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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘among’

Israeli Provisions Causing Rift among Syrian Rebels

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Shipments of food supplies from Israel, bearing the names of well known Israeli brands, have been the source of much strife in Arab media and Arab social networks, most likely because this is the month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast during the day and think about food more often than usual. The provisions, including packaged rice and wheat, reach the Al-Quneitra district, which is dominated by the Syrian opposition. But while some rebel groups welcome the Israeli support, other groups, some of which are affiliated with President Assad’s regime, have attacked the initiative, saying that “it’s an insult to receive food from the Zionist entity which is oppressing the Golan.”

The Golan Heights, a hilly stretch overlooking lake Kinneret and Israel’s civilian communities, used to be the spots from which Syrian soldiers would target Israelis down below like fish in a barrel for 19 years, until Israel put an end to the madness by capturing the hills and denying the Syrians their target practice.

Pictures of the Israeli food products have reached the London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, which cited a source on the ground in southern Syria that claimed Israel has been supporting the rebel groups there since 2013, after Jordan had closed off its Syrian border. Obviously, the groups who don’t get to share in the Israeli made rice, wheat, tea and Canola oil describe the haves as traitors and Zionist collaborators.

Israeli food products in Syria

Israeli food products in Syria

Revolutionary Military Council in Quneitra and the Golan last week issued a strong condemnation that went: “We condemn the insult our people have sustained in the liberated Al-Quneitra district in the form of food supplies awarded by the Zionist entity which is repressing the Golan which was sold out by the regime.” The RMCQ was particularly upset because the revelation of the Zionist food supplies came close to the part of the year when the anniversaries of the 1948 and the 1967 wars take place, in May and June respectively.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi cited a local activist who said the food is being hauled into Syria by members of the Free Syrian Army, after they deliver their wounded to hospitals south of the border, in Israel. It appears there are many Syrians who are delighted and grateful that Israel has been so supportive. Fahd Al-Mousa, head of the liberated Quneitra district council told the newspaper that only Israel has been a reliable ally for his people.

“Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution we haven’t found a way to bring the injured and hurt into any Arab country,” Al-Mousa stated, adding that only Israel has opened its gates to them. “And there are packages of medicine, milk for babies and additional foodstuffs that enter the district from Israel,” he said. Compared with Israel’s consistent support, he said, help from the gulf emirates had been sporadic.

Motti Kahane, president of the humanitarian organization Amalia, told Ynet that in southern Syria there may be more than 50 different rebel groups, each of which runs its own fundraising and receives its own supplies from five different countries. Amalia would like to serve as a go between for all the donated goods and food that come in, and to dispense them fairly and equally through the Quneitra crossing between Israel and Syria, which is normally closed.


Israel Among Top Five Countries on WHO 2015 Life Expectancy Chart

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Only 22 countries around the globe have reached an average life expectancy at birth greater than 80 years, according to the World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory (GHO) data, which would suggest that if one is planning to retire abroad, one should consider those countries most seriously.

Life expectancy at birth reflects the overall mortality level of a population. It summarizes the mortality pattern that prevails across all age groups in a given year – children and adolescents, adults and the elderly. Global life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 71.4 years (73.8 years for females and 69.1 years for males), ranging from 60.0 years in the WHO African Region to 76.8 years in the WHO European Region, giving a ratio of 1.3 between the two regions. Women live longer than men all around the world. The gap in life expectancy between the sexes was 4.5 years in 1990 and had remained almost the same by 2015 (4.6).

Global average life expectancy increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s. Those gains reverse declines during the 1990s, when life expectancy fell in Africa because of the AIDS epidemic, and in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The 2000-2015 increase was greatest in the WHO African Region, where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years, driven mainly by improvements in child survival, and expanded access to antiretrovirals for treatment of HIV.

As to the friendly global race of whose citizens get to live longer, the top countries are, in descending order: Japan – 83.7, Switzerland – 83.4, Singapore – 83.1, Italy – 82.7, and Israel – 82.5. The US did not make the 80+ club in 2015, with only 79.3 years’ life expectancy. Neither did the Russian Federation – 70.5.

Israel’s neighbors are definitely not ideal locations for retirement: Egypt – 70.9, Jordan – 74.1, Lebanon – 74.9, and Syria – 64.5 (if you’re lucky). Nigeria stands out with 54.5 life expectancy, along with Angola – 52.4, Burkina Faso – 59.9, Burundi – 59.6, Cameroon – 57.3, Central African Republic – 52.5, Chad – 53.1, Guinea – 59, and Guinea-Bissau – 58.9.

So, here is the list of world countries where you’ll get to grow older than 80, barring unexpected circumstances:

Japan – 83.7
Switzerland – 83.4
Singapore – 83.1
Italy – 82.7
Israel – 82.5
France – 82.4
Sweden – 82.4
Canada – 82.2
Luxembourg – 82
Netherlands – 81.9
Norway – 81.8
Malta – 81.7
New Zealand – 81.6
Austria – 81.5
Belgium – 81.1
Finland – 81.1
Germany – 81
Denmark – 80.6
Chile – 80.5
Cyprus – 80.5


Pew Survey: Support For Israel Eroding Among Younger Democrats

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Earlier this month, a Pew Research Center survey examining attitudes about foreign policy among the U.S. electorate found that Americans continue to strongly favor Israel (54 percent) over the Palestinians (19 percent). Yet the survey also indicated a number of trends that suggest a possible erosion of the long-held bipartisan pro-Israel consensus.

Notably, while figures show sympathy for Israel has remained relatively consistent over the past few decades, there has been a slight uptick in sympathy for the Palestinians, 14 percent to 19 percent, from July 2014 – with a substantial increase in support for the Palestinians among respondents ages 18-29, also known as millennials.

At the same time, Pew’s data confirmed a partisan divide on Israel. While support for Israel among Democratic voters has remained steady over the past few decades – 44 percent in 1978 compared to 43 percent today – there has been a sharp rise during that time in Republican sympathy for Israel, 49 percent to 75 percent, and a modest gain among independents, 45 percent to 52 percent.

Only 33 percent of Democrats who describe themselves as liberal support Israel, while 40 percent sympathize with the Palestinians.

The survey revealed a further divide within the Democratic electorate itself. Hillary Clinton supporters were more likely to sympathize with Israel than the Palestinians, 47 percent versus 27 percent, while Bernie Sanders supporters favored the Palestinians over Israel by 39 percent to 33 percent.

“Evidence has been accumulating for some time of a division among Democratic voters over Israel,” said Dr. Theodore Sasson, senior research scientist at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University. “The left wing of the party is more critical of U.S. support for Israel.”

Dr. Jonathan Rynhold, director of the Argov Center for the Study of Israel and the Jewish People at Bar-Ilan University, said that generally the American public’s sympathy toward Israel has been growing since 2000.

Yet Americans have become more divided over policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and those divisions “increasingly line up with the main ideological and political divides in America,” he noted.

“Since younger Americans are more liberal, and each generation is more liberal than the previous generation, they are less sympathetic toward Israel and more inclined to believe that the U.S. should adopt an even-handed approach toward the conflict,” Rynhold told JNS. “They are also more critical of Israel’s use of military force against Hamas and Hizbullah.”

“I doubt the level of hostility [in America] will reach the levels we see in Europe,” said Brandeis’s Sasson. Rynhold echoed that sentiment, saying the gap on Israel between the American left and the European left remains wide.

“American liberals are far more sympathetic to Israel than the European left,” Rynhold said. “The gulf remains huge. The debate in the U.S. is over siding with Israel or being even-handed, and that goes for the Democrats as well. Whereas on the European left, the debate is over [being] anti-Israel or even-handed.”

Yet fears persist about the growing liberal electorate’s views on Israel, especially among younger Americans.

“Over time, as the percentage of liberals among Democrats increases, the party’s support for Israel could well become more conditional on what they perceive as Israel’s willingness to support a two-state solution and perceptions related to other liberal causes inside Israel,” Rynhold said.


Sean Savage

Shiloh Musings: Bibi’s Among USA’s Top Ten Admired Men

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Yesterday I blogged wondering if Donald Trump has a chance to win the United States Presidency. American polls keep saying that he hasn’t, but in the latest UK-based YouGov Most Admired Men in the USA Poll, Trump is #8

Barack Obama 10.3% Michelle Obama 7.5%
Pope Francis 8.2% Hillary Clinton 6.0%
Bill Gates 6.5% Ellen DeGeneres 5.9%
Stephen Hawking 5.2% Malala Yousafzai 5.6%
Billy Graham 5.2% Condoleeza Rice 5.4%
Bernie Sanders 5.0% Sandra Bullock 4.9%
Jimmy Carter 4.4% Barbara Bush 4.5%
Donald Trump 4.1% Laura Bush 4.3%
Dalai Lama 3.7% Elizabeth Warren 4.3%
Benjamin Netanyahu 3.7% Angelina Jolie 4.0%
George W Bush 3.5% Oprah Winfrey 3.6%
Johnny Depp 3.4% Meryl Streep 3.3%
Bill Clinton 3.3% Queen Elizabeth II 3.3%
Ben Carson 3.1% Kate Middleton 3.2%
Warren Buffett 2.9% Sarah Palin 2.8%
Jon Stewart 2.3% Taylor Swift 2.7%
Brad Pitt 2.2% Celine Dion 2.6%
Ted Cruz 2.0% Carly Fiorina 2.3%
Mark Zuckerberg 1.9% Emma Watson 2.2%
Mitt Romney 1.9% Jennifer Lawrence 2.0%

And take a look at who is two places under Trump, it’s our very own Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu!

Do you remember not that long ago when Netanyahu was invited by the Republicans to speak to Congress and the Democrats had fits? Obama and his cronies fear Bibi, because Bibi has points that POTUS and staff can’t or don’t want to answer.  You may very well know that I don’t agree with everything Netanyahu says or does, but he’s certainly much better than the American President. And Netanyahu’s knowledge of World History etc is unbeatable.

It’s interesting that, with the exception of Trump, all the other Republicans are less popular than Bibi is. This poll does show that the American Left is strong. Obama, Sanders and even Jimmy Carter are ahead of Trump.

Yes, for good or for bad, it is just a poll. Don’t forget that. Still food for thought….

Batya Medad

It’s Official: You Can Be a Non-Jewish Rabbi

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Over the past few years, Reform and Conservative Judaism have been struggling so much with the notion of ordaining women rabbis and gay rabbis, that we, the spectators (innocent bystanders?) of those struggles have completely lost sight of an even more challenging notion: can they ordain gentile rabbis?

To cut a long story short: they can and they have. The Reform movement has done, and as a result, I believe, has placed itself outside the Rabbinical Jewish tradition regarding the fundamental notion of who qualifies as a Jew.

I became aware of this complete and, presumably, final split between Jews and the largely American Reform movement after receiving a link to Seth Berkman’s piece in the Forward: Angela Buchdahl, First Asian-American Rabbi, Vies for Role at Central Synagogue. The article praises Angela as an example of diversity, who “walks among the pews, greeting congregants before Friday night services at Manhattan’s venerable Central Synagogue,” where she faces “a mélange of Jewish faces, including blacks, Asians and Hispanics,” in a “diversity that reflects the emergence of an American Jewry of unprecedented ethnic breadth.”

Had I known nothing more about the above paragraph, I would have been beaming with pride over it. In the shuls I attended on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, spotting an African or a Hispanic face was always such a source of pleasure. As a tiny nation and an even tinier religious group, we prize every gentile who embraces our faith and goes through the sometimes grueling process of becoming one of us.

Except that Berkman cuts to the chase right at the opener, making clear that no such grueling effort was involved in Angela Buchdahl’s joining the Chosen People: it turns out that the diversity she so praises at that Reform gathering is “embodied” by Buchdahl, who was “born to an Ashkenazi, Reform Jewish father and a Korean Buddhist mother.”

Exactly 30 years ago, in 1983, the Reform movement in America adopted the bilineal policy: “The Central Conference of American Rabbis declares that the child of one Jewish parent is under the presumption of Jewish descent. This presumption of the Jewish status of the offspring of any mixed marriage is to be established through appropriate and timely public and formal acts of identification with the Jewish faith and people. The performance of these mitzvot serves to commit those who participate in them, both parent and child, to Jewish life.”

It should be noted that outside the U.S. the Reform moevement is yet to adopt the sweeping “presumption of Jewish descent” doctrine, but they do, by and large, offer “accelerated conversions” to children of a Jewish father.

Hadassah Magazine, which Berkman quotes in her story, featured a profile of the Korean born Angela Buchdahl, the first Asian American to be ordained as a cantor or rabbi and the first woman to attain both positions.

For Buchdahl, according to Hadassah magazine, key Jewish values include “a spirit of genuine inquiry and multiple opinions; our whole method of study and nondogmatic spirit; the dignity of every person and the fact that we are all created in the image of God; the ability to know what it is to be a stranger and to have been a slave—and to force ourselves to embody that understanding in every generation.”

Far be it from me to criticize such fine and noble notions, but it is difficult to recognize in that amalgam anything uniquely Jewish. Absent is the idea of fulfilling the mitzvot as a divine agenda. It’s all about getting along with others and respecting them, not so much about applying Torah laws to one’s daily life.

Indeed, the more the Reform movement is reinventing itself, the closer it gets to Christianity. She’s been active, among other things, at Auburn Theological Seminary, “an interfaith platform to address global issues and build bridges across religious traditions.”

“Angela is an extraordinary religious leader,” Rev. Katherine Henderson, Auburn’s president, told Hadassah. At a gathering for a Presbyterian group last year, Buchdahl “led worship that was completely authentic for her as a Jew and yet completely accessible for this group of Christians,” says Henderson. “We were all able to praise God together!”

This reporter is known to be flippant, so I very much want to avoid being flippant about this story. I don’t think we should denounce people like Angela Buchdahl, or condemn the Reform movement for its straying so far out of the Rabbinical Jewish tent. But we should remain steadfast in not calling any of these people and the nice things they do “Jewish” in any way at all. We’re already not permitted to set foot inside their houses of worship. We should probably stop calling their religious teachers “Rabbi” – perhaps “Reform Rabbi” will do. And we should look forward to the time when calling someone “Reform” would simply mean a really nice non-Jew.

Yori Yanover

Nothing ‘Reasonable’ about Mideast Divide

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Thanks to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to swallow a painful and embarrassing concession to please the Palestinians, Secretary of State John Kerry had his moment of triumph.

In announcing the start of a new round of Middle East peace talks, Kerry has seemingly justified the way he has concentrated his efforts on an issue that was not in crisis mode and with little chance of resolution while treating other more urgent problems such as Egypt, Syria, and the Iranian nuclear threat as lower priorities.

But now that he has had his victory, the focus turns to the talks where few, if any, observers think there is a ghost of a chance of that the negotiations can succeed despite Kerry’s call for “reasonable compromises.”

The reason for that is that despite the traditional American belief that the two sides can split the difference on their disagreements, as Kerry seems to want, the problem is much deeper than drawing a new line on a map.

Ironically, proof of this comes from a new poll that some are touting as evidence that both Israelis and Palestinians support a two-state solution. The poll was a joint project of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah. It shows, among other often-contradictory results, that a majority of Israelis (62 percent) supports a two-state solution while 33 percent oppose it. Among Palestinians, 53 percent support and 46 percent oppose the two-state solution.

But the question to ask about this poll and the conflict is what the two sides mean by a two-state solution. The answer comes in a subsequent query:

We asked Israelis and Palestinians about their readiness for a mutual recognition as part of a permanent status agreement and after all issues in the conflict are resolved and a Palestinian State is established. Our current poll shows that 57% of the Israeli public supports such a mutual recognition and 37% opposes it. Among Palestinians, 42% support and 56% oppose this step.

In other words, Israelis see a two-state solution as a way to permanently end the conflict and achieve peace. But since a majority of Palestinians cannot envision mutual recognition even after all issues are resolved and they get a state, they obviously see it as merely a pause before the conflict would begin anew on terms decidedly less advantageous to Israel.

There are many reasons why the peace negotiations are likely to fail. The Palestinians are deeply split, with Gaza being ruled by the Islamists of Hamas who still won’t even contemplate talks with Israel, let alone peace. Kerry has praised Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, but he is weak and hasn’t the ability to make a peace deal stick even in the unlikely event he signs one.

Though Netanyahu went out on a political limb to enable the talks to begin by releasing scores of Palestinian terrorists, Abbas has shown in the past that he will say no, even when offered virtually everything he has asked for. Netanyahu will rightly drive a harder bargain and refuse to contemplate a deal that involves a complete retreat to the 1967 lines or a Palestinian state that isn’t demilitarized. But it’s hard to imagine Abbas ever recognizing the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn.

The real problem, however, isn’t about where negotiators would draw those lines. As the poll indicates, even after Israel withdraws from almost all of the West Bank (reports indicate Netanyahu is ready to give up 86 percent of it), a substantial majority of Palestinians still can’t fathom the possibility of mutual recognition and normal relations.

How can that be?

The reason is very simple and is not something Kerry or his lead negotiator Martin Indyk (a veteran of numerous diplomatic failures who hasn’t seemed to learn a thing from any of them) can fix. Palestinian nationalism was born in the 20th century as a reaction to Zionism, not by focusing on fostering a separate identity and culture from that of other Arab populations. That doesn’t mean Palestinians aren’t now a separate people with their own identity, but it does explain why they see that identity as indistinguishable from the effort to make Israel disappear.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Two Days Among Heroes

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Recently, as I stood on the inevitable winding line at Kennedy Airport, shoes in hand, forced to yield up my bottle of water to airport security, I could not help but think: “Humiliation at the checkpoints indeed!”

Courtesy of jihadi terror, civilians at just about every airport in just about every country are forced to wait on long lines and submit both their bags and their bodies to physical and x-ray examinations. Of course, most of us understand that such surveillance ensures our survival.

While countless propagandists have demonized Israel for the “humiliation” of Palestinians (including would-be bombers, who are also forced to wait at checkpoints), I have never once heard any Western liberal academic or activist blame Al Qaeda or Richard Reid (the “shoe bomber”) for our considerable collective discomfort.

I always do.

This time, however, I would have waited on line for hours if necessary. I was on my way to a landmark conference of Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents in St. Petersburg, Florida. The quietly efficient Austin Dacey, of the Center for Inquiry/Transnational, the eminent scholar Ibn Warraq, and the tireless Iranian activist Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi co-organized this event, which took place on March 4 and 5. Most speaker-delegates were staunch secularists; some were ardently or moderately religious; all believed in a separation of mosque and state; all were pro-Israel and pro-human and women’s rights.

Ironically, my views about Islamic gender and religious apartheid, Israel, and jihad, which have been excoriated by so many politically correct academics, found favor with these heroic and noble souls who honored me by having me chair the opening panel.

Delegates from Bangladesh, Egypt/Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria, and Uganda, most of them living in exile in the West, attended. One of the delegates was human rights activist Shariar Kabir, a gentle man with a beatific countenance who still lives in Bangladesh where he has been imprisoned many times. “It is my country and I will not desert her” is how he put it.
The major speakers included Egyptian-born author Nonie Darwish (They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror), now an American citizen and the founder of Arabs for Israel; Egyptian-born Dr. Tawfik Hamid, author of The Roots of Jihad, now living in hiding but once a colleague of bin Laden’s number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri; Jordanian-born Dr. Shaker al-Nabulsi, who challenged the mullahs to issue a fatwa against bin Laden; Lebanese-American Dr. Walid Phares, author of Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against the West; Pakistani-American Dr. Tashbih Sayyed, editor of Muslim World Today and Pakistan Today, who’s been at the forefront of the fight against Islamism and jihad; Wafa Sultan, the Syrian-American phychiatrist who recently rose to prominence when MEMRI translated her fiery and extraordinary debate in Arabic on Al Jazeera; and the soul of the conference, Pakistani-born Ibn Warraq (a nom de guerre), author of many books including Leaving Islam and What the Quran Really Says.

Two speakers were Arab Christians; thirteen had been born and raised as Muslims. Perhaps I was there to represent the Jews – and to speak as an American women’s rights activist who has written extensively about and condemned Islamic religious and gender apartheid.

These dissidents are truth-tellers, endangered in their homelands, living in exile, strangers in a strange land, so to speak. They have been empowered by their sojourns in the West.

In what way are they important to Israel and America? They certainly have no mass following or powerful constituency among other Muslims – at least not yet. But if the silent, hopefully moderate Muslims are ever going to listen to anyone other than the master propagandists who now brainwash and terrorize them, these brave, rational, tolerant, and awe-inspiring dissidents are their most likely role models and teachers.

The conference produced and signed a Declaration (it can be viewed at www.secularislam.org) that brands “Islamophobia” a false allegation; sees a “noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine”; and calls on governments of the world to “reject Sharia law[and] oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostasy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [and] eliminate practices such as female [genital mutilation], honor killing, forced veiling and forced marriage[and] to reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims”

Among the initial 16 signatories was Mithal Al-Alusi, the Iraqi hero who, upon being elected to Parliament, chose to visit Israel – a crime for which jihadists killed his two sons and a bodyguard.

Not all Nazi-era Germans were Nazis themselves; some were peace-loving individuals who wanted to live safe lives and avoid death at Nazi hands. Ultimately, however, their failure to resist radical evil rendered them morally culpable as collaborators with that evil. In my view, the silent majority of Muslims are now on notice: they have a choice, there is another path to follow.

But make no mistake: Those Muslims who resist Islamist tyranny at home and fight for human and women’s rights are imprisoned, tortured, and executed. Dissidents are lucky if they can escape to the West. Those who do are to be commended for continuing the fight against Islamism while in their new countries.

It is important for the readers of The Jewish Press to know that nearly every speaker at the conference praised Israel and condemned the lethal propaganda against Jews, Israel, and America that is so pandemic in the Islamic world.

• Iranian exile and activist Manda Zand-Ervin had this to say: “I now believe in this statement by Golda Meir: ‘We will have peace only when the Arabs’ love for their children is stronger than their hate for the Jews.’ There is nothing worse than a society that kills its young.”
• In his book about jihad, Dr. Tawfik Hamid, the former Jammaa Islameia terrorist, systematically denounces the brainwashing into Jew- and Israel-hatred that characterizes the Islamic world. In The Roots of Jihad, Dr. Hamid contends that the “the more religious a person becomes in Islam, the more aggressive he/she becomes toward others.  Islamic groups who have studied their religion very deeply commit the highest percentage of terror acts in the world.”

• Irshad Manji, in her book The Trouble with Islam, describes Islam as “imperialist” and challenges both the Muslim and Western concept of Israel as “imperialist.” She also acknowledges that “hundreds of thousands of Jews found themselves kicked out of Arab lands by the 1950’s.” Unlike the Palestinians, they “did not languish in refugee holding tanks because Israel absorbed and integrated them[and] 98,000 Palestinians. What have Arab governments done by and large for Palestinians?”

• Nonie Darwish, the daughter of a Palestinian shahid, reveals how she was taught to hate Israel and Jews in both Egypt and Gaza. In Infidel, she remembers how President Nasser “was obsessed with the elimination of Israel” and displaced his rage against European colonialists onto Israel. She recalls how the Arab media “twisted and repackaged their devastating defeat” in 1967 and how Israel was viewed as having “cheated” for daring to defend itself.

Darwish describes how every foreigner she met and befriended in Egypt or Gaza was viewed as “Zionist” or “CIA” or “Mossad.” When Israeli doctors took care of her relatives – all of whom hated Israel – she underwent a sea change. In her words: “I discovered the decency, beauty, and grace in Jewish culture.”

• Dr. Tashbish Sayeed visited Israel to try and understand Israelis’ “reluctance to do something about the bad press that continues to paint them as villains.” He found that “despite daily provocation” Israelis have not “descended to the level of depravity [of] their Arab enemies.” He states, “It is vital that Israel is supported, defended, and protected by all those who want the Muslims to progress as civilized people. I consider the rebirth of the Jewish state to be a blessing for Muslims.”

Dr. Sayeed concludes: “If the American civic faith has given the world a hope to be able to live with dignity, self respect and honor in peace, the Jewish traditions and culture of pluralism, debate, acceptance of dissension and difference of opinion have manifested themselves in the shape of the state of Israel to present the oppressed Muslim world with a paradigm to emulate. And if we want this world to be free of any kind of terror, we will have to defend this state of mind, whether it is seen in the shape of Israel or in the form of the United States of America.”

• On February 21, 2006, on Al Jazeera, Syrian-American psychiatrist Wafa Sultan had this to say: “The Jews have come from the tragedy (of the Holocaust) and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror, with their work, not their crying and yelling. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church.We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people, and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask what they can do for humankind before they demand that humankind respect them.”
• Finally, in his many books, the Renaissance scholar and chair of the Islamic Dissident Conference, Ibn Warraq, defends Jews, Israel, and the West. He describes the long history of the Muslim persecution of Jews, Christians, and other religious minorities, and challenges the so-called Golden Era as a myth. He writes: “Apologists of Islam minimize, or even excuse the persecution, the discrimination, the forced conversations, the massacres, and the destruction of the churches, synagogues, fire temples, and other places of worship. [The ignore or excuse] the appalling behavior of the Prophet toward the Jews; and [ignore] the intolerant, hostile, anti-Jewish and anti-Christian sentiments expressed in the Quran, which were the source of much intolerant, fanatical, and violent behavior toward all non-Muslims throughout the history of Islam.”

One of many examples of Jew-hatred he offers: “According to the Quran, Jews have an intense hatred of all true Muslims, and as a punishment for their sins, some of the Jews had, in the past, been changed into apes and swineand others will have their hands tied to their necks and be cast into the fire on Judgment Day.”

Ibn Warraq predicts that “without critical examination of Islam, it will remain dogmatic, fanatical, and intolerant and will continue to stifle thoughts, human rights, individuality, originality, and truth.” At the conference he “demanded the rewriting of anti-American and anti-Jewish texts, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Egypt,” saying it was “scandalous that this has not been done.”

Though these brave dissidents may not yet have a movement behind them, their gathering was considered important (or dangerous) enough for Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya to cover it. CNN’s Glenn Beck devoted a one-hour special to the conference, which was also covered by the Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report, The Weekly Standard and FrontPage Magazine.com.

Investor’s Business Daily noted that the Saudi- and Dubai-funded Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sent “henchmen” to Florida to shout down the reformers. CAIR also posted at least four stories about the dissidents whom they condemned as playing into the hands of “Islamophobes” and as not being the “right messengers.”

Does CAIR think its representatives are more appropriate? CAIR spokesman Ahmed Bedier could not hold his own against Dr. Hamid, who challenged him to “denounce Saudi sharia law for “killing apostates, beating (and stoning) women.” Bedier feebly responded: “This is not about Saudi Arabia. We condemn any nation that misuses Islam, but we’re not going to condemn an entire nation.”

Investor’s Business Daily viewed the conference as a “ray of hope.” So do I. These dissidents are Israel’s and America’s natural allies. Now is the time for Western intellectuals who claim to be anti-racist and committed to human rights to stand with these dissidents.

The abject refusal by too many academics to judge between civilization and barbarism, and between enlightened rationalism and fanatic Islamic fundamentalism, endangers and condemns the victims of Islamic tyranny – people of diverse skin colors and ethnicities, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists.

The conference did not seem to be a “ray of hope” to left-wing activist Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who in a mass e-mailing actually suggested it was funded by the CIA. This is complete fabrication, of course. Waskow’s problem is this: Since none of the speakers blamed America or Israel for the considerable suffering in the Muslim and Arab world, that must prove the conference was a CIA conspiracy. This is insane.

Actually, left-wing groups like Rabbis for Human Rights should have been at this conference. They were absent in droves. Here were true heroes speaking out, not people who saw themselves as victims of American and Zionist foreign policy. But then, that’s exactly why the Left shunned the gathering.

Ibn Warraq has written a devastating and masterful work, to be published this summer, titled Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s ‘Orientalism. Will Western intellectuals also dare defend the West? I call upon my colleagues to divest from an ideology of Islamic gender and religious apartheid that has hijacked, Palestinianized, and colonized the Western moral imagination with dreadful and dangerous consequences.

Phyllis Chesler

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/two-days-among-heroes/2007/03/14/

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