Monthly Archives: December 2010

You’ll never get forward motion if you’re always playing defense.

Nic518597 I don’t know how well I’ve emphasized it here, but there has for a long time been a disproportionate amount of attention given in major media and public venues to those who want to see Israel exterminated, whereas those who believe otherwise are consistently shouted down and shoved out of the debate.

If this is news to you coming from me, then I haven’t done a good job of stating my purpose in this blog. Maybe I need to rewrite my About page.

More vitally, it is uncomfortably clear that Israel and Israel’s supporters have not done a good job of presenting Israel’s case to the world. The Jewish people gave our society its moral and religious foundation, but those who hate them are blatantly trying to rewrite history – and the awful thing is, they’re getting away with it.

This blog, and thankfully many others, and more significantly a good number of ‘ball carriers’ or name-brand commentators (several of whom you will find among my links to the right) are fighting the good fight, neither giving up nor slacking off. But then so often it seems like our voices are being drowned out by the sheer volume of noise coming from the abyss.

So it was very encouraging this week to see that two major Israeli leaders—Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and  Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon—published strongly worded statements in major media, Ayalon in the L.A. Times and Ya’alon in Foreign Policy Magazine.

Well at least I found it encouraging, but when I shared the articles with a colleague, she said they were “too scholarly;” that they needed to have more of a punch to them. I asked if my blog was also “too scholarly,” and she answered yes, so I suppose I’m in good company. But that doesn’t deal with the problem.

Then over the next few days I noticed that some answers are beginning to come, starting with an awareness and acknowledgment of the problem. Rather coincidentally, it was on the Unity Coalition for Israel news and commentary site that I saw three essays in quick succession narrowing in on the target.

First, Prof. Phyllis Chesler wrote an article (which I briefly noted in my last post) that  did a lot better job than I’d seen up till now of calling the problem a problem, and demanding an answer in no uncertain terms. She’s ready and willing to fight, and has fought seemingly alone for a long time, but this is not a one man or one woman war.

Melanie_Phillips_Rs Then a piece by Melanie Phillips wrapped up a detailed but blunt message with a twelve point plan for taking the baddies to the mat:

Time to stop the hand-wringing. Time to stop fretting over how much better it is to play along with the narrative of Israel’s enemies in clear English rather than a thick Israeli accent – almost totally irrelevant.

Both Israel and diaspora Jews have to stop playing defence and go onto the offence.

  1. We should be demanding of the world why it expects Israel alone to make compromises with people who have tried for nine decades to wipe out the Jewish presence in the land and are still firing rockets at it.
  2. We should be demanding why America, Britain and the EU single Israel out for pressure which they apply to no other victims of genocidal aggression. For in any other such conflict, their cause of the aggressors would be deemed totally forfeit by their behaviour.
  3. We should be asking so-called ‘progressives’ – including Jewish ‘progressives’ — why they support the racist ethnic cleansing of every Jew from a future state of Palestine.
  4. We should be asking ‘progressives’ why they are not marching against Hamas on account of its tyrannical oppression of Palestinians in Gaza.
  5. Why they are not mounting a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority on account of his Holocaust denial and the PA’s continued incitement of Arab children to Jew-hatred, murder and genocide.
  6. Why they are ignoring Arab and Muslim persecution of women and homosexuals.
  7. And we should be telling the Jews ‘own story of refugees and ethnic cleansing – the 800,000 Jews expelled from Arab lands after 1948, and who now make up more than half of Israel’s population. Why isn’t Israel bringing this to the world’s attention? In Britain virtually no-one knows about it. At a stroke it takes the ground from under feet of those demanding ‘right of return’ for Arabs.
  8. We will never convince bigots that facts are as they are, or that the evidence of history tells a different story from the one they believe.
  9. We cannot fight prejudice with reason. But we have a duty to bear witness to the truth. And we have a duty to fight in our defence.
  10. We can best do this by getting off our back foot and putting western fifth columnists on theirs.
  11. We should accuse them, not of Jew-hating motives we cannot prove but of absurdities and contradictions and untruths they cannot deny.
  12. We should ridicule them, humiliate them, destroy their reputations; boycott them, not invite them to our houses, show them our disapproval and contempt. Treat them as pariahs.

Turn their own weapons against them.

anti-US slogansIn short, we must get up off our collective knees and fight. Justice, human rights and truth are on our side, not theirs. We must reclaim them as our own.

And now also Charles Jacobs puts his finger on an unsettling aspect that he sees in Jewish behavior: a tendency to go immediately on the defense as soon as an accusation is made. Speaking of the way this problem shows up in the universities where so much anti-Semitic invective is thrown up, Jacobs writes:

Instead of explaining to our students the dynamic of “accusation” that has been used to hobble Jews from time immemorial, we teach them to sit in the dock. Instead of exploring with them just how Israel is under a massive ideological assault which masquerades as legitimate criticism, we teach them to keep the focus of discourse Jewish conduct, Israeli behavior, which is exactly what our adversaries want. Instead of turning our fingers back on the tyrannical Arab/Muslim world whose criticism of Israel defines chutzpah, we answer their charges. Instead of exposing the hypocritical Western liberal elites — the “human rights” establishment, the media, and the professoriate – who have abandoned for reasons of political correctness whole classes of people in the worst of circumstances: women, gays, apostates, Christians, democrats in the Islamic realm – we accept playing the role of defendant. In other words, instead of making the subject of this entire discussion the actual world tyrannies and the execrable Western hypocrites who aim to destroy us, we are bitten by the “accusation” virus, and we simply lose our minds.

I will add that it’s not just Jewish nature; it’s human nature, or at least it is in the neighborhood where I live. But whether or not Jews are any better at it, we’re beginning to see that it’s not the answer, and especially not in this situation. The enemies we’re up against are sophisticated; they’ve been on to this pattern for a long time, and they’ve become very good at it. It is antithetical to honest people or people of integrity to even consider acting this way, but we’re not dealing here with honest people or people of integrity. The enemies of Israel do not work on that level. I’m not saying that we should lower ourselves to their level, but we do at least need to recognize what they’re doing and refuse to any longer dance to their tune.

As with just about anything, it’s easier said than done, but it won’t ever get done if it never gets said.

Just sayin’…

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Hezbollah, Iran and Turkey as they do the hokey-pokey…

hizrally_mn_web So what, exactly, is this all about? We just found out today that Iran is taking away from Hezbollah nearly half of its financial support. If Iran is cutting off Hezbollah, it’s fine with me, but it’s still puzzling when you consider the view that Hezbollah was itself created by Iran not all that long ago, and that Iran is still the terror organization’s main provider. And even though Hezbollah has gained some level of independence from Iran (or at least a degree of autonomy) since that time, it still is difficult to interpret this move as anything short of an amputation at the knees. (No pun intended this time.)

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I haven’t talked about Stuxnet much lately, but it doesn’t appear to have gone away. On the contrary, it’s looking very much like Iran’s nuclear program is still effectively hobbled by the clever little worm, with no early fix in sight.

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Speaking of Stuxnet (sort of), it’s interesting that its apparent effectiveness has become a metaphor for other things—such as Israel’s almost desperate need for an effective way to present its case to the world. UCI has published Prof. Phyllis Chesler’s report from the trenches here.

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Ah yes, Turkey. Last time around we were contemplating the through-the-looking-glass-world notion of an apology by Israel to Turkey for last summer’s attack by Turkish mercenaries on the Egyptian-Israeli naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. Someone had suggested it would be a nice way of reopening an Israeli-Turkish dialogue after the latter’s greatly appreciated assistance in putting out this month’s fires on Mt. Carmel. It all sounded very odd, and by now it has become clear that Israel intends to do no such thing. The suggestion sure did ruffle some feathers, though. I even heard tell that one MK went so far as to offer to apologize for not shooting sooner, but I won’t go there.

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Time for me to go. See y’all down the road a piece.

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Talking now with Turkey, but to what end?

After last week’s disastrous fires in northern Israel–and the surprise help from Turkey—reports have emerged of the Netanyahu government making renewed efforts at restoring amicable relations between the two countries.

It is certainly appropriate for PM Netanyahu to issue public and private thanks to Turkey and to PM Erdogan for the assistance.

But what has surprised observers is the way the occasion is being used to get back to the diplomatic table. Yet more surprising is Netanyahu’s apparent willingness to apologize for the Mavi Marmara incident in order to get on Turkey’s good side. That idea is not going over so well. Some members of Israel’s government (including the Foreign Minister, Deputy Foreign Minister, and various & sundry MKs) have pointed out that if anyone owes anybody an apology, it’s Turkey that ought to apologize to Israel for sponsoring last May’s attack by hired thugs on Israeli naval personnel.

The way this is being handled calls into question the sincerity of Turkey’s help in fighting the fires. Then again, in international politics and relations it should not come as too much of a shock if one country’s aid to another in a time of crisis is really not so much out of humanitarian concerns as it is to gain some sort of public advantage.  We may consider this especially so on the part of a regime with a less than honorable track record.

And then there’s the component of Islamic religious zeal on the part of Erdogan. It’s difficult to get inside his head, but certainly most of his anti-Israel rhetoric of late has been couched more in religious terms than in terms of practical political or diplomatic considerations.

But then again, how much of that is merely in consideration of internal as well as international politics? Quite a lot, surprisingly or not, according to this recent report in the Turkish media. (Thank Wikileaks once again for the insider information.)

And while I was composing this I saw an analysis by Professor Barry Rubin of how the Arab media and Arab leaders talk and talk and talk about fighting Israeli “aggression,” but when push comes to shove, they have a tendency to sit back and hope somebody else will do the dirty work. True in 1948, true in 1956, and still true in 2010. True of Jordan, true of Egypt, true of Turkey…

Bibi_Lieberman So what is Bibi trying to accomplish by going hat in hand to Erdogan? And if you can answer that, my next question might be, is it worth the effort? Israel will be, with or without Turkey’s (or Jordan’s or Egypt’s or the US’s or anyone else’s) good will. Other than that, I don’t have the answers, either.

So we wait, and watch, and hope.

lineman

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Maybe the world is not such an awful place after all, at least to some extent…

As I watched the breaking news yesterday on the forest fires in northern Israel, I immediately wondered whether the world—which has been bent lately on trying to establish a falsehood denying the very existence of the State of Israel—would respond to the human need created by such a disaster as it has done recently for Haiti and Chile.

Will Israel’s detractors, in a sort of twist on ‘putting their money where their mouth is,’ back up their hateful rhetoric with inaction, looking the other way while thousands of acres burn and innocent casualties mount?

Thankfully, within 24 hours the answer came: an encouraging “no, we’re here to help!” So far responses have come from Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Britain and about a dozen other nations. Even Turkey, which has recently ratcheted up its opposition to Israel along with ever more closely aligning itself with Iran and other Islamist states, has laid aside its hostility and come to Israel’s aid.

It’s heartening to see that humanity can still override enmity.

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The other big news this past week has of course been the Wikileaks disclosure of volumes of classified exchanges between world governmental, military, and foreign affairs leaders.

It has been more my practice here to pontificate comment on news rather than report on it as it breaks. Along those lines perhaps the most concise evaluation of the leaked information that I’ve yet seen is by The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. I like the way they put it in the opening paragraph of their first report:

…the first headlines from Wikileaks mainly confirm what we think we already knew…

The one other point I’ll make for now is that the only nation which appears to be maintaining a policy of honesty and integrity in its relationships with others (Israel, of course) has so far come out smelling like a rose, as they say.

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I haven’t had much to say lately on the Iran nuclear situation. The alarm over Stuxnet appears to be settling out (though it’s still not really known who did what), but troubles are surfacing in other relevant areas. Somebody blew up a couple of Iranian nuclear scientists the other day. Iran blames Israel, US, and Britain, of course.

Not that anyone getting killed is a light matter, but it’s interesting to note that there is ongoing pressure on the nukes program coming from different—and not necessarily foreseeable—directions.

Meanwhile, back on this side of the Atlantic, John Bolton is adding his thoughts on the matter again. He’s still saying that sooner or later we’re going to realize a limited military strike is really our only option. Maybe if we hide our heads in the sand, this will all go away…

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Filed under Forward motion, News snippets