Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Europeans upset at exclusion

The Europeans are peeved that there is no room for them at the table. They, too, wish to be involved in the United States backed talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

"French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said it would be “too bad” if the EU were locked out — noting the bloc’s political involvement in the region and its role as a top contributor of financial aid to the Palestinians. "

[ Source:
http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=186222 ]

There is in fact scant reason to include them. They were not particularly helpful the last time Israel and the Palestinians talked - and much has changed since then.

For one thing, the continent that invented the most virulent historic forms of anti-Semitism has since then perfected a post-WWII variant, and succeeded in making it respectable again. Even more than respectable - salonfähig.

"Not only is the EU a ‘top contributor’ to the Palestinian Authority, it also finances numerous non-governmental organizations in Israel whose primary function seems to be to delegitimize or even destabilize the Jewish state."

The cited statement above, from FresnoZionism, diplomatically points to the major problem with adding the Europeans to the table: they aren't neutral.

[Read more about European wafflegab at 'A world without Baronesses'.]


Not only are the Europeans not neutral, but they aren't capable of being equitable. They never have been. The British certainly have always favored the Arabs, the Swedes have a major problem with anti-Semitic acts committed by their Muslims and praised by their socialists and their newspapers, the Dutch, Belgians, and Danes have substantial far-left anti-Israel movements, the French, Spanish, Germans, and Italians have rabid Israel-haters in their universities and political parties.......

Europe invented virulent anti-Semitism, and in the past few decades they have re-invented it.
Israel's opponents would want them at the table. Rational parties to the negotiations should not want them there under any circumstance. They've made enough trouble already.


Cross-posted here:
This post:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Labor Says Yes to Israel, No to BDS

Earlier this summer, when the anti- Israel forces inexplicably crowed "victory" over preventing a Chinese freighter in Oakland harbor from unloading, they claimed that "Labor" supported BDS against Israel. And, of course, they were wrong. While some labor union members might support some aspects of the boycott, sanctions and divestment movement , many labor members in both the leadership and the rank and file were deeply embarrassed by the claims and actions done in their name.
This letter was sent to the local Consul General of Israel, Akiva Tor, on behalf of state and local labor:

Akiva Tor
Consul General
State of Israel
San Francisco, CA

Dear Mr. Consul General

I am writing you regarding the incident that took place on June 20, 2010, in which a group of anti-Israel demonstrators picketed at the Port of Oakland resulting in members of ILWU Local 10 not unloading a Zim container vessel based on an arbitrator’s determination that the picket line present a “health and safety” risk. The vessel was unloaded the next day.

We want to make it perfectly clear to you and to the people of Israel that our union is fundamentally opposed to efforts to interfere with Israeli ships or cargoes and to the larger “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” effort being directed against Israel. We repudiate such tactics as antithetical to efforts to bring about real peace in the Middle East. We believe that the proper role of the US labor movement is to support efforts to bring about a just settlement that will enable Israel, the national homeland of the Jewish people, and a future Palestinian state to live side-by-side within safe and secure borders, free from war, terrorism, and in mutual respect and recognition.

It is our understanding that anti-Israel resolutions supporting this activity were passed in the Alameda and San Francisco Labor Councils. We wish to assure you that our union was never consulted about these actions and we repudiate them.

Moreover, we are very concerned that events such as occurred June 20 could result in the diversion of freight from the Port of Oakland to the Port of Los Angeles/Lon Beach or other ports along the Pacific Coast. We represent members who provide trucking and rail services for containerized shipping leaving the Port of Oakland and we do not believe that our members’ jobs should be placed in jeopardy because of the efforts of fringe groups to demonize Israel.

We hope what occurred at Oakland will be a one-time event that will never be repeated. We will be urging our brothers and sisters to insure that this is the case.

Marty Frates Secretary-Treasurer

cc: James Hoffa, International President, IBT
Rome Aloise, President, Teamsters Joint Council 7
Randy Cammack, President, Teamsters Joint Council 42
Art Pulaski, Exec. Secretary-Treasurer , CA Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
Bob Balgenorth, President, CA State Building and Construction Trades Council
Josie Camacho, Acting Exec. Secretary-Treasurer , Alameda Labor Council
Tim Paulson, Executive Director, San Francisco Labor Council
Bob McEllrath, International President, ILWU
Richard Mead, President, ILWU Local 10
Members, Executive Committee, Alameda Labor Council
Members, Executive Committee, San Francisco Labor Council
Omar Benjamin, Executive Director, Port of Oakland

The Lesson:
When they claim "Palestinian Civil Society " supports BDS it means them and a few hundred of their friends
When they claim "Labor" supports BDS it means them and a few hundred of their friends
When they "Jews" or "Israelis" support BDS, it is as meaningless

BDS is a fringe movement organized by doctrinaire haters, desperate for any kind of "victory" in an effort to build "momentum". But with ten years of failure behind them, sometimes this means victories need to be created- literally pulled out of the magicians hat. For the rest of us, its hard to ignore the 80 billion dollar growth in Israel's GNP since the BDS movement began.

The BDs'ers, and the entire movement to deny the Jewish people the right to self determination in their ancient homeland is based the the most fragile of lies, supported by the words of Lenin “To speak the truth is a petit-bourgeois habit. To lie, on the contrary, is often justified by the lie’s aim." Nonetheless, the rest of us will continue to speak truth to power, and we'll continue to fight the good fight.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities: A Photo Essay

Living in the San Francisco Bay area, you are lead to believe that Israel is the root of all evil. With over 60 groups dedicated to Israel's destruction locally, and hatefests almost daily, it's not surprising many people have a skewed world view.  There is an Anti Israel group for haters of all political beliefs in the bay area. Whatever flavor your pathology takes, there's an anti Israel group to fit your needs.  Hate Israel because you feel it has betrayed it's socialist roots.?  Try International Answer.  Hate Israel because you want to see the entire Middle east as an Islamic caliphate?  Al Awda's your ticket.  Hate Israel because you felt mom and dad never loved you.?  Try  the international Jewish Anti Zionist network. Hate Israel because you're queer and reject Jewish patriarchy (but somehow embrace Islamic patriarchy?). Try QUIT. Hate Israel because  all your friends do?  Try Jewish voice for peace.  

Are you smart enough to know you have nothing smart to say ?  Then Mimes for Gaza is waiting for you!
Too dumb to know you have nothing smart to say?  Code Pink  just might be the right match.  There is a veritable buffet of anti Israel hate clubs out there.   For the rest of us, it  should be reassuring to know that the Bay area is exceptional in America in it's red/green obsession with the destruction of the only democracy in the middle east

New York City might very well be the reverse of the spectrum.  Even the ordinary grocery stores are full of Israeli products.  You can buy your Dorot garlic without fear that it has been vandalized by some Kate Raphael  wannabe.  And you can buy it in both Key Food and the Supersol.

Why, yes, that is "Zohan" brand hummus in the handy squeeze bottle! Harry Potter in Hebrew? No problem.  The NYC cable TV lineup includes JLTV, channel 120- a Jewish station with a strong Zionist bent. And Freedom Square Park in Queens is dedicated to Israeli Independence.

The base of this Flagpole in Freedom Square park in New York City reads "Theodore Herzl: Fighter for freedom". It is located in the Kew Gardens Hills Zionist District. And it has been there for years, without graffiti, without vandalism, without uproar.     Ahavat Yisrael is so strong in some neighborhoods, that its increasingly common to find buildings faced with  gleaming white Jerusalem stone.

Its easy to be a Jew, and a Zionist in New York. Much easier than here in the San Francisco Bay area, considered one of the 5 hubs of delegitimization of Israel by the Reut Institute.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

So, Hows' that Boycott Going? The epic fail of BDS

Israeli economic growth unexpectedly accelerated to an annualized 4.7% in the second quarter of 2010, growing at its fastest pace in over than two years. The Israeli economy's rebound from the global financial crisis has been powered by exports, with sales abroad (excluding ships, aircraft and polished diamonds) increasing in July to $3.8 billion.

“This is really an economy running on all pistons,” said Jonathan Katz, a Jerusalem-based economist for HSBC Holdings Plc

How are the BDS'ers reacting? I imagine them sitting in a dark room, with their hands over their ears chanting "La. La. La. I can't hear you". A recent email sent by local Al Awda extremist Dr. Jess Ghannam showed the myopia of the BDS movement. Jess is a regular on the local anti-Israeli front, recognizable by his signature accessory , a jaunty black "Che beret." Yeah, he's like that. Jess touted some of the key successes the BDS movement has achieved, but seems to have missed what many of us have noticed- the tremendous failures and the lying, in an effort to achieve that longed for "momentum". Jess and his cohorts have always displayed wholesale disregard for standard economic indicators.

In Jess's world, JVP attempt to pressure retirement fund Tiaa Cref to divest from Israel Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) was a success. Yet Tiaa Cref. said "No". And also in Jess-land, BDS hoaxes Hampshire college, Blackrock , even Costco no longer selling Holiday gift packs after the holiday season ended- well, to Jess, these are victories.

Dr. Ghannam, as a psychologist, what does it means when someone is so self deluded? How would you diagnose someone so far removed from reality? We want to help, Dr. Ghannam, really we do. We're Zionists and we care.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Zionism is Self Determination

A new article in Haaretz by Sholomo Avineri says it well:

" The essence of the Zionist revolution is the view that the Jews are a nation, and as such, they have the right to national self-determination in a political framework. This principle was accepted by the United Nations on November 29, 1947, in its decision to partition British Mandatory Palestine into two states - Jewish and Arab (not Jewish and Muslim-Christian ).

Israel views itself as a Jewish nation-state, exactly as Poland views itself as a Polish nation-state and Greece as a Greek nation-state, or as the Palestinian state, when it arises, will view itself as a Palestinian nation-state."

Avineri continues

"Anyone who rejects the Jews' right to define themselves as a nation denies them a fundamental human right, to which Jews, just like the Palestinians, are entitled. Arab refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state attests to something very deep and troubling: unwillingness to accept the Jewish people's right to self-determination. "

Zionism, love of Zion and the belief that the Jewish people have the right to self determination in their ancient homeland has been misunderstood for generations.
Yet Psalm 137, a Zionist statement was articulated thousands of years ago:

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
Upon the willows in the midst thereof we hanged up our harps.
For there they that led us captive asked of us words of song, and our tormentors asked of us mirth: 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.'
How shall we sing the Lord'S song in a foreign land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy.

The best answer to bad information is as always , good information:
Good sources of information on Zionism include:

Zionism - Definition and History
Zionism and Israel
Zionism and Israel on the Web
Zionism: a definition

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Seasons in Portland: The latest BDS victim

Jon at Divest this has pointed out the predictable misfortune that befalls any institution dragged down the path of BDS. The latest victim targeted appears to be the New Seasons chain in Portland, Oregon, who really are just "trying to mind our own(local )business."

New Seasons, here's what you can expect during the coming weeks, courtesy of "Divest this" (italic comments mine....)

1. A divestment resolution is brought before a representative body of a large respected institution (such as the Berkeley Student Senate, the Aldermen of the City of Somerville, or the professional leadership of the Presbyterian Church) by a group of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists. (or in this case, your grocery store)

2. Because most members (and leaders) of the BDS group come from outside the community being asked to divest, local activists are given a high profile to make the divestment action seem as though it is welling up from the community itself. (The boycott petition is being circulated worldwide. do you really think that someone in the UAE has the right to tell local shoppers what they can and can't buy?)

3. Discussions of divestment are carried out behind closed doors or are rushed in hope that a divestment vote can be taken before the wider community becomes aware of what is being voted on in their name.

4. At some point, word gets out regarding what is happening and a controversy, often leading to a last-minute public hearing, ensues.

5. At the hearing, BDS activists do what they do best: zeroing in on a few, emotionally charged issues (the suffering of Palestinian Arabs, complete with bloody photographs), the flushing of alternative facts and history down the memory hole, and demands that support for BDS is the only democratic and moral choice for the institution considering divestment.

6. Hastily organized opponents of the measure do their best to publicly respond, although their messages tend to be all over the map (refutation of the other side’s facts, history lessons, passionate condemnations of the divestment resolution as unfair, etc.)

7. The body considering divestment either votes it down immediately (in which case, skip to step 12) or passes it.

8. If passed, word immediately goes out on a hundred Web sites, 200 blogs and 500 Facebook pages that the institution is now in full agreement with the real message of divestment advocates: that Israel is an Apartheid state alone in the world deserving economic punishment. (if it fails, like the Davis Co-op, the Berkeley Bowl, or Trader Joes, no one hears another word about it ever again)

9. People in the community wake up one morning to discover that a tiny minority has handed the reputation of the institution over to a single-issue, partisan group that is now leveraging their name for their own narrow political ends.

10. Outrage ensues, both from inside the community (which was never consulted before their representatives signed the institution up to join the BDS bandwagon) and externally.

11. Responding to the outrage, and appalled at how the decision is being portrayed publically (despite assurances by BDS advocates that a divestment vote was a simple, uncontroversial human rights matter), the institution finds a way to vote down or otherwide undo the hasty, controversial decision.

12. The BDSers howl at their reversal of fortune, throwing a public tantrum if divestment is voted down at a public hearing, and impotently threatening electoral revenge against those who decided the reputation of the organization should not be handed over to divestment crew, just because they demand it.

13. Because of divestment’s short-lived success, the institution is falsely listed as a divestment supporter for months or years to come in hope that other organizations will follow this now-pretend example.

14. Despite their threats, the BDSers move on, leaving the local leaders alone to deal with the bitterness and wreckage this entire incident has caused.

15. Wash, rinse, repeat at the next institution.

Whats a community to do, when a local institution such as New Seasons is hijacked by a few for their political gain? In this case, resistance is often fertile. According to the anti-Israel petitioners, ENER-G wheat free crackers, MANISHEVITZ memorial candles, KEDEM tea biscuits, TELMA broth cubes, OSEM falafel mix, OSEM couscous, FRONTIER bulk dill weed, and FRONTIER bulk citric acid from Israel are all sold at New Seasons. Its time for another BUYCOTT! Go to the stores. Buy these products, and thank the manger for continuing to carry them. And tell your friends to do the same.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Lebanon rejects US concerns over military help

BEIRUT — Lebanon's defense minister says he would reject any American military assistance to the Lebanese army if it comes with conditions that the weapons not be used against Israel.

Elias Murr was commenting Wednesday on a decision by a U.S. congressman to suspend $100 million of aid over concerns the weapons could be turned on Israel and that Hezbollah may have influence over the Lebanese army.

Iran plans help to Lebanon army, as U.S. blocks aid

Iran has offered support to Lebanon's army, a week after a deadly cross-border clash between Lebanon and Israel which prompted U.S. lawmakers to block funding to the Lebanese military.

The offer from Iran, which supports Lebanon's militant Shi'ite group Hezbollah, could fuel Western concern that Tehran is increasing its influence near Israel's northern border.

Lebanon charges politician with spying for Israel

A Lebanese military prosecutor charged on Tuesday a Christian party member who was formerly an army general with spying for Israel, the first politician to be charged in a widening espionage case.

Judge Sakr Sakr accused Fayez Karam of the Free Patriotic Movement of dealing with "the enemy's intelligence and meeting their officers abroad, and giving them information by phone", according to the charge sheet.

Karam, who belonged to the movement headed by Michel Aoun, a former army chief now allied to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, was also charged with providing Israel with information on the Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah and other parties.

BDS is Not About Peace

The prestigious online journal "Words without Borders" has launched a new project entitled "Cross-Cultural- Dialogues in the Middle East” The dialog was begun by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, of Iranian Muslim background, and Chana Morgenstern, an Israeli fiction writer, who met as graduate students at Brown University in the United States.

Azareen writes: “We quickly developed a dialogue about literature’s potential to provide a space for confronting some of the more challenging questions of identity and politics that define the contemporary Middle East.”

Now in Jerusalem, the pair found themselves “ engaged in a boisterous literary conversation with Israeli and Palestinian writers and artists who come from a variety of religious backgrounds. Over the next few months we will be presenting a series of interviews and articles that explore Jewish and Arab relations within Israel and the Palestinian Territories as well as the larger Middle East. One of the guiding questions of this series will be whether or not literature and film can offer a fertile space for cross-cultural and religious dialogue in the region. The series, as we foresee it, will cover emerging guerilla poetry movements, collaborations between Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals and writers, interviews with international and local film makers, reviews of the Jerusalem Film Festival, as well as an overview of various grassroots cultural organizations in the West Bank.”

This is good news, right? Open dialog, mutual respect, cross cultural communicative are truly a path to peace. No. Things are never that easy in the Middle East. Instead, Morgenstern and Van der Vliet Oloomi’s project has been condemned by BDS proponents.

According to an editorial in the Electronic Intifada (forgive me if I don’t link to it) written by Associate professor of Cultural Studies at Gaza's Al-Aqsa University Haidar Eid on August 9 2010 :

“Indeed, the guidelines issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), explicitly warn against events or projects that promote "false symmetry or balance." All "events and projects that bring Palestinians and/or Arabs and Israelis together, unless framed within the explicit context of opposition to occupation and other forms of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, are strong candidates for boycott" .

Yes. Projects that promote peace, dialog and co-existence, unless they meet the litmus test of political correctness are candidates for boycott. And the test remains (I’m paraphrasing) "Is Israel blamed exclusively and unilaterally for all the problems in the region? Are the Palestinians and the Arab world as a whole exonerated from any responsibility at all in contributing to the peace process? "

According to the EI, “Indeed, the choice is clear to the vast majority of Palestinians, and intellectuals must recognize that true "cross-cultural dialogue" is impossible when one voice is being stifled, silenced and erased by another. “ And that , Prof Eid, is exactly what the BDS movement is doing to the peace process.

The movement towards Boycotts, Divestment and sanctions (BDS)is not about promoting peace. It is about demonizing Israel. Real peace activists know that the path to peace is more dialog, more interactions, and closer political, cultural and economic relationship.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Star is born: Will an African American convert become the next "Israeli Idol"?

Barry Rubin writes:

"Among the scores of ridiculous things said, thought, and written about the Arab-Israeli conflict, the pretense that it has something to do with "race" ranks high among them.

As the waitress whose family had come from Ethiopia put the pizza on the table at the Tel Aviv restaurant, I contemplated the ridiculous misuse of "race" as a factor in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Regardless of skin color, we belong not only to the same country by way of citizenship but also to the same nation and people in a very profound way that isn't true for countries that are merely geographical entities. "

The conflict in the middle east has never been about "race", though the green/red alliance locally attempts to paint it as a conflict between brown and white; between "colonialist" and "indigenous".

34-year-old African-American Nikia Brown’s story, one of thousands,yet one of a kind, makes this clear.

Nikia Brown is a 34 year old African American woman, from Kansas City, Missouri. Nikia and her family converted to Judaism three years ago. “We were searching for something, and we ended up going to synagogue services once,” said Brown. “Then the more we learned about Judaism, the more we fell in love with it. It comes from someplace deep in our hearts." Nikia, her husband and their daughter visited Israel and fell in love with the land and people, and decided to make aliyah.

Brown spoke limited Hebrew when she decided try out for the Kochav Nolad ("A Star is Born),the Israeli "American Idol". The judges, including Dana International and Pablo Rosenberg, loved her voice. She is now one the 18 finalists in the eighth season of the singing competition series.

Its lovely to see how the Israeli community has rallied around Nikia and her family. Yoel and Orly Ganor, the directors of Ulpan Or have volunteered their services to for Nikia, to help her master the nuances of hebrew that she will need to win the competition. We all wish her the best of luck. Yascher Koach, Nikia!

Read more here

Boycott Divestment Sanction Israel : great youtube from Stand With Us

Interesting how activists that genuinely seek peace and mutual cooperation are threatened and ostracized by those seeking Israel's destruction, and how moderates on both sides have become the real victims of the self labeled "progressive" BDS movement.