Can We Please Stop Talking about Hasbarah? (Jerusalem Post)

A Dose of Nuance: Can we please stop talking about ‘hasbara’?

The problem is not with how Israel tells the story, but with how the Western world has grown tired of Israel.

By DANIEL GORDIS \  11/06/2014 15:02

It's almost invariably the first question during the Q&A session.

Whether I'm speaking in the US or Australia, Israel or Europe, at a JCC, a book fair, a synagogue or a federation - someone always asks it. At Limmud or a university, too. It makes no difference. Someone invariably asks, "Why does Israel consistently do such a terrible job of telling its own story? You people do so many things so well. Why can't you do hasbara [public diplomacy]?" 

In fairness to Israel, I think the Foreign Ministry has, in fact, gotten a bit better at it. We've been represented in recent years by several ambassadors to the US, for example, who have done excellent work. During this summer's war, the IDF was tweeting furiously - at times predictably and foolishly, but at times thoughtfully. At the very minimum, the IDF was at least giving Twitter users who wanted Israel's side of the story some basic material to work with.

All the progress notwithstanding, though, I often sympathize with those people asking the question. We’re better, but not good enough; despite the justice of our cause, we do at times seem utterly incapable of telling our story compellingly.

Many wonder why. So, too, did I.

But the next time someone asks me that question, I’m going to change my answer. No longer am I going to recount the history of when Israel apparently stopped investing as heavily in hasbara, and no longer am I going to try to explain that our story is a complex one, not readily reduced to sound bites.

Instead, I’m going to remind the questioner of whats happening in Israel, and why, no matter what we do, hasbara is essentially useless and hopeless. It is so utterly useless, in fact, that I think we just ought to drop the concept and the term.

The notion behind hasbara is that if you only tell your story in a sufficiently compelling and powerful way, some people will “get it,” and Israel will no longer be tied to the proverbial whipping post of the international media.

But after what happened on October 22, does anyone still believe that? As is well-known, a Palestinian driver with a terrorist background (he had spent time in Israeli jail for terrorism, and was a family relation of a former head of Hamas’s military wing) plowed into a group of innocent pedestrians at a light rail stop, killing two people (a baby, Chaya Zissel Braun, who died just hours later, and 22-year-old Karen Yemima Mosquera, who succumbed to her wounds after several days) and wounding six others. When the driver tried to escape, he was shot and killed by police.

A horrible story, but a simple one.

Yet how did the international media report it? The initial AP headline, changed following an outcry, was “Israeli police shoot man in east Jerusalem.” Yes, you read that correctly. As far as the headline was concerned, the story was that Israeli police shot a guy. That he had tried to kill people, that he had intentionally run them over and wounded several of them grievously, that he was a known terrorist – all that was apparently irrelevant to the headline. All the initial AP headline chose to note was that “those Israelis” had shot another Palestinian

Tell me – what good would hasbara have done? The AP eventually relented and revised their headline (amazingly, though, the URL of their post – israeli-police-shoot-man-east-jerusalem- 153643679.html – retained the original headline for a while, even after they revised the text), but Ken Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch (so hostile to Israel that even its founder, Robert Bernstein, ended up repudiating the very organization he had founded), has not relented. Immediately after the attack, he tweeted: “Palestinian deadly crash into train stop. Israel calls it ‘terrorist attack... typical of Hamas.’” Note the implication behind Roth’s language: Was it a terrorist attack? Well, the Israelis say so.

Days later, when the second victim died, Roth continued in his stance: “Second fatality from Palestinian who drove car into Jerusalem train stop. Police treating it as ‘purposeful attack.’” Those Israelis, again... “treating it” as a “purposeful attack.” What would Mr.

Roth call it? Does anyone imagine that any hasbara would have influenced Roth’s poisonous hatred for Israel? When Karen Yemima Mosquera was buried, The Guardian headline read: “Jerusalem car crash funerals held.”

Car crash? And underlining the headline, The Guardian notes that she was killed “when a car driven by a Palestinian man veered onto a Jerusalem pavement crowded with pedestrians.”

What good would hasbara have done? A memo from the US Consulate in Jerusalem (the consulate has since removed the memo from its website) referred to the attack as a “traffic incident.”

Would hasbara have changed that? Let’s not kid ourselves. Israel makes plenty of mistakes and does many foolish things – just like any other country.

But it is also viciously pilloried in the international press, as the response to last week’s horrific events make clear.

The problem is not with how Israel tells the story, but with how the Western world has grown tired of Israel. There are many reasons for this, but hasbara is not the answer.

No one has explained this phenomenon better than award-winning Israeli journalist Matti Friedman.

“You don’t need to be a history professor, or a psychiatrist, to understand what’s going on. Having rehabilitated themselves against considerable odds in a minute corner of the earth, the descendants of powerless people who were pushed out of Europe and the Islamic Middle East have become what their grandparents were – the pool into which the world spits.”

Precisely. And would hasbara – even the best we might imagine – have any impact on that? Obviously not. So can we please not talk about hasbara anymore? Let’s stop asking why the Israeli government is so incompetent at telling its story, and focus on the question that matters.

Let’s start asking instead: Why has the international community’s moral compass become so utterly dysfunctional?

The writer is senior vice president, Koret Distinguished Fellow and chairman of the core curriculum at Shalem College, Israel’s first liberal arts college, in Jerusalem. His latest book, Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul, was recently released by NextBook.

Abbas’s Palestine is the Real Apartheid State, by Jonathan Tobin

In recent weeks, critics of Israel have been crying foul over the fact that Jews have moved into some apartments in East Jerusalem neighborhoods.The fact that the homes were legally purchased and that the new residents were merely attempting to reside in the country’s as-yet-undivided capital was seen as irrelevant since the presence of Jews in Arab-majority areas is considered to be an obstacle to a potential partition of the city should a peace agreement with the Palestinians ever be signed. But even if we were to concede that such moves do infuriate Arabs, surely no one, not even Israel’s most adamant opponents, would be comfortable with laws that banned the presence of Jews in parts of Jerusalem or anywhere else. Right? Wrong.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas reacted to the fact that Jews have bought homes from Palestinians in parts of Jerusalem by vowing to toughen existing PA laws that forbid such sales. Yes, that’s right. In “Palestine”—be it the existing PA or Hamas states or the future independent Palestinian state that Europe is so eager to recognize even without it having to make peace with Israel—it is against the law to sell land or a home to a Jew.

The question of whether Jews should move into majority Arab neighborhoods or towns is a question of judgment. Let’s ignore for the moment the fact that the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected any peace deal that would give them an independent state and a share of Jerusalem since it would require them to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. It is possible to argue that the two communities are better off living separately. But voluntary separation is one thing, legal restrictions on the right of Jews to live in some areas is something very different.

After all, in the State of Israel, which is routinely and falsely accused of being an “apartheid state,” Arabs may live where they please. When some areas have tried to restrict sales of property to Arabs, Israel’s courts have ruled that this is inconsistent with the principles enunciated in the country’s basic laws. While Israel is not a perfect society and the Arab minority faces challenges that are often rooted in the century-old war over the land, the principle of equality before the law for all citizens is upheld.

But in “Palestine,” not only are there no courts or government to prevent individuals or groups from discriminating, but there it is the government itself that both promulgates and ruthlessly enforces such bias.

As the Times of Israel reports:

According to the official Palestinian Wafa news agency, Abbas on Monday imposed a sentence of hard labor for life on “anyone diverting, renting or selling land to an enemy state or one of its subjects.”

Jordan’s penal code number 16 article 114, applicable in the Palestinian territories, previously subscribed “temporary hard labor” to perpetrators of the crime.

In practice, this means Jews may not buy, rent, or sell land. In other words, should the state of Palestine that sits in the United Nations ever become a real sovereign country it will be the apartheid state, not democratic Israel.

The purpose of such laws is to thwart the Zionist enterprise by which Jews have returned to their ancient homeland by legally purchasing land. But the motivating factor here is Jew hatred. Should Palestine ever become a reality, the neighborhoods where Jews have bought homes would be part of it. At that point these few Jews would be no threat to the Arab majority. But the Palestinian vision of statehood remains one in which Israel would be a country where Jews and Arabs live while Palestine will be a Judenrein—Jew-free—entity.

The point here is that peace is possible if both sides are prepared to compromise and recognize each other’s legitimacy. But the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority of Abbas, that both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry constantly praise as a true peace partner for Israel, is not only not interested in compromising. It is also promulgating and attempting to enforce laws that are based in anti-Semitic incitement. Were Israel to ban Arabs from moving into homes they owned in West Jerusalem, it would prompt an international outcry and condemnations from the United States. But instead America condemns Jews who move into Arab neighborhoods and stays silent when Abbas seeks to treat those who sell to Jews as criminals.

Instead of the Jewish home buying in Jerusalem being an obstacle to peace as Israel’s critics claim, it is the Arab attempt to criminalize selling to a Jew that best illustrates why peace is not yet possible

Submission: Ayaan Hersi Ali, Bret Stephens & Thane Rosenbaum

Last night I attended one of the many outstanding programs produced by the Forum on Law, Culture & Society, directed by Thane Rosenbaum.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an outspoken defender of women's rights in Islamic societies. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, she escaped and arranged marriage by immigrating to the Netherlands, where she served as a member of the Dutch Parliament. In 2004, with director Vincent Van Gogh, she made the documentary film, Submission, a film about the oppression of women in Islamic cultures for which Van Gogh was murdered. She established the AHA foundation to help oppressed women and has written three books. 

Bret Stephens is the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and editor of the WSJ who appears often on television.  In my opinion, he is the most brilliant political thinker and commentator we have in the US today.

Thane Rosenbaum is the author of many books and essays who is a senior fellow of the NYU School of Law. Every year the Forum has a film series which he organizes and for which he leads the post-screening discussions.

I hope that you will all be able to watch this program soon on, (formerly Shalom TV).

People have succeeded in silencing Ayaan's voice on college campuses like Brandeis. That's because many "liberals" do not allow free speech if it does not fit with their world view. I fear that we have a generation of college graduates who only know the propaganda they hear, funded by Arab oil money

Cold Turkey, by Michael Curtis (Oct. 20, 2014)

College students should be able to answer some simple questions. Which country in the Middle East has been declared guilty of “ethnic cleansing?” Which country in the area has prevented the return of refugees to their homes and former properties? Which country has flouted Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention of August 1949 that prohibits an occupying power from deporting or transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies? Which country is responsible for a unilateral declaration of independence?  Contrary to what they may hear from their professors, the correct answer is that all these things are performed by Turkey.

Turkey is not the flavor of the month. To say that Turkey is a disappointment in the fight against Islamist terrorism is to state, even understate, a truism. Turkey is a member of NATO, the only Muslim member of the organization, and President Barack Obama still regards it as a regional ally, and as a symbol of Islamic moderation and liberalism.  However, in view of its behavior in recent years, no one can view it as a helpful partner to the US and the other countries prepared to counter Islamic terrorism. In 2003, before the Second Gulf War, the invasion of Iraq against Saddam Hussein, Turkey refused to allow the US to use its bases in the country.  It is still refusing to support the US led coalition to deal with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and again has prevented US reconnaissance and bombing sorties over Syria from the US air base at Incirlik.

To this unhelpful and uncooperative policy has been added even more negative behavior, the direct and indirect help given by Turkey to terrorist groups, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Islamic State, and other terrorist groups.  Turkey provided logistical support and sheltered Hamas operatives. It helped the Nusra Front, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. It helped the Islamic State (IS) by allowing arms, material, and personnel to pass through Turkish territory, and through black market transactions with Iran it enables IS to sell the oil from the 10 oil fields and refineries it has seized.  By these sales IS gains about $2 million a day. Erdogan denies this relationship with Iran, which is continuing, thus violating the policy of sanctions against that state.

All this is familiar and distressing. Equally well known and deplorable is the refusal of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to allow the considerable Kurdish minority some form of autonomy or self-determination in Turkey.  He views and executes the fight by military attacks and fighter jets against Kurdish groups, especially the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that he regards as a terrorist group, as more important than the fight against the Islamic State.   Erdogan has even refused to allow US arms transfers to go to the Kurds who are really fighting the main threat to the world, the Islamic State.

What is less familiar or ignored is that Turkey is guilty of crimes as defined by international law because of its occupying of territory and encouraging settlements in a country to which it has no rightful claim. President Erdogan has been all too ready to criticize the State of Israel for occupation, its settlements, and its actions.  Sometimes this criticism is expressed mildly but more often it is in excessive and belligerent language. In May 2010 he accused Israel of “state terrorism” for preventing the flotilla organized from Turkey from sailing into Gaza.  He remarked of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in July 2014 that it was “worse than Nazi genocide…and (Israeli) barbarism has surpassed even Hitler’s.”

Erdogan’s rhetoric suggests he may be a believer in “Jewish world conspiracy or Jewish power,” and even in the blood libel, ritual murder accusations of Jews killing Christians for their blood to make matzos for Passover. Either consciously or unconsciously, this kind of rhetoric echoes antisemitism. He asserted that Israel was behind the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt who was removed from power in July 2013 by Field Marshal el-Sisi. Erdogan also called on the world to stop Israel’s desire for genocide because its lust for blood would not end.

Erdogan is eager to call on the world for action concerning Israel, but when the “world” speaks about his own misdeeds or those of his country he ignores it. He refuses to acknowledge the opposition of the world to Turkey’s illegal occupation of part of the island of Cyprus. The issue is a simple one. Cyprus, which had been under British administration since 1878 and had been a British Crown Colony since 1925, became an independent country, the Republic of Cyprus, in 1960, according to a Treaty of Guarantee signed by Britain, Greece, and Turkey. However, hostilities between Greek and Turkish Cypriots began in 1963. A UN force, the Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), was set up in March 1964 to help restore normal conditions following this violence. Fifty years later UNFICYP is still there, now under the leadership of a woman general from Norway, trying to maintain stability in the area.

On July 20, 1974, 30,000 Turkish troops invaded the island, and they seized and held about a third of it.  In what can be seen as Turkish ethnic cleansing, more than 180,000 Greek Cypriots were evicted from their homes in the north of the island, while 50,000 Turkish Cypriots moved to areas under the control of the Turkish forces.  Contrary to the Geneva and other international Conventions, Turkey has transferred some of its own population into the area.

On November 15, 1983 Turkish Cypriot authorities unilaterally declared the establishment of an independent state, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The United Nations Security Council immediately considered this declaration legally invalid and called for its withdrawal. The European Union also condemned this unilateral declaration of independence. Nevertheless, Turkey has ignored this “call on the world for action,” even though no country except Turkey has recognized the legitimacy of the TRNC state.

Those concerned with Middle East issues should not be oblivious, as many have been, to the improper nature and significance of Turkish behavior in Cyprus, the illegal occupation of part of a country, the establishment of Turkish settlements in the area, the continuing presence of Turkish troops, and even the imposition of a Green Line that separates the two political entities in Cyprus. For some years the UN Security Council has been passing resolutions about this situation, the most recent one being Resolution UNSC Res. 2135 of January 30, 2014, commenting on the degree of stability along the Green Line.

But Turkey has not only defied the UN regarding its illegal occupation and settlement policies. It has blatantly denied political reality and threatened hostilities against the legitimate Republic of Cyprus. On October 13, 2014, President Erdogan reprimanded a Greek Cypriot member of the European Parliament who referred to Turkish troops in North Cyprus as “invaders.” He also refused to listen to proposals for withdrawal of Turkish troops.  When the EU admitted Cyprus as a member, Erdogan commented that it should have been admitted as “southern Cyprus….there was no country named Cyprus.” In fact the whole island had been admitted as a member, but EU common rights and obligations refer only to the part under the internationally recognized government, the Republic of Cyprus. In January 2014 Turkey refused to implement fully the customs agreement with the EU because it would include Cyprus.

Erdogan, an authoritarian and belligerent ruler, who has been accused of corruption and of undermining the independence of the judiciary, had already in September 2011 threatened to attack the Republic of Cyprus if it allowed the US based Noble Energy Company to drill for gas in the large Leviathan natural gas field that Israel is exploring. The international community, to which Erdogan so often appeals regarding the actions of Israel, should now condemn Turkey for its displacement of persons, ethnic cleansing, deprivation of the rights of individuals, and racist and ethnic discrimination against minorities that are not Muslim or Sunnis.

Exclude Me At Your Own Peril, by Dr. Naomi

I am the daughter of Holocaust survivors of Auschwitz, taken to concentration camp on D Day, in full view of the US and its Allies. Exclude me and try to silence me at your own peril, because this looks like 1939 all over again. When the Jewish people are divided, we give comfort to the enemies and disaster strikes easily and painfully.

 I was silenced at my former synagogue, at which I had been a member for thirty years. I was not allowed to present an on-line course about Jeremy Ben Ami came to this synagogue and invited the J-Street membership, including many Christians who have voted for divestment from Israel. He claimed that Israeli textbooks are as bad as Palestinian textbooks; that the IDF is an immoral army; and that Jews should not build “illegal” settlements. Of course, he did not mention illegal Palestinian settlements, or Palestinian hate education, incitement, or homicidal attacks on innocent civilians. 

Why is there no peace between Israel and its neighbors? Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian leadership do not want peace. It doesn’t serve their purposes. They need Israel to blame for all of their economic problems. Arabs were offered a state in 1947. They rejected the offer and attacked and almost destroyed Israel. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Has Israel gotten peace?

Isn’t it interesting that the conditions of Palestinians under “occupation” is better than that of Arabs living in the rest of the Middle East? Isn’t it interesting that the Palestinians who are Israeli citizens do not want to leave to be part of a new Palestinian state?  Isn’t it remarkable that health and life span under occupation has markedly improved?

Israel is the only democratic country in the Middle East, as confirmed by Freedom House’s 2010 report. Israelis enjoy free press, and the Israelis who vote in and die for their country are entitled to make their own decisions.

Israel is a miracle. It is the only country in the world to which an ancient people has returned after thousands of years of exile, and the only county in the world in which an ancient language has been revived. One million Jews were expelled from Arab countries and Iran. Israel has re-settled refugees from all over the world. Most Israeli Jews are the children or grandchildren of refugees. In 62 years, Israel has given many gifts to the world. What have the Arab and Iranians given the world except oil?

Jews in the Diaspora should be praying for the survival of the Jewish state, smaller than New Jersey and surrounded by murderous enemies. Israel has not had one day of peace in 62 years, yet against all odds it is a vibrant democracy in a sea of dictatorships, has the best human rights record in the region, and is the only reliable ally the US has in the region. Where are you Jews of the Diaspora?

I’ll tell you where Jews of the Diaspora are-- they are fighting among themselves, as the world is campaigning for Israel’s destruction with boycotts and sanctions. And crazily, there are too many Jews in the Diaspora that side with the free world in accusing Israel by a double standard. How shameful!

The justification for J Street was to provide a place for Jews who are liberal and pro-peace to support Israel. It was to be an alternative to AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby. Can you really believe a group funded by Arab oil money and George Soros, a Jew who has never supported Israel, is pro-Israel? AIPAC has retained its influence because it is bi-partisan. J-Street tries to paint AIPAC as a conservative group. This is a simple and obvious lie. Now at many of our universities, including ivy league schools like Princeton University, the students do not have the opportunity to hear from Israeli diplomats or supporters of a close US/Israel relationship, essential for US security, but from supporters of terror who blame everything, including terrorism, on Israel. Apparently, there is no room at many campuses for groups like CAMERA, Stand With Us, AFPT, CUFI, AIPAC, JNF or AJC.

I am not afraid of honesty. I am afraid of lies. I am afraid of the traitors among us.

But there is yet some hope-- it is long overdue that fellow readers educate themselves about the true situation at hand in the Middle East. Don’t let the likes of Ben Ami and mainstream media lie to you. Educate yourself. Luckily, that offers a remarkable and comprehensive online course titled Israel Inside/Out taught by experts like Professor Bernard Lewis and Historian Sir Martin Gilbert. There are also educational initiatives from CAMERA, Stand With Us, AIPAC, AFPT, JNF, CUFI.

Jews, Christians and Muslims, do yourselves a favor and learn the facts.  Go to and view original news reports, interviews, interactive maps and documentaries. After you study the truth behind the headlines, you will understand why you cannot exclude my voice. Israel is the canary in the coalmine. The Muslim militants want to get rid of Israel, the little Satan; then the US, the big Satan. We are in a struggle for our lives. We must stick together and stick to truth.

Thoughts about Jews by Hoffer, Tolstoy, John Adams, JFK, Churchill...

Winston S. Churchill:
"Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.

John F. Kennedy:
Israel was not created in order to disappear-Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom.

David Ben Gurion:
"In Israel , in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles."

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe:
"Energy is the basis of everything. Every Jew, no matter how insignificant, is engaged in some decisive and immediate pursuit of a goal. It is the most perpetual people of the earth."

John Adams:
"I will insist the Hebrews have [contributed] more to civilize men than any other nation. If I was an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations... They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their empire were but a bubble in comparison to the Jews."

Leo Tolstoy:
"What is the Jew? What kind of unique creature is this whom all the rulers of all the nations of the world have disgraced and crushed and expelled and destroyed; persecuted, burned and drowned, and who, despite their anger and their fury, continues to live and to flourish. What is this Jew whom they have never succeeded in enticing with all the enticements in the world, whose oppressors and persecutors only suggested that he deny (and disown) his religion and cast aside the faithfulness of his ancestors?! The Jew - is the symbol of eternity. ... He is the one who for so long had guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear. The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity."

Eric Hoffer:
"The Jews are a peculiar people: Things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people, and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it. Poland and Czechoslovakia did it. Turkey threw out a million Greeks and Algeria a million Frenchmen. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese-- and no one says a word about refugees. But in the case of Israel , the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab. Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis. Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world."

Mark Twain:
"...If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvellous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendour, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"

Why the left is so wrong on Israel

In his tongue in cheek article in Social Text in 1996, Alan Sokol expressed concern about the increasing prevalence on the left of “a particular kind of nonsense and sloppy thinking… that denies the existence of objective realities.” This is unfortunately applicable to well-meaning leftists who have tended to accept the validity of the Palestinian Narrative of Victimhood, that Palestinians are the most oppressed people in the world,  that Israel is a cruel oppressor, and that the Arab-Israeli dispute is the most important in the world.

Do leftists have any real sense of right and wrong concerning Israel? Who of them criticized the fellow leftist German writer Gunter Grass, who joined as a young man the Waffen SS during the war, for his poem of April 2012 in which he called Israel a threat to world peace and aggressive towards Iran?

The result is that many on the “left” are in effect reactionaries, approving or silent about the attacks on democratic systems and even on Western civilization itself. They do not applaud a country in which there are peaceful, honest, elections, rule by secular law, and gay marches through the streets of Tel Aviv.  Rather, though they are violating principles of free speech and the value of discussion, they refuse to approve speeches by black females such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Condeleezza Rice, call for boycotts of Israeli academic institutions and intellectual exchange. This in itself suggests a lack of sincerity about leftist adherence to their ideals of multiculturalism and of identity politics.
The essential question is why the “left” has reservations about criticizing the non-democratic countries, and specifically about the religious fanaticism in Arab Muslim countries. Even more strikingly, why cannot the “left” understand the basic hatred of Palestinians, as expressed by Abbas Zaki, a leader of Fatah, when speaking on August 22, 2014, regarding rocket attacks on Israel, “I think the Palestinian people’s weapon is pure… they don’t want to kill… but there are no innocent Israelis.”

The “left” critics, like others holding different political views, are concerned with problems concerning the disputed territories in Palestine and surrounding areas. But why do legitimate differences of opinion about the solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict lead to mindless hostility and to Israel being regarded as a “pariah” state?  It is true that Israel today is not a state with a Social Democratic ethos symbolized by kibbutzim. But why does this entail non-sensible accusations that Israel is a racist, imperialist, even an “apartheid” state, that has betrayed democratic ideals?
Proponents of the left, even those who were not anti-Semitic or Jews afraid of their Jewishness, or what Isaac Deutscher called “non-Jewish Jews,” always had doubts about Zionism. The traditional left saw the movement for Jewish self-determination as counter to universal socialism, and then, during the British Mandate, regarded Zionism as a tool of British imperialism, even though the Poale Zion, the party of David Ben-Gurion, was admitted into the Socialist International. Leftist perception of Israel became dogmatic with the so-called New Left in the late 1960s.   
Of course, it is clear that after the god of communism has been proved a false god, except perhaps in North Korea and Cuba, leftists have no real lodestar to follow. As a substitute, they express a supposed concern about oppression by the West, and only by the West. Israel is seen as the remaining remnant of Western imperialism, as an associate or puppet of the U.S. trying to retain power in the Middle East.
Heroic struggle on behalf of Palestinians is typified as in the case of Edward Said by throwing rocks in June 2009 against an Israeli watchtower, or approving violence as a sign of individual authenticity as suggested by Jean-Paul Sartre and Carlo Fuentes. How many beheadings of innocent journalists and social workers have to take place before leftist begin to see the horrors of Islamist extremism and defend Western values?
Indeed, leftist moral indignation seems to relate only to actions of democratic countries. Or, outrageous behavior of Islamists is defended in bizarre terms: one instance is the explanation in June 2012 at Leeds University by Professor Gayatri Spivak of Columbia University. “Suicide bombing…and the planes of 9/11… is a purposive self-annihilation… they serenely destroy themselves (and many others) for the good of the cause.”
The difficult questions of Palestinian self-determination, of the disputed territories, of the refugees caused by the Arab aggression against Israel in May 1948, of the status of Jerusalem, of Israeli settlements, remain to be resolved by peaceful negotiation between the parties. They are issues on which the left can comment in rational and critical fashion. But the “leftists” who continually harp on the evils of “occupation” or discrimination are usually unaware of or discount the real factors, the main one being Palestinian intransigence, preventing the solution of alleged problems. Israel is not perfect and those problems have to be solved by discussion and negotiation. But the main one is the existential one, the survival of Israel.

Whatever one’s sympathy for the underdog, the Palestinians are not, in spite of leftist views, symbolic of those really fighting against colonial or oppressive rule in countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Their rhetoric is not addressed to helping their own people, nor on finding a way to live with Israel as a neighbor. Their expressions are to a large extent limited to hatred of the existence of the State of Israel, and frequently of Jews, irrespective of any particular Israeli actions.

Some leftists follow this point of view and its consequences. They ban drinking Coca Cola as they ban any relationship with cancer research in Israel. Some on the left have seen the pathological hated of Israel by Hamas as a radical political movement. They view homophobic, non-democratic, and religiously intolerant states and groups as worthy of support. One of the heroines of the left, Professor Judith Butler, referred on September 7, 2006 at UC Berkeley to the terrorist groups Hamas and Hizb'allah as “social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left.”
A final question: do those on the “left” supposedly concerned with the Palestinians approve of the goal expressed on October 29, 2006 by Mahmoud al-Zahar, Hamas' foreign minister? His statement is clear, “Israel is a vile entity that has been implanted on our soil, and has no historical, religious, or cultural legitimacy… We say no to recognizing Israel, regardless of the price we have to pay.”  He said that the day “we expel the Jews” is drawing near, and that they are headed for annihilation.  
The decent people of the left can only be taken seriously if they deal with all the fictions of this irrational statement, if they raise voices to distance themselves from this kind of rhetoric. They should undertake the more difficult challenge of rational analysis of complex problems, including the highly controversial one of Israeli settlements, rather than adhere emotionally to a questionable Palestinian narrative of oppression.

Obama administration’s unprecedented outburst against Israel by Isi Leibler 10/8/14

The exceptionally vicious U.S. condemnation of Israel with regard to housing construction in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem is not merely misguided, but also reflects irrational bias. Incidentally, this behavior also has many ominous parallels to the inhumane incarceration of Jonathan Pollard, despite pleas for his commutation from all sectors of American society.

The harsh outburst relates to a 2,600-unit housing project planned as an extension of an exclusively Jewish neighborhood adjacent to the suburb of Talpiot and Kibbutz Ramat Rahel both within the Green Line. It incorporates primarily barren land on which Ethiopian and Russian immigrants had been housed temporarily in mobile homes. Highly significant – but a fact that is ignored – is that nearly half of the construction was designated to provide housing for Arabs. Construction permits were approved two years ago but it was the far left-wing group, Peace Now that saw fit to highlight the issue in a press release on the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in a calculated effort to embarrass the prime minister and provoke tensions.

The successive statements by both the White House and State Department spokesmen must be considered among the most bitterly prejudiced and unbalanced condemnations of Israel ever expressed by the U.S. They make a mockery of repeated claims by the Obama administration that it considers Israel to be a close ally.

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For a Single Double Standard by Natan Sharansky

Excerpts: The pictures of destruction and mourning in Gaza that have filled media around the world for the past several weeks have been very painful and sad to view.

Few Israelis who feel we are responsible for this suffering. For us, the tragedy of Gaza is inseparable from the tragedy of the entire Middle East. Over the past three years, in countries around our tiny state, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed in the most horrific ways. This wave of terror recognizes no official borders. The only border at which the savagery stops is Israel’s.

Hamas and Hezbollah are doing their best to change this. So what protects us? The United Nations or human rights groups? No. Only the military power of the Israel Defense Forces. In response to our enemies’ relentless campaigns, the army is constantly developing new ways to defend us. One new weapon, Iron Dome, has in the past few weeks protected civilians from almost 3,000 missiles.

But while Israelis have developed missile shields to protect children, Hamas has been using children as shields to protect missiles. This perverse strategy is the brainchild of a society that hails death. For Hamas, using living shields serves the double function of increasing the number of martyrs and galvanizing a free world that values life to pressure Israel to stop fighting.......

Let me be clear. I believe that it was the free world’s obligation to fight against the Milosevic regime, which carried out ethnic cleansing in the heart of Europe. I believe it is the obligation of the United States and free countries to lead an uncompromising struggle against terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. But the obligation of the IDF to protect Israeli citizens from thousands of missiles and from underground terrorist infiltrations is just as sacred. In view of the developing global war between the free world and terror, it is time that leading military experts from Israel, the United States, Britain and other countries, along with international lawyers and politicians, compare their experiences and agree about the standards according to which the free world can defend itself.

But once these standards are accepted, they should be applied to every free country. Otherwise, stop calling it a higher standard and call it by its real name: a double standard.

I am a Refugee from the Ukraine

Israel beckons to ‘hardcore’ Jews displaced in Ukraine

 Wake up Jews of the world!. Do not abandon the Jews of Eastern and Central Europe again. As the daughter of Hungarian Jews whose town is now occupied by the Ukraine, I suggest to Peter Beinart, Jeremy Ben Ami, Roger Cohen and the mainstream media in general that you take a trip to Europe. Our people, The Jewish people, tried to live among you and failed. So we returned to our ancient homeland of which we obtained a small portion, through the efforts of brave Zionists who died for all of us. We thought that Israel would solve the problem of antisemitism. Now we must unite and work together to defend our people in Israel and in the Diaspora in order to prevent another genocide.

Western Sex Slaves for ISIS: The Twisted Psychology of Jihad Brides

The most barbaric bunch of blood-thirsty misogynists this side of Genghis Khan are yearning for western "brides"—and the "brides," who will be no more than sex and reproductive slaves, are coming, via an internet campaign, to service ISIS's male Jihadis in the Caliphate in formation in Syria and Iraq. There is a "marriage bureau" in the northern Syrian town of Al Bab for Western women in a marrying state of mind

Britain's interior minister Theresa May warned that "we think around 400 UK-linked individuals have gone out to fight in Syria, mainly young men but also some women." Officials worry that these numbers will rise "with the increased online activity luring vulnerable women to Syria." The would-be "brides" are given point-by-point guidance on what to expect.

What is coming their way is far darker than Fifty Shades of Grey.

While a desire to romanticize and tame the savage beast may be at work, I think that other motives are involved in the matter of the brides for Jihad

Thus far, it is estimated that only hundreds, not more, of such Western girls and women have actually gone to join ISIS/ISIL in Syria and Iraq. But police and other experts fear that the number may grow.

A Letter from Aunty Mindy to William Hague

A letter from Aunty Mindy, excerpts:

You have stated that if Israel tries to defend its population through a ground offensive in Gaza ‘it risks losing the sympathy of the international community.’ Let me tell you something about the sympathy of the international community Mr Hague. My father was liberated from Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945, having lost his entire family but gaining the sympathy of the international community at the time. After 6 million Jews had been annihilated at the hands of the Nazi regime, the international community had plenty of sympathy for the Jewish people. There is always plenty of sympathy for victims.

Israel doesn’t need the sympathy of the international community. What it needs is to defend its citizens.When as a tiny country it gained its independence in 1948 it had to absorb 800,000 Jews who were thrown out of Arab lands in the Middle East, and it did so without fuss and with dignity giving them shelter and a place of security in which their children could grow up to become productive citizens. When Jordan, Egypt and Syria tried to destroy Israel in 1948 and again in 1967 they took in hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs, but did they give them dignity or shelter?  No they left them to rot in refugee camps in order to maintain a symbol of grievance against Israel and use them as a political tool against the Jewish state. What has arisen in those camps is a complicated situation, but it is what has led to Gaza today.

So don’t lecture Israel on international sympathy Mr Hague.

The Show Should Go On in London, by Michael Curtis

August 11, 2014
In a popular Sherlock Holmes story, the solution to the mystery hinges on the curious incident of the dog that did not bark.  No mystery hinges on the reality that Europe did not bark about the committing of crimes against humanity and war crimes by Hamas, the terrorist group that occupies and controls Gaza in using civilians, especially children, as human shields to prevent any Israeli response to attacks on its civilians.

Instead, noises quite different in character have been voiced in the hostile words and actions of citizens in various European countries.  Only a few examples are necessary to make the point.  One example came from the lips of the Italian Marxist philosopher and former member of the European Parliament Gianni Vattimo, whose blatantly frank opinion was, in language not usually used by a philosopher, “I’d like to shoot those bastard Zionists.”  Fortunately, since he was exempted from military service, he couldn’t really shoot anyone.

Vattimo's contributions to political wisdom in regards to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were unusual, to say the least. He called for Europeans to raise more money to “buy Hamas more rockets.”  He wanted international brigades to fight alongside Hamas.  He had already called in 2009 for the European Union to remove Hamas from its list of terrorist organizations.

Bizarre combinations of individuals espousing different political points of view have joined with raucous Palestinians and Islamists in demonstrations or other actions concerning Israel.  Ugly demonstrations of anti-Semitism have intentionally misconstrued Israeli policies as an excuse for violence.  Rationally, one can distinguish hatred of Jews from strong opposition to and appropriate criticism of specific policies of Israel.  But compelling evidence indicates the interlacing of anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli or anti-Zionist declarations or actions.

In France, outbreaks of violence have occurred in a number of places.  On July 13, 2014, in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, the local synagogue, and Jewish pharmacies and shops, were attacked by a mob shouting, “Death to the Jews.”  Roger Cukierman, president of CRIF, the umbrella group for France’s Jewish organizations, has noted that demonstrators in the streets of Paris are not screaming, “Death to the Israelis”; they are shouting, “Death to Jews.”

In Germany, rioters in demonstrations have compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the Nazi treatment of Jews.  Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Bergische synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany in the attempt to burn it.  The attack was accompanied by the slogan – in effect two hatreds for the price of one – “Destroy the Zionist Jews.”  In Bischofshofen, Austria, on July 23, 2014, twenty individuals of Turkish origin waving Palestinian flags invaded the pitch and attacked members of the Israeli soccer team, Maccabi Haifa, in their game with Lille of France.  In Amsterdam, the house of the chief rabbi was attacked.

Demonstrations in Trafalgar Square in London in late July purportedly protesting against the Israeli response to the unceasing rocket attacks by Hamas in Gaza displayed not only flags and banners such as  “Free Palestine” and “Stop Israeli State Terror,” but also outright anti-Semitic proclamations, including one declaring that “Hitler was Right.”  In Manchester, graves in the Jewish cemetery were desecrated.  In July 2014, more than 200 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded, one of the highest monthly recordings ever.  In all, between January and June 2014, there were 304 anti-Semitic incidents in the country.

The country, on August 7, 2014, was treated to another weird performance by George Galloway, the controversial MP for Bradford, Yorkshire.  Standing in front of a Palestinian flag, Galloway declared Bradford “an Israeli-free zone.”  The city would not entertain Israeli goods, academics, or tourists.

Strikingly, the infection of moral equivalence, in effect a disease of anti-Israeli bias accompanied sometimes by the virus of anti-Semitism, has taken hold, almost to the point of obsession in Britain, as elsewhere in the world.  A number of recent incidents show this outbreak.

The London Times refused to run a full-page ad, one that has appeared in a number of papers in the United States, featuring Elie Wiesel, that tells, correctly, of the use by Hamas of children as human shields in order to prevent Israeli retaliation against rocket launching sites.  The paper’s absurd explanation is that the ad was “too strong and too forcefully made ... it will cause concern amongst a significant number of Times readers.”  One can only wonder about the delicacy of those readers in acquiescing to the misuse of Palestinian children, a crime against humanity.

Even more telling is the pious hypocrisy on the issue of Israeli actions in Gaza exhibited in an action in London on August 5, 2014, when the Tricycle Theater banned the annual Jewish Film Festival, which was to feature 26 films on Jewish issues, as well as some on Israel, and six gala events.  The reason given was the circumstance that the festival was being sponsored by and had been given some funding by the Israeli Embassy in London.

Four facts reveal hypocrisy by the officials of the theater.  The first was that the funding was ludicrously small – less than $2,000.  A second was the festival has been supported by the Embassy for 17 years.  A third is that the Tricycle Theater has been associated with the festival for eight years.

Most important, the films were said by the festival organizers to constitute a diverse program with a wide perspective on the Middle East conflict and that films to be shown did not refrain from criticism of Israel.  But these perspectives should not be the basis for criticizing the cancelation of the festival by the theater.  Rather, the basis for censure of the Tricycle Theater should be that it is engaging in political censorship.  The festival, whether or not its films were sympathetic or hostile to Palestinians, should not have to conform to the political positions of the artistic director of Tricycle, especially since it appears to have double standards – one for Jewish or Israeli contributions and another for everyone else.

The theater describes itself as renowned for innovative, political, and experimental British and international productions.  Nevertheless, the theater has not lived up to a policy of political neutrality in this challenging mission.  Its initial demand was to review and vet the Israeli films that were planned, a demand that obviously constituted censorship and that was refused by the organizers of the festival.  The theater then gave the following as an excuse for banning the Jewish festival: “[g]iven the situation in Israel and Gaza, we do not believe that the Festival should accept funding from any party to the current conflict … we asked the Festival to reconsider its sponsorship by the Israeli Embassy.”

This claim of political neutrality was not borne out by previous productions of the theater.  Among others, they have included a play critical of the United States for Guantánamo Bay; one on the killing of Stephen Lawrence, a young man of Jamaican parents, murdered in a racially motivated attack in London in April 1993; plays critical of the war in Afghanistan; a season of plays “looking at London from a black perspective”; and a play on the killing of a young black man, Mark Duggan, by a police officer during riots in London in August 2011.  No conditions or questions of funding have been imposed on previous productions or events in the Theater.

The theater’s artistic director, Indhu Rubasingham, herself the daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants, in defending her decision to ban the festival, said, “I am not anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic.”  One can accept her statement at face value and still argue that she made what is at least a bad error of judgment.  In a delightful song, Noel Coward asked, “Why must the show go on, is it indispensable?”  Yes, the Jewish Film Festival must go on.  The Tricycle Theater should reconsider its shameful and biased decision to cancel the show.

Isi Leibler: Relying on Abbas to Defang Hamas is Delusionary

Aside from a few statements, Abbas has never been a partner for peace. As a matter of strategy he has temporarily set aside “armed conflict” and substituted it with diplomacy, for which he has benefited considerably in the global arena. His tactic is to make no concessions whilst demanding unilateral concessions - in order to dismantle Israel in stages.

His end goal parallels that of Hamas. But instead of calling for our destruction he concentrates on the “non-negotiable” right of return to Israel of descendants of Arab refugees, which would spell an end to Jewish sovereignty.

Incitement against Israel saturates the PA controlled media, the mosques and schools where children from an early age are brainwashed with the culture of death in which martyrdom is sanctified as the greatest spiritual objective. This is reflected in state-sponsored salaries to terrorists in jail with generous pensions to families; city squares, institutions and even football clubs are named after killers of women and children; mass murderers released from Israel received as heroes with many proudly describing their monstrous acts on TV. 

Hopefully, the ongoing favorable support from the American public and a bipartisan Congress may stem or even reverse this negative approach. It is now urgent for AIPAC to accelerate action and publicly vent its concerns about the US government’s policies and launch a campaign, in conjunction with other supporters of Israel, to ensure that the US now demonstrates its repeated undertakings that “it has Israel’s back”.

This could be a crucial turning point in the Arab-Israeli conflict. If not defanged, Hamas could still snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and oblige Israel to gird itself for the next round – and at a time to be determined by the barbarians at their gates.

Subscribe to and get the benefit of Isi Liebler's astute analysis from Jerusalem. This is the latest article of interest to all who are committed to Israel.

Obama Doesn’t Worry About Israel’s Survival. That’s Why We Should. Jonathan S. Tobin

President Obama once again sounded the themes that have characterized his second term foreign policy: befuddlement and helplessness. But amidst the alibis for failure, the president also said something significant: He’s not worried about Israel’s survival but is concerned about its values. That’s exactly why the rest of us should be more worried about its security.

Here’s the quote:

I asked the president whether he was worried about Israel.

“It is amazing to see what Israel has become over the last several decades,” he answered. “To have scratched out of rock this incredibly vibrant, incredibly successful, wealthy and powerful country is a testament to the ingenuity, energy and vision of the Jewish people. And because Israel is so capable militarily, I don’t worry about Israel’s survival. … I think the question really is how does Israel survive. And how can you create a State of Israel that maintains its democratic and civic traditions. How can you preserve a Jewish state that is also reflective of the best values of those who founded Israel. And, in order to do that, it has consistently been my belief that you have to find a way to live side by side in peace with Palestinians. … You have to recognize that they have legitimate claims, and this is their land and neighborhood as well.”

It’s nice that the president admires Israel’s achievements. But his complacence about its military achievements combined with his patronizing concern about its democratic and civic traditions is the sort of left-handed compliment that tells us more about his animosity for the Jewish state’s government than his fidelity to the alliance between the two allies. You don’t have to read too closely between the lines to understand that the subtext of these comments—Hamas’s genocidal intentions and Iran’s nuclear ambitions—make Obama’s blasé confidence about Israel’s ability to defend itself deeply worrisome.

The president is, of course, right to note that Israel has a formidable military. In particular, Israel’s dedication to technological advances such as the Iron Dome missile defense system have both saved many lives in the last month’s fighting with Hamas and provided a substantial long-range benefit to its American security partner. But his complacency about its security situation is hardly reassuring.

Israel remains under siege by hostile neighbors in the form of terrorist states on both its northern (Hezbollah) and southern borders. Both remain committed not just to Israel’s destruction but also the genocide of its Jewish population. While Israel is in no current danger of military defeat, the spectacle of Hamas forcing the majority of Israelis in and out of bomb shelters for a month encouraged the Islamists and their supporters to believe their cause is not yet lost. The fact that their efforts are being cheered on by a worldwide surge in anti-Semitism fueled by hatred of Israel also ought to leave any true friend of Israel worried.

Even more to the point, the principal sponsor of those terror groups—Iran—is working hard to gain nuclear capability, a (to use Obama’s own phrase) “game changing” factor that could destabilize the entire Middle East, threaten the security of the U.S. as well as endanger Israel’s existence. But despite paying rhetorical lip service to the effort to stop Iran, Obama has spent the last years hell-bent on pursuing détente with Tehran. The weak interim nuclear deal signed by the U.S. last fall undermined the sanctions that had cornered the Iranians and discarded virtually all of the West’s leverage. If the Iranians are currently playing hard to get in the current round of negotiations (now in the equivalent of soccer’s injury time as the deadline promised by Obama for talks has been extended), it is because they know the president’s zeal for a deal (and an excuse to abandon his campaign promises to stop Iran) outweighs his common sense or his resolve.

The bulk of Friedman’s interview with Obama concentrated on the disaster in Iraq and related troubles. But here, as with many domestic problems and scandals, the president’s priority is to absolve himself and his policies. The world is, he seems to be constantly telling us, a complex and confusing place where all of our possible choices are bad. There’s some truth to that, especially in places like Syria and Iraq. But what comes across most in his account of America’s declining affairs is that this is a president who is overwhelmed by events and has little understanding of them. The best he can do is to spew clichés about his bad options and to blame others.

Obama’s chief whipping boy in the Middle East is Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the world leader with whom he has quarreled the most in his years in office. Despite the events of the last month that have proved again that any territory Israel hands to the Palestinians will become a terror base, Obama continues to obsess about the need for Netanyahu to make territorial concessions that will create the possibility of, as the Israeli says, 20 Gazas in the West Bank. The overwhelming majority of Israelis reject such mad advice but Obama dismisses their common sense as merely being a case of a lack of vision. Despite his talk about supporting Israeli democracy he has been doing everything possible to thwart the will of Israel’s voters by undermining Netanyahu. Israelis want peace but understand that subjecting themselves to terror governments won’t bring the conflict to a close.

Obama also believes that the obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians isn’t Hamas. This conveniently ignores the fact that it is Hamas that plunged the region into war and whose hold on power there is being guaranteed by American pressure on Israel to restrain its counter-attacks on Islamist rocket fire and terror tunnels. The problem is, Obama says, that Netanyahu is “too strong” and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is “too weak.” That explains Obama’s constant attacks on Israel and his praise for the feckless—and powerless—Abbas. If he were serious about supporting democracy, he’d be wary of the autocratic Abbas and his corrupt PA gang and understand that asking Israel to further empower a Palestinian leadership that won’t make peace is not the act of a friend.

Even if we take the president’s assurances of his friendship for Israel at face value, this interview confirms what has been obvious since January 2009. This is a president who believes Israel’s security is not his priority or even a particular concern. Rather, he wants to save Israel from itself and acts as if it has not already made several offers of peace that have been consistently turned down by the Palestinians. Though Obama is right that Israelis won’t allow their country to be destroyed, his apathy about the deadly threats it faces from Iran and its terrorist proxies, cheered by a chorus of anti-Semitic haters, does nothing to inspire confidence in his leadership. The world has gotten less safe on his watch. The Israeli objects of his pressure tactics do well to ignore his advice. Friedman’s interview gives those who do care about the Jewish state’s future even more reasons to worry.

Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of COMMENTARY magazine and chief political blogger at He can be reached via e-mail at: Follow him on Twitter at TobinCommentary.


Hamas Tells the Truth about Itself, by Michael Curtis

Churchill warned the world about Hitler's real aspirations when he rearmed Germany; the Bergson group warned American Jews about the Shoah before 6 million were killed. Are we foolish enough to repeat our mistakes with the help of "Jews" like Ben Ami (J Street) Roger Cohen and Beinhart?

August 10, 2014: The truth about Hamas sometimes emerges from the hidden tunnels in which the terrorist group has concealed it.  After numerous appearances by Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal on CNN television denying that Hamas uses people as human shields to protect its fighters, a Hamas publication found in a tunnel states the opposite.

Among the documents seized by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Gaza is a handbook on urban warfare issued by the Shuja’iya Brigade of the Al-Qassan Brigades of Hamas.  It issues instructions to citizens on how to make explosives, on hiding them in places such as television sets and wall mounts, and on planting them in locations that IDF personnel were unlikely to expect.

The handbook recognizes that Israel tries to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties and limits its use of weapons to avoid this.  It also realized that information about such casualties and the destruction of civilian facilities increases the hatred of Israel by Palestinians.  Not surprisingly, except perhaps to some in the mass media, Hamas instructs Palestinians to describe their dead always as “innocent civilians,” and to refrain from indicating that rockets are being launched from populated civilian areas.  No pictures must be shown of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza cities.  A Hamas video directs individuals, “Be sure to humanize the Palestinian suffering.”

Many in the “international community” are hesitant to acknowledge the reality of the tactics of Hamas.  This was noticeable in the remarks of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who informed CNN that the Qataris have “told me over and over again that Hamas is a humanitarian organization.”  Unstated is the fact that this information may come from the heroic Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who lives and operates in Qatar, not in Gaza.  It also ignores the fact that the U.S. administration designated Hamas as a “foreign terrorist organization” in 1997.

The mainstream media persist in viewing acceptance of the Hamas conditions, the end of the Israeli “blockade” of Gaza and of limits on border crossings, and the release of prisoners in Israeli jail as essential for a ceasefire to last.  Much sympathy has resulted for an end to the “blockade.”  But two things are pertinent.  One is that the blockade was imposed to prevent the import of material, cement as well as arms, that Hamas might use for military purposes.  The extraordinary discovery of more than thirty tunnels – a sophisticated military infrastructure that has used thousands of tons of cement – for infiltrating Israel amply shows the problem.  In addition, while the terrorists hide in the tunnels, civilians have been used as human shields to prevent Israeli attacks on mosques, hospitals, and schools.

A second issue relates to the thousands of rockets, the exact number perhaps more than 10,000, that Hamas possesses, and more than 3,500 of which have been used in attacks against Israel in the month of July.  The question arises: how did Hamas get those rockets, and from whom, if there was a complete blockade?

Apart from these specific issues, the most important gap in much of the commentary on the Gaza situation is the clear statement on the nature of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad (IJ) movement in Palestine – regardless of whether one considers what is supposed to be the “political wing,” which is supposed to be a moderate, restraining element, or the military units (namely, the Al-Qassam Brigades and the Al-Quds [Saraya al-Quds] Brigades).  Who is responsible for firing the thousands of rockets, and which group has the main stockpile of weapons?

There is no secret of the objective of these related groups: the destruction of the State of Israel, and the creation of an Islamic state within the borders of the pre-1948 British Mandated Palestine.  The secretary general of Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Shallah, has declared that he will never accept the existence of the state of Israel, and that “it is our sacred duty to fight.”  The field commander of IJ, the 26-year-old Abu Malek, promotes “the liberation of all Palestine from the sea to the river.”

The clue to the intentions of Hamas is given in the Hamas Charter of 1988, a mixture of anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel.  Using the Avalon Project translation of the Charter or Covenant, one can discern the stated objectives of Hamas.  Only a few selections, sometimes in oblique language, are necessary to understand this.  Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.  Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement) strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.  The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees.  The stones and trees will say, "There is a Jew behind me; come and kill him."

The Hamas Charter gives an answer to all the well-meaning groups and individuals who call for a peace conference.  It declares that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgment Day.  Rejecting calls for an international conference to solve the “Palestinian” question, it declares that there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad.  Initiatives, proposals, and international conferences are all a waste of time and are vain endeavors.

The mass media will perhaps be surprised to learn from the Charter that Jews have taken control of the world media, news agencies, publishing houses, and broadcasting stations.  Objective historians may be surprised that Jews have stirred revolutions in various parts of the world and were behind the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution, and most others.  All this for “sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests.”

The Charter informs us of future developments.  The Zionist plan is limitless.  After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates.  The Islamic Resistance Movement must prevent this, and to leave the “circle of struggle with Zionism is high treason.”

The question arises: can members of Hamas, who believe that the “Jews are behind each and every catastrophe on the face of the earth,” be genuinely interested in any possible reconciliation with Israel when destruction of the Jewish state is at the core of their concern?