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December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘debate’

Finkelstein Loses It in J-TV Debate with Ken Spiro [video]

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

J-TV tried to run an intelligent debate between Norman Finkelstein and Ken Spiro discussing if Israel is held to double standard or not.

It quickly degenerated into Finkelstein quoting out-of-context cherry-picked facts, and then just losing it completely when confronted, until he eventually hung up.

The segment was a short one, and unfortunately was not set up to answer all the claims that Finkelstein made, but we found his mention of Theodor Meron very interesting, such that we wanted to discuss it further.

Theodor Meron was a legal advisor for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1967.

The cover letter version is that Meron, in a top secret document, apparently gave his legal opinion to the government that Israeli settlements on the Golan Heights and the West Bank would be in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention, though the entire issue is complex from a political and legal point of view.

And Finkelstein ran with that, claiming that Israel knew that settlements were illegal under international law, and purposely ignored international law.

Putting aside for the moment that Meron was only just one legal opinion, and other government legal advisors held different legal opinions, it’s interesting to point out that Finkelstein chose to only wield the part of Meron’s response that he agreed with.

Reading Meron’s complete response we learn that he also advised the government, based on his legal position, how the government could set up settlements legally .

Furthermore, and perhaps more interesting to this discussion, Meron legally opined that Israelis could return to live in Gush Etzion (and Hebron and eastern Jerusalem, by definition) and it would be difficult to claim it was a Geneva Convention violation, and those Israeli settlements would not be illegal — as Jews inhabited those areas before 1948.

“With regard to Gush Etzion, settlement there could to a certain extent be helped by claiming that this is a return to the settlers’ homes.”

Finkelstein was happy to selectively quote Meron’s general opinion to use it against Israel, but ignored the parts of what Meron wrote that he found unacceptable.

If Finkelstein accepts Meron’s opinion, and we have to assume he does as he was using Meron to prove his point, then Finkelstein has to also accept that there are no illegal Jewish settlements in Gush Etzion, Hebron and eastern Jerusalem.

Imagine how apoplectic Finkelstein would have gotten if Spiro had pointed that out.

J-TV is a new, global Jewish YouTube channel featuring weekly segments on Jewish Wisdom, Current Affairs, Movers & Shakers, Jewish Food and more.

Video of the Day

Join us for an Election Chat

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

We’ll be opening up a page later this evening, for live updates and discussing the elections.

Please join us on the JewishPress.com website later tonight for a chat about the elections.

Jewish Press Staff

Jew vs. Muslim – But in a Polite, Civil Debate

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

The knowledgeable Jewish man is Joseph Cohen of the Israel Advocacy Movement and he holds a polite and civil debate with a Muslim man.

Video of the Day

Knesset Committee to Debate Proposed Law Expanding Defense Minister’s Powers

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

A proposed new law would magnify the authority of the Israeli defense minister (within pre-1967 Israel only, as the Civil Administration deals with Judea and Samaria), enabling him or her to restrict the freedom of a citizen without trial, under considerations of “national security of the public safety.”

The bill is to be debated next week by the Knesset Constitution Committee, whose legal advisers had already called it “problematic.”

Bayit Yehudi MK and Committee Chairperson Nissan Slomiansky told Ha’aretz the committee will have to consider how to balance the protection of national security and the public, against the “severe injury to human rights.”

The legislation if passed would allow the minister to restrict the professions in which a citizen could work, stop a citizen from leaving the country and/or stop that person from making contact with certain individuals, reports the Ha’aretz newspaper. It would also enable the defense minister to detail Israeli citizens without trial, among other privileges.

But all of the above restrictions already exist as privileges of the Public Security Minister in pre-1967 Israel, and the right of the Defense Minister in areas of Judea, Samaria and some parts of Jerusalem as well.

For instance, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet domestic intelligence service) can recommend to either minister that any individual be held under “administrative detention,” given enough reason to do so. Those reasons are not always made public, but one can be held under the law relating to administrative detention without being charged or brought to trial, for months. The validation must be renewed every three months, but the minister may detain anyone he likes as long as he can justify it to the High Court.

This law would limit that administrative detention – in pre-1967 Israel, at least, to six months.

As for restricting the professions in which one is able to work, security clearance, one’s military record and one’s criminal record and/or academic record – all of which can be traced via one’s Israeli identity card – already is used for such purposes, whether that information is always shared with the applicant or not.

As regards leaving the country, the average Israeli traveling abroad – as other travelers – goes through at least five security checks before ever reaching the airline check-in counter. By that time, Israeli security personnel have either decided one is a risk to national security, or they’re not.

If so, you’ll never make it to the plane.

Hana Levi Julian

Toynbee’s Anti-Semitism And Herzog’s Great Debate

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Educated at Oxford, Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) served as a professor of Greek language and history at the University of London and as director of studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. His writings and ideas have had great influence on modern attitudes toward not only history but also religion and international relations.

Much of his influence can be traced to his prodigious twelve-volume series A Study of History, a synthesis of world history considered one of the great accomplishments in modern scholarship. After comparing 26 different human civilizations, he concluded that all civilizations followed fixed, cyclic patterns of historical development; that all human histories were destined to tragic ends; and that the end of Western civilization was near.

A fierce opponent of a Jewish state, Toynbee was a spokesman for the Arab cause and often characterized Zionism as “demonic.” He called the “displacement” of the Arabs by Israel “an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis” and, in a Journal of Palestinian Studies interview in 1973, stated that the British had not appreciated the implications of the Balfour Declaration and that Balfour himself was “a wicked man.”

He wrote that “what is peculiar about the Palestine conflict is that the world has listened to the party that has committed the offense and turned a deaf ear to the victims” and that “the tragedy in Palestine is not just a local one; it is a tragedy for the world, because it is an injustice that is a menace to the world’s peace.”

Jacob Baal-Teshuva, a writer and an internationally recognized authority on the artist Marc Chagall, was selected to edit an anthology to mark the “bar mitzvah” of the state of Israel in 1961 and he solicited articles from numerous important personalities, among them Toynbee. Pictured with this column is the fascinating March 24, 1961 response to Baal-Teshuva, Toynbee underscores his passionate anti-Israel views:

Your kind letter, inviting me to contribute to “The Mission of Israel,” has been forwarded to me from London…. My feeling about what has happened in Palestine since the First World War is that it is a tragedy of which we have not yet seen the end…. I hope for an eventual solution of the Palestine problems by agreement, but I fear this is going to be slow and difficult.

As explained above, the central tenet of Toynbee’s historical gestalt was that civilizations, much as human beings, have life cycles that are marked by rises and falls that ultimately lead to the extinction of the civilization and its passing from the world scene. His theory is supported by the fact that through the entire course of world history, through every era and every culture, no conquered and exiled nation or people has ever returned to its land and re-established a national identity. Except one, that is.

Much as the mere continued existence of Judaism stands as a painful theological challenge to both Christianity and Islam, the return of the Jews to Eretz Yisrael after surviving 2,000 years of the bitterest of exiles negates Toynbee’s entire understanding of history.singer-102816-herzog

This may explain the motive, intentional or otherwise, for Toynbee’s antagonism toward the Jewish people, whom he persisted in criticizing as a historical “fossil” and an “extinct society” despite the rebirth of Israel. Indeed, historian Aviad Kleinberg, an expert on the history of Christianity, has characterized Toynbee’s approach as a crude reworking of the Christian theme of the Jewish Diaspora as divine punishment for the Jews’ rejection of Jesus, and he attributes Toynbee’s anger at the Jews and Israel to the fact that their mere existence is wholly inconsistent with his general historical philosophy.

When Toynbee published his accusations against the Jews and Israel at the beginning of the 1960s, he was challenged to a debate by Yaakov Herzog, the son of Israeli Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog and himself a respected religious scholar then serving as Israel’s ambassador to Canada. The debate went forward at the Hillel House of McGill University in Montreal notwithstanding the keen apprehension of many Israeli officials, who saw the debate as evocative of the “disputation dialogues” between Jews and Christians during the Middle Ages.

Exhibited with this column is an original newspaper photograph of Herzog and Toynbee at the January 31, 1961 debate. The caption under the photograph alleges that “Toynbee refused to back down,” but that is a striking falsification; in fact, Toynbee sustained a humiliating loss in what Shimon Peres called “one of the most dramatic debates in the history of our people.”

singer-102816-letterIn brilliant and spectacular fashion, Herzog forced Toynbee to back off his principal allegations against the Jews and Israel. First, Herzog challenged him to explain how defensive actions by the nascent Jewish state against multiple Arab armies determined to inflict another Holocaust on the Jews of Eretz Yisrael could somehow be compared to the Nazis’ systemic genocide.

He went through a list of other nations that, according to Toynbee himself, had committed atrocities, including the British in Ireland and the French in Syria. And, citing a litany of Arab massacres of Jewish civilians, he pointedly questioned how Toynbee somehow never got around to mentioning them and challenged him for singling out Israel and the Jews. He effectively painted Toynbee into a corner, forcing him to admit that, at the very least, Israel was no worse than any other nation.

As for Toynbee’s characterization of the Jewish people as a “fossil,” Herzog pushed the historian to concede that Israel could be “defossilized.” Although Toynbee persisted in arguing that, due to their persecution and isolation, Jews had had no discernable impact on the stage of world history, Herzog, citing fact after fact, forced him to acknowledge that contemporary Jews had not only become part of world history but had also played a meaningful part in it.

Finally, in a brilliant diplomatic move, Herzog closed the debate by issuing a warm invitation to Toynbee to come to Israel, where he could personally witness Israel’s “defossilization.”

It is fascinating to note Herzog’s successful adoption of a conspicuously different approach than the usual hasbarah (public relations information efforts) we often see coming out of Israel today. He pointedly did not present the traditional argument that Israel is “a light unto the nations” and, rather than insisting that Israel is a morally superior state, he argued merely that it is a typical one.

Saul Jay Singer

Presidential Debate #2: Trump By A Knockout

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, The Lid}

As people prepared to watch the Sunday evening debate there was an undercurrent that America was about to see something ugly, and perhaps it was but it was also very necessary. In the end the debate was as ugly as predicted, and Donald Trump may have done what was needed to right his campaign.

If there is any question about how Donald Trump handles pressure that was answered during the second debate. He faced greater pressure going into the debate than any candidate in presidential debate history.  He not only handled the pressure but was exceptional and won the second debate by a knockout.

In the first debate Donald Trump seemed to have missed every opportunity to go on the attack, Trump corrected that mistake in Debate number two. The two candidates threw everything but the kitchen sink at each other, and everything that Hillary didn’t throw, the moderators picked up an threw at Trump also.

It was interesting that the moderators began the debate with asking about the 800-pound gorilla in the room, the eleven-year-old audio where Trump said disgusting things about women. Yet Hillary’s scandal, the WikiLeaks release of parts of her Wall Street speeches was given a lower priority relegated to later on in the contest.

That eleven-year-old Trump video dominated the early stages of the debate. Anderson Cooper of accused Trump of bragging about sexually assaulting women, which Trump argued was a mischaracterization. The first few times Cooper asked about the tape, Trump expressed regret about his remarks and said he was deeply embarrassed about it, then pivoted to real issues like ISIS and crime. After the moderators asked about the tape three times, and Clinton had a go at it, the moderators picked a “civilian” question about the tape, making it four questions. That’s when Trump “went there,” talked about Bubba’s sexual assaults, and Hillary’s attacks on those women (three of they were in the audience, along with a woman who was a rape victim of a man Hillary defended in court then mocked years later).

It was locker room talk, as I told you. That was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I am a person who has great respect for people, for my family, for the people of this country. And certainly, I’m not proud of it. But that was something that happened.

If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse. Mine are words, and his was action. His was what he’s done to women. There’s never been anybody in the history politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women. So you can say any way you want to say it, but Bill Clinton was abusive to women.

Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously. Four of them here tonight. One of the women, who is a wonderful woman, at 12 years old, was raped at 12. Her client she represented got him off, and she’s seen laughing on two separate occasions, laughing at the girl who was raped. Kathy Shelton, that young woman is here with us tonight.

The presence of the four Clinton victims seemed to throw Hillary off a bit. But it was this exchange that really threw her back on her heels.

Hillary Clinton said Trump should apologize for birtherism, and Trump pointed out that birtherism began with Hillary’s buddy Sid Blumenthal, and then segued into talking about the deletion of Hillary’s emails after receiving a congressional subpoena promising if elected he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate her emails and other lies. That’s when to use a boxing term, Ms. Clinton stuck her chin out.

CLINTON: … I told people that it would be impossible to be fact-checking Donald all the time. I’d never get to talk about anything I want to do and how we’re going to really make lives better for people.

So, once again, go to HillaryClinton.com. We have literally Trump — you can fact check him in real time. Last time at the first debate, we had millions of people fact checking, so I expect we’ll have millions more fact checking, because, you know, it is — it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.

TRUMP: Because you’d be in jail.

Ouch, that had to hurt.

When asked about her speech to Wall Street where she implied that politicians needed to be two faced, Hillary in part,” As I recall, that was something I said about Abraham Lincoln after having seen the wonderful Steven Spielberg movie called “Lincoln.” It was a master class watching President Lincoln get the Congress to approve the 13th Amendment. It was principled, and it was strategic.”

Again she left herself open for a Trump jab.

WikiLeaks that just came out. And she lied. Now she’s blaming the lie on the late, great Abraham Lincoln. That’s one that I haven’t…

OK, Honest Abe, Honest Abe never lied. That’s the good thing. That’s the big difference between Abraham Lincoln and you. That’s a big, big difference. We’re talking about some difference.

A question about his 3AM tweet about the former Miss Universe Hillary used to attack Trump, he pivoted perfectly to Benghazi:

TRUMP: By the way, just so you understand, when she said 3 o’clock in the morning, take a look at Benghazi. She said who is going to answer the call at 3 o’clock in the morning? Guess what? She didn’t answer it, because when Ambassador Stevens…

COOPER: The question is, is that the discipline of a good leader?

TRUMP: … 600 — wait a minute, Anderson, 600 times. Well, she said she was awake at 3 o’clock in the morning, and she also sent a tweet out at 3 o’clock in the morning, but I won’t even mention that. But she said she’ll be awake. Who’s going — the famous thing, we’re going to answer our call at 3 o’clock in the morning. Guess what happened? Ambassador Stevens — Ambassador Stevens sent 600 requests for help. And the only one she talked to was Sidney Blumenthal, who’s her friend and not a good guy, by the way. So, you know, she shouldn’t be talking about that.

There were more, but those were the three best.  The bottom line is that Trump did what he had to (and what he didn’t do during the first debate). He put the 11-year-old tape aside and discussed issues even more than Hillary. And in the meantime he was able to throw in a few great zingers.  I predict that the “you’d be in jail” line will be shown for years to come.

Now we have to see how the voters see it. That will become apparent in another week or two.


Jeff Dunetz

Trump in 2nd Debate: Aleppo Has Already Fallen

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Focusing, as we always do, on the Jewish-Israeli niche of presidential politics, we paid great attention Sunday night to the exchange between candidates Trump and Clinton on the situation in Syria. In general, both debaters agreed the situation was tough, and neither was eager to get into specific solutions. What stood out for us was the statement by Donald Trump that the battle of Aleppo between the US-backed rebels and the coalition of Assad, the Russians, Iran and Hezbollah will go to the pro-Assad forces.

Martha Raddatz (ABC News) asked Trump: “What do you think will happen if [Aleppo] falls?” Which Trump answered, “I think that it basically has fallen. OK? It basically has fallen.”

It should be noted that on Saturday in the UN Security Council Russia vetoed a French resolution calling for an immediate halt to its air strikes on east Aleppo, where reportedly hundreds of civilians are being killed, including many children. The Russian delegation, accusing the rest of the council of “Russophobia,” watched many council members walk off as the Russians were giving the floor to an envoy of the Assad regime. The Russians are fast running out of friends over this campaign — except, apparently, for Trump, who described Allepo as collateral damage of the effort to destroy the real enemy of the US in the Middle East — ISIS.

“I don’t like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS,” Trump said during Sunday night’s debate. “Russia is killing ISIS. And Iran is killing ISIS. And those three have now lined up because of our weak foreign policy.”

Raddatz pointed Trump’s attention to the fact that not only the entire Western world objects to what the Russians have been doing in Syria, but his own running mate, Mike Pence, had said a week ago, that the “provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength and that if Russia continues to be involved in air strikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.”

Trump, who had praised Pence’s debate performance, came right out and said, “OK, he and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree. I disagree.”

Raddatz: “You disagree with your running mate?”

Trump: “I think you have to knock out ISIS. Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS. We have people that want to fight both at the same time. But Syria is no longer Syria. Syria is Russia and it’s Iran, who [Clinton] made strong and Kerry and Obama made into a very powerful nation and a very rich nation, very, very quickly, very, very quickly.

“I believe we have to get ISIS. We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved. She had a chance to do something with Syria. They had a chance. And that was the line. And she didn’t.”

To delineate Trump’s foreign policy point on Aleppo from all of the above, the defeat of ISIS justifies permitting Russia, Iran, the Assad regime and its Hezbollah satellite to recapture all of Syria and turn it into their permanent base, with all the ramifications for Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and, of course, Israel.

A debate then ensued between Raddatz, who as her network’s Chief Global Affairs Correspondent is probably familiar with the issue, and Trump, over the need for secrecy before attacking a target like the oil rich city of Mosul in Iraq. “The biggest problem I have with the stupidity of our foreign policy, we have Mosul,” Trump argued. “They think a lot of the ISIS leaders are in Mosul. So we have announcements coming out of Washington and coming out of Iraq, we will be attacking Mosul in three weeks or four weeks.”

“Well, all of these bad leaders from ISIS are leaving Mosul,” he continued. “Why can’t they do it quietly? Why can’t they do the attack, make it a sneak attack, and after the attack is made, inform the American public that we’ve knocked out the leaders, we’ve had a tremendous success? People leave. Why do they have to say we’re going to be attacking Mosul within the next four to six weeks, which is what they’re saying? How stupid is our country?”

Raddatz suggested, “There are sometimes reasons the military does that. Psychological warfare.”

Trump retorted, “I can’t think of any. I can’t think of any. And I’m pretty good at it.”

Raddatz: “It might be to help get civilians out.”

Perhaps. Trump could also be correct in pointing out that the US campaign in Iraq has remained as undisciplined and as badly coordinated as it has been since the 2003 invasion, under two different administrations.

Hillary Clinton sounded as hapless as the Obama Administration when she said the Russians don’t care about ISIS, and are instead “interested in keeping Assad in power.” As remedy, she proposed: “…when I was secretary of state, I advocated and I advocate today a no-fly zone and safe zones. We need some leverage with the Russians, because they are not going to come to the negotiating table for a diplomatic resolution, unless there is some leverage over them. And we have to work more closely with our partners and allies on the ground.”

Of course, there’s no way the US and its allies would be able to enforce a no-fly zone on the Russian air force, short of starting WW3, which is why Clinton sounded hollow when she declared, “I’ve stood up to Russia. I’ve taken on Putin and others, and I would do that as president.” And she sounded even less realistic when she warned, “…I do support the effort to investigate for crimes, war crimes committed by the Syrians and the Russians and try to hold them accountable.”

Hillary Clinton then committed a blunder that could haunt her in the future should she be elected president, when she suggested, “There are a lot of very important planning going on, and some of it is to signal to the Sunnis in the area, as well as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, that we all need to be in this. And that takes a lot of planning and preparation. … I would also consider arming the Kurds. The Kurds have been our best partners in Syria, as well as Iraq. And I know there’s a lot of concern about that in some circles, but I think they should have the equipment they need so that Kurdish and Arab fighters on the ground are the principal way that we take Raqqa after pushing ISIS out of Iraq.”

That’s not something an American president should say if he or she wish to elicit Turkey’s support in the Syrian campaign. Proposing to arm the Kurds sounds about as bad to Ankara as the idea of the US arming Hamas would be received in Jerusalem. That would be one of those cases where Clinton would be well advised to have one policy for public consumption and another for insiders.

You probably noticed we did not deal at all with the Trump tapes or the Clinton emails, because everyone else in the media are offering a wealth of information on those. We only tried to point out that when it comes to one of Israel’s most burning issues, the escalation of the war north of its border, neither candidate has offered a particularly convincing formula, and Clinton actually declared she would definitely keep US ground troops out of the Syrian civil war.

We should note with satisfaction that Israel was not mentioned even once in the debate and neither was the two-state solution or Jewish settlements. Thankfully, both candidates are too clever to step on that landmine.


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