Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Big Lie: Anti-Semitism and the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’

From The Observer, 8 April 2016, by

Europe can't seem to forgive the Jews for the Holocaust

Israeli settlers protest outside their settlement of Kiryat Arba in the southern West Bank after a suspected Palestinian attacker stabbed to death a woman at her home in the Otniel settlement on January 17, 2016. A Palestinian broke into a West Bank Jewish settlement and stabbed Dafna Meir, a hospital nurse and mother of six, to death in her home, the Israeli army said, the first such incursion in a months-long wave of violence.
Israeli settlers protest outside their settlement of Kiryat Arba in the southern West Bank after a suspected Palestinian attacker stabbed to death a woman at her home in the Otniel settlement on January 17, 2016. (Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)
In January, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon made the outrageous assertion that the slashing of innocent Israeli civilians by knife-wielding Palestinians is justifiable as a response to “the weight of a half century of (Israeli) occupation.” This contemptible statement from the head of the U.N. reflects years of vicious propaganda against the Jewish state.

The canard that Israel is illegally occupying land belonging to “indigenous Palestinian Arabs” has been repeated so relentlessly, for so many years, in so many international venues, that it is now accepted as a fundamental truth.

When you hear the words “occupied territory,” you’re conditioned to think only of the fictitious Israeli “occupation of Palestinian land.”  You’re not reminded of the occupation of northern Cyprus by Turkey or the Western Sahara occupation by Morocco. Why not?  Because the international community obsessively promotes the idea of Israeli occupation to defame Israel’s legitimacy. It is the leitmotif of the bien-pensants, echoing through the halls of the U.N., in chambers of government, in academia and the press.

The “occupied Palestinian territory” is neither “occupied” nor “Palestinian.”

For the international community, occupation refers to Israel’s control of territories it obtained during its defensive 1967 Six-Day war, fought against multiple Arab armies to preserve its survival. Palestine has never existed as a distinct political entity. Since Solomon and David ruled the Jewish kingdoms, this area was always part of empires from Roman times to the Ottomans, who lost this territory in WWI.

The 1917 British Balfour Declaration provided for a Jewish national homeland in the area called Palestine. In July 1922, the League of Nations, recognizing “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine,” gave Britain the Mandate for Palestine, including the responsibility to encourage the establishment of a Jewish national home within territory which included today’s Jordan, Israel, the “West Bank” and Sinai. Before the Mandate was finalized in 1923, 75 percent of the land designated for the Jewish homeland was taken away and given to Transjordan, now called Jordan.

Between the world wars, the Arabs in the region fiercely opposed the presence of Jews on what they considered “sacred Muslim territory,” committing continuous terrorism against the local Jewish communities.

Today’s 21st century propagandists employ the very same Nazi propaganda tactic for the same purpose—to destroy Jews.
The U.N., whose Charter recognizes the Jewish rights under the League’s Mandate for Palestine, passed Resolution 181 in 1947, recommending a partition of Mandatory Palestine into two states: one Jewish, the other Arab. The Jews accepted partition and, in May 1948, declared their independence.
The Arabs rejected partition, and five Arab armies invaded the nascent Jewish state. An armistice agreement was signed; Egypt controlled Gaza and Jordan controlled the “West Bank” and eastern Jerusalem. Jordan ruthlessly expelled all Jews and obliterated all historical vestiges of Jewish presence in that land. For 19 years, there was no international pressure to end Jordan’s rule.

In 1967, with Arab armies massing on Israel’s borders, threatening to destroy the Jewish state, Egypt blockaded the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, cutting off Israel’s main supply route for oil. President Lyndon Johnson described this act as the casus belli justifying Israel’s defensive war against Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Jordan. The subsequent Israeli control of land was not a consequence of some grand expansionist scheme, but rather was incidental to Israel’s success in defending itself against an Arab attempt to destroy it.

The Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, legal agreements signed by the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel, provided for Palestinian self-rule in the majority of the “West Bank.” In 2005, Israel withdrew its military and all civilians from Gaza, giving complete control to the Palestinians. Today, most Arab-Palestinians live under Palestinian jurisdiction.

Under international law (Hague Regulations 1907, Articles 42,43; Fourth Geneva Convention), when the military forces of one nation take control of the sovereign territory of another nation (a foreign territory), that situation is legally called “occupation” and the nation taking control is termed an “occupier.” Because the West Bank and Gaza, under international law, were never legal sovereign entities or sovereign territories of any other state, there is no legally recognized owner of these territories to which the land can be returned. Today, the status of the territories remain “in dispute,” subject to the outcome of future permanent status negotiations.

Therefore, it is incorrect to characterize Israel as an occupier and the West Bank and Gaza as occupied territory.  So why do the U.N., The New York Times, TV talking heads, government officials and the mass media claim Israel is occupying Palestinian land?

Within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “occupier” and “occupation” have become political terms applied only to Israel, without regard for their legal meaning. The emotionally charged word “occupation” reduces complex situations of competing claims and legal rights to two categories—right and wrong—clearly implying that occupation (and Israel) is wrong. The term “occupation” has become a pejorative used to vilify the Jews. Branding Israel an “occupier” equates it with brutal military occupations such as Nazi Germany’s occupation of European countries and the Soviet Union’s occupation of Eastern Europe. This “big lie” is exploited to claim that Israel is responsible for the welfare of the Palestinians.  It denies Israel’s right of self-defense against Palestinian terror and relieves Palestinians of responsibility for their actions.

In our multicultural world, consumed with Western guilt and third world victimhood, the hostility to Jews and Israel is directly linked to the Left’s disdain of the West and its values. Grossly distorting the facts, the Left views Israel as a Western colonizer, not as a nation achieving self-determination in their historical homeland.

Europe, awash in remorse over its behavior during WWII, cannot seem to forgive the Jews for the Holocaust—a perverted transference of guilt from the perpetrator to the victim that absolves the former of evil-doing.

Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, knew that “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Today’s 21st century propagandists employ the very same Nazi propaganda tactic for the same purpose—to destroy Jews.

Homemade Arab Misery

From Commentary Magazine, 7
Something truly shocking happened this week: A UN official publicly called out Hamas for “stealing from their own people and adding to the suffering of Palestinian Arabs in Gaza.” The shocking part is that someone from the UN actually bothered to comment. Usually, international officials prefer to ignore such malfeasance, lest admitting it undercut their claim that Palestinian suffering is Israel’s fault. Yet exacerbating Palestinian suffering is actually standard practice for both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, as demonstrated by several media reports from the past two weeks alone.

The incident that outraged Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, came to light last Friday when Israel suspended shipments of cement to Gaza’s private sector. A senior Hamas official had been confiscating sizable portions of those shipments for the organization’s own use – i.e., to build tunnels with which to attack Israel. By seizing cement earmarked for the private sector, Hamas was violating the terms set by international donors, who are funding Gaza’s reconstruction after the Hamas-Israel war of 2014. Moreover, as Mladenov pointed out on Monday, this cement is critically needed to rebuild the houses damaged or destroyed in that war and “to enable much-needed infrastructure and development projects” in impoverished Gaza, where the unemployment rate stood at 38.4 percent in fourth-quarter 2015. Hence, his rare outburst against Hamas.

But the ongoing water crisis in Gaza has not elicited such passion. ...a whopping 95 percent of tap water in Gaza is already undrinkable due to over-pumping. The UN foresees irreversible damage to the aquifer by 2020. ... the quickest and cheapest way to solve Gaza’s water shortage would be to buy more water from Israel, but the PA rejects this solution. Instead, it’s working with international donors to build a desalination plant, which won’t be ready for years.

The official reason for this decision is a desire to reduce Palestinian dependence on Israel. But ...the PA “has no problem buying more water from Israel for the West Bank – 50 million cubic meters annually, double what is specified in the Oslo Accords.” Therefore...the PA’s real reason apparently lies elsewhere ...It fears that the Hamas government will not bother to pay the water bills, as has happened with the electricity bill. Israel will then deduct what is owed directly from the customs duties it collects for the PA and transfers to Ramallah. Once again, the Palestinian people are trapped by the Fatah-Hamas feud.

In short, Gaza is suffering a completely preventable humanitarian crisis because the Palestinian Arabs’ two rival governments can’t agree on who should pay for more water. Yet the international silence has been deafening.

On the same day ...the abandonment of an Israeli-Palestinian business center located at a crossing between Palestinian- and Israeli-controlled sections of the West Bank [was reported]. The center was supposed to facilitate Israeli-Palestinian business by providing a place where businessmen could meet without the Palestinians having to go through the bureaucracy of obtaining a permit to enter Israel.
One might think this is something the PA would want to encourage. After all, the West Bank needs more business opportunities; its growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2015 was an anemic 1.0 percent, and its official unemployment rate stood at 18.7 percent. Moreover, Israel is a logical place to look for such opportunities. It’s already the PA’s main trading partner and the only one of its neighbors with a developed economy.

Instead, the center has been closed since the wave of Palestinian-Arab stabbing attacks against Israel began in October 2015 – not because Israel shut it down, but because the PA forbade Palestinians to go there. Presumably, having spent the previous month hurling vile slanders such as that Israel was committing “genocide” and that Jews were “desecrating” Al-Aqsa Mosque with their “filthy feet,” PA President Mahmoud Abbas had to show he was working to prevent “normalization” with such a terrible country so as to placate the anti-normalization thugs who routinely try to shut down every form of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation; from private-sector conferences on coexistence to Palestinian franchises of Israeli clothing chains.

Closing the center didn’t hurt Israel, whose economy isn’t dependent on the Palestinians; it primarily hurt the Palestinians themselves, who need the jobs joint Israeli-Palestinian ventures could provide. But once again, the international community had nothing to say.

The above examples — and there are countless others — are important even if you (wrongly) blame the lack of a Palestinian state entirely on Israel, because they show that even if Israel left the West Bank tomorrow, it would solve very few of the Palestinians’ problems. An Israeli withdrawal wouldn’t make Hamas stop stealing cement from its people; it wouldn’t end the PA-Hamas feud over who should pay Palestinian water bills, and it wouldn’t stop the PA from impeding its people’s business activity.

Thus, anyone who actually wants to see a functioning Palestinian state emerge would be better off focusing less on an immediate Israeli withdrawal and more on improving Palestinian-Arab governance. Otherwise, based on the record of both the PA and Hamas to date, any Palestinian state that did arise would be just another failed Arab state. And another failed Arab state are the last thing the world needs right now.

The Mob rules at San Fransisco State University

From The Times of Israel, 6 April 2016, by Aaron Parker:

The Mayor of Jerusalem came to ...San Francisco State University, where he was prevented from speaking in a high profile public humiliation of Israel and the Jewish community...                
Mayor Barkat’s visit was planned.  University administrators expected both him and the disruptors, who reliably attend all Israeli speaking events here.  The university police were sent in.  But, in a decision that should deeply disturb all who value a civil society, and one that I as a Jew find profoundly demoralizing, the police were instructed not to remove the disruptors and instead to stand by and watch the event be completely shut down.
Please let that sink in.
Public university administrators and police stood and watched as the Mayor of Jerusalem, the Jewish student organization that sponsored him, and all of us in attendance, were permanently bullied off the stage. 
Officers with guns, and the power that comes from the barrels of those guns, were instructed to stand, watch, and do nothing, as freedom of speech was replaced with a policy of whoever shouts the loudest wins, at least when it comes to shouting down a visiting Israeli dignitary. Those whom we thought were there to protect us and restore order, stood, watched, and did nothing.
The administrators’ and police’s high profile inaction emboldened the mob, which consequently grew louder and more brazen.  We waited and waited for the disruptors to be removed so the event could proceed, but it never happened.  Eventually, Mayor Barkat asked us to huddle around him so he could speak to us over the mob’s chants, but it was a lost cause.
“Get the fuck off our campus, get the fuck off our campus,” the mob yelled at us with bullhorns, indoors, over and over.  “Get the fuck off our campus.”
Presumptive of them you might think, that a public university campus is theirs, and not all of ours.  Except, incredibly, they’re right. The university’s decision not to protect the speaker’s right to speak or the community’s right to hear him, constituted a de facto ceding to the mob the power to decide who is allowed to speak on campus and who is not.  The university’s acquiescence to the mob means it is in fact their campus, not all of ours.
The underlying question of course is why was the event allowed to be scheduled at all if the university planned not to protect the speaker or his audience?  Why did it give him a forum only to publicly humiliate him, along with the campus Jewish community and the broader Jewish community?
We can only speculate the answer, but it would seem the spectacle was intended to send a message to campus Jews.  Don’t invite Israeli dignitaries.  They aren’t welcome.  We won’t protect you, and we will humiliate you, your guests, and the Jewish community if you do.  If this was the intended message, it was received.
As a Jewish San Franciscan, I was profoundly shaken by the experience.  I was prepared for the anti-Israel movement to be there.  They’ve grown chillingly disciplined in recent years.  I expected them to be given a space outside the event to yell hateful rhetoric and engage in theatrics.  I was prepared for the likelihood of having to pass them on the way in, threatening me, calling me anti-Semitic epithets, because it’s how they roll.  What I didn’t expect was for them to be given the power by the university to control who speaks and who does not.  I left shaken to my core.
For some perspective, I’ve tried to bear in mind California Governor Jerry Brown’s remarks to the pro-Israel community at a recent JNF annual conference.  He said don’t let your detractors get you down.  Your cause is just, so stay focused and positive and keep moving toward your goal, meaning keep building a strong Israel.  Great advice.  And, in light of his sympathy for our cause, please consider dropping him a line.  I speculate he’ll be interested to know what the California State University system is doing under his watch.

Laundering Antisemitism Corrupts Our Common Humanity

From Algemeiner, 4 April 2016, by Irwin Cotlar:

Canadian parliamentarian, jurist, and human rights activist Irwin Cotler. Photo: Facebook.
Canadian parliamentarian, jurist, and human rights activist Irwin Cotler.
Photo: Facebook.

A world-renowned Canadian parliamentarian, jurist and human rights activist emphasized last night that global hostility to Israel is the “new anti-Semitism...”...

The Honorable Irwin Cotler, addressing an international conference at Indiana University called, “Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, and the Dynamics of Delegitimization,” also warned that rising global antisemitism is in fact an attack on universal public values and on the very institutions and mechanisms of global justice.

Traditional antisemitism, Cotler asserted, was directed primarily against individual Jews, and still remains alive today. According to statistics he cited from a recent global study conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, large numbers of people across the globe still believe that Jews have too much power, are devious and evil and are Christ-killers.

Cotler said that the new antisemitism targets less the individual Jew than the collective Jew — the state of Israel — partly by ascribing to the Jewish state the various nefarious traits antisemites traditionally ascribed to individual Jews, but also by operating under a number of modern forms, including what he called “genocidal antisemitism” and “anti-Jewish terror antisemitism.”

“International law proscribes incitement to genocide,” Cotler said. “Yet such incitement is precisely what we regularly see from Israel’s enemies.” He cited remarks by Iranian leaders, and the charters of groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, explicitly calling for the destruction of Israel and the murder not of “Zionists,” but of Jews. “These are clear violations of the international conventions against incitement, yet nobody acts to prosecute them.”

Nor is genocide merely a threat, he added. Not only have thousands of Jews around the world been wounded or killed in “anti-Jewish terror” attacks over the past decade or so, including hundreds in recent months alone, he said. But, again, the world pays almost no attention to them.

The most sophisticated — and therefore most troubling — modern phenomenon, Cotler argued, is “the masking of antisemitism under ‘universal public values.’ Our international institutions and mechanisms for promoting human rights and global justice have been co-opted, corrupted, toward antisemitic ends.”

He described how the United Nations repeatedly violates its own charter’s requirement for “equality for all states” in its single-minded focus on condemning Israel. He explained how international law has been directed almost exclusively toward prosecuting Israel, at the expense of ignoring dangerous and tragic situations around the world. He showed how organizations that fight for human rights, and against racism, have had their missions transformed almost entirely toward attacking Israel, again at the expense of ignoring all other dangers.

“These phenomena,” Cotler observed, “not only fuel the anti-Israel hatred going on across campuses today, but do so by giving the veneer of respectability to what, in fact, are racist, antisemitic campaigns.”

The damage they do, however, is not limited to Israel and to global Jewry, he claimed. “The ‘laundering’ of antisemitism through these mechanisms greatly damages the mechanisms themselves. When international law is twisted toward bigoted ends, that undermines the authority of international law. When ‘human rights’ activism is used the same way, that corrupts the whole ‘human rights’ project.”

Addressing these problems isn’t merely a concern for Jews, therefore, Cotler concluded. It should be a concern for all who care about universal public values, human rights and global justice — for if those institutions lack integrity and authority, then the world as a whole, “our common humanity,” will suffer.

Gerald Steinberg, president of watchdog group NGO Monitor and a conference participant, observed:
“Cotler delivered a sharp warning on the mainstreaming of antisemitism under the facade of anti-Zionism. The goal of the current campaign to label Israel as an ‘apartheid’ state is to justify the elimination of Israel, and, as Cotler warned, by giving this immoral campaign the facade of legitimacy in the UN and among various NGOs, the new antisemitism has become truly virulent.”

Richard Landes, board member of the pro-Israel group Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, praised Cotler’s “discussion of the human rights situation at the UN, which is a grotesque travesty of what it’s supposed to be. Cotler is right to say that we must challenge the UN on its moral inversions. But the real take-home point is his insight that ‘what’s bad for the Jews and Israel is bad for the rest of the world.’ In order to attack Israel, her enemies have to corrupt and destroy the very mechanisms of global justice. Everyone loses — except for the tyrants and haters, perhaps.”...

Hostility to Israel Is Frequently antisemitic

10 April 2016, by Rabbi Gideon D. Sylvester*:

... anti-Zionism is frequently antisemitic.

... while there is plenty of room for legitimate criticism of Israel's government, today’s anti-Zionism — which challenges, on human rights grounds, not merely Israel’s policies, but its very existence as a Jewish state — is frequently merely anti-Semitism in a new guise. 
...Zionism is an outstandingly successful human rights movement. It has restored the dignity of the world's most persecuted people by returning us to our historic homeland, building a sanctuary for our survival and a country where we can flourish in a liberal democracy.

 [Some critics argue] that from the outset Zionism posed a terrible threat to the national interests of the Palestinians, giving them good grounds to hate us, even today.

It's an argument frequently used by Arabs and it's totally unfair. In the decades leading up to Israel's establishment, Arabs convinced the world that this land could only support several hundred thousand people, so Jewish immigration had to be curtailed and our national rights crushed.

Their argument is demonstrably false. Currently, this land comfortably accommodates over eight million people and there's room for plenty more. But the Palestinian campaign led the British to blockade the shores of Palestine, preventing Jews fleeing the Holocaust from finding refuge here. As a result, millions of Jews who might otherwise have found respite were murdered in Nazi concentration camps. Meanwhile, the Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Amin al-Husseini (1897-1974) recruited Muslims for the Waffen SS, toured Auschwitz and requested Nazi assistance in aborting the foundation of a Jewish State.

[Critics] further justify Palestinian hatred of Israel because, "It was a Zionist army that displaced roughly 700,000 Palestinians between 1947 and 1949 and would not let them return." [They] omit to mention Israel's nascent leadership’s willingness to accept partition in 1947 and live side by side with a Palestinian state meant that no one had to die and no one had to leave. It was the Arab refusal to accept the existence of Israel within any borders at all that led them to instruct their people to leave while they sent in their armies to massacre Jews wherever they could. Israel courageously withstood the attacks and won. They have never forgiven us.

Shifting to our current situation, ...Mahmoud Abbas [is portrayed] as a gentleman and a partner for peace. ...Others, especially Hamas and Hezbollah leaders, are far worse. But when Israelis see Mr. Abbas and his officials dedicating statues and squares to the memory of Palestinian terrorists, even those of us who would like to see a Palestinian state have second thoughts.

When we hear the Palestinian president inciting violence and bragging about his payments to the murderers of Jewish men, women and children, we're skeptical about claims that he wishes to live peacefully, side by side with Israel.

Roadblocks, the security fence, and travel restrictions which are presented as human rights infringements, are undoubtedly inconvenient for Palestinians, but after years of suicide bombers, knifers, kidnappers and missile attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah, they are simply part of a reasonable effort Israel makes to prevent Palestinian terrorists from murdering Jews...

Those who genuinely care about Palestinians' rights would do better to focus on those living under Jordanian, Hamas or PA rule where they have far fewer rights. Alternatively, they should concentrate their efforts on promoting Palestinian democracy and peacefulness here. Perhaps then, violence would end, we would see that it is human rights rather than anti-Zionism that is driving their agenda, and the two peoples could peacefully coexist.

Not every critic of Israel is an anti-Semite, nor is every Palestinian. But ...While the Jewish state has always sought peace, there is a long history of Palestinian anti-Semitism whose narrative is being spread around the world with ever decreasing fairness to promote violence against Jews...

*Rabbi Gideon Sylvester is the British United Synagogue's rabbi in Israel.