May 31, 2006

Correlating Sweden/Nazi Germany, Israel, Swedish IKEA Furniture, Volvo & Saab

Jerome S. Kaufman

Most of us have long forgotten the Swedish embrace of Nazi Germany during WWII. Glen Yeadon and John Hawkins, in a series of breath-taking revealing essays titled, The Nazi Hydra in America, brutally jog our memories.
The following was redacted from part V of the series

(What is a Hydra? - Greek mythology, referring to a monster with nine heads; when struck off, each head was replaced by two new ones; "Hydra was slain by Hercules." Colloquially, it refers to trouble that cannot be overcome by a single effort because of its many aspects or its persistent and pervasive quality)

I. Nazi Gold, Operation Andrew, & Sweden's Neutrality

During the war, Sweden was openly pro-fascist and was one of the more cooperative countries of the neutrals. The high grade Swedish iron ore formed the basis of a strong and profitable connection between Sweden and the Nazis. The Nazis regarded this supply of ore as vital. So vital, in fact that the Nazis delayed the invasion of the Low Countries in order to invade Denmark and Norway first to protect the shipping route for the Swedish ore.

S & K Bearings was another Swedish company that enjoyed a profitable relationship with the Nazis. S & K also presented a special problem for the United States, as the US was equally dependent upon S & K for bearings. S & K did its best in delaying production for war munitions in its US plants. Such a situation presented the Roosevelt administration with a dilemma. The US could impose sanctions on S & K, Sweden, or both. The sanctions would most likely result in a reprisal by S & K in further limiting the production of bearings and disrupt the production of war munitions. A second option for the administration would be to seize the plants for the duration of the war. Such a move would only further the charges of the rampant communism and socialism present in the administration by FDR’s critics. The only other option was to allow S & K to continue with business as usual, which was the course followed. Regardless of who won the war, S & K was sure to win big by supplying both sides with bearings.

There were many other Swedish corporations that enjoyed profitable relationships with the Nazis. However, the one most cherished by the Nazis was the Enskilda bank, owned by the Wallenbergs. With good relationships with a bank the Nazis could borrow funds and launder their stolen gold. Safe haven documents revealed that the US had been tracking the pro-Nazi activities of the Wallenbergs for several years. In February 1945, Morgenthau, in a letter to Secretary of State, Edward Stettinius, charged that Enskilda was making substantial loans to the Nazis without collateral and making covert investments for German capitalists in US industries.

In November 1945, Sweden gave the US Treasury Department a report on Swedish gold transactions. From the report, the Treasury concluded Sweden had received $22.7 million in gold looted of Belgium origin. The amount was reduced to $17 million. By the end of March, after discussions with Britain and France over German assets inside Sweden, the United States believed they had an almost complete picture of the German assets in Sweden and began to push for negotiations. There were an estimated $90.7 million in German assets in Sweden. A complicated formula for the return of the gold to injured parties was contrived but problems arouse in implementing the agreement. Sweden did not turn over the gold specified in the July 1946 agreement by the March 1948 deadline.

Throughout the period Sweden maintained that Law 5, under which the agreement was reached, was invalid. The latest investigation conducted by a bank appointed commission revealed Sweden accepted 59.7 metric tons of gold from the Nazis. The newly discovered gold bears the same mark as the gold stolen from the Netherlands. The investigation also found 6 tons of gold of undetermined origin that could have possibly came from the victims of the concentration camps. This additional find of gold was missed entirely by the Safe haven operation. Thus far, Sweden has only returned a total of 13.2 tons to Belgium and the Netherlands. The commission turned over its findings to the Swedish government. It was unclear whether that commission would have the power to recommend the restitution of the gold. One of the investigators says Sweden has a moral obligation to return the gold, but not a legal obligation. The report was released in 1997.

So, where does Israel come in? All of the above is just historical background to explain the Swedish government’s latest hate-filled moves against the Jewish people as reported below by Ilya Gothenberg in Sweden where nothing has changed.

II. Swedish credibility as frail as IKEA furniture

By Ilya Meyer, Gothenburg, Sweden

2006 is election year in Sweden. In early April, Swedish Chancellor of Justice, Goran Lambertz, squashed an investigation into calls from the Stockholm Grand Mosque to "kill the Jews". In his opinion, such statements should be seen against the background of the conflict in the Middle East, rendering them entirely permissible.

Later the same month Minister of Justice Thomas Bodstrom declined to withdraw an entry visa to Hamas leader Salah Muhammad al-Bardawil or to have him arrested upon entry - even though Sweden is a signatory to the pan-European decision to brand Hamas a terrorist organization. Bardawil and his associates will be visiting Sweden in early May under the full protection of the Swedish authorities.

And now Cabinet Secretary Hans Dahlgren announced that Sweden has withdrawn from a European peacekeeping exercise. The explanation: "the participation of the Israeli Air Force has changed the prerequisites of the exercise."

Swedish Defense Minister Leni Bj0rklund goes further: Sweden pulled out because Israel is a state "that does not participate in international peacekeeping missions" - in other words, if you're not already in the club you have no right to try and lend a helping hand. Of course, the Defense Minister is entirely wrong - nothing unusual in Swedish diplomatic circles - because Israel sent a peacekeeping force of policemen to Fiji in conjunction with that country's elections. Perhaps accuracy is not the Defense Minister's strong suit.

In an election year when the votes of Sweden's 400,000 strong Muslim electorate easily outweigh those of the country's mere 16,000 Jews, the Swedish Social Democratic administration obviously considered it worth the half million or so kronor it has already spent on its 10-month preparations for the joint exercise to drive home its desire to attract more votes.

Sweden's latest in a long line of questionable decisions could scarcely have come at a more indelicate point in time - almost coinciding with Holocaust Remembrance Day in memory of the millions exterminated on an industrial scale in a Europe unwilling to work together to stop tyranny and encourage coexistence and loyalty. Today Sweden is doing what it did sixty years ago - turning its back on those in need and siding with the force it sees as likely to win. This is perhaps the right time to remind ourselves that it was high-quality Swedish ore that powered Nazi Germany's war machine.

It is perhaps also the right time for people of conscience to vote with their wallets and give Sweden 's IKEA, Volvo and Saab a wide berth. There is no Swedish product that cannot be replaced with an alternative from a democracy with moral values.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 03:54 AM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2006

Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism

Appointed by President George W. Bush, May 21, 2006

President Signs the Global Anti-Semitism Awareness Review Act


Washington, D.C.—In an effort to help curb the alarming increase in hate crimes against Jews and Jewish institutions around the world, President Bush signed The Global Anti-Semitism Awareness /Review Act Saturday, Oct. 16.
The bill, versions of which were championed by Sen. George Voinovich (R Ohio), Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), and Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), will create an office within the Department of State responsible for monitoring and combating global antisemitism. It will also require the state department to file an annual report documenting hate crime incidents.

Remarks at the Swearing-in of Gregg Rickman as the Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism

Washington, DC, May 22, 2006

Yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice swore in Gregg Rickman as the first Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism. Speaking on the importance of this position, the Secretary said, "more than six decades after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is not just an historical fact. It is a current event. President Bush has pledged that America will always stand for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity. Defending human dignity means defeating anti-Semitism." On March 20, 2006 President George W. Bush stated, "I made it clear, I'll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally, Israel."

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. Thank you. It is a pleasure to be here swear in Dr. Gregg Rickman as our Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism. I'm delighted also to welcome Gregg's family, his wife Sonia and their children Ira and Sam and Rachel who I met earlier in the anteroom and a special greeting to Gregg's parents Charlotte and Richard Rickman. Greg is going to serve as our first Anti-Semitism Special Envoy and this is a position that was created by the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act which is a position that will now be housed in our Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labor.

I want to recognize the seminal role of Congress in creating this position, especially Senator Voinovich. Thank you so much for joining us here and for your steady and consistent commitment to these important issues. I also want to thank Representatives Smith and Lantos who were unable to join us, but were instrumental in this legislation and also Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz who has joined us today.

President Bush has said that defending freedom also means disrupting the evil of anti- Semitism. Today ethnic and religious differences are still viewed by some as a license to kill. And we are reminded of the sad history of humankind when prejudice and hatred turn violent against those who are simply different.
More than six decades after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is not just an historical fact. It is a current event. Anti-Semitic hate crimes are on the rise still at home and abroad. And governments must take decisive action against the perpetrators of those crimes and new generations have to be inoculated against the dangerous bigotry that is instilled often through education in intolerance. That education in intolerance must be replaced by education in tolerance.

Gregg brings deep personal commitment to this mission. His father-in-law was a Holocaust survivor. And as a child, he heard his grandfather recount the horrors of the pogrom in Ukraine that took the lives of his very own family members. Gregg brings extensive professional experience on the Hill, working
on Holocaust restitution and anti-Semitism issues. And he also served as the
Director of Congressional Affairs for the Republican Jewish Coalition.
President Bush has pledged that America will always stand for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity. Defending human dignity means defeating anti Semitism.

Gregg, you have no stronger supporters of this mission than President Bush and me. The men and women of the State Department will also be your strong supporters in this important mission. I'm delighted that you have taken it on. I know you will perform it well with commitment and dedication and now I'm pleased to administer the Oath of Office.

(The Oath of Office was administered.)

MR. RICKMAN: Thank you, Madame Secretary. I want to thank the President and you for this great honor and appointing me to serve in this important new position. I am honored to be assuming this position in the month that President Bush has declared for the first time to be Jewish American Heritage month. It must be clear to all that there is no place in the world for this most ancient form of prejudice and bigotry. I want you to know that I will do all that I can to make it clear that in order for freedom and democracy to prevail, anti-Semitism in all its forms must be prevented.

One important way is through education aimed at instilling democratic values, including tolerance for those of all religions. If we have learned, any lessons from the past, it is that anti-Semitism left unchecked results in disaster. I was taught this much by my grandfather who fled the pogroms and revolution in the Russian Empire in 1919. He arrived in the United States a few years later an orphan and a stranger in a foreign land. Yet it was this country that gave him a safe haven. It is because of this fact that I have always felt the need to give something back to my country in gratitude. And it is this dedication that I bring to this position.

I want to thank Senator Voinovich and Representative Wasserman Schultz for attending today, State Department officials, members of the community and friends who are all here with us today. And of course I want to thank my wife Sonia and our three children as well as my parents, Charlotte and Richard, for all of their love and support.

Also, I've always admired the talented men and women who serve in the State Department and I look forward to joining them now. Again, Madame Secretary, thank you for the honor to serve you, the Administration and our great,nation in this cause. Thank you.

To Jewish Leaders from the Office of Jewish,Public.Liaison@WhiteHouse.Gov

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2006

On whose side is the Israeli Supreme Court?

Israel Supreme Court Strikes Blow at Settlement of Negev and Galilee

Israel National News

(First, Sharon/Olmert throw 8000 plus of Israel’s finest, most patriotic, dedicated citizens from Gaza giving some vague promise that they are to be re-settled in Galilee and the Negev. Then, in its infinite “Liberal” (read ‘self-destruct’) wisdom, Aharon Barak and his privately owned Supreme Court shoot down these plans. This, while former Gaza residents remain homeless, without gainful employment and without the monetary compensation promised by the Sharon/Olmert Knesset!

To Israel’s great detriment, Barak and the Israeli Supreme Court long ago lost sight of the fact that Israel was dedicated to be a Jewish Homeland. Because Israel neglected this very basic understanding, Arabs, finding a way of life far superior to that in their own homelands, have flocked in from all over the Middle East claiming some prior citizenship or ancestry that is a complete fabrication.) Jsk

By Ezra HaLevi

JERUSALEM — Israel’s Supreme Court struck a blow to government plans to develop the Negev and Galilee as areas of Jewish settlement, ruling on Monday that the state may not define Jewish towns as “priority areas” any more than Arab ones. The court heard a petition brought by the Adalah Arab-rights advocacy group. Adalah claimed there was a double standard in a state plan to finance educational institutions in areas given the status of “national priority” by the government — most of which were Jewish towns.

According to the court, 500 Jewish communities have received such status, as compared with only four Arab communities to do so. “This gave rise to suspicions that the distinctions were based on race and nationality” Chief Justice Aharon Barak said. The Supreme Court declared that all definitions
of “national priority areas” made by the government would be annulled.
“The government’s decisions were flawed, clearly discriminated against Arabs and damaged equal rights,” said Barak.

The court decision also opened the door for future petitions by Arab municipalities demanding equal assistance from the government in the Galilee and Negev, where Israel has planned to invest in Jewish settlement to balance out the Arab demographic prominence in those areas. “All government plans will be checked for equality between the various sectors,” read the verdict. “Equality is the common denominator and the basis of all human rights and other democratic values,” said Israeli-Arab Justice Salim Jubran. The verdict demanded that the government set clear criteria defining “national priority areas” which are to receive government assistance.

The ruling strikes yet another blow at government efforts to settle the Galilee and the Negev. Recruiting young idealists willing to move to outlying communities in those regions has proven to be difficult, following the perceived betrayal of those who settled in Gaza less than a generation ago and who were forcibly removed from their homes. Those former settlers are currently residing in temporary pre-fab housing and hotels.

MK Rabbi Avraham Ravitz (UTJ) slammed the court decision, pointing out that the court is quick to cry “discrimination” when the Arab community is targeted, but repeatedly sets a double standard when [reducing] aid to schools affiliated with the haredi-religious sector.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2006

Who were the 37 Members of Congress that voted Against the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act ?

By Jerome S. Kaufman
(Information and quotes from various sources)

May 23, 2006, by an overwhelming vote of 361-37, the House of Representatives passed the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, H.R. 4681. The bill ends direct aid and contact with the Hamas-run Palestinian Authority until Hamas renounces violence, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and agrees to abide by all previous agreements.

"The bill preserves necessary humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people, while keeping American taxpayer dollars out of the hands of a government run by terrorists. Hamas is a terrorist organization, whose involvement in the governmental process has not altered its stated goal of destroying Israel."

Instead of using these last few months to work toward better relations with Israel, Hamas continues to reject Israel's right to exist and to endorse continued violence against the Israeli people. Hamas' newly appointed Foreign Minister stated in a recent interview that 'there is no place for the state of Israel on this land.'

A Hamas spokesperson endorsed a recent suicide bombing that killed nine Israelis, stating that terrorists have "every right" to carry out suicide bombings against the Israeli people. This legislation sets out a clear path for the Hamas government – end your support for terrorism and recognize Israel's right to exist and you will be recognized as a legitimate member of the international community. But until those conditions are met, the United States will not allow American taxpayer dollars to be used to support or legitimize a terrorist-led Palestinian Authority.

Commended was the extraordinary work of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) who initiated the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006. The bill is the farthest U.S. lawmakers have ever gone towards cutting off the Palestinian leadership from U.S. aid and restricting assistance through non-governmental organizations.

To voters curious as to Party affiliation of those that voted against the bill, the following information may be of interest:

Of the 37 that voted against the bill 31 were Democrats and only 6 Republicans.

The 37 are listed below:

Arizona: Kolbe (R), Grijalva (D)
California: Becerra (D), Capps(D), Eshoo(D), Farr (D), Lee (D), G. Miller (R), Stark (D)
Georgia: Marshall (D), McKinney (D)
Illinois: LaHood (R)
Hawaii: Abercrombie (D)
Massachusetts: Capuano (D), McGovern (D)
Maryland: Gilchrest (R)
Michigan: Conyers (D), Dingell (D), Kilpatrick (D)
Minnesota: McCollum (D)
New York: Hinchey (D), Velázquez (D)
North Carolina: Jones (R), Price (D), Watt (D)
Ohio: Kaptur (D), Kucinich (D)
Oregon: Blumenauer (D), DeFazio (D)
Texas: Doggett (D), Paul (R), Thornberry (R)
Washington: McDermott (D)
West Virginia: Rahall (D)
Wisconsin: Moore (D), Obey (D)
Virginia: Moran (D)

Some names will immediately stick out for their long anti-Israel voting record - Cynthia McKinney (D), Conyers (D), Dingell (D), Kilpatrick (D), Kucinich (D), Rahall (D), Obey (D) and most of the others that I have neglected to mention.

Also of note is that of the 9 representatives who were present but elected to not vote, all were Democrats. The 9 are listed below:

California: Watson (D)
Illinois: Davis (D), Gutierrez (D), Jackson (D), Rush (D)
Indiana: Carson (D)
Missouri: Clay (D)
New Jersey: Payne (D)
Texas: E.B. Johnson (D)

Perhaps this information will be of some use when you are about to make political contributions or at your next visit to the voting booth?

Comment from reader:

Kucinich (D-OH) has a large Arab constituency and almost no Jews in his
district, so his voting record should not be a surprise. He took over a seat
previously help by Mary Rose OaKar, who went on to become president of the
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee after being charged with seven
federal felonies in a 1995 indictment in the U.S. District Court for the
District of Columbia.

Fred Taub

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:30 AM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2006

“How Jewish is Israel?”

A response to Tony Karon’s “How Jewish is Israel?”

Redacted from an article by Professor Michael Anbar

The provocative arguments in Tony Karon’s essay “How Jewish is Israel?” (Ha’aretz, May 19, 2006), call for a prompt response. On superficial reading, this essay sounds like a run of the mill ultra-liberal political statement, but on second reading one finds it to be a vitriolic attack on Judaism. It is possible that the Editor of Ha’aretz did not realize the rancorous implications of this essay before endorsing its publication.

Karon touches on profound issues such as the meaning of being a Jew, or a Zionist, of nationality as compared to nationalism, of misojudaism (anti-Semitism), and the roots of the Arab-Jewish conflict, all with amazing superficiality and perhaps even with malice. He seems to believe that universalism and humanism, which happen to be offsprings of Judaism, have obviated all the overwhelming issues cited above.

The only point on which I agree with Karon is that Israel (i.e., the modern State of Israel with an overwhelming Jewish majority) is not, and cannot be today the source of Jewish identity - a point that has been the declared position of A.B. Yehoshua’s, with whom I also strongly disagree. However, this is just a minor point in Tony Karon’s assault on Zionism. Zionism, i.e., the urge to regain political independence in the ancient historical homeland of the Jewish people, is undoubtedly a major source of Jewish identity. Zionism is rooted in the Bible and has been interwoven with Jewish thought ever since. It is an integral part of Jewish poetic liturgy and of the messianic idea that was borrowed later by Christianity.

It stands to simple logic that the Jewish Diaspora, glorified by Karon, is a meaningless concept without Zionism, just as the Armenian or Tibetan diasporas are meaningless without Armenia or Tibet, respectively. Diaspora means scattering – scattering from where? This simple notion seems to have escaped Tony Karon. I wish he had read, “Do they understand what Zionism is all about?” in my book “Israel and its Future.” Karon’s sweeping statements that “Before the Holocaust, Zionism had been a minority tendency among Western Jews, and scarcely existed among those living in the Muslim world” is patently untrue.

The concept of Jewish nationhood has not been invented in the 19th Century, as claimed in Karon’s essay. Would he have remembered history, he would have realized that any nationality evolves together with the perception of its history. The Bible is a manifestation of Jewish, and later of Christian historical perspectives. The Bible is not a lesser manifestation of Jewish national historical perspective than the writings of Tukidides or Tacitus were manifestations of Greek or Roman nationhood, respectively. “Bnei Yisrael” or “Am Yisrael,” i.e., The “People of Israel,” is an ancient tenet of nationhood of the Jewish people. Moreover, the Islamic “Umma,” which now threatens our civilization, is a religion-driven, exaggerated perception of nationhood that turned into violent nationalism. It is a concept that had been borrowed from the Bible to become utterly distorted and abused.

Karon’s idealized anti-national universalism “scorning national boundaries”, advocated primarily by some Jewish secular intellectuals, contradicts human social behavior as well as history. Supranational universalism, caricatured by the nationalistically-driven UN, is likely to be as short-lived as Zamenhof’s Esperanto, the “universal” language that ignored the existence of non-Western cultures, or Marx’s universal communism that has ignored basic economics (two other inventions of naïve Jewish intellectuals).

The lack of historical perspective or flagrant denial of history is reflected in Karon’s claim that the State of Israel was established as a consequence of the Holocaust “at the expense of another people.” Let me first remind Mr. Karon that hundreds of thousands of Jews lived in the Land of Israel a long time before the Holocaust. The political independence of the Jewish state from the British Mandate paralleled the political independence of other British and French neighboring colonial territories in the Middle East, including Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Iraq and Egypt. Any historian will tell you that with or without the UN, Great Britain would not have retained its colonial rule of the Land of Israel. The Arab propaganda claim, supported by Karon, that the Jewish State was “created” by the UN (by a mistake that must be reversed!) is a historic fallacy.

Moreover, the UN 1947 resolution to “establish” the State of Israel on just a small part of the original territory assigned under a British Mandate to the Jewish people by the League of Nations in 1920, was an attempt to neutralize opposition of the Arabs who continued to defy international law by their invasion of May 1948. The UN recognition of all other states, cited above, was virtually automatic, i.e., nobody gives the UN credit for their establishment.

The Islamic assault on Israel is not a unique phenomenon. Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the PLO-Syrian invasion of Lebanon in 1975 were other examples of Islamic aggression against countries in the Middle East under non-Islamic rule. I wonder how these highly relevant recent historical events could have been missed by Tony Karon. How does he reconcile and accept Islamic unmitigated universal aggression in his borderless universalism? Why does he single out Jewish defensive response to Islamic aggression as unethical?

One should feel free to criticize the policies of the State of Israel, but one must not question the legitimacy of its very existence, as implied by Karon. The existence of a Jewish independent state in the ancient Jewish homeland cannot be denied by any Islamic foe or leftist ideologue, just as is the case with France, Greece or Ireland (even before the latter gained political independence).

As for Karon’s statement: “the expense of another people,” it is not clear which nation he refers to. Is it the Arab nation? Or is it the artificial “Palestinian nation” created after 1948 by the Arab league - the umbrella political organization of the Arab nation - as a tool to dislodge the Jews from the Middle East? For the sake of historical accuracy, it must be repeated here that the “Palestinian nation,” which is probably the entity Mr. Karon is referring to, has no history, no distinct language, literature, religion or other distinctive cultural features (minimal requirements defining any nation) prior to its artificial creation by Arab political leadership in reaction to the massive return of Jews to their homeland.

Following Mr. Karon’s reasoning the call for political independence by the Kurds, Maronites, Copts, Berbers, Druz, Armenians, Assyrians, or any other minority in the Arab empire should be perceived to be at “the expense of another people.” According to Mr. Karon the Arab nation seems to be immune to political national aspirations of its oppressed minorities. The State of Israel, which he accuses of being a colonial oppressor, is the only non-Arab, non-Muslim entity that established political independence within the Arab multi-state empire. This is Israel’s major political problem. One wonders if Mr. Karon, who has been ignoring so many historical facts, is an avowed Arab sympathizer or perhaps a Jew hater? I am afraid that the latter is correct, as attested by his anti-Zionist stance.

Mr. Karon declares himself to be a “rootless cosmopolitan” Jew. His demonstrable disregard for history and historical perspective makes him an eccentric self-hating Jew. Misojudaism is not limited to non-Jews, as demonstrated by Noam Chomsky. Misojudaism predated Christianity but was adopted by it, precipitating the Holocaust. However, today the standard bearers of misojudaism, in an addition to secular, liberal universalists such as Tony Karon, are the Muslims.

The Arab Israeli conflict is not a manifestation of anti-imperialism, as stated by Karon, but of Islamic misojudaism. Islamic misojudaism is rooted in the Qur’an where Jews are described as subhuman beings - descendents of apes and pigs. It is rooted in and modeled after the atrocious assaults of Mohammad on Jewish tribes in the Arabian Peninsula. Mohammad succeeded to eradiate all the Jews of Arabia and this tradition is driving the current Arab assault on Israeli Jews. Mohammad used deceit and treachery to defeat and conquer his Jewish victims, and this Islamic tradition is being followed today religiously (in both meanings of the word).

As to Karon’s challenge of the ethical conduct of Israeli Jews: He must refer to the protective restrictions imposed on Arabs in the “disputed territories,” captured from Jordan in the 1967 war, following the continuous Arab bloody terror that targeted the Jewish civilian population. The declared aims of this terror, explicitly stated in the Charters of the PLO and Hamas, is to dislodge the Jews from their homeland. That aggressive policy is based on the Islamic conquest of the land of Israel in the 7th Century and the Islamic religious premise that once a territory is conquered by Muslims it becomes Islamic land for perpetuity. However, this Islamic premise does not obligate Jews who are the original owner of the land. Jews are not bound by Islamic religious premises. It is hard to understand why active resistance to murderous assault should be considered unethical.

What would Tony Karon have done had he lived in a country where Muslim Arabs were incited by their clergy to mercilessly massacre innocent helpless Jews, as they did in 1920, 1921, 1929, 1935 to 1939 and then from 1949 up to date. In pacifist India people hunt down and kill bloodthirsty killer tigers; why should Arab terrorists who target defenseless women and children be treated differently? Could any ethical consideration justify giving up vigilance, risking exposure of one’s loved ones to merciless fanatic, religion-driven murderers? Would it not be unethical to allow murders of Jewish babies (officially declared by Muslim terrorist organizations to be legitimate targets of Islamic terrorism) to take place unhindered or unpunished?

Jewish ethics value human life whereas Islamic ethics glorify death, especially if it leads to killing of infidels. Jews will therefore compromise and even surrender to avoid death. It boils down to the sanctity of life versus the sanctity of death. Muslims consider this Jewish ethical premise a weakness to be exploited in their attempt to dislodge the Jews from their homeland. This is what motivates Islamic terrorism. Yet Karon criticizes Israelis for unethical conduct in their existential struggle, while closing his eyes to the barbaric ethics of their murderous adversaries. Again, hatred of Jews surpasses fairness.

Finally, I must challenge Karon’s notion that Jewish intellect can flourish only in a Diaspora. The scientific and technological achievements of Israeli Jews in less than 60 years, which have exceeded by far those of any other country of its size, using any objective criteria, demonstrate the superiority of intrinsic creativity embedded in Jewish culture (not in Jewish biological ethnicity!!!). Jewish creativity has been interwoven with Zionism which, to the chagrin of Tony Karon, is going to survive as long as Judaism does.

Dr. Anbar is Professor Emeritus of Biophysics at the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, His latest book is, Israel And Its Future: Analysis And Suggestions

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:06 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2006

Politically driven Torah Revisionism

Torah, not unlike the history of the State of Israel, undergoes deliberate political agenda-driven revisionism


All societies are governed by standards of behavior, accepted norms and the setting of goals both societal and personal. In dictatorships, these norms, goals, and challenges are set by the ruler or by an oligarchy. In a democratic society, the setting of standards must spring from the society itself. But what standards does such a society set for itself? Are these standards to be changeable and of limited time and effect? Are they to cater to whatever the current reality happens to be? Or are they to be gleaned from long-standing tradition and historical perspective? This choice is what lies at the heat of many of the internal conflicts that continue to divide our society and cause anguish to all concerned.

The Jewish people for centuries recognized that the standards they lived by were the standards set in the Torah and in the words and ideas of the Talmud, Midrash, and other rabbinic writings. While it is true that the Jewish people as a whole, and individual Jews as well, often failed to live up to those standards of morality, piety, and inspired behavior, nevertheless the standards themselves were never tampered with. No one dared to rewrite the Ten Commandments or revise the Torah rules concerning the sanctity of life, family, and marriage. The bar may have been set very high for all Jews to reach at all times, but the bar was never lowered in order to accommodate those of us who could not reach it.

The Torah and its way of life remained the ultimate challenge in Jewish existence, something always to strive for no matter how weak in flesh and spirit the Jews were. With the ideas of the Emancipation, the Enlightenment, urbanism, secularism, Marxism, and the other utopian schemes of the 18th century and thereafter, this attitude towards immutable standards began to change. In essence, standards were compromised, and the bar was lowered to accommodate the public’s behavior. And once that process began it has never been arrested. Under the protective slogans of academic freedom, artistic expression, pluralism, alternative lifestyles, and liberalism, the traditional standards for Jewish society were lowered and in many cases completely eliminated.

The assault on the Jewish home and family that these new standards encouraged has wreaked much havoc in the Jewish world. The disappearance of millions of Jews from our society because of rampant assimilation over the last decades, when added to the destruction of the Holocaust, has created a demographic problem in the Jewish world of almost unparalleled proportions. Standards once dearly kept are today merely options — and not very popular ones at that. Shabbat, family, marriage, tradition, moral behavior, and sexual probity have all been sacrificed on the altar of a modernity that no longer maintains any absolute standards and treats every problem supposedly evenhandedly and with moral equivalency.

Standards by their very nature oppose the concept of unlimited personal freedom. The entire structure of Halacha (Jewish biblical law) and Jewish tradition is meant to create a sense of balance between the personal freedom of an individual and the challenge of standards that order society and enhance personal behavior. High standards can lead to better societies and a life of greater quality. Much of the frustration, stress and dysfunction that characterize modern Western society can be traced to the fact that our so-called achievements are not being measured against any true standard. We therefore feel cheated as a result of the laxity of standards that we ourselves created. A study of traditional Jewish standards of education, social behavior, and faith would certainly help us all regain a sense of pride in ourselves and in Jewish society as a whole.

The writer ( is a brilliant historian, speaker, and educator living in Israel

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2006

The Jews and Darfur

By Jerome S. Kaufman
May 19, 2006

It is certainly extremely kind of so many Jews and their organizations to get involved in Darfur refugee campaigns such as the one held April 30 at the National Mall in Washington, DC. What with media ignorance, misguided political correctness and deliberate obscuration of the nature of the conflict, I wonder how many Jews and their organizations have any real understanding of the facts of the case?

In brief, the history is as follows:

Following independence of the Sudan from the British in 1956, the Sudanese government acquired a strong Arab character and civil war began between the Arab dominated government and the non-Muslims defending their rights and now pejoratively referred to as “rebels.” In 1983, the Second Sudanese Civil War ensued when the president declared Sharia law in the south.

In February 2003, two “rebel’ groups accused the government of oppressing non-Arabs in favor of Arabs and attacked government forces and installations. The government response was to mount a campaign of aerial bombardment supporting ground attacks by an Arab militia, the Janjaweed, recruited from local tribes and armed by the government.

So, here is just another example of Muslims in power deliberately driving out or subjugating any minority within their midst whenever it is economically advantageous or militarily possible. This transpires even if those attacked are fellow Muslims but may have decided, centuries ago, that a different chap was the legitimate successor to the prophet Muhammad.

The Janjaweed, Sudanese Arab zealots, have taken a historical lesson from Muhammad’s followers of centuries past and his current followers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, the Philippines, the Caucuses of the former Soviet Union, Indonesia, etc. etc. These killers have methodically and unmercifully attacked non-Muslims, driving them from their land, burning their villages, raping and then killing their women and children and taking possession of the land - all under the subterfuge of Shari law and with no end in sight.

How come the Arabs with 1.3 billion Islamic faithful throughout the world are not stopping this carnage? The answer is, of course, transparent and on course as a part of WW IV that Norman Podhoretz so brilliantly describes as the war between Islam and the rest of the world in Commentary magazine of September 2004.

And how about African Blacks that should be protecting their brethren and maintaining peace on the continent? And where is the holier than thou, duplicitous Kofi Annan and his United Nations - totally ineffective and corrupt, as usual.

The greatest irony of all is, guess who, along with the Jews, attended the Darfur rally - Al Sharpton - renown anti-Semite, former presidential candidate and stalwart of the Democratic Party and James Zogby, pre-eminent Arab propagandist in the United States! How clever! Obviously Zogby is trying, as usual, to obscure the landscape and confuse the naïve as to the true nature of the conflict and deflect the direct blame from his fellow Arab constituents on that side of the world to whomever - maybe the Jews, if they don’t watch out.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2006

Olmert Brings Suicidal “Convergence Plan” to Washington

Redacted from an article by Caroline Glick

The Jerusalem Post, May. 4, 2006

In a few days, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will arrive in Washington, DC to present his plan to withdraw Israeli civilians and military forces from much of Judea and Samaria with the hopes of securing American support and funding for his plan.

Olmert's planned withdrawal presents a dilemma for Washington. On the one hand, the US traditionally has supported Israeli withdrawals from territories that Israel took over in the Six Day War, and Olmert's plan aligns with this customary preference. On the other hand, the US is now fighting a war against the global jihad and one of its primary goals is to prevent the establishment of new bases for jihadist forces.

Israel's withdrawal from Gaza this past summer fomented Hamas's rise to power in the Palestinian Authority and enabled the transformation of Gaza into a base for al-Qaida, Hizbullah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. An Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria will exacerbate the current situation.

Were the Americans to base their policies on what they hear in the Israeli media, they might conclude that Israel will be destroyed if it doesn't vacate Judea and Samaria tomorrow. What they would miss is that the debate in Israel about retaining control over Judea and Samaria or relinquishing control of the areas to Hamas has nothing to do with Hamas, Hizbullah, al-Qaida, or any other consideration that might be called strategic.

What is hard to understand from reading Israel's media is that the country is in the midst of a culture war. Leftist secular messianists, who have replaced their peace god, which Yasser Arafat destroyed six years ago, with a withdrawal god, are pushing for the Judea and Samaria withdrawal as part of their offensive against religious Zionism which is headquartered in the Israeli settlements of Judea and Samaria that Olmert's plan will destroy

ISRAEL HAS had next to no debate either on the strategic consequences of the Gaza withdrawal or on the likely security consequences of a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria. Such a debate would note that the Gaza withdrawal was a failure on every level. It would also raise the likelihood that an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria will cause an inflow of terrorists and missiles that will place all of Israel's major cities as well as its major highways, seaports and Ben-Gurion Airport within missile range from Hizbullah forces in Lebanon and Palestinian forces in Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

Aside from that, such a debate would no doubt draw attention to the fact that a jihadist takeover of Judea and Samaria would cause an immediate danger to the Hashemite regime in Jordan. To date, Israeli military control of Judea and Samaria has made it difficult for Palestinian jihadists to threaten Jordan. But if Israel retreats, there will be no one stopping them from joining forces with their counterparts on the east bank of the Jordan River.

And so, an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would cause the destabilization of America's two most stable and reliable allies in the Middle East. Fuel and other vital materiel for US forces in Iraq would no longer be able to be safely transported overland from Israeli ports through Jordan into Iraq due to the instability of both Israel and Jordan. This would increase American dependence on ports in the Persian Gulf. This increased American dependence would embolden Iran to cause the US Navy repeated headaches in the Straits of Hormuz. Judea and Samaria would be used as a terror training base for jihadists who would go on to fight not only Israel, but US forces in Iraq.

Aside from that, just as Israel's retreat from Gaza convinced the Palestinians that terror pays and so brought Hamas to power, an Israeli retreat from Judea and Samaria leading to the destabilization of both Israel and Jordan will be perceived by the Arab and Islamic worlds as a strategic victory for the forces of jihad.

From Paris to Haifa to Islamabad to Baghdad, to Dearborn, Michigan thousands will answer the call to jihad and the US and its allies will experience unprecedented difficulty in attempting to convince Arab and Muslim governments, opinion makers, intellectuals and activists to support them.

Political and cultural leaders who today support the US's strategic goal of bringing democracy and liberalism to the Arabs and Muslims worldwide will be cowed into silence. After all, whether the US likes it or not, the Arab and Muslim worlds perceive Israel as an American client state and as a result, an Israeli retreat is seen as an American retreat. If Israel is weakened, America is weakened.

OLMERT HAS put a price tag of $10 billion on his withdrawal plan. Many Israeli economists have claimed that this is a gross underestimate of the actual cost of the massive withdrawals he has planned and the dislocation of between 50,000-100,000 Israeli civilians. Nonetheless, Israel's new prime minister is hoping that the Congress will agree to have US taxpayers cover the bill. Olmert is also hoping that the Bush administration will recognize the lines of his proposed retreat as Israel's political borders.

America has not hesitated to force Israel to change course in everything from building settlements, to not responding to unprovoked missile attacks during the 1991 Gulf War, to cancelling weapons sales to places like China when the US believed that its national sec urity interests were harmed by Israel's action.Generally, Israel's leaders have abided by American requests. Sometimes, when they felt that Israel's national well-being or their political fortunes were at stake, they did not.

Olmert's withdrawal plan will be devastating for Israel's national security. But that's Israel's problem to deal with. We elected this government and we will pay the price. But, the US has no reason to support this plan that harms its most important interests in the region, and in its war against global jihad. When Olmert comes to Washington, the first question his hosts should ask him is how can he expect them to support a plan that advances the cause of global jihad?

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:21 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2006

Noble Laureate Aumann - Game Theory Analysis and the Peace Process

The Jewish Press, May 5, 2006

World-renowned researcher and mathematics professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Robert Israel Aumann, recipient of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics, addressed a sizeable crowd at the Young Israel of Holliswood on April 29. The event was sponsored by the Queens Jewish Community Council, Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists and the Young Israel of Holliswood.

Through a question and answer format, Professor Aumann, an observant Jew, described his (and his family’s) experiences while participating in the prestigious Nobel Prize ceremony, which took place in Stockholm, Sweden, this past December 10. He explained how every detail was pre-planned down to the white tie and tails outfit, which every male in attendance was required to wear, regardless of age.

The coveted prize was awarded jointly to Professor Aumann and to Professor Thomas Schelling of the University of Maryland, for their work done on the “conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.” Over the last 25 years, game theory has become a universally accepted tool and language in economics and in many areas of other social sciences.

“One of the fundamental points I made in my Nobel lecture was that a lot of effort is put into trying to resolve specific conflicts,” stated Professor Aumann. “People try to solve them and are more often not successful. I suggest to back off a little bit and stop putting so much effort into resolving specific conflicts and try to look at war as a general phenomenon.”

When posed with the question about how to deal with the ongoing “Israeli—Palestinian” conflict, he responded, “I want to voice my objection to the use of the term ‘Israeli-Palestinian’ conflict. I object to the use of ‘Palestinian’ to describe Arabs only. There are Palestinian Arabs and also Palestinian Jews. My beloved wife sitting right here happens to be a Palestinian Jew.” After pointing out his wife, he continued, “The use of the term Palestinian to describe only Arabs is very bad and counterproductive. There has been a Jewish majority in Jerusalem for well over 100 years.”

The Professor went on to explain how game theory can be applied to the situation in the Middle East. “The basic insight for which I was awarded a Nobel Prize is that in a long term interaction — what is called a repeated game cooperation, a mutually satisfactory settlement is much more likely in a long shot game. One has to realize for this principle to work, it is important for the sides to be patient and not to have short-term goals, but to have long term goals.

Patience is very important... One of the problems for both sides is that we don’t have time — we want peace now... I say we stop praying for peace. I say let’s not be so eager. . Every businessman knows that if you are very eager, then you get the bottom part of the deal. In our case, the bottom part of the deal is this continuous strife... The way to promote peace is not to want it so much... If we want not to fight, we must be ready to fight.”

Professor Aumann was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1930 and came to the U.S. in 1938 with his parents and brother. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from City College, New York, in 1950, and a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1955, followed by post-doctoral work at Princeton University in New Jersey. He immigrated to Israel in 1956, becoming an instructor at the Hebrew University, rising to the rank of full professor in 1968 and professor emeritus in 2000. He has served as a visiting professor at Princeton, Yale and. Stanford universities, the University of California at Berkeley, and Stony Brook University, New York. He is the author of nearly 100 scientific papers and six books. Aumann is the eighth Israeli to win a Nobel Prize.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2006

Kudos to the Zionist Organization of America with Attorney Susan Tuchman

New York - On May 9, 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision in favor of Raphael Bigio, Bahia Bigio, Ferial Salma Bigio, and B. Bigio & Co. – three members of an Egyptian Jewish family and a company they control. The Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) Center for Law and Justice had filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief supporting the Bigios in their lawsuit against the Coca-Cola Company.

The Bigios owned land and factories in Egypt, which were stolen from them in the 1960’s by the Egyptian government, with no compensation to the Bigios whatsoever. This was done during the Nasser regime, simply because the Bigios were Jewish. Eventually, the Egyptian government ordered that the property be returned to the Bigios, but the state-owned entity holding the property refused to comply. The Bigios’ property was transferred to an entity in which the Coca-Cola Company has a substantial interest, again with no compensation to the Bigios. Coca-Cola knew when it obtained that interest that the property had been wrongfully taken from the Bigios; Coca-Cola had been a tenant of the Bigios. But Coca-Cola refused to compensate the Bigios for the wrongful loss of their property.

Unable to obtain relief in the Egyptian courts, the Bigios sued the Coca-Cola
Company in a New York federal district court. The district court dismissed their lawsuit. Although the court decided that it had jurisdiction over the case, it concluded that the case should be heard in Egypt.

On the Bigios’ appeal of the district court’s decision, they asked the ZOA to submit an amicus brief on their behalf, showing that anti-Semitism is so deeply embedded in Egyptian society, and is still rampant today, that the Bigios’ claims could not be decided fairly and impartially in Egypt. The American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists fully supported the ZOA’s position, which is reflected in the ZOA’s brief. The Decalogue Society of Lawyers, a bar association of Jewish judges and lawyers in the Chicago area, also strongly supported the ZOA’s position and asked the Court of Appeals for permission to join in the ZOA’s amicus brief.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the district court’s decision to dismiss the Bigios’ case, and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. As between Coca-Cola’s preference for a court in Egypt and the Bigios’ choice of an American court, the Court of Appeals decided that the Bigios were entitled to have an American court decide their claims against Coca-Cola.

The ZOA applauds the Court of Appeals’ decision and congratulates the Bigios on their victory. Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., the Director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, noted, “We couldn’t be more pleased with the Second Circuit’s ruling and are proud to have played a part in it. The Bigios will finally have their claims decided by a fair and impartial American court. And Coca-Cola, an American company, will finally have to answer for its shameful conduct of reaping the benefits from the property of an Egyptian Jewish family without compensating them.”

Morton Klein, President ZOA

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2006

The Hypocrisy of Olmert’s Coalition Formation

By Jerome S. Kaufman

Utilizing information from a report by columnist Gil Hoffman

The Jerusalem Post April 20, 2006

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert intends to complete a unilateral withdrawal from most of the West Bank by the time US President George W. Bush finishes his term in November 2008, sources close to him revealed on April 9. The new date cuts two years from the deadline Olmert set for himself in interviews prior to the election.

The Likud team negotiating as to becoming a part of Olmert’s Kadima government coalition tried to find out whether Olmert was seeking international recognition for the new borders or merely the world’s backing for withdrawing. The Kadima team told them it was the latter but Olmert himself said in an interview with Newsweek that he would seek US recognition for the borders if he sets them unilaterally.

Following the talks, the Likud delegation said there was no chance that the party would join the coalition. The talks were much more positive with Yisrael Beiteniu. Officials from all three parties (Labor, Shas, Yisrael Beiteniu) said significant progress was made on the first day of negotiations. Shas mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, will have to decide whether he can justify joining a government set to withdraw from most of the West Bank, after opposing disengagement from the Gaza Strip. (He did)

Talks with Yisrael Beiteniu focused on finding a solution for the thousands of Israelis who are not permitted to marry by the rabbinate. Shas officials said they recognized the urgency of the problem and that they believed a solution could be found within Halacha.

While Shas and Yisrael Beiteniu were pleased to hear from Kadima that the convergence plan would not be mentioned explicitly in the coalition guidelines, former Justice Minister David Liba’i, head of the Labor negotiating team, said the party would object to unclear diplomatic guidelines. Liba’i said that Labor and Kadima agreed on diplomatic and security issues and on the need for political reform. He said the sole remaining problem between them was on the socio-economic issue.

The Kadima team asked Liba’i to return to the negotiating table to explain how to fund raise for the minimum wage increase. “Labor and Shas are close to joining the government,” a Kadima team member said. “There wasn’t anything in the talks that would prevent them from joining, and the gaps between us were not wide. Olmert wants a wide coalition with parties that understand what we intend to do over the next few years and which will have no excuse for leaving the government later.”

Wherein lies the hypocrisy?

1. Olmert had told the Israeli electorate that it would be four years for the withdrawal from Judea and Samaria to take place, not two as declared now.

2. Olmert and his spokespeople declare differently whether Olmert will ask for international and American approval of the borders to which he plans to withdraw and it is abundantly clear the Olmert will withdraw to borders of his own mindset - certainly not ever satisfying either the Palestinians or the world community and again leaving the Israelis in limbo and more in danger than ever.

3. Shas and Yisrael Beiteniu asked that Olmert’s “Convergence” Plan, i.e. surrender from Judea and Samaria, not be mentioned in the coalition agreement thus embarrassing them before their voting constituency who thought they were voting for just the opposite. Yisrael Beiteniu had declared before the election that they would not buy into any withdrawal without reciprocal arrangements with the Palestinians as to mutual population and land exchanges and has now reneged on this qualification.

4. Ovadia Yosef, spiritual head of Shas, who opposed Gaza withdrawal and now must stomach a much more destructive West Bank withdrawal also has declared some adaptation within holy Jewish law (Halacha) will be found to allow Russian immigrants, the foundation of Yisrael Beiteniu, to marry. In that way the new government coalition can be accommodated!

5. Olmert will shortly discard the few innovations of a capitalistic economy instigated so successfully by Bibi Netanyahu and return Israel to a destructive socialist economy as demanded by Amir Peretz, leader of the Labor party and former leader and crippling strike declarer for the Histadrut Labor union.

With this not unexpected abundance of political hypocrisy in Israel’s leadership is it any wonder that the Israelis stayed away from the voting booths in record numbers?

Jerome S. Kaufman

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2006

Cutie Pie Katie Couric - the New Dan Rather?

The Washington Times April 23, 2006

The torch of Dan Rather has been passed at CBS, and another liberal flame-thrower is on the job,” Tim Graham writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreviewcom).

“Katie Couric may seem to some as too stuffed with Perky Morning Cuteness to be attacked as an icon of the Liberal Elitist Media but as different as her sparkly ‘That Girl’ personality is from Dan Rather’s wizened weirdness, they have one thing in common: ‘Truth is a malleable commodity; something to be stretched and smudged like Silly Putty on the Sunday funnies if the political cause is right,’ said Mr. Graham, director of media analysis at the Media Research Center.

“One moment sticks out in remembering Couric’s approach to journalism. Reporters rarely admit their political leanings, but on the network morning shows, the female anchors are bold enough to identify themselves as part of the feminist movement. The words ‘feminist’ and ‘we’ can be inter-changed, as they were in a June 2, 1994, ‘Today’ show interview when Katie Couric asked author of Who Stole Feminism, Christina Hoff Sommers. ‘What should we be using other than this angry rhetoric in the feminist movement?

“But a much more pernicious form of bias was revealed when the talk turned to statistics. Sommers scowled at the thoroughly discredited statistic that domestic violence increases after football games. Discredited statistics discredit the cause. But not for Couric, who suggested the feminist cause is more important than the truth. ‘Let’s say, if one accepts your thesis, that these statistics are inflated or are used incorrectly. ‘Aren’t you worried about throwing the baby out with the bath water’ asked Couric of Sommers.
'So Super Bowl Sunday isn’t the biggest day for men battering women. Aren’t you afraid that you’re going to be dismissing the problem all together if you refute that, or if you constantly criticize that?’

Thus, Couric’s Law: Don’t refute errors if they set back liberal progress. (Huh?) As a result of convoluted thinking and news presentation of that sort, Katie Couric needs to be taken seriously, with CBS replacing one Rather with another.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2006

Bibi Netanyahu and Israel’s Economic Policies

By Jonathan Tobin
The Jewish Press, April 21, 2006

Most Americans will sing no sad songs for the latest catastrophe in the puzzling public career of Benjamin Netanyahu. The US educated Bibi spent most of the last decade arrogantly alienating friends, embittering enemies and outsmarting himself at every turn. But last month’s election results, which netted his Likud party just 12 Knesset seats, did set a benchmark for failure. While he has his fans, especially here in the Philadelphia region where he grew up, Netanyahu’s fall is appreciated more than his rise was.

Despite that dismal result, supporters of the Israeli Right are attempting to argue that Ehud Olmert did not earn a “mandate” to withdraw from parts of the West Bank because his own vote totals fell below expectation. That’s a loser’s argument because, even if the results were less than overwhelming, Olmert will still have the votes to govern and probably do as he plans.

But even from this distance, there’s no doubting there was one issue on which the voters really did send a message - the economy. And that’s where the unfortunate Bibi comes in. During his stint as finance minister, while serving under Ariel Sharon, Netanyahu made more progress changing Israel's troubled economic paradigm than any of his predecessors. Though every Israeli government since 1992 has pledged itself to free-market reform, the hold of the old socialist model on the country (imposed by its founders, whose understanding of economic principles did not equal their grasp of security) has bean like a zombie’s death grip in a horror movie.

While Israelis rightly brag about their high-tech industry, the economy as a whole was sick. Though the burden of defending a nation under siege hurts the economy, that’s not the complete explanation. Sky-high taxes and a bloated government bureaucracy that sticks its nose into every thing that moves — and much that doesn’t — are fatal to growth. Nor did anyone seriously take on the enormous social-service entitlements that flow from the government. Economic power in the Jewish state was still concentrated in a few banks, the Histadrut, Israel’s national labor federation, and government-controlled enterprises and authorized monopolies - a dilemma caused by the slow pace of privatization.

Shortly after his triumph in the 1996 election, then-Prime Minister Netanyahu had told a joint session of the U.S. Congress that he was going to try to end economic aid from the United States (military aid, which is separate from the economic assistance, makes up the majority of all US aid, is actually almost all spent in the United States, not Israel) But that never happened. What Netanyahu did as finance minister was to enact an austerity budget that sought to curb the massive deficits and unending flow of money from the treasury. He pushed reform of the banking industry and injected a touch of accountability into the government sector.The result of these modest measures was growth and the hope that the country might take its first real steps toward an end to dependence on foreign aid, which is the underpinning of the entire system.

Although Netanyahu earned his unsavory political reputation honestly, his time running the Finance Ministry proved to be his finest hour of public service. The irony is that it was also his most unpopular. Netanyahu faced constant criticism for being “heartless,” victimizing the poor and violating Jewish “values.” The Histadrut, which was run by the un-reconstructed socialist Amir Peretz, who would lead Labor in the election, tried to sabotage the reforms through illegal strikes.

The cuts were painful, but they were also necessary. In the long run, his measures would have created more prosperity for more Israelis - something that this underpaid and overtaxed people will never get without change. But the assault on the reforms paid off at the ballot box. Labor held its ground largely by taking the votes of lower income Israelis who had heretofore voted for the Right. The Sephardi Orthodox Shas Party, which prides itself on sucking the system dry for its yeshivas, won 12 seats. A new Pensioners Party, which stood for a massive increase in entitlements and a rollback on reform, came out of nowhere to win 7 seats.

With Olmert needing all of them, you can bet Netanyahu’s hard work will be thrown away as the new prime minister buys the votes he needs with more expenditures and higher taxes. Behind this isn’t just the desire of the Histadrut and other power bases to maintain their control. It is rather a national dependence on free money that has infected all of Israeli society.
By free money, I mean the flow of foreign economic aid and private contributions that, while intended to help the country helped subsidize the corruption and failure that have plagued the country’s government and economy, and much of its institutions.

Just as much as the burden of war, it is this that has driven hundreds of thousands of Israelis to immigrate to places where more economic freedom exists, such as the United States and even Germany. For all the talk of the growing disparity between rich and poor in Israel, the answer to this problem isn’t redistribution of the money of the well off but the creation of more wealth. But what Israel’s political class doesn’t seem to understand is that the creation of wealth requires policies that foster capitalism, not patronage.

Despite the tremendous pool of human talent and ingenuity that built a nation from nothing and defended it bravely against overwhelming odds, Israel has also become a shameless welfare state on steroids, with bank “overdrafts” not just a common item of personal debt, but a metaphor for the whole country.

And the truth is that all of us who love it have over the years become its “enablers,” as we helped pour money into the hands of its unscrupulous politicians. This is not to say that contributions that go directly to pay for causes, such as the absorption of immigrants or investment in bonds, are wrong. Far from it. But we must recognize that Israel’s addiction to failed social-welfare economics and entitlement binges are harmful to its health and ultimately to its security And it’s time for those of us who care about its fate to say so. People who don’t live there have no right to dictate security policies. But if Israeli voters prefer a country in which failure is subsidized and achievement penalized, they should not expect anyone else to pay for it.

Jonathan Tobin is Executive Editor of the Jewish Exponent, Philadelphia

(PS - Tobin’s harsh evaluation of Netanyahu’s political career, as opposed to his economic achievements, is open to great dispute. Especially compared to the man the Israelis somehow elected, Netanyahu is an ardent nationalist and defender of the Jewish state.) Jsk.

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

May 05, 2006

Why the Jews and Kosher Salt

Redacted from a marvelous commentary on the torah chapter of the week, ACHAREI-KEDOSHIM

By Rabbi Naftali Silberberg, Bais Chabad, West Bloomfield, MI

“Therefore, I said to the children of Israel: ‘None of you shall eat blood, and the stranger who sojourns among you shall not eat blood’”—Leviticus 17:12.

Feeling spiritual on Yom Kippur is easy. No eating, no business, no spousal relations, and long hours praying in the synagogue are conducive to intense angelic sensations. It’s no wonder that so many religions place a premium on asceticism, demanding that their most devoted adherents divorce themselves completely from the temptations offered by the world. Celibacy, long hours of meditation, fasting, and life in a secluded monastery is the surest path to a life of spirituality.

The Torah, however, has a very different perspective. This week’s portion starts with a mention of Nadab and Abihu’s deaths—partially a punishment for their spiritually motivated decision to remain celibate. G-d wants us to walk a thin tightrope. He wants us to be married, go to work, and partake of lavish Shabbat and holiday meals—and at that very moment to be at the pinnacle of spirituality and holiness - a daunting task, to say the least. How does one simultaneously dwell in two contradictory worlds—the world of the spirit and the world of the flesh?

Every mitzvah (a commandment or worthy deed) is comprised of a body and soul. The body represents the physical act which we are commanded to do or which we are instructed to avoid. The soul of the mitzvah is the lesson it imparts and which we are to implement in our lives. The prohibition against consuming blood, as well as the process of its removal, teaches a powerful lesson pertaining to our approach to our relationship with the world.

We are not always fortunate enough to contend with the divine or even with “humanity”—on a daily basis. We also have to deal with the “animalistic,” completely non-spiritual aspects of regular life. Consumption of animal flesh is a metaphor for these moments of the day. Blood represents warmth, life and passion. The Torah enjoins us to remove all the blood from our worldly activities; to be involved in the world; to partake of its flesh but without excessive enthusiasm or excitement.

How, you ask, is this possible? Through salt! Blood is removed from meat via a thorough salting process. The Torah describes the covenant between G-d and His nation as a “salt covenant” (Leviticus 2:13). The commentators explain that salt never decays; it remains eternally fresh much as our relationship with G-d never expires or even becomes slightly stale.

Interestingly, the symbol of our relationship with G-d is a food item which is independently inedible—its primary purpose is to add wonderful taste to practically all other foods. Similarly, our relationship with G-d is not an end within itself, rather it is meant to give a spiritual “flavor” and meaning to all other aspects of our life.

We have to liberally sprinkle salt on every part of our life—on our workplace, on our dinner table, on our gym, and even on our vacation destinations. When our love for G-d and our desire to serve Him with every fiber of our being is our leading motivation, then all we do is for Him. We eat and exercise so that we have the strength to serve Him; we work to have the means to serve Him, etc. Thus, when life is salty, there’s no need to run away to an isolated ascetic existence in some monastery.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2006

How Corrupt is the United Nations?

Redacted from a no holds bared article by Claudia Rosett

Commentary Magazine, April, 2006

RECENT YEARS have brought a cascade of scandals at the United Nations, of which the wholesale corruption of the Oil-for-Food relief program in Iraq has been only the most visible. We still do not know the full extent of these debacles— the more sensational ones include the disappearance of UN funds earmarked for tsunami relief in Indonesia and the exposure of a transnational network of pedophiliac rape by UN peacekeepers in Africa—and we may never know. What we do know is that an assortment of noble-sounding efforts has devolved into enterprises marked chiefly by abuse, self-dealing, and worse.

Seen by many, including many Americans, as the chief arbiter of legitimacy in global politics, the UN is understood by others to be the only institution standing between us and global anarchy. If that is so, the portents are not promising. The free world is grappling with threats from the spread of radical Islam to North Korea’s nuclear blackmail and Iran’s pursuit of nuclear bombs. The UN, despite its trophy case of Nobel prizes, has failed so far to curb any of these, just as it failed abysmally to run an honest or effective sanctions program in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Currently it is gridlocked over matters as seemingly straightforward as cleaning up its own management department.

In the effort to address the UN’s manifold problems, there have been audits, investigations, committees, reports, congressional hearings, action plans, and even a handful of arrests by U.S. federal prosecutors. There have been calls for Secretary General Kofi Annan to step down before his second term expires at the end of this year. Solutions have been sought by way of better monitoring, whistleblower protection, the accretion of new oversight bodies, and another round of conditions attached to the payment of U.S. dues. On top of the broad reforms of the early l990’s, the sweeping reforms of 1997, the further reforms of 2002, and the world summit for reform in 2005, still more plans for reform are in the works.

To its external auditors, internal auditors, joint inspections unit, eminent-persons panels, executive boards, and many special consultants, the UN has recently added an Office of Ethics—now expected to introduce in May what will presumably become an annual event: “UN Ethics Day.” Is any of this likely to help? Behind the specific scandals lies what one of the UN’s own internal auditors has termed a “culture of impunity. A grand committee that reports to itself alone, the UN operates with great secrecy and is shielded by diplomatic immunity. One of its prime defenses, indeed, is the sheer impenetrability of its operations: after more than 60 years as a global collective, it has become a welter of so many overlapping programs, far-flung projects, quietly vested interests, nepotistic shenanigans, and interlocking directorates as to defy accurate or easy comprehension, let alone responsible supervision.

THE UNITED NATIONS was founded as a forum of governments. As we had ample occasion to learn over the decades, this arrangement presented quite enough problems of its own. Now the UN, in contravention of its own charter, is rapidly evolving into something larger, more corporate, and more menacing: a predatory, undemocratic, unaccountable, and self-serving vehicle for global government. Like the Soviet Union of old, the UN is unwieldy, gross, inefficient, and incompetent; it is also so configured as to reach deep into the national politics of its member states and, by sheer weight and persistence, to force at least some of the worst of its agenda upon all of us.

There will never be enough John Boltons to counter all of this—not that it was easy to come up with even one. Indeed, with notable exceptions, generations of American officials and policy-makers have been content, sometimes for reasons of state, sometimes for reasons of convenience, to look away from the UN’s multiform deficiencies and derelictions while occasionally indulging in minor punitive measures like withholding a proportion of our annual dues—akin to docking a delinquent’s bus money while continuing to pay for his liquor and his car. For many others in public life, and for many ordinary citizens as well, the institution itself, as the very embodiment of the multilateralist ideal, is still held in nearly sacred regard. All the more reason, then, to force ourselves at long last to take a hard, undeceived look at what the institution has in fact become, put aside the lengthy and futile quest for its reform, and begin to think more concretely about how, with or without it, we can best work to advance the interests and values of ourselves and other members of the civilized world.

CLAUDIA Rosett, a journalist in residence with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, is at work on a book about the United Nations in the age of terror. Her article, “The Oil-for-Food Scam: What Did Kofi Annan Know, and When Did He know it? appeared in the May 2004 Commentary. In 2005 she won both the Mightier Pen award and the Enc Breindel award for excellence in opinion journalism.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2006

The New Threat


Redacted from a marvelous article in The New Republic, March 2006. Please read the magazine article

POLITICAL ISLAM—AGGRESSIVE, totalitarian—is now fully on the offensive. On January 3, Iran announced it would restart its nuclear program, which, despite its formal denials, is transparently meant to produce a nuclear weapon. On January 25, Palestinians gave a resounding electoral victory to the avowedly annihilative Islamic messianic political party, Hamas, which has now turned to Iran for assistance. And, in the last days of January and first days of February, four quiescent months after a Danish newspaper printed political cartoons of Mohammed, violent mass protests against Denmark and other European countries erupted in the Islamic world.

However disturbing each of these three developments is individually, we would miss their greater significance if we did not see their fundamental relatedness. In fact, they are ominously more important than the sum of their parts. Within a blink of the political eye, we have witnessed political Islam’s most widespread social mobilization—from Europe, through the Middle East, and into Asia—in response to the cartoons: political Islam’s most significant assumption of political power since the Iranian Revolution a quarter-century ago in the Palestinian community; and political Islam’s most threatening military development since Saddam Hussein’s attempt to put a stranglehold on the Gulf (and thereby the world), with his invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and contemporaneous nuclear weapons program.

Political Islam is on the march in the three loci of politics: the street, the halls of power, and the field of battle. Its targets are both domestic (to suppress freedom and dissent within Islamic countries; sharia is already becoming the rule in Gaza) and international (to spread its sway and impose its orthodoxy abroad). While its international power is still circumscribed, political Islam’s ambitions are extensive, violent, and frightening—with its members sensing its growing potential (fueled also by America’s geo-strategic weakening in the Iraq quagmire). Political Islam’s leaders and masses watch a Western world in evident disarray about what to do regarding each aspect of this partly coordinated, partly fortuitous offensive.

We must consider that we are witnessing the beginning of political Islam’s intensifying social and political mobilization into a new multi-pronged, intercontinental Intifada. A Sunni Muslim cleric, having helped organize anti-cartoon protests in his hometown and in Beirut, explained the protests’ significance: “The way I see it, the war [with the West] has already started.” …

WHAT IS POLITICAL Islam’s game plan for triumphing? In Iran - political Islam’s greatest state power—the leadership’s pronouncements lay out the contours of its aims. Like Al Qaeda, the current Iranian regime, led by Ahmadinejad, thirsts for revenge against the “arrogant” West. To them, the West has, for centuries, constricted, humiliated, divided, and dominated the Muslim nations. Ahmadinejad’s desire for revenge is coupled with a belligerent and global missionary zeal.

A renascent and ascendant Muslim world would first acquire nuclear weapons and thus attain parity of power with the West. Then it would annihilate Israel. Aided by global Islamic forces (there are an estimated 1.2 billion Muslims in the world), which are already showing their strength in Europe, political Islam would proceed to assail the West, weaken it, and ultimately subdue it.

In his speeches, Ahmadinejad sets forth his overarching ambition in unabashedly taunting and insulting terms. Western nations, he proclaims, “have stood against the resurrection movement of Islam. They think that they can undermine the world nations’ faith in Islam with desecration of Islamic sanctities. But the Muslim nations will give them a good lesson!” Ahmadinejad boasts of “a wave of Muslim awakening and the gradual collapse of the hegemony of the West.” Eventually, he foresees a world without the United States and without Zionism.”

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, an affiliate of Harvard’s Center for European Studies and author of HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS: ORDINARY GERMANS AND The HOLOCAUST, is completing a book on genocide in our time. His work can be read at GOLDHAGEN.COM.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:29 AM | Comments (0)