Beyond Chutzpah

KKK Designs Public School Curriculum on Slavery

City council approves curriculum on Israel initiated by Israeli Consulate in New York; curriculum to be integrated into training program for educators teaching in 1,400 public high schools

by Yaniv Halili

NEW YORK – The New York City Council’s education committee approved a curriculum on Israel initiated by the public relations department of the Israeli Consulate in New York.

The curriculum will be integrated into the training program for educators teaching in 1,400 public high schools in New York City. The teachers will be able to register to a 30-hour course dealing with the history of the State of Israel, its economy, the high-tech industry, Israeli art and Ethiopian Jews.

The incentive offered to teachers who will take the course: Credit points for an academic degree.

The teachers responded so positively to the course, that by the third day of registration all seats were taken. Following the teachers’ request, the consulate decided to add more seats.

Israeli Consul General in New York Aryeh Mekel said that “through the teachers a generation of leaders will be educated to maintain the special relations between the United States and Israel.”

We are not bringing politics, but are exposing them to Israel as we know it and as we would like people to know it,” he added.


HRW v. Dershowitz

Editor’s note: See also Human Rights Watch: ISRAELI GOVERNMENT WAR CRIMINAL




By SARAH LEAH WHITSON, Middle East Director, Human Rights Watch, New York

Armchair sleuths

Sir, – Avi Bell’s and Alan Dershowitz’s attacks on Human Rights Watch (“Whose war crimes in Lebanon?,” Daily Paper, and “What is ‘Human Rights Watch’ watching?” Upfront, August 25) illustrate why human rights investigations shouldn’t be conducted from an armchair. Rather than interviewing eyewitnesses and inspecting bomb sites, Bell and Dershowitz peruse their newspapers, but even then their reading is selective and distorted.

Dershowitz cites numerous articles to knock down a straw man. Human Rights Watch never denied, in the words of our report, that sometimes Hizbullah “store[s] weapons in or near civilian homes and [its] fighters placed rocket launchers within populated areas.” Indeed, we called these Hizbullah abuses “serious violations of the laws of war because they violate the duty to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties.” Our point was that there was no evidence of such Hizbullah presence for some two dozen cases, representing a third of Lebanese civilian deaths at the time, that Human Rights Watch field investigators examined in depth.

Bell focuses on one of those cases: a July 19 attack on the village of Srifa that destroyed at least 13 houses and killed at least 19 people whom residents said were civilians, including eight members of one family. He claims most of the victims were Hizbullah fighters, based on a highly selective reading of his newspapers.

For example, he quotes an August 16 article from The New York Times saying that “a majority” of the Srifa victims were fighters. But Bell omits the rest of the Times account, which explained that “[j]ust days” before August 16, “Israeli warplanes pounded the town again as Hizbullah fighters moved into the area to face off with Israeli troops who landed in the hills nearby.” By neglecting to mention that, long after Human Rights Watch’s August 3 report, Hizbullah fighters entered Srifa and the town was bombed again, Bell deceptively leaves readers with the impression that the fighter deaths were due to the July 19 attack. The Independent article Bell cites also was written after the August attack.

As for an AP dispatch from July 19, it said that Hizbullah fired rockets “from the area,” not the village, and that “it was residents who were hit in retaliation,” not fighters. Under international humanitarian law the presence of fighters in the general vicinity does not justify an attack on a particular residential building or neighborhood.

Ironically, IDF officials have responded far more constructively to Human Rights Watch’s findings than have Dershowitz and Bell. Their armchair obfuscations undermine the serious introspection that Israel should now be undertaking to reduce civilian casualties in future wars.


Finkelstein on DN! — No New Antisemitism

Editor’s note: See also Kill Arabs, Cry Anti-Semitism.



Listen / Watch: Democracy Now!

Democracy Now! interviews Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D – NY) about his attempt to bar the Palestinian delegation at the United Nations. In May, Weiner infamously stated the delegation “should start packing their little Palestinian terrorist bags.” Weiner says Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas does not represent the PLO and that the group is listed as a terrorist organization by the US State Department. Author and Professor Norman Finkelstein says he’s wrong on both counts. [includes rush transcript] Democracy Now! had a chance to interview Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D – NY) yesterday in New York. In May, Weiner successfully added an amendment to a House bill banning aid to the Palestinian Authority. The amendment would outlaw the Palestinian delegation at the United Nations and kick them out of the United States.

  • Rep. Anthony Weiner (D – NY), questioned by Amy Goodman, August 29, 2006.

    But is Rep. Weiner’s information accurate? Not his point of view – the facts. We speak with author and professor, Norman Finkelstein.

  • Norman Finkelstein, professor of Political science at DePaul University in Chicago. His latest book is “Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History.”

RUSH TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: After I spoke with [Congressmember John Murtha], I talked to New York Democratic Congressmember Anthony Weiner. In May, Weiner successfully added an amendment to a House bill banning aid to the Palestinian Authority. The amendment would outlaw the Palestinian delegation at the United Nations and kick them out of the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: You called for the Palestinian delegation to the UN to pack their bags, or more specifically, to pack their “little Palestinian terrorist bags.”

REP. ANTHONY WEINER: Right, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Why?

REP. ANTHONY WEINER: Well, for the longest time, the Palestinian — the PLO Mission — PLO hasn’t been an accepted voice of the Palestinians for the longest time. Congress has said very clearly back in the 1980s, as recently as the middle of the 1990s, that they were not welcome here in the United States. And frankly, the PLO is an organization that, frankly, no longer seems to represent anyone, but they’re still considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

AMY GOODMAN: So would you call the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a terrorist?

REP. ANTHONY WEINER: No.

AMY GOODMAN: And yet, the people who are at the UN –

REP. ANTHONY WEINER: Not the Mission of the Palestinian Authority. This is the PLO Mission. Mahmoud Abbas does not represent — I hope he doesn’t represent the PLO. He certainly doesn’t say he does. He represents the Palestinian Authority. The PLO is a terrorist organization. It’s acknowledged it’s a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. And the only reason that they’re still there is because a court ruled that they were an adjunct of the United Nations, and thus there were two conflicting laws that are in place about — one that says the PLO has to leave the United States and the other that says that missions to the United Nations may stay. And so, frankly, I think that what I tried to do with the amendment you’re referring to is just clarify the PLO is not welcome in the United States, nor should they be.

AMY GOODMAN: They represent the Palestinian government. The Palestinian government is led — the president is Mahmoud Abbas.

REP. ANTHONY WEINER: Not true. The PLO Mission, the PLO Mission. The Palestinian Liberation Organization is a terrorist organization and is acknowledged that by the United States government. The Palestinian Authority, which is headed by Mahmoud Abbas — arguably that doesn’t represent the Palestinian people anymore since the election either, but that’s a whole different story. But the PLO is a terrorist organization, and I believe that they should lose their quasi-diplomatic status, as they no longer represent anyone — any of the Palestinians, and they are considered a terrorist organization.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Anthony Weiner. He called for kicking the Palestinian delegation out of the United States. But is his information accurate? Not his point of view, just the facts. Norman Finkelstein joins us in our Firehouse studio, professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago. His latest book is called Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. The facts, Professor Finkelstein?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: The facts can become a little technical, because there are multiple organizations now operating in the Occupied Territories, but Mahmoud Abbas was the successor to Yasser Arafat, when Arafat passed away and he became the chairman of the Palestinian — PLO chief — chairman of the PLO Executive. So he’s clearly a member of the PLO. That, I don’t think, is a matter of dispute.

AMY GOODMAN: And the issue of the PLO being on the list of terrorist organizations of the Justice Department?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: My recollection is — I don’t want to be — I’ll be as precise as I can. The PLO was on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations until 1988. In 1988, there were these famous words that George Shultz had made Arafat recite in public.

AMY GOODMAN: The Secretary of State under Reagan.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, Secretary of State George Shultz. And at that point, he was — the PLO was removed from the list of terrorist organizations, and the United States openly had diplomatic relations or ultimately was able to meet with the PLO. I’m sure your listeners will recall, before then there was the incident with Andrew Young having met with the PLO when it was a terrorist organization — officially a terrorist organization. But afterwards, it was removed from the list.

AMY GOODMAN: So, for almost 20 years, it’s been removed and the PLO has had a mission to the United Nations.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, the PLO Mission to the United Nations began, if my memory serves, in 1974. The PLO Observer Mission began at the UN. Some of your older listeners will recall that’s when Arafat gave that famous speech at the United Nations, “The Gun or the Olive Branch.” So the Mission, I think, began in 1974, and right now the PLO is pretty much considered an ally of the United States against Hamas. So it’s kind of peculiar that Mr. Weiner should be venting his ire at the PLO. Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO are considered U.S. allies. We work with Dahlan, who’s the main PLO representative in Gaza. He heads up their security forces, works with the CIA, works with Israel. These are our people.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break. And then we’re going to come back to the conversation with Congressmember Weiner. And then we’re going to Lebanon to play comments of a member of parliament in Lebanon about whether Israel should be accused of war crimes. Finally, we’ll speak with an Iranian dissident about the situation in Iran now and particularly about U.S. policy. We’re talking to Professor Norman Finkelstein of DePaul University. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We continue with my conversation with New York Congressmember Anthony Weiner.

AMY GOODMAN: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the New York Times has called for an investigation of Israel for the use of cluster bombs on Lebanon. What are your thoughts?

REP. ANTHONY WEINER: Well, first of all, a lot of those organizations, Amnesty International in particular, has always had bias against Israel, and frankly I would argue that in many cases, the New York Times has, as well. You know, Israel didn’t choose to have a war. Israel — this is not about land. Hezbollah hasn’t said, “We want this sliver of land.” They’ve essentially crossed over an international border. They are an organization who, their avowed purpose is to eliminate Israel. Frankly, they’re the enemies of the United States, as well.

In times of war, bad things happen, and it is tragic when there is any innocent loss of life. But when the — when Hezbollah chose to declare essentially — violate an international border, a UN-recognized border, a border that was agreed to by Israel and, theoretically, the nation of Lebanon. When they chose to invade Lebanon and essentially take over by creating a government within a government, they, to some degree, chose the war, and Israel, you know, they’re a sovereign state. They have to prosecute it the way they think it’s best.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. government is now investigating whether Israel’s use of cluster bombs violated their relationship with the United States, in terms of getting cluster bomb technology. Your thoughts on that?

REP. ANTHONY WEINER: Well, look, I certainly think that the United States government should make sure that all laws were followed, but we mustn’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. This was a horrible thing that happened. Why did it happen? It happened because the Iranians have armed Hezbollah to be a surrogate army for them, to essentially occupy the — occupy Lebanese territory, to then invade Israel. None of these things were chosen by Israel, and Israel, frankly, has to be able to defend herself, just like we do.

AMY GOODMAN: Last question, do you think the New York Times is anti-Israel?

REP. ANTHONY WEINER: I think that there have been times it is — that the New York Times has shown bias, but, you know, the — I’ve heard many of my friends who support the Palestinian position say the same thing about the New York Times on that side. So perhaps that’s the definition of a — of someone who’s the middle ground. But I do think that they are — that the New York Times has shown a bias in its reporting.

AMY GOODMAN: That is New York Congressmember Anthony Weiner. Our guest is Norman Finkelstein, professor at DePaul University in Chicago, professor of political science, author of Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. The issue of Human Rights Watch — I guess he’s talking about Amnesty International — and then to the New York Times of being anti-Israel.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, it depends on what standard you’re using. Throughout most of the world, I think American media, generally, and the New York Times, in particular, are considered very pro-Israel. I suppose in certain extreme fanatical corners of the universe, they’re considered anti-Israel, but if you look at — you know, you take an ordinary incident, and it’s useful to look at ordinary incidents.

Take the case in June of this year when there was the killing of the Palestinian family in Gaza Beach, and there was the famous scene of the ten-year-old girl wailing beside her father. Now, there were two ways the story could have been reported. There was the official Israeli version. They claim they had nothing to do with the killing of the family and the firing of the shell. And then you had the version of Human Rights Watch, which is one of the leading human rights organizations in the world. They sent over an expert to examine all the available evidence. He concluded that the evidence was overwhelming that the Israeli government was responsible for the deaths of that family.

What did the New York Times do? It reported the Israeli government version. Then it reported the Human Rights Watch version. And then, a few days later, the Human Rights version disappeared, and the New York Times stated that the deaths that occurred on Gaza Beach, we don’t include as among those for whom Israel is responsible. Why? Because the Israeli government said it wasn’t responsible.

Now, that kind of reporting you haven’t found in the United States since the days of the Daily Worker, when it reported on the Stalin purge trials to take the word of a government against the word of a human rights organization, and then to simply deposit the findings of the human rights organization in Orwell’s memory hole. Human Rights Watch disappeared. Israel wasn’t responsible. Why? Because the Israeli government said it wasn’t responsible.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to this issue of criticizing organizations or people who criticize Israeli military policy, calling them “anti-Israel,” and then there’s always the step beyond, “anti-Semitic.” Your comment.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, first of all, it has a long history [See Beyond Chutzpah]. Every time Israel comes under international pressure, as it did recently because of the war crimes committed in Lebanon, it steps up the claim of anti-Semitism, and all of Israel’s critics are anti-Semitic. 1974, the ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, puts out a book called The New Anti-Semitism. 1981, the Anti-Defamation League puts out a book, The New Anti-Semitism. And then, again in 2000, Abraham Foxman and people like Phyllis Chesler, they put out these books called The New Anti-Semitism. So the use of the charge “anti-Semitism” is pretty conventional whenever Israel comes under attack, and frankly it has no content whatsoever nowadays.

If you open up, like, Phyllis Chesler’s book, The New Anti-Semitism, she says Jewish feminists are anti-Semites, NPR is anti-Semitic, BBC is anti-Semitic, Los Angeles Times is anti-Semitic, New York Times is anti-Semitic, Washington Post is anti-Semitic. Everybody is anti-Semitic. The term is devoid of any content. Anyone who ever criticizes Israel is anti-Semitic.

What does the evidence show? There has been good investigation done, serious investigation. All the evidence shows there’s no — there’s no evidence at all for a rise of a new anti-Semitism, whether in Europe or in North America. The evidence is zero. And, in fact, there’s a new book put out by an Israel stalwart. His name is Walter Laqueur, a very prominent scholar. It’s called The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism. It just came out, 2006, from Oxford University Press. He looks at the evidence, and he says no. There’s some in Europe among the Muslim community, there’s some anti-Semitism, but the notion that in the heart of European society or North American society there’s anti-Semitism is preposterous. And in fact — or no, a significant rise in anti-Semitism is preposterous.

The people who write this stuff — you know, you just quoted Mr. Weiner that Mr. Abbas is not a member of the PLO. If you read these people — Phyllis Chesler, her book The New Anti-Semitism had lots of praise by serious intellectuals like Paul Berman. She keeps saying in the book that India is an Arab country, and she’s very emphatic about this, that India is an Arab country. That’s the level of intellectual, you know, debate and discussion in this country when it comes to the Arab world.

AMY GOODMAN: Didn’t the ADL come out this week with a statement about Amnesty International?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, the ADL came out with a statement that Amnesty International is borderline anti-Semitic, and that’s pretty conventional from the ADL, that these organizations are anti-Semitic or then, you know, in other cases, they accuse individuals or organizations of being Holocaust deniers. None of this — first of all, as I said, it’s pretty commonplace in these organizations. The Simon Wiesenthal Center recently issued a statement condemning the United Church of Christ for being not borderline anti-Semitic, but functionally anti-Semitic, because they oppose the wall that Israel is building in the Occupied Territories.

Anyone who’s a critic of Israel becomes an anti-Semite. And the truth of the matter is, the real anti-Semites, they don’t really care about — or the real Holocaust deniers, which is their other favorite epithet to hurl at people or expectorate at people who are critical of Israel –

So you take the case, you know, now there’s a lot of discussion about the Iranian president’s statements denying the Nazi Holocaust. Whether he actually did or not literally, I’m not going to get into now. It’s not so important. For argument’s sake, let’s say he did do it. He denied the Nazi Holocaust. Now, you heard Mr. Weiner. He’s very fond of Abbas. He says Abbas has nothing to do with the PLO. Now, you take Abbas. Abbas is an authentic Holocaust denier. He wrote his doctoral dissertation denying the Nazi Holocaust. He published it as a book in 1982. He said less than a million Jews were killed during World War II. He denied the Nazi gas chambers. Now there you have a real Holocaust denier. You don’t have to really probe the meaning of his words. It’s pretty straightforward. Well, he’s the American favorite now. Everybody loves Mr. Abbas, because he does the American bidding. So they don’t care that he’s a Holocaust denier.

Let me just give another pretty indicative example. Take the case of Ronald Reagan. Nowadays many people are fond of Reagan. You listen to rightwing radio, which I listen to all the time, and you listen — everyone loves Reagan. Everybody forgets Reagan was the one who went to Bitburg, gave the speech saying that the Nazi soldiers, including the Nazi — the Waffen-SS, were victims, just like the Jews in the concentration camps. That was his famous statement at Bitburg. The ADL, which claims to be so vigilant about Holocaust denial, the ADL gave him their Torch of Liberty Award.

Then, just this past — two years ago, Berlusconi, the president [prime minister] of Italy –

AMY GOODMAN: Former.

[cartoon: ADL head Abraham Foxman gives Reagan award after the latter said that Waffen SS officers burried at Bitburg cemetary were "victims of the Nazis just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps."]

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Former president of Italy, gave this speech praising Mussolini and saying all the charges against Mussolini were false, he was basically a good guy. Three weeks — three weeks after he gave his speech — and remember, Mussolini passed the Anti-Semitic Laws, at the end of his regime, sent Jews to their death. Three weeks after he gave his speech, the ADL, Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, who is now accusing Amnesty of borderline anti-Semitism, they gave him the distinguished Statesman of the Year Award, had a big gala for him, and even fairly conservative economists like Robert Solow, Paul Samuelson, Modigliani — okay, they’re not conservative by conventional standards — mainstream economists. They wrote a very irate letter to the New York Times: Why is the ADL giving this guy an award? Well, the answer was simple. Because at that point, he was the only European leader who was very pro — he was very pro-Israel. They don’t care about Holocaust denial. They have no interest in it.

Let me give you one example, just –

AMY GOODMAN: Ten seconds.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, one example, just from what you were airing a moment ago. You heard the speech by Rumsfeld, where he says that Iraq is like the Nazis in the 1930s. Now, remember, the tenet of the Holocaust industry is, never compare the Holocaust to anything else. Never compare, and if you compare, they say you’re a Holocaust denier. But that side is always comparing. The Mufti of Jerusalem was Hitler. Nasser was Hitler. Saddam Hussein was Hitler. Hezbollah is now Hitler. Iran is Hitler. Hamas is Hitler. Iraq is Hitler. They’re the worst Holocaust deniers in the world, by their own definition. They’re always comparing.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, I want to thank you for being with us, professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago. His new book is called Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History.

To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, click here for our new online ordering or call 1 (888) 999-3877.


Rabbinical Dershowitzes

Editor’s note: For Dershowitz’ advocacy of Nazi-style tactics see Should Alan Dershowitz Target Himself for Assassination? with endnotes.



MATTHEW WAGNER

The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) has called on Israel to reevaluate its military rules of war in light of Hizbullah’s “unconscionable use of civilians, hospitals, ambulances, mosques and the like as human shields, cannon fodder and weapons of asymmetric warfare.”

The RCA made the statement at the end of a three-day solidarity mission last week in conjunction with Emunah, the modern Orthodox women’s organization, during which a contingent of RCA rabbis toured the North and South, visiting the injured and gathering impressions of the extent of the damage caused by the warfare.

Rabbi Basil Herring, executive vice president of the RCA, said the statement was not a halachic decision but rather “our understanding of traditional Jewish values.”

Herring said that from reports and talks with injured soldiers and doctors, it appeared the IDF may have unnecessarily endangered its forces out of moral considerations.

“Like Jews everywhere, we as members of the RCA have always admired the unparalleled moral standards of Israel’s armed forces in their military engagements, including sensitivity to the suffering of civilians and other innocents who find themselves caught up in the entanglements of war,” said the RCA statement. “Today, however, there is at the very least a need to discuss the response to an enemy such as Hizbullah.”

According to Herring, the new combat realities of fighting an enemy that uses its own civilians as human shields dictate a rethinking of IDF military ethics.

“Our traditional sensibilities tell us that it is not right to risk the lives of our soldiers to minimize civilian deaths on the other side,” he said.

During their trip, the RCA delegation contributed tens of thousands of dollars to soup kitchens and hospitals. The rabbis on the delegation said they planned to go back to the US and raise additional funds for Israelis hurt by the warfare.

The RCA’s delicate criticism of IDF morality was echoed by Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu of Safed and Rabbi Tzefania Drori of Kiryat Shmona. But the two rabbis had none of the inhibitions felt by rabbis from the US who, as Diaspora Jews, were uncomfortable criticizing Israel’s policies.

“Our corrupt military morality, which tells us that our soldiers must endanger their lives to protect enemy civilians, is the reason we lost the war,” said Eliyahu.

“Anti-Semites demand that we use Christian morality while our enemies act like barbarians,” said Drori, accusing the IDF of adopting “Christian morality” as its own.

Three weeks ago, Rabbi Dov Lior announced in the name of the Yesha Council of Rabbis that “when our enemies hold a baby in one hand and shoot at us with the other, or when missiles are purposely aimed at civilian populations in the Land of Israel in blatant disregard for moral criteria, we are obligated to act according to Jewish morality, which dictates that ‘he who gets up to kill you, get up yourself and kill him first.’”

“There are no innocent parties in a time of war,” he continued. “Rather, one must battle a bellicose city until it is captured. All types of Christian morality weaken the spirit of our army and our nation and cost us the lives of our soldiers and citizens.”


Bull's-eye: Dersh can't point to a single error

By Alan M. Dershowitz

The level of “academic” discourse on the Middle-East reached a new low—quite a feat considering some of the old lows—when the notorious Jewish anti-Semite and Holocaust-justice denier Norman Finkelstein wrote a screed suggesting that I be targeted “for assassination” because of my views on Israel. The obscene article was accompanied by an obscene cartoon drawn by “Latuff“, a frequent accomplice of Finkelstein. The cartoon portrayed me as masturbating in rapturous joy while viewing images of dead Lebanese civilians on a TV set labeled “Israel peep show,” with a Jewish Star of David prominently featured. The cartoon aptly represents the content of Finkelstein’s piece, which accuses me of being a “moral pervert” who “missed the climactic scene of his little peep show.” He also claims quite absurdly that I “sanction mass murder” and “the extermination of the Lebanese people.” (I’m surprised he hasn’t accused me of kicking of puppy dogs, scowling at little children, and parking in handicapped spaces.)

Finkelstein calls me a Nazi not once, but twice, first saying that I subscribe to “Nazi ideology” and then comparing me to Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher, who was prosecuted at Nuremberg by my mentor Telford Taylor.

The peep-show cartoon was even too extreme for the notorious “Counterpunch,” a Stalinist website that glorifies Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist enemies of the U.S. and Israel. Prior to its decision not to run this particular cartoon, Counterpunch seemed to have no standards, but even for them this one was apparently too much (though they kept in the “peep show” reference that inspired the cartoon).

The article itself is typical Finkelstein. He totally distorts my positions, uses quotes out of context, and simply makes things up. He assumes that his readers will not have read the material he criticizes, because if they did, they would not recognize his characterizations of them. Indeed I challenge any reasonable reader to peruse my writings and then Finkelstein’s characterization of them and decide whether his characterizations are even close to what I actually said.

It was President Bush who once famously said, “I don’t do nuance.” Well at least Finkelstein has that much in common with our president. Any effort by a pro-Israel writer to be reasonable, balanced or nuanced is turned by Finkelstein into a justification for genocide.

Finkelstein himself is a well-known Holocaust minimizer and Holocaust-justice denier. He is beloved by full blown Holocaust deniers. Listen to Ernst Zundel, the notorious Hitler lover and Holocaust denier:

“Some people hate it when I pitch Finkelstein and his ‘Holocaust Industry’ yet one more time – because they know, as I know, that what must be for tactical reasons, ‘Stormin’ Norman’ doesn’t go all the way and says what he must surely have come to realize in his heart: That the “gassing-of-millions” stories of the so-called Holocaust are just a pot of crock.

[...]

That doesn’t mean that Finkelstein isn’t exceedingly useful to us and to the Revisionist cause. He is making three-fourths of our argument – and making it effectively. Never fret – the rest of the argument is being made by us, and will topple the lie within our lifetime. We would not be making vast inroads in Europe with our outreach program, were it not for his courageous little booklet, “The Holocaust Industry.”

Zundel’s wife and fellow Neo-Nazi, Ingrid Rimland, referred to Finkelstein admiringly as the “Jewish David Irving”—a reference to the well known Holocaust denier and admirer of Hitler. Finkelstein himself admires Irving’s “historical” research.

Finkelstein is also an admirer of Hezbollah, having said that his “chief regret is that I wasn’t even more forceful in publicly defending Hezbollah against terrorist intimidation and attack.”

This academic pornographer, who uses “professor” in his byline even when he is spewing unacademic hate, is now up for tenure at DePaul University, a Catholic school in Chicago that recently fired a teacher named Thomas Klocek for offending Arab students during a discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Finkelstein was fired by several universities at which he previously worked for abusing students who disagreed with his bigoted views. The chairman of one department where he taught said he was fired for “incompetence”, “mental instability” and “abuse” of students with politics different from his own. I wonder whether Finkelstein will submit this “assassination” article as part of his tenure portfolio at DePaul. He certainly should, since it is quite representative of his “scholarship”. If he submits it, will it be accompanied by the masturbation cartoon? It should, because the cartoon too personifies Finkelstein’s academic standards.


A TERRIFYING RECORD OF LIES AND DECEIT (Chomsky on Dershowitz)

By Noam Chomsky

Alan Dershowitz’s regular little performances are eminently ignorable, including the one reproduced below. But since I’ve been asked several times for comments on this one, a few follow.

Dershowitz’s opens by writing that “Chomsky is circulating a letter which he got two naïve Nobel Prize winners–the playwright Harold Pinter and the poet José Saramago–to sign.” The rest goes on with “Chomsky claims,” etc., and ends with a warning to those who “sign a Chomsky letter without checking its contents. If they don’t, it tells us how little they value truth.”

Let’s take it apart, piece by piece.

As Dershowitz knows, the letter was written and circulated by John Berger, who approached the “two naïve Nobel Prize winners,” as well as me and several others. In the normal fashion, some of us had suggestions about the text, and then helped him to circulate it.

By Dershowitz standards, this fabrication is very minor, but it is of some interest nonetheless. Dershowitz readers will be aware that whenever his sensitive antennae pick up a phrase that might be critical of Israeli government policies, if my name is even remotely associated, it quickly becomes the “hard left gang of Israel bashers” led by the evil demon Chomsky. Why the consistent fabrications over the past 36 years – which, of course, merit no response? Dershowitz and I know very well, but others may be intrigued, so I might as well make the reason public for the first time. His pathetic behavior traces back to what was probably our first contact. In April 1973, Dershowitz wrote a scurrilous attack in the Boston Globe against Israel’s leading human rights activist, Dr. Israel Shahak, the chairman of Israel’s League for Human and Civil Rights, in which he even went so far as to support a government effort to destroy the League by methods so outrageous that they were at once declared illegal by the Israeli courts. I responded, correcting his slanders and fabrications – that is, every single substantive statement. He then tried to lie his way out of it, even descending to falsification of Israeli court records. I responded again, citing the actual court records and responding to his new lies and deceit.

The incident demonstrated conclusively that Dershowitz is not only a remarkable liar and slanderer, but also an extreme opponent of elementary civil rights. That is crystal clear from the correspondence, reproduced below. Dershowitz flew into a fury over the exposure, and ever since has produced a series of hysterical tirades and lies concerning some entity in his fantasy world named “Chomsky,” who lives on “planet Chomsky.” That is his standard style when he is exposed, reaching truly grotesque levels in his efforts to discredit Norman Finkelstein (and even his mother, probably a new low in depravity) after Finkelstein’s meticulous documentation of Dershowitz’s astonishing lies in his vulgar apologetics for Israeli crimes (Beyond Chutzpah).

Dershowitz’s tirade about Berger’s letter opens by referring to the first two sentences, which read: “The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza. An incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press.” Here Dershowitz reveals his amazing discovery that statements in brief letters of protest are not technical monographs, and are necessarily incomplete and imprecise. His counterparts in Teheran, if they sink low enough, would make exactly the same complaints about statements protesting repression of dissidents and other state crimes. The quoted statement in Berger’s letter is, in fact, accurate as far as it goes, more than sufficiently so for a brief letter protesting atrocities. And Dershowitz doubtless discovered from his Google search that full details are readily available on the internet, on this very website and on Znet, where he found the following footnote to my account of this incident:

Jonathan Cook, “The British Media and the Invasion of Gaza,” Medialens (UK), June 30, 2006, http://www.medialens.org/alerts/06/060630_kidnapped_by_israel.php; Josh Brannon, “IDF Commandos Enter Gaza, Capture Two Hamas Terrorists,” Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2006; Ken Ellingwood, “2 Palestinians Held in Israel’s First Arrest Raid in Gaza Since Pullout,” Los Angeles Times, June 25, 2006, p. A20. Apart from the Los Angeles Times, there were only a few marginal words in the Baltimore Sun (June 25) and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (June 25). Moreover, no mainstream media source chose to refer to this event when discussing Shalit’s capture. The only serious coverage I know of in the English-language press appeared in the Turkish Daily News (June 25). (Database search by David Peterson.)

The opening sentences in Berger’s letter are indeed curtailed, in the normal fashion of all protest letters. Though accurate as far as they go, they leave it to the reader to understand the crucial significance of the kidnapping of the two Gaza civilians, the Muamar brothers, on June 24, over and above the fact that it is yet another crime of Dershowitz’s favored state. The point is obvious, but since it may require a moment’s attention, Dershowitz evidently assumed that it would provide an opening for yet another exercise in deceit. So let me spell it out, apologizing to the reader for stating the obvious.

The obvious point is that the kidnapping of the two Gaza civilians was well-known, but scarcely and dismissively reported, apart from the Turkish press, which had the one serious news report (June 25). In the US media there was no comment nor follow-up, in sharp contrast to the capture of Cpl. Gilad Shalit the following day. While Shalit’s name is known to any newspaper reader, the Muamar brothers, as Berger’s letter correctly states, are unknown – though their names can be discovered by those who undertake research projects (or read the dissident media). A Google search for “Shalit” and “Muamar” (with several possible spellings) will quickly make brilliantly clear the difference in reaction to the events of June 24 and June 25.

In fact such a search was carried out, by David Peterson, using the several possible spellings for “Muamar.” The ratio of mentions of Shalit and Muamar is not far from 100 to 1. Of course that is a vast underestimate of the actual ratio, because the kidnapping of the Muamar brothers was mentioned casually and dismissively, with no comment or follow-up, while the capture of Shalit elicited immense outrage and support for the sharp and brutal Israeli escalation of atrocities. And as Peterson also found, the ratio rises very sharply if we extend the search period beyond the first week, because the capture of Shalit continued to arouse great attention, indignation, and support for the murderous Israeli retaliation, while the Muamar brothers received a few dismissive mentions in news reports the next day, and then virtually disappeared.

Evidently, kidnapping of civilians is a far more serious crime than capture of a soldier. Those who do not understand the terminology used might turn to military historian Caleb Carr, who discusses Israel’s escalated attacks on Gaza `to rescue what Israel claimed was a “kidnapped” soldier — an assertion that was absurd because a uniformed, front-line noncommissioned officer can no more be “kidnapped” by the enemy than an innocent, unarmed child can “die in battle”.’ (Los Angeles Times, August 12, 2006).

The great significance of these incidents on successive days can hardly be overemphasized: they reveal that the show of outrage over the Shalit kidnapping, and the support for Israel’s sharp acceleration of atrocities in Gaza in response, was cynical fraud. That is even more dramatically true in Dershowitz’s case, in the light of his desperate efforts to blow smoke to obscure the very clear and critically significant facts. Furthermore, as Gideon Levy accurately wrote in Ha’aretz – as Dershowitz surely discovered in his Google search — the IDF kidnapping of civilians the day before the capture of Cpl. Shalit strips away any “legitimate basis for the IDF’s operation” — and, we may add, any legitimate basis for support for these operations.

Dershowitz’s interesting effort to lie his way out of this by citing a few of the references to the Muamar kidnapping reveals again his remarkable contempt for his readers. Evidently, the more he finds that the facts were reported, the more he shoots himself in the foot, demonstrating that kidnapping of civilians is considered insignificant when carried out by “our side,” and thus eliminating any moral legitimacy for the Israeli escalation of crimes and any support for it, even any tolerance of these crimes. The point is so trivially obvious that Dershowitz cannot possibly fail to understand it, but evidently he hopes that his usual techniques of bluster and tirade will somehow obscure this further illustration of the depths to which he will sink in his apologetics and personal jihads.

Putting aside irrelevant wire service and BBC reports, Dershowitz omits the sources he found in what I had written, but adds the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Boston Globe. The June 25 CT did indeed devote 27 words to the kidnapping of the two Gaza civilians, and the WP the same day devoted 87 words to it, in the closing two paragraphs of an AP report devoted to the same day’s Palestinian raid on the IDF base where Gilad Shalit was captured — thus demonstrating Dershowitz’s cynicism even more fully, as noted, as would also be the case if something did appear in the BG. No one has been able to find a report there, though they did have an editorial on these events which demonstrates again the fraudulence of the show of outrage over the Shalit kidnapping and the utter illegitimacy of the Israeli response and the support for it. As is standard, the editorial omits the kidnapping of the Muamar brothers by the IDF, and opens as follows, under the headline “MIDEAST HELD HOSTAGE”: “The attack Sunday [June 25] on military targets inside Israel, which led to an Israeli soldier being taken hostage, was not merely an arbitrary reflex within a cycle of vengeance. It was ordered by someone with command responsibility in Hamas, who could not be indifferent to the timing of his action or to its political and military consequences. Because the hostage-taking operation has brought Palestinians and Israelis alike to the brink of a new round of foreseeable disasters, it is crucial that all concerned parties focus their remedial efforts on the right address”: Hamas, not the US-backed IDF, which committed a far worse crime the preceding day. Once again, the BG reaction demonstrates very clearly that Dershowitz is not just a cynical fraud, but is so to an unusual extreme.

Dershowitz insists on disgracing himself even further by writing that “the two arrested individuals were alleged Hamas militants, a fact that Chomsky conveniently omits.” Since it was not relevant to Berger’s letter, he rightly omitted it. But Dershowitz “conveniently omits” that he knows very well the response to his shocking comment. Even in the unlikely event that he could not have figured it out for himself, his Google search surely discovered my interview in Yediot Ahronot (Ynet; the full version is on this site), with the following response to those who might sink to Dershowitz’s level: `Apologists for state crimes claim that the kidnapping of the Gaza civilians is justified by IDF claims that they are “Hamas militants” or were planning crimes. By their logic, they should therefore be lauding the capture of Gilad Shalit, a soldier in an army that was (uncontroversially) shelling and bombing Gaza. These performances are truly disgraceful.’

Again, the point is so trivial that Dershowitz could certainly have figured it out for himself even if he had not found it with his Google search, and “conveniently omitted” it.

Dershowitz adds triumphantly: “Nor was the arrest of these Hamas terrorists the origin of the crisis, as Chomsky asserts”; rather, it was the July 12 capture of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. Let’s take the trouble again to decode the lies and absurdities packed into this sentence. The silliest one is the reference to July 12. The Berger letter did not even mention Lebanon: it was strictly limited to Palestine. And, exactly as the Globe editors and everyone else reported, and as Dershowitz of course knows, the upsurge in violence in Palestine followed the capture of Shalit on June 25.

As Dershowitz also doubtless understands, if Berger’s letter had been extended to the events in Lebanon several weeks latter, it could have pointed out that the reaction to the July 12 capture of Israeli soldiers was also cynical fraud, as demonstrated not only by the (null) reaction to the kidnapping of the Muamar brothers, but also by the (null) reaction to the regular Israeli practice for many years of kidnapping Lebanese, many held in prisons, including secret prisons like Israel’s prison/torture chamber Camp 1391, exposed three years ago (in Israel and Europe), then apparently forgotten. No one ever suggested that this regular practice, or vastly worse US-backed Israeli crimes in Lebanon, would justify invasion of Israel, murder of hundreds of Israelis, and destruction of much of the country. There should be no need to elaborate.

However, since the Berger letter kept to earlier events, Dershowitz’s silly claim is revealed again to be more contempt for his readers.

Turning to another transparent lie, the Berger letter pointedly denied that the kidnapping of the Muamar brothers was the origin of the crisis, contrary to what Dershowitz claims. The crucial point made in the opening sentence of the letter, as Dershowitz surely understands, was that the kidnapping of the two Gaza civilians, though known, was considered insignificant and elicited no criticism or reaction. It was the capture of an Israeli soldier the next day that led to the US-backed Israeli escalation of its attack on Gaza (with Palestinian casualties more than quadrupling from June to July, with over 170 killed, according to UN sources). And we may also add a minor bit of Dershowitz deceit: it is only for strict party liners that unsupported IDF charges about “Hamas terrorists” instantly rise to the level of revealed truths – though as noted, it would be irrelevant even if for once the charges were shown to be true in some credible tribunal.

Among the articles that appeared the day after the June 24 kidnapping of the Muamar brothers was one of Dershowitz’s classics, in the Jerusalem Post, June 25, under the headline “Palestinian terrorists want Israel to kill Palestinian civilians.” “It may be difficult for some decent people to believe,” Dershowitz instructs us, “that Palestinian terrorists are actually trying to increase the number of casualties among their own civilians but the evidence is overwhelming.” It may indeed be difficult “for some decent people to believe” that Dershowitz actually exists, and is not simply invented by anti-Semites who want to ridicule supporters of Israel, “but the evidence is overwhelming” that he really does exist.

By “terrorists,” Dershowitz means anyone designated by the US and Israel as terrorists, whatever the facts. That apparently includes all of those who committed the crime of voting the wrong way in a free election in Palestine, and in addition, virtually the entire population of Lebanon, as Dershowitz explained in another classic, which also might lead some to wonder whether he even exists:
www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-dershowitz/lebanon-is-not-a-victim_b__26715.html….

The rest is too depraved to require comment. Perhaps the author of the letter that evoked Dershowitz’s intriguing performance, or the other signers, might want to respond. I have documented the actual facts he distorts so extensively in print that there is no need for me to do so, and the the general record of deceit that Dershowitz recycles has been thoroughly refuted by Norman Finkelstein, again eliminating any need to respond.

—————

If There Were A Nobel Prize For Lies…

By Alan Dershowitz

Noam Chomsky and his hard left gang of Israel bashers are at it again. This time it is about the current crisis in the Middle East, which they blame entirely on Israel.

Chomsky is circulating a letter which he got two naïve Nobel Prize winners–the playwright Harold Pinter and the poet José Saramago–to sign.

It is vintage Chomsky, beginning with its first sentences: “The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza. An incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish pres.” Chomsky typically cites obscure news reports in languages no one can read. This time it’s “the Turkish Press.” The problem with Chomsky’s assertion is that a five minute Google News check reveals that the incident he points to was widely reported by the English language press, including The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, BBC, Reuters, and the Associated Press. (Lie number one).

This is what the associated press reported: “On Saturday, Israeli commandos seized two Palestinians suspected of being Hamas militants in the army’s first arrest raid in the Gaza Strip since Israel’s withdrawal nearly a year ago. An Israeli army spokesman said the two men, arrested at a house near Rafah in southern Gaza, were in the ‘final states of planning a large-scale terror attack’ in coming days. The army did not provide details on the nature of the alleged plot. Hamas denied that the men, who were identified by neighbors as brothers, are members.” Quite a different account than the one provided by Chomsky et al. (Lie number two). Chomsky has said in interviews that “we don’t even know their names,” referring to the arrested militants. But a quick check of newspapers reveals that their names are Osama and Mostafa Muamar, whose father is Ali Muamar, a notorious Hamas leader. According to press reports “local Hamas activists said the pair was … known to be members of Hamas.” (Lie Number three).

Nor was the arrest of these Hamas terrorists the origin of the crisis, as Chomsky asserts. Even Kofi Annan acknowledged that “Hezbollah’s provocative attack on July 12 was the trigger of this particular crisis”; that Hezbollah is “deliberate[ly] targeting…Israeli population centers with hundreds of indiscriminate weapons”; and that Israel has the “right to defend itself under Article 51 of the U.N. chater.” But on Planet Chomsky, Annan and the U.N. are dupes of Israel who suppress the real story that only the Turkish press has the courage and honesty to report. (Lie number four). By the way, even the Turkish Daily News–which simply reprinted a widely distributed international Reuters story, datelined June 25, Gaza–reported that the two arrested individuals were alleged Hamas militants, a fact that Chomsky conveniently omits. (Lie number five).

The lies continue. Chomsky claims that Israeli missiles target areas “where the disinherited and crowded poor live, waiting for what was once called justice.” He never mentions that it is Hezbollah and Hamas that select those civilian areas from which they fire their anti-personnel rockets, precisely in order to put Israel to the choice of allowing the missiles to rain down on its own civilians or to try to destroy the rocket launchers by smart bombs designed to minimize civilian casualties. (Lie number six).

Finally, the BIG LIE: “[Israel's] aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation. This has to be said loud and clear for the practice, only half declared and often covert, is advancing fast these days, and, in our opinion, it must be unceasingly and eternally recognized for what it is and resisted.” Again Chomsky ignores the historically indisputable facts that Israel (and the international community) offered the Palestinians a state in 1938, in 1948 and in 2001. The Palestinians responded with terrorism in each instance. The vast majority of Israelis and the Israeli government favor the two-state solution. It is Hamas and Hezbollah whose “aim is nothing less than the liquidation” of Israel. Just ask them. Just read their charter. Just look what they’re doing. But not on Planet Chomsky, where everything is the mirror image of reality, and where “facts” are made up, ignored and distorted to serve a predetermined ideological end. (Lie number seven).

Now look at the one truth in the Chomsky letter, the call for Israel’s aims to be “resisted.” This will surely be read by Hamas and Hezbollah as support for its terrorism against Israel and those who support its existence. I doubt that all who have signed the Chomsky letters were aware that they are disseminating provable falsehoods. The list of signatories, in addition to Chomsky, Pinter and Saramago, now includes Tariq Ali, John Berger, Eduardo Galeano, Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy, Giuliana Sgrena and Howard Zinn. But now that they are aware of the lies contained in the letter, let’s see if they remove their names. If they do, some of them may come to realize how dangerous to their integrity and reputation it is to sign a Chomsky letter without checking its contents. If they don’t, it tells us how little they value truth.


Warning! Alert! Jewish students insufficiently Nazified

Editor’s note: For more on the Israel lobby’s organizing activities see The Real Threat of “The Lobby”?, Behind the campaign to rescind divestment and Democracy at Work.



By Gary Rosenblatt – Editor And Publisher

In the first salvo of what promises to be a turbulent season of anti-Israel activities at American colleges, a group of students and others at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh protested on July 26 against “Israeli terrorism” in Lebanon.

A counter protest was held by Jewish students.

While most campuses have been quiet because of the summer recess, “This year will be the most challenging in memory,” warned Jonathan Kessler, the leadership development director at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which organizes pro-Israel activities at universities around the country.

He and a number of other American Jewish leaders and educators said they are bracing for a surge of rallies, protests and campaigns against Israel’s military conduct in Lebanon when the fall semester begins later this month. They know Israel will be portrayed by critics as a powerful and murderous war machine against innocent citizens. And they plan to counter such propaganda with a message emphasizing Hezbollah’s responsibility not only for Israeli deaths with missiles aimed at civilians but Lebanese casualties as well, since the terror group positions itself among the populace.

In addition to concern about stepped-up activities by anti-Israel students and faculty, the officials acknowledge they are worried about the reactions of many Jewish students who have witnessed on television and the Internet the images of Lebanese civilians killed, wounded or made homeless in the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

“I don’t think we should underestimate the importance” of the war’s impact on “a younger generation of diaspora Jews” who either “unjustifiably blame Israel or become more alienated” from Israel, noted Stephen P. Cohen, a Mideast scholar at the Israel Policy Forum.

The Hillel director of a major university said his impression was that Jewish students “are in agony, they feel they can’t defend Israel. They’re embarrassed.”

But Wayne Firestone, Hillel International’s incoming president, noted that with so many Jewish college students having experienced Israel through birthright israel trips, most of them have a greater affinity for and connection to the country and its plight. He said such students could be effective in speaking to peers this fall about what Israel is really like, beneath the headlines.

But Firestone acknowledged that “a lot of Jewish students will come with questions, based on their instincts for seeking peace. Maybe they will be requesting a cease-fire. Others will be disturbed and uncertain” about how to understand the suffering of the Lebanese they have witnessed in the media.

“The most difficult challenge is the collateral damage to civilians in Lebanon,” he said. “We’ll lose points on that, it’s a very difficult story to tell, one that requires context and history, and students will be very sympathetic” to the suffering.

But Firestone and other Jewish officials working with college students noted that the community and its organizations are more prepared than they were in 2002, when the Palestinian intifada sparked a number of large and bitter protests against Israel on a variety of campuses.

Indeed, the sense that Jewish college students were caught unaware of how to respond effectively to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a few years ago led to the creation of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), made up some 30 Jewish organizations, with sophisticated infrastructure, communication and educational tools.

Still, Jewish campus organizers had to scramble to re-frame the focus of their attention from the Palestinian conflict to the war with Hezbollah over the last several weeks. AIPAC’s long-planned four-day training seminar for 350 student activists from around the country, held July 23-26 in Washington, was “recalibrated” only days before, according to an organizer, so as to reflect the current conflict.

One attendee, Miri Cypers, 20, an incoming junior at Columbia University, said the focus shifted to include Israel’s right to defend itself against Hezbollah, Syria and Iran, and the need to help students understand that this war is not just about Israel and Arabs. “We have to show that this situation has a much larger context and much larger repercussions for the region,” she said, and that it deals with state-sponsored terrorism.

The main goal of the conference, she said, was “to deliver the college campus as an asset to the pro-Israel community, primarily by engaging in political activity.”

Cypers, who volunteered for the campaign of Sen. Joseph Lieberman in Connecticut this summer, noted that the conference participants lobbied members of Congress on behalf of Israel, and that LionPac, Colombia’s largest pro-Israel group, of which she is vice president, is already organizing a similar mission to Congress when school resumes.

“I anticipate a pretty hostile environment” on campus, she said, “but also a chance to unite the pro-Israel community and to educate the campus about the issues,” by speaking to student government leaders, faculty and peers.

She said the “toughest challenge” facing pro-Israel activists on her campus will be “to push ahead with our own agenda that is positive and achieves results, and not be distracted by media attention and Israel detractors trying to muddle our message.”

Such discipline may be difficult on many U.S. campuses, though, where, according to one Jewish official, reactions against Israel are “four times tougher” than among the American population in general. And while polls show Americans are still strongly supportive of Israel, there is concern that the longer the war goes on, the greater the chance for that support to wane.

As Firestone of Hillel noted, the painful and visceral images of suffering and death among Lebanese civilians are difficult to counter with more nuanced reasoning about historical perspective and moral culpability.

“We may have to get into issues of morality in warfare,” said Firestone, noting that in the past, “targeted assassinations,” as Israel has employed in countering Palestinian terrorists, “is a tough sell on campus.”

But he and others emphasized that Hezbollah is responsible for the casualties on both sides and stress that it attacked Israel in violation of United Nations resolutions and internationally accepted boundaries, underscoring that the terror group’s motivation is not land or borders but destroying the Jewish state.

Some prefer to emphasize that Israel is merely the willing proxy for the U.S. in a struggle against Islamic militancy that seeks to widen its reach.

Daniel Gordis, vice president of the Mandel Foundation in Israel, an educational institution, believes that “the point has to be made that what Israel is doing now is what the U.S. did in Afghanistan and Iraq. There is a worldwide assault on the West — its democracy values, its openness, etc. Either we fight back, or we, our children, or our grandchildren, will live under that form of Islam… We’re willing to exact a huge, if tragic, price to save civilization. It sounds hyperbolic,” he told The Jewish Week, “but to me, it’s not.

“The tragedy is real,” he added, “but so is the lack of choices.”

Others, though, question whether it is wise to compare Israel’s fight against Hezbollah with the U.S. conflict in Iraq, since that war is extremely unpopular among many college students.

Even the fact that the Bush administration has been so supportive of Israel is not necessarily a plus for Israel, according to Firestone, because of the strong dislike many students have of the president. But other Jewish officials note that the administration’s backing of Israel has had a strong positive impact on the media.

The Israel Campus Coalition is planning a special conference in Washington in early September to further plan and coordinate an approach for pro-Israel activists. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said that while supporters of Israel have been successful on campus in recent years — defeating divestment efforts, marginalizing anti-Israel groups and making inroads with peers — “of course we’re worried about the campus mood,” noting that “the campus is disproportionately affected” by the current war.

“We have to make the case for Israel to Jewish students before they hear from others.”

Rachel Klapper, 20, a sophomore at Baruch College in New York, where she is a leader of the pro-Israel community, said she and other activists are worried that the “gruesome” photos of dead Lebanese children will be difficult to counter.

“We have to put Israel in a different context than as victim, as was done when children were being blown up on buses,” said Klapper, a graduate of the Write On For Israel advocacy program for high school students, sponsored by The Jewish Week. “We need to explain that this is about Iran and a global threat.”

She said that with the semester starting Aug. 30, she is already working on opinion pieces for the school newspaper.


Poor Israel: Mass murder getting bad p.r.

By Julie Burchill

A few weeks back it was my birthday, and my equally non-Jewish journalist friend Chas Newkey-Burden took his life in his hands and presented me with a cuddly toy. Now, normally I feel that people who bother with cuddly toys over the age of eight are either mad and/or prostitutes, but this little sweetie stole my heart. A honey-brown camel with a heart-melting smile and a jaunty cap, he proudly wore an Israeli Army uniform with a fetching hole cut out for his hump. “I’ve named him Bibi,” Chas told me, obviously in honor of our mutual crush.

Later that night Chas and I were watching a TV news report of the beginnings of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict. To say we were amazed when a news presenter solemnly intoned that there had been “two militants wounded” with all the grieving gravitas of Richard Dimbleby reporting on the state funeral of the late Winston Churchill is to employ English understatement to an almost surreal degree. But it’s been that way ever since – and more than one night has seen me screaming at the TV/my husband “You don’t understand! None of you English bastards understands!” before running into the bedroom, slamming the door and collapsing in a tearful heap with only Bibi to comfort me.

One of the most grotesque examples of the almost brainwashed level of bias can be seen on the official BBC Religions Web site, where that “peace be upon him” eyewash is going on like crazy, while other religions are coolly commented on in a strictly “objective” way.

The conflict has sent this tendency into overdrive, with not just the usual Masochist Hacks For Mohammed such as Robert Fisk (beaten up by Islamists, says they were right to do it) and Yvonne Ridley (kidnapped by Islamists, then became one) getting their chadors in a twist about big swarthy men with tea-towels on their heads treating the West mean and keeping it – in their case at least – keen.

Even the women’s magazines have gotten in on the act, with lots of first-person eye-witness accounts of British citizens fleeing the Jewish jackboot. Then turn the page and you’ll often find a shocked article about honor-killing or forced marriage, Muslim-style. That Israel is fighting the frontline war, on behalf of the freedom and civilization of all of us, against the very real evils of shari’a law never seems to occur to these bleeding-heart ignoramuses.

Over at Channel 4, Jon Snow interviewed an Israeli diplomat with all the finesse and objectivity of a neo-Nazi spraying a six-foot swastika on a wall. Of the rockets which murdered Israeli civilians in the town of Sderot, he said “Rockets, pretty pathetic things – nobody gets injured.” This was gleefully picked up and proclaimed by The Guardian, the newspaper I left some years ago in protest at what I saw as its vile anti-Semitism.

All across the board, Lebanese civilians are referred to as “civilians” where Israeli civilians are referred to as “Israelis” – an eerie and sinister difference pointed out by the non-Jewish stand-up comic genius Natalie Haynes, and one which very few people appear to have noticed – even me, until then.

In fact the tone in papers as diverse as the “liberal” Guardian to the right-wing Daily Mail has been repulsively similar; look, look, the Israelis are as bad as the terrorists! Worse, in fact, because they’ve got America behind them! Even the normally sensible Matthew Parris in the normally sensible Times wrote: “The past 40 years have been a catastrophe, gradual and incremental, for world Jewry. Seldom in history have the name and reputation of a human grouping lost so vast a store of support and sympathy so fast.”

The catastrophe he refers to is the State of Israel itself; you’d really think, reading this, that the years leading up to the creation of the Jewish state were, in fact, a right royal romp in the park. Instead of the Holocaust.

A surprising number of British people – especially the super-creepy British Jews who recently signed a treacherous letter to the press distancing themselves from Israel’s actions – seem to think Israel should exist not as a real, imperfect country full of real, imperfect people led by real, imperfect leaders, but as some sort of collective kosher Mater Dolorosa, there to provide a selfless, suffering example to the rest of us.

Fight back, and the outside world reacts with the revulsion of a man seeing his sainted grandmother drunk and offering sailors outside. Even (especially?) anti-Semites and enemies of Israel are shameless in recycling the legends of “brave little Israel” – I’m thinking of David and Goliath here – and basically believe that each IDF member should go into battle against the assembled hordes of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah armed with nothing but a slingshot apiece. Failing that, this tiny country must embark on a suicidal act of self-sacrifice in the face of murderous, genocidal hatred, as Matthew Parris astoundingly suggests:

“The settlement has to be a return to its pre-1967 boundaries. Precisely because Israel is by no means forced to make so generous a move, the international support (even love) this would generate would secure its future permanently. It would bring it back within the pale.”

Personally, I’d far prefer the Jews to be angry, aggressive and alive than meek, mild and dead – and that’s what makes me and a minority like me feel so much like strangers in our own country, now more than ever. I’ve always loved being a hack, but now even that feels weird, as though I’m living among a bunch of snatched-body zombies who look like journalists but believe and say the most inhuman, evil things.

When Mel Gibson was picked up for drunk-driving recently, he was reported to have screamed at the police officer, whom he believed to be Jewish, “Fucking Jews! The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” His subsequent excuse was that he has “battled the disease of alcoholism for all my adult life.” The British media are notorious for our love of the hard stuff; is that going to be our excuse too, I wonder, when large numbers of us are finally bang to rights for peddling the same loathsome lie?


A breath of fresh air

Editor’s note: See also The Real Threat of “The Lobby”? and Behind the campaign to rescind divestment



Tonight a small group of mostly Jewish activists disrupted a talk by the Israeli consul general to a group of about 300 hard-core Zionists at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center. It was a surreal experience, and I’m still wondering how worthwhile it was.

The best thing about it was that we did it with almost no planning. We met about 40 minutes before we needed to be there. Some people felt we should just stand up and hold up a banner, while others wanted to try to speak out. We agreed that we would do both, which worked out to be an excellent strategy.

We discussed what we should do if there was no media there. I argued that in that scenario, we should not do the action, because it would just let them know who we were and what we were planning, and probably limit our ability to do it another time, when there might be more potential impact. Other people felt that it was important to do it just to send a message to the Zionists, that we will be there challenging them wherever they go, that we won’t let them have events without confronting us. “No Justice, No Peace,” someone said.

We assumed they would have pretty heavy security, do a big search of all our stuff, so we sanitized what we were carrying. Figuring out how to stuff the banner under people’s clothes without making them look like they had five breasts was pretty amusing. We decided we needed to go in in pairs and not sit together.

In fact, we just could walk in, no one took any particular notice of us, they didn’t really search our stuff though they were making people open their bags, and the middle-aged guy in front of me had to open his jacket, so our precautions were probably well taken. I took a seat in the middle of a row about a third of the way up the large stepped hall. I figured being in the middle would keep them from ejecting me easily once I started ranting. Waiting for the event to start, I tried to read the novel I had brought (you know I never go anywhere without one), but I couldn’t really concentrate. As people filtered in, I looked at them and thought, god, it really could be the synagogue my mom goes to. These people look like the people I should feel most at home with, and yet they are right now the people I feel most alien from. I really can’t figure out what to do with that. As the song goes, How did I get here?

There was no media present as far as I could tell. It occurred to me as the lights went down that since we were all sitting separately (the banner group of 3, two who were designated as observers/documenters, and three of us singles, who would be the ones to stand up and yell things out), and we had not worked out any signals, we had no way to call it off. I figured, well if someone else does it, I will. But even as Yoel Kahn, San Francisco’s first openly gay pulpit rabbi, got up to welcome everyone, I thought, what is the point of doing something here? No one in this room is interested in a word we have to say, and no one outside it is going to hear them.

And then the speaking started. The new director of the Israel Action Center, talking about the kibbutz in the Galil where he and Yoel first met, and the Katyushas now falling there. No mention of the US-supplied GBU “bunker busters” and F16s strafing Beirut. He mentioned a place called Kfar Qana, but not the massacre of a family sleeping in a shelter in Qana, Lebanon. He asked us to rise (they never say “stand”, it’s always “rise”) for a moment of silence to remember those who have fallen. There was no question, he did not mean the 1000 Lebanese and 200 Palestinians. (They had already talked about Israel’s heavy military and civilian casualties, and not one word about the Lebanese casualties who are more than 10 times higher.) The director of the Jewish Community Federation’s Israel Center, just back from a visit to Israel, spoke about the wonderful resilience of the Israeli people, undeterred by the evil Hezbollah, and how “though the news gives a very different story,” Israelis (like most Israelis, using “Israelis” to mean “Jewish Israelis”) were opening their homes to those evacuated from the north, “even allowing Druze and Arabs into their homes.” Not a mention of the 1 million refugees forced out of Southern Lebanon by these very generous Israelis.

And then the Consul General got up and spoke about the current “hostilities” and how Israel had had no choice, after it generously gave back “every inch” of Lebanon in 2000 (which it did not, actually), and Hezbollah, which exists for no other reason but to kill Jews, to gleefully kill children, continued to engage in unprovoked attacks, but to go to war to destroy Hezbollah. And he said that the Israeli army was shocked to find out what firepower Hezbollah had — “anti-ship missiles,” he said with horror, they had advanced military technology, they were “almost like a real army!” And so, he said, of course as you attack Hezbollah, some civilians are going to be hit, but you have to understand that some of those so-called civilians are really Hezbollah.

The thought swept over me, it was like it was 1940 and a group of German Americans had assembled to listen to a representative of the German government talk about the invasion of Poland, and how they were surprised to find out that the Jews actually had some weapons after all, that they were not quite a primitive and easily wiped out as they had expected, and so it would take a little longer and the attacks would have to be a little more fierce, but it was going well and with your support, we will prevail. And I thought I cannot just sit here and not speak out. It doesn’t really matter who hears or doesn’t hear me, I just have to do it because to let this kind of racist venom exist unchallenged, from anyone but especially from people I feel responsible for, is wrong. Instead of “How did I get here?” I asked myself, as I have done so many times, “How did we get here?”

After what seemed like an eternity, Rebecca, Margot and Arla got out of their seats. They stood in the aisle and unfurled the banner, which said something like “Jews Say Stop Bombing Civilians” and they chanted, “No one is free while others are oppressed, We as Jews should know that best.” People ran toward them immediately, grabbing at the banner. One guy managed to put a rip in the banner, which is pretty sturdy vinyl, with his bare hands.

I heard people yelling, “Dykes, Bitches” from across the room. Interesting, how linked homophobia, sexism and militarism are, that that is almost always the first insult people (men) in situations like that think of to hurl. People were hurling other things at the women, spit, fists. A guy climbed over me to get to them. I was trying to decide at what point I would throw off my cover and intervene if it looked like they might be hurt, when thankfully Yoel Kahn rode to the rescue. He urged people to go back to their seats, leave the situation to him to defuse. Some women were also trying to shush the crowd, while others were just as bad as the men, screaming abuse at our girls.

The consul general also exhorted people to leave them alone, saying, “This is what is so great about free speech.” I heard someone say, “Only Israel would be so tolerant,” which is ridiculous, of course, since we are not in Israel and Israel is not that tolerant of dissent, and anyway lots of aggressive/repressive countries are happy to tolerate free speech when it doesn’t interfere with carrying out their agendas. But people got the point, and they turned to the women and started to applaud, and that was truly creepy. But I decided, okay, I could applaud too then, and I would mean something different than they meant. Yoel got security guards to come and stand in front of the banner, so people couldn’t read it, and the consul general would really have continued his speech, but people were too fixated on the disrupters to listen. And then, as I heard it later, Rebecca said, “We’re ready to leave now,” and they were escorted out.

The room got quiet, and the consul general picked up where he left off, saying that there was consensus among the Israeli public that this war was totally necessary. Well, he said, maybe there was some difference of opinion, after all, you know Israelis, we all think we should be the commander, and that’s one of our problems, but it’s okay. But there is consensus. That was my cue, because I had planned my rant to be about Israeli dissent. I jumped up. “Actually, there is no consensus,” I said, and started to quote Gideon Levy. I didn’t get out very much, people started yelling at me, and the guy from my row who had tried to attack the others came over and started grabbing at me. He said, “Come with me.” I said, “Don’t touch me, who are you?” He let go and said, “I want to talk to you,” and I said, “I don’t have to talk to you.” A woman was behind me saying, “You have to sit down now, this is not your turn.” So I sat down. And the consul started again and after a few seconds, I popped up again and started talking again. That happened two or three more times, and then security was there and I decided it was enough. Just before I was ejected, the woman behind me demanded, “Who are you?” so I said, “I’m a Jew who cares about 1 million Lebanese refugees. I’m a Jew who cares about 6 million Palestinian refugees. I’m a Jew who understands that it is Israel’s conduct in the world which is making us unsafe.” I just kept ranting until I was gone.

As I was being ushered out of the building, through two emergency doors which set off hideous alarms, two Asian cops appeared and asked for my ID. I argued a little and then gave it to them, because why not? They asked what it was about, and I told them, “The israeli consul is in there defending the murder of children.” They were getting ready to write down my details, and then one of the security guards came out and said to them, “They’re coming out of the woodwork in there!” They almost took off with my ID, but instead one of them ran inside, leaving the other guy to take my information, and when he was done, he couldn’t get into the building.

I waited for a long time to see the next person come out, but they didn’t. I got kind of worried and curious, what was happening, and so when someone finally came and opened the door for my unlucky cop, I ran and held it open, keeping the alarm blaring, which I thought might up the commotion level. The cop turned around and said, “What are you doing? He opened it for me, not you.” Like I didn’t know that. But I decided it wouldn’t be worth getting busted, so I closed it. Still, no one came out. Finally I went around front and saw Khadija and Brian walking out. Khadija had been overcome by the moment, and found she just had to speak. Brian says, “She was so powerful, it was really beautiful to see.” Khadija told us afterwards, “I feel like I haven’t been able to breathe for the last three weeks. I have had no voice. This is the first time I feel I can talk.”

A few minutes later, Micah came out and then Sarah, who was the last one. The cops were very pissed at her, they were saying she was “out of control.” What probably really was freaking them out was that they had no way of knowing how out of control the situation was going to get. They didn’t know she was the last one, they must have been imagining that there might be 20 or 50 of us in there, and how would they know? They couldn’t tell!

So what did it accomplish? It felt great, that’s for sure. It lets the Zionists know that they are not “safe” from our criticism and our demand that an alternative perspective be heard. They will certainly tell others about it, and doubtless they will feel like they need to have more security at their next events. Which is good and bad. I don’t want to be like Lee Kaplan and Dan Kleiman, who come to all of our events, and we find them very annoying and a little scary but we are certainly not impressed with them. They are a joke, and I don’t want to be a joke to the Zionists. But Sara was pointing out that it won’t need to be us all the time, we have 40 people on a list of Jews who want to do direct action, and there are plenty more who are not on the list. If we could have had another 7 tonight, the event would really not have been able to take place. If we have 10-15 at every event they do, they will have to face the fact that we’re not just a tiny lunatic fringe, we’re a real part of the Jewish community.

In our debrief, someone said, “But it increases their sense of being embattled, of being victimized everywhere.” Someone else said, “Nothing we can do can make a dent in their belief that they are embattled.” I think they are both right. It makes them feel justified in their paranoia, but they are so paranoid anyway, that it doesn’t really matter. True, the media was not there, but there’s no guarantee that if they had been, they would have covered it, or covered it in a way that didn’t make us look like total nuts (although I don’t really believe there is such a thing as bad press).

What it did do, was confront them where they live, make them see (in spite of themselves — “You’re not really Jews” people screamed at us) that it is not just the evil Others who criticize what they are doing, but their own flesh and blood, some of those they claim to be fighting for. And for now, that might be the best we can do.

* * * *

Bay Area folks who want to be part of future actions like this, and is not already plugged in, please let me know.

Also for Bay Area folks, on August 28 my friends and IWPS colleagues Dunya and Hannah will be in town and I’ll be hosting a house party for their Birthright Unplugged program (www.birthrightunplugged.org). BRUP is an amazing educational program enabling Jewish American and Palestinian youth to “cross borders” and come to new understandings of the conflict. Micah, who was with us tonight, is an alum). If you would like to receive an invitation (and have not), please send me your address and I’ll gladly send you one.

***********************

It is resistance that enables people to see that the suffering is not inevitable, not a natural disaster, that it has a human cause that could be ended.
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Dershowitz again

By Alan Dershowitz

The uniqueness of the Holocaust was not the Nazi’s determination to kill the Jews of Germany and even of neighboring Poland. Other genocides, such as those by the Cambodians and the Turks, sought to rid particular areas of so called undesirables by killing them. The utter uniqueness of the Holocaust was the Nazi plan to “ingather” all the Jews of the world to the death camp and end the Jewish “race” forever.

It almost succeeded. The Nazis ingathered tens of
thousands of Jews (including babies, women, the
elderly) from far flung corners of the world–from the
Island of Rhodes from Salonika and from other obscure
locations–in order to gas them at Auschwitz and at
other death camps.

The official leader of the Palestinian Muslims, Haj
Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem,
collaborated in the Nazi genocide, declaring that he
sought to “solve the problems of the Jewish element in
Palestine and other Arab countries” by employing “the
same method” being used “in the Axis countries”.
Husseini, who spent the war years in Berlin and was
later declared a Nazi war criminal at Nuremberg, wrote
the following in his memoirs:

Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Germany
was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from
Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an
explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish
problem in a manner befitting our national and racial
aspirations and according to the scientific methods
innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews. The
answer I got was: “The Jews are yours.”

Husseini planned a death camp for Jews modeled on
Auschwitz, to be located in Nablus. He broadcast on
Nazi Radio, calling for genocide against all the
world’s Jews: “kill the Jews wherever you find
them–this pleases God, history, and religion.”
Professor Edward Said has acknowledged that this Nazi
collaborator and genocidal anti-Semite “represented
the Palestinian Arab consensus” and was “the voice of
the Palestinian people.” Yasser Arafat referred to
Husseini as “our hero.”

Never before or since in world history has a
tyrannical regime sought to murder all of the members
of a particular racial, religious, ethnic or cultural
group, regardless of where they live–not until now.
Hezbollah’s aim is not to “end the occupation of
Palestine,” or even to “liberate all of Palestine.”
Its goal is to kill the world’s Jews. Listen to the
words of its leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah: “If Jews
all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of
going after them worldwide.” (NY Times, May 23, 2004,
p. 15, section 2, column 1.) Nasrallah is one of the
most admired men in the Muslim and Arab world today.
Hitler made similar threats in Mein Kampf but they
were largely ignored. Nasrallah has a reputation for
keeping his promises.

His genocidal goals–to kill all Jews–were proven by
two recent statements. He has warned the Arabs and
Muslims to leave Haifa so that his rockets can kill
only Jews. And he apologized for causing the deaths of
three Israeli-Arabs in Nazareth, when a Katuysha
struck that religiously mixed Israeli city. Hezbollah
also worked hand-in-hand with Argentine neo-Nazis to
blow up a Jewish community center, murdering dozens of
Jews.

Nasrallah is a modern day Hitler, who currently lacks
the capacity to carry out his genocide. But he is an
ally of Iran, which will soon have the capacity to
kill Israeli’s five million Jews. Listen to what the
former President of Iran has said about how Iran would
use its nuclear weapons:

Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president of Iran, has
threatened Israel with nuclear destruction, boasting
that an attack would kill as many as five million
Jews. Rafsanjani estimated that even if Israel
retaliated by dropping its own nuclear bombs, Iran
would probably lose only fifteen million people, which
he said would be a small “sacrifice” from among the
billion Muslims in the world.

Now listen to the current President of Iran, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, who denies the Nazi Holocaust, but calls
for a modern Holocaust that would “wipe Israel off the
map.”

Despite these anti-Semitic and genocidal threats, some
of the hard left admire Nasrallah and his bigoted
organization, as well as Iran and its anti-Semitic
president. Others do not seem to take his threats
seriously.

For example, the notorious Jewish anti-Semite Norman
Finkelstein has said, “looking back my chief regret is
that I wasn’t even more forceful in publicly defending
Hezbollah against terrorist intimidation and attack.”

Finkelstein’s hatred of Jews runs so deep that he has
actually implied that his own mother, who survived the
Nazi Holocaust, may have collaborated with the Nazis.
If so collaboration with evil seems to run in the
family, because Finkelstein has clearly become a
collaborator with Hezbollah anti-Semitism and Nazism.
Finkelstein’s website is filled with Hezbollah
promotion, including breathless reprints of Nasrallah
speeches. Noam Chomsky, who works closely with
Finkelstein, has said of Finkelstein that he is “a
person who can speak with more authority and insight
on these topics [Israel and anti-Semitism] than anyone
I can think of.”

The Iran-Hezbollah axis is the greatest threat to
world peace, to Jewish survival, to western values,
and to civilization. Those like Finkelstein, who
support Hezbollah, and even those who refuse to fight
against this evil, are on the wrong side of history.
They are collaborators with Islamo-fascists–today’s
version of Nazism.

Alan Dershowitz’s website is www.alandershowitz.com