Sunday, January 31, 2010

News the HP Doesn't Cover: Palestinian Caught With Six Pipe Bombs

Yesterday the IDF intercepted a Palestinian with a deadly cargo. It was at a checkpoint near Nablus. Naturally, since nobody was killed in this foiled attack, it will not "count" and the PA-side of the current calm will be preserved. Naturally.

The article also points out that an indictment was filed against a Rami Abu Dia, who described his plan to smuggle in a knife and then stab his "victim" from behind. The article did not say who his target was, simply that he was caught inside Israel before it could happen.

The Empty Threat of Demanding Rights

A new trend that I have noticed among the pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel crowd (which is very different from the just pro-Palestinian crowd, I might add) is the following threat. I most commonly see it from people like hemara, but others use it as well. Here it is in a condensed form:

"The Palestinians should appeal to the UN for it to recognize them as citizens of Israel and entitled to all the rights that Israelis get. One state for all, one vote one man, etc. In other words, they should stop demanding statehood from Israel and start demanding their rights."

This is considered by those who proclaim it to be the ultimate threat: If this happens, Israel will have to accept the "one-state solution" (and the national suicide it entails) or face international sanction for their refusal to grant the Palestinians their "human rights." And the scariest of all: The Palestinians could make this demand at any time, so Israel had better shape up or they will be forced into that terrible double-bind. Bwa ha ha ha!

Unfortunately for them, this plan doesn't translate well into the real world. Although I don't blame them for assuming such, The UN isn't going to blindly follow the Palestinians by the nose. The Arab nations do support the Palestinians, and so does everyone else...but only as long as the Palestinian demands remain reasonable. They even had trouble getting the UN to endorse the Goldstone Report. The reality is that the Palestinians have supporters beyond the Arabs, supporters they can't afford to disenchant.

What's Wrong With Comparing Israel to the Nazis?

In a recent thread, some of the HPers have been questioning the idea that comparing Israel to the Nazis is automatically anti-Semitic (as outlined in the EU definition of anti-Semitism), and crying censorship when their comparisons are criticized. I see their point, they are technically allowed to say whatever they want, even when their words are extremely hurtful. However, I also believe there is some genuine confusion about why certain comparisons to the Nazis are anti-Semitic.

The particular comparison we were talking about in the thread was the comparison of Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto, in which the Israelis are the Germans and the Palestinians are the Jews. We could talk about why this comparison is disingenuous, but it is certainly true that there are certain similarities between Gaza and the ghetto. However, accuracy in comparisons is not what makes Israeli-Nazi comparisons so hurtful.


HuffPoWatch: Hamas: Israel Assassinated Operative In Dubai

A couple of days ago a new story was published on the HP. Hamas claimed that Israel had killed one of their operatives, and if one reads the article it definitely sounds like there were suspicious circumstances. Though there were a few abusive comments (and you can click the link below to read them), I had a couple more observations about the story.

-Although many of the talkbackers agreed with Israel on this topic, and thought that the Hamasnick got what he deserved, I thought it was interesting that many of the anti-Zionist crowd accepted Hamas' word unquestioningly. I can only imagine that if it were the Israelis claiming that one of their people had been assassinated by Hamas there would be many accusations of "playing the victim," "indoctrination," and other expressions of suspicion.

-Many of Israel's detractors tried to make the case that the alleged assassination was an "extrajudicial killing," and therefore illegal. Yes, seriously. Apparently it's okay for the US and Britain to kill hundreds of terrorists with a Predator drone, but Israel needs to arrest and give a trial to every single Hamas operative. It's not much of an argument: Hamas is the government of a nation at war with Israel, they aren't Israeli criminals. I guess they have to scrape the bottom of the barrel on that one. It's also quite interesting that they are willing to condemn Israel for killing a member of Hamas, but we take that for granted at this point.

Now, here are the comments:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Another Day, Another HuffPoster Calling for Israel's Destruction....

TylerSutherland
Please declare a siege on Israel, or an invasion and dissolution. Seriously, I am NOT waiting until I'm thirty to be able to run for office and dissolve Israel. Am I the only one with the brains and ba lls to say this? Israel is seriously a leech on our society and just another roadblock in our democracy, a la lobbying. They have been torturing the Palestinians by stealing their land, piece by piece. The land that Israel sits on, all of it, from top to bottom, is Palestinian territory and I don't give two sh!ts what anyone else says. Palestinians were there first, for decades under the Ottoman Empire.
Get over it, Israeli's. There is no 'Holy Land'. And if there was, it would probably be Amsterdam.
And here I was thinking it was illegal to call to destroy a sovereign state and member of the United Nations.

Friday, January 29, 2010

HuffPoWatch: Israel Cracks Down on Wall Protesters

A relatively recent article about the (not particulary) non-violent protests against the wall in Bilin was published on the HP. There weren't very many comments, but among those that appeared there was quite a lot of anti-Semitism. Mostly the "Jews are just like Nazis" variety. Click the link below to read.

A Human Rights Rant

I felt obligated after reading the recent Obama article to write about the use (and misuse) of the term "human rights."

In terms of strict legal terms, human rights don't actually exist. There are only the civil rights provided by each government to their citizens. For example, America's Bill of Rights in the Constitution, which grants freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and so forth to every citizens of the United States.

The term "human rights" only came along recently, and was first written down in a legal document in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And it basically said that every person on Earth, no matter who they are or where they live, deserve certain rights. Which includes freedom of speech, liberty, and most important: Life. I highly recommend that you check out the entire list, because it's quite extensive.

Now, the creation of human rights is, on the surface, a great thing. Everyone should be treated humanely! And if someone is not being granted his or her human rights, someone must step in to make sure that they do. What could be wrong with that?

New on the HP: 54 Congress Members Urge End to the Siege

Relatively old news, but the Huffington Post recently published the story that 54 members of Congress have signed a letter urging President Obama to take steps to end the blockade of Gaza.

Now we can talk about this news and what it means for the US/Israel relationship, but I think it's more interesting in light of yesterday's anti-Semitic filled commentary on Obama's answer about a question about Israel's human rights abuses. A great many HPers advocated that the only reason Obama stands with Israel is because of the Israeli (or Joooooish) lobby which runs the government (apparently) and that they would 'destroy his presidency' if he stepped out of line.

With this news, though, it seems pretty clear the Israeli lobby does not run the US government or at least is nowhere near as powerful as the doomsayers claim they are. I'll be waiting for the admittance of errors, they should happen any time now.

.....

Still waiting....

HuffPoWatch: Obama Asked Why US Doesn't Criticize Israeli HR Abuses

Well, there was quite the informative thread yesterday. An article was posted in the "News" section about someone in a town hall meeting asking President Obama why America did not criticize Israeli and Egyptian human rights abuses against Palestinians (though the "Egyptian" part did not make it into the headline). The President's answer was pretty well balanced: He said that it was important to realize that both sides commit wrong actions, but that using loaded language was not helpful for seeking peace.

The reaction of the Huffington Posters, however, are what we are really interested in. At first, the thread was people bashing the President and the majority of posters defending him and what he said. This left the anti-Zionists in a difficult position: How can we hold strongly opposing (and extreme) views than the President? Could he possibly be right?

They eventually reconciled this with the perfect conclusion: Obama knows that Israel is totally wrong and evil, but the Jews are forcing him to toe the line! And thus an outpouring of anti-Semitism was released onto the fully moderated thread. Most of the comments were the standard "Jews control America/Congress/Obama" fare, but there were also attacks on Israel as a democracy, etc. There were even a couple that claimed Jews were more loyal to Israel than America, though many were deleted as well. You can read the comments for yourself. It was quite disappointing: Just when we thought anti-Semitism on the Huffington Post might be decreasing, it ramps up again massively.

Naturally, this is an ongoing thread, so there will probably be more comments before this is posted.

HuffPoWatch: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Predicts Israel's Destruction

Yesterday an article was published about the Supreme Leader of Iran's latest prediction that Israel will be destroyed. Of course, the words that he actually used were "the Zionist regime" rather than naming Israel by name. This prompted some defenders of the Ayatollah to claim that he was really misquoted and that he really didn't want Israel's people dead and it's Jewish character annihilated. They also claim that he didn't call for Israel's destruction, he just thought that Israel would eventually be destroyed. Passive voice. I feel like this argument lacks validity for two reasons:

1) How can you separate Zionism from Israel? Every Israeli who feels that Israel should be a Jewish state is a Zionist, therefore any government could be called a "regime." Just because the Ayatollah doesn't say the word "Israel" some take it to mean he doesn't mean Israel, the Jewish state. Well, what does he mean?
2) If you look at the Hamas charter, they don't say that they are going to be the ones to destroy Israel either. They just say that "Islam" will eventually destroy Israel. And yet, as soon as Hamas got the chance, they attacked Israel, intending to do their best to destroy it. They have continued ever since. The double talk has been used before, it's not going to fool me again.

It's also interesting to note that quite a few of the posters who are virulently anti-Israel now come out in this thread to defend Iran and it's leadership, most notably "Richard Pearce," "hemara" and "Rachel Brownlee." You can check out the thread and see for yourself.

Before I get to the comments on the fully moderated, though, I felt I needed to share this one. It was addressed to a new poster who made a pro-Israel comment: 
dem 01

Excpet the US of A you do not have any friend !
... and you know what ...
The empire is dying.... and you know what...
The Ar...abs are going to eat you alive.
And then we had this follow-up:
Rachel Brownlee
...with fries!

Here's a screencap in case it gets deleted:


This is pretty sick stuff, even for the Huffington Post.  But of course, this is just legitimate criticism of Israel, right?

Muslims Help Out in Haiti

A couple days ago, there was a blog post on the HP about Muslim NGOs and states contributing to the relief fund in Haiti. By all accounts good news, and we can all congratulate these groups of people for helping out in a time of desperate need. But what struck me is not that these Muslims organizations were helping out or that the HPers were congratulating them for it, but what an incredible difference there was between the reception of this article and the reception of the Ashar 'congratulating Israel for helping Haiti' article.

In the Israel article, many posters assumed that Israel was helping out for good PR alone and other selfish motives. Those exact same posters congratulated the Muslim groups for helping out with no such assumptions! WHY is this double standard happening? Why is Israel helping out condemned, while Muslims helping out cheered?

A perfect example of this double standard is exemplified in this post by CigarGod:

CigarGod
Great post.
The tone stands in stark contrast to some of the nationalistic, self-serving posts by others in recent days.

Naturally, when a blog post written by someone who isn't Israeli praising Israel is "nationalistic" and "self-serving", while a blog post written by a Muslim (or at least I assume he is) praising Muslims is "great". I suppose it's nice to see that the double standards aren't even being disguised anymore, but I really wish everyone on the HP could have put aside their agendas and their hate just for a couple weeks and support everyone helping out in Haiti, not just those whose politics they support. I guess that was too much to ask though.  

Click after the break for more hypocrisy

Thursday, January 28, 2010

HPW User Profile Update: Mollabaji

Just letting you all know, the user Mollabaji, who we profiled in this post, has been banned from the Huffington Post. I'm sure the HP community will be missing his voice and words of wisdom.

Some of his greatest hits for those who don't think he's deserving:

"correction of a fallacy: The United Nations DID NOT create the state of Israel. The Security Council NEVER voted on the issue. Based on the Charter, the action of the General Assembly would become legal only if the SEC.C. also voted for it. Thus, from the inception, Israel has been an illegal entity held together by use of force and the Amierican support."

"and add to that the fact that Israel does not have either oil or gas or anything else except a rich lobby in U.S. that buys members of congress and controls U.S. foreign policy. It is, however, being shaken now, hopefully."

"Right! the tv show in Turkey does show just a small part of the "truth". Did it hurt you?"

"Israeli flag, Yes Iranian people are way too educated and very intelligent fo fall for the Zionist propaganda like you offer. Go home and take your flag with you it symbolized geneocide and occupation of the land of Palestine."

"Ramirez, if it is true that "the EXISTENCE of Israel started it all", then the solution is easy: do away with that "existence"and there will be peace in the region and the world. But I know that was not the AIPAC instruction given to you."



"Mike, Haven't you heard of AIPAC and the U.S. Senate bought and paid for by it?"

"Right on! Of course Bloomberg ( a jew) would oppose it."

"The entire holocause is "a political issue" to advance the Zionist state's creation and survival. So, how do you suggest not to cast the holo in a "political light"?"

HuffPoWatch: Michael Oren: Continue to Fight Anti-Semitism

As I wrote about earlier, Michael Oren recently published an article on the importance of fighting anti-Semitism to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The comments were few and pretty moderate, perhaps because this was like the fifth anti-Semitism related article in two days. There were a couple comments on the fully moderated thread, however, that I felt needed to go up here. Click the link below to read them:

Conspiracy Theory of the Day

Yesterday the Huffington Post published in article about the Supreme Ayatollah of Iran predicting Israel's (though he called it "the Zionist regimes") destruction. There wasn't too much to say about the thread, some thought he was a joke, some complaints about the headline, yadda yadda. What caught my eye was this little gem from user "kentah," who is a big critic of Israel but is usually pretty balanced:

kentah

Exactly. How many of these al qaeda end up being Mossad, CIA, or affiliated somehow with the ADL? How many documents have been forged supposedly speaking to nefarious Iranian secret plans at world domination or whatever they're claiming? 2 tons of explosives went missing from a company in Vancouver the other day, two guesses on where and how it'll turn up and who will be blamed, actually one guess.
 
Yes, the ADL he mentions is the Anti-Defamation League, the one that fights anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. I will have to ask my contacts there how many people they recruit for terrorist organizations.

Example of a Post: If You're Good, We Won't Hate You

On the International Holocaust Remembrance Day thread, an old friend named Goefel published a fascinatingly hateful comment. It has now been deleted, and in fact it's quick removal is what inspired me to call your attention to it:
Follow international law and you will not have to worry about another holocaust. This speech says, were hated more than ever, but it should consider the course of Israel's continued wrongdoing.
I like how he says there is evil in the world. Um yeah, tell that to the widows of Palestinian farmers.
Further, if bad things should be stopped when there small, as Netanyahu states, why don't they stop with their greater occupation and humiliation?
God did not promise Jews this land. There is no way to reclaim land after 2000 years. They don't have leases on papyrus that say this. Added many are Ashkenazi, who are really nomadic Turks that converted to Judaism in the dark ages.
If they return this land, they will erase much of the anger that the world views toward Israel. Of course their will always be people against Jews, or Indians, Chinese, and British. That is the way it goes.
They need to trust that other religious faiths are not out to destroy them.
The world is not against them.

I know that I am starting to repeat myself a little bit here, but it's come up so often: The Jews are the only group who are held responsible for hate and bigotry leveled against them. What if I threatened the Muslim population of Europe: If they don't stop wearing burkas and supporting terrorists, something...unfortunate might happen to them? I would surely be denounced as a bigot, and rightfully so!

Let's not forget: The Jews didn't even need to do anything to be rounded up and killed last time. Hitler and the other anti-Semites had all the excuses they ever needed to without a state of Israel. If it wasn't Israel, it would be Bernie Madoff. If it wasn't Madoff, it would be an Alfred Dreyfuss.

Let's not forget: It's illegal to try and destroy a sovereign state in the UN. But that is what the Arabs did three times, and the Palestinians continue to try and do. The international community sat back and did nothing while the Jews came within a hair of a true second Holocaust not once, not twice, but three times.

So now the Jews are done "playing nice." They have finished bowing their heads and trying to please everybody by being perfect all the time. If it means that they are going to be hated, then so be it. In the words of Yaacov Lozowick, "The Jews had millennia of powerlessness, and were not loved for it nor was it an especially pleasant exercise. Now they've got power, and they're intensely disliked for it by some. Given the alternative, it's better to have the power."

EoaP: Israel and the Jews are Linked...Except When They Aren't

Ambassador Michael Oren has written an article yesterday on the Huffington Post about International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the importance of fighting anti-Semitism. Most of the comments were the standard fare for articles about Jews and anti-Semitism, but when I read this one, it really stood out to me:
EspressoAtNoon
Israel (and specifically Zionism) has nothing to do with Judaism. You can be a peaceful, loving Jew and still think Israel should not be a Jewish-majority state.
Nice try, though.
This is only one example of many posts like this. It often come as a response to the use of the anti-Semitism accusation (whether used rightly or wrongly). When the fact that Israel is a Jewish state comes up, its critics say: "Hey hey hey! This has nothing to do with Jews! Only with Zionism and Israel. They are totally different!"

But then the topic of anti-Semitic attacks on Jews and worldwide anti-Semitism has been brought up. And then we have comments like this, from a new face, but many of the "AZ crew" made similar comments:
Trueheart
Maybe some of this anti-Jewish sentiment is the result of the way the Israeli government treats Palestinians. I know there's an anti-military movement within the nation of Israel, and maybe it's time they started rattling some cages.
Oh snap! Did you see that? When it comes out that Jews are being mistreated, now Israel can be held responsible for it! Now Israel and the Jews are together and inseparable, and they live and die as one! If Israel does something wrong all Jews everywhere are responsible, or if not responsible, it is "understandable" that people would try to beat them up or vandalize their synagogues. Israel is the Jewish state, after all. It's just that sometimes we pretend to "forget" that in our haste to avoid accusations of bigotry.

I really love that the HP published the anti-Semitism report thread. I have new revelations every time I read it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: American Congressmen Stand Up to Oppressive Israel Lobby

In the wake of seemingly endless complaints that no American politician will dare stand up to Israel's suffocating lobby, we get a story about 42 Congressmen asking Obama to encourage a lifting of the Gaza blockade. Yes, somehow this managed to happen despite the crushing censorship of the "anti-Semitism card." Before we assume that they have somehow turned against Israel, though, the letter reads:

"We recognize that the Israeli government has imposed restrictions on Gaza out of a legitimate and keenly felt fear of continued terrorist action by Hamas and other militant groups. This concern must be addressed without resulting in the de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip." 

I don't particularly like the incorrect use of the term "collective punishment," but compared to what we have seen in the past, it's an improvement. This paragraph indicates that the Congressmen understand why Israel is doing this, just that they don't want it to continue. A legitimate criticism, in my opinion. The point is: Israel is not all powerful (despite the claims of its detractors) but America "turning against Israel" is still just as far away as it has always been.

Scared of Netanyahu?

Sever Plocker wrote on Ynet today about the absolute refusal of the PA to negotiate with Netanyahu's government. This is the first time Palestinian representatives have done so since Arafat's era. Plocker references an interview with Obama in which the President expressed an annoyance with the Palestinians, but I personally think that the President is frustrated with both sides. And why don't the Palestinians want to negotiate with Netnayhhau, and keep throwing up roadblocks to avoid doing so? According to Plocker:
"What prompts the Palestinian leadership to adopt such stubborn refusal and shun the initiative of a US Administration that may be the most convenient for them? The Palestinians do not wish to negotiate with Netanyahu because they perceive him as a practical politician seeking practical solutions; this is the kind of mess the current Palestinian leadership wishes to stay away from. It doesn’t even want to get close to it."
This is true of Obama as well: Both US and Israeli leadership really want results. Unlike Olmert, who couldn't implement a change even if they want to. As I have written before, both sides have very good reasons not to want negotiations to happen, because it would mean giving something up. What has changed is that Obama is now President, not Bush. Obama has made it clear that he really wants peace, and is willing to fight Israel (even unsuccessfully) to get it. Netanyahu, on the other hand, isn't willing to roll over and play dead for Obama or Abbas, so getting one-sided concessions out of him will not be easy.


Here is something else interesting in Plocker's op-ed: A quote referenced to an unnamed Palestinian leader:
“The current situation serves us well. Palestine is growing, the security situation is decent, Hamas is under siege in Gaza, and global public opinion endorses us and opposes the occupation. There is no rush for us. The demographic clock is ticking and the option of a bi-national state is being realized. We have no incentive for entering talks with an Israeli prime minister who wants to get down to business, that is, who wants to show results.
How different from what we hear on the Huffington Post! I thought the Palestinians were suffering horrible atrocities all day, every day, and would be willing to do just about anything (including killing) to gain their freedom. Apparently this desperation does not extend to the Palestinian leadership. As Plocker mentioned, if the Palestinians need to actually do something to bring peace for themselves and Israel, they aren't interested. 


But of course, the Age of Obama isn't going to last forever. Obama will be out of office long before there is any threat from the "demographic clock." And as I mentioned here, how long can the Palestinians really afford to wait?

HPW User Profile: Freenation

Freenation is a user that's been on the HP a year, since January 2009. In that time, he has posted over 2500 comments, and has 29 fans. This user is an anti-Israel spammer, most notably using the "Hasbara" argument to try to shut down pro-Israel voices. The Hasbara argument, as we all know, is the idea that a poster who supports Israel only does so because he or she is paid by the Israeli government and is reading off a script (and therefore we shouldn't listen to his or her LIES). Such language is an attempt to shut down dissenting voices to Freenation's point of view. He mostly posts a link to a Richard Silverstein article about the real life Hasbara, with the implication that the user he is speaking to is a member of Hasbara. He posts this article over and over and over again, as you'll see. Such spam is clearly against the HP terms of service.


The Dilemma of Attacking Israel

A time-honored debate on the Huffington Post and elsewhere about the I/P conflict is about the 'fairness' of targeting Israel out of all the other countries in the world for criticisms of offenses (both real and imagined) and action such as boycotts and sanctions. However, attackers of Israel are faced with a dilemma which they are rarely confronted with. This is the dilemma of whether to treat Israel uniquely or 'just like the rest of the world'.

Israel is not one of the worst offenders of human rights by far in the world, nor is it the worst occupier, or the most discriminatory state. Everything Israel does wrong, other countries in the world do worse and less apologetically. So why do the anti-Zionists post 500 comments on an Israel thread and let a Yemen thread go by with 20? Their justification is that Israel is a 'democracy' (except when it isn't) and a 'Western country' and therefore we expect better from Israel. Israel proclaims to support human rights, but it really doesn't so we're allowed to attack it.

Now, if you want to have higher standards for Israel because it's a democracy/Western/'white' country, that's fine. The people in Israel certainly do, and you can be as critical as you want to be, even to the point of holding Israel to higher standards than any other nation on Earth, including the United States (a lot of anti-Israel posters have this kind of standard). However, now you've run into a problem: enforcing your standards in reality.

You see, while you can make a distinction between countries on the basis on government type, international law doesn't. Human rights violators are not given a pass because they are dictatorships, and monarchies are part of the United Nations and signers of the Geneva Convention. If we expect international law to apply to Israel, it must apply to the rest of these countries first, and it is considered to be a legal precedent throughout history to go after the worst offenders first. This is why we give thieves 1-5 years in prison and murderers 20 to life, and why in Law and Order they'll make deals with thieves in order to catch serial killers. Israel is far down on the list of human rights violators, and once we clean up the rest of the world, we can take care of Israel. If in fact we are all equal in the eyes of the law.

And now you see the dilemma of attacking Israel. In order to make the case against Israel and Israel alone, you need to single out Israel with the justification that Israel is a Western democracy. But if you want to actively take steps against Israel, you need international law on your side. Unfortunately, international law looks at all the nations of the world equally, regardless of government or people. And when all the nations of the world are judged equally, Israel cannot compare to places like Sudan, China, and Iran. But you don't want to criticize Sudan, China and Iran, because they aren't Western democracies. And the cycle goes around and around.

The sooner the anti-Israel posters simply admit their bias and state outright, "I have higher standards for Israel than the rest of the world" and lose the 'international law' argument, the more credibility they will gain. But right now they are trapped in this dilemma, which prevents them from advancing their cause.

Mythbusting: Did Israel Create Hamas?

An occasional myth that we see on the Huffington Post is that Israel (or the Mossad) somehow had a hand in "creating Hamas." The point behind this claim is that because Israel helped make their current enemy, they somehow deserve to have their people bombed with Qassam rockets and mortars. If you ask me, I think that if Israel created the mess they should be the one to clean it up. But regardless, it's still a myth.

In 1987, Hamas was founded by Ahmed Yassin and other members of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Initially, they provided social services to Palestinians and others, but make no mistake: Their goal from the very beginning was to bring Israel down, as made clear in their charter. The only difference is that at first destroying Israel was more of a long term goal. In the years before Hamas came on the scene, the number of mosques tripled, and so did the opposition to the PLO. Hamas used the rising influence of Islamism to gain popular support. Their first suicide bombing attack happened in 1993, though they had been gaining weapons (and losing Israeli help) since 1988.

As I'm sure the anti-Zionists would love to make the case that Hamas was cooked up by Israel to counter the PLO (and it's true that at first Israel did help Hamas, passively, in the sense that they did not try to hinder them), not even Ramzy Baroud, founder of PalestineChronicle.com, believes this. And besides, Israel didn't ask for Hamas to win elections, or for Hamas to declare a jihad against them. Sorry, but the AZs are going to have to find someone else to blame.

HuffPoWatch: Israel: Turkish Prime Minister is Fueling Anti-Semitism

In the spirit of quite a few article about anti-Semitism coming out in recent days (which caused the AZs to smell a conspiracy), the Huffington Post reported that Israel felt that Turkish PM Erdogan is "fueling" anti-Semitism with his extreme statements. You can read the whole article at this link, but personally I feel as if this is a bad move by Israel's foreign ministry. It's petty and vindictive, and comes off as exceedingly desperate.

Naturally, the HP community responded in the same way they always have: If people hate the Jews, it's because the Jews are so evil, they deserve to be hated. There was also a decent amount of attacks on Israel's helping out in Haiti and daring to take some credit for their good work. I can go on, but you can read the comments yourself below:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Evening Music

It's been a depressing last couple days on the Huffington Post, anti-Semitism and anti-Israel hatred has  skyrocketed on recent threads, most notably this one. In reflection on that, here is something that I hope might lift your spirits:

A Very Revealing Week

This week on the HP (from Tuesday a week ago to today) has been very, very enlightening about the general behavior about the anti-Israel posters on the HP. Three articles, really four, have all provided us an clearer look at where exactly these posters will and will not go to criticize Israel.

We'll start with the article about responses to Israel's work in Haiti by Bradley Burston and Alan Dershowitz, and the original by Ashar praising Israel's work. In Ashar's article, posters complained about how other countries weren't getting equal amounts of attention, and how Israel was using this opportunity to increase their world view (probably true). But worst of all was the accusations that Israel was contributing to Haiti only to improve their image and not, presumably, because it's the right thing to do. No other country who contributed to Haiti received such baseless and cynicial accusations. No poster accused China or the United States of helping out in Haiti because of purely self-interest.

Next was the Peer article, about an Israeli tennis player targeted for protests while at the Australian Open. Again, most HPers rightly condemned the protesters for blaming Peer for the actions of her country is simply wrong, but just as predictably the usual suspects rose up in the protestors' defense. The fact that Peer served in the IDF and that she was Israeli is enough to warrant disruption of her visit to Australia, even though none of the protesters had any clue what her politics are. She was not even representing Israel at the open, she was representing herself alone.

Lastly, there's the Israeli study about anti-Semitism. According to some posters, there is not a doubt in their minds that the study is not only completely false, but deliberately designed to manipulate world opinion. We also saw the classic 'blame the Jews for anti-Semitism' argument, an argument that would be flatly rejected when applied to any other group of people, as well as the denial that anti-Semitism even exists.

When there's an article that Israel does something wrong (or does something right, but hurts Palestinians, or is accused of doing something wrong), there's a lot of anti-Israel sentiment posted, and at a certain level I can understand this. Much of the sentiment goes beyond mere criticism and on to anti-Semitism, and when it does we record it here. But even then I can understand that, Israel does something wrong and the posters take advantage of that to remind us about all the other things Israel has done wrong, real or imagined, justified or not.

But these four articles have shown us the truth about how many of the HPers see Israel and other Jewish-related topics. Even when Israel does something undeniably good (helping Haiti) or individual Israelis are targeted just because they are Israeli, these haters will do everything they can to attack Israel and her people and defend those who agree with them. I didn't want to come to this conclusion, I honestly believed we might be able to reach some of these posters and work together to reach some kind of consensus or at least a level headed discussion. But when they refuse to even praise Israel for doing something good and instead choose the explanation that puts Israel in the worst possible way, I find this belief severely challenged.

The question we must now ask ourselves is: WHY? Why do these posters assume the worst about Israel alone of all the countries in the world? There are worse countries in terms of human rights/discrimination, there are worse countries in terms of occupations, there are worse countries in terms of civilian casualties. So what makes Israel different from all of those countries? Only one thing: It's the Jewish state and most of its people are Jews. If Israel is the only country targeted by the posters in this way, and Israel is the only Jewish state, it makes logical sense to assume this targeting is due to the fact Israel's the Jewish state. I'm not sure what else could possibly motivate such blatant double standards.

HuffPoWatch: Alan Dershowitz's "For Bigots"

Alan Dershowitz has written another fantastic article, which is very similar in topic and point of view to the Bradley Burston one from last week. Like Mr. Burston, he calls out the anti-Israel crowd in their reaction to Israel's work in Haiti. The title is "For Bigots, Israel Can Do No Right." And how right Mr. Dershowitz is, because the bigots came crawling out just for this article, spewing their anti-Israel talking points, apparently having not even bothered to read the article.

I know that I don't like to draw conclusions about people without sufficient evidence, but I think in this case, as Matt wrote before, the facts are clear. The posters came to the Asher article, and to the Dershowitz and Burston articles, came with one thing in mind: Destroy any good will that Israel might have gained with their work in Haiti. Make Israel the bad guy. Tear Israel down. Whatever it takes to make this happen, do it. And I do not believe that this is something that people who are only interested in "peace" or "justice" or "human rights" would do. It is something that bigots do, however. And I feel that this small group of HPers (a very small one indeed) felt that they were attacked, which of course they were, and hit back hard. Not by debating Burston or Dershowitz's words, but by hitting the target that can't fight back: Israel itself. In doing so, they have exposed the truth about themselves, that they are motivated by prejudice.

Here are the posts. They were few, but nasty, even for a fully moderated thread.

HuffPoWatch: Israeli Report Says Anti-Semitism Peaked in 2009

As Zach mentioned last night, the HP published this article about an Israeli study that examined how much anti-Semitism took place in 2009. Many HPers spoke out against such hatred, but a great many fell over themselves trying to explain it away, justify it, minimize it, deflect it, or pretend anti-Semitism doesn't exist. The fully moderated thread is still going on, this article was posted yesterday (Monday), but there's already more than enough comments to justify this post, which will be updated as the comments come in.

News the HP Doesn't Cover: Abbas' Refusal to Negotiate

Ynet picks up that Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the PA, has asked the Saudi king for help overcoming Egyptian pressure to...wait for it...negotiate with Israel! Egypt is apparently wanting Abbas to negotiate with Israel without Israel complying with Abbas' preconditioned demand that the complete settlement freeze (also known to kindergartners as a 'compromise'), but Abbas really doesn't want to!

So just wait for all of the HPers condemning the Palestinians for not wanting peace. It should be any time now.

A History of An Occupation

I find in reading comments about the history of Israel on the Huffington Post and elsewhere that there is a misunderstanding about the history of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Of course, there is a misunderstanding about the history in general, but I can only cover so much at one time. In short, people claim that Israel only maintains the occupation because they want to take all the land and expel the inhabitants, and in fact that is the only reason why they were ever occupying the territories. In this post I will attempt to disprove the latter claim.

In the Six Day War, Jordan attacked Israel not with a full army, but with artillery attacks and air strikes across the border. It did not inflict significant damage on Israel, however, and the two sides attempted to remain at peace (sort of). Menachem Begin and Yigal Allon wanted to use this opportunity to retake the Old City of Jerusalem, but the other Israeli leaders wouldn't take action until Jordanian forces moved into Jerusalem first. Furthermore, it should be noted that Jordan and Egypt did have a military alliance with each other, and as any good Civilization II player would know, that means that Jordan would be forced into a war with Israel when Israel and Egypt started to fight. In other words, Israel was within it's legal rights to attack Jordan. According to Uzi Narkis (quoted by Avi Shlaim):
"First, the Israeli government had no intention of capturing the West Bank. On the contrary, it was opposed to it. Second, there was not any provocation on the part of the IDF. Third, the rein was only loosened when a real threat to Jerusalem's security emerged. This is truly how things happened on June 5, although it is difficult to believe. The end result was something that no one had planned"
 I believe an anti-Zionist would be dubious of this claim, and I am as well. There are three major reasons why Israel would want to attack Jordan and take the territories: (1) Jerusalem. Under Jordanian rule Jews were forbidden to live there and Jewish holy and historical sites were being destroyed. (2) Military value. The "Green Line" is difficult to defend, as Israel found in the period between the wars. The Jordan River border is much easier. (3) Settlers. Judea and Samaria also contained Jewish holy land, there must have been some pressure among Israel's government to take it. I find it difficult to believe that there wasn't any.

So the war ends, and Israel has all this territory. That's where the problems start. Click below to continue.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Israel Report Says Anti-Semitism Highest in 2009

The Jerusalem Post and eventually the Huffington Post have both reported upon a new report from an Israeli research group that found that in 2009 anti-Semitic incidents were the highest since the Second World War. Examples included vandalism, verbal attacks and threats, "modern blood libel," as well as examples that violate Sharansky's "3Ds." Most of the incidents immediately followed Operation Cast Lead.

It probably comes as no surprise to people who read this blog (or the Huffington Post) very often, but the HP community responded to this by blaming the Jews. I don't have time for a whole "watch" post right now, but in short they said: "If you don't want people to hate you, you shouldn't do bad things." Oh, a few of them also made the strawman argument that the report considered any criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitism, and others made it clear that they didn't think anti-Semitism really exists, since Arabs are are a Semitic people too. Others simply wanted to know why we weren't talking about Israel's actions in Gaza, or simply blamed Israel for everything. Few, if any, commentators actually seemed unsettled by a rise anti-Jewish hatred.

If the above arguments don't strike you as particularly problematic, imagine taking the Jews out of it. What if I made the following statements:
-"People are only racist now because Obama does unpopular things. If a black guy doesn't want to be called a nasty name or passed over for a job, maybe Obama shouldn't try to pass health care reform over the heads of good, hard working Americans! Or kill all those people in Afghanistan! So you see, it's all Obama's fault that people say or do racist things."
-Or: "Racism isn't real. I'm not allowed to criticize black people now?! Hey, playing the race card is getting pretty old! Time for black people to man up and accept criticism! Oh, and 'African-Americans' aren't a real people. We're all from Africa, originally. And race is a social construct! So I think we should stop talking about 'racism' and 'race' altogether."

When one speaks about people of color, instead of Jews, and about prejudice, instead of anti-Semitism, suddenly these things become a lot clearer. The ugly truth is that both racism and anti-Semitism (indeed all forms of prejudice) are very real, and people are affected by them every day. Ignoring them, minimizing them, or blaming the victims only gives the bigots the cover they need to continue preaching their hatred. And I for one will not be a party to it. I would think that the ordinary Huffington Posters would feel the same way. Apparently not.

HuffPoWatch: Hamas Ready to Recognize Israel

As mentioned last week, there was a false report picked up by the Jerusalem and Huffington Posts that Aziz Dwaik, the most senior Hamas West Bank official, stated that Hamas was ready to recognize Israel. As it turned out, he said nothing of the kind, but even when we thought this rumor was true, it was an opportunity to hope for reconciliation to be reached between the two sides. And there was a lot of that. But there was also a lot of insults and hate speech thrown around too, and that's what we're here to read about.


Double Standards vs Higher Expectations

In the second half of my writing about anti-Semitism versus anti-Zionism, I spoke about the "third D" in Natan Sharansky's three Ds, that being double standards. We see this most commonly on the Huffington Post and elsewhere when commentators (or journalists) single Israel out for attacks and criticisms that would not be applied to any other nation. A cycle of sorts appears on the talkback threads: Someone criticizes Israel strongly, he or she is accused of applying a double standard, and around it goes.

When defending a double standard leveled against Israel, it usually goes like this:
"We expect more from Israel because Israel is an ally of the US, a Western nation, and a democracy [or "pretends" to be a democracy]. It's pretty typical for countries like Iran or Russia or China to abuse their own people, but we expect Israel to be better than that! Oh, and you're trying to deflect attention away from Israel. How dare you."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

HuffPoWatch: Obama: "We Overestimated Our Ability'

In this Huffington Post article, Obama admits his administration didn't have a great idea about the situation in the Middle East when they tried to restart the peace process. Naturally, the HPers took advantage of this opportunity to explain to this less enlightened why the peace process isn't working (it's all Israel's fault) and publish hate and lies about all manner of subjects. Read after the break for what they had to say


HuffPoWatch: Shahar Peer, Tennis Star, Target of Anti-Israel Protests

There were a short series of new Israel-related articles on the Huffington Post these past few days, and it took me a little bit of time to catch up with them. To start off with, here is one story about a tennis star who has been hit with anti-Israel protests at her matches. The fully moderated thread has around 170 comments, with more pending as a write this, so there will be more to read if you are so inclined.

What I like about this thread is that, as many blatantly anti-Israel comments as there (and there are a lot), there are also many HuffPosters who felt that attacking Ms. Peer was not an appropriate way of protesting. There were even a couple who recognized that singling out Israel for attacks of this nature is anti-Semitism. Both are included in the link below.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Meanwhile, at Bi'lin....

The Jerusalem Post reports in a news brief:

"About 170 Palestinians and left-wing activists gathered on Friday afternoon at the West Bank villages of Na'alin and Bil'in to attend the weekly demonstration against the construction of the security barrier in the area. Security forces dispersed the demonstration when it turned violent." [emphasis added]

But, the HP posters tell us the protests at Bil'in are always non-violent! How is this possible?!

Bradley Burston Crushes the Anti-Zionists

Bradley Burston, a well known columnist for Haaretz, has posted an epic blog post on the Huffington Post. Burston and I rarely see eye to eye, in fact he's one of Israel's harshest critics, but in this post he calls out all the people who took the opportunity of Israel helping out in Haiti and daring to be proud of it as a chance to attack and malign Israel about Gaza and other unrelated things. Apparently, criticisms occurred all over the blogosphere, not just on the HP. Read the editorial, it's great.

My favorite quote is: "Israelis, and Jews in the wider world, should not be forced to recite a catechism over how terrible, how flawed, how often mistaken they already know Israel to be, just in order to earn the right to feel and express their admiration, their gratitude, and yes, their pride."

And how many comments did this blog post have? 5, all from "pro-Israel" people agreeing with Burston. None of the haters from the Asher post came back to admit their error, but then again we hardly expected them to. 

And if you want to read more responses to the anti-Zionist haters about this subject, read Stephanie Gutman's devastatingly satirical editorial.

Wikipedia Wanderings: Ethnic Nationalism

While writing my post about the "Israel is an ethnocracy" accusation, I discovered a very interesting page on Wikipedia: The ethnic nationalism page. I suggest you check it out. As I am sure I don't need to remind anyone, the idea of creating nations for specific ethnic groups did not begin and end with Zionism. For most of history, including our "enlightened" 20th century, it was taken for granted that ethnic groups who self-determine should have and do have their own nationalist movements. It should be noted that the idea of ethnic nationalism does come under attack from cases where it is pushed from an ethnic group working toward an exclusively ethnic country, as in the case of Nazi Germany and Rwanda.

But what I really like about this page is that it show in a very concise manner that many of the things that make Israel Jewish (including what draws the ire from anti-Zionists and anti-Semites) is far from unique. Wiki points out that "Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey provide automatic or rapid citizenship to members of diasporas of their own dominant ethnic group, if desired." Yes, that "racist" Israeli law of return is practically commonplace, even among "modern" nations like Germany. Singling out Israel for criticism of that law (even if it is deserved) is still anti-Semitic if one gives the impression that Israel is the only nation that does this. Not so.

But the revelations don't stop there: The page contains a massive list of over thirty nationalist movements (some more legitimate than others) including successful ones like Irish, German, English, and Greek nationalism, among others. Zionism is included on the list, along with...I'll be damned! Arab nationalism and Palestinian nationalism are there too! And unlike the opposition to Zionism detailed on it's Wikipedia page, there is no significant opposition to Arab or Palestinian nationalism mentioned, even though (it appears) it is exactly the same as Zionism: a nationalist movement for a particular ethnic group. The only difference is which ethnic group gets to nationalize.

So does anyone else find it funny that one nationalist movement (Zionism) is singled out for accusations of racism, among others, while every other nationalist movement (including the Palestinian one) is accepted as that ethnic groups natural rights? It's really just another example of the double standards that Israel has to deal with every day, and that no other nation is expected to have to handle. What else is new?

Mythbusting: "Israel Is an Ethocracy."

In recent weeks the anti-Zionists on the Huffington Post have unveiled a new term to be exclusively to defame Israel: The term "ethnocracy." Hemara is particularly fond of using it, though his use has led to others picking it up and repeating it. I decided to take a look to see if this criticism had any kind of leg to stand on.

I first looked up the term "ethnocracy" on Wikipedia, to see if it was a real term, as I had only ever heard it from one point of view (anti-Zionists) on one subject (Israel). My computer's dictionary doesn't recognize it either. It turns out that the term does exist, but not in way you think. The etymology of the word (ethno + cracy) gives the impression that "ethnocracy" means "rule by only one racial or ethnic group." Certainly when hemara throws out the word without defining it, one gets that impression.

However, it actually means "a form of government where representatives of a particular ethnic group hold a number of government posts disproportionately large to the percentage of the total population that the particular ethnic group(s) represents and use them to advance the position of their particular ethnic group(s) to the detriment of others...The minority ethnic groups are systematically discriminated against by the state and may face repressions or violations of human rights at the hands of state organs. Ethnocracy can also be a political regime which is instituted on the basis of qualified rights to citizenship, and with ethnic affiliation (defined in terms of race, descent, religion, or language) as the distinguishing principle."

This is actually closer to an accurate description of Israel than the layman's definition above, but it's still very wrong. If you want to read further, click the link below.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

HuffPoWatch User Profile: Rachel Brownlee

 Update: This user has now been banned from the Huffington Post.

The user Rachel Brownlee is a new addition to the HP community, having joined in December of last year (2009). In her day, she had over 40 fans and than 900 comments. The vast majority of her comments are about I/P and she clearly has a mad-on for Israel. She has, through her comments, established herself as a terrorism supporter. She has flirted with using anti-Semitic language, and has even tried a couple times to make the case that the genocide in Darfur isn't as bad as the I/P conflict. Naturally, she blantantly insults anyone who has the temerity to disagree with her. She's a pretty active user, so look for this post to be updated frequently in the days to come.

New on the HP: Hamas Accepts Israel's Right to Exist (Updated)

Breaking news published on the HP (taken from the Jerusalem Post) about Aziz Dwaik, Hamas's most senior West Bank official, stating that Hamas has accepted Israel's right to exist and is willing to nullify its charter. I have a few thoughts about this.

1. I and most Israelis (I think) have trouble believing anything Hamas says. This statement (even if it's echoed by Hamas' Gazan leadership) may not be the truth and just another tactic to make Hamas seem more moderate than they are (pandering to the rest of the world). Remember, Hamas signed a cease-fire which they never abided by and broke long before Israel responded. Frankly, I'll believe it when I see it (i.e., when Hamas cracks down on terror groups [which they are doing] and removing hate speech from textbooks and pulpits).

2. Nevertheless, even if it is a lie, Israel should still respond positively to it. Relax the blockade (but not end it), release some prisoners, make sure that this effort by Hamas is rewarded with results. If Israel does not do this, Hamas will lose face and be much less willing to concede things next time around.

3. Who can now say Cast Lead wasn't productive? Hamas has vowed to destroy Israel since the 1980s, and a year after an widespread attack on them they are willing to give things up. We're seeing the way things work in the Middle East: make concessions and you're met with violence (Gaza withdrawal), fight back and you'll receive concessions. Israel needs to remain strong and show strength, or else violence will flair back up again. But that being said, they should take advantage of this opportunity.

UPDATE: And...Elder of Ziyon picked up that Dwaik is now denying he ever said such a thing. I will let you know if and when the HP prints a retraction. 

Israel Saves Lives in Haiti, Huffington Posters Upset

Since the earthquake in Haiti, Israel is one of only two nations to have set up a field hospital there, and their rescue teams are working hard to aid the Haitian survivors. Many American news services have covered the life-saving work that the IDF is doing, feel free to read the stories for yourself.
The Huffington Post completely ignored all of those stories, until today, when some finally appeared in a blog post by Hank Asher along with many other international rescue services. Before we get to the comments on the fully moderated thread, though, I want to take a moment. This article is a unique opportunity because it is about Israel doing something utterly, truly good. Not just something that they should be doing anyway (like settlement freezes) but something that any person, anywhere would agree is a good thing.

The response of the Huffington Post community, therefore, is very informative. I should point out that most of the comments are praising either Israel or the aid workers in general. But there were commentators from the anti-Zionist crowd (most notably Freenation, CigarGod, Wisdo, hemara, Rachel Brownlee and alysheba 3, as well as a few new faces) who showed up on the thread, twisting whatever they could to bash Israel, their posts dripping with cynicism. I love this thread, because it documents their hypocrisy quite clearly in three ways:

Example 1: Anti-Zionists claim that they have nothing against Israel as a nation, only with Israel's actions. If it were any other nation treating the Palestinians this way, the anti-Zionists claim, their reaction would be the same. It logically follows from this Israel is judged on a case by case basis: Israel does something wrong, it gets condemned. Israel does something good...it also gets condemned? Or certainly not praised: None of the anti-Zionists listed above had anything encouraging or positive to say at all.
And that is where the hypocrisy comes in: If the anti-Zionists were sincere in their claim that they have nothing against Israel as a nation, they would be praising it for its good works. But instead they leave no stone unturned in their search for something, anything that they could use to turn the story against Israel. This is especially prevalent in Wisdo's post here: He likes the fact that Haiti is getting aid, what he doesn't like is that Israel is the one helping, and therefore the one getting credit for it.
When one approaches a new situation with a mindset based not on cold facts, but on one's own preconceived notions, that is a prejudice. The mindset of the anti-Zionists are not motivated by what Israel is doing, but by their own prejudices. Please remember this the next time one of these posters claims that they only have a problem with what Israel does, not Israel itself. This thread was a perfect opportunity for them to show their true faces, and they did.

Example 2: In articles in which Israel is singled out, for instance war crimes accusations, pro-Israel posters point out that Israel is being unfairly marginalized, when there are in fact lots of nations who commit war crimes all the time. The response of the anti-Zionists is always the same: "Shut up! The topic of this thread is Israel. If you want to talk about Iran or Russia, then go to those threads. If you point out that Israel is being singled out, you're only trying to distract attention away from its crimes!"
Yet no sooner was this article posted then anti-Zionists immediately started complaining that writing about Israel was a snub against everyone else helping in Haiti. User tyruler complained that countless other nations were helping without "seeking indulgence or praise." Rachel Brownlee whined that the Cuban aid workers were not given appropriate attention either, though she is always the first to call for Israel to be singled out when the shoe is on the other foot. Clear hypocrisy.

Example 3: This is somewhat related to example 2, but the anti-Zionists like to accuse pro-Israel posters of changing the topic whenever they attempt to contextualize a situation. For instance, pointing out that Hamas used human shields is considered to be an attempt to change the topic away from "Israel's blatant killing of civilians." CigarGod is particularly fond of using this tactic.
The hypocrisy comes up when, in this article, the anti-Zionists started complaining about Gaza and Israel's blockade. The article is about Israel helping out in Haiti, the Israel-Palestinian conflict ostensibly should not be part of the discussion! But of course, this was an example of Israel doing something good. The anti-Zionists could find no ammunition on the thread itself, so they had to slander Israel on unrelated topics or accusing Israel of having ulterior motives.

Of course, among the hate-Israel crowd, there was more to see than just that. Most of the comments accused Israel of being motivated only by a desire for good PR, though there were more than a few blatant attacks on Mr. Asher and the article itself. Apparently anything that portrays Israel in a good light is "propaganda." Naturally, there were a couple attacks on Israel itself, to the point of demonization. But you can read it all for yourself below.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Example of a Post: The Causes of Anti-Semitism

Yesterday on the HP I saw a thread by user "CigarGod" that got me thinking:
CigarGod
Sure, Rand.
But in my world, I combat Jewish anti-semitism, by trying to combat the causes of it.
Right now, I see the major cause, as oppression of the Palestinian people.
When you take away someones reason to be anti-semitic, you reduce anti-semitism.
Of course, this user has a history making anti-Semitic comments, so I'm not sure that I believe him when he says that he combats "Jewish anti-semitism" (is there some other kind?), but that's a discussion for another time.

Anyway, the question of what "causes anti-Semitism" is a good one, though it may fall more into the realm of philosophy than politics. That is what I intend to explore in this post. If you are interested, click the link below to read.

HuffPoWatch: Frank Gehry/Jewish Chronicle

I've combined two articles into one post today, because both posts did not generate enough anti-Semitic comments to be worth an HPW post all to themselves. The articles are: Frank Gehry Withdraws from Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance and Jewish Chronicle Hacked (which I mentioned below).


Review: Holocaust Denial as an International Movement

I have just completed reading Holocaust Denial as an International Movement by Stephen Atkins (published in 2009). This book is a broad overview of the history, goals, and members of the Holocaust denial movement. It travels from Europe to North America to the Middle East to Australia examining the leaders of the Holocaust denial movement and their publications.

I found this book to be an excellent introduction to the Holocaust denial movement. I was fairly uninformed about the particulars of this movement and the book served to educate me on a broad basis. It outlined the most common arguments deniers make: arguing against the existence of gas chambers in particular, seeking to find inconsistencies in individual testimony (as if this would invalid the entire event), and claiming to be "merely asking questions" and "demanding free speech be protected". A particular interesting example is the statement frequently made by Holocaust deniers that there were no death camps in Germany at any point. This is actually true, all of the death camps were in Poland. To someone uninitiated to the idea of Holocaust denial as a unified movement rather than a fringe idea expressed by individual crazies, this book is a valuable wake-up call.

Unfortunately, the book begins to lose steam as it goes on. After the introduction and an overview of the Holocaust in general, each section follows this formula: "This is Holocaust Denier X. (S)he was born here, was educated here, and was influenced by this person and this person. (S)he wrote This Book or Newspaper expressing Holocaust denial views, and this is what happened to him/her." This formula is interesting for a while, especially for the more famous Holocaust deniers such as David Irving, David Duke, and Mahmoud Abbas, but after a certain point it feels like we have heard it all before.

If you don't know anything about the Holocaust denial movement, I would highly recommend this book as a quick and detailed way to become informed. But if you already know a lot about the movement and its argument, it's probably worth skipping in that you will most likely not learn anything. Especially after discovering a few posts on the Huffington Post about Holocaust denial, the awareness that these people are out there spreading their beliefs is extremely important and we should all be well educated about this important problem.

Legitimate Criticism of Israel on the HP

A common refrain that we hear on the HP and elsewhere is that, when an anti-Semitic comment is pointed out, that the accuser is simply trying to "silence criticism." Many of the anti-Zionists claim that in the mind of Zionists, all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, so the Zionists should just be ignored whenever they say it.

With that in mind, I am going to collect some comments from a thread about an IDF soldier discharged for a pro-settlement sign on the Huffington Post. All of the following comments are not repeat NOT anti-Semitic in any way, shape or form. They are legitimate criticisms of Israel and Israelis.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mythbusting: What Israel Wants

If there is one endless refrain that we hear from the anti-Zionists on the Huffington Post, it is that "Israel doesn't want peace." Why don't they want peace? Because if they reach peace with the Palestinians, then they will no longer be permitted to build settlements/"steal land" and will have to define their borders. among other reasons.

Although this theory has some merits, there are also elements to it with is akin to a conspiracy theory. When Israel does something to delay the peace process, like refusing a settlement freeze, the theory is backed up: Israel is stalling so that they won't have to make peace. When Israel makes steps toward peace, however, like making a partial settlement freeze or opening Gaza crossings, then the excuses start up. Israel's deceiving us, or they aren't sincere. Or the settlement freeze is meaningless. Or they won't follow through on what they claim. Or they are only doing it to avoid sanction. The list goes on.

The truth, however, is that both sides want peace...but only on their own terms. Click the link below for more.

New on the HP: Jewish Chronicle Hacked

The Huffington Post picked up this news about the Jewish Chronicle, apparently the world's oldest continuously published Jewish newspaper, being hacked by the "Palestinian Mujaheeds", a group of Turkish hackers. These hackers placed a Palestinian flag on the home page and wrote anti-Semitic statements. As Elder of Ziyon pointed out, the Jewish Chronicle is neither Israeli nor Zionist, but it still suffered this attack.

How many comments on this disturbing article, which has been up for 24 hours? Zero, with zero pending, despite the fact this article remains on the World page. I will update this post the moment comments start to arrive, no matter what the content of those posts.

Update: And now the posts are starting to roll in. I guess moving it to the World page was enough to get some comments. 

Why Do We Collect User Profiles?

It occurs to me that even though Matt and I have been analyzing individual users on the Huffington Post for the purposes of demonstrating their anti-Semitic comments, we have never explained why we do so. I'm going to do that now. There are three reasons, but before we get to them I want to make one thing clear: Most of the user profiles that we collect are probably not anti-Semites themselves. Only on a very rare occasion would I make that judgment. What these users are are people who have made many anti-Semitic comments across many different threads and across time. Whether they know the implications of what they are saying or not, I could not pretend to guess.

However, I am of the opinion that when you have a person who demonstrates a clear hate for Israel, surpassing all rational thought and legitimate criticism, that sooner or later he or she will make an anti-Semitic comment. Unfortunately, for most of the users we have looked at this has turned out to be correct. Now then, onto the reasons:

1. This is done to show that among certain users on the HP, it is not simply an occasional anti-Semitic comment. The comments may be spread out, but certain users make the same offensive and abusive remarks again and again and again. Although there are many different individuals on the HP, the most anti-Semitic comments are restricted to a relative minority, as opposed to everyone on the HP making one or two.

2. This is done to demonstrate some of the inadequacies of the moderating system on the HP. These individual users make anti-Semitic comments over and over, and yet their accounts remain and they continue to do so, even though the comments themselves might be removed. Even though abusive profiles are supposed to be removed, many of these commentators have been preaching anti-Semitism for months.

3. Finally, this is done for the benefits of the pro-Israel talkbackers when they get into conversations with some of these users. If one of these users claims that he or she has never made an anti-Semitic comment, reference the list and find a good one. This was particularly useful in the case of user "MarcusT" who posted a link to a Holocaust denial website, user "ray01" who linked to a neo-Nazi homepage, and user "CigarGod" who posted a Holocaust revisionism theory.

I hope this clears things up.

HuffPo User Profile: Gakabani

The HP user gakabani would have to win the award for "Most Ironic Icon." His icon is of a dove with an olive branch, but if you read his comments, you will find that he is less about finding peace than destroying the nations that he disagrees with. In fairness, gakabani doesn't discriminate: He rails against America, the European Union and Canada just as much as he rails against Israel. The Muslims world, including the Arab nations, are generally spared from his anger, though. He loves calling people and nations "pathetic," and quite often makes Nazi-anyone comparisons. In fact, he probably compares Israel to the Nazis least of any other nations that he attacks. But when he does, it's still anti-Semitism.

As for the topic of Israel, he makes it clear that he thinks the Jews should not have their own state, and often calls for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. As time went by, he made more Nazi-Israel comparisons, including calling Gaza a "concentration camp" and a "ghetto." Here are a few comments to get you in the mood:

Israel is a parasitic country. Such acts against Palestinians are reminiscent of the attrocities committed by those in Germany 1939. Such acts are clearly an exampleoff the policies of extermination by forcing them slowly from their land. If these acts were to happen in Europe or America the world will be condemning them but no the European and American racist political leaders are silent as slaves they are.
posted Aug 02, 2009 at 23:26:36

The Israeli side and the Israeli side! The N A Z I S of Israel do not consider Pals as humans.
posted Jun 04, 2009 at 21:42:50

Let us be realistic the BBC, NPR and the "western Media" are puppets of the Zionist. If you read or hear the news from these stations, they consider Palestinians "all terrorists'. They dehumanize them all, and I mean all Palestinians. They are just that a propaganda machine for the powerful Zionists system. Today it is the Pals tomorrow you, me or anyone.
posted Jan 25, 2009 at 15:37:30
By the way, the following list is taken only from gakabani's first 800 comments out of more than 2000. So there are probably much more if one is inclined to go and look. Gakabani has been active since June 2007 and has 21 fans.

News the HP Doesn't Cover: Palestinians Call for War Crimes Investigations

Today the Jerusalem Post covered a story in which Palestinian human rights groups called for an investigation into war crimes based on the Goldstone Report, from Hamas. The article doesn't cover how seriously they are encouraging Hamas to investigate, but it does say that Hamas said they would investigate but (according to the Palestinian HR group Al-Haq) there have been no serious results. On the other hand, Israel's response to the Goldstone Report is coming in two weeks.

Obviously, a call for Hamas to investigate themselves is a good thing, regardless of whether Hamas agrees to do it or not. I wish that the HP would cover this, because I want to see whether the same mentality that the talkbackers have toward Israel (namely, that Israel is automatically guilty no matter what) is also applied to Hamas. I would expect not, but would like to know.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Where is the Line Between Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism? Part 2

If you had read the previous post, you would see that we were talking about finding the difference between a criticism of Israel and an anti-Semitic attack. It is not always very obvious, but fortunately others have found a way to discern the difference by analyzing the comment itself. Last time we looked at a Thomas Friedman quote. This time I will look at Natan Sharansky's Three Ds of Anti-Semitism. They are:


"The first "D" is the test of demonization. When the Jewish state is being demonized; when Israel's actions are blown out of all sensible proportion; when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz - this is anti- Semitism, not legitimate criticism of Israel.

"The second "D" is the test of double standards. When criticism of Israel is applied selectively; when Israel is singled out by the United Nations for human rights abuses while the behavior of known and major abusers, such as China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, is ignored; when Israel's Magen David Adom, alone among the world's ambulance services, is denied admission to the International Red Cross - this is anti-Semitism. 

"The third "D" is the test of delegitimization: when Israel's fundamental right to exist is denied - alone among all peoples in the world - this too is anti-Semitism."

Would you like to know more?

Where is the Line Between Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism? Part 1

To a layman, it is quite difficult to distinguish between "mere criticism" of Israel, harsh criticism of Israel, and anti-Semitism. And indeed, it is a hard problem to tackle. Some people like to bypass the argument altogether by taking an extreme position: All criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism because everyone hates us! On the other side, we see a more common refrain: No criticism of Israel is ever anti-Semitism. Those who disagree are simply trying to hinder debate.

The truth, of course, is somewhere in the middle. As much as certain advocates might not want to hear it, the pro-Palestinian movement is a magnet for anti-Semites. At an anti-Israel rally, someone who truly wants peace might be standing shoulder to shoulder with an anti-Semite and never even realize it. I understand their feeling: It's human nature to take on an us versus them mentality, and no one wants to think that people who are on the side of "us" are anything less than perfect human beings. But the truth is that there are anti-Semites out there, and some of the attacks on Israel are anti-Semitic. Though I'm sure some would like to separate them, the truth is that Israel is the Jewish state and whenever Israel is mentioned, Jews are involved. They cannot be separated.

Would you like to know more?

(More) Holocaust Denial on the HP

I was reading the Catholic Bishops article on the HP when I noticed a user "Aziat" called out another user, "Ergon", for being a Holocaust denier. When asked for proof, Aziat posted a link to the following post.

Here's the post, posted on a thread about an Holocaust-denying bishop from about a year ago (it's still there).

Ergon

This is sad, the way everyone piled on the Bishop and the Church for politically incorrect views, while denying certain facts and missing the broader picture:
He has the right to his views.
The Pope has the right to guide his flock, and reinstate anyone he pleases.
The Bigger Picture: Israeli actions in Gaza, and Jewish sympathisers continually bringing up the holocaust, only adds to anti-semitism, not diminish it. Even friends might say, dumb move.
The Facts: Those who say Germans kept meticulous records, have been unable to produce blueprints of the alleged gas chambers, or copies of the death registers, or any forensic evidence whatsoever (6 million corpses leave a lot of evidence, as any cop can tell you)
Emotive recollections by alleged survivors are traditionally disregarded by fairly constituted courts.
The Nuremberg confessions of Auschwitz camp commandant Rudolph Hoess were obtained under extreme torture, the alleged gas chambers were post war Stalinist reconstructions, and those who tried to say otherwise were imprisoned.
This is my honestly held view, which I'd be happy to debate with anyone.

When confronted by this post, Ergon responded:

Ergon
So? Any facts in my argument you care to refute, or are you going to keep regurgitating "Percieved wrongs and propagandic hyperbole do not count as facts, sorry to say" to quote your good self.

His original post is directly out of the Holocaust deniers playbook. Selective confrontation of evidence (looking for blueprints of gas chambers while ignoring the real ones, demanding all six million corpses, an impossible task), explaining away testimony (extracted under torture, "emotive" recollections), and defending the right of other Holocaust deniers to "free speech".

And yet, Ergon remains on the HP to broadcast his revisionist history. But remember, we've been told there's no anti-Semitism on the HP, only legitimate criticism of Israel, so we're not allowed to speak out against this kind of language.


Huffington Post Gives Netanyahu Wife Story Top Spot in "World"

Reports came out on January 15th that Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, Sarah, was facing a lawsuit by her housekeeper. Apparently the problem was that she was being verbally abusive and forced the housekeeper to work on the Sabbath, among others. The international media picked up the story, but it only made it to the Huffington Post today (the 18th). Notice it's placement on the front page of the "world" section.



Maybe it's just a slow news day over there, but it seems like this was already a minor story to begin with. Did it really need to be the top headline, three days after it became old news? This looks like the Imri Olmert story all over again.

UPDATE: The HP has since changed the "World" headlines to include more information about the Haiti crisis and other news stories from today.

MLK Day Mythbusting

Today we recognize the life, the achievements and the sacrifice of a true American hero: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


I thought I would take this opportunity to briefly talk about the small controversy about the relationship between Dr. King and the Arab-Israeli issue. Pro-Israel advocates like to cite a letter by Dr. King in which he makes it clear that he thought anti-Zionism was the same as anti-Semitism. However, this has since been shown to be a hoax. I saw a pro-Israel user on the HP attempt to use this letter, and was piled upon by the anti-Zionists there.

The anti-Zionists then took the argument a step further and claimed that if Dr. King were still alive today, he would surely side with them and the Palestinians against the "Israeli oppression." I am not so arrogant as to speak for a great man who is no longer with us. But there is more to the story than a falsified letter.

Although it is true that the letter itself isn't real, Seymour Martin Lipset wrote in a 1969 article about a speaking appearance by Dr. King at Harvard University. A student asked him a question about the Arab-Israeli situation and King responded, "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism." The letter itself may not have been real, but the viewpoint, that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism cannot be separated, was one that Dr. King did hold.


An article written by Representative John Lewis,who worked closely with Dr. King, is even more illuminating. Click the link below to read it.