Friday, February 29, 2008

Vilnai is Dumb but BBC Could Have Done Better

Israel warns of Gaza 'holocaust'

"The more [rocket] fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they (the Palestinians) will bring upon themselves a bigger holocaust because we will use all our might to defend ourselves," Matan Vilnai told Israeli army radio.

Correspondents say the "holocaust" is a term rarely used in Israel outside discussions of the Nazi genocide during World War II.

Actually, this is a lifting from the YNet report here. Bit of plagiarism I'd say.

I checked Haaretz:

Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai went as far as threatening a "shoah," the Hebrew word for holocaust or disaster. The word is generally used to refer to the Nazi Holocaust, but a spokesman for Vilnai said the deputy defense minister used the word in the sense of "disaster," saying "he did not mean to make any allusion to the genocide."

"The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves," Vilnai told Army Radio on Friday.

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said of Vilnai's comments: "We are facing new Nazis who want to kill and burn the Palestinian people."

Too bad the BBC didn't see fit to include Vilnai's attempt at damage control. At least it would have shown that the idiot now knows how not to make a statement.

Book Launching: The Aaronsohn Saga

Shmuel Katz's book on the NILI spy ring and the diplomatic and military activity of Aaron Aaronsohn was officially launched today at the Begin Center with a guest appearance of Sir Martin Gilbert in honor of the 93-year old historian and political commentator.

Here is Shmuel Katz, Moekie:-

and here I am with dear Moekie:-

This is the Demographic Problem

Survey: 72% of US Jews said they have no children

Seventy-two percent of American Jews said they had no children, according to a research study released this week by the Pew Research Center's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, based on interviews with more than 35,000 Americans 18 and older.

The far-ranging study conducted by the Washington D.C.-based Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life also showed that Mormons and Muslims were the U.S. religious groups with the largest families.

The survey is here but the exact wording of the question is: How many children at home do Jews have? And that could be a misleading query. I have no children at home but I am the father of five.

Eat Like An Egyptian (Coptic)?

Odd news item I spotted:-

Jonathan McCullum was in perfect health at 70kg when he left last summer to spend the school year as an exchange student in Egypt. But when he returned home to Maine just four months later, the 1.75-metre teenager weighed a mere 44kg and was so weak that he struggled to carry his baggage or climb a flight of stairs. Doctors said he was at risk for a heart attack.

McCullum says he was denied sufficient food while staying with a family of Coptic Christians, who fast for more than 200 days a year, a regimen unmatched by other Christians.

But he does not view the experience as a culture clash. Rather, he said, it reflected mean and stingy treatment by his host family, whose broken English made it difficult to communicate.

McCullum said his host family gave him only meager amounts of food, and his condition worsened during the last seven weeks, when the family observed a fast limiting the amount of animal protein he was given.

McCullum said the parents gave him the smallest food portions, hid treats in their bedroom and complained that the cost of his upkeep was more than they spent for their daughter when she was home.

The host father, Shaker Hanna, rejected McCullum's story as "a lie," suggesting that he made it up because his parents were hoping to recover some of the money they paid for his stay as compensation.

"The truth is, the boy we hosted for nearly six months was eating for an hour and a half at every meal. The amount of food he ate at each meal was equal to six people," Hanna said. He added that the boy was active, constantly exercising and playing sports.

Hanna, an engineer, said his family went out of its way to prepare special foods, including fish and chicken, for McCullum during the fast periods.

McCullum disputes that. The family served meat early in his stay, he said, but that ended during the fast period.

He said he never got breakfast and his first food of the day usually was a small piece of bread with cucumbers and cheese that he would take to school for lunch. There was a late-afternoon dinner consisting of beans, vegetables and sometimes fish, and a snack of bread later in the evening.

McCullum sometimes bought food, but at one point was reduced to stealing it from a supermarket. He was caught, but the store accepted the small amount of money he had and let him go.

Still, McCullum did not complain to his parents. His father suspects he may have fallen victim to Stockholm syndrome, in which people start to feel a sense of loyalty to those who victimize them.

The McCullums said AFS provided false assurances that he had seen a doctor and was in excellent health.

AFS, a nonprofit formerly known as American Field Service, is one of the largest and oldest organizers of student exchanges. Since its founding as an ambulance corps during World War I, the agency has arranged exchanges for 325,000 American and foreign students from more than 50 countries.

The McCullums said AFS discourages parents from telephoning or e-mailing their kids abroad, believing the distraction would run counter to the program's goal of immersing them in local culture.

"They told us to have as little contact as possible, and we bought into it," Elizabeth McCullum said. She said she had confidence in AFS, regarding it as "the gold standard" of exchange programs, but now is aware that things can go terribly wrong.

The Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students, a nonprofit advocacy group, said the exchange programs are rampant with instances of abuse and neglect.

"This is not an isolated incident. I'm aghast but I'm not shocked," the committee's director, Danielle Grijalva of Oceanside, Calif., said after hearing McCullum's story.

The McCullums are considering a lawsuit. David McCullum expressed concern about the long-term physical and psychological effects on his son. "Someone needs to be held accountable, and I would like someone to say, 'I'm sorry.'"

There Are None So Blind As They That Refuse to See

Israel Sees Escalation in Gazans’ Longer-Range Strikes

The brilliant, perceptive and understanding headline of the New York Times.

The American Jewish Washout

Seems that the Jewish Council for Public Affairs endorsed for the first time a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

You all know that I have explained that we're facing a four-state solution, though.

At its annual plenum Tuesday in Atlanta, this umbrella organization representing 14 national Jewish groups and 125 local Jewish community relations councils, resolved that "the organized American Jewish community should affirm its support for two independent, democratic and economically viable states -- the Jewish state of Israel and a state of Palestine -- living side-by-side in peace and security."

The resolution also included compromise language reflecting American Jewry's "diverse views about current and future policies of the Israeli government towards settlements," and blamed the standstill in the peace process on Palestinian intransigence as opposed to 'terror' or specifically noting the Qassam/Grad rocket attacks, e.a l.

I was informed that the resolution passed unanimously, though the Orthodox Union, which has been outspoken in objecting to any deal to share or divide Jerusalem, had considered abstaining. According to one of its officers, David Luchins, the O.U. was satisfied with the final text, but still felt it represented an attempt to "micromanage" the peace process.

Sorry, but that's not enough.

Too bad that the OU's rep there was David Luchins. David is nowhere near reflecting the majority mood and thinking of the OU membership. And he knows it and has admitted such to me, describing himself as liberal/center.

Members of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs

American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Congress
Anti-Defamation League
B’nai B'rith
Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (???)
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Life
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Jewish War Veterans
National Conference on Soviet Jewry
National Council of Jewish Women
National Jewish Coalition for Literacy ???
ORT America
Union for Reform Judaism
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
United Jewish Communities
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Women's League for Conservative Judaism



February 28, 2008

The Orthodox Union is a member agency of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and participated in its annual conference this week.

As reported in the media, the JCPA debated and adopted a resolution with regard to the Israeli - Palestinian peace process. The media report, however, did not fully and accurately present the Orthodox Union's position and activities with regard to the resolution; we do so here.

The OU delegation engaged in the debate over this resolution by proposing and/or opposing provisions of or amendments to the resolution text. The following were the actions of the OU on this matter:

> The OU attempted to remove the resolution's text which would have, for the first time, put JCPA on record in support of the "two state solution" - but we were defeated by a vote of the delegates to the JCPA.

> The OU succeeded in inserting into the resolution's text the statement that "Israel's repeated offers to establish 'two democratic states living side by side in peace and security' have been met, time after time, by violence, incitement and terror."

> The OU attempted to remove the resolution's text calling for American Jewish support for any negotiations by the Israeli government over the re-division of Jerusalem - but we were defeated by a vote of the delegates to the JCPA.

> The OU succeeded in inserting into the resolution text which calls upon the American Jewish community to support Israel's insistence upon being recognized by the Palestinian Authority as a "Jewish state."

> The OU succeeded in defeating a proposed amendment to the resolution text which would have stated that the American Jewish community views the establishment or expansion of Israeli settlements as an "impediment to peace."

At the conclusion of the debate and amendment process, the OU delegation abstained from the vote on final passage of the resolution and informed the JCPA of our intention to file a formal, written dissent from the portions of the resolution with which the OU disagrees.

Er, so, the OU is still part and parcel of a body with which it disagrees and from which it dissents.

Why is the OU membership in such a body more important than such a basic and principled political issue?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Afif is a PhD?

Hasan Afif El-Hasan was born in Nablus, Palestine or Shchem, Shomron is a political analyst and has a PhD. His February 28th article to for The Institute for Middle East Understanding entitled "More time to discuss, transform Jerusalem" recalls to me the joke "what do the abbreviations, BS, MS and PhD stand for?" with the answer being "Bull Shit", "More of Same" and "Piled Higher and Deeper".


Read these excerpts:-

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated recently that the status of Jerusalem will not be negotiated with the Palestinians at this time. Right wing Israelis are against conceding any part of the Old City or any suburb of Jerusalem municipality to the Palestinians. The ultra-orthodox right wing party in Olmert's government threatens to leave the governing coalition if the question of Jerusalem comes up for discussion with the Palestinians and that is why Olmert will not discuss it now. This has been the same rationale that successive Israeli governments have always cited whenever they were pressed to stop settlement expansion. And if Israel says no negotiations on the future of Jerusalem, the Palestinians cannot do anything about it.

...Israel since Oslo has expanded the boundaries of the City, confiscated more Arab lands and constructed new settlements...Some of these are Har Homa (Jabal Ghaneim), Gilo, Piscat Ze'ev, Atarot, Ramot settlement. Jewish settlers evicted Palestinian residents from their quarters in the Old City and took over St. John's Hospice and other church and Islamic endowment (wakf) properties. The Israeli government dug Hasmonean Tunnel under al-Aqsa Mosque compound endangering the structure of the Islamic shrine.

...The Old City constitutes only a small geographic area of the expanded municipality of East Jerusalem, but its holiness distinguishes it from the rest of Jerusalem...The Palestinians want Jerusalem to be their capital, and since Israel occupied East Jerusalem 40 years ago, all Israeli governments maintained that Jerusalem must be "the eternal indivisible" capital of Israel...In the face of the Israeli colonization and absorption since then, the City has been transformed from a Palestinian city to Palestinian enclaves within a Jewish city...

Michael Dumper, a specialist on the Palestinian issue identified three major categories of settler groups operating in Jerusalem, that have been supported by the government financially and logistically. The first category is "active in attempts to settle Jews in Muslim quarters". The second category includes groups that locate, acquire and renovate Palestinians' real estate. The third category known as "the Temple Mount group, is active in supporting the messianic vision of reconstructing the Jewish temple on al-Aqsa site". The groups receive money from the ministry of housing, expressly given to buy properties in the Palestinian Muslim and Christian quarters and the surrounding parts of East Jerusalem. They also receive large funds from American millionaires such as Irving Moscowitz...Settler movements such as Gush Emunim and Tehiya [which no longer exist, at least for over a decade], that have been given free hand to encircle Hebron, Nablus and Jerusalem with settlements, have been active in asserting Israel’s control over the Old City by building a strong Jewish presence in the Palestinian quarters...They carried out overt and covert operations that made serious inroads which impacted the lives of the Palestinians living in the Muslim and Christian quarters including some dramatic events such as the massacre in Haram ash-Sharif in 1990 and the opening of the Hasmonean Tunnel in 1996.

...[Olmert] appointed the leader from the Ateret militant settler group, Shmuel Evyatar, as his advisor on issues related to the Christian communities in Jerusalem. The appointment was perceived as part of a campaign to acquire Church properties because Evayatar had been active in taking over such Church owned properties...

...The present fundamentalist Jewish mayor of Jerusalem Uri Lupliansky declared recently that he was going to Judaize East Jerusalem even more by confiscating land and expanding the Jewish only settlements. Lupliansky was referring to the expanded Jerusalem municipality that includes 5% of the West Bank as well as the Old City. According to Haaretz, Lupliansky vowed that he would turn Jerusalem into an "illegal outpost". Israel has succeeded in creating the concept of legal and illegal settlements just to circumvent the international law that considers all settlements illegal. Israel uses what it calls the illegal outposts for bargaining purposes. Even President Bush bought into this scheme and called for dismantling the so called "illegal settlements". ..

For the Palestinians, Jerusalem especially the Old City is the center of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The fate of the peace negotiations for them and the destiny of Jerusalem is the same. While Israel calls for postponing the subject of East Jerusalem, actions to Judaize it never stopped. The Israeli operatives have been working hard to colonize the City as well as the rest of the occupied lands. If Israel is not ready to discuss Jerusalem after forty years of occupation, it will never be ready in the future. More time before discussing Jerusalem is more time to transform the City’s character and with that, the hope for withdrawal to the 1967 borders becomes increasingly unlikely.

Amnon Rubinstein Bashes Left

In case you missed it, here are excerpts from Amnon Rubinstein's op-ed. Rubinstein is is a professor of law at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, a former minister of education and MK representing first Dash, then Meretz, and the recipient of the 2006 Israel Prize in Law:-

Homemade Israel-bashers

Shortly after I began teaching at Columbia University, I was taken aback to hear that the Iranian ruler Ahmadinejad had been invited to speak on campus...three kipot-wearing students from Hillel House...organized a demonstration in front of the hall where the Iranian president was to speak, and all without any outside help.

I spoke at the demonstration, where I discovered that almost all the participants present were local Orthodox Jewish students. The number of secular Israeli students could be counted on the fingers of one hand - with fingers to spare.

Inside the hall sat an Israeli student who applauded Ahmadinejad. I asked another Israeli who witnessed this behavior to tell me about her. I asked: How can she applaud someone that wants to exterminate her?

His matter of fact reply: "She's known to be a leftist."

In other words, "leftists" applaud a tyrant, a Nazi, a persecutor of minorities, oppressor of women, stoner of "adulterers," and executioner of homosexuals. If he protests the oppression of the Palestinians, then he must clearly be a member of the "left" and should therefore be cheered.

...I am a professed and impassioned secular Jew. My Judaism is national and cultural. I believe that my approach is in no way inferior to the Orthodox or haredi one. It contains neither temptations of paradise, the punishment of hell, nor the revival of the dead. It is filled with a rich, multifaceted and wondrous Jewish-Hebrew culture. I also believe that secular humanism is the right answer for us as individuals and as a nation.

But if I had to choose between the kipa-wearing Jews at Columbia and the representatives of what is known in Israel as the radical Left - I know where my heart is.

...the story of the anti-Israeli squadrons in the Israeli academia...I always believed that their "post-intelligent" anti-Israeli claptrap would eventually climax in an paroxysm of extremist mumbo-jumbo lunacy, after which there would no longer be anything to argue about. They'd be exposed.

Ben-Dror Yemini provided me with just that evidence (Ma'ariv, January 11), in an article in which he tells of a research project carried out by graduate student Tal Nizan at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research question was: How is it that, contrary to the accepted practice among other occupation armies, the Zionist occupation army does not rape?

The researcher had two explanations: First, IDF soldiers do not rape Palestinian women because for them, these women have been dehumanized, and "consequently, a sexual act cannot be carried out with someone that is perceived as less than human." Second, the soldiers refrained from raping the Palestinian women in the service of a higher, demographic goal, because the rape could cause pregnancies that would subsequently increase the numbers of our enemies. In other words, not only are there no rapes, there are no condoms either.

The significant aspect is not this surreal research project. It is not unusual. Incitement against Israel can be found on the lowest level in some of the social science departments in Israel's universities...The interesting thing is that this "research" project won a prize from a sociology association, with a number of distinguished professors voting in favor of granting the researcher a prize.

It would be interesting to hear how these professors propose that Israel amend this serious flaw, that IDF soldiers are not serial rapists. Does that fact that female tourists are not raped mean that they too have been dehumanized?

These professors are wrong. It's not true that there is no rape. There is - the rape of the academia, of science and of the students forced to listen to these professors' drivel.

Hanging Up 007

Sir Richard Dearlove, the former MI6 chief, told the inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales that, contrary to claims from two separate whistleblowers – David Shayler, who said the service had drawn up a plan to kill Colonel Gadaffi, and Richard Tomlinson, who described a plot to kill Slobodan Milosevic – the service had not carried out any assassinations since he joined it in 1966.


Cosmopolitan Girl

Does Natalie Portman think there are also stabilising advantages in belonging to an ethnic minority?

“Absolutely. I identify very strongly as Jewish, but I could be Indian, Puerto Rican . . . Anything that gives you a cultural identity makes you know who you are and grounds you, even as a young girl trying on identities.”

And, while we are being Jewish:-

And, of course, while Portman is famously Jewish, Johansson is a lesser-known Jew (because of her Scandinavian father, she’s called “the kosher Danish”). When Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek made a movie together, all the headlines blared “the Hot Tamales”. What should the media label a film starring two Jewish girls? Portman doesn’t miss a beat.

“The Hot Knishes,” she says, referring to the Jewish delicacy.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Border Wars Thoughts

On March 9, 1916, Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa attacked the border town of Columbus, N.M., killing 18 Americans. President Woodrow Wilson ordered Gen. John J. Pershing and 10,000 soldiers into Mexico for nearly a year to hunt Villa down, in what was explicitly called a “punitive expedition.” Pershing never found Villa, making the effort something of a failure. Then again, Villa’s raid would be the last significant foreign attack on continental U.S. soil for 85 years, six months and two days.


The more vexing question, both morally and strategically, is what Israel ought to do about Gaza. The standard answer is that Israel’s response to the Kassams ought to be “proportionate.” What does that mean? Does the “proportion” apply to the intention of those firing the Kassams — to wit, indiscriminate terror against civilian populations? In that case, a “proportionate” Israeli response would involve, perhaps, firing 2,500 artillery shells at random against civilian targets in Gaza. Or should proportion apply to the effects of the Kassams — an exquisitely calibrated, eye-for-eye operation involving the killing of a dozen Palestinians and the deliberate maiming or traumatizing of several hundred more?

Surely this isn’t what advocates of proportion have in mind. What they really mean is that Israel ought to respond with moderation. But the criteria for moderation are subjective. Should Israel pick off Hamas leaders who are ordering the rocket attacks? The European Parliament last week passed a resolution denouncing the practice of targeted assassinations. Should Israel adopt purely economic measures to punish Hamas for the Kassams? The same resolution denounced what it called Israel’s “collective punishment” of Palestinians. Should Israel seek to dismantle the Kassams through limited military incursions? This, too, has the unpardonable effect of resulting in too many Palestinian casualties, which are said to be “disproportionate” to the number of Israelis injured by the Kassams.

By these lights, Israel’s presumptive right to self-defense has no practical application as far as Gaza is concerned. Instead, Israel is counseled to allow goods to flow freely into the Strip, and to negotiate a cease-fire with Hamas.

But here another set of considerations intrudes. Hamas was elected democratically and by overwhelming margins in Gaza. It has never once honored a cease-fire with Israel. Following Israel’s withdrawal of its soldiers and settlements from the Strip in 2005 there was a six-fold increase in the number of Kassam strikes on Israel.

Hamas has also made no effort to rewrite its 1988 charter, which calls for Israel’s destruction. The charter is explicitly anti-Semitic: “The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!” (Article Seven) “In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad.” (Article 15) And so on.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Separate and Very Non-Equal

Muslims want unis to fit prayer time

International Muslim students, predominantly from Saudi Arabia, have asked universities in Melbourne to change class times so they can attend congregational prayers. They also want a female-only area for Muslim students to eat and relax.

But at least one institution has rejected their demands, arguing that the university is secular and it does not want to set a precedent for requests granted in the name of religious beliefs.

La Trobe University International chief officer John Molony said several students had approached the Bundoora institution about rearranging class times to fit in with daily prayers.

Mr Molony said the university was attempting to "meet the needs" of an increasing number of Muslim international students, including doubling the size of the prayer room on campus.

La Trobe University International College director Martin Van Run said that although it was involved in discussions with the Muslim students who had made the requests, the university was not planning to change any timetables.

"That would seriously inconvenience other people at the college and it is not institutionally viable," he told The Australian. "We are a secular institution ... and we need to have a structured timetable."

Mr Van Run said that Saudi students were fully aware that the university was secular before coming to study there. "They know well in advance the class times," he said.

A spokesman for RMIT University would neither confirm nor deny reports that Muslim students had requested timetable changes.

One university source told The Australian that the requests by Muslim international students for timetable changes included a petition.

"Some of the students would prefer that lecture times were organised so it would be easy for them to attend prayers," he said. "But it wouldn't be a good precedent to set."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

BBC Does a Peace Now Flyover-like



The Cabinet approved a plan to reinforce residential units, via the construction of 9 sq. meter protected spaces, in a range of up to 4.5 kilometers from the fence around the Gaza Strip. This range was set in light of the need to protect the forward line that is exposed to fire and given the planned capability of the Iron Dome system, which is due to be operational and in place during 2010.

The Cabinet approved a NIS 327 million budget for implementing the first stage of the plan in Sderot, Nir Am, Gabim, Erez, Ibim, Zikim, Netiv Ha'asara, Nahal Oz, Kerem Shalom, Kisufim, Mefalsim and Kramiya. The Construction and Housing Ministry will have overall responsibility for the plan, which is to be completed during the first quarter of 2009.

There are approximately 8,000 residential units within 4.5 kilometers of the fence around the Gaza Strip that currently lack protected spaces and which were built prior to 1992, when legislation requiring their construction in all new housing units came into effect.

Arab Settlers? My, My


A paper that investigates why Morocco initiated a new colonization project outside of its sovereign boundaries, in Western Sahara, beginning in 1975; thus negating the international trend of decolonization and a set of international norms.

Current explanations of state expansion of the Moroccan kind, which can be defined as strategic settlement projects, focus on unit level variables. In contrast, the paper offers a comprehensive analysis that includes the internal drivers, the external permissive realities, and the relationship between these two. The paper argues that the Moroccan claim to Western Sahara, and the subsequent expansion into the region, was perceived in Rabat as a vital state interest. It served then, and still serves now, as a major source of legitimacy for the monarchy.

When adopted originally in the late 1950’s, the claim of Greater Morocco was also used to outbid political competitors, in particular the Isatiqlal party. The paper further explores the international permissive conditions that allowed Morocco to pursue its territorial aspirations: Decolonization that created material and ideational opportunities for expansion, bipolarity that allowed Morocco to overcome constraints to do so, and the emerging norm of self determination that shaped the nature of Moroccan expansion, and in particular, the use of settlers.

An Academic View on Antizionism

This paper, "Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Cosmopolitan Reflections" by David Hirsh, Goldsmiths College, University of London of The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism, Working Paper Series, aims to disentangle the difficult relationship between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.

On one side, antisemitism appears as a pressing contemporary problem, intimately connected to an intensification of hostility to Israel. Opposing accounts downplay the fact of antisemitism and tend to treat the charge as an instrumental attempt to de-legitimize criticism of Israel. I address the central relationship both conceptually and through a number of empirical case studies which lie in the disputed territory between criticism and demonization. The paper focuses on current debates in the British public sphere and in particular on the campaign to boycott Israeli academia.

Sociologically the paper seeks to develop a cosmopolitan framework to confront the methodological nationalism of both Zionism and anti-Zionism. It does not assume that exaggerated hostility to Israel is caused by underlying antisemitism but it explores the possibility that antisemitism may be an effect even of some antiracist forms of anti-Zionism.

Intersting Statistics on Afterlife Belief

On 2004, on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” correspondent Nina Totenberg declared, “Jews do not believe in an afterlife”—to which talk-show host Michael Medved shot back that the claim is “a slander to all believing Jews everywhere.”

So, which view is correct? Both, as it happens. Survey data from opinion polls consistently reports that most American Jews do not believe in an afterlife. Yet, a survey of the sacred and significant texts of Judaism reveals that every important Jewish religious thinker, from Talmudic times to our own, has depicted belief in an afterlife as a fundamental feature of Jewish faith. Judaism affirms belief in an afterlife; most American Jews do not.

An analysis of survey data shows that about 80 percent of American Christians believe in an afterlife, and that about 65 percent of Americans who affirm no specific religious faith (including atheists and agnostics) also believe in an afterlife. Of all groups surveyed, belief in an afterlife has been consistently the lowest among American Jews: 46 percent in polls done in the late 1990s. Still, of all groups surveyed, belief in an afterlife has increased the most among American Jews: from 19 percent in the 1970s to 46 percent in the 1990s, an increase of 142 percent. As Jewish-American baby boomers continue to age, a further increase is likely.


Jews and the World to Come by Byron L. Sherwin
First Things (June/July 2006).

BBC's "Militants"

The BBC reported Friday that (with my interspersed comments):-

On Friday two Palestinian militants were killed in an Israeli air attack in the Gaza Strip. [and how militant were they? they] Both were members of the Islamic Jihad organisation, which said they had been observing [observing? like in planning a raid or ambush?] Israeli troop movements close to the border in central Gaza. Israel frequently attacks militants, who fire rockets [oh, so militants fire rockets like in militia/military/terrorist activity?] into Israeli territory on an almost daily basis. The Palestinian militant groups insist [oh, they insist, do they?] the rocket fire is a response to what they term [but nobody else would or should] Israeli aggression.

My Jerusalem Post Letter

Begin book that fails the reader

Sir, - Shimshon Arad's sarcasm - it was sarcasm, wasn't it? - in writing that Avi Shilon's new biography of Menachem Begin, Begin 1913-1992, "reveals quite a few unknown facts about the former prime minister" was right on the mark ("Dispassionate about Begin," UpFront, February 15). For in truth, there are many "facts" in the book of which even Begin himself wasn't aware.

On page 16, Shilon writes that Begin was born on a Friday, when he was born on Shabbat, August 16, 1913. On page 32, he informs us that Menachem Begin married Aliza Arnold in 1937 after a three-month courtship. Actually, they married in 1939 after a two-year courtship. On page 52, he writes that Begin heard about the split in the Irgun in 1940 while he was in Poland. Begin was really in Vilna.

On page 87, Shiloh asserts that Begin wrote in The Revolt that 1,500 Irgunists were handed over to the British during the Saison. In truth, Begin wrote that Richard Crossman noted that number, but he estimated a good few hundred only. On page 168, when the Begins leave for a month's vacation in Europe, their children, Benny and Hassia, are left with a friend, Shilon claims. What happened to their sister Leah?

Apropos being left out, Shmuel Tamir's 2002 autobiography is not mentioned - which is quite amazing. For anyone looking for dramatic tales, Tamir has them.

In my reading of Shilon's book I found an error of date, name or place, as well as false footnotes, on average, every second page. The are also numerous typos. Moreover, he leaves much out of Begin's life, incidents that other biographers such as Eric Silver, Ned Temko, Amos Perlmutter and others thought important.

For example, Shilon makes much of Begin's love-hate relationship with Amichai Paglin, but fails to note that in summer and fall 1948, Begin ordered Paglin to return from Europe, where he was engaged in underground activities. Begin had decided to end any independent existence of the Irgun and heed the laws of the state. Paglin refused until late November. The correct thing would have been to highlight Begin's democratic behavior and explain that perhaps this was the undercurrent of antagonism.

Shilon fails the reader. His omissions are as bad as many of his commissions.


More on Monopoly

This is from a non-Jew:-

From: L___ & B____ G_______ <>
Date: 23 February 2008 2:33:16 PM IST
Subject: Re: Nations dropped from Monopoly site after Jerusalem fuss -

here is the email I sent to Hasbro...not that anyone will read it.

I find it interesting that you call the new game "Monopoly Here and Now: The World Edition"; however, you are dropping the names of the countries because of a fight over Jerusalem. I think "Here and Now" it's called Jerusalem, Israel, not Jerusalem, Palestine. So if you call the game "In the Future Maybe: Global Edition" you could call it something else. Come on folks, be in the forefront of teaching our children current geography, and list the city and country name. Our (collective) children are illiterate as far as Geography is concerned. Step up and help.

If our Map Makers waited for peace to happen all over the world, we wouldn't have any maps, not even the in the US where Killington, Vermont is trying to become part of New Hampshire without actually changing locations (I live in Vermont, so I know the outcome of this - it won't happen). Stand your ground, and do the right thing. I do find it interesting that even on your website map for voting, you don't list the country names. Some people might look at that map and think that Montreal is in the US. Some people already think Vermont is in Canada, but I know Montreal is not in the US. Don’t bow to political pressure, call it what it is - Jerusalem Israel.

Would This Work in Israel?

Being "Sick of It?"

Some People Will Do Everything/Anything for Publicity

It seems there is an actress named Lindsay Lohan. Since I have never seen any of her movies, I am no expert.

She was in Milan recently at the Dolce & Gabbana fashion show (don't know much about that either).

Some sites are arguing that her hairstyle is offending to Jews since it looks as if she has

What could be offending? Plagiarism is the greatest form of flattery.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Indiana Jones, Sort Of

His extraordinary detective story would take him from Zimbabwe to Papua New Guinea, Israel, Egypt and Ethiopia - via the dusty Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford.

It would take him on a tour of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Tutankhamun treasures, the land of the Pharaohs and the Queen of Sheba, and into a complex world of codes, theories and mythical adventures.

His eventual find could rewrite the history of the world as we know it.

So, what exactly is the Ark of the Covenant?

There's a new book coming out: THE LOST ARK OF THE COVENANT by Tudor Parfitt and published by HarperCollins. And to answer the above without reading the book, check these stories, here and here.

Here's the blurb:-

The Lost Ark of the Covenant is the real-life account of Professor Tudor Parfitt's effort to recover the revered artifact that contained the Ten Commandments sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This holy object disappeared from the Temple in Jerusalem when the Babylonians invaded in 586 BCE and was lost—apparently forever.

With painstaking historical scholarship, groundbreaking genetic science, and hair-raising fieldwork, Parfitt debunks the previous myths and reveals the shocking history of the Ark and its keepers. From Israel to Egypt, Ethiopia, and the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, the journey leads to places Parfitt could never have imagined.

The Lost Ark of the Covenant is a vivid and page-turning account of the culmination of two decades of research by an acclaimed scholar and adventurer. In the end, legend becomes reality as an unknown history comes to light, and with it our understanding of this lost treasure is changed forever.

Kaddish in a New Novel

Seems the first words of the Kaddish figure ion the opening chapter of a new novel, Beginner's Greek by James Collins:-

"You know, Sam," he had said hoarsely, "I have to travel a lot. The worst thing about it was always leaving her. But it was almost worth it because of how wonderful it was to see her again." Arthur had been unable to speak for a moment. "Now I won't see her again." He had looked at Sam and saw the loose skin under his chin quiver and his eyes, each studded with a mole at the lower lid, begin to water. Sam held Arthur's arm. "Yeetgadal v'yeetkadash sh'mey rabbah," he had whispered. "B'olmo d'vero keerutey." Arthur had not understood the words, nor had he fully grasped the significance of an atheistic Marxist's uttering a prayer, but he appreciated the sentiment.

And that should be chirutei.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Condi Rice Is Being Robust, Again

And, again, she's being robust at the wrong party (for some previous robustness, see here and here).

Worried Rice to discuss Gaza with Olmert in Japan

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice while both are in Japan next week. The meeting was requested by Rice. It is particularly surprising because Rice is due to come to Jerusalem for a working visit the following week.

Haaretz has reported that the U.S. - like its fellow members of the Quartet, the EU, UN and Russia - is increasingly unhappy with Israel's policies in Gaza. Rice's deputy, David Welch, even told the last Quartet meeting that the U.S. "is not comfortable" with Israel's operations in Gaza. [what? we should be carpet bombing Gaza like the U.S. does? YM]

General William Fraser, the U.S. envoy responsible for monitoring implementation of the road map peace plan, visited Israel this week and met with officials in the Prime Minister's Office, the defense establishment and the Foreign Ministry. Fraser's job is to determine whether both sides are fulfilling their obligations under the road map's first stage, which includes evacuating illegal settlement outposts for Israel and fighting terror for the Palestinian Authority.

A government official said that on his next trip, Fraser would present a plan for how both sides should move forward on these obligations.

"Kinda-Lies" Rice is dangeroulsy turning into a British Mandate High Comissioner figure.

And I do hope these generals that come and go are being presented with the full picture, which includes the history of Arab terror against Jews sionce 1920 as well as military perspectives from peopl eon the ground and most definitely not solely the IDF or the Ministry of Defense. There are people who have good knowledge of the situation which might prove useful. We residents of Yesha have been in touch with military advisors to US officials and I only hope that the current fly-in generals have the opportunity to speak and listen to all points of view.

Behind the Headline

Whoops, there gopes another "peace proposal", the Arab League one.

New York Times reports:-

Arab leaders will threaten to rescind their offer of full relations with Israel in exchange for a complete Israeli withdrawal from occupied lands unless Israel gives a positive response to their initiative, indicating the Arab states’ growing disillusionment with the prospects of a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At an Arab League meeting next month in Syria, the leaders are planning to reiterate support for their initiative, first issued in 2002. The initiative promised Israel normalization with the league’s 22 members in return for the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as the capital, and a resolution of the issue of Palestinian refugees.

and the Chinese news service has it this way:-

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said here Thursday that all negotiations at the Annapolis conference to restart the Mideast peace process had failed to bear fruit. Moussa, who was attending a two-day meeting of foreign ministers of South American and Arab countries in the Argentine capital, warned that the Mideast peace deal brokered at the U.S.-sponsored Annapolis conference last year has not achieved any progress due to Israel's adherence to its original policies.

Israel refused to negotiate on the Jerusalem issue or acknowledge the Palestinians' right to establish a state, said Moussa, adding that the Israeli government had adopted wrong policies against the Palestinians and refused to correct them, creating a major obstacle to any peace initiatives.

The text (here) is really cute, in an Arab way.

First point is that it "Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well". In other words, non-peace is all our fault. We've never made peace overtures, not even in our declaration of statehood?

Here, May 14, 1948:-

We appeal - in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months - to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.

We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.

Can any Arab state, league, organization or terror group match that magnamity?

The Arab League's plan's main operative section reads:-

I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.

II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.

III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Those are unacceptable. They deny the history of the conflict, ignore Arab agression, rewards Arab terror, inadequately provides for Israel's future security and existence and Jewish character.

This is enough for me but for those wanting more, Mitch Bard does a nice summary of this "peace plan" and its faultiness.

More on That "Holy Hole"

Here's Manny Winston's opinion on the "Holy Hole":-

by Emanuel A. Winston
Middle East Analyst & Commentator

The Muslim Arabs blame the Jews for tunneling under the Temple Mount which they claim caused a small cave in. This happened after an earthquake (one of G-d’s wonders) epi-centered in northeastern Lebanon measuring 5.3 on the Richter Scale, shook the Jerusalem area at 12.37 PM Friday February 15th. The only damage reported in Israel was this hole on the Temple Mount and in Shechem (Nablus) the site of Joseph’s Tomb which the Muslims destroyed in October 2000 (after then Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered a unilateral retreat. He also left a wounded soldier to bleed to death, a Druze named Madhat Yusuf - Joseph in Arabic). The Muslims burnt the holy books, destroyed the tomb and painted the dome green - the color of Islam and declared the Jewish Shrine to be Islamic and Joseph to be Muslim.

I agree with the Muslims that Jews, or at least this Jew, may have been responsible for the hole in the floor of the Temple Mount Plaza. NO. It wasn’t any Jewish tunneling, although the Arab Wakf have been evacuating Solomon’s Stables to create another huge mosque underground, resulting in the weakening of the retaining walls that hold up the Temple Plaza.

I have prayed to G-d for a long time to produce an earthquake that would turn the Golden Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa Mosque into rubble. Pagan temples built on top of the Holy of Holies has been an affront to G-d and long overdue for cleansing.

In fact, I also lobbied G-d to flatten Teheran , Damascus, Bagdad, Riyadh, Cairo, Mecca, Medina, ‘et al’ with a shift of His tectonic Earth plates. I didn’t neglect to petition for the European nations who assisted in the Holocaust and have presently joined the Muslim Arab oil Terrorist nations in their efforts to wipe out Israel as they so threaten.

I am sure many others have asked G-d for all of the above and more.

So, we can agree that the hole that came from the earthquake was the fault of the Jews. I certainly made the request. Didn’t you?

Jabotinsky in the Times Literary Supplement

The TLS is one of the world's premier book review/magazine publications and Ze'ev Jabotinsky and Zionism figure prominently, along with others in this week's issue.

Here are some extracts from the article by Geoffrey Wheatcroft who wrote "The Controversy of Zion" published back in 1996 and wrote this in the Guardian back in March 2007:-

An influential coterie of Tory MPs is bent on a foreign policy driven not by Britain's interests, but those of the US and Israel

but let us return to the current piece of his, a review of several books (*):-

the conflict in the Holy Land is...the single most bitterly contentious communal struggle on earth today...And yet it sometimes seems that the more strongly people feel, the less they actually know about the story of Zionism. Maybe it should be a requirement for anyone who wishes to hold forth on the subject to write first a few lines each on Ahad Ha’am, Max Nordau, George Antonius – or Vladimir Jabotinsky.

If not many Europeans or Americans know who “Jabo” was, Israelis certainly do. He remains the most charismatic, fascinating and controversial figure in the history of Zionism, and in the state to whose creation he devoted his life, but which he never saw. Born in 1880 in Odessa, he was converted to the Zionist cause as a young man by tsarist persecution, became a tireless publicist and organizer, and helped to create the Jewish Legion which fought with the British against Turkey during the First World War. In the 1920s he broke away to found the uniformed youth group Betar, and then the militantly nationalistic right-wing brand of Zionism he called Revisionism, in opposition to Chaim Weizmann and the general Zionists, and to David Ben Gurion and the Labour Zionists of the Yishuv, the Jewish settlement in Palestine.

From Betar would grow the Irgun Zvei Leumi, which waged an armed campaign against the British and the Arabs – in British and Arab eyes, a terrorist campaign – in the ten years before Israel was born. When Jabotinsky died in American exile in 1940, he had not seen the murderous horror that engulfed the European Jews, the creation of the Jewish state, or the legacy of his own movement. The Irgun evolved into the right-wing Herut party, which was not merely excluded from office but veritably anathematized in Israel for the first quarter-century the state existed after 1948, but which, now in the guise of Likud, took power at last in 1977 under the old Irgun leader Menachem Begin – and which descends to the present administration.

Almost unremarked in the West, Israel today has the purest Jabotinskian government yet seen. Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister, has been called “one of Likud’s princes from a prominent Revisionist family”, which makes his rather fetching Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, a princess. Both their fathers were militants in the Irgun; the governing party is now called Kadima or “eastward”, the telling motto that Jabotinsky chose for the Jewish Legion; a picture of Jabotinsky hangs at party meetings; and Livni likes to quote him regularly, as Olmert did in his first speech to the Knesset as Prime Minister. Jabotinsky has never cast a longer shadow.

He is discussed in several recent books, including The Last Resistance by Jacqueline Rose. Professor of English at Queen Mary in London, literary critic and student of Freud, Rose is obliged by events to stray from letters to real life at its bloodiest. This deeply absorbing collection of essays ranges from Walt Whitman to Simone de Beauvoir and Nadine Gordimer, but Rose keeps coming back to matters Jewish, and to that Question of Zion. The title essay deals with Freud and his correspondence with his fellow Viennese Stefan Zweig, who spent some years in Palestine and proposed to write a novel about Zionists there, but thereafter Rose modulates from resistance in the psychoanalytic sense to a different kind of resistance, by the Palestinians to Israeli rule.

Not that Zweig’s fictional ambition was unusual. From Theodor Herzl – whose gifts as a writer were grudgingly acknowledged by Karl Kraus in Eine Krone für Zion, his 1898 anti-Zionist philippic, and who amplified his political tract Der Judenstaat in a didactic novel, Altneuland – Zionism was always a very literary movement. It has produced no greater writer than Jabotinsky, whose translations as well as his own work helped to create modern Hebrew literature. He commanded at least eight other languages, beginning with Russian – Maxim Gorky said that Zionism’s gain was Russian literature’s loss – and his novel The Five inspires Rose’s remarkable essay “The Hidden Life of Vladimir Jabotinsky”.

How Jabotinsky challenged the Zionist establishment, and was challenged in turn by fiercer young disciples, is the enthralling story told in The Triumph of Military Zionism by Colin Shindler, a former Editor of the Jewish Quarterly who now teaches at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Although this is one of the most illuminating books in its field for years, a work of scholarship largely based on Hebrew sources, not least Jabotinsky’s voluminous writings, it has received nothing like enough attention: one more illustration of that truth that no one wants to know anything about Zionism.

After Weizmann’s triumph in securing the Balfour Declaration from the London government ninety years ago, in November 1917, and the establishment of British rule over Palestine in the form of a League of Nations mandate, the Zionists suffered a series of setbacks. Balfour was succeeded at the Foreign Office by Curzon, who deplored Zionism and had opposed the Declaration; the original huge territory carved out as Mandatory “Palestine”, stretching far to the east of the Jordan, was partitioned to make a separate kingdom of Transjordan (still with us, less the “Trans”); Arab violence erupted against Jewish settlers; and, in June 1921, Sir Herbert Samuel, the High Commissioner, himself Jewish and a Zionist sympathizer, was obliged to suspend Jewish immigration and assure the Muslim and Christian populace that “their rights are really safe”.

Despite all this, and the growing realization that the British were in an impossible predicament, albeit of their own making after their mutually contradictory promises to Zionists and Arabs, Weizmann stuck to his principles of conciliatory diplomacy and verbal restraint. The Declaration had promised only “a homeland”, not even “the”, certainly not a Jewish state, and official Zionism was decidedly reticent on that subject: everyone knew that this was the goal, but to say so publicly was deemed most impolitic; so much so that, instead of the electrifying words “Jewish state”, Weizmann would only murmur shem hamforas, the ineffable name of the Almighty that the pious must not utter.

And so in 1923, Jabotinsky resigned from the Zionist Executive in protest at what he called “the superfine docility” of its leadership, and in 1925 – already “the symbol of dynamism within the Zionist movement, the founder of the Jewish Legion, the brilliant orator, the cosmopolitan littérateur and the inspirer of downtrodden youth”, in Colin Shindler’s words – he founded the Union of Zionists-Revisionists thought that “the Zionists should not remain silent on their aims or use coded language”, as Shindler writes, and there were Palestinian Arabs who would thank him personally for his honesty. He defied the leadership by simply saying what he meant, which was perhaps what they thought: just as in general the antithesis of Left and Right is so often misleading, the differences between Jabo and his antagonists were sometimes more apparent than real, and although a bitter enmity developed between Jabotinsky and Ben Gurion, it is a mistake to suppose that they always stood in truly opposite corners.

Born the day after the Balfour Declaration, and a strong supporter of Israel, Conor Cruise O’Brien once said that, when it came to what Zionists unhappily called “the Arab question”, the only real difference between Jabotinsky and Ben Gurion may have been that the former expressed himself in public with greater bluntness. The record confirms that. Jabotinsky insisted that there could be no foreseeable compromise with the Palestinian Arabs: “The native population, civilised or uncivilised, have always stubbornly resisted the colonists, and it made no difference whether the colonists behave decently or not”. For that reason it was “utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestine Arabs”, and the Zionists must be ready to use physical force to secure their base and protect it with “The Iron Wall”, the title of his famous 1923 essay. Or to put it another way, “The conflict between the interests of the Jews and the interests of the Arabs in Palestine cannot be resolved by sophisms . . . . I don’t know of any Arabs who would agree to Palestine being ours. We want the country to be ours. The Arabs want the country to be theirs” – which was what Ben Gurion had already said in 1919.

After bitterly denouncing that first partition, Jabotinsky launched his movement on the intransigent slogan “a Jewish state with a Jewish majority on both banks of the Jordan”. The Jewish share of the population of cis-Jordanian Palestine – the Holy Land between river and sea; which is to say the whole territory, both pre- and post-1967, controlled today by Israel – had risen from less than 5 per cent at the time of the first Zionist congress in 1897 to a little more than 10 per cent in the early 1920s, while Transjordan had scarcely any Jews at all, though in Jabotinsky’s view it was ripe for colonization. His programme was thus nothing if not ambitious, and it implied a huge and rapid immigration. A “Greater Israel” remained the goal of Betar and its successors; “The Jordan has two banks”, a marching song went, “This one is ours, and this one is ours”; and if you want to see the old Revisionist map of a Jewish state stretching far to the east of the Jordan, you will find it carved on the gravestone of Tzipi Livni’s father.

With the Yishuv so precariously placed in numerical terms, Jabotinsky could scarcely oppose British rule as yet, and he insisted that “a decent European administration” was necessary to support colonization. That was the word he continually used. One of the odder claims made today by some Zionists, more likely American than Israeli, is that Zionism was an “anti-colonial” movement. Jabotinsky never pretended anything of the kind, as he made clear with his gift for vivid phrase-making, “The Iron Wall” being one case in point. When a colleague in the Legion had wondered whether, as Jews, they should be fighting the Muslims, their “uncle Ishmael”, Jabotinsky briskly replied that “Ishmael is not an uncle. We belong, thank God, to Europe and for two thousand years have helped to create the culture of the West”. And he rubbed it in harder still with the words, “The Jews came to the land of Israel to push the moral frontiers of Europe to the Euphrates”.

In that spirit he wrote to The Times to say that, while Jewish “military and constabulary” units were needed, so was British tutelage for the “colonization regime”. But this was in 1929, which saw further savage bloodshed, with scores of Jews killed in Jerusalem and Hebron. Jabotinsky’s followers had organized demonstrations at the Western Wall and, much as Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in September 2000 precipitated the second intifada, the Revisionists had “deliberately seized on the Wailing Wall incident”, in the view of Sir John Chancellor, the High Commissioner for Palestine, “and worked it for all it was worth, and converted a religious question into a political one”. After one fiery oration, another British official ruefully said that “Jabo’s speech is eloquent and logical, but certainly dangerous in its tendency so far as law and order are concerned” (not a bad description of his whole career). It was decided not to prosecute him, but he was refused further admission to Palestine while he was out of the country. He never saw Jerusalem again.

His last ten years were spent in exile, travelling, speaking and writing ceaselessly, denouncing the “pusillanimous” Weizmann – but also fending off a growing challenge from within his own ranks. These were the “Maximalists” who favoured more drastic courses, younger men like Begin and Abba Achimeir. Soon Achimeir was openly advocating terrorist violence and assassination, and practising what he preached: he was widely suspected of having had a hand in the murder in Tel Aviv in 1933 of Chaim Arlosoroff, a union leader and colleague of Weizmann.

While these twists and scissions within the Revisionist movement defy summary, Shindler dissects them deftly, even if he is not helped by his publisher. I. B. Tauris has made a name for books which are nicely turned out as well as worth reading, but The Triumph of Military Zionism is a mess, clumsily designed, with an inadequate index, and some passages where the typesetting is so wayward that the reader has to be his own textual critic and infer the sense. A paperback edition putting right as much of this as possible would be no more than the book’s due.

As the decade wore on, the rise of National Socialism, growing anti-Semitism in Poland, and the fullscale Arab Revolt which broke out in 1936 in Palestine conspired to overwhelm moderate Zionists – and by now Jabotinsky himself was seen as too moderate by those young zealots. “Practical Zionism” had been succeeded by “political Zionism”, Achimeir and Begin argued, but it must give way in turn to a third phase: military Zionism. One more splinter group was formed by the unapologetic terrorists Avrham Stern and David Raziel, while the Irgun itself turned to violence. In March 1937 Irgunists threw a bomb into an Arab coffee house outside Tel Aviv, followed by “Black Sunday” on November 14, when Arab buses were shot at and cafés bombed.

Among the Yishuv there was “a deep sense of disbelief that Jews could have been behind the attacks”, Shindler writes; and yet, while Jabotinsky hadn’t known about them beforehand, his own attitude to violence was equivocal. A young Betar member was arrested while trying to attack an Arab bus, tried, and executed, to Jabotinsky’s rage. Having warned Malcolm MacDonald, the Colonial Secretary, that the Jews “would never get reconciled to a situation which first drives them to the verge of madness and then hangs them” (forgetting the many young Palestinian Arabs also hanged by the British during the Revolt), he then gave coded permission for Irgun reprisals, although their ferocity in the event – seventy-six Arabs, forty-four Jews and twelve British killed – dismayed him.

And so to the riveting climax at the Betar conference in Warsaw in September 1938. Revisionism had a wide following in Poland, where news of the Irgun actions was greeted with open enthusiasm, and it was now that Begin confronted Jabotinsky. The Arabs were waging “a national war”, Begin said, with which there could be no compromise at all; no more could be expected from England; “we have had enough of renunciation; we want to fight – to die or to win”. Jabo replied “as your teacher”, saying that it was folly for the Jews in Palestine to imagine that they “could do something like Garibaldi and de Valera”. If they followed Begin they would be “committing suicide”, and he told his former disciple that if he couldn’t see reason he had better drown himself in the Vistula.

Even as he spoke, he must have known that he had lost much of his audience. And yet what makes the story the more intolerably poignant is its dramatic irony, in the original Athenian sense: as we read about these ardent spirits debating in Warsaw a year before the Wehrmacht invaded, we know, as they do not, the appalling fate that awaited many of them. It was that which would persuade many Jews that the Zionists had been right all along about the hopelessness of life in the Diaspora, and plenty of Zionists that the Irgun was right about the need for violence. By 1943, Yitzhak Tebenkin would say that the times had shown, “in a terrible light, the fundamental truth of Zionism, which is that the Jewish person cannot exist in the Diaspora”

Was Jabotinsky a fascist? With some historical figures that might be what’s called an academic question, but it takes on far greater significance when Israel is governed by his conscious heirs. No doubt the word is both inflammatory and largely empty when it has been so overworked: more than sixty years after Orwell said that he could think of almost no party or tendency to whom he hadn’t seen the name applied, “Islamo-fascism” is now widely denounced, Tony Blair calls the Iranian regime fascist, and John Banville, at least as plausibly, describes Sinn Fein as “neo-fascist”.

But then the term has often enough been used about Zionism, and not just by its inveterate enemies. In The Divided Self, David Goldberg, the former rabbi of the Liberal Synagogue in London, calls Jabotinsky a “proto-fascist”, and he is far from the first to speak of Jewish fascism. In 1946, for random example, the composer Kurt Weill (scion of a line of rabbis and cantors) visited Palestine, where his German parents had found refuge, and wrote to his wife Lotte Lenya from Tel Aviv, “a very ugly city with a jewish-fascist population that makes you vomit”. Even while Jabotinsky was alive, Weizmann had privately said that the more extreme Revisionists displayed “Hitlerism all over in its worst possible form”, and the Labour press in Palestine had sometimes used Ben Gurion’s contemptuous tag “Vladimir Hitler”.

Although Jabotinsky denied the label, and could use it pejoratively, calling Achimeir “too much of a fascist”, there were undeniable contemporary echoes in the verbal and visual rhetoric of Revisionism. It might be some of Jabotinsky’s phrases –“The greatest achievement of a free mass of people is the ability to operate together as one with the absolute precision of a machine” – or the uninformed phalanxes of Betar, whose name survives not least at Jerusalem Betar, the football club Olmert supports. So do other fans with a reputation for noisy bigotry, which they demonstrated again last year by jeering throughout a one-minute’s silence for Yitzhak Rabin, and singing songs in praise of the man who assassinated him in 1995.

In 1934, the exiled Jabotinsky said that he could see “only three solutions: to conquer the Zionist Organisation, or to convert the Revisionist Organisation into something very ‘wrathful’, or to retire and write novels”. He didn’t retire, but he did write The Five, completed in 1935 and only recently translated into English – a strange, haunting book set in Russia. One of the characters in The Five faces tragedy by citing the Book of Job. In fact rather than fiction, one thing Jabotinsky had in common with his Zionist adversaries was his rejection of Judaism. Like other nationalists he could invoke religion in patriotic terms: “The Torah and the sword were both handed down to us from heaven” (cf. “To keep the Faith that Luther preached, / The laws that Billy won, / The Orangeman relies upon / His Bible and his gun”). But that didn’t alter the fact that Zionism was a very pure case of invented tradition, which had no roots at all in existing Jewish life, least of all religious tradition, of which it was a radical rejection [??!!].

On that last bit, I submitted this comment:

Wheatcroft, who already has come dangerously close himself to a bit of rabid racism in his March 2007 piece in The Guardian on "the Jews" directly Blair's foreign policy, denounces Zionism thus: "Zionism was a very pure case of invented tradition, which had no roots at all in existing Jewish life, least of all religious tradition, of which it was a radical rejection." This is all so very wrongheaded. Abraham was the first "Zionist" being commanded to leave Ur and go to Moriah, i.e., Jerusalem. The Torah commands the Jewish people to live in the land and treat it with a unique religio-ethnic sacredness so much so that the fruit grown thereof was awarded a special sancity (tithes, etc.). Idol worshippers and idols were to be banned from the territory of the Land of Israel. Ezra leads a Zionist return from Babylon. Talmudic and Midrashic literature is chock full of Zionist imagery and instructions. Need I go on?

...The Torah teaches clearly that the people should never claim for itself the role of historical actor in place of the Almighty, and that was just what Zionism proposed to do. There are those who now call themselves religious Zionists, and who have very much made the running in the West Bank settlements, but they would appear to have dealt with that traditional teaching rather in the spirit of the Welsh minister preaching on a knotty theological problem: “And here my friends, we meet a difficulty. Let us look it firmly in the eye, and pass by”.

Such problems would not much have troubled Jabotinsky, although more generally, his intellectual honesty as well as intellectual stature are attractive, even to someone as remote from him politically as Rose. It was that honesty which alarmed his contemporaries, and in its way arouses alarm still. A persistent attitude – what may not unfairly be called the bien-pensant consensus – holds that the Revisionists were fanatics who damaged the Zionist cause; that the Jewish state was virtuous once in its early years – what Sir Gerald Kaufman calls “the beautiful democratic Israel” he first knew in the 1950s – but is vicious now after three decades in which Jabotinsky’s heirs have ruled more often than not; and that in general the Zionist–Israeli Left is nicer than the Right. But there are Israelis very far politically from Jabotinsky who dispute those comfortable prejudices...

...Indeed, as Jacqueline Rose is astute enough to notice and generous enough to acknowledge, Jabotinsky was in some ways less racist than other Zionists, in his insistence that “the entire country is full of Arab memories” and that the Palestinians naturally believed that it was their land too. We don’t know what he would have said and done in the circumstances of 1948, but ten years earlier he had explicitly repudiated the very idea of transfer: “It must be hateful for any Jew to think that the rebirth of a Jewish state should ever be linked with such an odious suggestion as the removal of non-Jewish citizens”. Interestingly enough, those words were spoken in 1938 in Dublin. Did Jabotinsky notice the following year – and does anyone now remember this? – when Eamon de Valera publicly advocated the transfer or bodily removal of the Protestants as the answer to “the Ulster question”?

Things change. Quite apart from the fact that few politicians in recent times in Israel – or anywhere else – have matched Jabotinsky’s brilliance and leonine personality, his recent heirs have too often displayed his intransigence without the humanity. And it may be understandable that a distaste for Begin and the other Likud leaders Jimmy Carter had to deal with can be detected in Palestine: Peace not apartheid. The book is all of Carter: pious, plodding and platitudinous, its awestruck accounts of meetings with the mighty padded out with what-I-did-in-my-holidays jottings (“all of us experienced the extraordinary buoyancy as we swam in the Dead Sea . . .”).

...It is possible that if Jabotinsky’s vision had been accomplished in his lifetime, and massive immigration had established a Jewish majority without any removal or transfer of the existing inhabitants, those Palestinian Arabs might have become a minority, decently treated as he hoped. But the annihilation of the European Jews deprived Zionism of its essential raw material, and led to a feverish population contest, with the new state forcibly exporting Palestinians while importing Jews from Arab countries and, later, from Russia...

...In his day, Jabotinsky’s intellectual honesty was always a challenge to the evasion or denial of other Zionists, and yet he too was a Luftmensch. “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Sion: then we were like unto them that dream”, the Psalmist said, and Zionism was always a dream, as its apostles continually showed in the language they used. “If you want it, it’s no fairy-tale”, was Herzl’s epigraph to Altneuland; in a hallucinatory passage in The Five, the narrator remembers how the dead heroine had once asked him “to dream me”; “For two thousand years our people dreamed”, went a Habonim resolution in 1947; “It has happened and is happening in our time . . . . How happy we all are!”.

If the dream meant establishing a Jewish state, then it came true, but Jabotinsky’s more grandiose vision did not, and it may be that his followers have at last been cured: while in his day he seemed the honest realist, realism now requires abandoning his vision. “When I was a child”, Tzipi Livni has told Der Spiegel, “all I ever heard about was that we Jews have the right to a state on both sides of the Jordan”; but now, so far from having a Jewish state with a Jewish majority on both banks of the Jordan within the borders of that map on her father’s grave, Jews will before long be once more in a minority even between Jordan and sea.

As Livni says, the old Jabotinskian creed of a Greater Israel on which she was reared “had no provisions for a Palestinian state, but instead envisioned our living together with the Palestinians in one state”, but she now sees that “My goal is to give the Jewish people a home, and that’s why I must accept a Palestinian state. I had a choice, and I chose two states for two peoples”. Whether or not she has ever read The Five, is it possible that she has grasped a truth best conveyed by imaginative literature?



Books under review

Jacqueline Rose
256pp. Verso.
Colin Shindler
Nationalism and the origins of the Israeli Right
272pp. Tauris.
David Goldberg
Israel and the Jewish psyche today
256pp. Tauris.
Victoria Clark
The rise of Christian Zionism
331pp. Yale University Press.
Yakov M. Rabkin
A century of Jewish opposition to Zionism
224pp. Zed Books.
Jimmy Carter
Peace not apartheid
288pp. Simon and Schuster.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Florida Kaparot

Play Like An Arab

Hasboro has changed the rules.

Postscript on the fate of "Jerusalem, Israel" and the new edition of Monopoly

As has been noted before in this diary, the international consensus is that the status of Jerusalem has yet to be decided.

The United Nations partition vote of 1947 held that the city should be a "corpus separatum", under international supervision. That vote has not been superseded in the UN.

When approached, Hasbro, the American manufacturers of Monopoly, promised that they would not second-guess the UN, should Jerusalem be included.

In an email to the BBC, they stated: "Due to space limitations no selected city's board space will have any descriptive text aside from said city's common name."

Yet to be resolved is how much Jerusalem will cost. The Old Kent Road (Mediterranean Avenue) or Mayfair (Boardwalk)?

So, this is how they play:-

Hasbro, the parent of Parker Brothers issued the following statement about their decision:

Parker Brothers, the makers of board game Monopoly has embarked upon an exercise to find the world's most popular cities as voted for by the public. It was never our intention to print any countries on the final boards and any online tags were merely used as a geographic reference to help with city selection. This is clearly stated in the terms and conditions of our campaign.

We would never want to enter into any political debate. We apologise for any upset this has caused our Monopoly fans and hope that they continue to support their favourite cities, all of which are deserving of a place on our final board - Monopoly Here and Now : The World Edition which will be released in Autumn 2008. The 20 pre-selected cities with the highest worldwide votes on February 29 2008 will make it onto the board. Plus voters will have from February 29 to March 9 2008 to vote on the most nominated Wildcard cities. Only the top two will make it on the board.

All country tags are currently being removed from the websites – cities will only be represented by their common name as they will appear on the board. I hope this does not stop you from supporting Jerusalem a very worthy and wonderful city.

Found this over at Atlas Shrugs from here.


Was informed that "last night when I went to vote I noted the wild card cities still had their countries listed."

Under the Same Chamberlain Umbrella

The UN is So...Occupied

This was sent to me by a friend:

United Nations News Service 30 January 2007

Spokesperson's Noon Briefing

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, Ashraf Kamal.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General


** Middle East Statement

A statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Secretary-General has noted today's announcement of an agreed ceasefire in Gaza, and commends Egypt for its continuing efforts to calm a volatile and worrying situation. He calls for all parties to abide by the terms of the ceasefire and to move quickly back to the process of national dialogue in the pursuit of national unity.


**Questions and Answers


Question: You read a statement about the situation in Gaza before and I know it's difficult to change terminology, but we have a new Secretary-General now, so let me try it again. A year and half after the last Israeli withdrew from Gaza, the UN system still refers to Gaza as an Occupied Palestinian Territory. The only people who are not Palestinian in Gaza currently are UN people. Do you mean that Gaza is occupied by the UN?

Spokesperson: Definitely not.

Question: So who is it occupied by?

Spokesperson: Well…

Correspondent: I think there are some Israeli soldiers on the border…

Question: Not borders, who is Gaza occupied by?

Spokesperson: Traditionally, this is the terminology we have used. Yes?

Question: But the situation on the ground changed since Israel withdrew from Gaza.

Spokesperson: I will look into this.

Correspondent: Thank you.

Scott Charles Arnson
410-960-6060 Cell
410-358-4795 Office Phone
215-895-9541 Fax

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

There are Other People Holding a Gun to Her Head

I found this picture here:-

I have no real facts to support my presumption that there are at least equally urgent problems in Africa and the Arab world. And while it would appear to me plausible that while water, bad water, kills more people than war, UNICEF should be campaigning against violence done to women is Islamic societies, especially the so-called 'honor killings', at least to the same expenditure sums that they are doing as seen above.

Also a PR campaign against suicide bombers wouldn't be a bad thing either.

Iran? They Want Israel to Go the Same Silly Route

FOR those who believe — as I do — that the clerics who rule Iran must never have an arsenal of nuclear weapons, the United States’ course of action ought to be clear: The Bush administration should advocate direct, unconditional talks between Washington and Tehran. Strategically, politically and morally, such meetings will help us think more clearly. Foreign-policy hawks ought to see such discussions as essential preparation for possible military strikes against clerical Iran’s nuclear facilities.


In practice, it looks like this, Brian Stauffer's artwork:-

I Wasn't But Now I Will

I was sent a nasty picture a few days ago and decided not to put it up.

But then I read this:

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the Jewish state a "filthy bacteria" whose sole purpose was to oppress the other nations of the region.

"The world powers established this filthy bacteria, the Zionist regime, which is lashing out at the nations in the region like a wild beast," the Iranian president told supporters at a rally in southern Iran.

"[Israel] won support [from the other nations] which created it as a scarecrow, so as to keep the people of this area under control," Ahmadinejad said.

which followed this:-

Iran: Cancerous Israel to be destroyed by radiation

In letter of condolence to Hizbullah secretary-general following Imad Mugniyah's assassination, Revolutionary Guards commander says, 'In the future we will bear witness to the disappearance of this cancerous bacterium, Israel, by the radiation of Hizbullah fighters'.

General Mohammad Ali Jaafari, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, has sent a letter of condolence to Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah following the assassination of the organization's senior commander Imad Mugniyah, saying he believed "the cancerous bacterium called Israel" would vanish soon, the Iranian news agency Fars reported Monday.

and so, I decided to reverse myself and put the picture up.

Here it is:-

After all, if I am part of a filthy bacteria (remind you of Hitler's vermin, et al.?*), I guess being dirty is to be expected.



Hitler's ideology revolved around the metaphor of the German nation as an actual body or "living organism." The Jew was identified as a force within this body working toward its destruction. In his writings and speeches, Hitler continually referred to the Jew as a force of disintegration or decomposition; as the cause of Germany's disease (a bacteria or virus); and as a "parasite on the body of the people." The nature of these recurring images and metaphors constitute data revealing the fantasies contained within Nazi ideology.

and here

The unifying principle was that of a deadly racial disease, a sickness of the Aryan race, and the cure was killing all Jews. Fritz Klein, a Nazi doctor, stated "I am a doctor and I want to preserve life. And of out of respect for human life, I would remove gangrenous appendix from a diseased body. The Jew is the gangrenous appendix in the body of mankind." In the doctors' eyes, Jews were viewed as a Syndrome, characteristic of a greater, specific disease, rather than as individual human beings.


I decided to have mercy on the chimp:

Great Shmuel Katz Story

Jabotinsky, Tuesday Weld

I was pleased to see a long article about Shmuel Katz in the New York Sun Monday. I consider it one of the privileges of my life to have worked with him some years ago copy-editing “Lone Wolf,” his biography of Vladimir Jabotinsky.It came about in an odd way...

...He pointed to a large shopping bag with what I later realized was 1,000 pages of manuscript. Although it was 1994 the author had not yet entered the computer era. The pages were xeroxes, and their content had clearly been typed on an ancient typewriter with relatively small type. Graciously, Lyle said I need not be too punctilious.I knew the name Jabotinsky mainly from street signs I had seen in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem but I had no idea who he was. From the early pages of the manuscript I assumed he must be a literary figure. (These 1,000 pages, by the way, were merely volume one.)

...Shmuel came to New York several times in the course of the project and we had numerous stimulating conversations when we took a break from our work.Now 94 and living in a Tel Aviv senior citizens’ home, Shmuel is still at work. He recently published a book about Aaron and Sarah Aaronsohn, “The Aaronsohn Saga,” two Jews in Palestine who spied for the British in World War I.

Lyle drew a hard bargain. In addition to copy-editing “Lone Wolf,” he asked me to copy-edit a biography of Tuesday Weld. (How often do Vladimir Jabotinsky and Tuesday Weld figure in the same sentence?) There was not a shred of original research in it. Everything came from the equivalent of Modern Screen magazine. Well, at least it was much easier to avoid emotional involvement than “Lone Wolf” had been.

By Howard Kissel

I Agree with Michael Freund

It is time for Israel to stop looking the other way whenever the Palestinians assail everything we hold dear. If it is a war of symbols they want, then Israel should not hesitate to respond. A good place to start would be to tear down the Orient House in Jerusalem, raze the site, and close it once and for all.

Similarly, the Muslim Wakf must be held accountable for the damage that it causes to the Temple Mount, site of the ancient Jewish temple. If the Wakf is unwilling to cooperate, their authority can and should be taken away.

We simply can not afford to allow the Palestinians to continue to spit in our faces, and then call it rain.

Our foes understand well the importance of symbols. They realize that despite their name, symbols are not merely symbolic, but have substantive value too.

The question is, when will we?


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm Now In Jerusalem and It Is Snowing

From my office window -

Mishkenot Sha'ananim and beyond

Old City Wall towards jaffa Gate