Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ramsay Clark

(Ramsay Clark defending Saddam Hussein at his trial for crimes against humanity - cartoon lifted from

In the last couple of days I've gotten a lot of referrals for people looking for information about Ramsay Clark. I would guess that this is because of the posting of Saddam Hussein's letter on the internet. The letter, written in response to his death sentence, apparently refers to those who supported him, including Clark, who was on his defense team.

Clark is also noted for defending others accused of crimes against humanity and genocide - for example, he defended Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, a Seventh-Day Adventist minister who was convicted of involvement in the Rwandan genocide. A Feb. 20, 2003 New York Times article provides more information:
A Protestant clergyman and his son, a physician, were convicted yesterday of genocide and sentenced to prison by the United Nations tribunal dealing with the Rwandan killing frenzy of 1994, in which members of Hutu gangs killed an estimated 800,000 minority Tutsi and moderate Hutu over three months.

The Rev. Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, 78, the former head of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in western Rwanda, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for aiding and abetting genocide. His son, Dr. Gérard Ntakirutimana, 45, who worked at the church's hospital, received a total sentence of 25 years for the same charges and for shooting two people to death.

With the verdict, Mr. Ntakirutimana became the first clergyman to be convicted of genocide by an international tribunal....

The three judges, led by Eric Mose of Norway, found that the pastor and his son had led attackers to the Mugonero Adventist church and hospital complex in Kibuye, where hundreds of unarmed Tutsi families, including Adventist ministers and their relatives, had sought refuge from the violence. The judges found that father and son also joined and guided vehicle convoys carrying attackers to nearby towns.

The judges, who dismissed other charges against the two, said that during the attacks, the physician had shot one man at close range in the hospital courtyard and another who had taken refuge at a school. ''As a medical doctor, he took lives instead of saving them,'' Judge Mose said in the court's summary.

Ramsey Clark, the former United States attorney general, who was defense counsel for the elder Mr. Ntakirutimana, called the verdict ''a tragic miscarriage of justice.'' He said both men would appeal.

The clergyman's case first gained attention in March 2000, when he became the first person handed over by the United States to an international tribunal....

Mr. Ntakirutimana is not the first member of the clergy to be held on genocide charges. Church workers, including two Catholic priests, have been convicted by local courts in Rwanda. In Belgium, two Rwandan nuns received long prison sentences for crimes against humanity for collaborating with Hutu militias.

But this case became known above all because of the astonishing letter that six Tutsi pastors wrote to him while they were at the church compound caring for refugees. The letter begged him for help, saying, ''We wish to inform you that we have heard that tomorrow we will be killed with our families.'' The group was indeed killed. During the trial, the letter was used as a prosecution exhibit. A witness, the son of one of the six clergymen, said the letter had received a cold reply saying nothing could be done.

While those accused of crimes against humanity and genocide also deserve competent legal counsel, Clark's wholehearted partisanship for those accused of such crimes is a revolting spectacle.

A statement issued by his office on November 29, 1996 on the International Tribune for Rwanda explains something of his enthusiasm for these cases:
Excerpts From A Statement On The International Tribunal For Rwanda

The International Tribunal for Rwanda is an extension of colonial power in Africa, which can threaten every African leader. There was never such a court during the colonial wars in Africa which could punish European powers for atrocities against the African people, or against apartheid leadership in South Africa; or the U.S. for its aggressions in Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, Libya, Panama, or Iraq, or the U.S.S.R., or Russian Federation in Afghanistan, Chechnya, East Europe, or the Baltic states.

The Tribunal is foreign power intervention taking sides to maintain its control over the majority Hutu through Tutsi surrogates. No country should surrender an accused to such a Tribunal until it is a permanent court that will deal equally and fairly in all cases worldwide against the powerful not only the weak, and act on truth alone, not political interest. The International Herald Tribune on November 23-24 reported on the slaughter of 298 Hutus in a Seventh Day Adventist Church after their return from the exile abroad. This Tribunal cannot protect these Hutus, or tens of thousands of others. Do the rich and powerful countries really believe they can do justice, or help Africa by prosecuting a select few while arming all sides to kill Africans and millions of Africans face starvation? It is their earlier interventions that have created these conditions.

Ramsey Clark, November 29, 1996

In response to these sentiments, Ken Harrow of Amnesty International wrote:
What an irony that Ramsey Clark would evoke the weak and the helpless in his defense of a man accused of genocide, would turn the blame outside Africa to absolve one who might well have assumed the guilt for the worst of crimes. Africa does not need any more defenders whose defense functions to deny Africa agency, responsibility for actions committed by Africans. It does not need Westerners to tell it that the powerful West is only and always responsible for crimes committed in Africa. The really weak and helpless victim here is justice, and the International Court is the first modest attempt to extend the concept of justice beyond national borders. Considering the crimes of our century committed by xenophobic nationalists, and the continuing crimes committed in the name of national interest, it is time for enlightened people to throw their support to international institutions based on premises of equity. ken harrow

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Snow in Jerusalem

Once again, it is snowing in Jerusalem - and for once, I think that it is snowing more heavily there than here in Ithaca, where we now have a desultory lake-effect snowfall right now. (We've gotten hardly any snow this year thus far).

For links to more photos of today's snow in Jerusalem, see Elms in the Yard, a Jerusalem blog.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Religion Exhibit in Iran

Kamangir (an Iranian now living outside the country) has a link to a fascinating art exhibit in Tehran called "Godly religion." The image below, which he also reproduces, displays symbols of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.

Iran cartoons

David Horsey (of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) has a wickedly good recent cartoon about the Iran Holocaust-denial conference.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Neturei Karta and the Holocaust

The NPR report last night on the Iranian Holocaust conference included an interview with members of the Neturei Karta sect who attended the conference.
SHUSTER: Iran's government kept the list of participants secret until the last minute, so it was something of a surprise to see several ultra orthodox Hasidic Jews taking part. This small Hasidic group from New York follows the teachings of the Satmar Rabbi, who preached it was against God's will to establish a nation on earth for the Jews.

These anti-Zionist Jews condemn what they call the Holocaust religion, and they talked of the so-called Holocaust, although one from Britain acknowledged that there is sufficient evidence to prove that the Nazis killed millions. But these orthodox Jews argue that Palestine does not belong to the Jews and should be returned to the Palestinians.

Rabbi Dovid Weiss tried to explain why some Jews of his community might want to deny the Holocaust.

Rabbi DOVID WEISS: People who question, many that come from embitteredness because of the Zionists using the Holocaust to brazenly and offensively oppress a people. So people start questioning. Just like they said Palestine was a land without a people and they were liars, maybe they're liars about here.

I must say that of all the vile people who are attending this conference, I think that the Neturei Karta are the most vile. How dare they associate with people who would be happy to wipe out all of the remaining Jews on earth? And what do other people in the Satmar community think about them - survivors of the Holocaust or people whose families were wiped by the Nazis? Whatever they think about the State of Israel, wouldn't they recoil in disgust from associating with Holocaust deniers and blatant antisemites? For those who can stomach reading it, take a look at the speech given by one of the Neturei Karta representatives, Aharon Cohen (I am deliberately not giving him his rabbinic title as he has disgraced it by his collaboration with the enemies of the Jewish people).

Should we negotiate with Iran?

So this is the Iran that the Iraq Study Group wants us to negotiate with about Iraq?

Tony Blair said:
During his monthly news conference today, the British prime minister, Tony Blair, held out little hope of engaging Iran in constructive action in the Middle East, and expressed revulsion at the Holocaust conference, calling it “shocking beyond belief. It’s not that I’m against the concept of reaching out to people,” Mr. Blair was quoted by Reuters as saying, in a reference to efforts to include Iran in peace efforts. “The trouble is, I look around the region at the moment, and everything that Iran is doing is negative. You only have to see what is happening in Iran in the past couple of days to realize how important it is that all people of moderation in the Middle East try to come together and sort out the problems,” he continued. “I mean, they hold this conference yesterday which — you know, maybe I feel too strongly about these things — but I think it is such a symbol of sectarianism and hatred toward people of another religion. I find it just unbelievable, really.”

Attendees at the Iranian Holocaust conference included "Holocaust deniers, discredited scholars and white supremacists from around the world, who made presentations questioning whether Nazi Germany used gas chambers to exterminate some six million Jews and millions of other 'undesirables,' as well as other aspects of the historical record of the Holocaust." David Duke, former KKK leader, "asserted that the gas chambers in which millions of Jews perished did not actually exist."

Other well known Holocaust deniers also attended:
Among those attending the conference was Robert Faurisson, an academic from France, who said in his speech that the Holocaust was a myth. Mr. Duke invited conference participants to stand in honor of Mr. Faurisson and applaud him for standing up for his beliefs. Bendikt Frings, a psychologist from Germany, said Monday that he had come to the conference to thank Mr. Ahmadinejad for initiating discussion on the subject. And Frederick Toben, from Australia, said Mr. Ahmadinejad had opened an issue “which is morally and intellectually crippling the Western society.”

I don't see how we can have anything to do with this regime. If we negotiate with them over Iraq, we'll simply being playing into their hands and negotiating from a point of weakness.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Conservative teshuvot on homosexuality

The Rabbinical Assembly has now posted the teshuvot on its website: Rabbi Roth's teshuvah, "Homosexuality Revisited," and the teshuvah by Rabbis Dorff, Nevins, and Reisner, entitled, "Homosexuality, Human Dignity, and Halakah," both of which were accepted by the Committee on Law and Standards. They have also posted "The Halakhah of Same-Sex Relations in a New Context," by Rabbis Geller, Fine and Fine, which was ruled a takkanah and thus needed more votes to pass. It was not accepted by the Law Committee. They have also posed "A Concurring Opinion to Levy," by Rabbi Weiss, but have not posted Rabbi Leonard Levy's responsum itself as yet.

The responsa are currently on the home page of the Rabbinical Assembly under "Hot Topics," but I imagine they will eventually migrate to the Teshuvot page, which includes many other responsa on various topics, including the responsa that were written in 1992 on the subject of homosexuality. (They are under the category of הלכות אישות, interpersonal relations).

The website also includes responsa on a number of interesting contemporary issues, such as "Tatooing and Body Piercing" (a responsum by Rabbi Alan Lucas under the halakhic heading of "Idolatry and Sorcery"), which rules that Jews who have been tatooed or who have piercings are permitted to receive synagogue honors or to be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Tatooing is an explicit prohibition from the Torah, but there is no Torah prohibition on piercing.

The issue of whether a minyan can be constituted via the internet is also considered, in a responsum by Rabbi Avram Reisner entitled "Wired to the Kadosh Barukh Hu: Minyan via Internet." (This is in the category of Blessings).

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Iran and Christian naivete

While looking for something else on the web, I found this amazingly naive view of President Ahmedinejad of Iran authored by the Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations, National Council of Churches USA. A delegation from the National Council of Churches visited Iran in September 2006 and met with Ahmedinejad.
The meeting was so tightly structured that there was no room for individual questions. However, Robb Davis who chaired the meeting asked several tough questions on behalf of the group.

In the debrief meeting that followed, I said to my colleagues that I was very disappointed with his answers to two questions: one on the holocaust and the other on the State of Israel. However, I was pleased with his answers to the nuclear question. President Ahmadinejad came across as a deeply religious person and I am inclined to believe him that his nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes.

Just because someone is a religious person, does this mean that we do not question his motives? Why not connect his statements that the Holocaust is a myth and Israel should not exist with Iran's nuclear ambitions? Shouldn't his transparent hostility and insincerity on these two issues lead us to doubt his veracity when he claims that Iran has no nuclear ambitions?

Jimmy Carter's "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid"

A BOOK REVIEW: Jeffrey Goldberg has just reviewed Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid in the Washington Post. He quotes from several statements made by Carter that seem to indicate Carter's adherence to classical Christian judgements on Jews and Judaism:
Jimmy Carter tells a strange and revealing story near the beginning of his latest book, the sensationally titled Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. It is a story that suggests that the former president's hostility to Israel is, to borrow a term, faith-based.

On his first visit to the Jewish state in the early 1970s, Carter, who was then still the governor of Georgia, met with Prime Minister Golda Meir, who asked Carter to share his observations about his visit. Such a mistake she never made. "With some hesitation," Carter writes, "I said that I had long taught lessons from the Hebrew Scriptures and that a common historical pattern was that Israel was punished whenever the leaders turned away from devout worship of God. I asked if she was concerned about the secular nature of her Labor government."

Jews, in my experience, tend to become peevish when Christians, their traditional persecutors, lecture them on morality, and Carter reports that Meir was taken aback by his "temerity." He is, of course, paying himself a compliment. Temerity is mandatory when you are doing God's work, and Carter makes it clear in this polemical book that, in excoriating Israel for its sins - and he blames Israel almost entirely for perpetuating the hundred-year war between Arab and Jew - he is on a mission from God.

I think it is very telling that Carter a) had this conversation with Golda Meir, and b) tells the story in his book. If he is trying to convince American Jews or Jewish Israelis that he is an "honest broker," then he has failed by continuing a long-time Christian trope. In the Hebrew Bible, the prophets excoriate the people of Israel and their leaders for their sins, in the most blood-curdling terms. But the prophets never place themselves outside of the people of Israel. They are part of Israel and are criticizing it out of love. When Christianity began to become a separate religion, one of the rhetorical moves that Christians made was to take the prophetic rebukes of Israel and refer them to the Jews of their time, without acknowledging that the prophets were criticizing their own people, whom they were part of and whom they loved. They were engaging in a "Christianization" of the prophets.

Carter also dissolves the distinction between the Jews of the first century and Israelis of the 20th century:
Why is Carter so hard on Israeli settlements and so easy on Arab aggression and Palestinian terror? Because a specific agenda appears to be at work here. Carter seems to mean for this book to convince American evangelicals to reconsider their support for Israel. Evangelical Christians have become bedrock supporters of Israel lately, and Carter marshals many arguments, most of them specious, to scare them out of their position. Hence the Golda Meir story, seemingly meant to show that Israel is not the God-fearing nation that religious Christians believe it to be. And then there are the accusations, unsupported by actual evidence, that Israel persecutes its Christian citizens. On his fateful first visit to Israel, Carter takes a tour of the Galilee and writes, "It was especially interesting to visit with some of the few surviving Samaritans, who complained to us that their holy sites and culture were not being respected by Israeli authorities - the same complaint heard by Jesus and his disciples almost two thousand years earlier."

So now the Israeli authorities=the Jewish religious leaders of the first century, whom the New Testament holds guilty of the death of Jesus? As Goldberg says, "a man who sees Israel as a lineal descendant of the Pharisees could write such a sentence." And only a man who considers the Pharisees the hypocritical villains would connect the contemporary state of Israel with the ancient Pharisees. One wonders if Carter realizes that he's not just insulting the leaders of Israel, but also all Jews everywhere, since contemporary Judaism, in all of its forms, is based on rabbinic Judaism, which grew out of the Pharisaic movement of the Second Temple period.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

More on Gay Conservative Rabbis

Josh Yuter, in A Conservative Compromise lays out the alternatives open to JTS and discusses the very careful press release JTS issued yesterday about the decisions from the Law Committee. His discussion focuses on the question of whether JTS will decide to ordain gay people as rabbis. He also raises the question of what kind of sexual activity might be permitted to gay or lesbian rabbinical students.

JTS, however, is not the only Conservative seminary, and the administration and faculty of each seminary are free to make their own decisions about whether to ordain openly gay people. The University of Judaism will be admitting openly gay students.

He also says that "at no point did the CJLS permit homosexual behavior." And following from this, he says, "Furthermore, assuming JTS does in fact decide to admit homosexuals I'd be curious to see how they follow the CJLS ruling. Since even the most lenient CJLS position still prohibits homosexual intercourse, would JTS admit openly sexually active students in defiance of the CJLS? I'm sure JTS could initially adopt a don't ask don't tell policy, but assuming someone's private activities do become public, how would JTS adhere to their commitment to Conservative halakha?"

This discussion is leaving out several important points:

1) Not all gay people are men. Lesbian sex, of whatever type, is not even discussed in the Torah. The one talmudic discussion of it is only in the context of whether a woman who engages in some kind of sexual activity with another woman would then be disqualified from marrying a man from the priestly caste. Maimonides in his code, the Mishneh Torah, disapproves of it and says that men should make sure that their wives stay away from women known for engaging in these activities. If the only prohibited activity is anal intercourse, then this is something that women can very easily avoid engaging in.

2) Not all sex that two men engage in with each other is anal intercourse. There are lots of other ways to have a good time. In a discussion many years ago that I had with Shlomo Ashkinazy, one of the men interviewed in "Trembling Before G-d," Sandi Dubowski's movie about gay and lesbian Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews, he suggested that what gay men needed to avoid is anal intercourse, not other sexual activities.

3) From my knowledge of JTS' policies, they frown on all premarital sexual activity. This raises the question of whether, if they choose to admit gay students, will they require those students to be in committed relationships if they wish to be involved sexually? (As they would require of heterosexual students).

"Little Mosque on the Prairie"

I heard something about this on NPR but I thought it was a joke - but there is going to be a new show - a sitcom - on Canadian television about Muslims living in a small Canadian town.
"Little Mosque on the Prairie” ventures into new and perhaps treacherous terrain: trying to explore the funny side of being a Muslim and adapting to life in post 9/11 North America. Its creators admit to uneasiness as to whether Canadians and Americans can laugh about the daily travails of those who many consider a looming menace.

“It’s a question we ask ourselves all the time,” said Mary Darling, one of the show’s three executive producers and an American who has lived in Canada for the last decade. “If 9/11 is still too raw, it might not work,” she said.

There is the other side of that coin too — what will Muslims think? — which the show’s creators usually summarize in one long sentence that mentions the uproar prompted by Salman Rushdie as well as the Danish cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad.

This concern stems from the almost automatic presumption that “to look at Muslims in an entertaining way is going to be controversial because they will riot in the streets,” said Al Rae, one of the show’s writers, who noted that he does research by bouncing potential scenarios off cab drivers here. Or as Amaar, the young man detained in the opening airport scene, puts it sardonically, “Muslims all over the world are known for their sense of humor.”

The strongest insurance against outrage from the faithful is that “Little Mosque” is the brainchild of Zarqa Nawaz, a Canadian Muslim of Pakistani origin whose own assimilation, particularly after she left Toronto for Regina, Saskatchewan, 10 years ago, provides much of the comic fodder.

I hope the show is picked up by an American network - it sounds like it will be hilarious.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's about time! Gay Conservative rabbis

It's about time! The Committee on Law and Standards of the Conservative movement, which decides on halakhic issues for the movement, has approved three teshuvot on the issue. One teshuvah, authored by Rabbi Elliott Dorff, argued that the movement should ordain gay people and should permit rabbis to officiate at same-sex marriage or commitment ceremonies. On the other hand, he argued that the biblical prohibition of anal sex (Lev. 18:22) should still be upheld.

A second teshuvah by Rabbi Joel Roth was also approved, arguing that gay people should not be ordained and rabbis should not be permitted to officiate at same-sex ceremonies. A third teshuvah, even more conservative than Rabbi Roth's, authored by Rabbi Leonard Levy, was also approved - Rabbi Levy argued that homosexuality is an illness that can be "cured." The most liberal teshuvah, by Rabbi Gordon Tucker, was ruled a takkanah, which meant that it needed 13 votes to be adopted - which it did not receive. The three opinions listed above were each approved by six votes or more. The texts of each responsum have not been released, but for a look at earlier opinions considered by the Law Committee, the texts are available here.

What this means is that the institutions of the Conservative movement, including the four seminaries (two in the U.S., one in Israel, and one in Argentina) are free to make a decision that follows any one of the three accepted responsa. They can now decide whether to admit or reject gay people based on their own considerations. The Ziegler Rabbinic School of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles has already announced its intention to admit openly gay people. The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City has just embarked a on study process before deciding what to do.

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (the association of Conservative synagogues) issued the following press release:
NEW YORK, Dec. 6, 2006— United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents more than 750 Conservative synagogues, with 1.5 million members, today welcomed the movement’s decisions on gay men and lesbians and moved toward changing its own hiring policies.

Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and a voting member of the Law Committee that made today’s ruling, issued the following statement:

“The decisions of the Conservative Jewish movement’s Law Committee, which allows individual synagogues and other institutions the flexibility to embrace the policies they believe are most appropriate for their community, afford Conservative Jews the opportunity to now be even more welcoming of the broad diversity in our community. Today’s decisions reaffirm the importance of Jewish law, halacha, in our everyday lives. Regardless of how one feels about this specific issue, the decisions reached today are founded in the deep and abiding respect for halacha.

“I no longer have any reason to believe that halacha stands in the way of fully engaging gays and lesbians in our organization. Based on that conclusion, I see no reason why we should not revise our hiring policies so we may consider applicants for United Synagogue jobs no matter what their sexual orientation may be. United Synagogue’s leadership will discuss the issue at our next scheduled meeting.

“Although I have the greatest respect for the Law Committee decisions, I don’t agree with the recommendation that gay men and lesbians are best advised to find ‘restorative therapy’ to change their sexual orientation.”

Rabbi Epstein's statement indicates that the United Synagogue will now accept gay applicants for positions.

The acceptance of Rabbi Dorff's responsum also means that individual Conservative rabbis are now free to officiate at same-sex ceremonies. (They are not required to do so, but if they want to, they can, without incurring the disapproval of the movement).

Another interesting occurrence is that four of the members of the Committee on Law and Standards have resigned from the Committee: Rabbi Roth, Rabbi Levy, Rabbi Mayer Rabinowitz and Rabbi Joseph Prouser. Rabbi Rabinowitz's earlier responsum was accepted in the 1992 deliberations of the Law Committee as the basis for its consensus statement, which decided that "avowed homosexuals" should not be ordained as rabbis.

UPDATE: According to a comment on Kesher Talk, the rabbis who resigned from the committee "expressed the view that the permissive teshuvah accepted by the Committee went beyond the bounds of halakhic process. The CJLS members have asked them to reconsider."

FURTHER UPDATE: Some interesting Jewish blogosphere discussions: J Spot, Failed Messiah, Velveteen Rabbi, Oy Bay.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

More on Henry Ford

Just plugging "The International Jew" into Google comes up with several on-line publications from anti-semitic groups. It's also possible to buy it on (which is pretty obnoxious). ("Mein Kampf" is also for sale on Amazon - for obvious reasons I'm not furnishing any links to these books!). The first result on Google is for what appears to be an anti-semitic Christian group in Australia, then something called "JR books online" - I wasn't able to figure out what this group was. Jewwatch also makes an appearance. A website called "Radio Islam" also has it on their website, as does a very strange site called "Reactor Core."

I also stumbled my way onto a discussion of the America First movement - which opposed U.S. entry into the Second World War before Pearl Harbor. Charles Lindbergh was the most prominent spokesman for America First, but our old friend Henry Ford was one of the founding members.

Ahmedinejad and Henry Ford

I've been reading the book Henry Ford and the Jews by Neil Baldwin, which is about how Ford promulgated Jew-hatred throughout the United States (and the world) in his publication, the Dearborn Independent. Articles were published decrying Jewish control of everything - the press, the Federal Reserve Board, etc., and they liberally plagiarized from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Ford eventually issued an official "apology" in 1927, but the books that anthologized the articles, "The International Jew," are still being published (they're in the public domain, so anyone can publish them). I am reminded of this theme of Jewish control by Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's latest public letter, this time to the people of the United States. Along with his usual vitriol about the Zionists' wicked oppression of the Palestinians (which began not with the Six Day War in 1967, but with the establishment of the state of Israel), he has this to say:
What has the blind support for the Zionists by the US administration brought for the American people? It is regrettable that for the US administration, the interest of these occupiers supersedes the interests of the American people and of the other nations of the world.

What have the Zionists done for the American people that the US administration considers itself obliged to blindly support these infamous aggressors? Is it not because they have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural, and media sectors?

This last sentence reveals that Ahmedinejad is not talking about the Israeli government, but about Jews in general. For him, "Zionist"=Jew. And the Jews are guilty, as they were in Ford's publications and the Protocols, of sinister control of banking, finance, and the media.

Jimmy Carter

Today, in the mail, I received the most recent of many pleas for money that have come from the Carter Center. I have never given any money to the Carter Center, and after Jimmy Carter's performance on the Lehrer report on November 28, there is not a chance in the world that I will ever give money to anything associated with Jimmy Carter. To see the transcript of the interview, see here: Jimmy Carter interview. Carter castigates the Israelis for not negotiating with the Hamas government after Gilad Shalit was kidnapped this summer (and two other Israeli soldiers were killed). Judy Woodruff, who was interviewing him, asked him about the Israeli refusal to negotiate with Hamas on the basis that Hamas did not recognize Israel's right to exist. He answered her question with this obfuscating reply:
The day after the election, I went and met with Mahmoud Abbas, who is the leader of the Palestinians. He's their president. He's the head of the PLO, which is the only organization, by the way, that the United States or Israel recognizes, the PLO, in which there's not a single Hamas member. Hamas has nothing to do with the PLO.

And after I met with Abbas to talk about a unity government, which he rejected, then I met with a Hamas leader. He's a medical doctor who was elected. He's now in prison, by the way. But he said -- when I insisted that they recognize Israel, he said, "Mr. President, which Israel are you talking about? Are you talking about the Israel that's occupying our land? Are you talking about the Israel that has built a wall around our people? Are you talking about an Israel that deprives us of basic human rights to move from one place to another in our own land?" He said, "We can't recognize that Israel."

But later, the prime minister of the Hamas government, Haniyeh, said, "We are strongly in favor of direct talks between Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the PLO and the head of the government, and the prime minister of Israel, Olmert." And he said, "If they reach an agreement in their discussions that's acceptable to the Palestinian people, we will accept it, also. Hamas will."

Carter ignores uncomfortable facts that he doesn't want to acknowledge, including the very recent Hamas refusal to recognize Israel's right to existence (it's been one of the stumbling blocks in the current Palestinian talks over a unity government). He has a very annoying mixture of naivete and sanctimony. I'm reminded again of why I decided not to vote for him in 1980 - when his UN ambassador Andrew Young met with Arafat, when it was official U.S. policy not to talk to the PLO, a policy that I certainly agreed with at the time, since the PLO was at that time as intransigent as Hamas is today. And with the title of his new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," he certainly indicates where his sympathies lie.