Monday, October 31, 2011

To Boycotters: Yardbirds May Have Postponed, But You Lost Jeff Beck to Israel

The Yardbirds promo pic from the 1960's. Notice Jeff Beck
on the far left and below. He ignored the boycotters.

According to USACBI the American outpost for the cultural boycott of Israel, a bunch of geezer-rockers, the Yardbirds, canceled their concert in Israel. According to the Yardbirds' website however, they simply postponed it until next year. Who you gonna believe? What USACBI calls a success is rather puny, but beggars can't be choosy. And beg they do. Lots of effort went into this campaign, a Facebook page, open letters, letters to their agents, phew, I'm exhausted just thinking about it. 

But, hell, it was worth it: "It comes with great applause that the Yardbirds have chosen to ride the “wave” supporting justice for the Palestinians via consumer boycotts, academic boycotts, and cultural boycotts." Great applause. Yeah. The whole world took notice. 

But the real deal, Jeff Beck, completely ignored the boycotters' onslaught and played in Tel Aviv just a couple of weeks ago. And not for the first time, either.

Read Divest This to get a view of how woefully unsuccessful the whole boycott movement is and how its self perpetuating make-work activities amount to, maybe, a hill of beans but certainly not a wave.:

"The most obvious thing that can be pointed out is that it (BDS) represents, at best, anecdotal evidence of success. And using such individual decisions as the basis for alleging political momentum begs the obvious question of why don’t the decisions of hundreds, even thousands, of other entertainers who are more and more choosing to add Israel to their tours constitute an enormous outpouring of political support for the Jewish state? After all, if the decision of a Greek Oud player to skip the 12th annual Oud festival held in Israel proves that the BDS movement is “alive, and well and GROWING!” don’t the dozens of musicians ignoring boycott calls and performing in the same festival similarly communicate that BDS is FLOPPING?"

Arafat's Widow WANTED By Tunisian Authorities

Suha and Yasser enjoying their wealth.

From the Jerusalem Post: 'Tunisia issues arrest warrant for Arafat':

"Suha Arafat, widow of late PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, is wanted by officials in Tunisia for alleged corruption, AFP reported on Monday.

"Tunisian Justice Ministry spokesman Kadhem Zine al Abidine told the French news agency that a warrant was issued for the 48-year-old Arafat, who was a citizen of Tunisia, until her citizenship was stripped in 2007.

"The allegations go back to a 2006 business deal, when Suha Arafat had a fallout with former first lady of Tunisia over the establishment of an international school in Tunis, AFP quoted Tunisian newspapers as saying.

"In 2007, Suha was declared persona non grata in Tunisia and had her citizenship revoked, reportedly by presidential decree. Suha was reported to be living in Malta, at least several months a year, where she owns a home."

Read the rest here and wonder: if Arafat were alive today, would there be an Arab Spring resistance to his corrupt rule? Also read this to revive your memory about Suha's claims to Arafat's 'estate' upon his death.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

British Museum's ‘History of the World in 100 Objects' Ignores Jewish Contribution to Civilization

From the NY Sunday Times arts section today, I learned about the British Museum's ‘History of the World in 100 Objects,’ "...a project so audacious that it took 100 curators four years to complete it. The goal: to tell the history of the world through 100 objects culled from the British Museum’s sprawling collections...These objects, some humble, some glorious, embody intriguing tales of politics and power, social history and human behavior."

And yet, and yet, you will find only one object that refers, ever so tangentially, to a Jewish presence in the world as we know it. It is this, an astroblade:

Here is a description from the BBC, which collaborated with the BM in this project: "An astrolabe is a scientific instrument used to work out the time of day using the sun or the stars. It could also be used for astrological horoscopes and mathematical calculations. Astrolabes were first made around 150 BC in Greece. They were further developed by Islamic scholars and were often used for determining the exact direction of Mecca. The astrolabe finally came into Western Europe via Spain, which was conquered by Islamic forces in AD 711.

"Who was this astrolabe made for?

"This astrolabe is inscribed with words in hebrew and Arabic, indicating it was probably made for a Jewish scholar in Spain. Christian forces had reconquered the majority of Spain from the Islamic Caliphate by AD 1238. Spain, however, retained a mixed population of Christians, Jews and Muslims that coexisted in relative harmony. Muslim and Jewish scholars even worked together, translating the works of Aristotle and other Greek authors into Latin. These works had been preserved in Arabic translations but had been largely forgotten in medieval Europe."

What is interesting to me is that among the 100 objects from over 2 million years ago to 2010 and including, naturally, a good selection from antiquity -- Egypt, Greece, Rome -- and world religion -- Islam, Christianity, Hinduism -- one reference to a Jewish contribution to our civilization appears and only in relation to the Islamic Golden Age.

It could be, and I've only started researching it, that the BM does not have much of a selection of Judaica, but I doubt it. So I was heartened to read this comment on the BBC's site just as I began to get paranoid about my tendency to find, shall we say, a lack of respect for Judaism lurking in many a British closet:

"At 22:33 on 1 November 2010, cairojew wrote:
i start with an apology of sorts, it will no doubt come as no suprise that i, a jew am writing with a complaint about the bizzare lack of a specifically jewish object in your history of the world. the only mention of jew is with the hebrew astrolabe a scientific instrument which has equal billing with christian spain and moorish spain. why is there no reference to any one item which could have looked at the jewish contribution to the i have to suggest something as radical as monotheism or as grounbreaking as the 10 commandments. i'm sorry that a jew has to bring this up. how much pleasure it would have given me to have discovered a 15 minute slot to the contribution of the world by my people. helas as the french would say, it is not to be."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Asma al-Assad's Detachment

From The Independent: So, what do you think of your husband's brutal crackdown, Mrs Assad?

"Vogue magazine famously called her a "rose in the desert", while Paris Match proclaimed she was the "element of light in a country full of shadow zones". But when Syria's glamorous First Lady invited a group of aid workers to discuss the security situation with her last month, she appeared to have lost her gloss.
"During the meeting, British-born Asma al-Assad – who grew up in Acton and attended a Church of England school in west London – came face to face with aid workers who had witnessed at first hand the brutality of her husband's regime. Yet according to one volunteer who was present, the former investment banker and mother of President Bashar al-Assad's three children appeared utterly unmoved when she heard about the plight of protesters.
"We told her about the killing of protesters," said the man, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution. "We told her about the security forces attacking demonstrators. About them taking wounded people from cars and preventing people from getting to hospital ... There was no reaction. She didn't react at all. It was just like I was telling a normal story, something that happens every day."
This is what Angie Nassar in Now Lebanon has to say about Madame Assad's response:
“It’s like she has no soul…
"So there’s a difference between empathy and actually feeling someone else’s pain, right? I mean, I can look at a picture of a mutilated dead body and empathize with the idea of being in that situation, but I don’t know what it actually feels like to be a mutilated dead body. I also don’t know what it feels like to be the smug wife of a psychopathic murderer. Emotional detachment at any cost? There’s an entire industry of women who do this on a professional basis. It’s called prostitution. Here’s looking at you, you heartless wench.”

Let them eat cake?

A Couple of Great Reads on the New, New Anti-Semitism

Ben Cohen's John Mearsheimer And The Scandal That Wasn't  is a brilliant digestion of the murky soup of the New, New Anti-Semitism in which the money quote is, "As far as large swaths of academia and the media are concerned, the victims of anti-Semitism are no longer Jews, but those unjustly accused of being anti-Semites." And that is why, what should have developed into a full-blown scandal, didn't.

In other words: The old Anti-Semitism, where the Jews as a people are vilified, mutated into the New Anti-Semitism, where the the state of the Jewish people is vilified, which then mutated into the New, New Anti-Semitism which is the vilification (by the Jewish people) of the vilifiers of the state of and the Jewish people. They're still working on the vaccines for 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0.

Ami Ayalon and Sari Nusseibeh
presenting their Accord
Then, in The New Heartlessness Towards Israel, Leon Wiesletier challenges the Old and New and New, New Anti-Semitism of Sari Nusseibeh's meshuganah-like-a fox assertion (among others) that Israel Cannot Be a Jewish State, because the“more serious reason ... why Palestinian leaders—and indeed no responsible person—can morally recognize Israel as a ‘Jewish State’ ... has to do with the very Covenant of God in the Bible with Ancient Israelites.” He cites Genesis and Deuteronomy and Joshua and Samuel to establish that “in the Old Testament, God commands the Jewish state in the land of Israel to come into being through warfare and violent dispossession of the original inhabitants.” And so, he explains, “no one then can blame Palestinians and descendants of the ancient Canaanites, Jebusites and others who inhabited the land before the Ancient Israelites ... for a little trepidation as regards what recognising Israel as a ‘Jewish State’ means for them.” 

Talk about reaching back into the Old Testament to vilify the original Israelites, then the new Israelites and finally, because their's is the only responsible position, protect the anti-Israelites, who cower in fear lest they too shall be smitten by the Jewish god. I smell a mutation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. (As an aside, something is up with Nusseibeh. He seems suddenly to be propping up the orthodox Palestinian Right of Return, when earlier -- in the Nusseibeh/Ayalon Accord -- he committed to refugees returning only to the new Palestinian state.)

For some background on both readings, please see:

Adam Holland: John Mearsheimer Supports Anti-Semitic Author
Jeffrey Goldberg: Mearsheimer and Walt Go There
A. Jay Adler: The Uncanny John Mearsheimer
Shlomo Avineri: We are a people, a response to Sari Nusseibeh
Elliot Abrams: Sari Nusseibeh and Palestinian Moderation

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Potential International 'Lawfare' Against Released Palestinian Terrorists

Ah...the beatific smile of Ahlam Tamimi who helped make a martyr of
the suicide bomber who killed 16 people at the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem.
Honored by the PA in March, she was released today.

Roee Ruttenberg at has a refreshing thought: Palestinian prisoners could face international extradition.

"Israel has released Palestinian prisoners from its jail in the past. But this exchange is especially touchy for a number of reasons, least of which might be the freshness of some of the attacks that landed these people in jail in the first place. But for the prisoners, this might not be the end of their time behind bars.

Some of the families of foreign-national or dual-national victims killed in these attacks could take their cases to their respective national courts and governments. A Palestinian prisoner like Ahlam Tamimi, one of the 27 woman being released, is being “exiled” to Jordan. Having been involved in an attack that left American and Dutch nationals dead, should could face extradition charges. Even if the Israeli Prime Minister signs a deal for their exchange, and the Israeli President official pardons them, does that hinder the rights of other leaders around the world to pursue them?" Read the rest here, including descriptions of some of those released.

I hope Shurat HaDin is taking note. It should fit in well with its Bankrupting Terrorism-- One Lawsuit at a Time program. I like it!

Gilad Shalit Exploited by Egyptian Television - Update***

I am so relieved to see Gilad alive and to witness his extraordinary dignity in dealing with this exploitative interview*. The Egyptians are clearly looking to squeeze the most propaganda out of their role in implementing his release.

According to, "(Israeli) Security officials noted that the interview was held despite Israel's refusal, and significantly delayed his return to Israel."

Still, I'm happy that, for whatever reason, the stars aligned and we are here today.

Vehigianu l'azman hazeh.

* Read this piece on CIFWatch for an example of how Gilad's interview responses are mistranslated to suit the Guardian's ideological goals.

** Check out the Elder on Why Gilad seemed ill at ease during his Egypt TV interview. Vicious bastards.

*** For a comprehensive report about the forced interview, please read Interview with Shalit criticized by just about everyone in the NY Times.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

From Arab Press Cartoons: Jews Control the UN (Via The Black President)

In case you were wondering if the Arab Spring had opened up the space for diversity of opinion regarding...well, anything, but particularly the discourse on Jews, ADL provides an answer in Cartoons in Arab Press Demonize Israel, US Over Palestinian UN Statehood Bid. Most of the samples exhibited claim, predictably, that Jews control the UN, the US, the World, but I find one cartoon particularly interesting in that it is an elaboration of the classic Elders of Zion trope towards one that confirms The Great Taboo: Arab Racism:

Ad-Dustur, September 28, 2011 (Jordan) published on ADL's website.
FYI, Ad-Dustur is partially owned by the Jordanian government.

What are we looking at here? Is Obama blackening liberty? Is he painting her in black blood? Is it a black day when a black American president aligns himself with the Jews? You know, of course, that for some Muslims, the discourse on slavery privileges Jewish slave-traders above all others:

“Our research has shown that some of those who dealt in selling Africans into slavery were Jews. And as everyone knows, profiteering from the hardship of others has been a trait that has characterized Jews throughout history. We now call upon these Jews to make restitution for these crimes.” -- Louis Farrakhan

So...perhaps what we are to understand from the above cartoon is that Obama, the black slave of Jews, is planning to veto -- the UN Security Council resolution on a Palestinian State -- as proxy. A couple of other samples seem to agree:

Ad-Dustur, September 23, 2011 (Jordan).

Al-Ayyam, September 22, 2011 (Palestinian Authority). 
Just thinking out loud...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On Gilad Shalit: Hamas Knows the Price of Everything But the Value of Nothing*

Kinehora, I'm afraid to say anything about it, but maybe, finally, Gilad Shalit will return to his family. Check out the links about the swap deal (below), but the main thing I want to illustrate is the difference between the value Israel places on the life of one individual in comparison to Hamas:

Every family in Israel has a potential Gilad and there was tremendous anger at the government for not doing everything it could to effect Gilad's release despite knowing how dangerous it would be to release so many Hamas prisoners. NGO Monitor has called the price Israel will pay for the swap, immoral extortion.

Whereas the Hamas 'government' and, seemingly, Gaza's population, enthusiastically promote the use of civilian shields in dense areas to effect the largest number of casualties when Israel retaliates for unprovoked attacks.

Here is how one mother whose son died in a terrorist attack feels about the swap:

"In Israel, there were some mixed emotions. Yehudit Shahor, whose teenage son Uri was killed by Palestinians in 1995, told Israeli television that 'despite the fear I feel as an Israeli citizen and a terror victim, I am very happy for the Shalit family and feel moved as a mother that this boy will come home.'
"But she said she had no doubt that any killers among the released Palestinians would kill again. She added: 'I will never see Uri again, but Aviva Shalit has a chance to see her son Gilad. And even if this is a tough deal, a living boy must be returned home at all costs.'”
Useful links:
Jeffrey Goldberg: The Gilad Shalit Prisoner Exchange
Elder of Ziyon: Is the Shalit Deal Worth It?
Haaretz: How it Happened and Exchange Deal a Victory for Old-Fashioned Israeli Solidarity
JPost: Noam Shalit Says Thank You
Commentary: Netanyahu Had No Choice But to Save Shalit

*Oscar Wilde

Sunday, October 9, 2011

NY Times 'Reveals' How Israel Persuaded UN to Accept Statehood

I have very little doubt that the NY Times published the heavily edited snippet, A State is Born in Palestine, in order to tantalize those who believe Israel was born in sin. This article tells the story of the UNSCOP (UN Special Committee on Palestine) 1947 fact-finding mission to Palestine in order to deliver a report on the partition plan. According to Ronen Bergman, an investigative reporter for Yedioth Ahronoth, newly accessed documents reveal how the committee was influenced, or hoodwinked depending on your point of view, from essentially a pro-Arab position into accepting of Israel's right to statehood. This happened in large measure because the Arabs refused to meet with the committee and forced 'Palestinian' locals to stay away from those areas the committee was planning to visit, giving the Jewish Agency a wide-open opportunity to deliver a brilliant marketing campaign.

Read the whole article for yourself and judge two things: were the Jews up to their 'usual chicanery' (as at least one of the article's reader-commentors asserted), and is the article sufficiently ambiguous to meet the NY Times' ambivalence about Israel's legitimacy? To me it confirms the Arabs' intransigent, self-defeating position which hasn't really changed since 1947 and provides a great example of the Jewish Agency's multivalent preparedness for achieving statehood .

Friday, October 7, 2011

On Yom Kippur's Kol Nidre and Anti-Semitism - Update**

Kol Nidre as interpreted by Max Bruch is a very beautiful piece of music and for the last few years I've had the habit of listening to different 'covers' of it in the days before Yom Kippur to help me get into the mood. I'm not even sure if that's a kosher thing to do, I just know that it compels and helps me to dig into myself to find out what needs to be atoned for.

Anyway, I didn't learn until fairly recently that the Kol Nidre prayer has quite a reputation among the anti-Semites because, as Michael Weiss explained in Slate a few years ago, "'s evidence that Jews are duplicitous and two-faced. The trouble has to do with a misconstrued doctrine of pre-emption. The full text of the prayer reads:

"All vows, obligations, oaths, and anathemas, whether called konam,konas, or by any other name, which we may vow, or swear, or pledge, or whereby we may be bound, from this Day of Atonement until the next (whose happy coming we await), we do repent. May they be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, and void, and made of no effect; they shall not bind us nor have power over us. The vows shall not be reckoned vows; the obligations shall not be obligatory; nor the oaths be oaths.

"As stand-alone statement, divorced of its context and Talmudic source material, it does seem to suggest that there's no such thing as a promise or oral contract affirmed in Judaism. But, of course, context is everything, and the prayer refers only to personal vows—those made by man in relation to his own conscience or to God, not interpersonal ones made by man to his fellow man. Contrary to claims made by perplexed exegetes such as David Duke, Kol Nidre was not invented as a sinister tribal clause to cheat gentiles or one another with impunity." 

Read all of Weiss's article here and get your Wikipedia background here. Another excellent explication is by Laurence Grossman in Jewish Ideas Daily. And here is Perry Como giving it such a sincere rendition. I don't know how he came to make this recording, but it's lovely. BTW, Max Bruch, who wasn't Jewish was primarily interested in incorporating 'folk music' into his own compositions.

G'mar chatimah tovah.

**Post Yom Kippur update: MartinPeretz, as usual, wanders around while making his point about the significance of Kol Nidre and, while he's at it, skewers Nicholas Kristof's, as usual, stupid and lazy op-ed published on the eve of Yom Kippur.