Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Richard Greener vs "The Self-Hating Jew Myth"

Richard Greener is back with a new article, even less well put together than his infamous "settlements" piece a couple of weeks ago. This time, he takes on what the headline refers to as "the myth of the self-hating Jew."

I suppose before I begin talking about the article I should start by taking about what exactly the concept of "self-hating Jew" means, as it is not a term that has an obvious meaning. Simply put, the term "self-hating Jew" means a Jew who holds anti-Semitic beliefs. That doesn't mean that the person in question literally hates himself, after all, many so-called "self-hating Jews" don't think of themselves as Jews at all. As for whether or not Jews can hold anti-Semitic beliefs, it is perfectly possible in theory. MJ Rosenberg seems to be a big fan of conspiracy theories, including that Jews (right-wing ones, of course) control the media and that American Jews' real loyalty is to Israel. And the user lbsaltzman has made many comments that fit the definition of anti-Semitism. In both cases, it is unlikely that these people are in fact anti-Semitic or "self-hating Jews," in fact they probably aren't aware that what they are saying is crossing the line into hate speech. But as I have said before, determination is made by what people say, not by what people are. As for whether or not "self-hating Jews" exist, I am not so sure. Prager and Telushkin use the term "non-Jewish Jews." I personally think that there are simply Jews who believe that certain anti-Semitic myths and beliefs are true. How this impacts their views of themselves, I couldn't say.

Of course, this phenomenon doesn't simply exist among Jews. The term "Uncle Tom" to describe black people who choose "white culture" over their own has been around for centuries, and eventually led to the term "black shame." "Chicano vendido" has also appeared for Mexicans. To take an example from pop culture, the character of Uncle Rufus from "The Boondocks" is a good (though fictional) example of a self-hating black man. The fact is that there are a lot of anti-Semitic and racist beliefs and stereotypes out there, and Jews can fall for them the same way non-Jews can. Nobody questions that the phenomena of self-hating people of color is real. Why is it then when it comes to Jews that this suddenly becomes a "myth?" Mr. Greener attempts to explain further, but perhaps unsurprisingly, it doesn't pan out.

News the HP Doesn't Cover: "Like A Rock"

Yesterday President Obama in a speech called the US-Israel connection, "solid as rock." It has since been picked up by many Israeli and non Israeli news sites. Yet so far it is has not been covered by the Huffington Post, almost 24 hours after first being covered. Neither the "Israel" page nor the "World" page nor a google search reveals the story. Usually, politicians making comments about Israel is given top coverage, as was the case with Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. Yet not this time. I wonder why?

HPW: Koch on Obama

Former Mayor of NYC Ed Koch posted a great editorial on the Huffington Post, in which he discusses how Americans who support Israel should speak out against Obama's recent attempts to keep Netanyahu at arm's length. It's a great piece, and I highly recommend you read it.

Naturally, the HPers hated it. There were a lot of ad hominem attacks on Koch, and reminders that since Netanyahu allowed construction in East Jerusalem he deserves everything he's getting. But in terms of really bad comments, there weren't too many. I've got the ones that were below.

Nonsensical Comment of the Day

Here you go:

I don't think this comment could use any more words. It won't make any more sense or be any more justified.

Must Read Article

There's an extremely interesting article up on Ynet now. It's a response to Thomas Friedman's article and it's written by an Israeli journalist. The journalist, Avi Trengo, essentially states that if US aid is such a problem for the US, stop giving it. Israel can get along fine without it. He also compares the amount of US aid to Israel to the amount spent by the government during the "bailout" and you can see the Israel aid is practically nothing in comparison. There's also an interesting statement by a Palestinian industrialist:

"The Palestinian industrialist added that "the US and Europe contribute several more billions a year to the UN, UNWRA, ANERA, USAID, and to hundreds of other humanitarian groups that finance Palestine’s private consumption. Tens of thousands of Palestinians create nothing, make a living by producing occupation-related documents, and receive thousands of dollars a year in exchange.

"If Israelis want genuine peace, they must curb the flow of money to the Palestinians," the industrialist said, "peace will only come when we the Palestinians and rest of the Arab world realize we must choose between productive work and the ongoing struggle against the Jews."

Daoud Kuttab Tells Half the Story

Among the Huffington Post blogger stable, I like Daoud Kuttab a lot. He really has his act together, usually has a moderate political persuasion (though he is definitely pro-Palestinian) and isn't afraid to criticize anyone on any side who deserves it. His criticisms of Israel, though, are often not fair or measured, as in this case, when he only told part of a story for the purposes of demonizing Israel (again).

I guess I'll just jump right in. The story is about a "nonviolent protest" (Kuttab's words) which leads to Israel "preventing Christian pilgrims from reaching Bethlehem," which also made up part of the headline. Mr. Kuttab never cites a news article in the entire post, we are instead expected to believe everything he tell us as the truth. In the first paragraph, though, he begins to tell a very selective story:
"In a response to a totally nonviolent protest by Palestinian Christians and Muslims demanding their freedom of movement the Israeli army has effectively banned entry of Christian pilgrims and tourists from visiting the birth place of Christ."
 Okay, first of all, Israel has not banned entry to Bethlehem. It has closed the main checkpoint from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. It is true that as of today the main checkpoint remains closed, but all checkpoints are on limited entry due to Passover. There is no mentioned of "effectively banned entry" to Bethlehem or anywhere else. But more on that later, I want to talk about the protest. Click on the link below to continue.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Example of a Post: Undermining Netanyahu

I saw a post today that I thought I would share, because I thought both the words and the reactions to it were quite interesting. Before I post it, let me just say that the political message is very moderate and not in the least hateful or abusive. Here's the post:

The post received affirmations from both a pro-Israel and a usually anti-Israel poster, as it should, it is very moderate.

What caught my eye, though, is the phrase, "it's in the USA's best interest to undermine Netanyahu and his party." I'm not going to go on record and declare that Netanyahu is the most flexible politician the Israelis have ever elected, but most of the time we try to influence the things we can and accept the things we can't. This phrase, which is somewhat controversial when you think about it, passed by most of its audience without a flicker. Maybe it's because the USA is the one doing the undermining.

Put it this way: If it were an Israeli telling us that it is in Israel's best interests to undermine Obama (so that there can be peace, of course) how livid do you think the reaction would be? The truth, of course, is that foreign countries play politics in each other's elections all the time. The Arabs wanted Obama to win, Israel wanted McCain to win. Saying that is not particularly controversial, I believe. My problem is with the hypocrisy. The Huffington Posters can criticize Netanyahu as much as they like, and they also call for him to be removed from office or "undermined." More than a few times I have felt like doing the same. But the thought of Israel doing the exact same thing to President Obama would likely send their blood pressures through the roof. What an unfortunate double standard.

Getting Past the Question of "Is Obama Pro Or Anti-Israel?"

With all the latest goings-on over the relationship between the Obama administration and Israel, there has been much discussion about whether or not President Obama is "pro-Israel." We have articles on Ynetnews and the Huffington Post have articles that he is pro-Israel, while other news sites think he might be anti-Israel. In reading these stories, I am reminded of an article by Bradley Burston in which he encouraged his readers to get past "pro-Israel" and "pro-Palestine" thinking and instead just be "pro-Mideast."

I feel like it's time to stop trying to read Obama's mind and simply look at what he is doing. In other words, I don't think one should be focusing on the cognitive aspects of this problem and instead look at the behaviorism. Based on his speeches, President Obama is committed to peace in the Middle East, and he believes that that is what is best for both parties. I think that this is correct, so in that sense President Obama is pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian as well. And that's where my pontificating on his thoughts will end.

Though it's pretty clear that President Obama is motivated by a desire to help both the Israelis and the Palestinians, we should also remember that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Just because President Obama really believes that one-sided pressuring on Israel is what's best for everyone involved doesn't mean that it is the right thing to do. Furthermore, not listening to the Israelis because he thinks he knows what he is doing may be an understandable direction to take, but it is still not a diplomatic one.

It seems like a lot of writers on the subject are devoting a lot of time and attention to labeling Obama's stance on Israel and the Middle East. As we have learned by now, people and organizations don't fit into neat little boxes. I think we should stop looking at what Obama is and start looking at what Obama does, because in the end that's the only thing that matters. That may sound obvious, but I think that it is worth saying.

HPW: White House Passover Seder

President Obama, his family, and White House staff sat down to a Passover seder last night, as American Jewish families around the country did. This is a remarkable event and really shows the good relationship Jews have with the American government. However, even in this decidedly non-political article, some HPers took the opportunity to advance their political agendas or tell us what they really think about Jews.

American Football on the Rise in Israel

I just watched a video on the Jerusalem Post homepage about American football in Israel. There's no permanent link, unfortunately, but if you go to the homepage today or tomorrow it'll still probably be there.

Apparently an amateur league of American football teams have started up in Israel over the past three years. There are teams in Eilat, Haifa, Tel Aviv, etc., and two from Jerusalem. There's a playoff every year, culminating in the Israel Bowl, which this year drew over 600 (!!) fans. One of the coaches hopes that American football will take the place of the number 3 most popular sport in Israel, behind soccer and basketball.

Personally, I think this is awesome. Zach and I are big football fans, and more football anywhere is always a good thing. I don't know if the rest of you guys follow American football, but last year the New England Patriots (woot!) went to London to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The reason why they went is to promote more interest in American football in England. Clearly, if there's interest in American football, NFL teams should go there to play! That would be so cool!

One of the best parts of the video was watching the two football teams standing and listening to Hatikvah before the game started. I could get used to that.

Although, hilariously, I don't think the Israelis have quite gotten the idea of the game yet. One of the players being interviewed was asked, "Aren't you worried about getting hurt?" I don't think an American reporter would ask an NFL player that.

Sophia Reaches the Same Conclusion

"Sophia" over at Solomonia has reached the same conclusion as me about pro-Israel voices being called "traitors". While I based my observation on the posters on the Huffington Post, who are admittedly outside the mainstream (we hope), she talks about her personal experiences and "MSM bloggers".

As the Obama administration continues to give off the impression that to be pro-American is to be anti-Israel (an admittedly overly simplistic statement), I wouldn't be surprised if we see more of this kind of rhetoric from Israel's critics. It's ironic, of course, as the only people the Arabs don't like more than the Israelis are Americans, but we've seen that in the leftist mind at least that doesn't matter. If the USA is as antagonistic towards Israel as Syria, the Arabs aren't going to start liking us again. They're just going to be fellow travelers until Israel is destroyed, and then move on. It's important that we battle the accusation of "traitor" wherever it arises, online or in government, as it is a very slippery slope from then on. From the perspective of the Holocaust (and Jewish history in general), it's very disturbing language.

HPW: Rabbi Boteach's Obama's Hospitality

Rabbi Shmuely Boteach has recent written an article about the seder at the Obama White House, and in the process weaved in some of the current US-Israeli politics. It was very critical of Obama, to the point of attacking the President's character. Not something I would approve of in any circumstance, and not surprisingly it provoked a lot of outrage from the Huffington Posters who read it (which were not very many). Some of them crossed the line to make both anti-Semitic and abusive comments, including personal attacks on Rabbi Boteach.

The fully moderated thread has about 112 comments. There weren't very many comments of note, but those that were I thought I should share.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy Passover!

Just wishing an enjoyable Pesach to any of our readers who celebrates it. We'll still be posting tomorrow, but right now I have to walk out the door to a seder, so that will be all until tomorrow.

Causes of Anti-Semitism: The Jewish God

I've been reading one of the classic works on anti-Semitism, a book by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin titled Why the Jews? For anyone who is at all interested in the subject, I highly recommend. It was written in 1983, so some things have changed since then. Others, however, have not.

One of the important points that the authors like to stress is that anti-Semitism is the result of Jews and the people who hate Jews. This might seem obvious, but very often people blame anti-Semitism on things like economic recessions, lack of education, and things like that. In other words, they try to take "the Jews" out of Jew hatred, and claim that Jews are simply a convenient target. Jean-Paul Sartre certainly thought this was true. And we certainly see it on the Huffington Post every single time there is a thread relating to anti-Semitism. Prager and Telushkin disagree with this thesis, however.

As we know, the classic racists' argument is that if people hate Jews (or black people, etc) then that is because the Jews are so bad they deserve to be hated. As much as this line of thinking is detestable, there is a grain of salt within it. Prager and Telushkin have found that the hatred of Jews stems from the existence of the Jews themselves, and is a response to Jews. In other words, if the Jews disappeared or simply stopped being Jews, they would also stop being hated.

In that sense, Jews are responsible for anti-Semitism in the sense that if they gave up everything that makes them Jews (as we will talk about below) anti-Semitism will stop. An anti-Semite (or a well-meaning individual too) might tell the Jews to give up their Judaism, it just isn't worth it. For the first example, we have the Jewish God. Click the link below to continue.

HPW: Netanyahu: Obama Not a "Great Disaster"

Prime Minister Netanyahu is trying to patch things up now that he's back home. You can see a video of his statement on the HP, I didn't get a chance to watch it, but I think I got the idea. Just a couple bad comments, but worth writing down for your perusal.

Anti-Semitic Comment of the Day

Read carefully, can you find the anti-Semitism among the anti-Zionism?

This is the only country that was ever created based solely on a book of myths authored over 2,000 years ago by a group pf nomadic Jews. Wow, now that's not prejudicial at all. 

The Passover celebrates the genocide of Egyptian children. That's not prejudicial.

"The Maariv poll showed that more than 46 percent of Israelis still support a peace deal with the Palestinians that includes the return of almost all of the war-won territory in the West Bank."

How generous, especially since international law dictates that Israel is not entitled to ANY real estate they captured during the 6 Day War in 1967. And of course Israelis are certainly not prejudicial even when it comes to constructing illegal housing that is for Jews only.
    Reply     Favorite     Flag as abusive Posted 12:35 PM on 3/29/2010

Comment of the Day

I'm back from PAX but due to work won't be posting more until tonight:

I like the way it is American Jews who's freedoms we need to infringe upon, and not the many other groups of Americans who also support Israel.

Dude, Israel's getting a Dell (research center)

Anybody still remember those commercials? Anyway, Dell is thinking about opening a research center in Israel after receiving a grant from the Israeli government to work on cloud computing. Such a center would employ over 100 employees.

1. So how's that BDS movement working out for you, suckers?
2. For the conspiracy theorists out there, Dell's CEO Michael Dell is a Jewish American. And you all know the deal with them.
3. If this actually happens, I'm a Dell customer from here to infinity. I'm typing this sentence on a Dell right now, and this Dell has served me well for about five years. I'm getting a new computer soon, and odds are it's going to be a Dell.

[h/t: Yaacov Lozowick]


A disturbing trend Zach and I have been observing recently on the HP is the latest mutation of the "dual loyalty" myth. It previously came up with the "Hasbara" argument, which unfortunately hasn't lost any steam. But now it's pertaining to the U.S.-Israel relationship. Ever since President Obama has started the policy of keeping Israel at arm's length, the HPers are taking it upon themselves to assist him. What this translates to is that if you don't criticize Israel, you're a traitor to America. Don't believe me? Read these comments, most of which refer to a letter 300 Congressmen and women sent to President Obama about support for Israel.

Do you remember a time, not so long ago, when George Bush was President? We were told (I'm sure if you read the HP back then, I did not) that it was the highest patriotic duty to question the President. It was the sign of a vibrant democracy. In fact, if you weren't questioning this particular President, what's wrong with you? Get out there and make your voice heard!

But now, if you question what this new President does, you're a traitor. Obama doesn't like Israel, therefore you can't like Israel either. Doesn't matter if you are a Congressman or a commenter on the HP. I'm not going to comment on the policies in general about Obama, Bush or any other politician, but it's fascinating to see this hypocrisy on the part of the leftist HPers. We should always be free to disagree with anyone about anything without being threatened with accusations of "traitor!". That's our right as Americans and as free people.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

HPW: Axelrod on Israel Meeting 'No Snub Intended'

One of two posts on the Huffington Post about the restoration of the US-Israel "special relationship", David Axelrod has issued a statement that Obama did not intentionally snub Netanyahu by going to eat dinner with his family when Netanyahu was in the States trying to patch things up. Naturally, this created some consternation among the HPers, with a lot of them claiming to know more than Axelrod (i.e., that it actually was a snub, hallelujah!). I've got a few comments for you, including a couple doozies about Jews controlling the media. 

Good News From Israel

Every one in a while, we hear good news from Israel. When that happens, it's a shame to let it go by without acknowledging it.

Researchers have figured out how to grow embryotic stem cells in large numbers, when before they could only be produced in small numbers. I'm not a doctor, so I don't totally understand what the scientific significance is of this event, but there's no doubt it's a substantial breakthrough. Great to see Israel contributing to the world of science!

HPW: Gaza Violence Leaves 2 Israeli Soldiers Dead

A recent Gaza border incursion by the IDF was covered by the Huffington Post. Apparently, Palestinians were planting a bomb or multiple bombs near the border, and some soldiers went to stop them. A firefight broke out, and a Palestinian bullet hit a grenade on an IDF soldier's vest. The grenade exploded, killing two soldiers.

Short watch for the article, as it usually is when the Israelis aren't doing something clearly wrong, like building settlements. Some of the HPers were complaining about media bias, as usual. Others were, hilariously, arguing that the Palestinians have the right to do whatever they want on their land (at least they're admitting Gaza is now Palestinian land), even if it is plant bombs. Anyway, read on.

HPW User Profile Update: w00pecker5

The poster w00pecker5, who is the reincarnation of woodpecker4, has been banned. Zach and I knew he inevitably would be, as he posted Palestinian propaganda over and over like the worst of the spammers, so we never did a profile for him. At this point I feel we should have, as he lasted a lot longer on the boards that I expected, seeing as how he was blatantly a new username by the same guy (with little imagination).

However, the joy of seeing him banned was immediately removed by viewing his latest screenname, eaglewing, which is posting the same rhetoric without even a punctuation change.

Friday, March 26, 2010

HPW User Profile Update: Paul Hackett

The virulent anti-Zionist and borderline anti-Semite Paul Hackett has been banned. If you mourn his loss, read our profile of him to see how much he deserved it. So long, Paul.  Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Penny Arcade Expo!

I'm going to Boston this weekend for Penny Arcade Expo! It's going to be tons of fun but I'll be offline for the rest of the weekend. See you Monday.

HPW User Profil: Helgerry

Helgerry has shown up in Huffington Post Watches from the past few days, so I thought I would take a look at his overall comments. Not surprisingly, I found a lot of borderline anti-Semitic comments directed against "Zionists," as well as a few against Jews.

helgerry has 129 posts and has been active since November 2006.

Mythbusting: Islamic-Jewish Relations

One of the most common refrains we hear on the Huffington Post is that before the creation of Israel, everything was just fine in the Middle East where Jews and Muslims were concerned. According to many anti-Zionists (and people who don't know their history), Muslims had no problems with Jews only with the creation of the Jewish state. This of course is used to back up the case that the whole Arab-Israeli conflict is rooted in anti-Zionism, not anti-Semitism.

The truth is not even close to the case. There was not a lot of outright fighting, that is true. But that doesn't mean everything was perfect. To use a metaphor, to say there was no conflict between Jews and Muslims pre-Israel is like saying there was no race problems in America because all black people were slaves. Yeah, there weren't race riots, but in many ways things were worse than outright violence.

Huffington Posters are quick to point out that the Jews were better treated by Muslims than by Christian Europe. That sounds good, but when you look at how the Jews were treated by Christian Europe, you would realize that it isn't saying much. The Jews weren't being randomly killed in their homes by the thousands, or being put on trial for crimes they never committed, but they were oppressed in all kinds of creative ways. Click below to continue.

"Israel is the Easiest Target"

Interesting op-ed in the Jerusalem Post today about how Israel is the easiest target for Great Britain to pick on, and expelling the Israeli diplomat was a great way to distract the (apparently gullible) British public away from far worse domestic problems. The author, Oliver Worth, hits the nail on the head when he writes,

"The question begged is why, when thousands of refugees are purposefully displaced in Sri Lanka, human rights are consistently clamped down on in China and more than half of the world’s population fail to have their right to democratic leadership realized, is Britain picking on Israel for a crime it hasn’t even been convicted of?"

Now, the HPers always make the argument that just because bad things are happening around the rest of the world, that doesn't mean Israel should be allowed to get away with murder. And indeed, that is true. But the fact that HPers call Israel a terrorist state while the U.S. and Britain kill more civilians every month than Israel did in Cast Lead is extremely telling. 
The truth is, Israel is the easiest target. If you write a scorching op-ed against fundamentalist Jews, no one is going to call for your head. If you make fun of Muslims, though, we all know what happens. Israel has a free press and a democratic government. If you go to Israel, you can go pretty much anywhere, criticize the government, yell at their officials, etc. If you go to the Gaza Strip and criticize Hamas, you're liable to not come back. We rely on China for loans and consumer goods, so we're willing to overlook their human rights violations. Israel doesn't have as much to give, so the HPers are more than willing to make the Israelis answer for their crimes.
There are far worse evils in the world than Israel. But they are further away, and don't look like us, and we're better off leaving them alone, so we don't do anything about it. That's the double standard at the heart of every criticism of Israel.

HPW User Profile: PaulVerHoef

I was certain that the user PaulVerHoef was just another reincarnation of "AIPACbeGone" and "Cobalt60Amalek" so at first I was willing to ignore his comments. But he has remained on the HP for a couple of days, which is long for someone who posts such blatantly anti-Semitic comments, and has picked up six fans, including noted anti-Israel commentators Londoncall and Macready. Therefore, I thought a quick look at this comments was in order, though he has only around 30 (those that haven't been deleted, that is).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Comment of the Day

My favorite line is, "Educate yourself, start with YOUTUBE." That's excellent advice, pal, thanks.

News the HP Doesn't Cover: Patraeus Sets the Record Straight

Solomonia has covered new developments from the supposedly anti-Israel remarks made by General David Patraeus last week. According to the original story, Patraeus said that Israeli actions against the Palestinians provoke anti-American sentiment which in turn puts American troops in danger throughout the region. Needless to say, the Huffington Post talkbackers couldn't get enough of this falsified quote and pasted it into many a comment.

 Now as it turns out, Patraeus was misquoted. What a surprise. Check out the video:

Now, when the original story broke, the Huffington Post did cover it. I could have sworn that they had published the original story in the news, but now it looks like only the Anti-Defamation League's response was covered. Daoud Kuttab followed up with a blog post in which he accused Netanyahu of putting American lives in danger.

Regardless of the depth of coverage, the Huffington Post audience is certainly aware of this story now. I do not think it would be too much to ask for the HP to print this part of the story to make it clear what exactly was said. But they probably will not, given their history of refusing to print retractions.

Review: The $36 Billion Bargain

The $36 Billion Bargain is a book I've been referencing a lot recently, and I finally finished reading it. It's an interesting look at the U.S.-Israel relationship through the lens of statistics. The author, Organski, takes every myth about that relationship and examines it to see if it holds up. As it turns out, the myths that the Israeli lobby controls U.S. foreign policy and that American Jews use donations to make Congressman vote pro-Israel do not have any place in reality.

The author uses a lot of data and statistics, (34% of this, 85% of that), and if you are interested in that kind of thing you will enjoy this book a lot. But even if you aren't, as I am, he still outlines a convincing case about the true reasons the United States supports Israel. For anyone who does not understand why the U.S. supports Israel, you should read this book. It will answer a lot of your questions.

Unfortunately, the book has some flaws too. It's pretty dated, having been written before the Cold War ended. The author passed away in the early 1990s, so no chance it's going to be updated for the modern day. This makes its conclusions difficult to apply to the current U.S.-Israel relationship. It also doesn't ever talk about how giving money to Israel actually saves the U.S. money, which you would think it would from the title. Oh well.

So, if you want to know more about why the U.S. supports Israel, I highly recommend this book. It's a relatively quick read, with clear data in plain language. What more could you ask for?

HPW User Profile: KWindsor

KWindsor is a recent addition to our little HP community, but he has already validated Zach and my work for months to come. That's because he is a bona-fide anti-Semite. He only has 41 comments, but that is still abundantly clear. He hates Jewish influence in the American government, hates "Israeli" control over the media, etc., etc. He only has 4 fans, but one of them is CigarGod, the infamous "anti-Zionist atheist Jew" of the HP. Remember that CigarGod fanned this guy the next time you talk to him.

Inspirational Quote

I just found from my new book, and confirmed it using the Internet, this inspirational quote:

"I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation"
- President John Adams, 1818

Pretty cool that even back when the United States was young it was looking out for Jews and Israel. Sure puts the current situation in perspective.

HPW: Obama-Netanyahu Meeting Part 2

Yesterday the Huffington Post covered a story about the Obama/Netanyahu meeting at the White House.  The story is that there is no story, neither of the two sides would tell the reports anything about what happened. That leaves us to speculate, and speculate we did. Though most of the comments were just generalized Israel-bashing, of the kind we have grown to expect.

The fully moderated thread has about 300 comments as I'm writing this.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Richard Greener on Israeli Settlements

Richard Greener is a Huffington Post blogger who is relatively new to the Israeli/Palestinian situation. He has recently arrived in the "World" section with an essay entitled, "Israeli Settlements: What Are They Really?" As you might expect from the Huffington Post, he has a negative view of the settlements, and there is nothing redeemable about them. Some of Greener's facts, however, seem to be a bit off. I thought I'd take a minute to take a look at his work.

What immediately jumps to mind is Greener's now expected use of the legal argument to declare all the settlements illegitimate. Here is the critical quote:
"Article 49 is simple, clear and is not a subject of controversy. It forbids an occupying power from moving its own civilian population onto occupied lands as permanent residents. Despite this prohibition Israel has constructed settlements outside and beyond its borders for more than 40 years."
 "Moving" the civilian population? No, Mr. Greener, the Geneva Convention doesn't say that. What it actually says is the following (and thanks to readers for pointing out that in the original publication I had originally misquoted):
"The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
The key difference here is between the words "transfer," used by the Geneva Conventions, and the word "move" used by Greener. The term "population transfer" has a very specific meaning. It refers to a government or authoritative body moving large amounts of people, against their will or otherwise. It has never meant anything else.

In this situation, Israel is not forcing the settlers to move to the West Bank by any stretch of the imagination. They are choosing to move of their own free will. Was the Third Aliyah a population transfer? Was the Irish emigration due to potato famine population transfer as well? This might be illegal or prohibited anyway, I do not know the Geneva Conventions well enough. But the fact that Greener intentionally misrepresented what the Geneva Conventions said is very telling. I find it difficult to believe that he simply got it wrong. Why did he not begin his article with the truth? Could it be because doing so would mean acknowledging that the settlements are not in fact illegal?

HPW: Jersualem Approves 20 New Apartments

The Huffington Post covered a story about the city of Jerusalem building new apartment while Netanyahu is visiting the USA. The comments weren't too bad, though there were a few worthy of note. Mostly the anti-Zionist crowd just insulted people who disagreed with them, though the conversations were in general more civil than they have been in the past.

The fully moderated thread has around 500 comments.

Why the United States Supports Israel, Part Four

OK, last reason the United States supports Israel, and one of the most compelling.

The United States has interests in the Middle East. One of those interests is oil, but another one is convincing moderate Arab states to join with the U.S. as allies and radical Arab states to be moderate. During the Cold War, this interest was obvious. Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon were all Soviet clients, and the U.S. was enemies with the Soviet Union. Defeating the Soviet clients in battle with American clients (i.e., Israel) was good, but convincing the Soviet clients to abandon the Soviet Union and become American clients was even better. And the only way to convince the Arab states to join the U.S. was through Israel.

After the 1967 war, Israel possessed a lot of Arab territory. Israel was unable to return this territory after the Khartoum Resolution was passed, and five years later, Israeli leaders were getting used to the idea of a bigger state with lots of room to maneuver. However, the Arab states invaded in 1973 and got close to winning, but were soundly defeated again. It was at this point that the Arab states were beginning to realize they would not be able to defeat Israel in open battle. And that's when the U.S. came in.

The U.S. offered the Arab states in general, and President Sadat of Egypt specifically, a deal. The U.S. would convince Israel to return the Arab territory (West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and Sinai Peninsula) if each Arab states would a) sign a peace treaty with Israel and b) become U.S. client states and abandon the Soviet Union. Sadat of Egypt took the deal, and Israel gave back the Sinai. Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty, and Egypt became the second highest recipient of U.S. aid in the Middle East. This would work again with Jordan a few years later, although Jordan preferred to relinquish control of the West Bank to the PLO.

Now, this exchange is a good deal. The U.S. weakens the Soviet presence in the Middle East while strengthening its own. Egypt gets its land back. The only real loser in this deal was Israel. Sure, it gets a peace treaty, but Israel didn't trust the Arab states and it certainly wasn't willing to give back land for nothing. And yet, the U.S. was able to make Israel do what was best for the U.S., even though that wasn't best for Israel. Sort of throws a wrench in the whole "Israel controls the U.S. argument", huh?

So there you have it. Four reasons the U.S. supports Israel so strongly. U.S. interests are supported by support to Israel, and thus the U.S. supports Israel.

Lack of Moral Perspective Comment of the Day

On the new HP thread about the municipal government of Jerusalem building new apartments in east Jerusalem, we have this comment about the building decision:

We've seen a lot of people on the HP taking Israeli actions too far (like calling them signs Israel doesn't want peace, etc.), but this is the ultimate example. Building houses in Jerusalem is the kind of aggression that causes holocausts. Wow.

Netanyahu Agrees With Me

There's a good editorial posted in the Jerusalem Post today about Netanyahu's AIPAC speech, which you should read in full. It has two interesting points. The first is this quote:

"“As Vice President [Joe] Biden said, America has no better friend in the community of nations than Israel,” Netanyahu said, quoting Biden’s statement from his visit here two weeks ago. “For decades, Israel served as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism. Today it is helping America stem the tide of militant Islam."

Wow, doesn't that sound just like the first reason I outlined from The $36 Billion Bargain about why the US gives aid to Israel? I guess you guys should listen to me, I know what I'm talking about. Of course, that's not the guaranteed truth just because Netanyahu said it either, but the fact that the Prime Minister of Israel and I agree about Israel's role in the fight against the U.S.'s enemies I think is significant. 
The second part of the article is also worth checking out, especially since the AZs on the Huffington Post have been trumpeting General Petreaus' speech that, if you take certain words out of context, places blame on Israel for American soldiers in harm's way. 

"“Israel shares with America everything we know about fighting a new kind of enemy,” the prime minister continued. “We share intelligence. We cooperate in countless other ways that I am not at liberty to divulge. This cooperation is important for Israel and is helping save American lives.”"

Israel saving American lives. That's a statement worth repeating. 

HPW: Obama-Netanyahu Meeting At White House Closed

For those of you who followed the News yesterday, you would know that talks have begun about how to restart talks. The HP covered a story yesterday about a meeting between President Obama and PM Netanyahu at the White House. At this point, do I even need to tell you the reaction of the HuffPo audience? At the time I am writing this the fully moderated thread has around 700 comments with no intention of slowing down. Click the link below to read the comments of note.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mythbusting: Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel gets a lot of flak on the Huffington Post talkback threads. In the Israel-related ones, he is often accused of being a double agent, having a secret loyalty to Israel, being the actual power behind the throne in the Obama administration, and so forth. Many of these accusations are made based on lies, or half-truths, so I feel I should respond to some of these in this post. Before I do, though, I should point out that I don't have strong feelings about Mr. Emanuel, his work, or his politics. My reason for writing this is to counter anti-Jewish myths, not due to any kind of loyalty to the man.

Myth #1: Emanuel is a dual citizen. He's not. He was born in Chicago and has never held Israeli citizenship. This myth originated with a Edward Moskal of the Polish American Congress, who made this charge during Emanuel's primary race for Governor of Illinois in 2002. No one else, short of HP talkbackers, has made this accusation.

Myth #2: Emanuel fought in the Israeli army and killed Palestinians. Emanuel served in something called a civilian volunteer unit during Gulf War 1. He repaired truck brakes in an army base in Sar-El. Doesn't exactly strike me as the kind of work a bloodthirsty fanatic of Zionism would do.

Myth #3: Emanuel is more loyal to Israel than America. Well, as always, intent is difficult to prove. As far as pro-Israel voices in the Obama administration, Emanuel is not as strong as Biden or Clinton. But he is also Jewish, and did live in Israel for a while, so I guess that is where these myths originate. Looking at his political career, though, he has proven himself to be pretty moderate, and certainly less Israeli than the Israelis (unlike some other politicians).

Anti-Zionists and conspiracy theorists will latch on to these kind of things and will believe just about anything. That's why it's good to know the facts, whatever they may be.

Huffington Poster Calls for Murder of Netanyahu's Family

Yep. Just "legitimate criticism of Israel" here on the Huffington Post. Don't let anyone tell you different.

HPW: UK Expels Israeli Diplomat Over Dubai Murder Case

Before we even get to the comments in this latest piece of news, I had a couple of thoughts about the news story.

First of all, note the headline. This has now become a "murder case?" Why the change? Previously the Huffington Post referred to it as a "killing" (see here and here). Did something change in the nature of the event to upgrade it to a murder? Or is there bias, and if so is it coming from the Associated Press or from the Huffington Post?

Anyway, the story is that Britain expelled an Israeli diplomat because they were mad about Israel's role in the forged passports. There is still nothing in the story to indicate that Israel was behind the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh. See here:
"However, Miliband insisted Britain has drawn no conclusions over who is responsible for the killing of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, saying investigation by Dubai authorities was continuing."

Don't expect the readership of the Huffington Post to have read that far, though. Of course, most of them had made up their minds long before this decision was ever made. Right now the fully moderated talkback thread has about 500 comments.

MJ Rosenberg Stereotypes AIPACers

One of our favorite bloggers, MJ Rosenberg, has come out with another exemplary work. His latest blog post on the HP, AIPAC Conference: Who Are These People?, is a paragon of the kind of self-assured, self-promotional writing we've come to expect. Mr. Rosenberg, who is Jewish, has taken it upon himself to inform all of us what American Jews are really like (hint: they are nothing like the people at AIPAC). 

Mr. Rosenberg attended the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C., and I did not. However, I believe I can still challenge some of his experiences there, or at least point out the fact he did not provide adequate evidence to support his sweeping statements. Let's examine one: 

"AIPAC can be summed up in the words of an American college student on their promotional video. And the sentiment is repeated over and over again..."I love Israel, and I love the US-Israel" relationship." Get it. American kids, born and bred in America -- whose grandparents and grandchildren are or will be Americans -- love America because America is Israel's friend...Who are these people? Have you ever met a Jewish college kid like that?" (emphasis added)

Mr. Rosenberg has taken the statement "I love Israel and I love the US-Israel relationship" and simply made up the "fact" that these American students love America because America is friends with Israel. Such a statement is simply absurd and has no factual evidence to back it up. In fact, it is worse than a lie, it is the classic accusation of dual loyalty that has plagued Jews since time immemorial and of which the Dreyfus Affair is the most famous example. Mr. Rosenberg is accusing this college student (and AIPAC in general) of disloyalty to America solely because the student "loves Israel". But the lies don't end here. 

"Why do they scream, as one, over one poor captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, but give no indication of caring very much about the 4000 Americans killed In Iraq and Afghanistan. (Of course, most of them were for the Iraq war and are now pushing for crippling Iran sanctions that could lead to war)."

As I said, I was not at the AIPAC Conference. But unless Mr. Rosenberg went around and interviewed a significant sample of the people there, he cannot make the claim that these American Jews don't care about the Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here again, we see the baseless accusation of disloyalty to America based solely on the fact that these American Jews support Israel. I've always felt that support for Israel is a bi-partisan issue (and Congress' voting record supports that point of view), and AIPAC lobbies Republicans and Democrats alike. To make sweeping statements about the AIPACers' views on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars shows a willingness to stereotype that seems to cross the line into dishonest journalism. 

"So why are we the way we are? And why is the AIPAC fringe like it is? I'll tell you one thing. It is not primarily because we are better Americans. It is because we are better Jews, even better Zionists. They are...something else."

It's entirely possible that some of the people at AIPAC are less than kind when it comes to the issue of Palestinian suffering. In fact, some of them are probably downright racist. But this kind of rhetoric is exactly the kind of thing we could expect to see from the far-left or far-right spokespeople: "If you don't agree with us, you're not American!" It is true that 80% of American Jews voted for Obama, but I could also point out Obama came off as a pretty strong pro-Israel candidate before he was elected. To declare himself and "American Jews" to be better, and different, from AIPAC, Mr. Rosenberg showcases the kind of arrogance and moral extremism he claims to be condemning AIPAC for. 

In this article, Mr. Rosenberg showcases two different points of view, his and AIPAC's. He claims, without any evidence, that his point of view is the mainstream one and AIPAC's is the "fringe". But he offers no evidence to this conclusion beyond his own colossal arrogance.

Mr. Rosenberg challenges the reader at the beginning of the article to call him a "self-hating Jew". I don't think he's a self-hating Jew, it's clear he loves himself and the kind of Jew he is. But I do think he's something else entirely. At worst, he's an anti-Semitic Jew, willing to accuse other Jews of disloyalty and inhumanity without any evidence or doubt. At best, he's a foolish dreamer, unable to understand why the whole world doesn't see things the way he does and unaware that his words provide fodder for the anti-Semites among his readership. Good luck, Mr. Rosenberg, I hope someday your mind will open to other points of view. 

UPDATE: MJ Rosenberg has removed the first paragraph I quoted above, about the college student loving America only because of the US-Israel relationship. Baby steps, Mr. Rosenberg, baby steps. 

Why the United States Supports Israel, Part 3

Short segment today, because while this third reason for the United States' support for Israel is a fairly complicated point, it doesn't require that much explanation.

We discussed last time about how every nation in the world acts exclusively out of its own self-interest, or at the very least every nation never does anything to harm its own interests. When the United States does anything in its foreign policy, in order to get the decision passed, it has to be in America's interest at some level. "Christian values" or other such high-minded beliefs are almost never a factor. 

How does that apply to U.S. foreign aid? For every dollar the U.S. gives away, it expects something in return. This doesn't have to be a monetary return (and for many of the countries the U.S. gives money to, the U.S. does not expect a monetary return). It can be enhanced diplomatic relations, a UN vote for U.S.-supported resolutions, or for having a democratic government. In the case of Israel, the U.S. gets a number of things in return, as we discussed earlier. But what is more interesting from our perspective is how much the U.S. gives to countries that give them nothing in return.

Let's consider the U.S.'s aid to Africa. There is little doubt that people in Africa need assistance, what with all the poverty and such there. However, from the point of the U.S.'s self-interest, there is no reason to give aid to Africa besides humanitarian concerns. Africa is a black hole of money, it takes the money and does not do anything productive with it. The U.S. gets no return for all the millions it spends in Africa, the region is neither more stable, nor are the people dying at a significantly slower rate. I say this not to discourage aid from Africa, but to place the point of U.S. aid in an appropriate context.

When the U.S. gives money to Israel, it sees the money being put to good use. It sees Israel use the money to invest in technological innovation, support an army that fights terrorism (the U.S.'s common enemy), etc. It is true that the U.S. does not get much in the way of monetary compensation, but a strong Israel is in the U.S.'s best interest. Just like a borrower with good credit, the U.S. is more likely to give (more) money to a client if they believe the client will use the money responsibly. And compared to some of the other places around the world, Israel uses the U.S.'s money incredibly productively.

So there you have. Reason #3 the U.S. gives money to Israel: The money is used efficiently.

Ha'aretz Faked Poll Results

Remember that "majority of Israelis like Obama" article from a few days ago? Well, according to the Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz altered the poll results to make it seem like Obama was better liked than he really is.

From an international relations point of view, this doesn't seem very important. Obama and Netanayhu are clearly both doing what they think is right, without caring too much about what their populations think (for better or for worse).

However, for the other Arab-Israeli conflict (the name of my new book!) going on the HuffPo, this is a very interesting development. I have heard many anti-Zionists call Ha'aretz "Israel's most trustworthy newspaper" or other nice things, and it always sounded a little bit like BS. The fact that they reference it so much seems to indicate that it's the paragon newspaper of the far-left in Israel, dedicated to attack Israeli actions more than anything else. I don't read it myself, but I know this isn't the first time Ha'aretz has been criticized for, shall we say, less than honest reporting.

Let me just say I'm going to remember this article the next time an article about Breaking the Silence is posted by an HPer.

Comment of the Day

The original link.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dual Loyalty-Related Comments of the Evening

HPW: Clinton: Israel Faces "Difficult" Choices

In keeping with the recent tradition of the Huffington Post tracking the ongoing discussions between Israel and the US, the latest article is entitled, "Clinton: Israel Faces 'Difficult' Choices. If you want to check out the article, you can, but there really isn't anything new. Israel is going to have to give things up for peace, and so forth.

Despite the less-than-combative nature of the article itself, though, the fully moderated HP talkback thread was filled with anti-Israel hatred, including quite obvious instances of anti-Semitism. There are about 600 comments currently, but the results here were quite disappointing. I'll start you off with one:

Jeru.salem BELONGS to the Arab Palestinians.
The god of the bible does not exist and if he did he wouldn't be a real estate agent or a county records clerk.
The "state" of Isr.ael cannot be allowed to exist, the UN carved Isr.ael out of land that RIGHTFULLY belongs to Arabs and has for over 900 years.
No j.ews had lived in jeru.salem since the roman siege of 70 CE so the j.ews have NO CLAIMS that aren't deeply offensive to int'l law and that don't place Je.wish Theocratic interests above those of the ENTIRE WORLD.
End Isr.ael NOW!

Johann Hari Article Crosspost

My Johann Hari article from a few weeks back has been crossposted on CifWatch. If you haven't checked it out yet, please do so, as they do a lot of valuable work and many of their entries contain valuable information related to current events in the Middle East.

HuffPo User Profile: Azcowman

The user azcowman has few posts, and even fewer related to Israel and Jewish topics. Those he has, though, prove beyond all reasonable doubt that he holds quite blatant anti-Semitic attitudes. He first came to my attention last night and particularly in the "East Jerusalem construction" thread. If you doubt that there is anti-Semitism on the Huffington Post, read the comments below and then talk to me.

Azcowman has about 400 posts and has been active since December 2009.

HPW: Settlement Construction Will Continue in East Jerusalem

Yesterday the Huffington Post covered a pretty average news story, that the Israeli government intends to continue building in East Jerusalem (so far). This naturally led to a massive outcry from the Huffington Post readership, just like it always does. The anti-Semitism and anti-Israel hatred, though, is unsurpassed in a post of this size. Almost one in three comments were worthy of being tracked. The other two were simply variations on the impotent cry for America to cut off aid to Israel.

The thread currently has almost 1,000 comments, and is fully moderated. Click below to read the results. And sorry about the huge blank space in the middle, I couldn't get it off.

Did General Patraeus Really Say that?

If you have been following the Huffington Post discussions, you might see a quote by General David Patraeus in which he supposedly claimed that Israel's actions toward the Palestinians are putting American troops in danger. The idea being that Israel is provoking Muslims which in turn makes the job of the Americans harder in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It has turned out to be a fabrication. Max Boot, who was there at the Senate hearing when Patraeus spoke, said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was barely touched upon. If you don't want to look at the whole article, here is the sections of interest:

"We keep a very close eye on what goes on there [in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip], because of the impact that it has, obviously, on that part of CENTCOM that is the Arab world, if you will. And in fact, we’ve urged at various times that this is a critical component. It’s one reason, again, we invite Senator Mitchell to brief all of the different conferences that we host, and seek to support him in any way that we can when he’s in the Central Command part of the region, just as we support Lieutenant General Dayton, who is supporting the training of the Palestinian security forces from a location that is in the CENTCOM AOR as well.

And in fact, although some staff members have, various times, and I have discussed and — you know, asking for the Palestinian territories or something like that to be added to — we have never — I have never made that a formal recommendation for the Unified Command Plan, and that was not in what I submitted this year. Nor have I sent a memo to the White House on any of this — which some of this was in the press, so I welcome the opportunity to point that out.

Again, clearly, the tensions, the issues and so forth have an enormous effect. They set the strategic context within which we operate in the Central Command area of responsibility. My thrust has generally been, literally, just to say — to encourage that process that can indeed get that recognition that you talked about, and indeed get a sense of progress moving forward in the overall peace process, because of the effect that it has on particularly what I think you would term the moderate governments in our area. And that really is about the extent of our involvement in that, Senator."

H/T: Shrinkwrapped

Anti-Semitic Comment of the Day

On any given Israel-related thread (but specifically on this one):

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Anti-Semitic Comment of the Evening

The original link

"Israel-Firsting" as "McCarthyism"

If there's one thing that I strongly dislike in discussions on the Internet, it's misplaced accusations of tyranny or oppression. When there's an article about the Obama administration raising sanctions on Iran, we immediately get a bunch of HPers quoting 1984 and talking about how the Nazis needed an "other" to distract people from their true ambitions. No, guys, it doesn't make you look smart, wordly or well-read. It makes you look like a paranoid keyboard warrior who needs to scream out his message to be heard.

That being said, today I'm going to break my own rule to make a comparison of my own. In this case, it is about the accusation of "Israel-firsting" as compared with the accusation of "Communist" during the McCarthy era. I guess I'll start with just one example of a post in which this is done, from all the way back in December:

Rachel Brownlee
Don't bother trying to have a rational argument with the Israel firsters posting here.
They're probably paid by the State to do their 'good deeds'!
It's called Hasbara, in the West we refer to it as propaganda.
Israel, the only country in the world that has to pay people to defend it.

Comment of the Day

The original link.

HuffPo User Profile: SpoonieLuv

In the past, the user SpoonieLuv has been a steady part of the anti-Israel brigade on the HP, but his comments have always been moderate criticisms. In the past, though, he has been crossing the line more and more into hate speech and borderline anti-Semitic demonizations of Israel.

Like many internet users, he simply repeats the same talking points over and over again. One of his favorites is to refer to the Israeli Defense Forces as "Israeli militants" so as to put them in the same category as Hamas. He repeats this in practically every post, as if to convince himself as well as his audience. He also makes borderline (and not so borderline) racist comments against Israelis, often implying that they aren't "responsible enough" to be trusted with US weapons and technology. Click the link below to read what he has.

SpoonieLuv has been active since December 2008 and has 403 comments at this time.

HPW: Ban-Ki Moon Condemns Israel's Construction

The UN Secretary General has weighed in on the current worldwide condemnation of Israel, which is certainly a bummer. Naturally, this was a great opportunity for the HPers to tell us all the problems they have with Israel (and other things). I'll let you see this worst one above the fold, because it's pretty epic:

Israel has become a cancer in the middle east and I personnally plan to avoid any article written by HP blogger, messy. Her comments here are really a hot mess.

Yes, President Ahmadinejad is on the HP! Good to know. Read on for the rest.