Friday, August 21, 2009

Holocaust denier jailed in Australia

From The Australian, August 18, 2009, by Steven Lewis and Peter Wertheim*:

Freedom of speech should not be freedom to vilify

IN a legal first, Australia's most notorious Holocaust denier, Fredrik Toben, has been jailed for three months following the failure of his appeal this week for contempt of court arising from breaches of Australia's anti-vilification laws.

The sentence follows seven years of Toben repeatedly ignoring court orders requiring him to remove racist material from his Adelaide Institute website.

.. in 2002 ...the Federal Court found Toben's website breached the racial-hatred provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act ...material on the site suggested
  • the Holocaust did not occur,
  • that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz,
  • that Jewish people who believed in the Holocaust were of limited intelligence and
  • that they have exaggerated the number of Jews killed during World War II to profit from what he described as "a Holocaust myth".

But it's not these claims, no matter how offensive they may be, that have landed Toben with a prison term. There are no criminal sanctions under the [Racial Discrimination] act.

Toben is going to jail for contempt of court. He was ordered to remove the offending material and he didn't. ...

...Like all freedoms, the proper limits of free speech are exceeded when it is about causing harm....

Whether it's Jews, Muslims, homosexuals or women, the public vilification of entire groups of people can only undermine, and ultimately destroy, their sense of security, the birthright of every Australian. ...vilification is the invariable precursor to violence against members of the targeted group.

The Racial Discrimination Act protects innocent people from this sort of harm.

But the harm has to be proved in court according to objective criteria. The act makes it clear that it is not unlawful to publish material in good faith as part of a genuine academic, artistic or scientific debate, whether anyone takes offence or not. What's clear in the Toben case, and what the court found, was that his material is not part of a genuine debate about history or politics, as he claimed. The real thrust of his material is to use the internet to stoke up hatred against Jews as a group.

Some argue that if Toben had been left alone to spruik from his Adelaide-based hate website he would have remained an obscure failed school teacher talking to like-minded nutters. Not so. Toben is a determined publicity hound. In 1999 he travelled to his native Germany and was convicted in Mannheim of incitement to racial hatred and Holocaust denial. In Germany, for obvious reasons, trying to whitewash the Nazis' crimes is a criminal offence. Toben spent seven months in jail.

In 2006, Toben went to Tehran for an anti-Semitic hatefest, hobnobbing in the media limelight with a cavalcade of some of the world's most notorious racists including Iranian President Ahmadinejad and US Ku Klux Klansman David Duke.

...For reasons that defy conventional analysis, Toben has spent most of his adult life vainly working to rehabilitate the universally disgraced reputation of Nazi Germany. And for Toben, "the Jews" are the principal obstacle.

If Toben and his patsies confined their activities to ranting among themselves in private, few would care. But using our cherished freedoms and easy access to the mass media as a way of striking at the security of an entire group of people on racial grounds tears at the fabric of our community and ultimately threatens those very freedoms....

*Steven Lewis and Peter Wertheim are lawyers with Slater and Gordon who ran the racial vilification and contempt cases against Fredrick Toben.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

PA "academic" denies Jewish connection to the Western Wall

From PMW Bulletins, Aug. 19, 2009, by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook:

A Palestinian Authority university lecturer is the latest PA academic to rewrite history and deny Jewish history in Jerusalem - in particular, the Jewish people's connection to the Western Wall ...of the Jewish Temple.

Shamekh Alawneh, a lecturer in modern history at Al-Quds Open University, says the Jews invented the connection to the Wall for political purposes, to convince European Jews and Zionists to come to "Palestine."

The show's interviewer also refers to the "Judaization" of Jerusalem, and to Jewish plots to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Denying Jewish history in Jerusalem and the existence of the Jewish Temple is a central component of PA political ideology. This denial started with Yasser Arafat and continues to be reiterated by academics, politicians and religious leaders.

PA leaders systematically distort the ancient history of Jerusalem, ignoring the vast historical documentation and thousands of archeological finds related to Jewish history that have been found in Jerusalem...

Follow this link to read a transcript of the interview.

To view other examples of PA denials of Jewish history in Jerusalem and the existence of the Temple from the PMW archives, click here.

With friends like Mubarak...?

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Aug. 18, 2009, by David M. Weinberg, director of public affairs at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies:

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's sleepy summer-time visit to Washington is purposefully timed. He wants to avoid Congressional scrutiny of
  • his government's human rights abuses,
  • the anti-Semitic Egyptian publishing industry,
  • Egypt's massive military build-up, and
  • its very mixed record in regional peacemaking.

...for years Cairo has done everything possible to prevent the normalization of relations with Israel by any other Arab states. Mubarak has consistently opposed the reconvening of the so-called multilateral committees, effectively shutting-down this second-tier negotiating track. Egypt also impeded Israel's attempts to be accepted into a regional grouping at the UN, and has backed the attempt to label settlements as war crimes under international conventions. At the moment, too, Mubarak has rejected President Obama's call for Arab world good-faith concessions to Israel.

...After years of tension resulting from the Bush administration's focus on human rights and democratic development, the traditional US-Egyptian bilateral "bargain" has been effectively restored. In exchange for cooperation on key mutual interests - the peace process and the Iranian threat - Washington appears to have shelved longstanding concerns over internal Egyptian governance.

So don't expect Obama to deliver a pro-democracy message to Mubarak.

Just the opposite.

Despite his much-ballyhooed and grandiose June 4 "Address to the Moslem World," Obama is abandoning the Muslim world to its long-standing dictators. A July report by the Project on Middle East Democracy found that while the Obama administration has increased its request for democracy funding in the Middle East overall, it has cut such funding for Egypt by more than half and cut aid to independent civil society organizations by more than two-thirds.

Michele Dunne of the Arab Reform Bulletin this week expressed to The Washington Post the degree of betrayal she feels about Obama.

WHILE THE Obama-Mubarak partnership may be useful in mitigating some regional crises, many question marks hang over Mubarak's Egypt.

Ehud Eilam of the BESA Center has written about the many reasons for instability in the Israel-Egypt relationship including the all-important question of succession. Efraim Inbar and Mordechai Kedar of the BESA Center have convincingly outlined Cairo's two-faced approach to competition and cooperation with Israel and Hamas.

...Israel cannot rely on Egypt to help crush Hamas. Egypt does not mind if Hamas bleeds Israel a little; it gains domestically by indirectly aiding Hamas build its military capacity; gains internationally by playing a mediating role in a conflict which it simultaneously helps maintain on a "low flame"; and Cairo, they say, is anyway largely incapable of stopping the Sinai Beduins from continuing as the main weapons smugglers into Gaza.

The same goes for the peace process. Egypt is in favor and at times helpful, while at other times it acts to stiffen Palestinians positions away from compromise with Israel...

Obama poll: 84% unfavorable

From Newsmax poll, Aug. 19, 2009:

Is President Obama a Socialist? (202,939 Respondents)

What is your opinion of Barack Obama?
32,344 (16.01%)

169,623 (83.99%)

Do you believe Barack Obama is a socialist?
Yes, he's a socialist.
172,315 (85.38%)

No, he's not a socialist.
29,513 (14.62%)

Do you believe Republicans are right in describing President Obama as a socialist? Agree
170,627 (84.80%)

30,575 (15.20%)

Do you support President Obama's economic policies?
30,105 (14.99%)

170,769 (85.01%)

Do you agree with President Obama's plans to radically change our health care system?
35,648 (17.79%)

164,733 (82.21%)

Do you believe Obama's economic policies are helping or hurting the economy?
28,031 (13.88%)

161,282 (79.84%)

Neither - keeping things the same
12,695 (6.28%)

Who did you vote for in 2008?
134,466 (67.56%)

33,551 (16.86%)

31,001 (15.58%)

Israeli pavilion at World Expo 2010

An artist's rendering of the planned Israeli pavilion at World Expo 2010 Shanghai, China, from YouTube, June 4 2009:

Democrat dissent with Obama

From the Las Vegas Sun, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009, by Lisa Mascaro:

Washington — On her latest trip to the Middle East, [Democratic Nevada congresswoman] Shelley Berkley ... reiterated her stance that natural population growth should be allowed in West Bank settlements, in direct opposition to President Barack Obama’s stated position.

...Berkley said she feels compelled to speak her mind on Israel, even if it means being critical of the leader of her party. “We just have a disagreement...I support Barack Obama, there’s no question about that. But I also have a responsibility and knowledge of the area. He’s entitled to hear that opinion, too.”

...This isn’t the first time Berkley has asserted pro-Israel views counter to those of the administration.

...AIPAC arranged and funded Berkley’s weeklong trip to Israel, along with a group of 29 elected officials, including Democratic Rep. Dina Titus. The group met with top government officials including the prime minister, defense minister and opposition leader.

...Berkley also was critical of a State Department suggestion that the United States impose sanctions on the Israeli government to halt the growth, calling such talk “beyond the pale.”

Berkley said she and Obama both want the same outcome for the Middle East: peace.

She said in time the new administration will come around to her position. “If this doesn’t work — and I don’t think it will,” she said of the administration’s current approach, “they will change policy, they will change direction.” ...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Arab haggling over "recognition" and "normalisation"

From the Arab News (Saudi Arabia), Wednesday 19 August 2009, by Barbara Ferguson:

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama met Tuesday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the White House... ...The Egyptian president told Obama that Arab states would recognize and normalize ties with Israel only after an overall Middle East peace deal is achieved, and not before.

He also pressed the Obama administration to move quickly to final-status negotiations for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

...He pressed Washington to move beyond the confidence-building measures and broker final status talks, according to Egyptian officials. The final status issues include
  • demarcating the borders that would make up a Palestinian state;
  • the status of millions of Palestinian refugees who left the territories that make up modern day Israel; and
  • the designation of the capital of the Palestinian state.

Mubarak’s visit is expected to intensify efforts by Mitchell to lay the groundwork for direct Israeli-Palestinian talks in the coming months....

Israel Freezes New Settlement Projects in West Bank

From the Voice of America, 18 August 2009, by Robert Berger, Jerusalem:

Israel has made a concession to the United States in a bid to ease a simmering dispute over Jewish settlements.

Israel has announced that since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office five months ago, the government has not initiated any new housing projects in the West Bank.

Housing Minister Ariel Atias told Israel Radio that the settlements are "in a holding pattern," with the aim of improving ties with the United States and reviving the peace process.

Israel's dovish Peace Now movement, which monitors settlement activity, confirmed that there have been no new housing starts in the West Bank in five months.

Israel-U.S. relations have been strained since the Obama administration demanded a complete freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Mr. Netanyahu has resisted that, saying Israel reserves the right to build anywhere in Jerusalem because it is the nation's eternal capital.

And while West Bank construction already in progress is continuing, Atias says the freeze on new projects is a clear nod to the U.S.

The housing minister said Prime Minister Netanyahu does not want a confrontation with Washington, and he is taking the necessary steps to preserve the special relationship between Israel and the United States.

The White House responded positively, saying "both sides ... are making progress on the settlement issue."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Germany, EU Increasingly Ready to Impose Tough New Sanctions on Iran

From Der Spiegel, 17/8/09:

The EU and Germany are considering radically tightening sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program... Possible measures include forbidding gasoline exports to Iran.

Berlin and Brussels are increasingly prepared to impose massive embargoes on Iran unless Tehran signals soon that it's ready to compromise in their nuclear dispute.

...Germany and the EU are considering stopping all exports of gasoline to Iran, which according to analysts' estimates depends on imports to cover 30 percent of its gasoline supplies, even though it exports crude oil.

Diplomats are also considering imposing further restrictions on shipping and air traffic to and from Iran, for example by banning Iranian ships or aircraft from docking or landing in the EU.

Major insurance companies that insure many freight shipments to and from Iran, such as Lloyd's, may be forced to cease such deals.

The German government will initially try to get these additional sanctions passed by the UN Security Council, where veto powers China and Russia have been hesitant on measures against Iran. But senior German diplomats have said the EU and the US would be prepared to impose "very strict sanctions" on their own.

...If Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remains unwilling to negotiate with the West, it is likely that a new round of sanctions could be launched during the UN General Assembly in New York at the end of September.

Leaders from the US, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany will be discussing increasing the pressure on Iran during a G20 summit scheduled for the end of September in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Christian Allies

From JPost, August 17, 2009, by Isi Leibler:

...At a time when much of global public opinion views Israel through the distorted lenses of Arab and anti-Semitic defamation, millions of Evangelical [Christian]s have emerged as our most devoted supporters.

....Evangelical support for Israel is not matched by other Christian denominations. Many Protestant churches have in fact transformed their antipathy toward Israel into hatred. The Catholic Church made enormous progress identifying the evil of anti-Semitism, but due to a combination of realpolitik and an unwillingness to swallow the bitter theological pill of recognizing Jewish statehood, it is still far from evenhanded in relation to the Arab-Israel conflict.

...The principal reason for Evangelical support is that unlike other Christian groups, they reject replacement theology, which teaches that God forsook the Jews for having rejected Jesus. They respect Judaism as the foundation of Christianity and believe that the Jews will always remain God's chosen people. They believe that the Jewish claim to Israel is based on the biblical promise from God. ...

...Evangelicals also believe that when God told Abraham that those who bless the "Children of Israel" will also be blessed (Genesis 12:3) this meant that God would bless Christians who love the Jewish people and support the State of Israel....

...These feelings nurtured the early 19th century Christian Zionists and subsequently motivated people like Lord Balfour, who authored the Balfour Declaration; Orde Wingate, who helped create the Hagana; Rev John Stanley Grauel, the hero on board the Exodus, who disclosed what happened in a firsthand report which had a crucial impact on the UN Special Committee on Palestine; writers like Pierre van Paassen, who promoted the Zionist cause; and many others.

EVANGELICALS' SUPPORT for the Jewish state today manifests itself primarily by advocacy for Israel. However, they insist that they will never publicly "pressure or oppose policies adopted by Israel's democratically elected government."

Evangelical political clout with the Democratic administration is considerably weaker than it was under president George W. Bush. Nevertheless, with more than 60 million adherents, they still represent one of the most powerful political forces in the United States. They recently formed a Christian counterpart to AIPAC to lobby congressmen and canvass against legislation hostile to Israel.

Many rank-and-file church-goers donate generously to projects designed to strengthen Israel. For example, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews initiated by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein today represents the largest single donor to the Jewish Agency and was among those who contributed seed money to launch Nefesh B'Nefesh.

The 50 dedicated representatives of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which has branches in 80 nations, spearhead the noble Christian Zionist presence in the Holy Land. They publish and broadcast information about Israel to the world. From generous contributions from members, they fund substantial social programs including assistance to integrate immigrants and support for former Gush Katif residents. They actively promote missions to Israel and host major pilgrim tours. They now represent one of the most dynamic sources of Israeli tourism.

Although most Israelis and Jews now appreciate the enormous value of Evangelical support, some liberal Jews continue to criticize the relationship, and ill-informed Orthodox Jews persist in mistakenly perceiving all Evangelicals as missionaries. It is axiomatic that we differ with Evangelicals over theology. But an alliance based on specific goals does not oblige both parties to adopt each other's approach on broader issues....

...I am proud to be associated with Evangelicals on various projects to promote Israel. I also enjoy being able to discuss political issues with people who still recognize the existence of good and evil instead of dealing with mind-numbing postmodernism and the moral equivalency that one continuously encounters with confused liberals.

The alliance with the Evangelicals represents one of the few bright lights in an otherwise dismal political environment. Indeed, were there more Evangelicals in Protestant/Catholic Europe, the prevailing hostility against Israel in that region might yet be substantially modified.

As an observant Jew, I appreciate their support and hope that they will be blessed for their friendship.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

With "moderates" like these, who needs extremists?? (Chapter 2)

From Dry Bones Blog, Friday, August 14, 2009, by Yaakov Kirschen:

Yaakov has given us a good cartoon, as usual.
BUT, why only go back to the rejection in 1948? The rejection started in the 1920s ...under the "leadership" of the British-annointed, anti-Semitic, Nazi sympathiser Hajj Amin al-Husseini.
Successful psycho-therapy always traces back to the source motivation of a dysfunctional, obssessive behaviour ...