Friday, October 30, 2015

Is There a Future for The American Jewish Diaspora?

Dear Readers,

I have a piece in The Jerusalem Report  dated Nov. 16 entitled Is the Diaspora dying?
While the piece is behind the magazine's paywall -- do contact me if you'd like a preview.

Shabbat shalom


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Netanyahu - Mufti Kerfuffle: Ask Yourself Why Doves are Enraged

Here is what you need to know about Amin Husseini.

He was born in 1895 and died in 1974. He was appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem by the British Mandate authorities.

And, he is infamous in Jewish history as a collaborator with the Nazis.

He was a proponent of militant violence against Jews and against any Arabs who were willing to make peace with the Zionist enterprise. 

When WWII broke out he made his headquarters in Iraq and tried to establish a pro-Nazi regime there. When that didn't work out, he moved to Italy (an Axis power) and then to Germany.

He openly supported the Final Solution – this is not in doubt.

He helped the Nazis set up Bosnian-Muslim Waffen-SS battalions. He lobbied the Nazis to bomb Tel Aviv and to extend the net of the Holocaust to Sephardi Jews in Arab lands. 

He vehemently opposed any tactical deals ("trucks for Jews," etc) that would have even temporarily spared Jewish lives.

After the war he was welcomed and given refuge by Nasser in Egypt.

Now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at the World Zionist  Congress in Jerusalem yesterday (Oct. 20) garnered criticism for supposedly misstating the Mufti's role in the Shoah.

Here's what the PM said:

"...And this attack and other attacks on the Jewish community in 1920, 1921, 1929, were instigated by a call of the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was later sought for war crimes in the Nuremberg trials because he had a central role in fomenting the final solution.

"He flew to Berlin. Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews.

And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, "If you expel them, they'll all come here." "So what should I do with them?" he asked. He said, "Burn them."


Now, the point of the reference to the Mufti is that he was among the first to claim that the Jews wanted to destroy al-Aksa mosque.

Netanyahu did not say that the Mufti convinced Hitler to annihilate the Jews. 

It is simply true that as the destruction of European Jewry evolved from 1933 until 1945 the Nazis tried different approaches to solving the "Jewish problem."

 And yes, there was a stage when in parallel to killing Jews haphazardly (clubbing, shooting, etc) and well before the industrial destruction had been perfected, the Nazis did consider expulsion.

According to Joseph Schechtman's The Mufti and the Fuehrer, the mufti began his outreach to the Nazis on July 21, 1937 via the German cousul in Jerusalem.

Keep in mind that at the time, the Nazis still had hopes to keep Britain out of any war so didn't want to rock the boat in British-controlled Palestine.

Nonetheless, the mufti sent an agent to Berlin to lobby the Nazis.

In fact, Adolph Eichmann was dispatched to Palestine to study the situation in response to the Mufti's lobbying efforts.  He was also in contact with Husseini.

Actually, there is some evidence that already in 1936, the Nazis were helping the Arabs in Palestine.

Obviously, there is much more to be said about the Mufti and the Nazis.

But what matters in 2015 is this:

(1) The claim that the Jews want to change the status quo on the Temple Mount dates back at least to the Mufti's days.

(2) The fierce criticism by dovish Jewish journalists, pundits, and politicians (and of course the foreign media and the Arabs) of Netanyahu is intended to undermine his not-so-subtle implication that Arab intentions then and now are much the same.

That is the crux of the issue.

If you believe the conflict is about boundaries and settlements then you want to play down the extraordinary consistency of Arab intentions. 

Why? Because it is almost too painful to imagine that the Palestinian Arabs today really want what the Palestinian Arabs of 1933 or 1929 wanted.

So if you think that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah are not disciples of the mufti's values then you need to be offended by Netanyahu's efforts to link the Nazis to the Palestinian cause. Of course, you also need to keep your eyes tightly closed.

Dept of Correction. I mistakenly wrote Netanyahu's speech was at the World Jewish Congress when I meant the World Zionist Congress.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Morning Wrap: Israelis are so anticipating arrival of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (just kidding)

I'll start with the good news.

1.     It seems it is possible to report on events in Jerusalem with fairness. I just watched the Monday night edition of the PBS Newshour with a report by Martin Seemungal that struck me as balanced. Yes, Palestinian Arabs (leaders and man-on-the-street) are allowed to tell fibs – but the viewer is allowed to come to their own conclusion.

2.     The east Jerusalem wall. There is no wall. Just three large cement blocks placed hig·gle·dy-pig·gle·dy to keep Jabel Mukaber Arabs from effortlessly hurling firebombs into the backyards of their Jewish neighbors in east Talpiot. Just about everyone with an agenda lied on this story wrong.

3.     Have jet will travel. Disregarding the damage to the environment, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be landing shortly in Israel for meetings with Premier Netanyahu and PLO leader Abbas. 

     Since the UN and Ban are reflexively hostile to Israel this is one of those events that you kind of want to be behind you even before it begins. I don't blame Ban. He knows arithmetic. There is one Jewish state and ...something like 57 Muslim states. Israel has a couple of allies  (one less after the Canadian elections yesterday) and the Arabs and Muslim have friends galore. 
     Ban made a video to pave the way for his "surprise" trip in which he insinuated that the Palestinian Arabs should get back to aggressive civil disobedience (you know, given their legitimate frustration) but to abjure knifing and shooting Jews. It doesn't play well. You don't want Jews looking like victims, do you? Presumably, Ban will tell the Pals no beheadings as requested by ISIS. 
     Rock-throwing? Oh, why not? Let off a little steam. Just try not to kill the driver when shattering her windshield.  
     He will also recite the mantra that were there the illusion of momentum of a "peace process" the "cycle of violence" could be broken. 
     Don't let the door slam you in the ass on the way out, Mr. Ban.

4.      Now for the "Which European Country is Most Hostile to Israel Contest?"
France maybe?  They are pushing a Security Council resolution calling for a multi-national force on the Temple Mount. You know, like the one that is doing such a grand job keeping Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon. Besides Israel, Jordan and the Obama administration are opposed.
     Ah, but maybe Sweden? Sweden's tripped over itself to recognize Palestine. Now, besides funding a slew of anti-Israel NGO's in the West Bank, allowing anti-Israel diatribes on local Arabic radio, I hear that Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has announced plans to stop serving Israel – supposedly because the route is unprofitable and because of instability in the region. But me suspects it is yet one more instance of trying to force Israel back to the 1949 Armistice Lines by embracing the old Arab boycott strategy in stages.
Well, I am retaliating but not buying a 2016 Volvo! Take that.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Good Morning. It's Another 'Day of Rage' in the Middle East

 JERUSALEM- Friday morning at 4:40 the muezzin's amplified call-to-prayer heralded a freshly-declared Day of Rage.

But it's always a Day of Rage somewhere in the Muslim and/or Arab world. It's as if the civilized world was up against an Islamist theology-on-crack.

Foremost, Islam is at war with itself. 

For now, the Middle East's Western-imposed state-system is unraveling. Most noticeably, in former-Syria and former-Iraq. In Syria, Sunnis are Shiites and battling; the Shiites are backing the schismatic Alawites of Bashar Assad. The Sunnis in Syria take time out to kill each other too (ISIS versus al-Qaida-affiliated Arabs).

The Shiite Persians have arrived in the form of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. The Shiite Arabs of Hezbollah, from former-Lebanon, are on the scene to help the Alawites and Hezbollah's Persian patrons.

About 210,00 people have died in Syria.

Millions have fled or been dislocated. Tens of thousands have now made their way to Europe. 

Compare what is happening in Syria to the ongoing 100-year-long Arab-Zionist conflict.

"Israeli police kill more Palestinians in Jerusalem. Latest killings bring death toll to 32 as Israel orders deployment of soldiers and sets up checkpoints," according to Al Jazeera (whose reporting, incidentally, is hardly less egregious than the BBC's or CNN's, the wire services or, on an average day, The New York Times').  

Even if that number were accurate, and even if most of the "32" were not killers or foiled murderers – all of them died because of Arab-initiated violence.

Notwithstanding seeing what Islamist and Arab fanaticism has wrought in the surrounding countries – and despite enjoying a comparative utopia under Jewish "occupation" the Palestinians as a society have again embraced militant intransigence and terrorist violence.

It might as well be 1929 all over again, given the nonsensical claims that the Jews want to destroy Muslim shrines on the Temple Mount.

Could someone please tell the Palestinians to open their eyes; to set aside blind rage  and feel around for reality.

In former-Yemen, Shiite Houthis are battling Saudi-backed Sunnis; al-Qaida Sunnis are fighting all the Shiites and select Sunnis too. 

Saudi Arabia is on the outs with al-Qaida after having provided some of its initial start-up capital.  The Saudis are bombing the Shiites in Yemen. The Islamic State (Sunni) wants to capture Yemen as part of its Caliphate. The Persians (who fancy a Shiite Persian-led Caliphate) are backing the Houthi Arabs.

Some 6,000 people have been killed in the latest round of the long-running Yemen conflict.

Head-spinning! No wonder it is just easier to stand in "solidarity with Palestine" as opposed to actually understanding the nature of unrest in the Middle East.

Israel is a comparative oasis. From the Mediterranean to the River Jordan the "occupied" Palestinians (citizens and non-citizens) are safer, freer, and economically better-off than their compatriots in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Syria – and in the Hamas-controlled Gaza (a noxious petri-dish experiment for Palestinian statehood).

The main population centers in the West Bank are self-administered by the Arabs. Until the second intifada's suicide bombings, a Palestinian could drive from Ramallah to Tel Aviv for lunch.

I suppose the Palestinian Arabs are lucky to have the Jews as their enemies. This brings them support from Europe's "liberals" and leftists, from its rightists and fascists. The Persians and Turks (who have no particular love for the Arabs or each other) can agree to champion the Palestinians.

On Thursday, nearly 50 worshippers were killed in a Nigerian mosque by Boko Haram – formerly acolytes of al-Qaida now siding with a more winning horse, ISIS.

So far, some 17,000 Nigerians have been killed and about 2.5 million made homeless due to Muslim-on-Muslim violence.

There are 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – 57 countries that seek to be regarded as Muslim political societies! 

But God help Israel for asking the Palestinians to recognize it as a Jewish state. Of OIC members 22 are also members of the Arab League, though some are not genuine states (Palestine) and others are failed and unraveling polities (Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen etc.). 

The Palestinians might also consider what's going on in some of the more prominent non-Arab Muslim states: Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Pakistan, for instance, has been helping to orchestrate the upheaval in Afghanistan. Iran is the world's top champion of anti-civilian warfare. Its nuclear program threatens the entire region. Afghanistan is a hopeless non-state and a roach motel for terrorist groups seeking a base of operations.

Is that really what Palestinians want for the West Bank? 

While "32" Palestinians have purportedly died at the hands of the Jews in "occupied" Palestine and "occupied" Jerusalem, elsewhere this week Muslims have bombed Muslims in Turkey and Chad taking scores more lives. And unlike the "32" it is unlikely any of these dead tried to stab anyone or blow anyone up or run their cars into anyone waiting for a bus.

This week, the murky picture of who was responsible for the 1988 destruction of Pan Am flight 103 got a bit clearer. It seems new evidence ties the former head of Libya's intelligence service and his top bomb-maker to the crime. It is not clear if Libya was subcontracting for Iran or acting on its own.

All this is just part of the context for today's Palestinian day of rage.

The rage began even before daybreak when Palestinians rampaged through Joseph's Tomb (a Jewish shrine) in Palestinian Authority-controlled Nablus. Shamefacedly, Mahmud Abbas has denounced the attack – which obviously detracts from his canard that Muslim shrines under Israeli jurisdiction are endangered.

The Arabs have tried pan-Arabism and Arab nationalism and regular nationalism; now they're back to pan-Islam.

Bottom line: The Palestinian Arab struggle against Israel is hardly about "settlements" or the "occupation" or the Temple Mount or "east" Jerusalem. It is not aimed at creating a Palestinian state "alongside" Israel.

Nor is it about Palestinian "frustration" or the lack of a "peace process" (see my Oct. 9, 2015 post).

It is about the refusal of Islamists to allow any other people a slice of sovereign space anywhere in the Middle East.

Israel's dovish journalists / analysts seem momentarily gutted over Abbas's deportment; particularly his transparent lie claiming that Israel has a methodical policy of "extrajudicial" killings of innocent Arab children, women, and men in the guise of self-defense. 

The lame-stream press has sought to Photoshop Abbas's mendacity employing headlines such as: "Conflicting Accounts of Jerusalem Strife Surround a Wounded Arab Boy;" and referring to stabbers as "suspects." 

The New York Times reports (ahem) that Israeli officials "jumped" on Abbas's "apparent misstatement."

But the Israeli dovish media is not willing to give Abu Mazen a pass .. at least for now even if the apparent, alleged, purported, suspected Times is.

Few doubt that the latest outbreak of Palestinian violence has been "spontaneous."

Though the combustible environment for the spontaneity was made inevitable by Abbas's Fatah. Abbas himself said Jews had been defiling the Temple Mount. That's a message Palestinians have been hearing also from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian Knesset Caucus, Raed Salah's so-called northern branch – in short, from their entire Palestinian Arab leadership.

They've been abetted by "Palestine's" semi-official Fatah and Hamas media. (Some of the Fatah media is actually funded by EU monies.)

Thus, it is in this context that the current uprising is taking place. Young Palestinians are echoing in their social media the messages heard in their mosques, from their elders, and from political elites.

The need for Jews to defend themselves effectively and efficiently has left not only the State Department spokesman uncomfortable over "excessive" use of force, it has left some Diaspora Jews even more discomfited. 

Some of the uncomfortable are wondering why the Diaspora Jewish establishment is not treating both sides -- Israelis and Palestinians -- in a evenhanded manner. 

After all, in their world there is no "right or wrong;" such notions are passe. 

In other circles it is fashionable in a sort of smug, willful way, to embrace naiveté and talk about feeling the pain of the enemy. 

On this Day of Rage though, what Israelis are in practice nervous about and some are feeling is an enemy knife in the stomach. 

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