Friday, July 30, 2010

Daoud Kuttab Strikes Again

As I believe I mentioned in the past, I wish all of the HP bloggers could be like Daoud Kuttab. Although he is pretty clearly pro-Palestinian, he isn't condescending or insulting and (most of time) just reports the facts. Sometimes, though, he publishes opinion pieces that are quite frankly chock-full of half truths and distortions. And when he does I feel obligated to call him out on it. Like his latest article for instance, about the peace process in general.

Mr. Kuttab begins by telling some personal stories. But then check this out:
"Only when the Turkish led multi-ship flotilla had challenged the blockade and embarrassed the Israelis who were blocking jam and coriander (among other things) did the blockade ease on food items, and not on any other materials needed for the conduct of a normal life."
There were flotillas before the MM one. It's just that none of them succeeded in getting their own people killed. If Mr. Kuttab wants to explain that "peace activists" getting themselves killed for the cause was what really caused Israel to back down, he would be making a good point and he would probably agree. But the flotilla simply "challenging" the blockade would not have made a difference. Just look at the other peaceful flotillas if you don't believe me.

Furthermore, what is this about "any other materials needed for a conduct of a normal life?" Can Mr. Kuttab be more specific? According to news reports (which I know can be unreliable) construction materials and weapon-making materials are the only things no longer allowed in. From the outside it certainly appears like normal life is happening. Even Hani Almadhoun admitted that water, electricity and the Internet were available, just not easy to get. Maybe this depends on what we mean by "a normal life."

Then Mr. Kuttab spins this story like crazy:

"One of these results was the victory of the pro Hamas reform and change parliamentary list. Among those who won parliamentary seats were four Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. By running in the elections, they broke no Israeli law, but by winning a free and fair elections that was supervised by respected international observers such as former US president Jimmy Carter, they seem to have broken an unwritten law. This mysterious undeclared law seems to say that by winning the Jerusalem seats, because they had an Islamists persuasion these elected Islamists are doomed for life.

For a while after the elections they were left alone, one of them Khaled Abu Arafeh was even made minister in the Palestinian Authority for the affairs of Jerusalem. But the moment that an invading Israeli soldier was captured in Gaza, these legislatures and others in the West Bank were rounded up and put in jail. Recently and after being released, they are about to loose their rights to reside in Jerusalem."
 This is a perfect example of when certain people try to make a political issue into a legal issue. Hamas and Israel are still at war. Hamas is still a terrorist organization dedicated to Israel's destruction. So just because Hamas members live in East Jerusalem and were elected into their position does not mean that Israel is obligated to leave them alone. If anything I am surprised that Israel did not arrest them immediately.

It's also interesting that Kuttab claims that it was "because they had an Islamist persuasion" Israel mistreated them. Not because they were leaders of a genocidal terrorist organization. Does this strike anyone else as an attempt to play the race card? Even though Islamism is not a race?

What Do the BDSers Want?

Seeing as how we just discussed this topic, I thought I would share a video found by Elder of Ziyon about the BDS movement's true motivations:

I learned some things such as that BDS is very much against Israeli-Palestinian cooperation and a two state solution, and will actively work against it if they could. Here are some other interesting quotes.

"The right of return will extinguish Israel as Jewish state, and that is not an option."
-President Obama.

"BDS will help bring about the defeat of Zionist Israel and victory for Palestine."
-BDS activist Rossie Kasserof (?)

Ami Kaufman's (and MJ Rosenberg's) Latest Complaint

Even when there is nothing much newsworthy happening in Israel, it's nice to know that we can rely on the HP to dig down really deep to find a story that makes the Jewish state look bad. A couple of days ago Ami Kaufman was happy to provide it, a story about Israel "choosing trees over people." He tells a story about a group of Bedouins who were removed from a village, contrasts that with settlements, and makes many hysterical complaints about how evil Israel is. Oh, and MJ Rosenberg also covered the same story and said pretty much the same thing. But let's continue with Kaufman's article:
"And as is the case in any normal, Western country, when it comes down to people and trees -- you choose the trees, right? Right. And that's what Israel did today.
Israel sent its elite police forces, dressed in black, to deal with the enemy. The bedouin. Who are multiplying so fast, they endanger the Jewish identity of the State of Israel. And the Jewish trees will keep that identity alive.
I'm proud to be an Israeli today."
But as I am sure you are not surprised to know, Mr. Kaufman isn't telling the entire story.  I would like to thank our friends at HonestReporting for cutting through the hype and telling it like it is. They found the context in a Jerusalem Post article:
"In the statement, the ILA [Israel Lands Authority] said that residents first "invaded" the area in 1998, were soon evicted, and returned a year later.
The ILA said residents had been asked to rent the land for agricultural purposes for NIS 2 per dunam (0.1 hectare), but "they refused to pay and continued to infiltrate the land year after year."
After an eviction notice was issued in 2003, the residents filed a petition that made its way to the High Court of Justice.
While the petition was being heard, the residents "continued to infiltrate and squat on state-owned land, and in fact expanded their infiltration through constructing illegal and unproved buildings, crudely trampling on the law," the ILA said.
In 2007, the Beersheba Magistrates's Court dismissed residents' request for a delay in implementation of the eviction orders and ruled that residents were "infiltrators repeatedly seizing state land after being evicted."
There are tens of thousands of illegal structures in Beduin communities in the country, and several thousand more are built each year; far more than the number the state manages to demolish. Many of these settlements lack basic services, with residents living "off the grid" and not paying municipal taxes."
 Contrast this with Mr. Kaufman's (uncited) claims that this is really about the trees:
"But Israel and the JNF have a massive plan (Blueprint Negev) to make the Negev green with trees, and one of the planned forests is supposed to grow right where those el-Arakiv bedouin had the chutzpah to put their tents up."
 Uh, no, Mr. Kaufman. It has nothing to do with trees and everything to do with the Bedouins squatting on land that doesn't belong to them and then refusing to leave. You know, the exact same thing that the anti-Zionists accuse the settlers of doing? Mr. Kaufman has the right to complain that Israel is too lackadaisical with evicting the settlers as opposed to these Bedouins, but many of his other complaints are not valid and some are not even true. For instance:
"I don't get why 1,500 cops, with horses, bulldozers and a chopper came down today to the town of el-Arakiv and demolished all 40 homes, sheep stalls, removed belongings, destroyed trees and left over 300 people -- a majority of them children -- to fend for themselves in the July Negev heat."
Oh how awful! Oh wait, Israel is building 13 new towns for the Bedouin population. That's hardly leaving them to find for themselves.
"It doesn't matter that el-Arakiv was in the Negev before Israel was founded."
No. It doesn't. You break the law and your home gets demolished. Sort of like people who build illegally in East Jerusalem (Jewish or otherwise).

Like I have always said, I don't mind the HP criticizing Israel, even disproportionately. But dishonest criticism is a problem not only for people who care about this conflict, but for people who care about journalism in general. Unfortunately, dishonest criticism appears to be the HP's stock in trade these days.

Comment of the Day

The original link.

News the HP Doesn't Cover: Gaza Edition

More and more articles from the Middle East on the subject of Gaza are being published, and many of them tear down the mythology built around the conditions there. Thanks to bloggers I have found two of them.

The first is an article by an Egyptian journalist named Ashraf Abu Al-Houl talking about low prices, an expanded recreation industry, and stores overflowing with goods. Now it is true that many of the resorts are only for Gaza's rich, but let's not forget that everywhere (including Israel) there is economic gaps between people and poverty. The mental image of Gaza is that of a "prison camp" where everyone is destitute and lives in continuous suffering. MEMRI translated the article here.

The second article is about Amira Hass. I'm sure most of you know her but if you don't she is the boilerplate Ha'aretz editorialist: Hates Israel, thinks it can do no right, would be happy if it was destroyed. In fact I am kind of surprised that she hasn't already joined the Huffington Post blogger stable. If she was going to, though, she won't be joining with this article, as she blames the PA for Gaza's siege. I was not expecting that.

Of course the HP is not going to cover either of these stories but will instead publish "fluff" pieces like Kate Lowenstein's blog post, stories that are not news but bash Israel all the same.

MJ Rosenberg: Israel "Ethnic Cleansing," Carrying Out A "Pogrom"

MJ Rosenberg is the second journalist to have covered a story about Bedouin evictions in the Negev, but I wanted to cover his story first. Ami Kaufman's will come later today.

Now as HonestReporting has covered, Israel is evicting the Bedouins not because they hate them or because they want to "Judaize" the Negev, but because the Bedouins were squatting on land that doesn't belong to them. This didn't stop MJ Rosenberg from making things up about the story, though, not to mention relying on Guardinista Neve Gordon for his source.

Obviously you only need to look at the headline of this article to see Mr. Rosenberg's loaded language: Throwing squatters out of a place that they don't own is only ethnic cleansing when Israel does it. I have a feeling that when Israel was literally dragging settlers out of Gaza Rosenberg was not only cheering them on but the thought that it was "ethnic cleansing" never crossed his mind (thought it clearly was). What is even more interesting is that since I first drafted this article last night the headline has been changed to "Israeli Destruction of Bedouin Village." I didn't take a screenshot but just look at the URL to see the original headline.

After his video comes the second and more insulting use of a loaded term:
"Professor Neve Gordon of Ben Gurion University in Israel witnessed the destruction of an Israeli Bedouin village earlier this week. Apparently, the pogrom is part of Prime Minister Netanyahu's plan to reduce the Bedouin population in the Negev (note: the Bedouin are Israeli citizens)."
I don't know what to say at this point, besides that pogroms are usually marked by rapes and murders. I can't imagine why Rosenberg would use this term except to expressly convey hatred against Israel by using emotionally-laden terms where they don't apply. Mark it down as yet another example of Rosenberg doing everything he can to stir up hatred against the Jewish state (and by extension, Jews) and the Huffington Post enabling it. Oh, and by the way, Rosenberg's source does not in any way mention a "plan" to reduce Bedouins.

The best part, though, is after I posted Israel's real reason for demolishing the village, Rosenberg fought back with this, though it has now been deleted:

Yes, it's funny alright. Check our archives if you don't believe me when I tell you that we have caught Rosenberg (a) lying, (b) telling half the story and (c) completely making things up in his articles more times then I can count. No, Mr. Rosenberg, I don't trust the Israeli government. But I trust you even less.
Besides, it's not easy for the Israeli government to make up a whole story about the Bedouin/Israeli government interchange, including High Court rulings and so forth. Especially when they are fully aware that the eyes of their own people and the world are upon them. On the other hand, the Huffington Post doesn't even look at Rosenberg's articles before it publishes them. So who is less reliable?

Let's conclude with another creepy personal attack by Rosenberg made on yours truly, just for posterity (also now deleted):
And another:

Oh of course, we're just supposed to believe you because you told us you were being truthful. How silly of me to think otherwise.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Nazi Comparison Comment of the Day

Because that's all the Nazis ever did, right? Occupy things?

The original link.

Gaza Rap Update!

Remember when Iara Lee wrote an article about the awesome and cool Arab hip-hop artists, and how they were going to lead the resistance through their cool dancing and lyrics?

Well, I wonder if she is now going to cover this story:
"Many youths, who make up the majority of Gaza's 1.5 million residents, are stuck between Hamas' strict version of Islam and an Israeli-Egyptian blockade that keeps them locked in with little work.
Inside, however, creativity blooms, sometimes clashing with traditional Gaza social codes or Hamas' standards of acceptable behaviour.
Rap, for one, raises suspicion.
"When we started, everyone said, 'Why are they wearing baggy clothes? Why do they greet each other like that?'" said Ayman Mghamis, 25, of Palestinian Rapperz, one of Gaza's 10 or so rap groups.
Gazans started accepting them, he said, but the Hamas government didn't.
Hamas police broke up a show in March that contained a rap act. Police said the event lacked permits, but the rappers took it as a cue to keep their heads down. While underground, the rappers distribute songs on the Internet and perform at events organized by international organizations, which they say keeps authorities at bay....
Underground activities are rare for Gaza women, who have greater housekeeping duties and are expected to be discreet in public."
 You know. Since she is so interested in Gaza's rappers.

Arab League Endorses Talks

Qaddafi of the Arab League said that they support direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Netanyahu, of course, is ready to go and so is President Obama.

Abbas, on the other hand, said that he would not agree to direct talks without a guarantee for a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 war borders and an end to all settlement activity. But check out another statement by him:
"Abbas also told the Arab League he was facing "pressures I have never faced before in my life from the American administration and the European Union and the secretary general of the United Nations," adding that he would step down if he saw "matters are not going well."
But remember, it's Israel that the world is slowly moving against.

I'm just letting you know all of this, because the HP won't.

My Thoughts On the Ground Zero Mosque (Part 2)

When this issue was first broached I was unsure what to think about it. I could see both sides of the issue pretty well but I couldn't come up with an opinion that would satisfy all parties involved. But then I read a letter to the editor in the Hartford Courant, and I can't remember who it is by so I can't cite it but I thought I would give credit where it is due.

Although it is true that a mosque has stayed in that spot for years, it has now become a problem that the people behind it want to expand it massively into a community center. Now, some of it's defenders say that the goal behind doing this is to promote cross-cultural and cross-religious understanding. Which of course is a noble goal which all of us can get behind.

But here is the reasoning that the letter used: On one side are those Muslims and their allies who feel like the community center should be built. But on the other side are families of the victims of 9/11 who feel uncomfortable with that decision. The reality is that those people's losses are real and their feelings are real too. Calling them "bigots" and "Islamophobes" is that not the way that you deal with those feelings, as I believe Matt touched upon.

So if the goal of this endeavor is to create better understanding and tolerance, then why should we expect the victims of terror to be the ones to "man up"? It really is not very much to ask that the community center be built somewhere else, if the alternative is forcing the families of terror victims to accept something towards which they really are not very comfortable.

Although some on the HP try to make it so, this issue is not about religious freedom. It's about mutual respect. It always has been, I thought. And mutual respect should not have to start with the victims of violence until they are ready. And yes, if it were any other group in that situation I would feel the same way.

I know this is still a complicated issue and I am not going to dig in on this view. But this is the way I currently feel about it.

MJ Rosenberg Weaves a Tangled Web

Readers of this blog should at this point be intimately familiar with MJ Rosenberg. We’ve talked about him and his conspiracy theories and his personal attacks quite a bit. But just when I think we’ve said all we could possibly say about him, he comes out with a doozy of an article on the HP. There’s nothing particular terrible about the article itself, but if you follow Rosenberg’s writings, you start to see the whole narrative he is stringing together. Read closely every section of his posts I quote as we move forward.

Part 1

Rosenberg writes a bunch of articles about aipac and how powerful it is. He laments how the Israel lobby has too many politicians at its beck and call, and complains about the insidious tactics used by it. Yadda, yadda, yadda, America is at the mercy of aipac and we have to get out from under it.

Part 2

Rosenberg writes an article entitled neocons: bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb iran. Zach already wrote about this article at some length, but I will just remind you what he said. Rosenberg tells us in this article that the term “neoconservative” was coined by an American Jew (it debatably wasn’t) in a Jewish magazine. He talks about Commentary magazine, a Jewish publication that is now neoconservative’s “Pravda”. But hey, he points out that,
“FOR the record, the term neoconservatives, although invented by the still-neocon American Jewish Committee by way of its then magazine Commentary does not only apply to Jews… At the most, there are 200 neocons. They are not all Jewish although many are, and that number includes the leadership of aipac, the American Jewish Committee and some of the other major organizations (which, all together, have memberships representing 5% of all Jews)…. But, for the record, it is insulting to Jews to suggest that the neocons represent them. Nobody chose them….”

So what is Rosenberg saying in this article, really. The neoconservative movement is made up (not entirely!) of a small group of Jews and the neoconservatives want to bomb iran. You got that? Go through his article if you don’t believe me, that’s the thesis he’s putting together.

Part 3

And now we finally get to Rosenberg’s most recent article, Neocons Ready Fall Campaign to “Pearl Harbor” iran. It’s extremely short, and mostly consists of a personal attack on Jeffrey Goldberg, but it’s the final link in this chain Rosenberg is putting together. Here is the key sections of the article,

“It's still summer but the word in Washington is that, come fall, the neocon crowd that helped lie us into iraq will be out trying to do the same thing with iran…war with iran would be a disaster for America, for Iran and for Israel. It would also put America's forces in iraq and Afghanistan in even more danger than they are in now. Will that stop the neocons from urging the US or Israel to "Pearl Harbor" Iran? No. Why would it?”

Rosenberg is concerned about the neocons creating a false scenario that would lead America into war with iran.

So what is Rosenberg really telling us through these three parts? He’s telling us that a small group of Jews in Washington D.C. are lying and scheming to make the United States go to war with Iran, which would be a disaster for America. Rosenberg says this Jewish group is to (partially) to blame for the iraq war as well, and questions whether they are more loyal to Israel than to the United States.

Rosenberg offers numerous fig leafs (most Jews aren’t neocons, neocons are not exclusively Jewish), but his base premise, in my view, comes through loud and clear. The neocons are to blame for iran/iraq, neocons are mostly Jews, and therefore…, well, he leaves that last step up to his readers.

If you think there is any part in my logic and readings of Rosenberg’s words that doesn’t fit, email me and let me know. But I think I’m reading him accurately, and it’s extremely disturbing this person is given a platform to spread his manipulations on the HP.

My Thoughts on the Mosque Near Ground Zero

My thoughts on the controversial building of a Muslim "communication center" near Ground Zero, as paraphrased from an HP thread.

Let's put this situation in another context. Jews want to pray on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. According to the Jewish religion, that's where the site of the Temple was during David and Solomon's kingdom. However, Jews do not pray on the Mount itself because of Muslim rioting and violence that occurs whenever Jews go up there.  Do they have the right to pray on the Mount as free people? I think, yes. But they don't because they recognize the fact that living in peace with their neighbors is just as important if not more important than praying where they want when they want.  And that is for the holiest site in Judaism. There is no reason why this mosque cannot be built a little farther away from the WTC site, and changing the location will make a big difference for some people. 

Just because you have the right to do something, that doesn't mean you should do something.

I think in this case, a little give and take will go a long way. Many Americans believe that Muslims ARE "out to get them" and do want to "destroy America", you can see that on this thread. But I think rather than lecturing NYers who are uncomfortable with the mosque about how they shouldn't feel uncomfortable, the leaders of the mosque should acknowledge those feelings and really show their fellow Americans they respect their feelings. I think America takes the high road a lot and tries to live up to its values, but it would not kill the leaders of this mosque to meet us halfway just this once. 

The memory of 9/11 creates a complex array of emotions. But being told "you're a racist" or "you're a Islamophobe" when you try to express those emotions will not make those emotions go away, they will just be clamped down and left to ferment.

This is not a question about rights. No one disputes that Muslims have the right to build a mosque, or communication center, or whatever, in New York City. But it's not a question of rights. It's a question of whether building a mosque in NYC is a good idea from a neighborly point of view. I don't think the people protesting the building of the mosque are genuinely Islamophobic, I think they can't necessarily articulate why they don't want the mosque but they know it feels wrong somehow. If Muslims want to be tolerated in the US, they should respect how their fellow Americans feel about a mosque near Ground Zero. Yes, they had nothing to do with. Yes, they are as American as everyone else. Yes, they have the right to build there. But part of being an American means making compromises so that we can all live together in relative harmony. 

In this case, I think, there's nothing wrong with asking the Muslim builders of the mosque to compromise in the interests of the greater good. 

Comment of the Day

The Oliver Stone thread is a gift that keeps on giving:

I think this comment more than any other just shows how far out of the mainstream the people on the Huffington Post truly are.

They have created exclusively in their minds an all-powerful "Jewish lobby" that quite literally controls everything in America. They also claim that the Jews will silence anyone who says something critical of Israel, and then proceed to make Critical Comment #1189 in a thread full of discourse about Israel and the Jews. Of course, they never see the irony in this.

They claim that the Jews play the victim but can never find an example.

They claim that Israel uses the Holocaust as justification for their actions against the Palestinians but can never find an example.

And they claim that the Jews call anyone who they don't like an "anti-Semite," but yet again never are able to produce an example of this.

What I find so amazing about this is that no amount of facts will convince them that none of these complaints are real. And different posters in different threads all make the same complaints! It's like they were coached to do it. If someone can come up with an explanation for this phenomenon I would love to hear it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Intransigence of the Day

Mahmoud Abbas went on record to say that there is nothing to be gained from direct talks with Israel, so he isn't going to support them. This despite America, Israel, and much of the world calling for them.

Think the HP will give that a headline?

"It is Inconceivable to Me...."

The original link.

On Religious Claims to Land

A myth that I continue to see tossed around on the Huffington Post is the claim that Israel's claim to the land is solely based on either (a) the fact that Jews lived there thousands of years ago or (b) that the Jews have a religious claim based on their beliefs. It's usually the latter, and after making it the talkbacker will sneer at the Jews for actually believing in such archaic tomfoolery, let alone building a country out of it. Here is one example, though there are plenty should you choose to go and find them:
Now I know that religion is not something that we commonly discuss on this blog, but I hope you don't mind if we make a short foray here. I feel I should point out first that it's very typical for the HP to demand that we respect religious differences (such as a woman's decision to wear a tent when it's ninety degrees) except when it comes to the Jews (like deciding who is a Jew). But ultimately that isn't relevant because the Israeli claim to their land is not based on religion.

Most Israelis (even most settlers) are not very religious and more than a few of them are secular. This is somewhat counterbalanced by the perception that the minority that are very religious are also pretty fanatical about it. Even most of the settlers are not there because they believe that the West Bank is the land promised to them by God, etc etc. They are there because of cheaper housing, about as secular a motivation as you can get.

As for Israel's existence, there are innumerable laws and documents recognizing that Israel has every right to exist on that land. They include Balfour, UN recognition, and so forth. This is far more than most countries have, and it is even more than the Palestinians have, when you want to put it that way. Therefore it seems to me that this whole religious argument is just another strawman: It's easy to knock down someone else's unheld religious beliefs, so better just pretend that they hold them and make fun of them accordingly. It's much harder for an HPer to argue with the UN and the international community than with a religious person, especially in our secular age. Really, it just shows more anti-Zionist ignorance not only about Zionism itself, but about Israel and it's people. Can't say I am surprised, though.

Today's HP Holocaust Denial

The original link. This user has now been banned.

Iara Lee On Hip-Hop

Iara "Flotilla Fool" Lee is back with another article on the HP. I'm not going to fisk the entire thing here because most of it is simply reporting information, though filled with the usual half-truths and outright lies such as "Israel massacred nine activists on the flotilla." What is distinctive about this one is that Ms. Lee talks about Arab groups who perform hip-hop to "show they won't be silenced." The idea being that it is yet another form of "resistance." She also does a decent amount of shilling for herself in the form of her movie "cultures of resistance."

You can check it out if you like, but I thought I would simply respond with the comment that I posted on the thread:

You people continue to not get it, do you?

Genocidal, Jew hating terror groups run free in the Palestinian territories. In fact most of them have a hand in running the government and indoctrinating the people.

As long as those groups exist, Israel will not cease the occupation or the other measures it takes to defend itself.

It doesn't matter how many people protest non violently.

It doesn't matter how many films you make or flotillas you ride on.

It doesn't matter how many cute hip-hop groups dance and sing for the cause.

It doesn't matter how many children's drawings get written on walls.

As long as the Palestinians pose a threat to not only Israel but all the nations around them, they will continue to be "oppressed."

If you want this conflict to end, Ms. Lee, figure out the root cause and stop it. Everything else is just a waste of everyone's time and energy.

Starcraft 2 Is Out!

If this blog doesn't update as frequently for the next few days, that is why.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Anti-Semitic Comment of the Day

On the anti-boycott thread,

Original link.

Oliver Stone Finds Support on the HP

As I am sure those of you who have been following the news are aware, director Oliver Stone recently made some anti-Semitic comments about Jews "dominating" the media and exploiting the Holocaust to their own ends. The Huffington Post published a blog post about it by Brian Levin and also a news article which has gained about two hundred comments.

You will probably not be surprised to hear that more than a few of the HPers approached the story with the attitude of "He's right, the Jews do control America." You think I am kidding. Here is a selection of comments from the very first page at the time I read it:

I would be remiss not to tell you that there were at least as many commentators denouncing Stone and his words, but even these show you how far outside the mainstream the HP talkbackers can be.

Hani Almadhoun on Gaza

Hani Almadhoun is usually pretty critical of Israel but his latest piece on Gaza is actually pretty well balanced and free of victim-playing. Of course I feel it is worth mentioning that even when nothing newsworthy is happening in Gaza the HP still feels like it needs to crank out articles about it. But anyway, Mr. Almadhoun mostly talks about three necessities that the Gazans lack: Water, electricity and the internet. Of course, I don't think most people would agree that the internet is a necessity but I guess as a blogger he would need it himself.

Mr. Almadhoun talks about how water is rationed in Gaza and that makes life harder because people need to wait in line to get it. But the rationed water is used for everything but drinking: Drinking water is purchased from filtering centers that are scattered all over Gaza. This was news to me: I didn't know they had filtering centers in the Warsaw Ghetto. It was this sentence that really surprised me, though, when he talked about electricity:
 "Due to the standoff between the Gaza power company, the Hamas government and the Ramallah authority, many homes in Gaza have little power, and most homes experience power outage on a daily basis."
 How easy it would have been to either blame Israel (or "the siege") for the Gazans' electricity woes, or just leave it undefined and let the HPers imaginations fill in the gaps. Major props to Mr. Almadhoun to explain (though not completely) the context and in the subsequent paragraph more detail about life in Gaza. Though I can't know whether or not he intended this, it seems to make a crack in the anti-Zionist mythos surrounding the Gazans and their lives.

Finally, he talks about the Internet: "Many Gaza homes, especially those of young college students who use the internet for homework, entertainment or gaming, have to wait until the night to see a relatively faster internet connection. During the day the network is painfully slower and even checking one's email can be a lengthy affair."

Again, Gazans playing Call of Duty online does not exactly match up with the "concentration camp" image that most of the HPers have in their heads. I don't know about anyone else but I know when I was younger dial-up internet was quite common and doing much of anything took awhile. And that was in, you know, America.

Of course, Mr. Almadhoun did not talk about the shopping malls, the fancy resorts, or the restaurants of Gaza. Nor did he talk about the racist Avigdor Lieberman's plans to build up Gaza either, but we can't expect too much. He reported the truth of the situation, not the propagandist version. For that I congratulate him.

The New Anti-Semitism In Action?

People talk about the term "the new anti-Semitism" and there is some debate on whether or not it is real. I'm not going to weigh in completely on whether or not new anti-Semitism is prevalent today or not, but check out this comment. It's on a thread about Oliver Stone's latest controversial remarks claiming that the Jews control America, including the media.

Now remember that Israel only showed up tangentially in this article, Stone only mentioned it once, claiming that it was messing up US foreign policy. The really problematic comments were where he said that Jews dominated the media and played up the Holocaust, as well as lobby the government to the point where they now control it too.

Now on the one hand people tell us that American Jews and Israel don't have anything to do with each other. People criticize Israel but love Jews, they say, because Israel is it's own state that makes it's own decisions. But take a look at that comment again. Why would Israel's actions have anything to do with a perception about American Jews and their "control" over America? Shouldn't the Jews' actions and Israel's actions have nothing to do with each other?

It sounds like the critics of Israel (anti-Semitic or otherwise) try to disassociate Israel from Jews in general, but only when it suits them. When they need to excuse anti-Semitism in America, though, they will blame Israel for it. Whether this indicates the presence of "the new anti-Semitism," though, I cannot say for sure. You be the judge.

Anti-Zionists and Dictionaries

Anti-Zionists have a funny relationship with the meaning of words. This leads to a strange relationship between them and dictionaries. Sometimes the dictionary is their best friend, and then it is not, and then it is again. If the dictionary were in a relationship with anti-Zionists, I would suggest that the dictionary end it immediately.

Here are a few examples, drawing on what Matt has already covered here.

I guess we'll start with the most obvious: Talking about anti-Semitism. When discussing that issue anti-Zionists will begin by using the dictionary to look up not "anti-Semitism" but "Semite." They therefore conclude that because "Semite" means people of Semitic dissent "anti-Semitism" does not mean hatred of Jews. The dictionary disagrees, of course, but it is forgotten now that it has served it's purpose in a tool against anti-Semitism.

Then there are systems of government: According to the dictionary, Israel is neither an "apartheid" nor a "theocracy," but that won't stop the AZs from calling it that anyway. And in fact some have been prone to make statements along the lines of: "You can quote the dictionary all you like I'm still right!" But then when they want to accuse Israel of a "massacre" or "genocide" they go right back to the dictionary as an unshakable and objective source, even if it means contorting the definition of those words beyond all recognition.

I feel bad for the dictionary, to be picked up, used and then discarded like that. Like I have said before, I don't mind people having different points of view than I do, but I don't like hypocrisy. Either the dictionary and certain other sources (like "international law") are legitimate and right or they are not.

Comment of the Day

The original link.

Monday, July 26, 2010

More Comments of the Day

A little casual anti-Semitism on the Jacob Weisberg anti-boycott thread:

The original link.

HPer Admits True Goal of Boycott

The original link.

BoJ Radio: Building a Better Anti-BDS Article

Every now and then Zach and I come upon a topic that we can't cover in writing the way we want to. Therefore this time we thought we would discuss on video the problem with the recent anti-BDS article published on the Huffington Post, and thought we would extrapolate on the problems with the BDS movement in general. Let us know what you think.


HP Traffic In Pictures

Click to zoom in, but there are about 1,100-1200 comments in threads about the U.S. most "likely" going to attack Iran and North Korea threatening nuclear war. On a Newsweek article attacking the BDS campaign, though, there are more than 2,300 comments.

Shows us what the HPers are interested in, doesn't it?

Comment of the Day

The original link.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

On Laws and Rights of Return

I was discussing the Palestinian so-called "right of return" on the HP with loyal blog reader Tony Andrews, and I wanted to get some of my thoughts down on here. The main topic of the conversation is how the Palestinian right of return relates to Israel's law of return, and how Israel supporters are hypocrites for denying the right of return to Palestinians but supporting it for Jews. Some of the information we discuss may not be news to you, but if you don't know much about rights of return, you may find the following informative.

Let's start with Israel's Law of Return. The most important thing about the Law of Return in relation to the Palestinian right of return is that the Law of Return is not a right for all Diaspora Jews. A Jewish person in the United States or Germany does not have the "right" to "return" to Israel. The Israeli government, and by proxy the Israeli people, decided to make getting Israeli citizenship for Jews very easy. As we've seen from the recent controversy over the conversion law, actually moving to Israel and becoming a citizen is not as easy as it seems. Furthermore, Israel can and does deny citizenship to Jews, such as for Jews who are criminals. So even though anti-Zionists claim that Jews have a "right of return" to Israel, implying that in that case the same right should apply to the Palestinians, the Jews simply do not have a right of return either.

Now let's talk about what exactly is a "right of return" outside of the Israel/Palestinian context? Wikipedia defines the right of return as "a principle of international law, codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, giving any person the right to return and re-enter his country of origin." What this simply means is that if a person has citizenship in a country, he must be allowed to come back to it. So if I go on vacation and leave America, the US government can't arbitrarily decide not to let me come back. It's really very simple.

Except, of course, when it comes to the Israel/Palestinian situation, things get changed. For starters, Palestine is not and never has been a country, therefore even the Palestinians who left their homes in the 1948 war are not entitled to "return" to Israel, let alone their descendants. When the Palestinians left/were forced out of their homes, they were not Israeli citizens nor did they consider themselves to be. Thus, Israel cannot be considered their country of origin under the law. The only way that they can claim the right to return to Israel under the right of return is if they were to say that the current state of Israel is their home. This is problematic for two reasons: 1) They have been saying that they are Palestinian for decades, not Israelis. 2) Their fellow Palestinians might not look so fondly upon their change of heart and recognition of the "Zionist entity". To say nothing about the legal documentation involving proving citizenship.

Chris Hitchens and the Clash of Civilizations

I had another thought about the recent Chris Hitchens article in which he said that Israel needs to end the occupation. It focuses on the section that it appears not a lot of readers made it to when they read the article:
"In order for Israel to become part of the alliance against whatever we want to call it, religious barbarism, theocratic, possibly thermonuclear theocratic or nuclear theocratic aggression, it can't, it'll have to dispense with the occupation. It's as simple as that."
This is very interesting because quite a few bloggers such as Richard Landes and Daniel Greenfield do in fact believe that the USA and it's allies are fighting a war against Islamism and not simply "terror," though they can feel free to correct me if I am wrong.  It's also fascinating that Hitchens in this article uses an example of "religious barbarism." What precisely would he be referring to there? Given his endorsement of the term, "Islamofascist," which goes a little far even for me, it certainly sounds like the "alliance" he speaks about is a Western alliance against Islamic theocracy.

Now assuming that one believes that the West is in fact involved in a war against Islamism (and not everyone does), then quite frankly: Israel is part of that alliance whether you like it or not, Mr. Hitchens. They are fighting Islamic radicals in the form of Hamas and Hezbollah, which keeps them contained. In fact some might argue that the occupation is part of that war against radical Islam because it is keeping Mahmoud Abbas' relatively secular government stable against Hamas takeover. As for Iran, Israel has been right up there with the US trying to keep them from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Do not get me wrong: Both Mr. Hitches and the HPers are right when they say that Israel should the occupation. The thing is that whether or not Israel should end the occupation is a separate issue with their status as a Western power. Here are a few truths: Israel is a US ally and remain that way, whether they like it or not. Israel is part of the war against radical Islam, whether they like it or not.

And Israel's enemies are our enemies. Note that this is a controversial view by HP standards: According to the HP talkbackers, Israel completely created it's own enemies by it's imperialistic and aggressive actions. But if Mr. Hitchens is correct and radical Islam is a global problem, then no amount of concessions on the part of Israel will solve it, either in the Middle East or elsewhere. Israel didn't create radical Islam but they are as much on the front lines of it as Pakistan and American troops in Afghanistan. Mr. Hitchens and his friends might want to deny that if they like but that's the reality.

Logical Fallacy: Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is a phenomenon in psychology in which, in short, “people see what they want to see and believe what they want to believe.” All people on all sides of political issues are vulnerable to falling for this, but in recent days on the HP I have seen it played out very clearly.

The most notable example is from the recent Arab rape case thread. Most people who read the article thought it was either (a) a stupid ruling on the part of the judge or (b) the woman was being ridiculous for even making the claim in the first place. But if you check the thread you will notice quite a few who used the article to “prove” that Israel is either a racist state or a theocracy.

It’s a perfect example of confirmation bias because these readers approached the issue with their preconceived notions in mind. They already believe that Israel is a racist society and therefore every news story that comes out of there will be contorted to fit that world view. The “bias” part comes in where the same readers concluded that the sentence must have been because the judge/ the jury/ Israeli society is racist and not for some other reason. Contradictory evidence (if there were any in this case) would be discarded, perhaps as “Zionist propaganda.”

Another example is with extremist Jews like the Neteuri Karta. An anti-Zionist will post a link to them and say "See! These guys say Zionism is bad and they're Jews!" But a link showing five million American Jews think Zionism is good is ignored completely, because it doesn't fit the confirmation. The word of a Jewish person was the authority for about five minutes but then is gone again.

When people are engaging in confirmation bias, it is easy for them to fall prone to lies. Just look at the flotilla raid: Everything the IHHers said was immediately believed by the Huffington Posters because the IHHers were saying what they expected to hear. Yes, I am aware that Zionists are just as prone to this bias as everyone else. It would do us all to keep this in mind when we receive new information.

HP Gives Anti-Boycott Article Headline...Why?

Check out today's Huffington Post front page:

Obviously the article we are interested in is the anti-boycott article down at the bottom. If you check out the article itself, it's not particularly well-written nor is there a whole lot of news contained within it. It's more like an opinion piece then anything else: Which makes me wonder why exactly the HP decided to give it top billing.

If you compare, it has almost as many comments by now as North Korea threatening nuclear war. And more than a few of them are comments like these:

Comment of the Day

Clearly he's talking about "Zionists." The original link.

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Thoughts On Leftist Anti-Semitism

I made some comments on Mr. Krinsky's recent article that I thought might be worth sharing in this medium. If you haven't already read the article, use the link above to get the gist of it.:

Mr. Krinsky, there's ONE simple reason why leftists are anti-Israel: They have swallowed the Palestinian narrative whole.

Around the time of the 1980s, a shift occurred in Arab-Israeli relations. The Arabs changed their rhetoric from "rah, rah, rah, we're going to destroy the Zionist entity" to "Oh, the mean old Zionist entity is attacking us for no reason." They began to shift their role in the conflict from attacker and victimizer to victim. And no group did this more effectively than the Palestinians.

The left bought this line hook, line and sinker. They completely believe the idea that the Palestinians are innocent victims and Israel is the cruel aggressor. They are so invested in this worldview that any evidence that deviates from this narrative, such as historical facts like the Hebron Massacre and the Palestinian rejection of the 1948 plan or modern events like rejections of negotiations and suicide bombings, are either Zionist propaganda which couldn't possibly be true or completely justified because of Israel's behavior. You would think the left would have an open mind to all sources of information, but in this case they are willing to make an exception.

The entire system of leftist morality is built upon victim and victimizer. If you're on the left, you root for the victim, no questions asked. In the I/P conflict, there's no question who's the victim and who's the victimizer, the Palestinians are brown, poor, and less armed, the Israelis are strong and white. Done.

Something else the left does is they twist discussion of "the Israel Palestinian conflict" into "what's wrong with Israel". You'll see it on this thread soon enough if you haven't already. Instead of talking about what Israel and the Palestinians have done wrong and what Israel and the Palestinians have to do next, the discussion becomes exclusively about what Israel has done wrong and what Israel needs to change.

This is related to the "victim" box the Palestinians are placed in. Because they have the title of "victim", the Palestinians don't need to do anything for peace and everything they do is irrelevant. For example, Abbas refuses to directly negotiate and has been for the past few months. But instead of criticizing him for stopping the peace process dead in its tracks, the left has shifted to complaining about Gaza, the flotilla, and the construction in East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians are not expected to work for peace by the left (or by anyone really), so they don't. If peace hasn't happened yet, it's exclusively Israel's fault because only Israel is expected to do anything for peace.

Here's a perfect example:
Palestinians can and are criticized. However, Israel remains the aggressor and the occupier.
See, everyone? Saltzman pays lip service against the Palestinians, but reminds us that Israel is "THE aggressor" and "THE occupier". The players in this conflict are placed into their neat little boxes, and morality is allocated accordingly. Israel is wrong and the Palestinians are right. Why? Because Israel is the occupier. To the leftist mind, it's as simple as that.

That being said, I'm not sure how many on the left are truly anti-Semitic. I think they are willing to use anti-Semitic tropes thinly disguised as anti-Zionism, but they are so sure of their own a) morality and b) righteousness that they truly possibly believe that the statement,"The Jews control all the world's money" is anti-Semitic but the statement "AIPAC runs the White House" isn't. We see that on these boards all the time, someone will make a "merely anti-Zionist" comment, someone will call them out on it, and you'll get fifty posts complaining about "the anti-Semitism card".

The left may not be anti-Semites at heart, but they are more than willing to use anti-Semitic tropes and defend anti-Semites who just happen to be "on their side".

Gulf Oil Spill Blamed on the Jews

You gotta see it to believe it...

The Ethereal Standard: Democracy Edition

I saw a post the other day that is a perfect example of the ethereal standard in action:

You can click to zoom in if you like but basically the poster is making a huge laundry list of things that Israel must do before it can be "a full member of the first-world democracy club." Some examples are (though wrong) understandable but others are not, for instance:

-Demanding the Palestinians be allowed to export their products.
-Demanding the Ultra-Orthodox serve in the military and work.
-Demanding that women be able to pray at the Western Wall (which they already can).
-Demanding that Israel set borders.

All of these things are probably legitimate things to criticize and debate about in their own right, so you might be wondering why this is a case of the ethereal standard. The answer is simple: No other nation has to jump through completely arbitrary hoops before being recognized as a democracy. Israel's actions toward the Palestinians have nothing to do with it's international government structure, any more than America's actions toward the Iraqis make it undemocratic.

If someone tried to tell the HPers that America is not a democracy only because it is occupying Iraq, they would be laughed out of the thread. But because we are talking about Israel, the ethereal standard is pulled out, given a dust-off and measured against Israel's status. It works perfectly: Israel doesn't measure up. Of course.

But when talking about Israel's enemies, the ethereal standard is still used, but in reverse: The bar is set so absurdly low that it's impossible for them not to be democratic.

The Palestinians had one election? Democracy! Who cares if they will never have another!
Turkey is often proclaimed to be a democracy! Who cares if they banned Youtube for insulting a historical figure!
Lebanon is a democracy?! Give me a break.

But the HPers will defend these nations' democratic status to the death, while if Israel had committed any of the above mentioned actions the calls would have been long and loud.

So I guess the question is: Why do the HPers hold this ridiculous double standard? Cognitive dissonance can probably answer it: As good liberals they can't side with a totalitarian government against a democracy, but as good leftists they also need to support the weaker side. So rather than support the stronger (but democratic) side, they prefer to force a reversal of roles in their own minds, so that they can denounce Israel and still think they maintain their liberal values. I hope it's worth it.

Chris Hitchens On "Ending the Occupation"

The other day Christopher Hitchens declared that Israel needs to end the occupation of the territories before it can "be part of the West." I'm not going to go through his comments, because for the most part they are pretty fair, nor am I going to comment on when exactly Hitchens became the gatekeeper for the West.

What I wanted to talk about is how so many people (on both sides of the issue) talk about "ending the occupation" just like that. Many anti-Zionists claim that they are merely "anti-occupation" and often accuse people who disagree with them of being "pro-occupation."

It's quite funny: I like to think I have talked with many people about this issue, including from all perspectives and ends of the political spectrum. But I have not met one who was "pro-occupation," who thinks that military occupation is a good thing that should continue. I have met people who think the occupation should continue until there is peace, and people who don't agree. Christopher Hitchens appears to be one of them.

I find this kind of attitude toward the occupation to be, although good intentioned, just another sign of the double standard that is prevalent among Westerners approaching this issue: Israel is responsible for doing everything, and if the Arabs don't reciprocate then it's because Israel didn't go far enough. For people who take this viewpoint to heart the endless calls of "end the occupation" probably makes a lot of sense but Israel isn't just going to do that unilaterally...again. For your average HPer to make that mistake is understandable, but Hitchens is well informed about the situation. He should know better.

Guest Post by hmp49

An interesting take on the rockets:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Another Comment of the Day

Note the 8 favorites.

HuffPo Digs Deep For Anti-Israel Story

Check out the headline from yesterday's Huffington Post World section:

Obviously the story we are interested in is in the lower right, and it's about a man being convicted of rape in Israel because he deceived his partner into thinking he was a Jew when he was actually an Arab.

I feel I should point out that this is the second time in as many weeks that the HP dug up an obscure story and gave it headline coverage. I call the story obscure because it was not featured in any of the major Israeli newspapers (Jpost, Ynet or Ha'aretz), let alone whether it warranted international attention. Perhaps the answer to the question of "why did the HP publicize it" lies in their original source for the story: The Guardian.

As for the story itself, it certainly sets up a strange question about what makes rape vs consensual sex; i.e. if the woman wouldn't have had sex with him were she aware of the truth does that make it rape? I'm not well enough versed in the specifics of sexual politics and law to have a strong stance either way. The issue is not, though, about the content of the story, but the HP's decision to cover it among all the Israel-related stories and give it a prominent headline.

But the complexity of the issues didn't stop the HPers from labeling Israel as a racist society:

I wonder if that is why the HP decided to cover this story in such detail?

Who Really "Plays the Victim?"

One of the most common accusations thrown against Israel and it's supporters is that they "play the victim" of Arab aggression when they really aren't. Of course the AZs can't provide any specific examples of this but it doesn't stop them from ranting about it in general terms. For example:
elisha job
Israel crying and playing the victim card is old, stale and tired. The world is waking up about Israel.
But of course one must wonder: Who is really the ones who wave the bloody shirt and claim to be "the victims" of aggression? Let's check out that very same thread (the Iron Dome one) and see what examples we can turn up. Here's what I got from the first page alone:

Israel has killed tens of thousands of civilians during their occupation.

Your Israeli IDF blow up civilian women and children.
They use weapons designed for maximum civilian casualties.

Compared to the tens of thousands of civilians Israelis have killed using weapons paid for by American taxpayers?

We're spending $2billion a year for Israel to occupy and subjugate the people living in the West Bank and Gaza.
They began clearing out towns and villages of Palestinians. They attacked Haifa, Jaffa, Castel, Tiberias, Tell Rish, Yazur and Salameh and many others. Also don't forget the massacre at Deir Yassin.

And the Arabs subjected to massacres at the hands of the Jewish terrorists (Stern Gang-Lehi, Haganah, Irgun well before 1948 and after Israel became a state (as well as the IDF).

Yes fanned If the super IDF was the best military on the planet they would have invaded and occupied Gaza. destroyed Hamas and pulled out.
Instead they bombed , killed and brutalized the civilian population. 
 I guess we have our answer for "who plays the victim card" don't we?

Alan Krinsky's "8 Reasons"

[Huffington Post blogger Alan Krinsky published this article a couple of days ago and I thought I would crosspost it. Naturally the HPers got all up in arms about it.]

8 Reasons Leftists Should be Pro-Israel

Israel continues to be the demon poster-child of the Left. The prime example of a repressive regime and abuser of human rights. On the Left, people became outraged and agitated over Israel more than over any other cause. Israel's supposed villainy will bring out protestors on cold, rainy days in a way no other issue can. Many of these people are earnest, but perhaps misled.

In most ways, my own politics tend to be Liberal-Left: I support single-payer, universal healthcare, I opposed the war in Iraq and the Bush-Cheney "imperial presidency," I even voted twice for Ralph Nader. However, like French philosopher Bernard Henri-Lévy, I differ on Israel and reject the demonization of Israel, whether at the United Nations, in the world media, or among American and European Leftists.

If my fellow Leftists or even Liberals think that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement will help bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as peace to the Middle East and harmony to the community of nations, they are sadly mistaken. There is a difference between criticism and demonization, and the campaign against Israel is of the latter type. Criticism, and there is much of it within Israel's own healthy democracy, can result in positive change. But the focused attempt to demonize Israel, not undertaken against any other nation, is aimed at delegitimizing Israel and undermining its very existence, as if the problems of the world were the fault of the Israelis -- the fault of the Jews -- and if they would only go away, all would be better.
Not only is this a sorry illusion, but this concerted assault on Israel itself betrays the principles of the Left.

Here, then, are 8 reasons Leftists should be Pro-Israel (or, at least, Pro-Peace rather than Anti-Israel):
1. Human Rights. The Left fights for human rights in the world. Even if one thinks Israel or its soldiers guilty of human rights violations (and I am not willing at the outset to grant this point), there is no international or historical comparison that could reasonably rank Israel among the worst criminals of the world or of history. Whether we look at the scale of the conflict, the numbers of lives lost, or the treatment of the press or of dissidents, there are far too many examples of bloodshed and persecution dwarfing anything done by Israel against the Palestinians over the last four decades since the Six Day War, when Israel was attacked by its neighbors. Even Arab treatment of Palestinians, such as in Jordan's Black September massacre, caused thousands of deaths, possibly more in 10 days than in four decades of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And how can we compare Israel to Mugabe's Zimbabwe, or the Chinese crackdown on Tibet and Tianneman? Or the disappearances and death squads of Latin America Square or the killing fields of Pol Pot? Let alone the genocide pursued by Hitler or Stalin's murderous reign? Let us be clear: genocide is the attempt to exterminate an entire people and culture; this is not what has happened to the Palestinians, and it is not the goal of Israeli policy. By contrast, the explicit aim of Hamas is to eliminate Israel. So, if we support human rights and oppose persecution, ought we not first to focus our efforts on the places where we find the worst situations? Can anyone rationally claim that among these places, let alone the most horrendous of all, is a small nation on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea?

Some (More) Perspective

On the recent Iron Dome thread:

 That's only one example of seemingly endless complaints about how much this is costing the US. The AZs switched their tactics from "hating Israel" to "suddenly caring about America above all others." And two hundred million does sound like a lot. But consider a 2008 bill that called for:
"$165,200 to the widow of Rep. Charles Norwood (R-Ga.), a promoter of patients’ rights legislation who died of cancer and lung disease in February, three months after he was reelected.
--$4 million for the Office of Women's Health at the Food and Drug Administration.
--$5 million for tropical fish breeders and transporters for losses from a virus last year.
--$25 million for spinach that growers and handlers were unable to market, up to 75 percent of their losses.
--$50 million “for asbestos abatement and other improvements” to the Capitol Power Plant.
--$60.4 million for the National Marine Fisheries Service, “to be distributed among fishing communities, Indian tribes, individuals, small businesses, including fishermen, fish processors, and related businesses, and other persons for assistance to mitigate the economic and other social effects caused by” a commercial fishery failure.
--$74 million “for the payment of storage, handling, and other associated costs for the 2007 crop of peanuts to ensure proper storage of peanuts for which a loan is made.”
--$120 million for the shrimp and menhaden fishing industries to cover consequences of Hurricane Katrina.
--$283 million for the Milk Income Loss Contract Program.
--$400 million for “wildland fire suppression.”
What is the Milk Income Loss Contract Program? I don't know either, but don't expect the HPers to get all up in arms about their tax dollars going towards it.

"Merely Critical of Israel" Comment of the Day

The original link.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

HuffPo User Profile Update: atlantis1star

Noted anti-Semitic user atlantis1star has been banned from the Huffington Post. He will not be missed. Check out our profile of him if you disagree.

HP Gives Triple Coverage To Conversion Story

For American Jews the big story coming out of Israel lately has not been the Iron Dome but the controversy surrounding a proposed new conversion law that would give more power in the hands of the Ultra-Orthodox for the purposes of deciding who is a Jew. All of our favorite bloggers have been writing about the issue so I don't feel the need to link to them.

Anyway, apparently the HP decided to give this news story extra special awesome coverage. They published not one but three articles on the topic, all of which were billed as news stories in their "World" or "Religion" section.

The first was published in the world section and was about how the new conversion bill was threatening the stability of Netanyahu's government. It received 141 comments.
The second was about Netanyahu himself and how he wasn't approaching the conversion bill with a very friendly attitude. That racked up 44 comments.
The third was posted in the religion section, rehashing what the other two had already said, and that was where it thrived with 314 comments.

I wonder why the HP thought this news (though important to Jews) was really worth all of that coverage. Maybe it's because there were quite a few comments like this:

Or maybe I'm just paranoid.

"Serpent People"

I don't know what it means either, but it doesn't sound good. The context is that it is on the Iron Dome thread and is in response to a comment that "peace and reconcilation is the best defense."


Rep. John Sarbanes on Turkey, Plus HP Grumbling

Representative John Sarbanes wrote an article for the HP which systematically and clearly demonstrated Turkey's unreliable status as an ally. It was pretty awesome, here are a few selections from it:
"Turkey's failure to genuinely uphold the shared values of NATO makes it a weak link in the alliance. By design, NATO originated as a defensive political and military alliance for those countries engaged in the hostilities of WWII. Turkey, the largest NATO member not to have fought in WWII, was enlisted to reinforce defenses against the Soviet Union. Yet, in the summer of 1974, NATO member Turkey invaded and occupied more than one third of the island Republic of Cyprus. Coming at the height of the Cold War, and at a time of delicate relations between Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and the NATO alliance, Turkey's invasion of Cyprus risked war with NATO member Greece and a resultant rupturing of the NATO alliance."'
To be honest, this article made me wonder less about Turkey and more about NATO, as in "why is it still around?" All NATO seems to do now is the USA's bidding, which is something a charismatic American politician could usually drum up anyway. But without the Soviet Union there isn't a villain strong enough to justify an alliance of that kind. It's the same problem faced by the Ultimates.

Anyway, for some reason the Huffington Post readership closed ranks against Sarbanes and in defense of Turkey. I'm not well enough informed to know whether he got his history right but I did want to share a couple of comments:
"Okay John, I hate to be cynical but how much did AIPAC pay you to raise this issue. Why haven't you asked why the Israelis used US supplied cluster bombs on Lebanese civilians during their last invasion of a neighboring country? Shouldn't you have gotten outraged about that? Especially since the conditions under which we supplied them specified that they could not be used in the way they were." [link]
"I still think that any member of Congress who is going to write an article that is critical of anyone or thing that is critical of Israel should disclose how much money they recieve from AIPAC in said article.
That way, we can know if you are one of the 329 stooges of Israel or not before we even read what you have to say." [link]
 Still, I guess we should be thankful that the HP published the article in the first place.