent occupation around the world. In places like Western Sahara and northern Cyprus, the settlers now make up a majority of the population. In most other places, they account for a much higher percentage of the territory’s population than Jews would in a potential Palestinian state. In all these cases, the arrival of the settlers was accompanied with the familiar claims of seizure of land and property, and serious human rights abuses. Unlike the Israeli situation, it was also accompanied with a large-scale expulsion of the prior inhabitants from the territory.
In internationally-brokered efforts to resolve these conflicts, the question of the fate of the settlers naturally arose. The answer, across all these very different situations, has always been the same: the settlers stay. Indeed, the only point of dispute has typically been what proportion of settlers receive automatic citizenship in any newly-created state and what proportion merely gets residence status. Thus, when East Timor, for example, received independence in an internationally-approved process, none of the Indonesian settlers were required to leave. The current U.N.-mediated peace plan for Western Sahara and Cyprus not only presupposes the demographically dominant settler population can remain, it also gives it a right to vote in referenda on potential deal.
This is not because these settlers are beloved by the surrounding population. The opposite is true. In the Paris peace talks to end the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia, representatives of the latter tried to raise the possibility of expelling the nearly million Vietnamese settlers. Their arguments were familiar: the settlers remind them of the occupation, rekindle ancient hatreds, and destabilize the peace. Yet the Cambodian demand for the mass removal of ethnic Vietnamese was rejected outright by diplomats: One simply cannot ask for such things.
Indeed, uniform international practice shows that the removal of settlers is an obstacle to peace. In those occupations that have been resolved—East Timor, Cambodia, Lebanon—such demands would have been a complete deal-breaker. And those still subject to international diplomacy, however slim the chances of resolution, there would not even be a pretense of negotiation had demands similar to the Palestinians been made.
In short, the Palestinians couching their objection as one about removing “settlers” rather than Jews does not change the harsh reality. There is simply no precedent in international practice for the demand. Whatever term one uses for such a demand, Netanyahu was clearly right to call attention to the extraordinary nature of the demand. It is also disappointing that, instead of exercising moral leadership on this issue, the ADL went against its mission by seemingly excusing singular treatment for Jews.
Perhaps, instead of referring to a 'Palestinian' demand for 'ethnic cleansing,' Netanyahu should have spoken about a 'Palestinian' demand for a Judenrein state. That would have put the 'Palestinian' demand into its proper context.

Read it all.

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When the 'peace process' and a 'Palestinian state' are your religion

Greetings once again from Boston, where the local time is 5:09 pm as I start this post.

I learned in a yeshiva that shall remain nameless in 1979-80 (okay, some of my readers know which one it was, but please don't mention it in comments or I'll delete them). The yeshiva was unusually open in terms of the viewpoints that were tolerated by the Roshei Yeshiva (heads of the yeshiva). An apocryphal store from the year before I arrived would perhaps be the best illustration.

The year before I arrived, one of the Roshei Yeshiva stood up and spoke out in favor of the then pending Camp David accords with Egypt, pursuant to which Israel was going to return every last inch of Sinai to the Egyptian aggressors from which it had captured Sinai 11-12 years earlier. There was an argument about what the Rosh Yeshiva was saying, and one of the other rabbis stood up and started screaming at him in the Beit Midrash (study hall). That Rosh Yeshiva passed away a bit more than a year ago. His eldest son is today one of the Roshei Yeshiva. The rabbi who stood up and screamed at him is also one of the Roshei Yeshiva today.

Perhaps that will explain to some of you how it could be that Rabbi Donniel Hartman (then known as Danny) and I both studied in the same yeshiva at the same time. I did not know him well, but even then I had heard of the Sholom Hartman Institute founded by his father. I wonder which of us got the yeshiva's openness correctly. This statement seems like an overstep to the yeshiva's philosophy in my book, for reasons I will explain below.
Donniel Hartman, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and an Orthodox rabbi, focused his part on the Israeli side of the conflict.
Hartman said he dreams of a time where he can live side-by-side with the Palestinian state in peace and security.
Change must be made, he said, as fear of the unknown can begin to define and warp an individual’s existence.
“We also have to unequivocally stop acting in such a way that undermines each other’s hopes,” he said. “If the deepest hopes of the Palestinians and my hope for them is to be a free people living as sovereign in sovereign state, side-by-side with Israel, any action which undermines the fulfillment or the completion of that dream has to cease to be.
It is not simply enough for me to declare my commitment to a Palestinian state, anything I do that undermines that possibility has to become forbidden either as a political position, let alone as a political platform or political action.”
The emphasis is mine.

Really? If defending Jews anywhere means no 'Palestinian state,' that means no defending Jews anywhere? Not in my Talmud and not in my Rambam (for starters).

While the yeshiva in which we studied was quite open, it was still well within Torah boundaries. I find it hard to believe that the Roshei Yeshiva - today or in my times - would have placed the value of a 'Palestinian state' on a pedestal above the Torah. In fact, I'm sure they would not. 

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Jews choose Trump?

This full-page ad appears in this week's Long Island Jewish Week, The Manhattan Jewish Sentinel and The Rockland & Westchester Jewish Tribune:

 I wonder why not in the New York Jewish Week.... Hmmm....

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Obama offers Israel $38 billion in aid

President Obama has offered Israel $38 billion in aid.

My comment below:
Isn't it amazing that the President who ran on a platform of ridding the world of nuclear weapons has facilitated Iran obtaining one a few years down the road and has likely set off the largest arms race in human history?

Not that I'm complaining about receiving all that money, but it just should not have been necessary.

PS I'm in Boston again, where the local time is 1:32 pm.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Thursday, the rabbi tries to defend himself (and fails miserably)

Greetings from Paris Charles De Gaulle where once again it is a travel day.

It was a crazy weekend, so I didn't get to post this, but on Thursday someone shared with me a long email received from Rabbi Neil Blumofe of Austin, Texas, trying to defend the itinerary for his 'even-handed' Israel trip that included a visit to the tomb of the father of terrorism.

The email is way too long to post in its entirety, but I want to post part of it and comment. The full email is embedded below.
In our tradition, we have intractable enemies. While we blot out Haman's name on Purim, we do so as we articulate it. We must find allies and must not retreat into absolute positions. To be present somewhere is not to pay homage -- rather it is to say we are still here, reclaiming the memories of those who Arafat and his followers murdered, and educating others about the continuing dangers of his legacy. This tomb is a propaganda tool that is used to shore up mindless support for our dehumanization. In turn, not to discuss this stymies dialogue, which leads to our peril. Let us not fall into this trap. To think otherwise empowers our real enemies and continues to drive us apart, intensifying our systemic, historical traumas.
Yes, the tomb is a propaganda tool, so why would you visit it? If you want to visit a place to prove the point that 'we are still here,' visit Auschwitz. Remind your congregants what happened when Jews had no place to flee, when there was no State of Israel, and when the British - in competition with France for the second biggest anti-Semites in Europe after the Germans - barred the doors to keep Arafat's uncle (the Mufti al-Husseini) happy. That's saying 'we're still here' - not visiting the tomb of a terrorist that you admit is a propaganda tool.

What dialogue is the rabbi afraid of 'stymieing' if he does not go to Arafat's tomb?  Dialogue with the 'Palestinians'? Has the rabbi elected himself Prime Minister of Israel? Why is it that no Israeli government minister and no non-Arab Knesset member would dream of visiting Arafat's tomb except in an IDF tank? Maybe it's because nearly all Israelis - even the Left - understand that paying homage to Arafat, even if it would be 'identifying with the other,' would do precisely nothing to advance the 'peace process'?
Day after day, I speak to people who are concerned about the slackening of support, and the growing difficulty of advocacy for Israel in our charged, polarized political climate. We see the dangerous way that the repugnant BDS movement (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) movement has made incursions on our college campuses and I applaud and support those on these front lines, directly beating back these efforts that seek to delegitimize Israel and dehumanize our Israeli brothers and sisters.
I'm glad to hear that. But if that's the case, why do you feel the need to cooperate with many of the groups that fund the BDS movement?
I believe that we must do something too. We must learn the language of those with whom we disagree -- especially those with whom we most profoundly disagree. We must see the narratives, symbols, and myths -- and question them. We must develop a more sophisticated, critical understanding of the world around us, as opposed to reducing our justified fears to an "us versus them" mentality. We must learn to think for ourselves and not accept whatever we may read that encourages embitterment and distance. We must learn to have more informed, examined opinions and hear competing voices so we may be more fully confident and present in our own story.
The problem is that the average Jew in America - and even many in Israel - have no idea what 'our own story' is. The very suggestion that the 'Palestinians' have an ancient connection to the land of Israel, or that their connection is anywhere near as longstanding as ours, is simply farcical. You've read Tanach. Do you believe it? Where were the 'Palestinians' during the time of the Tanach? Do you think it's acceptable for them to pretend that the Temples just didn't exist? You know they did. Are we obligated to listen to every narrative regardless of how ridiculous it is? Are we required to accord credibility to every narrative?

By the way, have you ever read Joan Peters' From Time Immemorial?
I am sorry that a proposed stop in an internal draft document has caused such furor. While it was a point of conversation within a larger itinerary, I certainly do not seek public controversy and upon reflection, I see it as a misstep in what I was seeking to accomplish.
What I think the rabbi might have missed is that the stop was just one point - the most outrageous one and the easiest one around which to rally opposition - in a very problematic itinerary. Here's the full email:
Blumofe Email

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Friday, September 09, 2016

More evidence of how 'terribly' Israel treats 'Palestinians'

UNRWA did a little bragging yesterday.
Let's compare that to the (illiteracy rate in other countries in the region, as reported by UNESCO in 2015:

Bahrain - 4.3% (all) 3.1% (males) 6.3% (females)
Egypt - 24.8% (all) 16.8% (males) 32.7% (females)
Iran - 13.2% (all) 8.8% (males) 17.5% (females)
Iraq - 20.3% (all) 14.3% (males) 26.3% (females)
Jordan - 3.3% (all) 1.9% (males) 4.8% (females)
Lebanon - 6.1% (all) 4.0% (males) 8.2% (females)
Oman - 5.2% (all) 3.1% (males) 10.0% (females)
Qatar - 2.2% (all) 2.1% (males) 2.7% (females)
Saudi Arabia - 5.3% (all) 3.3% (males) 8.9% (females)
Syria - 13.6% (all) 8.3% (males) 19% (females)
Tunisia - 18.2% (all) 10.4% (males) 25.8% (females)
UAE - 6.2% (all) 6.9% (males) 4.2% (females)
'Palestine' - 3.3% (all) 1.5% (females) 5.2% (females)

Israel was not reported by UNESCO, but in 2011 a non-UNESCO report had our overall illiteracy rate at 2.2%.

Conclusion: 'Palestine's illiteracy rate is comparable with Israel and the Gulf countries, i.e. with the relatively wealthier countries of the region. Israel isn't holding them down and they are not exactly 'suffering.' Shocking conclusion. (NOT!).

Bonus - the classrooms pictured in those tweets are MUCH nicer classrooms than those that my two youngest children (now 7th and 9th grades) study in. Because the 'international community' is obsessed with the 'Palestinians.'

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Thursday, September 08, 2016

The KGB's man in Ramallah

Israel's Channel 1 (government-owned television) disclosed on Wednesday night that 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen is a longtime KGB spy. He was recruited while doing a PhD in Holocaust Denial in Moscow in the early 1980's.
Here are some of the details that make this story so compelling: The Channel 1 report is based on a new study by two research fellows at Hebrew University’s Truman Institute, Isabela Ginor and Gideon Remez. (Ginor, a Russian native, and Remez, a veteran Israeli journalist, are married.)
They obtained documents from a collection kept by former KGB chief archivist Vasili Mitrokhin, who defected to the West in 1992 and lived in London. Mitrokhin kept mementos from his spook days, and part of his collection was recently opened up, allowing researchers to study it.
That’s where the Israeli couple found files that mentioned Abbas, code-name “Krotov” (“mole”).
“They could have called him ‘friend,’ or ‘our man,’ or whatever, but in the documents he’s referred to as an agent,” Remez says. Specifically, Abbas was described in a 1983 document as a KGB agent in Damascus. (It isn’t clear if the spy agency used Abbas’ services after that date.)
Moscow is where Abbas wrote his infamous Ph.D. thesis that included some choice Holocaust denial. But the researchers say these new revelations don’t change the facts on the ground. Abbas can’t be ignored just because we now know his anti-Western bona fides were more robust than previously thought.
But Remez conditions that with a warning.
“Look, Abbas now heads the Palestinian Authority, and as such he’s the man to talk to,” Remez told me. Yet, he added, “the Americans should know that the Kremlin may well still have stuff on him, and Washington must take that into account.”
Especially now, as President Vladimir Putin is trying to arrange an Israeli-Palestinian peace conference in Moscow, perhaps in the next few weeks.
If successful, even as a photo-op, such a powwow could help Putin add yet another Mideast corner to his collection of spots once dominated — or at least mostly influenced — by America.
But Israel cannot be complacent either.
Remez told me he doesn’t know whether Putin, the ex-KGB man, knew of the recruitment of the future Palestinian leader in the early 1980s. But Abbas’ direct KGB handler at the time was Nikolai Bogdanov, and that’s just as crucial.
After all, Bogdanov, a top Mideast hand at the Kremlin, is now one of Putin’s closest aides, serving as special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. He is the main player in orchestrating the Moscow peace parlay. “As we speak, Bogdanov is working with the Israelis and Palestinians,” trying to coax them to come to Moscow, Remez says.
So Abbas is an old, ahem, acquaintance. But Israelis should also worry about how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu increasingly consults with Putin, Remez says: “It’s a mistake to see the Russians as our allies.”
But let’s remember: The main reason Putin’s influence is growing is that for nearly a decade America has decided to watch from the sidelines one of the most transformative periods in the modern history of the Mideast. The vacuum America has left has driven some of our closest allies and friends to the arms of the former spymaster.
And now, in addition to that loss of influence, we’re placing a diplomatic bet on a leader who has been exposed as a former Kremlin agent.
There are no friends in international relations. Only interests.

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Political correctness on American college campuses is manifest anti-Semitism, but can it be fought?

Nearly thirty years ago, I had a business trip to San Francisco that required me to spend the Sabbath in the Bay Area. I only knew one Orthodox Jew in the area: Someone from the class behind me in both high school and college (Columbia) was at the time the rabbi in Berkeley. He arranged for me to stay with one of his congregants - he was in the process of leaving the community to move on to 'bigger' things. I won't mention his name because I'm still friends with many of his relatives, but that Sabbath was a real eye-opener. My friend had become what we would today term 'anti-Israel' and a 'Jewish anti-Semite.' I was floored.

What I'm about to describe was probably inevitable. The fight for 'safe spaces,' BDS and political correctness on American college campuses has morphed into blatant anti-Semitism. The role that prominent Leftist Jews has played in making this happen will not shield them from the monster they created. See Germany (which will be insulted if you say so, but remains anti-Semitic more than 70 years after Hitler's death) and Stalinist Russia. Different campuses are at different stages, but most American college campuses appear to be heading inexorably toward anti-Semitic group think.

This report that I saw on Facebook comes from a current student at my alma mater, Bir Zeit on the Hudson.

Rochman is describing a university course calling for the 'elimination' of Israel taught by what we would call an 'as a Jew' (someone who uses the accident of his birth to permit him to blatantly incite to anti-Semitism) using terms not much different from the terms that Hitler used to describe the elimination of Jews 70 years ago. As I have mentioned several times in the past couple of months, the role of Germany in financing the continued prominence of the 'Palestinians' in world affairs reflects the continued anti-Semitism in Germany (I am now reading an earlier book by Tuvia Tenenboim about anti-Semitism in Germany today - that book's publication was nearly blocked!).

Let's start with what should be obvious: Being 'anti-Israel' or subjecting Israel to double standards in 2016 is no different than being anti-Semitic in the 1940's. Saying you're 'only against Israel' but 'not against Jews' is putting a politically correct cover on an ancient hatred.

At Berkeley, the cradle of the false distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, things have only gotten worse. This article discusses a 'for credit' course on the Berkeley college campus.
According to Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative — which combats, monitors and documents antisemitism at institutions of higher education in America — the course in question, titled “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis,” is a “classic example of antisemitic anti-Zionism.”
“Based upon the syllabus, the class treats Israel as a settler colonial state and Zionism and Israel as illegitimate,” Rossman-Benjamin told The Algemeiner, adding that “a goal of the class appears to be talking about ways to decolonize Palestine, which essentially means to eliminate the Jewish state.”
“This is clear eliminationist anti-Zionism, which is not just criticism of Israel, but opposition to the existence of the Jewish state with efforts to eliminate that state,” she said.
Lily Greenberg Call, a Jewish UC Berkeley student who serves as a CAMERA Fellow and is the co-vice president of the campus group Bears for Israel, told The Algemeiner that she became “very upset” after seeing posters advertising the class.
“It’s one thing to have a political group like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on campus, but teaching material that is so biased and factually inaccurate in a classroom setting violates academic integrity,” she said.
“Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis” is being offered as a “DeCal” course, which is part of a program of student-run classes that falls under the jurisdiction of UC Berkeley’s Academic Senate. According to a description of the course — which acknowledges “contentious” material will be taught — the class will:
…[E]xamine key historical developments that have taken place in Palestine, from the 1880s to the present, through the lens of settler colonialism…we will explore the connection between Zionism and settler colonialism, and the ways in which it has manifested, and continues to manifest, in Palestine. Lastly, drawing upon literature on decolonization, we will explore the possibilities of a decolonized Palestine, one in which justice is realized for all its peoples and equality is not only espoused, but practiced.
Students are also required to attend at least one event, on or off campus, “relating to Palestine.” 
The faculty sponsor of the course, Dr. Hatem Bazian, is the co-founder of SJP and a major supporter of the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). Bazian is a former fundraising speaker for the anti-Israel organization KindHearts, which was shut down by the US government in 2006 for its alleged ties to Hamas.
You might think there's nothing wrong with that because college campuses are supposed to facilitate 'the free exchange of ideas.' But that's not what's going on here.
According to Rossman-Benjamin, “You just need to take a look at the instructor, facilitator, authors of the reading materials and listed guest speakers to see that the course is biased and presents an egregious framework against Israel.” Furthermore, she noted, “Not one reading or guest lecturer isn’t a virulent anti-Zionist, absolutely opposed to the existence of the state of Israel and supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”
Reading material includes selections from works by anti-Zionist Israeli historian Ilan Pappe; the late Edward Said, a fierce Israel critic; and Saree Makdisi, an advocate of the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. Also, there are testimonies from the controversial and widely debunked Israeli group Breaking the Silence.
“As seen from the syllabus, the class doesn’t look at Israel and ask if it is a settler colonial state or if Zionism is a legitimate ideology,” Rossman-Benjamin said. “The starting point is that it is illegitimate. This is completely one-sided and has a clear anti-Zionist bent, to the extent that it opposes the existence of the Jewish state.”
And if you still think this course is anything other than a 'safe space' for anti-Semitic rants....
She also told The Algemeiner that she finds it “concerning” that the course has “a strict no-technology policy — no phones, voice recordings or photographs — which makes me worried that some of the content will be inherently anti-Israel and as such, the facilitators don’t want to make it public in any way.”
By the way, if you pay taxes to the State of California, you're supporting this.

Is there any way to fight back? Here's one promising story from Miriam Elman, an Associate Professor at Syracuse University.
A brief recap: [Israeli Filmmaker Shimon] Dotan [of New York University's Graduate School of Journalism] was invited by a University of Nebraska colleague to screen the film at SU. A tenured professor in SU’s Religion Department, M. Gail Hamner, then rescinded the invitation on account of warnings from colleagues that the “BDS faction on campus will make matters very unpleasant” for her and Dotan if he came. Bottom line: Hamner was reluctant to bring Dotan to the conference because she felt intimidated by a faculty caucus who wouldn’t be happy about the screening of a well-received Israeli film.
SU responded admirably by reasserting the university’s commitment to free speech and its opposition to “any boycott of Israeli academic institutions or faculty.” An invitation to Dotan to present his film at a later time this year was also extended. On her part, Hamner issued an apology and reaffirmed her own support for academic freedom. To my mind, this rings hollow. A true defender of campus free speech actively solicits diverse viewpoints, and doesn’t surrender to peer pressure to conform. Still, Hamner’s expression of regret seems sincere and heartfelt.
All’s well that ends well? Not quite. Lingering questions remain: did Hamner have to “vouch” in the same way for other films in the conference – or was it just the product of an Israeli national that required special scrutiny? Are a group of anti-Israel colleagues exercising subtle veto power when it comes to academic programming related to Israel?
To get answers to these questions, and assess the magnitude of the problem, I and other SU faculty are now urging the administration to undertake a comprehensive and transparent investigation. Supported by the Academic Engagement Network, a new national organization committed to opposing BDS on campuses and to preserving academic freedom and free speech, we believe that only a full exploration as to why Dotan’s invitation was withdrawn will both lay this incident to rest and ensure that something like it won’t happen again.
This inquiry shouldn’t be construed as a witch hunt, nor is it likely to reveal a campus awash in anti-Israel animus. SU is generally a welcoming place for Israeli scholars and students. An exploration of the matter may also show that Hamner panicked unnecessarily and that her fears of the “BDS faction” were overblown. But it’s possible too that the inquiry will uncover more evidence of stealth boycotting.
Three lessons about these silent boycotts and how to defeat them can be learned from my university’s “Dotan Affair.”
First, administrators need to recognize that just because their schools are on record opposing academic boycotts of Israel doesn’t mean that individual faculty members are adhering to that institutional policy in their personal instructional practices. Administrators must make school policy crystal clear, but they also have to institute mechanisms to ensure that faculty members comply with it.
Second, the case highlights that successfully confronting silent boycotting ultimately depends on whether individual faculty are willing to take a stand. Like all bullies, stealth boycotters get away with their bigotry and intimidation because most faculty aren’t as honest and forthright as Hamner was about the pressures they’re facing, and because the vast majority of professors prefer to do their research and teaching and hesitate getting involved in "campus politics." The now multiplying anti-BDS organizations operating on campus are going to have to figure out a way to incentivize more faculty to engage proactively – and get those feeling cowed by BDS harassment to go public.
Lastly, the “Dotan Affair” shows that BDS, which bills itself as a human rights movement aimed at ending the Israeli "occupation," is in fact pure racist hatred, from which even famous anti-occupation, progressives Israelis – like Shimon Dotan – aren’t immune. To put a stop to stealth boycotting on campus and prevent more Israeli scholars from being privately shut out of academia, Zionists from across the political spectrum – left, center, and right – will need to fight together to ensure that all their voices can be heard on campus.
This battle is far from over. But I sure would not want my children or grandchildren on an American college campus today.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Israel expels Jordanian intelligence agent

For those who don't know him, Mudar Zahran is a member of the Jordanian opposition who lives in Israel.


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Tuesday the rabbi's congregants conducted a witch hunt?

Yehuda Kurtzer, director of the Shalom Hartman Institute in the United States, published a lengthy and whiny piece in the Times of Israel complaining about the 'witch hunts' that are allegedly being conducted against 'my friend and colleague Rabbi Neil Blumofe — a great rabbi, leader, and lover of Zion — was brutally smeared and defamed due to a perfidious interpretation of how he built the itinerary for a congregational trip to Israel.' That's a story I covered here.

For those who have forgotten, Blumofe canceled the itinerary, and promised that a new one would be issued that would not include a stop at Arafat's grave. Kurtzer brushes over that:
Rabbi Blumofe has expressed his regret for the decision to have his synagogue stop at Arafat’s grave, as well as for the circulating widely of a complicated itinerary that — taken out of context — was misrepresented as the manifestation of an insidious agenda. One could well imagine an aggrieved congregant who trusted Rabbi Blumofe’s character taking issue with some of the trip’s content, express the grievance, and then bring about a positive change. Once the grievance is translated into the public sphere, however, even the capacity to bring about change on the issue begins to decline.
The problem is that while the congregant who publicly took issue with Blumofe chose to focus on the Arafat stop - the most outrageous item - there was plenty more on the itinerary that a true 'lover of Zion' would find objectionable. Look at the itinerary above, and tell me that it doesn't reek of a political agenda that doesn't reflect 'love of Zion.' Look at the 'extra' descriptions in the entries for June 8 and June 13. Note the lack of politics in the June 14 and 15 descriptions. Which sounds more like 'If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium'?

This evening, I received by email the following reply to the Kurtzer article from Sloan Rachmuth, one of the people who demolished an attempt by a rabbi in Raleigh, North Carolina to visit Arafat's tomb (covered originally here):
Rabbi K - why the rabbinical panicked hysteria in the face of communal opposition? Here you decry public objections to percieved rabbinical toʿevahs as "witch hunts." But in a marketplace of ideas this is called "opposition."
Opposition to these two rabbis occurred when they took a stand by publicly advertising (for money) a trip they had each planned, which included meeting with pro-Hammas groups topped off with a tribute to Arafat's grave to "understand his legacy." Our opposition to the actions of these two rabbis is not a withchunt, but a marketplace reaction best described by Newton's Law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
And this reaction did not happen overnight. Members in both the Norh carolina and Texas communities wrote letters and had persoanl meetings with these rabbis months before the media learned of these two controveries. We sought to understand why these rabbis would lead delegations from our states that clearly endorsed a pro-terror, anti-Israel message. The rabbis igored us, they refused to answer our questions on more than a dozen occasions.
Rabbi Solomon in Raleigh has now gone on the attack against us, publicly shaming us as haters and "right-wing extremists" and demands we shut up and stop asking questions about the trip. Rabbi Solomon recently implored the community in his shul to do whatever it takes to silence his opposition (us).
Was Rabbi Solomon's reaction here in Raleigh also a with hunt? Or opposition?
To great credit of Rabbis Solomon and Blumofe, they raise their voices in opposition to issues of civil righs violations here in the south. They both understand that they have a resposibility to raise their moral voices to the markeplace of ideas regarding racial justice and equality. These rabbis know that taking a stand has its rewards and, sometimes, opposition.
By taking the premeditated action to plan, promote, and now defend a trip with a pro-terror narrative while Israel and the world is seeing extremist terror first-hand; these two rabbis are experiencing opposition. Not a witch hunt.
In case you were wondering about Yehuda Kurtzer's pedigree... I asked. He is the son of former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer, who was twice called a Yehudon ('little Jew') a decade ago, and who had a lengthy history of interfering in Israel's internal affairs during his term here (same link).

The apple does not fall far from the tree.

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Monday, September 05, 2016

You won't believe who's helping in the search for Ron Arad

It's been nearly thirty years since Israeli navigator Ron Arad was shot down over Lebanon, taken hostage, apparently murdered and 'disappeared.' Now, Iran and Hezbullah have expressed an interest in solving the mystery of Arad's whereabouts.
According to a report by Yediot Ahronot, over the past year, Israel has been in contact with Hezbollah, via a Western intermediary, in an effort to finally solve the mystery of Arad’s fate.
The Shi’ite terror group reportedly expressed optimism regarding the prospects of uncovering the details of Arad’s captivity, noting progress in recent months. They added, however, that locating Arad’s remains has been hampered by changes over the years to the landscape.
“They [the sources within Hezbollah] said that the land in the area where Arad was buried has moved and been changed since it happened [his burial].”
“They’re continuing their efforts and are confident that they will succeed in the end to locate his grave.”
Aside from Hezbollah, Israeli investigators have also received – again, via a Western intermediary – cooperation from Iranian officials.
Dr. Ronen Bergman explained Iran’s interest in solving the Arad mystery, writing that the Islamic regime has sought clues regarding its own captives – four Iranian diplomats who disappeared in Lebanon in 1982. The Iranian regime had accused Israel of being behind the abduction of the four, and claimed they were still alive in Israeli captivity.
In 2004, Israel revealed to Iran – through German negotiators, who passed the material on to Hezbollah – information regarding the kidnapping, torture, and execution of the four diplomats by members of a Phalangist Christian militia. Despite the revelation, says, Bergman, Iranian officials have sought additional details of the abductions and the location of the four.
In 2005 and 2006, Hezbollah officials ramped up their efforts to gather details on the Arad’s abduction, contacting Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Lebanon’s intel agencies.
Hezbollah also conducted digs around possible burial sites, revealing human remains which were then forwarded to Israel for DNA testing. In each case, however, the results were negative.
But the Iranians may well know where Arad's remains are.
Amir Teherani, An Iranian journalist living abroad with ties to some factions within the Iranian government, claimed the chairman of the Iranian parliament has offered to finally settle accounts regarding Ron Arad and the missing Iranian officials, proposing a swap of the remains.
Teherani added that in May, Israeli and Iranian representatives held extensive negotiations in Cyprus. Senior Israeli and Iranian officials, he claimed, took part in the talks.
In the late 1980s Arad was handed over to Hezbollah, before being transferred to Iranian forces. By the mid-1990s Arad, reportedly suffering from an illness, was refused medical treatment, and died in captivity. Israeli investigators believed Arad death occurred sometime between 1993 – after the last sign of life was produced – and 1997.
 It would only be decent for Arad's family to have closure.

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Israeli Supreme Court blocks FATCA enforcement

As any American who has tried to set up an overseas bank account knows, it's virtually impossible these days, thanks to the Obama administration's pushing FATCA through Congress. FATCA strong arms foreign countries into reporting to the IRS on bank and other investment accounts held by US citizens - including by US citizens who actually live in the countries where those bank accounts are held.

Israeli banks have long since barred accounts held by US citizens who don't live here. Those accounts were all closed several years ago. And for those of us who do live here, every account we open - including loan accounts whose proceeds are to be used in Israel - requires filling out a W-9 to report our social security numbers.

One Israeli Supreme Court Justice has stepped into that breach. Hanan Meltzer, who never hesitated to challenge the Israeli government when he was in private practice, has issued an injunction stopping the Israeli government and banks from turning over information about US citizens to the IRS, and is holding an emergency hearing about it on September 15. Will his actions become a model for other countries?
“Justice Meltzer’s action should be championed,” deVere’s Green asserts, who is an outspoken critic of FATCA. “His wise caution should serve as a wake-up call for other countries to rethink enforcing this toxic, flawed, damaging legislation that is being imposed on sovereign states around the world by the U.S.”
FATCA could indeed be described as a “masterclass” in fiscal imperialism and unintended consequences. But also of concern is that the US is increasingly secret in matters of financial data. It’s no wonder some have labelled it “horrific” and a nightmare for financial institutions.
Perhaps unsurprisingly there a growing trend and an overwhelming number of U.S. citizens are giving up their American citizenship (citizenship abdications), which has been revealed by the U.S. Treasury Department.
And, according to a survey conducted in early 2015 by deVere itself almost three quarters (73%) of Americans living overseas expressed the view that they were tempted to relinquish their U.S. passports.
They also found when canvassing over 370 its American expatriate clients that just under half (48%) would vote for a Presidential candidate who seeking FATCA’s repeal. This was against 29% saying ‘No’ and 23% ‘Don’t know’. So, that would seem to sufficiently take the pulse on US expat thinking.
Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that many U.S. citizens cannot even now hold a bank account in their country of residence since foreign banks routinely feel Americans are too much trouble due to FATCA’s onerous and costly rules in order to comply with and take them on as clients.
As regards the cost to banks around the globe to implement FATCA it has been suggested that it will run to billions of dollars a year.
Instead, he says what it does – due to its plethora of serious unintended adverse consequences – is to brand the some seven million Americans who choose to live and/or work overseas, including many of the 300,000 in Israel for example, as “financial pariahs”.
U.S. expats are now routinely rejected from FFIs, such as banks in their country of residence, as result of FATCA’s costly and onerous regulations. The upshot is that in Green’s view Americans are now typically deemed “more trouble than they are worth.”
Rubbing the point in further he adds: “Similarly, American businesses working in international markets are now often branded with a leprosy-like status. Clearly, this can only be detrimental to their global competiveness and could, in turn, hit American jobs and the long-term growth of the U.S. economy.” Now that of course could well have far-reaching consequences beyond the US itself.
The Israeli High Court decision could represent a landmark moment in the fight to have what Green and others regard as a “controversial and damaging law that should be resigned to the history books.” It’s any guess whether Justice Meltzer’s latest action will encourage and influence more nations worldwide to reconsider FATCA.
I doubt it will influence the US - they're making way too much money off this. But it might convince an awful lot of US citizens to give up their citizenship (curiously, I know very few people in Israel who have, but have heard lots of stories of US expats in Europe giving up US citizenship), and it might convince some countries to try resisting FATCA. But no country will do it alone.

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Friday, September 02, 2016

Think tank: P 5+1 secretly allowed Iran to evade nuke restrictions to allow sanctions to be lifted

The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security reports that the United States and its partners agreed "in secret" to allow Iran to evade some restrictions in last year's landmark nuclear agreement in order to meet the deadline for it to start getting relief from economic sanctions.
The group's president David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector, said that, "the exemptions or loopholes are happening in secret, and it appears that they favor Iran."
Among the exemptions were two that allowed Iran to exceed the deal's limits on how much low-enriched uranium (LEU) it can keep in its nuclear facilities, the report said. LEU can be purified into highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium.
The exemptions, the report said, were approved by the joint commission the deal created to oversee implementation of the accord. The commission is comprised of the United States and its negotiating partners -- called the P5+1 -- and Iran. 
One senior "knowledgeable" official was cited by the report as saying that if the joint commission had not acted to create these exemptions, some of Iran’s nuclear facilities would not have been in compliance with the deal by Jan. 16, the deadline for the beginning of the lifting of sanctions. 
The U.S. administration has said that the world powers that negotiated the accord -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- made no secret arrangements. 
A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the joint commission and its role were "not secret." He did not address the report's assertions of exemptions.
The report says that Congress was notified of the exemptions... after they went into effect. But two key Senators - Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Robert Menendez deny being briefed on the exemptions.

But it gets worse. You see, not only was Iran exempted from the requirement to reduce its LEU... but no one even knows by how much.

As part of the concessions that allowed Iran to exceed uranium limits, the joint commission agreed to exempt unknown quantities of 3.5 percent LEU contained in liquid, solid and sludge wastes stored at Iranian nuclear facilities, according to the report. The agreement restricts Iran to stockpiling only 300 kg of 3.5 percent LEU.

The commission approved a second exemption for an unknown quantity of near 20 percent LEU in "lab contaminant" that was determined to be unrecoverable, the report said. The nuclear agreement requires Iran to fabricate all such LEU into research reactor fuel.

If the total amount of excess LEU Iran possesses is unknown, it is impossible to know how much weapons-grade uranium it could yield, experts said.
 And there's more:
The draft report said the joint commission also agreed to allow Iran to keep operating 19 radiation containment chambers larger than the accord set. These so-called "hot cells" are used for handling radioactive material but can be "misused for secret, mostly small-scale plutonium separation efforts," said the report. Plutonium is another nuclear weapons fuel.
The deal allowed Iran to meet a 130-tonne limit on heavy water produced at its Arak facility by selling its excess stock on the open market. But with no buyer available, the joint commission helped Tehran meet the sanctions relief deadline by allowing it to send 50 tonnes of the material -- which can be used in nuclear weapons production -- to Oman, where it was stored under Iranian control, the report said. 
The shipment to Oman of the heavy water that can be used in nuclear weapons production has already been reported. Albright's report made the new assertion that the joint committee had approved this concession.

You can bet that now that it's more than a year and a half later, Hillary Clinton's response will be 'what difference does it make now?' But it still does make a difference. Clinton supports the deal. Trump says he will 'renegotiate' it. Okay, I will grant that renegotiating the deal after all that money is out the door only has a chance of solving the nuclear weapons problem, and not the terror money problem. But at some point, actions have to have consequences. 

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