February 28, 2006

A bit of Jewish History - 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY

By Judy Siegel
International Jerusalem Post, February 2006

A new Israeli stamp depicting the red brick Brooklyn house of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, will soon be released by the Israel Postal Authority’s Philatelic Service. The New York house — known widely by its address, 770 Eastern Parkway — is accompanied on the face of the stamp by two Jewish symbols — Shabbat candles and tephillin (phylacteries).

Many Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox (haredi) groups have opposed dedicating postage stamps to the memory of great rabbis and sages because the glue on the back is licked to affix them to envelopes — an act of disrespect. But showing “770” avoids the problem that would exist if the rebbe’s face were shown on the stamp. In addition, the “messianic” faction of Lubavitch hassidism refuses to admit that Schneerson, the seventh Chabad rebbe, died nearly 12 years ago.

Sam Malamud, president of Inter-Governmental Postal Consultants (IGPC) group (the Official Postal Agency in the US for the Postal Authority) said: “We anticipate an immediate sellout of this issue worldwide considering the fact that the rebbe has and continues to touch the hearts and minds of more people then any other Jewish figure in modern history. Everyone whose lives have been affected by the rebbe will want to collect this historic postage stamp. The global admiration and respect associated with the rebbe and Chabad may possibly make this the most sought-after Israeli stamp ever issued” Today, Chabad boasts the largest outreach program with over 3,500 Chabad houses and Torah centers around the world.

In 1941, Schneerson escaped from the Nazis and arrived in the US with his wife, Chaya Mushka. Together with his father-in-law, Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneerson - the sixth Lubavitcher rebbe - they established a Chassidic educational network throughout the US. They moved to 770 Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn In 1950. Menachem Mendel succeeded his father-in-law and became the seventh Lubavitcher rebbe.

When he died on June 12, 1994, at age 92, he did not leave a successor. The building holds an expansive study hall, enormous and valuable library, the rebbe’s private room, and the secretary’s office. From this building the rebbe’s words went out to the Jewish world as well as to world leaders and heads of state. A facsimile of the building was constructed in Israel at Kfar Chabad and in Jerusalem’s Ramat Shlomo quarter.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 06:36 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2006

Olmert’s Plan to Abandon Jews of West Bank Based Upon Faulty Demographics


By Aaron Klein

Jewish Press February 17, 2006

JERUSALEM - If acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Kadima party wins next month’s elections, members of Israel’s Knesset will be asked to determine Israel’s “permanent borders” in a vote on West Bank withdrawal, Olmert said. Olmert justified his plan to vacate the West Bank, which borders most of Israel’s major cities, by claiming that unless Israel soon separates from the Palestinians, Arabs will outnumber Jews and threaten the country’s Jewish character. But recent studies indicate that Olmert is relying on faulty demographic information, and that Jews likely will outnumber Arabs by more than double in 20 years.

“The members of the next Knesset, who will convene here in a couple of months, will have a series of historic missions,” Olmert told a special session celebrating the Knesset’s 57th birthday. “Before our eyes stands a supreme goal of consolidating Israel’s status as a Jewish, democratic state. The first mission on the road to achieving this goal will be determining the state of Israel’s final borders,” said Olmert. Announcing what had long been assumed, Olmert last week laid out his Kadima party’s platform of withdrawing from most of the West Bank. He said that under his plan, Israel will maintain select security zones and some of the area’s major West Bank Jewish communities, alluding to the evacuation of West Bank towns that fall outside Israel’s security fence.

Kadima is leading overwhelmingly in polls as Israel’s March elections draw near. About 250,000 Jews live in the West Bank. The security fence, still under construction in certain areas, cordons off nearly 95 percent of the territory from Israel’s pre-1967 borders. More than half the West Bank’s Jewish residents reside on the side of the fence closest to Israel. About 80,000 more Jews live on the other side of the barrier. Olmert said he is seeking a West Bank withdrawal to set “the permanent borders of the state of Israel to ensure a Jewish majority.”

But a new study presented last month by American researchers is picking up steam in academic circles here. It contends that a West Bank withdrawal based on demography is groundless because Israel’s Jewish population will more than double that of Arabs in 20 years. The study, titled “Forecast for Israel and the West Bank 2025,” found Palestinians have inflated their population figures by as much as 1.5 million. It also said Jewish birthrates are outstripping Palestinian rates by far, and that Israel’s own statistics fail to account for even low levels of Jewish immigration when calculating national demographic trends.

Americans Bennet Zimmerman, Roberta Seid and Michael Wise put the current Palestinian-Arab population of the West Bank at 1.4 million and Gaza 1.1 million, for a total of 2.4 million, instead of the 3.8 million reported by the Palestinian Authority Central Bureau of Statistics. Zimmerman’s team has shown birthrates among Israeli Orthodox Jews are at their highest levels ever and that general Israeli Jewish fertility over the past five years has risen above top scenarios first considered by Israel’s Bureau of Statistics. The study says Israel did not account for a likely continuation of Jewish immigration trends over the next 20 years.

The PA information was adopted by such prominent Israeli demographers as the University of Haifa’s Arnon Soffer and the Hebrew University’s Sergio Della
Pergola, who both famously warned that by 2020 Jews will make up between 40 and 46 percent of the population in both Israel and the territories.
Under Zimmerman’s mid-case scenario, however, Israeli Jews maintain current fertility rates and immigration averages of 20,000 per year or 400,000 over two decades. Israeli Arab fertility rates, meanwhile, fall slowly over a 20-year period. The result is a Jewish majority in Israel in 2025 of 63 percent.

According to other likely scenarios contained in the new data, Jews could outnumber Arabs by 71 percent if Jewish fertility rates continue to rise and immigration increases further. Some Israeli critics, a few of whom have been associated with Israel’s liberal parties, have slammed Zimmerman’s study. Della Pergola, who conducted previous studies in Israel upholding the PA claims, called Zimmerman’s findings “groundless,” politically slanted and baseless from a research perspective. But Della Pergola has changed his demographic forecasts several times and admitted in debates that he relied in part on PA population numbers. Zimmerman’s study has been lauded by American demographers Nicholas Eberstadt and Murray Feshbach, among others. “It is ironic that just as we now find Israelis in the best position ever with regard to population, Olmert announces a plan to run away and give up the West Bank, claiming Israel’s Jewish character is threatened,” said Zimmerman.

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February 22, 2006

Did G-d include figure skating prowess with the Torah?

Redacted from an article by Lionel Gaffen
THE JEWISH PRESS, February 17, 2006

Since the 1932 Winter Olympics, when Irving Jaffee of the U.S. won gold medals in the 5,000m and 10,000m speed skating events at Lake Placid, New York. Jews have become increasingly active in winter sports. In more recent Games, figure skating has been where Jews have made a big impact. This will hold true in Turin, as well.

Leading the pack is Russia’s Irma Slutskaya, the reigning world champion and a silver medalist at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Slutskaya has had her share of ups and downs in a distinguished career that has seen her rise to No. 1 in the world rankings in 2002 but then miss the world championships in 2003.This was due to her mother’s illness causing Slutskaya to miss almost the entire 2003 season. Slutskaya visits an aging grandmother in Netanya, Israel in the off-season and is noted as the inventor of the double-Biellmann spin with foot change, a skating movement that requires tremendous flexibility.

Hot on Slutskaya’s skates and winner of yesterday’s short program in Turin, Italy is Sasha Cohen, winner of this year’s U.S. National Championships and world runner-up the past two years and a fourth-place finisher at Salt Lake City. A ”bridesmaid” at the U.S. championship for the previous four years, she will likely be the America’s best chance of winning three straight golds in the events’ history.

Emily Hughes, younger sister of the surprising gold medalist at Salt Lake City, Sarah Hughes, and whose mother is Jewish, managed a third-place finish at the U.S. Olympic trials, which under normal circumstances would have guaranteed her a ticket to Turin. However, she was bumped down to first alternate when Michelle Kwan, a five-time world champion and bronze medalist in 2002, was deemed fit to compete by a panel of judges. Kwan did not compete in any events this season due to injury. At the last minute, Kwan’s injury forced her to withdraw, and Emily Hughes will compete, after all.

Oksana Baiul, who competed for Ukraine and won an Olympic gold medal at age 16 in Lilehammer, Norway, in 1994, was unaware of her Jewish roots until 2003, when she was re-united with her Jewish father and grandmother. When her parents divorced at an early age, she lived with her mother. When she was 13 years old, her mother died and Baiul thought she had been orphaned.

(And there’s another little girl that has the right name to be included but I’m not sure. Her name is Kimmie Meissner, age 16 and she is now in 5th place after the short program.

And, how do you like the moniker, “Sasha Cohen?” Of course, I am prejudiced, but the name tickles me - just about as much as that of last year’s hero, “Smarty Jones.” I think he may be Jewish, too!) (jsk)

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2006

Zionist Organization of America’s Legal Dept. Challenges Saudi gifts to Harvard & Georgetown Universities

The Honorable Margaret Spellings
Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202

Re: Saudi gifts to Harvard University and Georgetown University

Dear Secretary Spellings:

We are seeking your help in rectifying what we believe were inappropriate actions taken by Harvard University and Georgetown University. As you know, both schools receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Department of Education pursuant to Title VI of the Higher Education Act. They also receive the prestigious designation as national resource centers for Middle East studies, which attracts additional outside funding. These significant and financially lucrative benefits come with important responsibilities: National resource centers like Harvard and Georgetown have an obligation to promote serious scholarship and diverse points of view so that the purposes of Title VI can be achieved.

Title VI was enacted so that the public could be educated on international matters, and so that experts could be properly trained to serve our country’s security and other national interests. The goals of Title VI require a fair and academically unbiased approach to the study of Islam and the Middle East that will meet American objectives. Title VI’s purposes are in no way served if national resource centers are associated with those who promote and support hatred of the United States, the murder of Americans, Israelis and Jews, the funding of the families of suicide bombers, and factual distortions about the U.S., Israel and Jews.

Yet Harvard and Georgetown have associated themselves with an individual with precisely this agenda when they each recently accepted a gift of 20 million dollars from Saudi Arabian prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, purportedly to advance the study of Islam. In our view, Harvard and Georgetown should not have accepted bin Talal’s money, and we urge you to advise these schools to return it, or risk losing their Title VI funding.

You may recall that bin Talal garnered some publicity a few years ago, when he tried to donate 10 million dollars to the Twin Towers Fund for victims of 9/11. In a news release at the time, bin Talal was quoted as saying, “Our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek.” Because he suggested that 9/11 was caused by our country’s relationship with the State of Israel, then-New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani appropriately rejected bin Talal’s gift.

Harvard and Georgetown should have done the same thing, because bin Talal has supported groups and programs that promote hatred and violence against the United States, Israel and Jews. He has supported the families of suicide bombers. He has helped to fund the terror group Hamas. He has promoted violence against women. He has pleaded with Muslim parents to teach their children to become “martyrs” -- a code word for suicide bombers who murder innocent men, women and children.

News reports revealed that bin Talal pledged a gift of 27 million dollars during a telethon held in April 2002, for the benefit of the Saudi Committee for the Support of the al-Qedas Intifada, which reportedly helps fund and support Palestinian Arab terrorism against Israelis and Jews. According to an analysis conducted by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), the head of this committee, Prince Naif bin Abdul Azia, said in a statement: “The committee will continue to provide direct assistance to the families of Palestinian martyrs [i.e., suicide bombers] and those wounded while resisting the occupation (The Times of London 4/23/02).” Bin Talal is also co-owner of the ART TV network, which includes Iqra TV, whose programming is anti-American and anti-Semitic.

Bin Talal has also been linked with a group that produces teaching materials for American public school students that are anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. As you know, teaching materials on the Middle East are prepared and disseminated in American classrooms with the help of the Title VI program. One example is a manual called the “Arab World Studies Notebook,” which has been used in secondary schools.

According to an investigation by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), this manual “denigrates” the Jewish people’s “historical connection to Jerusalem,” it “suggests that Jews have undue influence on U.S. foreign policy,” it “suggests that the Koran ‘synthesizes and perfects earlier revelations,’ meaning those ascribed to by Christians and Jews,” and it “leaves out any facts and figures about the State of Israel in its country-by-country section,” referring instead only to “Palestine.” The JTA reported that bin Talal initiated a meeting with a representative of one of the groups involved in publishing this distorted, propagandist manual after hearing about their teaching program.

You may be aware that recently, several members of Congress strongly voiced their disapproval of bin Talal and his conduct. On November 18, 2005, 22 U.S. Representatives sent a letter to the new Saudi ambassador to the U.S., criticizing bin Talal, his part-ownership of the ART TV network, and “the ongoing incitement against Americans and Jews that is present in the programming content of Iqra television.”

The congressional leaders noted that although Iqra TV bills itself as a channel dedicated to bringing ‘the teaching of Islam into the homes and hearts of Arabs worldwide,’ it actually broadcasts numerous shows and programs that incite and encourage hatred against Americans, Jews, and Westerners in general.” These congressional leaders recognized that Bin Talal’s sponsorship of programming that is allegedly geared to teaching the Arab world about Islam is, in reality, an effort to encourage intolerance and promote hatred and violence toward the United States, Israel and Jews.

There can be no doubt that bin Talal is using his money at Harvard and Georgetown for the same appalling purpose: to ensure that his hateful views, which distort the truth about the U.S., Israel and Jews, are disseminated to the American public. In 2002, bin Talal reportedly told the Arab Times that an Arab boycott of American products was not the way to influence U.S. decision-making. He recognized that his influence in this country could be more effectively accomplished in a different way.

According to bin Talal, “ you have to be active . . . inside U.S. society. ” He affirmed this objective when he was recently asked about his gifts to Harvard and Georgetown in a New York Times interview reported on January 1, 2006. Bin Talal readily admitted that he is concerned about Islamic studies that “fit my overall global vision.” Schools like Harvard and Georgetown, which reap financial and other benefits from our government as Title VI national resource centers, should not appear to be associated in any way in promoting bin Talal’s hateful “vision.”

You may know that when the president of the United Arab Emirates made a 2.5 million dollar gift to Harvard in 2000. Harvard eventually returned the gift after it was revealed that the donor had ties to a center that promulgated anti-American and anti-Semitic views. Bin Talal’s connections are no less disturbing, and it is thus incomprehensible that Harvard so readily accepted his gift.

We urge you to advise Harvard and Georgetown to return bin Talal’s money or risk losing their Title VI funding. We should now be especially sensitive to the type of funding our taxpayer-supported universities accept, when our country and the western world are in the midst of an international war against radical Islamic terrorism. We and other members of the public must be able to trust that recipients of taxpayers’ money through grants under Title VI will have unquestionable records in support of serious and honest scholarship, and the promotion of tolerance and diversity. Universities that receive federal funding for the purpose of serving American interests must have absolutely no connection to those who incite hatred of our country and our allies, promote murder, encourage children to become suicide bombers — and support the families of the ones who do — and promote bias and academic dishonesty.

Susan B. Tuchman, Esq.
Director, Center for Law and Justice, Zionist Organization of America

cc: The Honorable Evan Bayh, The Honorable Jim Bunning, The Honorable Susan M. Collins, The Honorable Russell Feingold, The Honorable Tim Johnson
The Honorable Frank Lautenberg, The Honorable Robert Menendez, The Honorable Barbara Mikulski, The Honorable Patty Murray, The Honorable Rick Santorum,The Honorable Arlen Specter, The Honorable Debbie Stabenow, The Honorable Ron Wyden, The Honorable Robert E. Andrews, The Honorable Joe Baca,The Honorable Richard H. Baker, The Honorable Shelley Berkley, The Honorable Henry E. Brown, The Honorable Dan Burton, The Honorable Dennis A. Cardoza,The Honorable Michael Conaway, The Honorable Joseph Crowley, The Honorable Michael Doyle, The Honorable Virgil H. Goode, Jr., The Honorable Raul Grijalva, The Honorable Alcee L. Hastings, The Honorable Brian Higgins, The Honorable Steve Israel, The Honorable Nita Lowey, The Honorable Carolyn Maloney, The Honorable Carolyn McCarthy, The Honorable Betty McCollum, The Honorable Thaddeus McCotter, The Honorable Michael R. McNulty, The Honorable Martin Meehan, The Honorable Kendrick Meek, The Honorable Jeff Miller, The Honorable Jerrold Nadler, The Honorable Major Owens, The Honorable Frank Pallone, Jr., The Honorable Steven R. Rothman, The Honorable Jim Saxton, The Honorable Jan Schakowsky, The Honorable Debbie Wasserman Schultz, The Honorable Allyson Y. Schwartz, The Honorable Brad Sherman


Susan B. Tuchman, Esq.
Director, Center for Law and Justice


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 12:07 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2006

The sick hypocrisy of Muslim riots and perhaps, sicker - the West’s decision, out of fear - to virtually ignore them.

By Tom Gross

The International Jerusalem Post, February 16, 2006

There is a strong case for saying that the Danish cartoons of Muhammad, which have caused so much uproar, are fair comment. Certainly those who haven’t seen them can rest assured that they are relatively tame in comparison with many cartoons on other subjects, which regularly appear in the European press. Even so, non-Muslims might have more sympathy with Muslims who find them offensive if it weren’t for the astonishing double standards and hypocrisy of the Muslim world when it comes to accepting and applauding truly vicious slanders against Jews and, to a lesser extent, Christians.

The arguments from Muslims - though not the fanatical, violent manner of many of their protests - would no doubt be taken more seriously if they had also objected to the depiction on Syrian television of rabbis as cannibals. Or if on February 4, Britain’s Muslim Weekly had not published a caricature of a hook-nosed Ehud Olmert. Or if, on February 3, Valley of the Wolves, the most expensive movie ever made in Turkey, had not opened to great local acclaim. In the film American soldiers in Iraq crash a wedding and pump a little boy full of lead in front of his mother. They kill dozens of innocent people with random machine-gunfire, shoot the groom in the head and drag those left alive to prison, where a Jewish doctor cuts out their organs and sells them to rich people in New York, London and Tel Aviv.

Or if a Belgian and Dutch Muslim group hadn’t, last week, posted on its Web site pictures of Anne Frank in bed with Hitler. Or if the mere display of a cross or a Star of David in Saudi Arabia wasn’t illegal. And when it comes to newspaper cartoons - the subject of the present unrest - Muslim countries are world leaders in stirring hate, without a peep of protest elsewhere, let alone the torching of buildings, threats to behead European tourists, and the burning of the Danish flag (which incidentally bears a Christian symbol, the cross). So much for religious respect.

THE CARTOONS published last September in Jyllands Posten, a paper hardly anyone outside Denmark, one of Europe’s smallest countries, had ever heard of, are mild when compared to cartoons routinely produced about Jews in the countries where some of the worst anti-Danish protests are now being staged. Arab Jew-baiting is not — as Israel’s enemies in the West often try to argue - limited to political attacks on Zionism. It is directed against Jews in general and is as loathsome and dehumanizing as that produced under the Nazis.

We might expect such demonic images from a country led by a Holocaust-denier, like Iran, or a rogue regime such as Syria. But these vile images are to be found in the media of supposedly moderate, pro-Western states such as Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Egypt. Al-Watan (Oman) has run Nazi-type caricatures of Jews with hooked noses and hunched backs, not wearing shoes, and sweating profusely. AkhbarAl-Khalif (Bahrain) has shown anti- Semitic caricatures of black-hatted Jews spitting and sweating as they manipulate America to do their bidding. Al Ahram, one of Egypt’s leading dailies, has published cartoons of Jews laughing while they drink blood. (The US Senate has approved a $1.84 billion aid package for Egypt for 2006, the second highest in the world.)

The official cartoonist of the Palestinian Authority has portrayed Jews in the form of snakes, a historic motif of medieval European anti-Semitism. The PA Web site has posted cartoons repeating the ancient blood libel that Jews murder non-Jewish children. Some of the cartoons don’t just resemble those published by the Nazis: They are literally copied from Nazi originals.
For instance, a cartoon from Arab News (an English-language Saudi daily regarded as one of the more moderate publications in the Arab world), depicts rats wearing Stars of David and skullcaps scurrying backwards and forwards through holes in the wall of a building called “Palestine House.” The imagery used is almost identical to a well-known scene from the Nazi film, Jew Suess - a scene in which Jews are depicted as vermin to be eradicated by mass extermination.

At other times the Jews are the Nazis. The Jordanian newspaper Ad-Dustur, for example, ran a cartoon showing the railroad to the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau - but with Israeli flags replacing the Nazi ones, and a sign which read “The Israeli Annihilation Camp.” Jordan is supposedly a moderate country at peace with Israel.

To mark the UN designation of January27 as Holocaust Memorial Day, the cartoonist for Al-Yawn (Saudi Arabia) superimposed the Nazi swastika on the Star of David. Nor is Judaism spared. The Daily Star in Beirut ran a cartoon showing a large Talmud with a bayonet sticking out of it shooting an elderly man in Arab headdress, who then has blood gushing out of him. Other Arab cartoons have shown Jews with moneybags spreading death, terror and disease.

THE RELATIVELY mild Danish cartoons have been republished in several European papers so readers can discover what all the fuss is about. (It is hard for readers to judge the story without seeing them.) But not in papers in Britain, or in any major publications in the US, countries that are now apparently too intimidated to run the risks that might go with reproducing them. At the same time, whereas editors from both The Guardian and The Independent in London, for example, have appeared on the BBC saying they wouldn’t dream of publishing cartoons that Muslims find offensive, these papers have not hesitated to publish cartoons offensive to Jews (Arab blood being smeared on the Western Wall in The Guardian, the flesh of Palestinian babies being eaten by Ariel Sharon in The Independent, and so on).

The New York Times rushed to praise a frivolous Broadway play showing Jesus having gay sex with Judas, yet hasn’t dared to reproduce a Danish cartoon making a serious point about the misuse of the teachings of the prophet Muhammad by Islamist terrorists.

With demonstrators on the streets of London last Friday chanting in unison: “Europe, you will pay; your 9/11 is on its way” and holding signs reading, "Behead those who insult Islam” and “Prepare for the REAL Holocaust,” It is perhaps not surprising that weak spirits in the West are cowed. Yet this is an issue that goes far beyond cartoons, and if they want Western freedoms to survive, moderate Muslims and non-Muslims alike have to stop caving into threats. On February 5, Mark Steyn reminded us of the best-known words of a famous fictional Dane: “To be or not to be, that is the question.” Exactly.

The writer is a former Jerusalem correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2006

Former Palestinian Islamic Jihad Liaison appointed to academic post at Brandeis University!

By Jonathan Tobin
The Jewish Press, February 10. 2006

It was bound to happen. As soon as Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections last month, “moderates” were discovered in their midst. With the last shred of hope for a viable peace process with the Palestinians tossed into the trash can by a landslide election victory for Hamas, some true believers in the inevitability of peace are prepared to hold their noses and reach out to find someone in the new governing party to talk to. But as much as those who seek to find Hamas’s voices for peace are on a fool’s errand, that won’t mean that all ties with the Palestinians will be severed.

Given the complicated relationship between the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel, it isn’t going to be easy to place the entire machinery of the Palestinian Authority off-limits. But even if we accept the logic of such ties, exactly who among Hamas’s cast of characters will be considered okay? Far less earth shattering will be similar dilemmas of American Jews and their institutions that have invested so heavily in the notion of dialogue with the Palestinians. A recent controversy over the appointment of a Palestinian academic at Brandeis University speaks to this problem.

The man under fire at Brandeis is Khalil Shikaki, a leading Palestinian pollster who holds the title of senior fellow at the school’s Crown Center for Middle East Studies, where he co-teaches a course on peacemaking. Considered an expert in his field, he is the source of some fascinating polling material about Palestinians. Just last month, he released data culled during the PA election that showed the majority of Palestinians still supported a two-state solution to the conflict and wanted co-existence with Israel despite the vote for Hamas. In addition to the position at Brandeis — a university with strong ties to the Jewish community — Shikaki has become a regular speaker at a host of Israeli and American institutions. If any Palestinian is considered a moderate, it is Shikaki.

Recently, however, he has come under fire from the Zionist Organization of America, which called on Brandeis to sever its ties with the Palestinian and prompted calls of a boycott of donations to the school until they comply. The knee-jerk response from much of the Jewish world has been outrage at the ZOA.

Brandeis President Yehuda Reinharz dismissed Shikaki’s critics, calling their tactics “McCarthyism.” Americans for Peace Now rallied to Brandeis’s defense and termed the case against Shikaki not merely “unsubstantiated accusations,’ as Reinharz had, but claimed the purpose of the campaign was a “right-wing” plot seeking to undermine moderates like Shikaki who have sought “common ground” with Israelis. How dare ZOA, which placed itself out of the mainstream by opposing Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza last summer, question the bona fides of an academic so trusted by so many Jews?

But unfortunately for Shikaki and his friends, the accusations against the Palestinian stem from a Department of Justice investigation of Islamic Jihad in the United States, not a “right-wing” plot. Evidence presented at the recent trial of Sami al Arian, another Palestinian academic who operated the American wing of Islamic Jihad — a bloody terrorist group even more radical than Hamas — showed that Shikaki was up to his neck in terrorist ties in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Prior to becoming the flavor of the month at Brandeis, Shikaki was the director of the World & Islamic Studies Enterprise, a think tank set up at the University of South Florida by al-Arian, and which served as a front for Islamic Jihad to establish its support network in this country.

Shikaki, whose late brother Fathi was then the head of Islamic Jihad, was a part of the Islamic Jihad fund raising set-up in the United States. Transcripts of FBI wiretaps of Shikaki, al-Arian and their associates showed that Shikaki was responsible for distributing money in the West Bank under the guise of charitable activity and used Swiss bank accounts to launder funds raised in the United States. He claims they were for charities but at the trial of al-Arian, the government claimed the word “orphans” used in conversations between Shikaki and his confederates was a code word for Palestinian Islamic Jihad causes. Whether the money was used to promote Islamic Jihad among the Palestinian population via charities that sought to promote their cause or to directly help terrorists who were killing Israelis and Americans, Shikaki’s involvement with this group of murderers is clear.

After the U.S. government officially designated Islamic Jihad as a terrorist organization in 1995, it appears that Shikaki distanced himself from them. Israeli forces subsequently killed his brother. According to Steven Emerson, director of the Washington, D.C. based investigative project, there’s no question about Shikaki’s involvement. Emerson, one of the leading experts on Islamist terror connections, says the Palestinian is not telling the truth when he denies involvement with Islamic Jihad — and that the FBI tapes and other evidence combine to make a compelling case that render Shikaki’s explanations hard to believe.

Peace Now and Reinharz seem to rest their defense of him on the fact that Shikaki was not himself a target for prosecution. The acquittal of al-Arian, by a Florida jury that seemed as uninterested in the evidence as the O.J. Simpson jury, gives them further cover. But proof of Shikaki’s money laundering and his relationship with al-Arian and others cannot be credibly denied. The question is: What should it mean to us now?

Mort Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America believes his role, as a funder of murderers ought to render him untouchable by a Jewish institution such as Brandeis. Emerson won’t say what he thinks Brandeis should do but insists that even if Shikaki is a moderate today he’s lying about his past. Both say the least we ought to expect from him is to own up to what he did and apologize. The support for Shikaki is apparently driven by a belief that his past is irrelevant. But how can we be expected to believe m his moderation — or scholarship —, as long as he goes on lying about Islamic Jihad and asking his Jewish pals to back him up?

A few years ago, another famous school, the University of Notre Dame, fired a man it had just hired as head football coach because journalists uncovered the fact that he had lied on his résumé. Unlike the way Brandeis reacted ‘to revelations about Shikaki, Notre Dame acted fast, and George O’Leary was summarily dismissed. How ironic that Brandeis, which 50 years ago had a brief fling at trying to create its own major college football team before discarding it to concentrate on academics, now seems to have a lower standard for its Middle East Studies department than its Catholic counterpart has for its football program. Brandeis needs to do better. So do the rest of us who prefer to ignore the truth because of our desperate need to hold on to hope for the future. If Shikaki or any other Palestinian believes in peace, then dialogue might be a good idea. But dialogue cannot be built on lies. Nor can peace.

Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia. He can be contacted at jtobin@jewishexponent. com.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:12 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2006

American Israel Public Affairs (AIPAC) Committee, its former employees, the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department’s suspect infringement upon our Civil Rights.

Redacted from an article by Caroline Glick, the International Jewish Press February 10, 2006

The recent conviction of Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin (not Jewish) on felony charges of mishandling classified U.S. government information and the passing of classified information to two former senior AIPAC lobbyists, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, is the proximate cause of the current AIPAC crisis. Rosen and Weissman are scheduled to be tried for misusing classified government information that Franklin purportedly transferred to them in April. Franklin, who was sentenced two weeks ago to 12 years and seven months in prison for his actions, is scheduled to begin serving his sentence only after he testifies against Rosen and Weissman. If his testimony is helpful to the prosecution in that case, his sentence will likely be reduced. The charges, both in the case of Franklin and in the case of Rosen and Weissman, are unprecedented. After initial charges of transferring classified government documents to unauthorized persons were dropped, Franklin was convicted for keeping classified government documents at his home.

To understand the extraordinary nature of the U.S. Justice Department’s decision to prosecute Franklin, it should be recalled that in the summer of 2004, at the time the Franklin case first became public, Sandy Berger, who served as national security adviser to former president Bill Clinton, was charged with removing highly classified documents from the National Archives by hiding those documents in his suit pockets, briefcase and socks. During his investigation, Berger admitted to having destroyed some of those documents, which related to the investigation of the September 11 attacks that were being conducted at that time by the 9/11 Commission. Berger was charged with the misdemeanor offense of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material. A court found him guilty and slapped a $50,000 fine on his wrist. Former CIA Director John Deutsch was similarly charged with a misdemeanor offense for having taken classified materials home with him after he left the CIA. Clinton pardoned Deutsch for the act in the final hours of his presidency.

In Franklin’s case, as in the cases of Weissman and Rosen, Justice Department prosecutors decided to indict the men under clauses of the Espionage Act — a law that has, never previously been invoked. As Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz notes, it is not even clear if the statute, so long ignored, actually remains law. In his words, “It is a well-established norm in the US. that when a law is not enforced for many years, it ceases to be considered law.” The decision to prosecute Franklin, Rosen and Weissman under the articles of the Espionage Act, Dershowitz attests, “is the worst case of selective prosecution I have seen in 42 years of legal practice.” He argues: “If every administration official who did what Franklin did i.e. leak classified information to an ally for the purpose of influencing domestic American policy — were prosecuted as he has been, there would be more government officials in prison than at the State Department, the Defense Department or the White House.”

Rosen and Weissman have been indicted for making unauthorized use of classified information. Given that the two men had no security clearances, did not work for the US government and had signed no oath to protect classified government information from unauthorized use, the decision to prosecute them places every journalist, think tank scholar and lobbyist in Washington— all of whom trade daily in classified information as an accepted currency in the US. capitol — at risk of similar prosecution. From the background included in the three men’s indictments, it is clear that Franklin was an inadvertent victim in a larger FBI probe of the senior AIPAC officials.

Apparently, Franklin, who had tried to draft the two men to assist him in convincing the Bush administration to take the threat of the Iranian nuclear weapons program more seriously, walked straight into an FBI dragnet. For reasons that remain unknown, the FBI had been trailing Rosen, AIPAC’s senior policy guru, for five years.

Once he was observed meeting with Rosen and Weissman, Franklin was compelled by the FBI to act as its agent in a sting operation its agents orchestrated against Rosen and Weissman. Franklin was wired and sent to meet with the two AIPAC lobbyists armed with fabricated “classified” information relating to an apparent imminent threat to the lives of Mossad agents operating in Iraqi Kurdistan. At the behest of his FBI handlers, he urged the two men to inform the Israeli embassy of the situation. That is, although the men were subject to an ongoing FBI probe, the only reason they were caught technically in breaking the law is because the FBI itself placed them in a situation where they felt that lives were at stake.

It is unclear why the FBI decided to go after AIPAC officials. As Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, stated, “that two patriotic American citizens who are working for Jewish organizations who did nothing to violate American security, should have to stand trial and be subject to the public scrutiny and public humiliation, frankly I find very disturbing and a matter that we all have to look at in a much more serious way.”

Distressingly, rather than stand by its employees, AIPAC has led the charge in publicly humiliating them. After firing them from the organization last year, its spokesman announced: AIPAC dismissed Rosen and Weissman because they engaged in conduct that was not part of their jobs and because this conduct did not comport in any way with standards that AIPAC expects of its employees ... AIPAC could not condone or tolerate the conduct of the two employees under any circumstances.”

Similarly, contrary to earlier pledges, AIPAC has ceased to pay the legal fees of the two men’s defense, which are already running over a million dollars. Recent reports indicate that AIPAC was negotiating with the men’s lawyers regarding future payments. But those talks failed due to AIPAC’s insistence that Rosen and Weissman commit themselves not to file damage suits against the organization. Even more disturbingly, AIPAC — as Sher pointed out in an open letter to the organization — in an apparent attempt to distance itself from any actions that might displease the FBI and the Bush administration, has curtailed its lobbying efforts on Israel’s behalf.

Sher notes that AIPAC has refused to involve itself in lobbying for Congressional approval of the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act placed before Congress last year. If it were to become law, the act would compel the U.S. government to force Saudi Arabia to cease its active support for terrorism. Given the Saudi government’s leading role in both indoctrinating Muslims to the cause of jihad against the U.S. and financing Hamas, there can be no doubt that supporting such a bill, which the Bush administration opposes, should be AIPAC’s clear responsibility. From Sher’s perspective, AIPAC’s refusal to involve itself in lobbying for the passage of the bill is evidence that “Having given in on Rosen and Weissman, AIPAC has sent clear signals that it is willing to preserve ‘access’ at the expense of influence.”

If AIPAC thought that by cutting Rosen and Weissman loose it would be able to disassociate itself from them, it has already been proven wrong. The Jerusalem Post reported recently that the FBI had renewed its questioning of several Jewish leaders and former AIPAC officials in the wake of the Franklin conviction. It is unclear what motivated the FBI to pursue the AIPAC officials. What is clear enough, however, is that effect of the prosecution has not only weakened AIPAC but has made all American Jews who lobby the U.S. Congress and executive branch on behalf of Israel the objects of suspicion and has empowered the anti-Semitic forces in the U.S. government who insist that all Jewish activists are somehow stained with questionable patriotism.

If the American Jewish community wishes to mitigate the damage this episode has already done to its good name and reputation, it must unify behind Rosen and Weissman and insist that the charges against them be dropped. And if AIPAC wishes to continue to be viewed as the main American Jewish lobbying organization in the U.S. capital, it should be advised by its members and colleagues to lead the charge.

Caroline Glick is deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post and a syndicated columnist.


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2006

A Genuine Breath of Support and Hope

New German Leader Vows Strong Support For Israel

By Dan Baron, The Jewish Press, February 3, 2006

JERUSALEM - It was cast as a courtesy visit to bolster a decades-old alliance built from the ashes of the Holocaust, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel came to Israel with a real mission in mind. With Israelis facing ever-greater threats in the form of Hamas and Iran, the new German leader used her first trip here to make clear that she took seriously Germany’s pest-Holocaust responsibilities toward the Jewish state. ‘The existence of the State of Israel is and remains an inviolable pillar of German policy, you can be sure of that,” the chancellor said Monday after laying a wreath at Yad Vashem.

We stand strongly at Israel’s side, especially during difficult times. A native of East Germany who saw firsthand the ravages of totalitarianism, Merkel made clear even before getting elected last November that supporting Israel and fighting anti-Semitism would be central to her foreign policy. The fact that she visited Israel so soon - compared to the last five years in which her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, made no such effort - was welcomed in Jerusalem.

Aides to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he and Merkel hit it off, especially since the German chancellor appeared to agree with Israel’s rancor over the inaction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas against terror.

"He has fallen in love with his image of being a weak leader,” Yediot Aharonot quoted Merkel as saying of Abbas in one dosed-door discussion. The terror issue looms large after Hamas’s victory in last week’s Palestinian elections. Merkel has matched President Bush in calling for the international community to isolate the government led by the radical Islamic group until it reforms. “Such a Palestinian Authority cannot be directly supported by money from the EU,” Merkel said ahead of a meeting with Abbas in which she was expected to request that he use his influence to get Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel.

Merkel made a point of not meeting with Hamas representatives during her two-day visit. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Islamic group issued an urgent am peal to foreign donors not to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority.

‘We urge you to understand the Palestinian reality and not to rush in and impose conditions and demands that ignore this reality and increase the suffering of the people,” Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas parliamentary faction, said in the Gaza Strip.

With Palestinians so dependent on foreign aid, some political analysts predict that a united European stand against Hamas will not last. “Merkel’s no-nonsense leadership is especially needed to ensure that the EU’s enunciated criteria for dealing with Hamas do not get watered down,” wrote Elliot Jager, an editorial writer at The Jerusalem Post.

On another front, Merkel is considered key to countering the Iranian nuclear threat against Israel. She was one of the first Western leaders to condemn Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denials and calls for the Jewish state to be “wiped off the map” last year. Under her watch, Germany — one of the three E.U. nations trying, with little success, to talk Iran out of its nuclear plans — has shifted to a more aggressive approach.

Merkel told reporters that Iran “is not only a threat to Israel, but to the entire democratic world.” “Iran is now crossing a red line and Germany finds to be unacceptable the Iranian president’s remarks regarding the distortion of history and we cannot countenance this. We will work to expand the refusal to accept Iran’s position and we will create a broad base that will refute this position,” she said. In another show of solidarity with Israel, Merkel’s government has approved the discounted sale of two German-made Dolphin submarines to Israel, which will significantly expand its defensive capabilities. (JTA)

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 06:48 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2006

Why Israel is losing the media war

The Other War - Israelis, Palestinians, and the Struggle for Media Supremacy

Redacted from review by Hillel Halkin of Stephanie Gutmann’s fine book plus Jerome S. Kaufman addendum

Commentary Magazine, February 2006

In her new book, The Other War - Israelis, Palestinians, and the Struggle for Media Supremacy, Stephanie Gutmann remarks that media treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has of late grown slightly more balanced. But slanted reports like the ones on CNN, appearing day after day in numerous major newspapers and television newscasts, continue to be the main reason for Israel’s poor image around the world. What the average person knows, or thinks he knows, about this conflict comes almost entirely from the media, and media bias against Israel has been enormous.

Why has it been? Gutmamn, a working journalist herself who descends on one side of her family from Zionist stock (her grandfather, Nachum Gutmann, was a prominent Palestinian Jewish artist) and on the other, as she tells us, “from a bunch of New England WASP’S led by a matriarch grandmother who literally used to wince if she had to say the word ‘Jew,’” has a professional’s perspective.

Few FOREIGN correspondents are particularly well educated. Most go from one posting to another and rarely stay at any for more than a few years. They usually arrive in a country with only a cursory knowledge of its history; rent living quarters in an expensive and far from typical neighborhood in its capital; never learn to speak its language or languages with any proficiency and socialize heavily among themselves.

At the same time, they are expected to present themselves as highly knowledgeable about the place they are reporting from and to file daily stories beginning the moment they arrive. Moreover, these stories must compete for space and prominence with others filed from elsewhere and must satisfy an editorial staff in a home office that worries it is being outdone by rival media.

Everywhere, this tends to produce foreign correspondents who are heavily dependent for their information and point of view on each other and on the small number of official and unofficial native sources they manage to cultivate; who view the country they are covering as much through the prism of other countries they have been in as in terms of its own uniqueness; who have little time for research, being required to churn out copy at a steady rate; who are forced to concentrate on the dramatic and superficial at the expense of the in-depth and explanatory; and who fear nothing worse than being caught out of step with their colleagues.

And if this is true generally, it is even truer of journalists writing about Israel and the Palestinians. One reason that this is so, as Gutmann points out, is that Israel is probably the most reported on country on earth. Dozens of major newspapers and TV networks maintain permanent staff and offices in it, and when there are major events to cover, these are massively augmented from abroad. This greatly increases the element of competitiveness—and with it, paradoxical though it may seem, the element of conformism.

Moreover, while in Israel, as in any democracy, journalists are free to go where they wish and talk to whom they want. There are two crucial and closely related exceptions to this rule. One involves places in the occupied or Palestinian territories to which access is limited or barred by the Israeli army - the other, the danger posed to free movement in these same territories by armed Palestinians, who are everywhere a law unto themselves.

And because these exceptions directly affect that aspect of reporting from Israel which foreign journalists are most interested in, namely, Jewish-Arab violence and everything surrounding it—a military dragnet in the West Bank, say, for wanted terrorists, or an interview with a Palestinian “resistance fighter” in a refugee shantytown, or an army closure on a Palestinian city—these areas assume great importance and force the foreign correspondent to deal frequently with two types of intermediaries.

On the Israeli side, there is the military, whether in the form of commanding officers in the field or the spokesman’s office of the Israel Defense Forces, which briefs reporters on military events, answers their queries, lets them know what is off-limits at a given moment, and sometimes provides them with an English-speaking escort when they to visit sensitive areas.

On the Palestinian side, there is the “fixer,” as he or she is called by Gutmann and other journalists This is a person, generally young, educated, and with a good command of English, who accompanies correspondents in the territories, informs them of interesting subjects and possible scoops, arranges appointments and interviews fur them, translates for them from the Arabic, explains to them nuances of scenes or conversations that they may have missed, knows the back roads and streets that will get them around military checkpoints, and acts as a guarantor of their safety, assuring local residents that they are not Israeli secret agents and negotiating their way into and out of potentially difficult situations “Fixers” are not cheap, but a good one is an indispensable asset, and just about all foreign correspondents in Israel have their regular or regulars on whom they depend.

HERE, AS Gutmann describes it and as I can confirm, is where a major part of the problem sets in. A journalist’s dealings with the Israeli army, or with institutions like the government press office and the foreign ministry, are of a formal nature and frequently cumbersome and annoying. There is bureaucracy and delay; requests may go unanswered or be turned down; harried soldiers on duty am be snappish and in any case are forbidden to be interviewed; answers to questions come in vague officialese and while the journalist may sometimes get to know the officials who give these answers, relations with them are rarely personal.

With one’s “fixer,” on the other hand, it is just the opposite.Everything is informal and personal. There are no rules and regulations, decisions can be made and carried out on the spur of the moment; and the more personable and skillful the “fixer” is, the more he or she can do for you. Needless to say, too, the more it is likely that a friendship, or at least a shared sense of camaraderie, will develop from this.

Since one's “fixer” is generally an intelligent and articulate expounder of the Palestinian point of view, this puts Israel at a disadvantage—all the more so because, whereas the correspondent’s dealings with Israelis take place mostly in offices, at press conferences, and at army roadblocks, the “fixer” often brings him to Palestinian homes, where he is introduced to families, treated graciously, and told the stories of the people he meets and their complaints against the Israeli occupation.
He is thus far more likely to encounter Palestinians who have suffered from Israeli military action than Israelis who have suffered from Palestinian tenor—and if he does get to know Israeli families, they are likely to live in his own upper-class neighborhood and belong to the socio-economic group that least frequently rides the buses, shops in the markets, or resides in the places where tenor commonly strikes, and that is also the most liberal, dovish, and pro-Palestinian of any in Israel.

…The second point is Palestinian intimidation. The mixture of authoritarianism and lawlessness that characterizes the Palestinian Authority and the society very partially governed b it makes it easy to threaten foreign correspondents and to ensure that, if they value their jobs and their persons, they will not investigate or publish stories that may embarrass the wrong people or the right cause. …

… As a result of the above and the vital fact that knowledge of the past is not the strong suit of foreign correspondents. For most of them, the 1967 war that brought about the occupation of the territories is an ancient event of uncertain origins, to say nothing of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the British Mandate, and the Balfour Declaration - let alone the story of Zionism and much less the Jewish history that preceded it. It is easier for them not to bother with such things and to think of the events they are reporting on as self-enclosed, the vicious tit-for-tat of a blood feud that began when Israel conquered the West Bank and the Gaza Strip or, at the very earliest, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee their homes by the creation of a Jewish state, and that is therefore Israel’s fault.

To ask what came before this, or what the larger meaning of it might be, makes no more sense to the average journalist than it would make to ask what existed before the universe was created. And to spend time trying to investigate the death of Muhammad al-Dura or similar matters is, so this journalist has been taught, to look for more trouble than it is worth.

(…Three excellent pages later - Halkin’s and Gutmann’s conclusion:)

It is encouraging to think that— if Stephanie Gutmann is right—the media do respond, even if not as much as one might wish, to improvements in Israel’s hasbara (informational efforts). But to think of Hasbara as merely public relations is to take only the ground- level view. Israel’s battle to make its case heard and understood is part of a larger battle to assert the importance of history and historical truth in a world in which they no longer matter very much. It is even, one might say, part of the battle against the intellectual betrayals of post-modernism itself. In that sense, unless hasbara is conceived of as truly explaining, and not just as PR, Israel will continue to lose the war for public opinion.

In the long run the truth is Israel’s most reliable weapon even if it is one that can only be wielded effectively by those willing to risk self-inflicted wounds. For if the truth is, generally speaking, on Israel’s side, it may not be so in every case, and the temptation to tailor it when it is not, which hasbara has not been free of, is the temptation to resort to propaganda. And in a war of Jewish propaganda versus Arab propaganda - or, if one prefers, of Jewish versus Arab narratives—the Arabs will always win. They are simply much better at it. The first rule of warfare is to fight on the ground that is most advantageous to oneself.

(The one area that is not addressed in Halkin’s discussion and Gutmann’s is the fact that in public relations or hasbara, the Arabs have a great advantage - There is no compunction to tell the truth! It has no meaning or function. To be blunt and politically incorrect - their entire history is a lie. If one wants to be dangerously honest, their entire religion is based upon Muhammad’s writings where he simply combined whatever aspects of Judaism and Christianity that suited his own agenda and created the ultimate plagiarism, his holy body of work - the Koran.

The most immediate issue is that Islam has made a completely fabricated claim to Israeli land and Jerusalem that does not remotely exist in the Koran or even in modern history. Muhammad also was very practical. He saw to it that his followers conquered the Arabian Peninsula by the sword and inspired them to fan out to the rest of the world carrying his “peaceful religion” to wherever Islam could conquer and forcefully convert the existing population.

As part of the agenda of falsehood, the Arabs also specialize in deliberately building over and destroying other culture’s churches, synagogues, historical sites, etc. This is happening at the Israeli Temple Mount right now, while the Israelis do nothing about it!

If you would like to read a concise analysis of the origins of Islam, please go to the article in Israel Commentary by Israeli Professor M. Kedar, Department of Arabic Studies Bar Ilan University. Click:
http://www.israel-commentary.org/archives/2003_10.html#000191)

Jerome S. Kaufman


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2006

As to Ehud Olmert’s predicted election and Israeli polls

From an astute Israeli political observer:

“Most probably you (jsk) have read Israeli polls on previous occasions. There were those that had Shimon Peres winning multiple times in the past and, just a couple of weeks ago, Mahmoud Abbas was to have won the Arab elections!

There is an Israeli term, ISRABLOF. It refers to: in the old Israel, 1950's or so, the common joke on Israeli planning of anything was that it was characterized as a bluff, a fake with a HEAVY tint of chutzpah since whatever the plan, its realization was very unlikely.

In several of the most loved old local movies, ISRABLOF was made into a national enterprise, and that name took root to represent all that is fake, illusory, untrue - like, in this case, perhaps present Israeli political polls. The polls here, as a matter of fact, are the laughingstock of everybody.

As to the real political situation, Sharon, when he was functioning, had the following seats:
· 13 from the now defunct SHINUI
· 14 stolen from LIKUD. (reduced to 12 since Sharon is gone and his son is a convicted criminal). MK Hanegbi is also about to be indicted, so make that 11.
· 3 from MAPAI - Peres, Itzik, Ramon plus one more still in question.
· 3 from people that were set out from other Knesset factions.
·
Total - 32

As of right now, Olmert is barely holding on to 28 of the 32 - losing four more seats i.e. Sharon, his son, Omri, Hanegbi, and another one that is about to bolt.

The Israeli flotsam (wreckage or cargo that remains afloat after a ship has sunk) ensemble may "win" but will have, so far as we are aware now, a VERY DIFFICULT if not impossible time to form a government. At best, it would consist, most likely of:

Olmert 27
MAPAM 18
Islamics 8
MERETZ 3

How do you like the sad fact that 8 Arab Ministers in the Israeli Knesset will be the swing votes determining the very existence of the Jewish State?”

Shmuel

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2006

Richard Cohen, Washington Post, accurately predicts what will happen with Hamas before our very naïve eyes.

February 1, 2006

While it is probably true, as every one says, that Hamas won the recent Palestinian elections not because it promised to wipe out Israel but because it promised to pick up the garbage in Gaza City (all politics is local etc.), it is also true that the prospect of increased violence did not deter the average Palestinian from voting for Hamas. History has seen this sort of thing before and it is not very comforting. The rule — the only rule — is to take zealots at their word.

History speaks on this matter, If you would have asked a random German in, say, 1932 if he was voting for the murder of Jews and a destructive European war of unimaginable scope and horror, he would have said, ‘Nein!” What he really wanted was an end to the brawling in the streets, a robust foreign policy and a big thumbs-up to traditional German culture — no more of this smutty modern art and filthy plays: “Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome.” Not any more. The cabaret is closed!

I saved for this paragraph any reference to Hitler himself so as to postpone the reflexive outburst of “Nothing can be compared with the Nazis!” Normally, I agree and I usually shy from such comparisons. But I am not likening Hamas or Islamist militancy to Nazism; I am only likening the mind of one sort of zealot to another. All too often, they mean what they say.

Unfortunately, the men who were supposed to implement that program were determined to implement others as well. They had made no bones about it; it was all in their bible, Mein Kampf and in their rallies and speeches. It took some effort to overlook it, but a considerable number of people managed to do so and later professed shock at what happened. They looked into the abyss; saw nothing that concerned them personally— and went back to sleep.

In due course, we will be told that what Hamas has been insisting on for years — the utter destruction of Israel is not really a serious goal. Hamas will be forced to moderate both its platform and its policies by the reality of governing. When, for instance, it repeats the words of its charter: “The solution of the problem (Israel) will only take place by holy war” —we will be assured that it is only throwing red meat to what in America is called “the base.”

As for its truculent anti- Semitism — not to be confused in this case with anti-Zionism - it, too, will be dismissed as without consequence. Hamas will have to deal with reality and Israel, in the region, is the mightiest reality of them all. Yasser Arafat came to understand that.

But Mr. Arafat’s Fatah movement was secular and nationalistic. In this sense it was modern - another secular nationalistic movement, much like Zionism. Hamas, on the other hand, can be traced back to the Muslim Brotherhood and its 1928 declaration:

“The Koran Is Our Constitution.” It is not modern; it is medieval. It gleefully sends people off to their death as suicide bombers, spackling the walls of Tel Aviv restaurants with the flesh of the innocent while assuring the bombers a place in paradise. This is loathsome. This is terrifying. That is the whole idea.

The continual mistake of the Bush administration is to think, based on not much thinking to begin with, that people are people — pretty much the same the world over. This is why the president extols democracy. (Lenin, more of a cynic, purportedly observed: “Democracy counts heads without regard to what's in them.”) It must be what everyone wants because it is what everyone here wants.

To denigrate this kind of talk suggests racism. You mean we are not all the same or a musty neo-colonialism? But the hard truth is that culture and religion matter, and we should not expect moderation (as we did garlands and ecstatic maidens when U.S. troops entered Baghdad) just because that is how we would react. Toto knows the truth - The Middle East is not Kansas.

The leaders of Hamas brim with the word of God and the certainty of their cause. From here on, they will lie about their ultimate aim and smilingly assure us that what they have always said they no longer mean. Their intention is clean government, efficient garbage service, good schools and level soccer fields. All over the world, people will believe them and urge the U.S. and Israel to do the same. Take my word for this. Anyone can see the future. It’s all in the past.

Richard Cohen is a columnist for The Washington Post. His e-mail address is cohenr@washPost.com

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:06 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2006

Relative to Journalist, TV personality, Juan Williams and the Israeli/Arab Conflict

February 3, 2006

It is truly unfortunate that Juan Williams has evidently absorbed the false concept, perhaps through his association with National Public Radio, of a long suffering Palestinian Arab whose land has been “occupied” by the Israeli colonialists and suffers mightily from this unfair and immoral “occupation.” And if this gross wrong would only be corrected, Islamic Jihad, the Taliban, Hamas, Osama Bin Laden, and over 30 Muslim irredentism-based world-wide conflicts including those in Chechnya, the Philippines, Indonesia,India/Pakistan/Kashmir,
the Caucuses, France, England, Germany, etc, etc, would all disappear and the entire world would again embrace the United States and make the world safe for democracy.

People truly knowledgeable in the history of the Middle East that goes beyond the extremely successful Arab propaganda and unmitigated lies of the last 40 plus years, know that to be all patently false.

Below is a condensed article that barely begins to touch the truth but is a good start. If you would like to have a more complete background of the founding of the State of Israel and the Arab position at that time, circa 1948, I highly recommend a small factual, informative book called Days of Fire by Samuel Katz, 1966. Used editions may still be available through www.abe.books.com It is well worth the read to anyone who would like to know the truth rather than simply listen to the daily crucifixion of Israel by NPR and most of the other of the media in the United States and round the world.

“PALESTINIAN ” AND “OCCUPIED TERRITORY ” - TWO ABSOLUTE LIES THAT REQUIRE CONSTANT REFUTING

Modified from an article By Eric Rozenman in CAMERA ON CAMPUS, Fall 2005

“Palestinian ”today typically applies to Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza Strip and to those who supposedly fled what became Israel in 1948 and their descendants. Often it also covers the Palestinian majority in Jordan, and sometimes even Israeli Arabs. Essentially, these are 20th century usages, like the adjectives, Soviet and Yugoslav. Although a distinct Palestinian nationalism is taken for granted international1y today, the notion of a Palestinian people separate and distinct from neighboring Arabs is relatively recent. Indeed, Zahir Muhsein, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee, told the Dutch newspaper, Trau, on March 31,1977:

“The Palestinian people does not exist ...The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct “Palestinian people ” to oppose Zionism...”

Muhsein emphasized a point often made. The First Congress of Muslim/Christian Associations in Jerusalem in 1919,called to choose delegates to the Paris Peace Conference declared:
“We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic, and geographic bonds.”

In 1947, the United Nations was considering the second partition of British Mandatory Palestine (Transjordan, now Jordan, and, in fact, 77.5 percent of the originally dedicated Jewish Homeland, had been separated in 1921 and Jews forbidden to settle there). The Arab Higher Committee informed the General
Assembly that Palestine was part of the province of Syria and “politically, the Arabs of Palestine were not independent in the sense of forming a separate political identity.”

Early in the century, a few Christian Arabs did promote the idea of Palestinian Arab nationalism to secure the social-political equality that pan-Islamic movements might deny them. But generally, after the collapse of Ottoman Turkish rule in World War I and subsequent British ascendancy, “Palestinian ”referred to Jews, The Palestine Post, Palestine Land Development Company, Palestine Philharmonic and other similarly named institutions all were Jewish enterprises and manifestations of the Zionist effort to renew Jewish sovereignty in their biblical homeland.

By contrast, today ’s so-called Palestinian Arabs, especially the large majority, who are Sunni Muslin, have no significant religious, linguistic cultural or national differences from their brethren in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and even Egypt and Saudi Arabia. This is not surprising since many of their ancestors migrated from those areas in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Historically, the biblical Philistines from whom the word “Palestine ” was originally taken were not Arabs but rather Mediterranean Sea people, landing in southwestern Canaan about 1400 BCE. They battled intermittently with the Israelites of the Judean and Samarian hill country until finally they were erased from history by Babylonian conquerors late in the seventh century.

The substitution of ‘Palestine ”for Judea, land of the Jews, was a later psychological warfare maneuver by Rome. After the second Jewish revolt, 132 BCE, Rome dispersed many of the survivors in the original Diaspora of the Jews and, to erase their connection to the land, changed its name from Judea to Palaestina.

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) two centuries later, gave up on their ambition of military conquest of Israel after the 1967 Six Day War, in which Israel resoundingly defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. The PLO instead, adapted the same basic technique of the Romans and has attempted very successfully to obscure the facts. They even went a step further and adopted the name “Palestinians ”to themselves, claiming a history and an occupation of land, trumpeted as theirs, that has absolutely no basis in fact.


Jerome S. Kaufman

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2006

President Bush’s State of the Union Speech and the State of Israel.

How is it that the Israelis don’t understand that the very same concepts that Pres. Bush demanded for the United States applies to their state, as well?

Pertinent excerpts from the President's speech:

Ø America Will Not Retreat From The World Or Surrender To Evil. In a time of testing, America cannot find security by abandoning commitments and retreating to isolation within our borders. If we were to leave the terrorists alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores. There is no peace or honor in retreat. America rejects the false comfort of isolationism. We accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed and move the world toward peace.

America Is On The Offensive In The War On Terror. America and its allies have killed or captured many of the leaders of the terror networks. For the others, their day will come.

Ø The Brutality Of The Terrorists Cannot Stop The Dramatic Progress Of A New Democracy. The Coalition has been relentless in shutting off terrorist infiltration and clearing out insurgent strongholds … those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C.

Ø Our Strategy For Victory In Iraq Benefits From Responsible Criticism And Counsel. The effort in Iraq has benefited from responsible criticism and counsel offered by Members of Congress of both parties. The President will continue to reach out and seek good advice. Yet there is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for success and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure. However individuals feel about the decisions and debates of the past, our Nation has only one option: We must keep our word, defeat our enemies, and stand behind the men and women of America's military in their vital mission.

Progress Will Continue Across The Middle East As America Offers A Hopeful Alternative To Hatred And Fear. America's offensive against terror involves more than military action, and we are delivering a clear message across the broader Middle East. In parts of the Middle East, there have been steps taken toward reform, but there is more progress to be made. Elections are vital – but they are only the beginning. Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions that last longer than a single vote. The Palestinian people have voted in elections – now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism and work for a lasting peace. Elsewhere in the Middle East, the repressive regime in Iran is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons.

The Offensive Against Terrorism Must Continue At Home. The enemy has not lost the desire or capability to attack us. America has superb professionals in law enforcement, intelligence, the military, and homeland security who are protecting America. They deserve our thanks – and they deserve the same tools they already use to fight drug trafficking and organized crime, so the President called on Congress to reauthorize the Patriot Act.

Our Nation Will Compete With Confidence And Extend Our Economic Leadership In The World. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors. This creates uncertainty, which makes it easier to feed people's fears. Protectionists want to escape competition, while others want the government to take a larger role in directing the economy. The President set forth a better path that will raise standards of living and generate new jobs. Americans should not fear our economic future, because we intend to shape it.

The Growth Of Government Must Be Limited Through Fiscal Discipline. Every year since President Bush took office, the growth of non-security discretionary spending has been reduced, and last year this spending was cut. This year the President's budget will cut it again and will reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities. By passing these reforms, we will save the American taxpayer another $14 billion next year and stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. Congress must also move forward on earmark reform and pass the line-item veto to limit special interest projects.

Ø The Government Must Confront The Larger Challenge Of Entitlement Spending. The coming retirement of the Baby Boom generation will put unprecedented strains on the Federal government. By 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of the entire Federal budget. And that will present future Congresses with impossible choices: staggering tax increases, immense deficits, or deep cuts in every category of spending. The President proposed a bipartisan commission to examine the impact of this problem.

America Must Continue To Open Markets For American Goods. One out of every five factory jobs in America is related to global trade, and we want people everywhere to buy American. With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out-produce or out-compete the American worker.

Immigration Reform Must Be A Priority. America needs an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy. Our nation needs orderly and secure borders. To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty, allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally, and reduces smuggling and crime at the border.

The Advanced Energy Initiative Will Help Break America's Dependence On Foreign Sources Of Energy. The best way to break America’s addiction to oil is through technology. The President set a goal of replacing more than 75 percent of oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources. The Advanced Energy Initiative will deliver a 22 percent increase in clean-energy research to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas:

Ø New Energy Sources For Homes And Businesses. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy.

Ø New Energy Sources For Transportation. We must also change how we power our automobiles and move beyond a petroleum-based economy. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips, stalks, or switch grass. The goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.

The President's American Competitiveness Initiative Will Encourage Innovation Throughout The Economy. America must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working, ambitious people, and we are going to keep that edge.

Ø New Federal Funding For Research. The President proposed doubling the Federal commitment to the most critical basic research in the physical sciences over the next ten years. This will support the work of America's most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.

Ø Provide Tax Certainty For Research And Development. The President proposed making permanent the research and development tax credit to encourage bolder private-sector investment in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come.

Ø Strengthening Education In Math And Science. Building on the success of the No Child Left Behind Act, the President proposed training 70,000 high school teachers to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science; bringing 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms; and getting early help to students struggling with math so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs.

Ø Courts Must Deliver Equal Justice Under Law And Not Legislate From The Bench. The Senate has confirmed two superb new members of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. The President will continue to nominate men and women who understand that judges must be servants of the law and not legislate from the bench.

Ø Elected Officials Must Uphold The Public Trust. The President supports the efforts of honorable people in both parties who are working on reforms to strengthen the ethical standards of Washington. Public servants make a pledge to be worthy of public responsibility, and that is a pledge that must never be forgotten, dismissed, or betrayed.



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Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:39 AM | Comments (0)