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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘bias’

Giuliani Still Being Slighted by Media Elites

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

The last time we gathered here the topic of discussion was the hypocrisy of the late Ed Koch on racial matters, particularly in his constant berating of Rudy Giuliani for treating the city’s race hustlers with the skepticism they deserved – an approach actually pioneered by Koch himself during his own mayoralty.

But Giuliani never did get much love from the city’s permanent political establishment and its prestige media, as evidenced most recently by New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, who in the wake of Koch’s passing called Koch, Fiorella La Guardia and Michael Bloomberg the city’s “three greatest mayors.”

La Guardia certainly belongs in the top three, and a strong case can be made for Koch, but Bloomberg? The only reason Bloomberg was elected mayor in the first place was the endorsement he received from Giuliani shortly after 9/11, when Giuliani had seized the nation’s imagination with his courageous leadership and Bloomberg was essentially running in political drag, having donned Republican vestments after a lifetime of dressing in liberal Democratic garb.

That’s not to say Bloomberg has been a bad mayor, just that listing him at the top of the heap with La Guardia and Koch ignores the unprecedented challenges Giuliani faced on assuming office and the way he went about transforming the city.

Put it this way: imagine that Michael Bloomberg rather than Rudy Giuliani had succeeded David Dinkins in January 1994. Would political reporter Andrew Kirtzman have been able to describe Bloomberg’s tenure the way he wrote of Giuliani in Emperor of the City, his gripping account of the Giuliani years:

“This is the story of a defiant man whose strength, resolve, and vision helped bring a city back from a state of bedlam. It’s an account of how a person with no experience in municipal government outsmarted its political leaders, union chiefs, and media lords and ended up changing the face of New York…. It’s about a leader whose accomplishments rank among the most dramatic in urban history.”

Giuliani succeeded the inept David Dinkins at a time most observers had given up on New York as a governable city. Bloomberg, on the other hand, succeeded Giuliani at a time when, to quote Kirtzman, “crime had plunged so low that that the FBI was calling New York the safest large city in America. Unemployment was down, and 400,000 fewer people were on the welfare rolls.”

Getting back to The New York Times, though it endorsed Giuliani for reelection in 1997 (he faced an uninspiring Democratic challenger and even Manhattan liberals found it hard not to give him his due), over the years the mouthpiece of New York liberalism generally treated him with varying degrees of skepticism, condescension and moral outrage.

Even as he left office in January 2002 on a note of unprecedented triumph and popularity, the tone of the paper’s editorials and most of its news coverage was startlingly jaundiced (a notable exception was an analysis piece by reporter Sam Roberts who mused that Giuliani would go down in history as a greater mayor than even La Guardia).

An editorial that appeared the Sunday before Giuliani’s departure was particularly churlish, claiming that “Even his staunchest supporters know that much of his success was due in part to good timing. His greatest achievements – the drop in crime, the reduction in welfare cases, the economic boom – were mirrored in other cities that had milder-mannered chief executives.”

Nonsense, responded historian Fred Siegel. “No other city has made comparable gains…. In the closing years of the Dinkins administration, tourists stayed away in droves, while businesses and residents were racing for the exits in what seemed like an evacuation. Had Mr. Dinkins been reelected, the flight from fear would have become a flood.”

As to the assertion that crime had dropped everywhere and Giuliani merely happened to have been in the right place at the right time, it just wasn’t true.

“None of these critics,” Siegel pointed out, “supplies specifics – with good reason. Crime didn’t fall everywhere, as anyone from Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit or a host of other big cities could have explained.”

The UN: That Explains It, They’re All Drunk!

Friday, March 8th, 2013

A report in today’s New York Times provides a clue as to why the United Nations does the things it does – the delegates are apparently inebriated, a lot of the time.

According to the Times’ report, U.N. offices are reminiscent of an episode of Mad Men, a show in which many of the main characters have alcohol abuse problems and no serious conversation can be had without a glass of whisky.

And as the U.S. often seems to be the designated driver in international politics, perhaps it is appropriate that the it was an American diplomat, Joseph M. Torsella, who proposed that “negotiation rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone.”

Of course, this is not the explanation for the sheer madness of many countries’ behavior at the U.N. and on the world stage and their obsession with Israel. But if only it were.

Why Israel is NOT an Apartheid State

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

As we speak, anti-Israel activists across the globe are gearing up for or hosting Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) events on various college campuses, with the goal of delegitimizing the State of Israel.  As an anti-Israel student group at American University announced, “The aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.”  While anti-Israel student groups like the Students for Justice in Palestine frequently make such statements, it is critical to remember that such assertions are nothing more than slander designed to harm Israel.

Many of the young anti-Israel activists who claim that Israel is an apartheid state don’t understand what the definition of apartheid truly is.  According to Merriam Webster’s English dictionary, apartheid is “racial segregation: specifically, a former policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of South Africa.”

According to a report published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on the subject, among the policies that were implemented in apartheid South Africa were legal prohibitions on sexual relations between different races; forced physical separations between races, in restaurants, neighborhoods, swimming pools, public transport, etc.; restricting members of the black community to unskilled labor in urban areas; forbidding blacks from voting; educational restrictions for blacks, etc.

Benjamin Pogrund is a former deputy editor of the South African Rand Daily who reported on apartheid for 26 years and was an anti-apartheid activist himself.  After his newspaper was shut down because its owners were under pressure by the apartheid government, he made Aliyah to Israel.  Pogrund, as someone who is familiar with both South African apartheid and Israel, claimed that these conditions listed above do not exist in Israel.   He asserted in the Guardian that “Arabs have the vote, which in itself makes them fundamentally different from South Africa’s black population under apartheid. And even the current rightwing government says that it wants to overcome Arab disadvantage and promises action to upgrade education and housing and increase job opportunities.”

Upon witnessing how both Arabs and Jews worked and were treated in Israeli hospitals, in another instance, Pogrund claimed, “What I saw in the Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital was inconceivable in South Africa where I spent most of my life, growing up then and working as a journalist who specialized in apartheid.”   Yet the existence of Arab voting rights, government initiatives to decrease the gap between Jews and Arabs, and coexistence in hospitals are not the only aspects of Israeli society that prove that Israel is not an apartheid state. Incitement to racism is a criminal offense in Israel, as is discrimination based on race or religion, implying that the Israeli legal system fundamentally rejects apartheid ideology.

In fact, Israel is a liberal democracy, where the Arab minority actively participates in the political process.   Arabs like Major General Hussain Fares, Major General Yosef Mishlav, and Lieutenant Colonel Amos Yarkoni have served prominently in the IDF, while Arabs such as Ali Yahya, Walid Mansour, and Reda Mansour served as Israeli Ambassadors.  Salim Joubran sits on the Israeli Supreme Court, while Nawwaf Massalha and Raleb Majadele were members of the Israeli Cabinet.   Arabs have also served as university professors, heads of hospital departments, management level positions in various businesses, and in senior level positions in the Israeli Police.  Indeed, Israeli Arabs have reached positions that blacks in apartheid South Africa could only dream of. Thus, Israel is the polar opposite of being an apartheid state.

Visit United with Israel.

Challenging the Choir

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Two timely columns in different publications have me thinking about humanity’s most basic obligation to ourselves – integrity. Are you honest enough to ask yourself if you are truly confident in the statements you are making – or are we all just going through the motions of a pre-set script and playing the parts that are expected of us?

My close friend and colleague Avi Zimmerman, who heads up international relations on behalf of the city of Ariel, published a column in the Times of Israel on the theme of Purim. On this holiday, it is customary to wear a costume and to drink alcohol. Both traditions, the writer explains, raise questions and expose who is really hiding inside the individual’s body. The sages of the Talmud are quoted as saying that when wine goes in, secrets come out. Hiding behind a mask can be a reminder that while this might be fake, there is a real you.

Avi challenged his readers to ask themselves a truly hard question. “What masks are we wearing? Have we chosen the ‘Israel-is-flawless’ position or the ‘Israel-is-lawless’ approach? Do we genuinely consider the issues at hand, or do we blindly recommend or condemn a news report or Op-Ed on the basis of our emotional attachment to the author? Is Israel the subject of honest debate – or the object we use to advance a personal agenda?”

Wow. Asking those things does take a lot of intellectual courage. I am sure that many members of the choir were not overly pleased to hear this preacher’s message. It is so much more fun when we can all gather around and pound on our chests and expect only words of encouragement and pats on the back.

Dr. Amal Al-Hazzani of King Saud University in Riyadh recently published a column in Asharak Alwaset, in which she questioned Arab society’s ignorance of Israel. Under the headline “Know Your Enemy,” she apologizes to her readers for her previous article titled “Israel We Do Not Know,” in which she wrote:

“A simple means of demonstrating our ignorance of Israel can be found in the fact that its neighboring states are ignorant of the Hebrew language. In Lebanon and Syria, people prefer to study French rather than the language of a country that continues to jeopardize their own security every day. In Egypt and Jordan, people do not prioritize or publicize the study of the Hebrew language, while in Israeli educational institutions, there is ample opportunity to study the Arabic language. It is for this reason that we find a considerable number of Israeli politicians and media representatives who speak Arabic fluently. I do not know many Arab foreign ministers in Israel’s neighboring states that can speak Hebrew. As for those who say that the Israelis speak Arabic because the language is more common than Hebrew, or because the Israelis have intruded on our region, this justification is irrelevant. The reason why Israel enjoys superiority over the Arabs is because it has sought to understand them through their language; it can gauge the thinking of the young and old. Israel is well aware of the Arabs’ strengths as well as their weaknesses, and it can understand them simply because it has immersed itself in their culture.”

Apparently, she came under a hail of criticism for daring to report on Israel’s democratic process, in which, contrary to the norm in the rest of the region, citizens actually elect their leadership.

In response, she wrote:

“I would like to thank those who showered me with a torrent of angry correspondence about my previous article on Israel, who accused me of calling for a normalization of relations, promoting the Hebrew language, and glorifying Israeli liberalism. This response was to be expected, because I breached a taboo. However, I am sorry to say to those people, despite my appreciation of their opinions, that their outrage will not change the reality. Israel will remain as it is; a small state but stronger than the rest of the Arab world.”

While criticizing Arabs for not knowing enough about the Israeli “enemy” might not sound so positive, the mere fact that the writer needed to respond shows that many Arabs fear that opening this topic for discussion breaks an opening in the wall of non-normalization with Israel. Could her critics be saying, “we would rather be ignorant of Israel than take a chance of knowing the truth” – and  possibly finding out that we have common interests?

It seems that both writers – from opposite sides of the fence – are offering similar challenges to their own “choirs” by suggesting that they ask themselves to examine their positions and be sure that they understand why it is that they believe as they do. The authors give excellent encouragement to a practice of self-examination we should all engage in regularly, in order to promote more authentic discussion between sides.

Originally published at Your Middle East.

No ‘Respect’ for Racist Demagogue

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

I’m going to devote today’s post to one of my least favorite humans, George Galloway.

My U.K. readers already know probably more than they want to about him, but it occurred to me that others, Americans in particular, don’t know who or what he is. So I’ll do my best to remedy that.

Galloway, 58, is a member of the British Parliament for Bradford West, located in Yorkshire in north-central England. He was elected in 2012 by a landslide, receiving 56% of the vote; his nearest competitor got only 25%. Galloway, formerly a garden-variety leftist, was kicked out of the Labour party in 2003 because of his aggressive attacks on Tony Blair over British participation in the Iraq war.

In 2004, he joined a new left-wing party called “Respect,” which he and his faction shortly came to dominate. Galloway was the first M.P. elected by Respect, whose official ideology seems to be a sort of leftish populism.

Galloway has made it more than that, adding elements to appeal to Muslims (Bradford West was 38% Muslim in 2001, and is probably much more than that now). The party began to downplay some of the traditional left-wing causes like women’s and gay rights, while emphasizing opposition to the wars in Iraq an Afghanistan. Galloway himself may have converted to Islam (he is coy about this, perhaps to keep the few non-Muslim working-class votes that he receives). But he makes no pretense about appealing to Muslim interests — and prejudices.

What distinguishes Galloway from other many other demagogues — even in the U.K. — is his particularly vicious hatred of Israel, which extends to support for the Jew-hating Hamas. In 2009, he played a leading role in the “Viva Palestina” convoy to bring ‘aid’ to Gaza, which resulted in his being deported from Egypt. He often speaks against Zionism and Israel on his several radio/T.V. programs — in the U.K., on a satellite channel linked to Iran and Syria in Lebanon and the U.S. (on Pacifica station WBAI New York).

Hizballah, too, meets with his approval. “Hizballah is not and has never been a terrorist organisation. It is the legitimate national resistance movement of Lebanon,” he tells us. Ideology isn’t important as long as someone wants to kill Jews.

Galloway is always good for a rousing stump speech on the evils of Zionism and that “little Hitler state on the Mediterranean.” Just search for him on YouTube.

In short, Galloway is a man who has built a political persona and a career on hating Israel. Since explicit racial or ethnic hatred for groups of people is unfashionable — at least, in some parts of the West, although it is making a comeback — he must focus on abstract objects of hatred, like Zionism and Israel. His supporters aren’t deceived, and neither am I.

Galloway’s latest thuggish expression of hatred came with very little provocation. In response to an Oxford student who called for a peaceful, mutually agreed upon two-state solution, he suddenly asked “are you Israeli?” When the student answered in the affirmative, Galloway announced that he doesn’t debate Israelis, he doesn’t recognize the state of Israel, and stomped off — followed at a respectful few paces by his wife.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Is Hagel Jewish?

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

So two Jewish academics, one American and one Israeli, co-author a report with a Palestinian professor, paid for by the US State Department, claiming that Palestinian textbooks don’t really incite hatred against Jews and Israelis, that Israeli books are biased too, and it’s just a question of different ‘narratives’. It turns out (are you surprised?) that it is a bunch of nonsense.

Dangerous nonsense, though, because the issue of ‘incitement’ is critical — that is, if the Palestinians teach their children that

Zionism is “a colonialist political movement founded by the Jews of Europe in the second half of the 19th century… [intent on] displacing the Palestinian people in Palestine from their land.” and far worse, then it calls into question their desire to live peacefully alongside a Jewish state, as well as the advisability of Israeli concessions in order to reach an agreement with them. In all, this is a small skirmish in one of many battles in the larger information war which is a major theater in the conflict between Israel and its neighbors. Despite being nonsense, it is an effective gambit due to the academic credentials of the authors and the ‘scientific’ pretensions of the report, even though the whole enterprise is based on faulty premises (read this for the ugly details). The State Department certainly got full value for its money.

Now I want to switch gears, because it isn’t the question of textbooks and incitement that I really want to talk about (check Palestinian Media Watch for more examples than you wanted to see).

Note that the two non-Arab co-authors happen to be Jewish.

I used to write ‘man-bites-dog’ stories about Jewish anti-Zionism. I would write, “with Jews like these, who needs antisemites?” I spent a lot of time trying to understand their apparently inconsistent behavior, given the importance of the Jewish state to the cultural and physical survival of the Jewish people. I wrote literally tens of articles on the subject of J Street, the phony pro-Israel organization, and about the recently-elected head of the Reform Movement, who was an activist in J Street and the New Israel Fund.

I have stopped being surprised at this. It no longer appears remarkable to me when I notice that the leaders of anti-Zionist groups are Jews, sometimes rabbis. I am beginning to sympathize with whoever it was who said that whenever he or she sees a Jewish name at the bottom of a letter to the editor, there’s no need to read it. I can only shrug when I note the overwhelming Jewish support for the most anti-Israel US administration since 1948. I don’t dislike Max Blumenthal as much as I disliked Yasser Arafat any more.

There are reasons for all of these things, in psychology and politics. I am no longer interested in them. I have always thought that my mission was, above all, to educate my Jewish friends about Zionism and why it is important for Jews to be Zionists. I am no longer sure that this is possible.

No, now there is only one overriding issue for me:

How do we get Chuck Hagel a Bar Mitzvah?

—— Note: No, I don’t really think Chuck Hagel is Jewish. There is no evidence for that, unless you count his over-the-top anti-Zionism.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Did Brooklyn College’s Political Science Department Violate the First Amendment?

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

The co-sponsorship by the Brooklyn College political science department of an anti-Israel hate fest, from which pro-Israel students were excluded, may have violated the First Amendment.

Had the event been sponsored only by student and outside private groups, their decision to exclude pro-Israel students and to prevent the distribution of anti-BDS leaflets would have been a private matter, that at worst may have violated the rules of the college. But the official co-sponsorship of the event by an academic department may have turned their exclusionary decisions into illegal “state action.”

For purposes of the First Amendment, the political science department is Brooklyn College, which is the City University of New York, which is the State of New York. It was the State of New York, therefore, that expelled pro-Israel students who wanted to distribute constitutionally protected leaflets and wanted to pose constitutionally protected political questions. Such state action violates the First Amendment and New York law.

Accordingly, the benighted action of the political science department in taking sides in the debate over boycotting Israeli academics and institutions, may now come back to haunt the City University of New York, which is taking this situation seriously. The Chancellor issued the following statement:

At last week’s event at Brooklyn College, sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine and the College’s Department of Political Science, allegations were made by members of the college community who attended that they were impeded from expressing views either orally or in writing. There were reports that some said they were asked without cause to leave the event. If this were true, it was wrong and we need to understand exactly what the circumstances were. At the request of President Karen L. Gould, I have asked General Counsel and Senior Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs Frederick P. Schaffer to quickly investigate these allegations. This investigation will be coordinated by CUNY’s Office of Legal Affairs, working with an independent consultant, and charged with reporting directly back to me.

There is, apparently, strong evidence to corroborate the accounts that pro-Israel students, especially those wearing yarmulkes or “looking” Jewish, were deliberately excluded, even though they secured written permission to attend. There is also corroboration of the accusation that pro-Israel students who managed to get into the event were thrown out when they refused to turn over to the organizers anti-BDS leaflets they wished to distribute. When these students complained to an official of the college, he reportedly replied that the anti-Israel students who were running the event were “calling the shots” and he could therefore do nothing. But once the political science department became involved as a co-sponsor, the students alone could not call the shots, when it comes to the First Amendment. The university assumed responsibility for assuring that the free speech of all students was equally protected. The First Amendment forbids the State of New York from discriminating against pro-Israel or anti-BDS speech, as it apparently did here.

What happened at Brooklyn College demonstrates the wisdom of keeping academic departments from sponsoring non-academic hate fests, such as the BDS event. When academic departments become selective sponsors, the constitutional rules change, because the imprimatur of the university—and thus the state—is placed on the event.

The radical anti-Israel students who arranged the BDS conference thought they had obtained a benefit from the political science department’s co-sponsorship—and perhaps they did in the short term. But in the long term, they may rue the day they persuaded the department to become involved in what should have been a student event. Now there may be legal consequences. The sword of co-sponsorship may have become a shield to protect the First Amendment rights of the students who were prevented from handing out anti-BDS leaflets and asking anti-BDS questions. I wonder if we will hear from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Times editorial board about these violations of freedom of speech!

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/did-brooklyn-colleges-political-science-department-violate-the-first-amendment/2013/02/17/

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