We Warned You — So Now What?

March 18, 2010

In mid-2008, I published Israel (and America) Will Rue the Day that George W. Bush Leaves Office on the now defunct israelenews.com.  The column made clear that while none of the leading US presidential candidates were either truly good for American or friends of Israel, and by any measure, Obama was without question the worst of the lot.  So now, as his mentor Pastor Jeremiah Wright has said, “the chickens are coming home to roost.”

But do American Jews, who overwhelmingly supported Wright’s parishioner, care?  Outside of an uncharacteristic objection from the ADL’s Abe Foxman, who usually saves his protestations for conservatives, and a handful of Congressional Democrats, I haven’t heard many objections  from Obama’s court Jews.  And why not?  That was answered in Were Jewish Obama Voters Fooled?, published last year.

Nobody should be surprised by the actions of Obama and his team of the Islamo-leftist coalition.  Saddened and worried, yes, of course, but surprised, no.  As Obama lapped up the anti-Israel venom of his Pastor Wright for 20 years and other like-minded friends, of course he would come to have a one-sided view, and it wouldn’t be kind to Israel.

You may remember his apologists and other “experts” telling us:

  • Obama wants to be a domestic president, and will be too busy to worry about the poor Palestinians.
  • Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, China, et. al. would be more important mid east and world problems, and the Palestinians would take a back burner.
  • the Washington establishment would force him to take a largely traditional, consensus position.
  • Obama learned his lesson after his full ‘settlement freeze’ demand fiasco, and would now moderate his position.

So here we go again — more demands for unreciprocated concessions by Israel.  We know that, unfortunately, hatred of Jews and Israel is often ingrained and reflexive, no matter how irrational.

Because it is an error to ascribe rationality to others, especially an enemy, it is an error to assume that once they learn the facts or the folly of their ways, they will change course.  Perhaps a mild case of the suicide bomber?

So what can Israel do?  Be guided by the maxim that the sooner Arabs and the world accept Israel’s legitimacy, its strength, and its permanence, the sooner peace will be possible.  (Thus little wonder Arabs began rioting coincident with the Obama administration’s harsh words for Israel.  And also not so coincidentally, just as the Gazans intensified their rocket attacks on the very day Obama won election in November 2008, which immediately precipitated the Gaza War.)

So no more concessions for nothing!  And because it was not news to anybody who cared to pay attention to the facts that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and within its sovereignty, Israel should NOT have apologized even for the timing of the announcement of the Jerusalem apartment construction approval.   To the many clowns who call it a “settlement,” the Western Wall must be also be a “settlement.”  Israel must tell the world the area is part of Jewish Israel, to butt out of its internal affairs, to get over it, and if they don’t like it, they can lump it.  And if they want concessions from Israel, they can come back and ask once the Arabs actually make some.  And that doesn’t mean some two-bit gulf state allowing a one-bit “interest section”.

For starters, it might mean a formal recognition by Israel’s enemies of its rights as a Jewish state, a genuine ending of Palestinian groups’ charters calling for the destruction of Israel, and a real end to PA and state-sponsored incitement.

Israel’s enemies think pre-conditions for talks are a good idea. How about these for pre-conditions?

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Jews Should be the Last People to Join the “Global Warming” Bandwagon

December 20, 2009

Jews know all too well how the vast majority of the world can have a grossly distorted view of reality.  Fed a diet of propaganda and lies by their religious leaders, politicians, academicians and media, much of the world is led to believe absurdities such as that Israel is the biggest danger to the world and that Jews are the sons of monkeys and pigs.

Just as much of the world has a very clear, but wrong, picture of Jews and Israel, it also has a very clear picture of “climate change.”  But as the climate summiteers gather in Copenhagen, we should not assume that climate picture is any more accurate than the picture that the world holds of us.  After all, it is largely the same cabal of European media, academics and political elites leading both the climate change and anti-Israel causes.

That is only the beginning of the similarities.

Recent disclosures by NGO Monitor revealed that European governments have been funding anti-Israel non-profits  — and that financing skews the debate about Middle East issues.  For a longer time it has been known that anti-semitic Saudi money goes to American universities, such as Georgetown and Harvard, so as to spread its antithetical views.

Likewise, the climate change alarmists are also the beneficiaries of government and other financial largess, but even on a much larger scale.One estimate is that the U.S. government alone has spent more than $79 billion since 1989 on global warming research and related policies.  You can get quite a few people to agree with you with that kind of money.

And just as the anti-semites and Israel-haters seek to squelch debate about Israel by silencing pro-Israel voices and demonizing Israel and her defenders, the man-made climate change alarmists have for many years sought to squelch debate about their alarmist claims by demonizing their critics and declaring “the debate is over”.

We know that Israel’s enemies lie about Israel, whether, for example, it is that Israel deliberately targets civilians, steals organs, or lacks an historical connection to the land.  Now the recently disclosed  East Anglia Climate Research Unit emails reveal that prominent, supposedly reputable, climate change alarmists have also been engaging in shenanigans.  To cement their case, they have distorted data to falsify the picture presented to the public, and attempted to marginalize their critics.

On the facts, Jews rightly know that Israelis have built a largely just and decent society – one that compares favorably with the rest of the world.  Likewise, those not on board the on the climate change bandwagon have a strong case behind them.  Here are a few notes to that effect, but they are ones you may have not seen before, as they do not serve the establishment media’s agenda:

    • For at least the past ten years, the globe has not warmed.  The climate models did not predict and cannot explain this deviation from the predicted warming.  Those models are the only basis for the alarmist theory, which is only that – a theory, albeit a popularly accepted one.
    • In fact, the lack of warming may explain the otherwise inexplicable change in the name of the crisis from “global warming” to “climate change.”  (Perhaps like how “Arabs” became “Palestinians”?)
    • Carbon dioxide, the major so-called “greenhouse gas” is harmless.  We exhale it, and plant life requires it.  In the distant past, it was almost as much as ten times more concentrated in the atmosphere as it is now, and was much more so than even any doomsday scenario contemplates for the future.
    • The biggest alleged threat from warming seems to be rising sea levels.  Yet there have been previous periods of warming, and during these periods, what are now our port cities and coasts were not inundated and under water.

So just as we Jews and Israel and our defenders have a solid case but are a minority in the world, so too for those who don’t buy the man-made global warming alarmism.  We should understand that before we join in with that crowd.  For better or worse, this could be another instance of Jews’ calling of being a people apart.

It is important to state that debunking of man-made global warming does not contradict the fact that ecological stewardship, energy and resource conservation, and reducing dependence on foreign oil are all good and worthy goals.  But it does not follow that cleanly burning fossil fuels and producing carbon dioxide is in any way harmful.  And we should certainly not cause our societies damage by acting on the false premise that it is.

With Some of the Friends We Have, We Barely Need Enemies

November 30, 2009

I have previously written columns entitled What is a “Supporter of Israel”? and Time to Retire (Most of) the Old-Line American Jewish Organizations.  Sadly, they seem ever more relevant.  Two recent events highlight the confluence of my points — American Jewish organizations just not supporting Israel.  Of course, rank and file American Jews are hardly innocent of the charge of not supporting Israel — after all, to use an in-vogue word, they disproportionately voted for Obama, who has strong-armed Israel into making unprecedented concessions and compromising its sovereignty in return for nothing.

From San Francisco comes word that

The board of this city’s local Jewish federation overwhelmingly rejected a resolution to prohibit support of events and groups that defame Israel or partner with those who call for boycotts, divestment or sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

So we have a Jewish Federation all too happy to work with our worst enemies – and to use Jewish charitable contributions to do it.  The San Francisco Federation is not the only one so disposed; they are just the ones who have been called on it – but they have no shame and continue on their merry ways (and it wasn’t even a close decision for them).  See SF federation board rejects controversial proposal for all the gory details.

And from one of our greatest bastions of “higher learning,” Princeton University, we have what claims to be a pro-Israel group (not even a “J Street” type outfit), disinviting a pro-Israel speaker after they found out that she truly is pro-Israel.  From Egyptian activist’s invitation withdrawn – The Daily Princetonian,

A planned talk by Nonie Darwish was cancelled when both of the event’s sponsors, Tigers for Israel and the American Whig-Cliosophic Society, withdrew their sponsorship.

As I previously wrote in What is a “Supporter of Israel”? ,

Many organizations that promote themselves as “supporters of Israel” or “Israel advocates” in fact operate more as largely neutral forums for Israel-related programs. They apparently feel compelled to provide a balance of speakers with some providing an obligatory bashing of Israel, to offset pro-Israel aspects of their programs. Apparently, for these groups, it is too politically incorrect to include only pro-Israel voices. (Or, in this case, even some truly pro-Israel voices?)

Anybody have any answers for this sad state of affairs?

Establishment Media Wastes No Time Validating My Case

November 23, 2009

 

Last week I posted Bloggers Are a Better Source of News Than “Journalists” – And Better Writers.  I never thought I would be compelled to follow up so soon.

Perhaps my most extreme statement was “Even the most “esteemed” among them [the establishment media] are bad, or worse.”  Within days, the print media’s most “esteemed” New York Times and Washington Post both provided examples of how terrible they are, for anyone seeking a grasp on reason and reality.

First, on November 20, a NY Times blog commented on Global Warminggate, the case of purloined documentation revealing that key global warming alarmists sought, among other things, to prevent the publication of data inconsistent with their global warming-mongering, and to attack those who disrupted their “consensus” on “global warming”.

So what did the Times reporter have to say?

“The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.”

Wow!  So the Times has a new standard – or just a very odd one – for what they publish.  Heretofore, any national security secret they could get their claws on, or any rumor about a Republican candidate’s love life (e.g. John McCain) — that gets published, no problem.  That this information was “never intended for the public eye”?  Their presumed response:  “Hey, what do you think, we have integrity or anything?”

My column last week noted the “establishment media’s rank hypocrisy and partisanship”.  This is another example of them bringing it out further into the open for all who are willing to see it.

Then came the Washington Post with its malevolence and lunacy.  Quite possibly, this most esteemed newspaper’s  most eminent foreign policy columnist is Jim Hoagland.  In fact, he has occasionally been quite reasonable in recent years.  But on November 22 he topped off a column loaded with idiocy and the Abbas-loving and Netanyahu- and Israel-hating bias so typical of the establishment media and the Washington Post in particular.  He said,

“Only an Israeli decision to end that occupation in fast order can lead to the security Israelis need and deserve”…

It never ceases to amaze me that anyone can actually be that obtuse and continue to collect a paycheck for writing.  Disregarding all the stupidity in and behind that statement, the one fact that that formula was tried in Gaza with disastrous results that continue to this day should be enough to embarrass anyone from even broaching it in public.  But for the Jim Hoagland, the “finest” foreign policy columnist (aside from two excellent outlier conservative columnists) at the country’s runner-up top newspaper, it’s just par for the course.

Bloggers Are a Better Source of News Than “Journalists” – And Better Writers

November 12, 2009

I recently heard another establishment-media journalist bemoan the loss of influence of his club of establishment-media journalists.  He condescendingly scorned the rise and increasing influence of non-members of his club – primarily bloggers and conservative talk radio.  I decided that self-centered, narcissistic whining needed to be answered.

I, of course, scorn the remaining continued  influence of his club of “professional” journalists due to the great damage they inflict on the country.  But even putting that aside, those “professional” journalists are a disgrace to the ideals of their profession.   Their organizations range from bad to terrible.  Even the most “esteemed” among them are bad, or worse.  I and others have documented that.  Indeed, whole groups exist to address their shortcomings.

While naturally there is a range in quality among us non-establishmenters, we actually do a better job at the professionals’ job than they do.  To wit:

We don’t load up our copy with meaningless words like “aging”, “sprawling”, and “popular” to fill out supposedly scarce newsprint or airtime.  Additional common media establishment examples are “quietly…” [name action by a disfavored entity], and the universal use of “militant,” in worship at the altar of political correctness, as a substitute for “terrorist”.

We non-establishmenters have some judgment, and thus, as a group can and do actually report news on a broad spectrum of issues and developments, rather than just aping each others’ reporting on the inanities of the week.  (Perhaps that correlates with not finishing in the bottom quartile of our graduating classes.)  It never ceases to amaze me how flipping the dial virtually always results in getting different networks reporting the same take on the same stories, no matter how trivial or inane they are, and no matter how many other vital stories are begging to be reported.  (It is remarkable even knowing that Editor and Publisher reported that “Every Night the ‘NY Times’ and ‘Wash Post’ Exchange Front Pages for the Following Day”.)

Here are a few examples of the stories of no consequence that the establishment media lavishly devotes their “precious” airtime to, to the exclusion of what an informed citizenry needs to know about:

  • Category 1 hurricane may make landfall 3000 miles away (or is swirling in the ocean)
  • Someone who you never heard of is missing
  • Someone who you never heard of was shot
  • Someone who you have heard of, but was of no consequence, has been dead for a week

You might think that some part of the establishment media would seriously report on the constitutional issues involved in the continuing expansion of the reach of the federal government, or the long-term economic implications of current government policy – but you would be wrong.  Issues such as those, and others of true import are  regularly addressed by the non-club members that the establishment media so disdains.

Is it an ideology or ignorance throughout the establishment media that is responsible for its neglect of the real issues?  Probably both, but obviously there is also a herd mentality at work.  Their perception that their lowest-common-denominator product maximizes profit is also a factor (or maximizes  audience, in the case of government-sponsored, taxpayer-funded “public broadcasting”).

And we non-establishmenters don’t share the rank hypocrisy of our “esteemed” establishment media colleagues — a hypocrisy so blind that it routinely claimed with a straight face that Governor Sarah Palin did not have the executive experience to be qualified to be Vice-President, while never questioning that the Democrat candidate, who had no executive experience, was qualified to be President.

The establishment media’s rank hypocrisy and partisanship even extends to what books they will review (not to mention how they review them).  They won’t even review a bestseller Liberty and Tyranny by conservative Mark Levin (on this date  #77 on Amazon, more than seven months after its publication), but they lavish reviews on a book entitled The Death of Conservatism (now  #18,000 on Amazon, 2 months after its publication).

It might be nice if members of the establishment media would occasionally level with their customers about their ideologies and partisanship – and perhaps even to seriously study how that affects their reporting and their product.  But don’t hold your breath.

Even if you don’t agree with the alternative community of  bloggers and talk radio, you need us to tell you what the establishment media isn’t telling you.  If others had paid attention to what we were saying last year, they might have helped avert the political disaster that befell us one year ago, and will continue to haunt us for years to come.

Who Is More Pro-Israel, Your Rabbi Or Rush Limbaugh?

October 4, 2009

Most American Jews think they already know the answer to this question.  Whether it is the correct answer is another story.  For non-American readers who don’t know Rush Limbaugh, he is the leading U.S. talk radio show host, the avatar of the only predominantly conservative genre of American media.

The title of this column may be considered shorthand in two ways.  First, the pro-Israel bona fides are a question generally only  for non-Orthodox rabbis, who tend to have a left/liberal orientation in all things political.  And the question posed by the title may be applied to American conservative talk radio hosts in general, and not just Rush Limbaugh.

Here are a few criteria to judge who is the greater supporter of Israel:

  • Who supports forceful action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?  (The talk show hosts do.)  Who opposes it in the interests of “peace”?  Your rabbi?  (If you don’t believe Iran’s leaders in possession of nuclear weapons represent a fundamental threat to Israel, skip the rest of this article, and move on to the children’s section.)
  • Who supported and who opposed intervention in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power?  (The talk show hosts supported it.)  Apparently the lives of Israeli Jews did not weigh too heavily in the deliberations of the opponents of the intervention.  As some of us still recall, he was paying suicide bomber families $25,000 each for the killing of Jews.
  • Who favors acting against Islamofascist threats to the western world?  (The talk show hosts do.)  Who appeases them in the name of “peace” and “goodwill”?  (Your rabbi?)  Who meets with radical Muslims who support terrorism against Israelis,  and/or their apologists in the name of “interfaith dialogue”? (Your rabbi?)
  • From whom do you hear more criticism of Israel?  (Not often heard from these talk show hosts.)

We may expand the scope of the title’s question further, to consider who is more supportive of traditional Jewish values.  Values such as heterosexual marriage, the sanctity of life (remember the Talmudic “whoever saves a single life is as if he saved an entire world”?), and liberty and freedom.

In each of these instances, the views of the talk show hosts are fully consonant with traditional Judaic values.  That is not true of many non-Orthodox rabbis, whose values are more synchronized with those of left-wing political tenets and America’s Democrat/Obama party.

One area where some talk show hosts and rabbis may tie is that of tzedakah.   While we don’t know the competitors’ personal contributions, many hosts and rabbis both use their “pulpits” to promote contributions to good causes.  Limbaugh raises funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (and makes sizable personal contributions), and fellow host Sean Hannity raises funds for the Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides support to families of injured and fallen American servicemen and women.  (In stark contrast, public broadcasters such as National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting Service stations tend to use their airwaves to raise money only for themselves — on top of the taxpayer dollars they involuntarily expropriate from the public.)

I invite readers to participate in an informal poll by providing their answers to the question posed by the title by commenting below.  One caveat:  For your vote to qualify, your opinion must be based on a substantive first-hand acquaintance with the views of both parties.  I.e., you must have a rabbi that you have heard speak, and you must have personally heard at some length Limbaugh or another host; your opinion cannot be based on what others, especially figures in the media, have told you, said, or reported about the talk show host.  (Aside from the media’s political agenda that differs from the talk show hosts’, the talk shows are their competition.  Thus the media has a double vested interest –  ideological and commercial —  in denigrating them.)

The point here is to reflect on who are are Judaism’s real friends and who are not; who are real supporters of Israel, and who are not.  As time passes and the world changes, tradition and conventional wisdom often do not provide the right answers.

Is Obama Stupid?

September 22, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama strikes his admirers as exceedingly intelligent.  The rest of us have real doubts.  His list of gaffes and blunders is already as long as his record of accomplishment is short. But most people don’t know that, as the media that cover him tend to fall in that admirer camp.

Particularly given the frequency with which the charge of “stupidity” was leveled at former President George W. Bush (one that I categorically reject), there is now more than ample reason to ask whether that trait applies to the current U.S. President.

The specific impetus for this exploration came from Obama’s apparent obsession with imposing “peace” on Israel despite the crystal clear positions of her Hamas and Fatah enemies that they categorically and fundamentally refuse to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.  That, of course, is the most fundamental prerequisite for a resolution of that conflict and achieving actual peace.

Obama’s demand for an absolute halt to any building by Jews in eastern Jerusalem and all other areas beyond the pre-1967 “Green Line” was supposed to induce that peace.  Of course, if anything, it has tended to have the opposite effect, with the Palestinian Arabs only hardening their intransigence, waiting for more demands to be put upon Israel.  Its only redeeming effect may be to lose a few Jewish votes for Obama and his friends in future elections.

Before he came up with his “settlement”-stopping brainstorm, he proclaimed the idiocy that progress on slowing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons was dependent on Israel pacifying the demands of her Palestinian Arab enemy.  Of course, reality was, and remains, more the reverse, with the Palestinian Arabs egged on to intransigence and violence by the emboldened Iran.

To return to the beginning, Obama has no record of accomplishment.  Not even an academic record, or at least one that has been released to the public.  Quite peculiar it is.  While a tabloid-like, yet mysteriously respected Washington newspaper managed to dredge up a 20 year old thesis of Virginia’s current Republican gubernatorial candidate, it was not able to, or had no interest in, obtaining or publishing any of Obama’s academic writings or records.  Neither, of course, did any other major media outlet.

How does Obama so impress his fans worldwide?  Certainly, he is ideological, a master of double-speak, arrogant, and glib, a combination that seems to be charismatic to many and thus, effective.  The glibness is facilitated by his teleprompter, which he uses to a greater degree than anyone before him, and much more extensively than previously thought possible.

During the campaign, his misstatements and errors in judgment were second only to those of now Vice-President Joe Biden.  But he was able to endlessly and charismatically spout the meaningless drivel of “hope and change” such that enough of a naïve and gullible public bought into it.

But in evaluating his intellectual acumen, or lack thereof, we should consider the specific things he has said and done.  One was that his categorical proclamation that the surge in Iraq would not work, but would actually make things worse.  (Are we supposed to feel good that he is now our commander-in-chief?)

Other recent gems of his wisdom:

March, 2008: “I don’t think that my church is actually particularly controversial.”  To think that his church led by the ranting Jeremiah Wright would not be controversial to Americans speaks volumes – one would not have to be the brightest bulb in the room to know that it would.

He claimed that Arabic translators deployed in Iraq are needed in Afghanistan, ignorant of the fact  that Afghans don’t speak Arabic.  In a similar vein, he had also proclaimed “I don’t speak Austrian.”

He said he had traveled to “57 states” during the campaign, a mistake not even Jimmy Carter made.  (He might have been thinking of the 57 states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, but he did not visit them all, either.)

He insisted that Jerusalem remain undivided – for perhaps 24 hours, until he found out that some people don’t like that idea.

The falsification of history of his Cairo speech (was that ignorance or “just” mendacity?).

This sample listing does not consider the vast number of his statements and actions that one might attribute to stupidity, but could conceivably be explained as stemming from a differing policy perspective.

This and other evidence indicates that Obama is an artful, cunning, and hard-nosed politician.  Beyond that, he still has little to point to for a record of accomplishment, either in his current job or in his preceding ones.  His arrogance evidently detracts from his ability to see reality accurately and to make wise decisions, as exemplified by his reckless Mid East “settlement”-based “peace” adventurism.

That qualifies as stupid to me.

Mainstream Media’s War on the Truth

September 6, 2009

Note to Readers:   This article is a slightly updated version of one originally posted in late 2006. Unfortunately, its message remains as valid today as ever.

You might think that with all the words written about the shortcomings of the mainstream media in recent years, that the subject has been adequately covered.  But, no, unfortunately, the criticism has been no match for the problem.  The media’s biases cause it to both reflexively and consciously alter its product to substantial degrees from what would be acceptable and what the public deserves.

Don’t doubt that the media’s war on the truth encompasses omission, distortion, and outright lying. The tactics of omission, distortion, and lying distort the picture provided to the public.

The media’s use of each of these sometimes overlapping techniques is explored below.

Part of the problem is that the mainstream media proclaims it is unbiased and gives us an accurate picture of our world.  Or, it may admit that it has biases, but it still gives us an accurate picture because it doesn’t let its biases affect its product.  Well, at least that is amusing, as by now most Americans and Israelis know better.

In contrast, much of the non-mainstream media is above-board about it biases, and is happy to tell you where it stands.  That knowledge of the perspective of the source makes it much easier to judge the value of the information offered.

As well, the alternative media seems less affected than its mainstream counterpart by the herd mentality and the peer pressure the rest of us felt as children.  The mainstream media exhibits a remarkable degree of uniformity among its various components in using remarkably similar language and opinions to describe the remarkably similar events they each deem newsworthy.  Their similarities are often in the guise of presumed “standards” that lead to many of the inanities listed below.  Even outlets thought to be on the edge or outside of the mainstream, such as Fox News or the Washington Times, increasingly conform to these mainstream practices in their news reporting.

Since it is difficult for those of us interested in world events to avoid exposure to the mainstream media, we are exposed to their biases and versions of events.  Supplementing that with other voices from talk radio, the internet, and niche publications often adds much valuable information and perspective.

Omission and Distortion

Omission is the mainstream media’s favorite tactic for handling information they don’t want you to know.  Often the less stringent tactic of simply burying the story and providing it less emphasis than the preferred story lines is adequately effective.

These tactics are nothing new; the media has a long and sordid record of burying crucial information. These tactics go back at least to the New York Times’ virtual burial of information on the incredibly mounting death toll of Jews in the Holocaust.

Following is a small sample of the many pieces of information that mainstream media outlets don’t want us to know and therefore don’t mention much in their reports (media omission tactic) or do note but in a distorted way (distortion tactic):

  • Hizbullah and Hamas are terrorist organizations. Distortion tactic:  Sanitize them by describing them as “militant” organizations, or with any other term but “terrorist”.
  • Hizbullah has committed numerous terrorist acts killing Americans, including 241 Marines at their barracks in Lebanon.
  • Most casualties in the 2006 and 2008 wars with Lebanon and Gaza were terrorists and those who aid and abet them.
  • United Nations peacekeepers were stationed along the Israel Lebanon border for years, but were ineffectual at best.  More realistically, they served as cover for Hizbullah and its terror attacks.  Distortion tactic:  Imply that (another) UN peacekeeping force would be an unadulterated good thing. Of course, Israel was in fact subsequently saddled with the “new, improved” UN peacekeeping force.
  • The “good guy” Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is an unrepentant Holocaust denier.  (That was his PhD thesis.)  Distortion tactic:  Without any evidence, label Abbas as a “moderate”.  On the other hand, label Ariel Sharon, Binyamin Netanyahu, and other Israelis as “hard-line”, and Israeli actions as “excessive” or “disproportionate”.
  • Distortion tactic:  Delegitimize Israel by referring to its capital and government as “Tel Aviv” even though they and you well know its government is in its capital of Jerusalem.  Would the media sound any more stupid or be any more dishonest to imply the U.S. Congress meets in Los Angeles?

These media tactics are not employed only against Israel, but against the broader war on terrorism, and other U.S. interests as well.  To wit, further omissions/distortions:

  • American soldiers and Marines in Iraq perform heroically.  Distortion tactic:  Find an allegation against the American (or Israeli) military and trumpet it in the extreme (e.g. the absurd on its face charge of flushing a Koran down a toilet; Muhammad al-Dura hoax).
  • Al Qaeda was linked to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.  For example, Abu Musab al Zarqawi and two dozen al Qaeda associates were in Iraq — in Baghdad — nearly a year before the war.  Distortion tactic:  Claim no links between Iraq and al Qaeda, or debunk the straw man allegation of an Iraq-9/11  link.

A side note is that Saddam Hussein also did have a link to first World Trade Center bombing of 1993. He harbored terrorist 1993 World Trade Center bomb plotter Abdul Rahman Yasin in Iraq and paid him a monthly stipend.

  • Some WMD were found in Iraq – including 500 sarin/mustard gas-filled shells. Distortion tactic:  Claim no WMD in Iraq.

Outright Lying

While a less charitable media analyst might also include the media’s denial of Iraq-al Qaeda links and WMD having been found in Iraq in this category, here are two other examples:

  • To delegitimize Israel’s claim to the disputed West Bank territories, refer to the 1967 armistice lines as an international border.  Could National Public Radio’s long time Israel correspondent be so ignorant as to make this mistake innocently?
  • For reasons perhaps a reader can explain, an Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, falsely claimed a road is “Jewish only”. Its defense is that the claim  is true “for all practical purposes” (shades of Dan Rather, or perhaps the old “good enough for government work”?).

Bottom Line

My bottom line measure for the integrity of a news outlet rests on its willingness to call terrorists “terrorists”.  If it can’t even honestly describe our enemy, how can we trust anything else it tells us?

Regarding media bias specific to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Stephanie Gutmann has penned an outstanding first-hand account that is highly informative, even for those of us who think we are on to the media’s tricks.  Entitled The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy, I heartily recommend it for further reading.

August 28, 2009

J’Accuse!

Unfortunately, today’s ever less justified vitriolic criticism of Israel necessitates bringing back this late-19th century term of indictment.  It is time to retire the largely politically correct yet fallacious mantra that most criticism of Israel is not anti-semitic.  Because it is!  Whether through ignorance or malevolence, most average everyday critics of Israel are anti-semitic by virtue of that criticism.

The Jewish community in particular has been careful not to levy unjustified charges of anti-semitism.  But now it is clear that anti-semitism is flourishing, masquerading in the form of anti-Zionism and hatred of Israel.  It is time to call it what it is.

As with anti-semitism over the eons, masses are led to it through ignorance.  Perversely, anti-semitism may have become more widespread in recent years as misinformation rooted in an anti-Jewish and anti-Israel bias has been spread more widely and rapidly, courtesy of the information revolution, including, most notably, the internet.

Many eminent and articulate authors have written many eloquent and trenchant words exposing and documenting beyond doubt the double standards, hypocrisy, and mendacity – good indicators of anti-semitism – that are so common when it comes to many, but not all, discussions of Israel.  These authors have also demonstrably shown that Natan Sharansky’s test of Israel-related anti-semitism – double standards, demonization, and delegitimization – has readily been met.  Sadly, these are staples of criticism of Israel today.

One of the anti-semites’ buzzwords of criticism is that Israel’s military actions in Gaza were “disproportionate.”  Yet Hamas was not stopped by Israel’s actions and continued to fire rockets at Israel. Nor did it release its captive Israeli Gilad Shalit. Further, it even claimed “victory.”  So if Israel’s actions were in any way inappropriately “disproportionate”, it was that they were inadequate and insufficient to do the job – the opposite of what her detractors were saying in their anti-semitic accusations.

But all these defenses and explications documenting the anti-semitism in the world’s attacks on Israel should not even be necessary – open manifestations of anti-semitism are staring in the face anybody willing to see them. For one obvious example, why else in the eyes of both Palestinian Arabs and those of most of the world must be all lands over which the Palestinian Arabs have sovereignty be Judenrein?

Further examples include Saudi, Jordanian, Egyptian, and Syrian textbooks that include overt anti-Jewish indoctrination.  And of course, the terrorist (“militant” or “activist” to the news media) group Hamas that rules Gaza has an openly anti-semitic charter.  For example, Article 7:

“The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and the trees will cry out: ‘O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’ “

Also, both of Gaza’s neighboring states, Israel and Egypt, restrict crossing activity at their borders with it, a grievance of Hamas.  While Hamas has fired thousands of rockets at Israel (the Jews), how many has it fired at Egypt (the Muslims) to “resist” its blockade?  None, of course.  Why not?  Answer:  Because Egypt is not a Jewish state.

While Hamas and its terrorist brethren take issue with Arab governments as well as Israel, the reason that Israel ranks highest among their targets is simply that it is a Jewish, not a Muslim, state.  That’s anti-semitism.

Israel’s numerous Jewish hyper-critics must also be mentioned, but only to point out the context of the long history of this plague of self-loathing Jews.  While obviously the ease of fitting in throughout most parts of the world is greatly facilitated by standing against Israel, I leave it to psychologists to further analyze the etiology of these individuals.

A major factor contributing to the prevalence of today’s anti-semitism is that the very Palestinian Arabs who elected their terrorist leaders have managed to ingratiate themselves with much of the world.  How they have done so is another story, but for here, chalk it up to fortuitous timing and tactics (for them), and a world with latent anti-semitic tendencies eager to adopt their anti-semitic narrative. How else to explain that simply being the enemies of the Jews would endear them to the world, above the cause of other desperate and more deserving peoples in Africa and Asia?  (The Palestinian Arabs have won more per capita international aid, by far, than any other group.  And, further, they have done so while incurring virtually no obligation to do anything in return.)

It is especially remarkable how they have been embraced in the West with such affection and with so little genuine rationale – despite the stated aspirations of Hamas, its fellow terrorist organizations, and its Iranian sponsors to subjugate to their Islamist rule not just Israel and the Jews, but the western world.

And then the West would hardly be in a position to worry about “disproportionate” Israeli actions.  That is a remarkable irony.  Love may not conquer all, but perhaps anti-semitism does?

Time to Retire (Most of) the Old-Line American Jewish Organizations

August 23, 2009
In fact, it is long past the time when most of the large, long-established mainstream American Jewish organizations outlived their usefulness.

You know the ones I am talking about – the ones with the constant fund-raising letters, sometimes enclosing trinkets (usually direct from China). The letters where they tell you how dire the situation is for Jews everywhere, and how crucial it is that you send them money so they can save the day. And save the day they can, they say, because they are in close contact with UN officials and foreign leaders, and because they have decades of experience.

What they don’t reconcile, however, is a critical contradiction:  if they are so good and effective and have been on the job for years, how things can be so bad? Of course, they can’t reconcile these incompatible facts.

Some of these organizations have a record of failure going back seventy years, when they suppressed information about the extent of the Holocaust and fought against saving Jews, or even establishing the State of Israel.

How could that possibly be? A good question. The most likely answer seems to be their leaders were more interested in maintaining good relationships within their power circles, notably with President Franklin Roosevelt, and were tinged with an excessively large dose of timidity and a fear of “making things worse.” (Readers interested in learning more about this incredible story can consult Heroes, Antiheroes and the Holocaust by David Morrison.)

Fast forward to today, and these Jewish organizations seem to be among the last to the table to recognize, much less address, the threat to us all from Islamic extremism. Perhaps is it a perceived need for atonement, that rather than face today’s enemies, they seem to prefer to wallow in memories and “lessons” of the Holocaust and the last-war threat from neo-Nazis?  A relevant side note is that these organizations’ invocations of the Holocaust are likely to omit any mention of the Arab complicity in it.  While not a Jewish organization per se, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s permanent exhibition is a case in point.

Here are two factors to evaluate how useful an organization is likely to be in promoting Jewish interests today:

  • Is it focused on fighting the prime and imminent threat to the western world as a whole, and to Jews in particular, of Islamofascism, or is it warning you about the relative non-threats of conservative Christians, sightings of neo-Nazis in Europe or a Jewish cemetery being desecrated with swastikas? Does the fact that Israelis in Sderot and elsewhere were recently bombarded every day for years from Gaza, and being killed and injured regularly, rate as much concern as the threat from the neo-Nazi bogeyman? Does the Jewish organization even let on that anti-semitism today is centered in the Muslim world, with a virulence every bit as horrific as the Nazis’?
  • Does the organization actually do anything useful, or does it plan more dialogue and meetings with intractable UN and foreign bureaucrats, who due to their own interests are not going be any more swayed by the organization’s pleadings this year than they were in any previous year?  Finding something truly useful to do is not that difficult – for example, the group could aid terror victims, Israeli soldiers, or others in need, or get word out defending Israel. And the organization could encourage the community to invest in Israel, to shop Israel, and to travel to Israel.

Unfortunately, you cannot rely on a good rating from major charity rating sites. They base their ratings on the groups’ compliance with their criteria, which notably do not include the intrinsic value of the groups’ underlying mission or activities. Indeed, some organizations linked to the promotion of terrorism have received the evaluators’ highest 4-star ratings, as they evidently pursue their missions effectively.

The sad truth of the matter seems to be that most of the old-line Jewish organizations (with the notable exception of the ZOA, the Zionist Organization of America) are so inculcated with their decades of affinity for traditional leftist Jewish causes that they are at least partly blind to today’s realities.

One recent example concerns the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. In March 2008, then Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, “The creation of a Palestinian state is not the required answer to Israel’s security needs” and that a future Palestinian state must comprise officials “who want not only to live in peace with Israel, but are also able to fight terror.”  I.e., establishing a Palestinian state then was not a good idea from the standpoint of Israel’s interests.

But the JCPA, a coalition of 14 major American Jewish groups and 125 local Jewish community relations councils, thought it knew better. With the exception of the abstention of its member Orthodox Union, the JCPA then voted unanimously for endorsing the establishment a Palestinian state [and without any conditions, such as demilitarization].

Fortunately, one can support Jewish interests without supporting these ineffective, or at worst, counterproductive, old-line Jewish organizations, as a new generation of groups has arisen, much more in tune with today’s real problems and needs. They are also much more effective in doing a lot with a lot less. One cannot help but be impressed by the work done by the relatively small and nimble new generation groups such as Stand With Us, CAMERA, One Family Fund, MEMRI, and Palestinian Media Watch.

Many long-established corporate titans are now gone, for good reason. There is no reason why the non-profit sector should be any different.