Sunday, June 26, 2016

Annals of Left-Wing Antisemitism - Britain edition

From a comment thread at Harry's Place, an article from The Sunday Times about a student named Zachary Confino who was subjected to two years of antisemitic abuse from other students at York University, including the son of Jeremy Corbyn, Tom Corbyn. He actually received an apology from the student union and will get monetary compensation as well.
The student union at York University has become the first in the country to make a public apology and offer a four-figure sum to a Jewish student who complained of anti-semitism. 
Zachary Confino, 21, a law student, suffered stress and narrowly missed a first-class degree, after two years of battling with anti-Israeli students at York University. 
This week, after the intervention of the universities minister, Jo Johnson, he will accept a written apology from the university’s student union over his treatment. 
The apology, brokered by the university’s registrar, will be published online and Confino will receive a sum understood to be at least £1,000. 
Ephraim Mirvis, the chief rabbi, who warned earlier this year that “British universities are turning a blind eye to Jew hatred” and that the Labour party had a “severe problem” with anti-semitism, said he hoped the apology would send a strong message to other universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, where Jewish students have allegedly been made to feel uncomfortable. 
“This apology is most welcome, not only in the context of the case of Zachary Confino but also for the clear message that it sends to other universities that there must be absolutely no place for anti-semitism on our campuses,” said his spokesman. 
Confino was trolled on the social media app Yik Yak, where one anonymous user wrote: “Hitler was onto something”. He was called “a Jewish prick” and an “Israeli twat”. 
When he tried to oppose a student union motion to boycott Israeli goods he was told that it was his own fault that he was getting anti-semitic abuse because he supported Israel.
While leafleting against the staging of the play Seven Jewish Children at the university by the Palestine Solidarity Society, he says he was confronted by three members of the society, including Tom Corbyn, son of the Labour leader, an engineering student. Tom Corbyn has not commented. 
“The number of anti-semitic incidents I was subject to went from zero in my first year to about 20 in my second and third years,” he said. “The university did not do much about it. It has taken me two years to fight a complaint and I am relieved I have finally got this apology. The stuff I was subjected to came from far-left students. The far left say racism is a black/white issue. They seem to think Jews are fair game. 
“The experience has been so depressing . . . It ruined my experience at university. I can never get that time back.” 
In an apology to Confino to be made public this week, the student union accepts he suffered “very distressing experiences” and said it wanted to learn lessons “in terms of sensitivity to anti-semitism”. 
The university said it was committed “to preserving the right to freedom of expression while also combating anti-semitism, Islamophobia and any other form of race hate. To this end, we have signed joint statements with both the Jewish Society and the Islamic Society on campus.”

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mahmoud Abbas' Antisemitic Claims about Rabbis Calling on Israel to Poison Palestinians' water

It's nice, for once, to see the New York Times not shy away from highlighting antisemitic statements made by a national leader. Today Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), the president of the Palestinian Authority, made a speech to the European parliament in which asserted that a certain rabbi had called for poisoning the water used by Palestinians. His speech received a standing ovation.
JERUSALEM — Echoing anti-Semitic claims that led to the mass killings of European Jews in medieval times, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority accused rabbis in Israel of calling on their government to poison the water used by Palestinians. He made the unsubstantiated allegation during a speech to the European Parliament on Thursday. 
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said in a statement later that Mr. Abbas had spread a “blood libel” in the speech. 
Mr. Abbas made the allegation in the context of calling for the revival of a long dormant committee of Israeli, Palestinian and American officials that was created to expose and denounce incitements from either side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “We are against incitement,” he began in his speech. 
“Just a week ago, a week, a group of rabbis in Israel announced, in a clear announcement, demanding their government, to poison, to poison, the water of the Palestinians,” he said. “Is this not incitement? Is this not clear incitement, to the mass murder of the Palestinian people?” 
Mr. Abbas was repeating a claim initially made on the website of an office of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Anadolu, the Turkish state-run news agency, repeated the claim on Sunday. It was echoed in The Gulf News, a daily newspaper in Dubai. The Anadolu article said that a Rabbi Shlomo Mlma, whom it called the “chairman of the Council of Rabbis in the West Bank settlements,” had issued an “advisory opinion in which he allowed Jewish settlers to poison water in Palestinian villages and cities in the West Bank.” 
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that news outlets had not been able to find a Rabbi Mlma or any listing for the council mentioned in the article. 
Mr. Abbas’s remarks were not included in the official Arabic transcript issued by his office, and his advisers and spokesmen were not available for comment on Thursday night. But the claims also appeared on the website of the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
Mr. Abbas, along with President Reuven Rivlin of Israel, had been invited to Brussels by European officials hoping to rekindle peace negotiations. Mr. Abbas, who did not meet with Mr. Rivlin in Brussels, received a standing ovation at the end of his 43-minute speech. 
“In Brussels, Abu Mazen showed his true face,” said the statement from Mr. Netanyahu’s office, referring to Mr. Abbas by his nickname. “Someone who refuses to meet President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu for direct negotiations and spreads a blood libel in the European Parliament falsely claims that his hand is extended in peace.” 
Jewish groups quickly condemned Mr. Abbas’s comments. “It is unconscionable that a foreign leader proudly states a blood libel in the European Parliament and he receives a standing ovation,” Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, said in a statement. 
The Gulf News article reported that Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organization critical of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, had made the claims. A spokesman for the organization told Haaretz that it had no knowledge of the affair. 
Rumors that Jews had poisoned wells and other sources of water arose in the 14th century as the bubonic plague raged across much of Europe. The rumors led to the destruction of scores of Jewish communities. In Basel, Switzerland, and Strasbourg, France, hundreds of Jews were burned alive. 
The latest accusations came amid a water shortage in some Palestinian communities in the West Bank, exacerbated by the summer heat. Advocacy groups and Palestinian officials charge that a discriminatory system allows Israelis to have more water than Palestinians. The United Nations also reported instances in which Jewish settlers have taken control of wells once used by Palestinians in the West Bank. 
Mr. Abbas did not touch on those issues in his speech.
In October, he erroneously accused Israeli forces of killing a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who had taken part in the stabbing of two Israelis. The boy had actually been wounded and later recovered.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Orlando, June 12, 2016

By Signe Wilkinson, the editorial cartoonist of the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Israel’s chief rabbi urges building Jewish temple on Temple Mount

Israel’s chief rabbi urges building Jewish temple on Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif  (article by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man in +972).

This is a very important, and troubling move by the Chief Rabbinate. To this point, the chief rabbis (Ashkenazi and Sephardi) have maintained that Jews are forbidden to visit the Temple Mount, lest they walk on holy ground. For example, the Holy of Holies in the ancient Temples was forbidden to all except for the high priest, and the court of the priests was limited only to priests. Even for the areas of the Temple courts that were open to other Jews (men and women), those entering had to purify themselves before entering, both from common forms of impurity such as semen or menstrual blood, and from the impurity that comes from contact with a dead body. It is possible now to purify oneself from the bodily discharges, but not from the impurity of the dead. For that, the ashes of the red heifer are needed, and they haven't existed for almost 2,000 years.

Thus, when Rabbi David Lau, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, said earlier this week that he wanted to see the Third Temple built, and that it is possible to do this without destroying the Muslim shrines on the site, this is a remarkable about face. The insistence on building a third temple, either by replacing the Muslim shrines or by building it next to them, has been the province of the right-wing religious fringe up to now - groups like the Temple Mount Faithful or people like Yehuda Glick (who is now a Likud member of Knesset - he advocates Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount). Apparently the fringe is starting to take over the mainstream now.

Rabbi Lau said in response to a question by the interviewer Nehama Dueck, “'In that place, by the way, in the same place where it was, there’s room for Jews, there’s room for Christians, there’s room for Muslims, there’s room for everybody,' Rabbi Lau continued. 'It won’t take up the entire Temple Mount — take a look at its measurements.'”

As Omer-Man says, the chief rabbinate has always played "a sane counter-weight to religious nationalist groups that advocate visiting and praying on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in addition to making preparations for a Third Temple. Chief rabbis have always argued that it is forbidden for Jews to enter the Temple Mount complex for religious reasons, specifically in order to inadvertently walk over areas that laypeople were forbidden from entering."

I am curious to know what the Sephardi Chief Rabbi, the Rishon Le-Zion, thinks about this.

Friday, June 10, 2016

(Some) Religious Studies scholars issue pro-BDS statement

I just found the first public pro-BDS statement by scholars of religious studies - Religious Studies Scholars Statement of Solidarity with BDS. It is sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP: Religious scholars statement). The statement itself is very much like other pro-BDS statements. It's unclear to me if it is explicitly calling for the academic boycott or not.
Affirming our own right to work for justice in Palestine, and remembering the power of non-violent social change in the U.S. civil rights movement and the international campaign against South African apartheid, we support the broad-based call of Palestinian civil society to boycott, divest from, and sanction the institutions--not the people--of the State of Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by: 
  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
I am surprised and disappointed by some of the signatories, whom I know from the AAR and SBL: Naomi Goldenberg (U Ottowa), Mary E. Hunt (Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual; I knew her when I was a graduate student and met her through AAR feminist sessions), and Ann Pellegrini (NYU) (we were graduate students at Harvard at the same time).

It is always so discouraging to find people that I know and respect have decided to support the dismantlement of the state of Israel, which is the goal of the BDS. You may not think this is true, but read the last demand - that Palestinian refugees be permitted to return to Israel. If all of the people who are currently classified as Palestinian refugees by the UN were to return to Israel, the Jews of Israel would immediately become a minority. Contrary to the fantasies of those who support the one-state solution, this would not result in a peaceful multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, but in an immediate civil war.

Other supporters are more expected, like Cornel West (Union Theological), Rebecca T. Alpert (Temple), Daniel Boyarin (UC Berkeley), John Esposito (Georgetown), Rosemary Radford Ruether (who has a long history of anti-Israel writing and activism).

My question is: when will these scholars try to pass a pro-BDS resolution in the American Academy of Religion or the Society of Biblical Literature? Will it happen this year?

Monday, June 06, 2016

American Anthropological Association has voted not to join academic boycott of Israel

The American Anthropological Association has voted not to join the academic boycott of Israel.

A colleague from the Third Narrative (sponsored by Ameinu) writes: "The vote could hardly be closer: 2,423 members opposed —  2,384 supporting.  Over 50% of the membership of the AAA voting." The boycott organization ( also confirmed the vote.

What a relief!

This is rape culture

The statement by Dan A. Turner, the father of Brock Turner, after his son was convicted of three counts of rape, is an amazing example of the justification for male privilege - the assumption that a man who has raped an unconscious woman did nothing wrong and deserves no punishment.

It's all about "him" - the son - nothing about the woman who was raped.

It's also an example of white privilege - if the rapist had been a Black or Latino man, does anyone believe that he would have gotten only a six-month sentence in country jail, especially if the victim had been a white woman? Could a Black man have depended upon the white judge showing him leniency because he thought he wouldn't be dangerous to anyone else?

And it's also an example of the old boy's network - the judge is also a Stanford graduate, and Brock Turner was a star athlete at Stanford, with a chance of being on the American Olympic swimming team.

And also an example of the leniency given to college or professional athletes, who all too often are not harshly punished for their sexual violence against women (or other men).

Thursday, May 19, 2016

America, 2016: Nazi Antisemitism

Robert Kagan wrote in the Washington Post yesterday:
This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him.
Kagan's op-ed was then tweeted by a New York Times journalist, Jonathan Weisman:
And what was the result? An avalanche of vile antisemitism. All day today he retweeted the offensive antisemitic messages he received. If you want to look for yourself, go to @jonathanweisman.

The Post article then mentions other Jews who received equally grotesque antisemitic messages and threats: Ben Shapiro, a right-wing Jewish commentator who used to write for Breitbart News, Jake Tapper of CNN, Bethany Mandel, John Podhoretz (Commentary), Noah Rothman (also Commentary), and Julia Ioffe.

On Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro, a prominent conservative commentator, documented the anti-Semitic backlash that followed his own opinionating about Trump. And cited more from where that came:
It’s not just me, of course. Jake Tapper of CNN now says he’s received anti-Semitic tweets “all day.” My friend Bethany Mandel, another orthodox Jew who opposes Trump, just bought herself a gun out of fear of unhinged Trump supporters. John Podhoretz of Commentary says he receives tweets consistently from “literally neo-Nazi White supremacists, all anonymous…I don’t think I can attribute being a supporter of Trump to being a validator or an expresser of these opinions, but something was let loose by him.” Noah Rothman of Commentary tweets, “It never ends. Blocking doesn’t help either. They have lists, on which I seem to find myself.”
Shapiro Wednesday offered a further exploration at National Review under the headline, “Trump’s Anti-Semitic Supporters.” He writes: “I’ve experienced more pure, unadulterated anti-Semitism since coming out against Trump’s candidacy than at any other time in my political career. Trump supporters have threatened me and other Jews who hold my viewpoint. They’ve blown up my e-mail inbox with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. They greeted the birth of my second child by calling for me, my wife, and two children to be thrown into a gas chamber.”

As this blog reported, journalist Julia Ioffe filed a police report after receiving anti-Semitic threats stemming from the backlash against her story in GQ about Melania Trump. “The Trumps have a record of kind of whistling their followers into action,” Ioffe said at the time.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Ir Amim's latest newsletter - living together in a divided Jerusalem

Ir Amim web site

Dear Friends:

In a reality in which a political resolution does not appear possible in the foreseeable future, the city owes its ability to maintain day to day operations to delicate balances that enable the flow of daily life and a reasonable level of functioning. Strengthening these balances – not threats of draconian unilateral measures that push the Palestinians into despair and hopelessness – is the key to maintaining relative stability in the city at this time…

Jerusalem does not need more threats of closures and barriers but rather a policy of hope that recognizes the deep-seated connection of both peoples to the city and their right to lead lives of prosperity and dignity under any political constellation. There are steps that can be taken in the existing reality: To improve in a systemic and comprehensive manner the living conditions in East Jerusalem; to encourage economic and social development and oppose racism and violence in both parts of the city; to protect the holy sites of both peoples and the three major religions; and to enable the residents of East Jerusalem to build their institutions in the city and to manage their own lives within it.

From Ynet op-ed by Yudith Oppenheimer, Ir Amim Executive Director
Against the backdrop of protracted violence in Jerusalem and the stalled political process, Ir Amim recently published its proactive recommendations for how best to manage the city now and toward a political resolution of the Conflict:


Kedem Compound – Touristic Settlement in the Historic Basin

For more than two years, Ir Amim has been at the forefront of an ongoing legal battle against the Kedem Compound, a plan for a massive visitor center being promoted by the Elad settler organization in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. Last June the Appeals Subcommittee of the National Planning Council accepted some of the public objections to the plan, downsizing it nearly by half and imposing clear restrictions on the types of activities that can be conducted at the site.

Proving the influence of political pressure on the planning system and responding to a request from the Justice Ministry to reopen discussion, the National Planning Council voted to restore the Kedem Compound plan to its original dimensions, summarily reversing the Appeals Subcommittee’s decision and wiping out the achievement of Silwan’s residents, concerned NGOs and planning professionals.

Click here to read a full account of the latest developments.

Batan al-Hawa – An Entire Community at Risk

About 100 families are at risk of eviction in Silwan’s Batan al-Hawa neighborhood in the Historic Basin of Jerusalem. With full support from the State of Israel, the Ateret Cohanim settler organization is waging a campaign to displace an entire Palestinian community. Seventeen families have already been evicted, an additional 51 families have received legal threats, and more are at risk.

Learn how settlers are working with the backing of State authorities to settle the hotly contested Historic Basin: Haaretz report and editorial.

 Expanding Ir Amim’s English Social Media Presence

We are delighted to present our new Facebook page, a significant expansion of Ir Amim’s English language social media capacity and complement to our growing Twitter presence.

Our growing English-language social media presence affords us an opportunity to deepen our conversation with you by providing timely commentary and updates on Jerusalem in a political context.

Please follow our new page ( and share it with your friends and anyone you know who is concerned for Jerusalem’s future.

"Sons of the City: The Past and Future of Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem" Explores Shared History in the City

Last month Ir Amim honored Jerusalem scholar, expert and long-time supporter Prof. Menachem Klein and his latest book, Lives in Common. Klein’s book offers rare insights into the shared life of Arabs and Jews in three cities – primarily Jerusalem, along with Jaffa and Hebron –lessons for the present and a launch point for critically evaluating various unilateral separation plans now being promoted.

Featured speakers included writer Eli Amir, Dr. Omar Yousef of the International Peace & Cooperation Center (IPCC), and journalist Bambi Sheleg.

Click here to read an in-depth Haaretz interview with Prof. Menachem Klein on the common history of Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem.


Ir Amim: Recent separation proposal is detached from any understanding of the fabric of daily life in Jerusalem, and could lead to political, urban and humanitarian chaos.

New York Times, March 6

18-housing unit building plan in Jabel Mukaber being promoted by Elad settler group advances.

Walla! NEWS, March 30

Ir Amim’s Aviv Tatarsky: CCTV cameras on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif won’t lower tensions, don’t touch root of the problem: collective restrictions on Muslim worshippers.

+972, March 19


Ir Amim invites you to join one of our public tours – an opportunity to learn about the political, economic and social issues associated with Jerusalem’s role as the epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to engage in dialogue about the future of the city. The tours provide an incisive and candid look at Jerusalem and how developments – from settlement building to revocations of Palestinians’ permanent residency status – impact our ability to negotiate a resolution to the Conflict.

Given the current situation, at present the tours do not enter Palestinian neighborhoods. Participation requires registration in advance and is free of charge.

The next tours:

Thursday, April 28, 2016 - 9:30 AM: Study Tour of East Jerusalem in English (register here)

Friday, May 27, 2016 - 9:30 AM: Study Tour of East Jerusalem in English (register here)


Ir Amim works to inspire an informed public discourse on political issues related to Jerusalem, and to promote conditions for a more equitable Jerusalem today and towards a future, agreed-upon political resolution. We reach out to the general public in Israel and to our friends abroad by means of tours, lectures, press reports, social media activity, media campaigns and more.

Please consider making a contribution to Ir Amim as we work to monitor all of the current developments in our city, and conduct legal and policy advocacy to fight developments that undermine hope for a political resolution on the city. To donate, please click here.

Follow us on Twitter: @IrAmimAlerts and Facebook ( to keep current on Ir Amim’s positions on unfolding events in Jerusalem and be the first to access our latest resources. Stay tuned for updates on Ir Amim’s growing English language social media presence.

With thanks for your continued interest and support,

The Ir Amim team

Saturday, April 16, 2016

"Protocols of the Elders of Crazy"

When this article was published a few years ago in the Harvard Crimson, I didn't see it. It is an interesting perspective on the antisemitism experienced by a Crimson writer when living and studying in Jordan and Egypt.

Protocols of the Elders of Crazy
On anti-Semitism in the Arab world

“When someone is acting heartlessly, we say, ‘Your blood is blue.’ And then we normally add, ‘Like the Jews.’” The other students chuckled and some glanced in my direction, waiting for my response or perhaps my permission. I laughed. After all, this language lesson’s bigotry was very tame compared to other conversations I had had in Jordan. One of my parents is Jewish, and my Jewish identity has always been light, but for those Americans and Arabs I discussed my heritage with, I might as well have been wearing payots, tzitzis, and a star of David skullcap.

After all, I was a demon, of sorts. Belief of my damning existence was everywhere, but I was definitely not supposed to actually be there. In Jordan, every day and nearly every facet of society was a reminder that I was dirty—the very embodiment of an “Other.” A whole genre of anti-Semitic “history” and literature mocked me in every bookshop, a whole field of anti-Semitic media from historical documentaries to music videos followed me on every television, and an interpretation of Islam that demonizes Judaism frequently bewildered me in conversations.

I heard and overheard countless anti-Semitic remarks in the summers I have spent in Egypt and Jordan. In my experience, arguments about politics almost inevitably turned to “those Jews,” and conspiracy theories wafted comfortably through a room like cigarette smoke. It was suffocating.

I anticipated encountering anti-Semitism, but I expected it to be avoidable. I could not anticipate, nor could I have truly imagined, its systemic nature.

National. Liberal. White. Pick two.

As Clay Shirky says: "The glory of the Democratic party in 2016 is that it looks like America ca. 2046. They've figured out how run in the country we're becoming." Read this whole Storify (a series of tweets) on why an electoral strategy for the Democratic party that depends on taking the votes of a majority of white people cannot succeed.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Antisemitic comments at the New York Times

Roger Cohen published a beautiful column today in the New York Times, A Time of Bullies. It begins:
Every Jew of the second half of the 20th century was a child of the Holocaust. So was all humanity. Survival could only be a source of guilt, whether spoken or unspoken. We bore the imprint of departed souls. 
The silence that descended was the silence of the lost. It seems to me that I was raised in silence and that I was far from alone in that. Language could not accommodate such a volume of ashes. Death’s German mastery lingered. The new European prosperity was an epilogue to the unspeakable, its disguise. 
Beneath the gleaming postwar surfaces there lurked the indelible stain of barbarism. A human stain, the bruise of complicity in all its shades. 
After a while I wanted to understand the things unsaid in the rush to build on the ruins. The covered-over came after me. As a child of the repetitively displaced, I was perhaps a natural target for smothered memory. I wanted to understand where I came from. I wanted to understand my mother’s madness. Never should it be forgotten how onerous it is to forget.
He ends:
I feel a great unease. We have embarked on the 21st century with the painful yet essential knowledge of the last one slipping from us. Last month, some American Jews cheered a dangerous demagogue. 
Two thousand years ago Hillel admonished us: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?"
But the comments to this article.... some are moving and compassionate. Others - are antisemitic. I can't usually bear to read the comments at the New York Times whenever they publish an article that has to do with Jews or Israel. There will always be antisemitic comments - at the newspaper of record. Why do they publish them? (All NYT comments are premoderated). Why don't they refuse to publish them?

There are quite a few comments to this column that take the position that, unfortunately, Jews did not learn the correct lesson from the Holocaust – as if the Nazi aim had been to teach Jews something, rather than to exterminate us. One person refers to the “Holocaust narrative,” in a derogatory way. Some of the commenters who criticize Cohen for not mentioning the Palestinians in a column that had nothing to do with the Middle East seem never to have read any of his other columns, where he fiercely criticizes the Israeli government and calls for an end to the occupation.

Antisemitic comments to Roger Cohen’s column of 4/1/16, with my (sarcastic) comments

“Holocaust narrative” - such a pesky thing

Outside the Box
"Jews cheered a demagogue."

Let's stop pretending this is something grand and call it what it is: plain selfishness. Everyone is the same. Everyone votes his own interests.

Cohen is struggling to hold together the Holocaust narrative. The is no lesson, just crass politics.
“Jewish people who themselves suffered so much can treat another people with such unremitting cruelty.”

"Jewish people who themselves suffered so much" - isn't it terrible they didn't learn from the Holocaust?

Brendan Holleran
Dublin, Ireland

The fact is that all classes and creeds of people have the capacity to be bullies. The Germans were mainly responsible for the Holocaust of Jews and others. It was a most horrible crime that should always be remembered.

However, the bullies in Israel/Palestine are not the indigenous population who have suffered and continue suffer under Israeli ethnic cleansing, arbitrary killings, land theft and denial of almost all rights that a human being needs in this world to ever hope for some sort of normal life. No fair-minded person who reads the history of the Israel and who believes in justice for all, cannot but be saddened by the fact that Jewish people who themselves suffered so much can treat another people with such unremitting cruelty.

Of course, none of this could continue without the unrelenting support of Israel in the USA and the determination of US media not to tell the truth about Israel. People like Roger Cohen either know the truth or don't want to know. Either way it is most shameful !

Seattle 2 hours ago
It is clear that Mr. Cohen possesses both the superb skills at generating prose that at once projects a three dimensional vivid image of the Jewish plight in both historical and passionately personal terms. I wonder if he could see his way clear to apply those skills to describe the world from the perspective of dispossessed and displaced Palestinians.

"Jew are not the center of the universe" - there were lots of other people who died in WWII - why do we still have to pay attention to the Jews?

CT 2 hours ago
60 million non-Jews were also killed in ww2. did Rog forget about them?
“Jew are not the center of the universe.”

Bob Baskerville
Sacramento 2 hours ago
How about the 20 million Russians who died in WW 2-- the 15 million Germans and millions of other innocent women and children. Jew are not the center of the Universe.

“Because their ancestors experienced the Holocaust… the Israelis have absolutely no excuse for inflicting pain on the powerless under their control” - but apparently everyone else gets a free pass?

William Taylor
Nampa, ID 2 hours ago
One of the great tragedies of history and the hurt lingers on. That is why it puzzles and pains me that the Israelis have become brutal bullies. They have driven the Arab Christians out of their borders. On the West Bank, illegal settlements sponsored by Israel are slowly squeezing the Palestinians to death. And then there is Gaza, the world's largest prison camp, which Israel keeps forever on a the brink of a humanitarian disaster. Because their ancestors experienced the Holocaust and suffered so badly in other places, the Israelis have absolutely no excuse for inflicting pain on the powerless under their control.

"Where is your compassion man?"

Baltimore 2 hours ago
I feel your pain. No one should have to go through a genocide. I read your article with anticipation of some mention of the miserable plight of the Palestinians. Nothing, not even an iota of mention. Shocking really. Decent civilizations who go through trauma emerge out of out with renewed compassion. Where is your horror when Palestinian civilians get carpet bombed (happened very recently), when Palestinian children get shot while throwing stones, when an injured incapacitated Palestinian gets executed by a headshot at the hands of an Israeli soldier? Where is your compassion man? Is it ok to enslave the Palestinians behind walls? As a Muslim - here is my compassion - if you are ever attacked even at the hands of Muslims, I give you my word I will come to your defense.


And then there is the comment by someone Jewish who thinks that Trump will actually protect Israel and the rights of Jews in America.

Vermont 2 hours ago
I have to admit feeling a level of discomfort with some of what Trump says and with some of his followers. But what else do we have to work with? I want a safe secure Israel. At this point I will vote with that foremost in my mind. Jews have to have a place that will always take them in; we know this from our history. I can't trust either of the Democratic candidates to protect Israel. Thus it falls to voting for a Republican.

While I wish that the leading Republican contender was more articulate and thoughtful, I'm not so sue that Cruz, while a better speaker, is any less of a potential demagogue.

As for worrying about the rights of others, especially Moslems, they have plenty of countries to call their own. Jews have only one Jewish state, the country of Israel. And one only has to look at what Moslem immigration to Europe has reaped to have serious concerns. I'm just not gong to agonize over the "rights" of those who would kill me and mine.

And then this comment by someone who just realized that Mr. Trump is not a joke:

Brooklyn 2 hours ago
I was enjoying Donald Trump picking apart the Republican Party until Wednesday, when for no particular reason it suddenly hit me how horrible his rounding up of 11 million hispanics would be. It would split America like nothing before it. We would never tolerate it; certainly not peaceably in a country armed to the teeth. Are we really that crazy to vote for such a person?

And finally, to cleanse the palate:

Yve Eden
 NYC 2 hours ago
So beautifully written, as usual.

I am a white man from northern Michigan, and within days of college graduation moved to NYC. The homogenous nature of my upbringing really bothered me, somehow I sensed that the world was not all white people and I wanted to be in the middle of that. There was virtually zero ethnicity in my home town. Sadly there still isn't, and now I'm 51.

In college, also in Michigan, and immediately upon arriving in NYC, somehow I became friends with many Jews. Without being aware of it or having any connection to it. I wound up marrying one. Many of my friends over the years have called me an honorary Jew, which is part joke but also partly sincere.

So, while a white man with all the inherent benefits that come from that in this country, I have to say I really do relate to this piece. I am so worried about the state of politics, humanity, bigotry, etc. The fear of that which is different, THAT is something to be feared. For my part I will always try to do what I can to remind people of the "essential knowledge" of the suffering of the last century. I have faith in humanity, but it is not always easy to maintain it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Perhaps this is what we should be worrying about - melting Antarctica

Climate Model Predicts West Antarctic Ice Sheet Could Melt Rapidly

For half a century, climate scientists have seen the West Antarctic ice sheet, a remnant of the last ice age, as a sword of Damocles hanging over human civilization. 
The great ice sheet, larger than Mexico, is thought to be potentially vulnerable to disintegration from a relatively small amount of global warming, and capable of raising the sea level by 12 feet or more should it break up. But researchers long assumed the worst effects would take hundreds — if not thousands — of years to occur. 
Now, new research suggests the disaster scenario could play out much sooner.
Continued high emissions of heat-trapping gases could launch a disintegration of the ice sheet within decades, according to a study published Wednesday, heaving enough water into the ocean to raise the sea level as much as three feet by the end of this century. 
With ice melting in other regions, too, the total rise of the sea could reach five or six feet by 2100, the researchers found. That is roughly twice the increase reported as a plausible worst-case scenario by a United Nations panel just three years ago, and so high it would likely provoke a profound crisis within the lifetimes of children being born today.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

When Jews aren't white

Are Jews really white if white supremacists send out racist flyers with swastikas on them to colleges in the US? (Hacker Says He Printed Anti-Semitic and Racist Fliers at Colleges Across U.S. ).

"Weev," a racist computer hacker whose real name is Andrew Auernheimer, sent out the flyers to every publicly accessible printer in North America (I didn't even know there were publicly accessible printers), including at Princeton, UC Berkeley, Smith, Brown, UMass Amherst, and Mount Holyoke, among other places.
The fliers directed readers to The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website. Mr. Auernheimer said free speech concerns were behind his printing spree. “My motivation is this: White cultures and only white cultures are subject to an invasion of foreigners.”
This is what the flier looked like:

Since the flier clearly differentiates between "the Jews" and the "white man," it's pretty clear that Mr. Auernheimer and his racist buddies at the Daily Stormer do not think that Jews are white. This is an old racist trope, holding the Jews responsible for everything that antisemites think is bad in America.
After the fliers appeared on Princeton University printers, the administration promised to try to “block any further messages.”
Some leaders of the black protests here said they saw a discrepancy between the university’s response to the fliers and what they saw as racism against black students in the past.
Almost a year ago, after Urban Congo, a student percussion group, performed on campus in loin cloths, which many on campus found offensive, the university’s president, Christopher L. Eisgruber, sent an email to the student body that affirmed the school’s commitment to free speech.

He reiterated that on a trip to India last week, when he told the Indian Express, “We think it’s very important for people be able to say what it is they want to say even if it’s offensive to the government or offensive to some of the other people on campus.”

Asanni York, a member of the Black Justice League, an activist group that led a sit-in in November that called for the removal of President Woodrow Wilson’s name from the campus because of his racist positions, said the university’s response to the fliers differed from past stances. “When it was happening to black students, it was a matter of free speech,” he said. “Now that it’s happening to white, Jewish students, it’s something else. There seems to be no conflation of hate speech and free speech now.”

A Princeton spokeswoman, Min Pullan, said the fliers were not a question of free speech. “External messages infiltrating our campus is a completely different matter. They are not two things that can be compared,” Ms. Pullan said.
One wonders if Mr. York actually paid any attention to what the flier said. Perhaps he thinks that Jews are white, but the white supremacists don't. They think of Jews as a separate race that controls the world.  As Yair Rosenberg said on Twitter,
This is a report from the Princeton student newspaper:
The printed posters at the University stated that the messages came from the Daily Stormer, a white supremacist website. Andrew Anglin, editor and founder of The Daily Stormer, said in an email interview with the Daily Princetonian that the fliers were sent by Andrew Auernheimer, a forum member of the Daily Stormer. Anglin described this member as a “White supremacist hacker.” 
In an email interview with the ‘Prince’, Auernheimer claimed responsibility for hacking the University’s and other universities’ networks. 
“The white race was a quarter of the world’s population a mere century ago. Now white women of childbearing age are 2%. We are undergoing a demographic collapse that is unfathomable,” Auernheimer wrote. He also said that his goal with the endeavor is promoting white supremacy. 
Manipulating the printers required no special technology, according to Auernheimer. He further noted that he is not targeting universities, but rather every publicly accessible printer on the Internet. 
According to University Assistant Vice President for Communications Daniel Day, Auernheimer’s actions did not constitute hacking in the sense that they did not breach security. 
Anglin alleged that there is a student group at the University with whom he has been working to distribute these messages. Anglin said that he is also actively involved in student groups at other Ivy League schools, given that these schools “have greater influence on society.” 
According to Anglin, the group at the University is allegedly attempting to establish a White Student Union to target the Jewish people who allegedly control the University. Anglin said that the student who is in charge of this group sent him a scan of his University ID card as proof of enrollment and racial identity and a photo of a meeting of the group, which had about 25 individuals present. 
The University student in charge of the white supremacist group told him that upwards of 200 people are presently involved in the organization, Anglin said. 
The existence of such groups has not been verified. 
Anglin declined to comment further on the identity of this student leader.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Against anti-Muslim bigotry and for peace and coexistence

J Street's statement on Donald Trump
Last week, in quick succession, we saw Donald Trump get a huge ovation at the AIPAC Policy Conference, were shocked by the latest awful terrorist carnage in Europe and observed the festival of Purim.

Listening to the traditional reading of the Book of Esther. I was struck by a verse in Chapter Three:
And Haman said to King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered and separate among the peoples throughout all the provinces of your kingdom, and their laws differ from those of every people, and they do not keep the king's laws; it is therefore of no use for the king to let them be.”
The Brussels bombings the day before prompted Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz to suggest that law enforcement agencies should “patrol and secure” Muslim neighborhoods in the United States. He was swiftly followed by Donald Trump. Never mind that American Muslims -- one percent of the population -- are extraordinarily patriotic and productive members of our society.

Trump’s response to the attacks was characteristically to blame them on all Muslims. “I knew Brussels years ago,” he said in an interview with a British TV channel. “It was so beautiful, so secure and so safe. Now it’s an armed camp. It’s like a different world, a different place, there is no assimilation … Look at the cities where there’s been a large inflow and something’s different. There is very little assimilation for whatever reason … they want to go by their own sets of laws.”

In other word, “they do not keep the king’s laws. It is therefore of no use to the king to let them be.”

This was the same Trump who the previous day had received a rapturous ovation from many of the 18,000 delegates to the AIPAC Policy Conference, when he and his two Republican presidential rivals, taking their cue from one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s favorite talking points, demonized the entire Palestinian people as a nation of terrorists with a “culture of death.”

John Kasich declared that “Palestinians cannot continue to promote a culture of hatred and death.” Trump said that Palestinian children are all “being taught to hate Israel and to hate the Jews.” Cruz talked of a “relentless campaign of incitement that has fostered genocidal hatred towards Jews.”

There’s no denying that incitement is a major problem in Gaza and the West Bank. When Palestinian leaders hail terrorist attackers as martyrs or murderers as heroes there is a problem. Responsible Palestinian leaders must confront this honestly. We cannot excuse incitement or violence, even as we also note that young Palestinians, like many young Muslims in Europe, feel hopeless, angry and frustrated and see no path to a better life. And yet, the vast majority of Palestinians do not dream of sending their sons and daughters to die in suicide attacks. It is their worst nightmare.

When Israel labels all Palestinians as enemies; when Palestinians label all Israeli Jews as occupiers, colonialists and oppressors; and when Trump and Cruz label all Muslims as potential terrorists, they are all doing the same thing. They are all scapegoating an entire community, religion or nation with one broad brush and giving their own supporters someone to hate. Hating others will not solve anyone’s problems. It will only create new ones.

This is a very old story -- and Jews throughout our history have often been the victims. To give just one example, in 1919, Henry Ford began publishing a newspaper, The Dearborn Independent as an anti-Semitic mouthpiece. It blamed Jews for everything -- strikes, agricultural depression, financial scandals and the decline of the dollar. “The International Jew: The World’s Problem,” blasted one typical headline on May 22, 1920.

Ironically, today Dearborn, Michigan is home to America’s largest Muslim community -- which Trump and Cruz would no doubt fence off and subject to constant police surveillance and control.

We know where these things lead -- and we have a duty to reject and oppose them -- here at home, in Israel and in the occupied territory. We must stand together with other sane forces who favor dialogue and build bridges rather than walls.

While opposing terrorism and incitement and taking necessary and legal steps to combat them, we must defend our democracy, our decency and our humanity and band together with the vast majority of Israelis, Palestinians, Christians, Jews, and Muslims -- who want to share our troubled world as peaceful neighbors and make it better for everyone.

- Alan Eisner

Monday, March 21, 2016

Why I'm voting for Bernie Sanders, Part II - his speech tonight on Israel and the Middle East

I think Bernie Sanders should have given this speech at AIPAC today (instead, he gave it in Salt Lake City). In fact, it reads as if it is intended for AIPAC. I'm sure he would have gotten very little applause, but people at AIPAC should have heard this perspective on Israel and the Palestinians. 


Let me begin that I have a deep personal connection to Israel – and I am fairly certain I am the only U.S. presidential candidate to have ever lived on a kibbutz for a while.

America and Israel are united by historical ties. We are united by culture. We are united by our values, including a deep commitment to democratic principles, civil rights, and the rule of law.
Israel is one of America’s closest allies, and we – as a nation – are committed not just to guaranteeing Israel’s survival, but alsoto its people’s right to live in peace and security. 

To my mind, as friends, we are obligated to speak the truth as we see it. This is what real friendship demands, especially in difficult times. 

Our disagreements will come and go, and we must weather them constructively.

America and Israel have faced great challenges together. We have supported each other, and we will continue to do just that as we face one of the greatest challenges facing any country: resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

I am here to tell you that, if elected president, I will work tirelessly to advance the cause of peace as a partner and as a friend to Israel. But to be successful, we have to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza, they suffer from an unemployment rate of 44 percent – the highest in the world – and a poverty rate nearly equal to that. There is too much suffering in Gaza to be ignored.

The road towards peace will be difficult. We all know that. I cannot tell you exactly how it will look – I do not believe anyone can – but I believe firmly that the only prospect for peace is the successful negotiation of a two-state solution. 

The first step in the road ahead is to set the stage for resuming the peace process through direct negotiations. This is no small task. It means building confidence on both sides, offering some signs of good faith, and then proceeding to talks when conditions permit them to be constructive. 

This will require compromises on both sides, but I believe it can be done. I believe that Israel, the Palestinians, and the international community can, must, and will rise to do what needs to be done to achieve a lasting peace.

Peace will require the unconditional recognition by all of Israel’s right to exist. It will require an end to attacks of all kinds against Israel. 

Peace will require that organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah renounce their efforts to undermine the security of Israel. It will require the entire world to recognize Israel.

Peace has to mean security for every Israeli from violence.

But peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic wellbeing for the Palestinian people. 

Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders,and pulling back settlements in the West Bank, just as Israel did in Gaza – once considered an unthinkable move on Israel’s part.That’s why I join much of the international community, including the U.S. State Department and European Union, in voicing my concern that Israel’s recent expropriation of an additional 579 acres of land in the West Bank undermines the peace process and, ultimately, Israeli security as well.

It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence. It is also not acceptable that the Netanyahu government decided to withhold hundreds of millions of Shekels in tax revenue from the Palestinians, which it is supposed to collect on their behalf.

But, by the same token, it is unacceptable for President Abbas to call for the abrogation of the Oslo Agreement when the goal should be ending the violence. 

Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza. And it will mean a sustainable and equitable distribution of precious water resources so that Israel and Palestine can both thrive as neighbors. Right now, Israel controls 80 percent of the water reserves in the West Bank. Inadequate water supply has contributed to the degradation and desertification of Palestinian land. A lasting a peace will have to recognize Palestinians are entitled to control their own lives, and there is nothing human life needs more than water. 

Peace will require strict adherence by both sides to the tenets of international humanitarian law. This includes Israeli ending disproportionate responses to being attacked, even though any attack on Israel is unacceptable.

We recently saw a dramatic example of just how important this idea is. In 2014, the decades-old conflict escalated once more as Israel launched a major military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli offensive came after weeks of indiscriminate rocket fire into its territory, and the kidnapping of Israel citizens.

Of course, I strongly object to Hamas’ long held position that Israel does not have the right to exist. Of course, I strongly condemned indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas into Israeli territory, and Hamas’ use of civilian neighborhoods to launch those attacks. I condemn the fact that Hamas diverted funds and materials for much-needed construction projects designed to improve the quality of life of the Palestinian people, and instead used those funds to construct a network of tunnels for military purposes. 

However, let me be very clear: I – along with many supporters of Israel – spoke out strongly against the Israeli counter attacks that killed nearly 1,500 civilians, and wounded far more. I condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools and refugee camps. 

Today, Gaza is still largely in ruins. The international community must come together to help Gaza recover. That doesn’t mean rebuilding factories that produce bombs and missiles, – but it does mean rebuilding schools, homes and hospitals that are vital to the future of the Palestinian people.

These are difficult subjects. They are hard to talk about both for many Americans, and for Israelis. I recognize that, but it is clear to me that the path to peace will require tapping into our shared humanity to make hard but just decisions.

I cannot tell you when peace will be achieved between Israel and the Palestinians. No one knows the exact order that compromises will have to be made to reach a viable two-state solution. But as we undertake that work together, America will continue its unwavering commitment to the safety of Israeli citizens and the country of Israel. 

Of course, beyond the Palestinian question, Israel finds itself in the midst of a region in severe upheaval. 

First, the so-called Islamic State – ISIS – threatens the security of the entire region and beyond, including our own country and our allies. Secretary of State Kerry was right to say that ISIS is committing genocide, and there is no doubt in my mind that the United States must continue to participate in an international coalition to destroy this barbaric organization. 

So far, this effort has had some important successes, as airstrikes have degraded ISIS’s military capacity, and the group has lost more than 20 percent of its territory in the past year. 

But we are entering a difficult period in the campaign against ISIS.

The government in Baghdad has yet to achieve a sustainable political order that unites Iraq’s various ethnic and sectarian factions, which has limited its ability to sustain military victories against ISIS. More inclusive, stable governance in Iraq will be vital to inflict a lasting defeat against ISIS. Otherwise, ISIS could regain its influence or another, similar organization may spring up in its place.

In Syria, the challenges are even more difficult. The fractured natured of the civil war has often diluted the fight against ISIS there – exemplified by the Russian airstrikes that prioritized hitting anti-Assad fighters rather than ISIS. And, just like in Iraq, ISIS cannot be defeated until the groups that take territory from ISIS can responsibly govern the areas they take back. Ultimately, that will require a political framework for all of Syria. 

The U.S. must also play a greater role disrupting the financing of ISIS and efforts on the Internet to turn disaffected youth into the next generation of terrorists. 

While the U.S. has an important role to play in defeating ISIS, it must be led by the countries in the region, some of whom have for too long not only turned a blind eye to violent extremism, but have encouraged and funded it. I agree with Jordanian King Abdullah who said this is nothing less than a battle for the soul of Islam and that the Muslim nations themselves will have to win it on the ground.

Now, I am not suggesting that Saudi Arabia or other states in the region invade other countries, nor unilaterally intervene in conflicts driven in part by sectarian tensions.

What I am saying is that the major powers in the region – especially the Gulf States – have to take greater responsibility for the future of the Middle East.

What I am saying is that countries like Qatar – which intends to spend up to $200 billion to host the 2022 World Cup – can do more to contribute to the fight Against ISIS. They have $200 billion to host a soccer event, yet have done very little to fight ISIS.

What I am saying is that countries in the region – like Saudi Arabia, which has the world’s 4th largest defense budget – has to dedicate itself more fully to the destruction of ISIS, instead of other military adventures like the one it is pursuing right now in Yemen. 

And keep in mind that while a dangerous enemy, ISIS has only 30,000 fighters. So when we ask the nations in the region to stand up to do more against ISIS, we know it is surely within their capability to do. 

The United States has every right in the world to insist on these points. Remember it was the United States that reinstalled the royal family in Kuwait after Saddam Hussein’s invasion in 1990– at the cost of American lives. And it was the United States that defended the Gulf States from further aggression from Iraq by keeping Saddam Hussein contained for over a decade. 

But wealthy and powerful nations in the region can no longer expect the United States to do their work for them. We are not the policeman of the world. As we continue a strongly coordinated effort against ISIS, the United States and other western nations should be supportive of efforts to fight ISIS and al-Qaeda – but it is the countries in the region that have to stand up against these violently extremist and brutal organizations. 

I realize that will not be easy. I realize that there are disagreements between different countries in the region about how ISIS should be dealt with. I realize different countries have different priorities. But we can help set the agenda and mobilize stronger collective action to defeat ISIS in a lasting way.

The second major challenge in the region is the Syrian Civil War itself – one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent history. 

After five years of brutal conflict, the only solution in Syria is a negotiated political settlement. Those who advocate for stronger military involvement by the U.S. to oust Assad from power have not paid close enough attention to history. That would simply prolong the war, and increase the chaos in Syria, not end it. 

I applaud Secretary Kerry and the Obama administration for negotiating a partial ceasefire between the Assad regime and most opposition forces. The ceasefire shows the value of American-led diplomacy, rather than escalating violence. 

It is easy to use a war to remove a tyrant from power – but it is much more difficult to prevent total chaos afterward.

Just look at the cost we have paid in Iraq – a war I was proud to oppose. Just look at the chaos in Libya. It is my firm belief that the test of a great nation, with the most powerful military on earth, is not how many wars we can engage in, but how we can use our strength to resolve international conflicts in a peaceful way. Yes, the military option should always be on the table, but it should be the last resort. And the use of military force should always – always – have to pass a basic test: will it make America and our allies more safe? 

The third major challenge in the region is Iran, which routinely destabilizes the Middle East and threatens the security of Israel.

Now, we all agree that Iran must not get a nuclear weapon. 

Where we may disagree is how to achieve that goal. I personally supported the nuclear deal with the U.S., France, China, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran because I believe it is the best hope to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. 

I believe we have an obligation to pursue diplomatic solutions before resorting to military intervention – and more often than not, diplomacy can achieve things that military intervention cannot. That is why I supported the sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table and allowed us to reach an agreement. 

But let me tell you what I firmly believe. The bottom line is this: if successfully implemented – and I think it can be – the nuclear deal will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And preventing Iran from getting the bomb makes the world a safer place. 

Does the agreement achieve everything I would like? Of course not.

But to my mind, it is far better than the path we were on with Iran developing nuclear weapons and the potential for military intervention by the U.S. and Israel growing greater by the day.

I do not accept the idea that the “pro-Israel” position was to oppose the deal. Preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon will strengthen not only America’s security, but Israel’s security as well. And I am not alone in that idea. While Prime Minister Netanyahu is vocally opposed to the accord, his is hardly a consensus opinion in Israel. Dozens of former security officials, including retired Army generals and chiefs of the Shin Bet and Mossad intelligence agencies support the agreement.

But let me be clear: if Iran does not live up to the agreement, we should re-impose sanctions and all options are back on the table. 

Moreover, the deal does not mean we let Iran’s aggressive acts go unchecked. The world must stand united in condemningIran’s recent ballistic missile tests as well as its continued support for terrorism through groups like Hezbollah. 

Going forward, I believe we need a longer-term vision for dealing with Iran that balances two important objectives.

First, we must counter the destabilizing behavior of Iran’s leaders. There is no question about that. But, second, we must also leave the door open to more diplomacy to encourage Iranian moderates and the segments of the Iranian people – especially the younger generations – who want a better relationship with the West. While only a small step in the right direction, I was heartened by the results of the recent parliamentary elections in which Iranian voters elected moderates in what was, in part, a referendum on the nuclear deal.

I know that some say there is just no dealing with Iran – in any way at all – for the foreseeable future. After all, Iran is in a competition with Saudi Arabia and its allies for influence across the region. But a more balanced approach towards Iran that serves our national security interests should hardly be a radical idea. We have serious concerns about the nature of the Iranian government, but we have to honest enough to say that Saudi Arabia – a repressive regime in its own right – is hardly an example of Jeffersonian democracy.

Balancing firmness with willingness to engage with diplomacy in dealing with Iran will not be easy. But it is the wisest course of action to help improve the long-term prospects of stability in the Middle East – and to keep us safe. 

These are but some of the major issues where the interests of Israel intersect with those of the United States. I would address these issues and challenges as I would most issues – by having an honest discussion and by bringing people together.

There has a disturbing trend among some of the Republicans in this presidential election, and it takes the opposite approach: to divide us and pit us against each other. The Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, suggested limiting immigration according to religion and creating a national database based on religion. That not only goes against everything we stand for as a country, it would also hurt us significantly in our relations with other counties.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Donald Trump and the Jews

I just noticed a paragraph in Peter Wehner's latest opinion article for the New York Times, "The Man the Founders Feared":
Max Boot, a Republican Trump critic who was a foreign policy adviser to Marco Rubio’s campaign, says that he has never experienced as much anti-Semitism as he has since the start of the Trump campaign. There are no filters anymore, no restraints, no cultural guardrails. Now, under the sway of Trumpism, what was once considered shameful asserts itself openly. As we contemplate this, it is worth recalling that the membrane separating what the Scottish novelist John Buchan called “the graces of civilization” from ”the rawness of barbarism” is thinner and more fragile than we sometimes imagine.
Boot considers Trump to be a "fascist demagogue." He considers Trump to be a direct descendant of Charles Lindbergh, Joe McCarthy, George Wallace, and Pat Buchanan. (My observation:) And let's remember - Charles Lindbergh and Pat Buchanan were both open antisemites. Boot said in an interview, "His impulses are derived from the same well that people like the America First Committee and Joe McCarthy tapped into, which is essentially a form of isolationism, xenophobia, and racism." He makes the following excellent point:
And all of those movements had internal enemies that they focused on. The America First movement, along with the Nazis, tended to see the Jews as the internal enemy. McCarthy tended to see this communist fifth column as the enemy. George Wallace saw African Americans and civil rights as the internal enemy. And Trump identifies Mexicans and Muslims as the internal enemy.
In a column at USAToday, Boot wrote:
Trump’s most extreme supporters go even further than their candidate. Just in the past few days on Twitter I’ve been called on Twitter “a traitor to america” and told that “Jews want Whites to think… Ethnic identity’s a vice.” It’s not hard to see why bigots are drawn to Trump: He says what they think. The mystery is why more ordinary, decent Americans are not appalled by Trump’s loathsome statements.
Here's one of the Twitter posts that Boot is talking about:
And another, addressed to Yair Rosenberg:
Here's another disgusting one:
Sasha Abramsky wrote in Haaretz:
When Trump is criticized, his supporters whip up a storm of vitriol in cyberspace. Essayists like Bethany Mandel, who has been tracking Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric since the summer, have been ruthlessly attacked, often with deeply anti-Semitic language. 
“Trump’s round-them-up-and-deport-them mindset, along with his aspersions cast on Mexican immigrants, is disturbingly similar to the slurs historically hurled at Jews and other newcomers. Jews were labeled con artists and thieves; Mexicans are, according to Trump, “rapists” and violent criminals,” Mandel wrote in the Forward in August.  
She has been labeled a “slimy Jewess,” and has been told she deserves the oven. Mandel just announced she was buying a gun for protection in the wake of the abuse that she fears might become physical threats 
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan recently praised Trump for refusing to accept money from Jewish donors. The Ku Klux Klan has wholeheartedly endorsed the man. The neo-Nazi Daily Sturmer website has enthused about him.
Some responses to Max Boot's statement on Twitter:

On top of the open antisemitism from some of Trump's followers, we also find that a pastor who introduced one of his speeches called for Bernie Sanders to convert to Christianity:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Progressive Zionist group Ameinu denounces AIPAC invitation to Donald Trump

I belong to the Third Narrative, a project of Ameinu which works both for a two-state solution and peace between Israel and a future Palestine, and against the BDS movement. Ameinu was one of the founding members of the AIPAC National Council, and is now denouncing the invitation advanced by AIPAC to Donald Trump to speak at the upcoming conference. The Reform movement has also denounced Trump's invitation to the AIPAC conference. I agree with both of them. Donald Trump is a racist, anti-Muslim, misogynistic demagogue. He shouldn't be invited to speak at any conference sponsored by groups from the Jewish community. This is Ameinu's statement:

Ameinu Demands Denunciation of Donald Trump as He Brings His Dangerous Campaign to AIPAC
For More Information Contact:
Gideon Aronoff C.E.O Ameinu

New York (March 16, 2016) – Ameinu, North America’s largest grassroots progressive Zionist organization, released the following statement today regarding the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its deeply problematic invitation for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to address its Policy Conference, being held March 20-22.

“As a founding member of the AIPAC National Council (formerly the AIPAC Executive Committee), Ameinu is deeply disappointed that this important organization on U.S.-Israel relations, is treating its invitation to Donald Trump as if he were simply another presidential candidate. He is not.  
Ameinu, as a U.S.-based movement of progressive Zionists, has watched with extreme dismay as this year’s Republican presidential primary contest has stoked fear, hatred, divisiveness and even violence against vulnerable minority groups including Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, refugees and protestors from the Black Lives Matter Movement. This is absolutely unacceptable in a pluralistic and democratic country like our own. And no candidate bears more responsibility and guilt for these disgraceful and destructive tactics than Donald Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination. Trump’s approach to politics violates the core value of human dignity that we as Jews hold dear.  Moreover, as progressive Zionists who strive for interreligious and interethnic reconciliation and peace as guiding principles for Israel and its Palestinian neighbors, we view these same values as the cornerstone of our vision for American political life.
While Ameinu understands why an organization like AIPAC chose to hear the leading Republican candidate’s views on Israel, his disgusting bigotry, demagogic rhetoric and campaign style cannot be accepted as business as usual. Ameinu calls upon the AIPAC leadership to have the courage to make this crystal clear during the upcoming conference. 
Ameinu also calls on our fellow members of the AIPAC National Council, and the thousands of grassroots participants in the Policy Conference, to raise a collective voice of Jewish outrage and make an unequivocal denunciation of Donald Trump’s bigotry. American Jewry can never accept scapegoating of minorities as a political tool. While AIPAC can hear what Donald Trump has to say about Israel, we all must take a stand with our fellow citizens to demand a politics of inclusion rather than fear. The decision to invite a candidate like Donald Trump to AIPAC gives our community a chance to make this point loud and clear. It is a chance we cannot miss.”
About Ameinu:

Ameinu, the largest grassroots progressive Zionist organization in North America, is dedicated to promoting a just peace between Israel, the Palestinians and the countries of the region.  Ameinu also works for social and economic justice for all in Israel and around the world. Ameinu reinforces Jewish continuity through support for Habonim Dror, the Labor Zionist youth movement, and the Kibbutz Program Center, which sends 100’s of young adults on unique Kibbutz and other social justice journeys to Israel every year.