Friday, December 30, 2011

Aisha Gaddafi Hires Israeli Lawyer Re Her Father's Death

Aisha, spurring on her father's goons, now complains that his killing
was a war crime.

From the Daily Beast we learn that Aisha Gaddafi has hired Nick Kaufman, an Israeli attorney, to petition the International Criminal Court to investigate if the killing of her father and brother, Mutassim, by Libyan opposition fighters constitutes a war crime. The petition states that the two Gaddafis were "...murdered in the most horrific fashion with their bodies thereafter displayed and grotesquely abused in complete defiance of Islamic law.” Further it states, "The situation in Libya requires you to investigate the commission of alleged crimes by all parties to the conflict. To date, neither Ms. Gaddafi nor any member of her family has been informed, by your office, of the initiation of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the brutal murders of her father Muammar Gaddafi and brother Moatassim Gaddafi.”

According to the article, "Kaufman, who has a practice in Jerusalem, told The Daily Beast that Aisha  contacted him several weeks after her father’s killing. He was not particularly surprised to hear from her. Kaufman is a former ICC prosecutor who now represents defendants at the world court. Earlier this month, he got the court to dismiss charges against another of his clients, a Rwandan rebel accused of involvement in the murder, rape, and torture of Congolese villagers by Hutu militiamen.'It’s got nothing to do with the fact that I’m Israeli,' Kaufman said in a phone interview. 'When it comes to practicing at the ICC, I’m one of the few lawyers with substantial experience.'"

No one will miss the irony that, when push comes to shove, Aisha turned to the country that "Muammar Gaddafi refused to recognize and often described as illegitimate."

Send in the Jews? BTW, from her exile in Algeria, Aisha recently called for the Libyan people to overthrow the interim regime: "Avenge the blood of your martyr. Revolt against the new government!"

Read the whole article Daily Beast article here.

Monday, December 26, 2011

'Diaspora Disneys': Economic Development Via Remembrance of Jews Past

Or how we love our Jews, now that they're gone...

Mosh pit hysteria at the Crakow Festival of Jewish Culture
Diaspora Disneys, is Shelley Salamensky's bittersweet report of how some places in Europe and Asia, that once were homes to significant Jewish populations, are back on the map with architectural, cultural and educational 'restoration' projects that bring in tourist money, government grants and new-found prestige. Thus, it seems as if every nook or cranny in the old country is suddenly a shtetl, Jewish contributions to city life are suddenly celebrated, and suddenly everybody loves gefilte fish and dancing the hora. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone...

Please forgive my cynicism but I prefer my Jews alive and breathing and don't want to see this sort of thing happen once Palestine is established from the river to sea, if those nostalgic Europeans and Asians have their way. Read the whole piece here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Jerusalem's Mughrabi Bridge: Another Blackmail Threat

From Violence Feared Over Mughrabi Bridge Closing

For a concise explanation of what happened when Israeli authorities wanted to close (and rebuild) the Mughrabi Bridge -- not used by Muslim worshippers -- for safety reasons, and received threats of violence, please read Shmuel Rosner in the NY Times: No Water Under Jerusalem's Mughrabi Bridge.

Let me start you off:

"JERUSALEM — In most well-managed cities, when a bridge is said to be putting the public at risk, it is closed without controversy until it can be made safe again. Not so in Jerusalem. In most well-managed holy sites, worshipers place a high priority on their safety and won’t stand for shoddy infrastructure. Not so in Jerusalem.
"Last Sunday, the Mughrabi bridge was sealed off following an order by the city engineer who declared it unsound. This is the wooden ramp that ascends from the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest place of worship, up the Temple Mount, at the top of which stands the Dome of the Rock, a major Muslim site. The bridge was built seven years ago as a temporary substitute for the stone walkway that was destroyed by a winter storm in 2004.

"The bridge was reopened on Tuesday, but for a couple of days Jewish worshipers and the occasional tourists could no longer climb the Temple Mount to visit the place where, according to biblical tradition, Abraham brought his son Isaac to sacrifice him and where a proud Jewish Temple was erected, then destroyed, then erected again and destroyed again by the forces of great Rome.
"Muslims could still enter the compound at the top of the hill as they long have, through any of the other gates available to them, and they could still pray at the mosques. Yet it was they who were most outraged by the announcement that the bridge had become impassable." 
Read the rest of the story here.
And for a 'different' slant, read this Guardian piece and note an unwitting quote that tells you what it's really about:
"'Isra, a 20-year-old Palestinian woman, said: 'We don't mind about the bridge itself. Muslims are concerned about the whole site and the mosque in particular. What we don't want is for many Jewish people to come here.'"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas: A Holiday for the Palestinian Rewrite of History

What would Jesus say about this appropriation?
Yes, it's that time of year again.

Are we so accustomed now to the preposterous claims made by Palestinian leaders that, although Newt the Grinch caused massive waves among the mainstream commenteriat for stating that Palestinians are an invented people (not that he was wrong, just really unhelpful), we probably won't hear a thing about Salaam Fayyad's declaration that Christmas is a time to "celebrate the Palestinian identity of Jesus Christ.” This nonsense has made the rounds for years but for it to be echoed by a leader upon whom the West has placed so much faith, is surely stunning. What say you Tommy Friedman?

This rewriting of history conforms with the line in Mahmoud Abbas' UN speech and much else (eg: Rachel's Tomb is a Muslim Mosque) that I've not seen much about in the MSM:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people in the homeland and in the the Diaspora, to say, after 63 years of suffering of the ongoing Nakba: Enough. It is time for the Palestinian people to gain their freedom and independence."
Frankly, I find this erasure of Jewish history unforgivable.
And another thing about Christmas in Palestine. Last week, Bethlehem’s mayor, urged the world to boycott Israel until the Palestinians have their own state. Apart from how utterly dumb this was (tourism, employment, etc.), I haven’t read any recent reminders about Mayor Victor Batarseh's political background that should have accompanied this story. So, just FYI, Mr. Batarseh, won his seat in a 2005 election in which he was on the slate that included members of Hamas and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP). PLFP, an organization to the left of Fatah, was responsible for the killing of Israel's tourism minister in 2001, and several of the suicide bombings inside Israel during the second Intifada. Bethlehem's charter calls for a Christian mayor, and Mr. Batarseh, being nominally Christian (and BTW, an American citizen), fit the bill as a candidate acceptable to Hamas, etal. He has been instrumental in turning Christmas into the propaganda vehicle that it is along with the Bethlehem Bible College and the Sabeel Center theological anti-Zionists who say  nary a word about the annual exodus of Christians from the West Bank due to intimidation, and I don't mean by Israeli authorities.

h/t: Elder of Ziyon

Friday, December 16, 2011

A World Without Christopher Hitchens?

Whether it was in Atlantic, Slate, Vanity Fair, anywhere, I would always turn first to a Christopher Hitchens article and have been disappointed lately to find fewer of them. Whatever he wrote about turned interesting, even when I disagreed intensely. I loved Hitch22 but hated his almost entirely negative opinions about Israel. He was atheistically proud of his Judaic ancestry, but discovered it too late for it to have adjusted his view that Jews served the world best as stateless cosmopolitans. But, God bless him, anyone who could write so audaciously about Mother Theresa deserved my deepest admiration:

"MT was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit. But we have her own claim that she opened 500 convents in more than a hundred countries, all bearing the name of her own order. Excuse me, but this is modesty and humility?"

And on Henry Kissinger? Oy! 

From Jeffrey Goldberg just three days ago: On the Possibility of Christopher Hitchens Finding Jesus
NY Times: Christopher Hitchens Is Dead at 62 
Guardian: Christopher Hitchens dies aged 62
Huffington Post: Christopher Hitchens Dead: Legendary Writer Dies At 62
But...from Jewish Ideas Daily: The Trouble with Hitchens

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

When Israeli Music Was Part of the Progressive Songbook

If your read about the 50-year-old history of Sing Out, the folk song bible, you learn that it "grew out of a legacy of social commitment and a tradition of singing both to effect change and to share the pure enjoyment of songs. The original idea for a magazine was served up by the aspirations of a group of urban singers who believed in the power of song – musicians who raised their voices in harmony and against injustice." At the time of Sing Out's ascendancy, in the 1960's, Israel fit right in as the homeland that promised to redeem centuries of injustice against the Jewish people. Progressives -- except the communist left, that is -- honored the Zionist movement and included its songs among the 'world music' of the day.

Well, that ain't happening anymore. Israeli music is now relegated to Bar Mitzvahs and Federation events and all those cool Jews who are losing faith because, in their view,  Israel is no longer a projection of their progressive ideals, wouldn't be seen dead dancing the Hora.

And haven't we seen alot of breast-beating by those Jews who feel betrayed by their friend. The ball started rolling with Peter Beinart and, my, what a terrific second career he now has lecturing Jewish organizations about their failure to serve as Israel's conscience.
For him, Israel is almost lost to progressive Jews. And, to the younger generation, it is practically dead.

And just in the last couple of days we've had Eric Alterman, whose home is The Nation,  a magazine once supportive of Israel, now a bastion of establishment anti-Zionism. He writes in The Forward about the 'final split' between theocratic Israel and liberal world Jewry. 

Then there is Gershom Gorenberg, author of The Unmaking of Israel, writing in Hadassah Magazine, that despite all he has done to cast it in the most negative light, his progressive Jewish friends mustn't give up on Israel.

Jeffrey Goldberg, a more nuanced hand-wringer, does point out in his review that something is missing from The Unmaking of Israel, namely the role the Arab world has played in undermining Israel's peace efforts and democracy:

"...Gorenberg, like many on the left, pays scant attention (to): the Arab states that provoked the Six-Day War and then, after their defeat, remained defiant and mainly uninterested in a quick exchange of territory for recognition of Israel. Nor does Gorenberg waste much ink crediting various Israeli governments with trying, over the years, to reach an equitable arrangement with the Palestinians (most notably under the aegis of Bill Clinton at Camp David). Nor does he grapple in any serious way with a subject of some relevance — the civil war among Palestinians, between an organization, Hamas, that seeks Israel’s destruction, and a Palestinian Authority that claims adherence to the idea of a two-state solution. Moreover, the corrosive anti-Semitism that long ago infected parts of the Palestinian polity (not to mention other parts of the Muslim world) is dismissed rather blithely."

Even more pointedly, none of Israel's recent Jewish critics admit to the extraordinary successes Israel's delegitimizers have had in the last decade, especially their ability to completely shut down the campus debate on the Middle East. For progressive Jewish students there is no space in which to debate the finer points of Israel's history and political dilemmas and so they are hiding, or giving up.

Jewish critics have bought into the delegitimization and blame Israel exclusively for the retrenchment of liberalism, for a 'siege' mentality, for the ongoing occupation, for the checkpoints, etc., as if there are no actors on the other side. And that seems to be the only song being played and listened to in progressive circles.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Anti-Zionist Academics Attempt to Delegitimize Israel Study Abroad

In response to California State University (CSU) reinstating its study abroad programs in Israel -- suspended primarily for safety reasons in accordance with State Department warnings -- 'over 100' professors and students signed a letter in opposition by alleging that, "CSU participation with the government of Israel in the proposed study abroad program could be interpreted as an endorsement of the international crime of apartheid."

Wasting no time in countering this attempt at thwarting the academic freedom of students, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) issued a heavily endorsed letter of its own to CSU's chancellor, providing a comprehensive refutation of the boycotters' claims. Especially relevant are these arguments:

"As for Arab students, or students with "Arabic or Muslim names being denied access to Israeli institutions of higher education”, we suggest that the authors of this petition check the student roster at Haifa University. Previous students from the CSU Israel Overseas Program found their program at Haifa University filled with a significant number of Arab students, and students with "Arabic or Muslim names" in their classes, in the student center, in the library, and in activities at free speech areas on the campus. All the major universities and colleges of Israel admit Arab/Muslim students and charge them the same tuition costs as Israeli Jewish students. Students who participated in CSU's Israel Overseas program in the two years before it was suspended reported that their interactions with Muslim/Arab students were among the most enriching aspects of their experience in Israel.

"The apartheid canard. A common and false charge against Israel is that of apartheid. Apartheid is an Afrikaans word that originally denoted the system of racial segregation and curtailment of rights of the non-white population of South Africa between 1948 and 1994. It is difficult to imagine a country more diverse and less segregated than Israel, where 15 religions have official status and where Muslims, Arabs, Christians, and others are represented in all professions, serve in the military and the Knesset (Israeli parliament), and play leading roles in sports and the arts. Like other countries, Israel has its share of ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods, but it may well be less segregated than most other countries in which CSU has programs."  Read the entire letter here.

Muslim Cleric: Cucumbers and Carrots Make Women Think of Sex

Out of control! I wonder if it's ok to use this age-old beauty tip.

"Women should be banned from touching cucumbers, carrots, bananas, and zucchinis, says a European Muslim cleric, simply because they resemble the male penis and could prompt women to think of sex." 

Read the whole Green Prophet post here and the original source here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Male Fertility Miracle Developed by Arab Israel

Green Prophet today published an article tantalizingly headlined, Test Tube Testes Developed by Arab Scientist. Wow, how cool, you say. The Arab world finally produces a major scientific breakthrough, perhaps worthy of a Nobel Prize. But wait. The scientist in question, Dr. Mahmoud Huleihel, who has developed an artificial testes to solve the problem of male infertility, wasn't working out of an Arab institution, but is, in fact, a researcher in the South-Africa-boycotted, Ben Gurion University in Israel. I think he should be boycotted, don't you?

Read the story here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Links From the Middle East Parallel Universe

Read below to find out why something is rotten in Dubai.

I've read so many things lately that confirm the presence of a parallel universe but don't have enough time to fully develop them as individual posts. So, assuming you've got nothing else to do this weekend, check out this random sampling:

From Amie at Harry's Place: an example of how every Israeli policy is 'washed' through the lens of anti-Zionism and deemed evidence of the nation's perfidy. In this case Israel's asylum policy for African refugees who, for some reason, reasoned it would be better to traverse vast distances in order to end up in the Zionist entity.

From Green Prophet, which I have to commend for acknowledging that Israel is an equal member nation of the Middle East, for: Oversize Load, Poop from the World's Tallest Building, about the preposterousness of building the super-modern, super-ostentatious, Burj Kalifah in Dubai without the existence if a waste disposal infrastructure operating to, as it were, scoop the poop. Kind of like putting the cart before the horse isn't it? But you could probably say that about the entire Dubai buy-me-a-civilization enterprise.

Also from Green Prophet: Going Green in Gaza, an unprecedented UN initiative to build environmentally friendly schools in Gaza. The initial $2 million prototype (masterfully designed by Italian architect, Mario Cucinella) is being paid for by Kuwait's Islamic Development Bank which begs the question, 'how will this fit into the world's largest open air prison?' 

From Franck Salameh, the brilliant assistant professor of Near Eastern Studies, Arabic and Hebrew at Boston College, who blogs under Ramblings of a Levantine Expat about how Israel, "a diverse human and cultural space composed of Jews, Arabs, Christians, and others; a mix unparalleled anywhere in the Middle East; a space with topologies, climate-systems, histories, languages, and geographies favorable to diverse cultural and human compositions, synthesizing centuries of intellectual, linguistic, and ethno-national intercourse and traffic," is 'othered' in a Middle East captive to an ideology of Pan-Arabism that denies the multiplicity of culture, religion and language of its inhabitants.

Actually, anything written by Israel-hater Patrick Seale is evidence of a parallel universe, but as a for-instance, have a look at this: Iran is no enemy of the Arab nations. He has alot more to say about why Israel is a bigger threat than why the Saudis should welcome Iran's friendship.

Likewise, here is the Informed Commentator, Juan Cole, on how the Muslim Brotherhood doesn't really hate the Jews and why a historic Jewish presence in Israel is overstated and, best of all, how Tel Aviv will fall into the sea because of climate change and how that's not such a bad thing.