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Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

Freedom House Readies Downgrade of Israel, Based on Palestinian Deceit

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

In a clear distortion of information, the once prestigious Freedom House, a not-for-profit organization that purports to monitor which societies in the world are truly free, appears deliberately to have omitted and misrepresented easily verifiable information in what can only be seen as an attempt to downgrade Israel from “free” to “partly free.”

This self-appointed, proclaimed monitor of freedom, itself only partly-free, not only cites Arab and radical propaganda taken as fact, with no checking, off the internet, to declare Israel as less free, but condemns it for protecting itself from daily bombardments of the terrorist organization, Hamas. Last week, in 24 hours alone, over 80 rockets were fired on a city in Israel’s south, “Can you imagine, one writer asks,” if even one rocket were fired on Washington, London, Paris or Moscow?”

While on the surface that might not seem a calamity, these falsehoods follow a pattern — as with Human Rights Watch [see www.NGO-Monitor.org for details] or the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) — maliciously and recklessly to distort the situation of human rights in the Middle East in general, and Israel in particular, apparently for no other purpose than to defame the only democracy in the Middle East, one which is daily threatened with eradication.

The ISM operates as a human shield for terrorist groups; it works cooperatively with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PFLP. The Palestinians have found a formula of deception to put a good face on their terrorism sponsors’ irredentist movement. They now claim they represent humanitarianism and freedom when in reality they promote the takeover goals of totalitarianism, arresting journalists wholesale and inciting violence from government-controlled media. A vast number of websites — some have even crept into the classrooms of American colleges — now claim to have valid research and have reversed the facts behind just who represents genuine freedom, and who is seeking the destruction of a free and democratic state, Israel, to install a new totalitarian one in its place.

Among its many reports which explain the downgrade of certain states’ freedom rankings, the one about Israel not only distorts history but even reverses facts, when describing who has rights to pray on the Temple Mount.

According to the report, “Citing security concerns, Israel occasionally restricts Muslim worshippers’ access to the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif, in Jerusalem. In October 2011, Jewish extremists burned and vandalized a mosque in the northern village of Tuba-Zangariya, leading to protests by hundreds of residents and minor clashes with police.”

The report makes no mention that Israel gave complete administrative control of the Temple Mount, the Jews’ holiest shrine, to the Waqf, the Muslim religious administration, in 1967. The Waqf does not allow any Jewish praying on the Mount, even arresting Jews who dare to move their lips or even close their eyes, for fear they might be praying. The Waqf also relies on the Israeli police, many of whom are Arabs and not Jews, to enforce this edict.

Muslims are not restricted from praying on the Mount, except on high Muslim holidays, when the police — after they had determined that younger males are more inclined to violence — sometimes admit males only over the age of 40 to prevent riots and attacks on the police. In any event, as on many earlier occasions, when Arab worshippers have attacked the police, the number of worshippers admitted on Muslim high holidays days would be restricted for normal crowd control.

For Freedom House to try and suggest that Jews are keeping Muslims from praying on the Temple Mount is disingenuous, if not libelous, and reveals at best a substandard level of competence.

As for the mosque burning incident, this was not a government-sponsored crime, but conducted by individuals who are being sought by the Israeli police for arrest and prosecution; yet Freedom House would have its readers believe this was a government-sanctioned attack. Prosecutors in Israel prosecute any Jews who attack or deface Muslim shrines and Jews go to jail. This is tantamount to falsely suggesting Klansmen who burned black churches in the Jim Crow South were carrying out US government functions.

Similar distortions also abound in the Freedom House report on educational matters. Two paragraphs in particular are disturbing; they state,

“Legislation passed in March 2011 requires the state to fine or withdraw funds from local authorities and other state-funded groups that hold events marking Al-Nakba on Israeli independence day; that support armed resistance or “racism” against Israel; or that desecrate the state flag or national symbols. Both Arab rights and freedom of expression groups criticized the law as an unnecessary and provocative restriction.

“In July, the Knesset passed the so-called Boycott Law, which exposes Israeli individuals and groups to civil lawsuits if they advocate an economic, cultural, or academic boycott of the State of Israel or West Bank settlements, even without clear proof of financial damage. Petitions filed against the law were pending at year’s end.”

The article does not explain that Al-Nakba in Arabic refers to the founding of Israel as a “catastrophe” for the Arabs living in Israel. The “Arab rights” and “freedom of expression groups” (unnamed) which opposed the new law all advocate the destruction and replacement of the Jewish state by an Arab-dominated one which would not have religious or gender-based freedom, the same as other Arab states in the region. The boycott of Israel is even opposed by the Palestinian Authority government-in-the-making; it is a continuation of the Arab League’s unending declared financial war on Israel, a war that began in 1922. Israel does not prohibit individuals from making such statements advocating destruction of the Jewish state, only the lawsuit rights of victims who pay Israeli taxpayer money to pay for it as a function of government.

Three US Jews Still Held Hostage Overseas

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

“There are, I think, almost 3,000 Americans in foreign jails. Almost all of them are in there for doing something.”

That is the assessment given to JNS.org by U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-NY), a leading advocate for the freedom of 53-year-old Brooklyn flooring contractor Jacob Ostreicher – who, according to his supporters, is wrongly imprisoned in Bolivia and therefore falls outside the “almost 3,000 Americans” cited by Turner.

Ostreicher’s situation is one of three high-profile cases of American Jews overseas who remain either controversially imprisoned or held hostage.

In early October, lawyers for 63-year-old Alan Gross, a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contractor imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for trying to bring that country’s Jewish community Internet access, announced that a doctor who reviewed Gross’s medical records found a tumor in his right shoulder that may be cancerous. The tumor is a “potentially life-threatening medical problem that has not been adequately evaluated to modern medical standards” by Cuban doctors, according to Dr. Alan A. Cohen.

Alan Gross in Jerusalem with wife Judy.

Since that revelation, Cuba has been “surprisingly quiet in response, and I say surprisingly because typically they tend to be very aggressive at responding to claims about Alan’s situation, and I think the detailed nature of Dr. Cohen’s assessment has flummoxed them and they’re not quite sure how they can respond,” said Gross lawyer Jared Genser.

Gross, who lived in Potomac, Md., received a 15-year prison sentence even though he was working with “peaceful, non-dissident, Jewish groups” in Cuba, according to the U.S. Cuba convicted him of “crimes against the state.”

In August, Gross’s lawyers filed a petition asking the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to conclude that Cuba had violated Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – a treaty that guarantees freedom of expression and the rights to receive and disseminate information freely through any media of choice – by imprisoning Gross.

Cuba “didn’t point to anything [Gross] did beyond provide publicly available computer equipment to Jewish communities down in Cuba, and that falls squarely within the protections for article 19 of the ICCPR,” Genser said, making his ongoing detention “a flagrant violation of Cuba’s obligations of international law.”

Cuba has 60 days to respond to the UN petition. Gross’s team is expecting the UN arbitrary detention working group to hear the case in mid-November and to issue an opinion in mid-December. The group’s opinions are not binding under international law and there is no enforcement provision that could compel Cuba to comply, but Genser said a ruling in Gross’s favor could still be a significant step.

On Capitol Hill, the push for Gross’s freedom received broad bipartisan support in September, with 44 U.S. senators signing a letter to Cuban President Raul Castro asking for Gross’s release.

Ultimately, said Genser, it needs to be “the president and the secretary of state who are going to resolve this case, and my hope is that regardless of who wins the election on Nov. 6, that either President Obama or a president-elect Romney will be in position to make a new set of moves toward the government of Cuba after the election is over.”

* * *

Jacob Ostreicher traveled to Bolivia in December 2010 to oversee rice production and was arrested in June 2011 on suspicion of money laundering and criminal organization. No formal charges have ever been brought against him.

On Aug. 31 this year, Ostreicher was denied bail. Congressman Turner, who represents the section of Brooklyn where Ostreicher lived, explained in a phone interview that according to Bolivian law, “you have to be charged within an 18-month period.”

Turner and U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) are among the consistent advocates for Ostreicher’s cause. The problem, according to Turner, lies within the U.S. State Department, whose involvement, he said, was limited by virtue of being “bound by their own rules.”

Despite the “preponderance of evidence” showing Ostreicher’s innocence, Turner said that State Department officials have “their own bureaucratic procedures” and “don’t want to get out of their comfort zone.”

“They respect Bolivian law even when the Bolivians are not following it,” Turner said. “I think this is a time for outrage and not following bureaucratic procedures. It’s as simple as that.”

Muslim Countries Seek to Restrict Free Speech Globally

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Freedom of speech in Europe and North America is increasingly under threat because of a growing confusion among Western leaders over how to define “human rights.” The problem is being compounded by politically correct Western governments, which seek to enforce multicultural compliance with Islamic Sharia law as a way to appease Muslim lobby groups.

These and other political and societal “drifts” were catapulted to center stage by a well-organized and highly articulate group of free-speech activists who attended the Human Dimension Implementation Meetings (HDIM), a major international conference on human rights — this year held in Warsaw, Poland from September 24 to October 5 — and sponsored annually by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

In recent years, the Human Dimension Implementation Meetings and the OSCE have been the focus of an intense lobbying campaign by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of 57 Muslim countries that are aggressively pressuring Western countries to make it an international crime to criticize Islam.

In August 1990, the Muslim member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation officially adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, an alternative document to the 1948 United Nations’ document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Cairo Declaration states that people have “freedom and right to a dignified life in accordance with Islamic Sharia law.”

The Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa (BPE), in a written submission to the Human Dimensions Implementation Meetings’ Working Session on Fundamental Freedoms, pointed out that today the term “human rights” has two incompatible meanings. In the non-Muslim world, “human rights” refers to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms that all people — men and women — are guaranteed individual rights.

By contrast, in the Muslim world, “human rights” are defined according to the Cairo Declaration, which holds that men and women are not equal and that it is the duty of men and women to follow the will of Allah. Dignity is granted only to those who submit to Allah’s will. The Cairo Declaration divides all human beings into two separate legal persons within its defined categories, namely men and women, believers and non-believers. Any rights or freedoms are binding commandments from Allah as delivered through Mohammed, the Muslim prophet.

The BPE asked the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to clarify which definition of human rights is being referred to during discussions at the Conference. The statement says:

When BPE discusses the plight of young girls and women with respect to forced marriages, violence, and/or FGM [female genital mutilation], BPE always refers to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whereas the member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation refer exclusively to the Cairo Declaration, which has ramifications on the status of the girl or woman. OSCE participating states that are also member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation thus refer to a different set of human rights at the HDIM. It follows that within the Human Dimension of the OSCE there are two diametrically opposed sets of human rights.

The International Civil Liberties Alliance, in a written statement to the Human Dimensions Implementation Meetings’ Working Session on Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion or Belief, said:

Since the Organization of Islamic Cooperation created the Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, commonly known as the Cairo Declaration, we have witnessed a distortion of the concepts of human rights and religious freedom. This declaration has created a new and secondary standard in human rights based on Sharia Law, which is entirely incompatible with OSCE’s human rights standards, inspired as they were by the declaration of 1948.

The International Civil Liberties Alliance statement continues:

Sharia law is a system of religious and political regulations destructive of all the principles promoted through the OSCE, i.e. democracy, human rights, freedom of religion and belief, etc. Sharia Law has been defined by the European Court of Human Rights on February 2003, as “incompatible with democratic principles…”

The International Civil Liberties Alliance concludes:

Therefore, OSCE’s commitments and works done by its various departments are devoid of sense if all the partners, state-members, NGOs or other contributors are not using the same definition of Human Rights. A definition is required that clearly rejects any interpretation originating in the Cairo Declaration.

In a report entitled, “The Battle Has Begun,” Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a Viennese advocate for free speech, summarized her impressions of the Human Dimension’s 2012 conference:

This is one of the important observations we made: The tide has shifted. The freedom lovers are no longer on the defensive; the opposite is true. The OIC side was isolated; the Counterjihad received many supportive thumbs-up gestures. We made new allies.

She also wrote, however:

Lastly, I was more than surprised to see a member of MPAC [Muslim Public Affairs Council, a Los Angeles-based lobbying group] take the floor on behalf of the U.S. delegation. Since when has MPAC represented the U.S. government? And with diplomatic status! This is wrong and an outrage. We ask our friends in the U.S. House of Representatives to weigh in.

She was referring to Salam al-Marayati, a radical Muslim whom the Obama Administration named as its official representative to the OSCE’s premier conference on human rights. Al-Marayati is the controversial founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Noam Chomsky Visits Gaza

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Professor Noam Chomsky, a Jewish professor of linguistics known for staunch pro-Palestinian rhetoric, visited Gaza on Thursday.

Chomsky was denied entry to Israel two years ago, and delivered a lecture intended to be given at Birzeit University in Palestinian-controlled area in Samaria from a location in Jordan.

The Gaza visit included attendance at a conference at the Islamic University.  AFP reported that Palestinian television broadcast comments he made, including his statement – a quote of a member of Gaza’s legislative council and head of the university administration, that “The Palestinian people have a right to live peacefully and in freedom.”

‘Setting Limits’

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

“Isn’t it ironic that kids whose parents fail to set and enforce limits feel unloved and angry? Although they tend to test and protest, we have learned over and over again that limits are what kids really want. Invariably, when we talk with out-of-control teenagers or adults who were juvenile delinquents and lucky enough to survive, we ask them, ‘If you could go back to when you were a child, what would you change?’ Most of them say something like, ‘I wish my parents had reeled me in when I was a kid. Why didn’t they make me behave?’

“A counselor we know sat down with a teenager we know who led a pretty rough life. She had been promiscuous… and was in trouble with the law. She went on to describe how she had smoked pot and guzzled beer with her dad as a ten-year old. When the counselor asked her what she thought about it, her eyes lit up with rage and she said, ‘I hate him!’ Surprised, the counselor said, ‘You had so much freedom. Why do you hate your father?’ Even more surprised, the teen responded, ‘I hate him ‘cause he let me do anything I wanted. He never made me behave. Look at me now!’

“If you want your children to have internal controls and inner freedom, you must first provide them with external controls. A child who is given boundaries, and choices within those boundaries, is actually freer to be creative, inventive, active, and insightful. How you expose your kids to the life around them – how you encourage them to use their creativity within limits, by using yours – is key to developing their personal identity and freedom. Setting limits does not discourage inventiveness. The world is full of limits within which we must all live. Give your children a gift. Teach them how to be creative within these limits.” (Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood, by Jim Fay & Charles Fay)

“In the beginning of G-d’s creating…G-d saw that the light was good…And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

“…And the earth brought forth vegetation… And G-d saw that it was good… And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

“…Let there be luminaries in the firmament of the heaven… And G-d saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

“…Let the waters teem with living creatures, and fowl that fly… And G-d saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

“…Let the earth bring forth living creatures…And G-d saw that it was good…Let us make man…And G-d saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.”

The Medrash in Bereishis Rabba (9:6) discusses the difference between what the Torah deems “good” (throughout the six days of creation) and what the Torah deems “very good” (after the creation of man). The Medrash offers a few explanations: “Very good” refers to sleep, because when one sleeps a little he is able to toil exceedingly in Torah study. “Good” refers to when things are going well; “very good” refers to affliction. “Good” refers to the Garden of Eden; “very good” refers to purgatory. “Good” refers to the Angel of Life; “very good” refers to the Angel of Death.”

This Medrash is unquestionably enigmatic and perplexing. How can all of the pleasantries of life be referred to as “good” while all of the dreaded facets of life be referred to as “very good”?

The idea that this Medrash is espousing contains the basis for the implosion and unraveling of Western Society that we are privy to. When a society does not know how to set limits and “Just Say No” then it is doomed to disaster and destruction. The mighty empire of Rome, which ruled the ancient world for centuries, eventually succumbed not so much to external forces as it did to internal hedonism. The insatiable drive for narcissistic gratification and indulgence destroyed the fabric of its society until it was no longer able to maintain itself. The surrounding invading forces were simply the final blow to an already decrepit society.

Dutch Government Planning Ban on Kosher Slaughtering

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

The Dutch government is drafting a decree that would give it veto power over anyone who wants to practice ritual slaughter, or sh’chitah, in the Netherlands.

The draft decree, which was signed by Dutch Agriculture Minister Henk Bleker, was drawn up by the government to end two years of uncertainty about the future of the practice in the Netherlands. The Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad published the contents of the draft decree on Friday.

“If veterinarians are put in charge of shechita, then before long it would basically stop shechitah in the Netherlands,” Amsterdam Chief Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag told JTA.

The decree formulated by Bleker is based largely on a contract his office signed in June with representatives of the Jewish and Muslim communities.

The contract constituted the Dutch government’s compromise on regulating ritual slaughter. The Dutch lower house passed a total ban last year, but it was scrapped by the Senate out of consideration for freedom of worship. The ban was on all slaughter of conscious animals – a requirement of both Jewish and Muslim law.

The contract said animals that are still conscious after 40 seconds of the cutting of their throats would be stunned, which would prohibit their consumption by kosher or halal consumers.

The contract introduced regulations such as to the size of the knife to be used and where the animal’s neck would be cut, but did not require that a veterinarian would oversee the procedure.

Earlier this week, Ralbag wrote to Bleker to ask that the minister wait until Nov. 1 before issuing any final decree. Bleker, a member of a caretaker government, is expected to be replaced in the coming weeks.

Ralbag said he needed more time to formulate his concerns about the draft. He has not received the minister’s answer to his request, he said.

Ralbag had said the contract, signed by the Organization of the Jewish Communities in the Netherlands, was “flawed,” and warned it could ultimately eliminate the practice of kosher slaughtering. He added, however, that it did not contradict Jewish Halacha.

Last month, Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said the contract was a “model” for ensuring religious freedom in Europe.

Israeli Students Rally in Support of America at US Embassy

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

A small group of Israelis, many university students, gathered outside the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv on Monday evening in a show of support and friendship with America.

The rally, organized by the pro-Israel student movement, Im Tirzu, came in response to the recent attacks on U.S. embassies across the Middle East.

The attacks first began in Cairo when the American embassy was stormed two weeks ago, and then in Benghazi, when a U.S. consulate was penetrated by armed jihadists who killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens and three other U.S. employees.

Im Tirzu director Ronen Shoval explained that he and his team organized the rally in order to show that in Israel “we are behind America.”

“Israel and the United States share many important values including those of freedom and liberty,” Ronen told Tazpit News Agency. “It is crucial that we show America that there is one country in the Middle East that will always stand with her no matter what.”

Anti-U.S. demonstrations have also taken place in Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Bahrain, Afghanistan and elsewhere from North Africa to south-east Asia, apparently fanned by a crudely produced anti-Islamic video that had been made in California. German and British embassies have also been attacked. In Sudan, the German embassy was set on fire and significantly damaged.

At the Tel Aviv rally, a passing American visitor, Tani Zarelli, of Washington State, stood with the Israeli demonstrators and was clearly moved by the enthusiastic support.

“This means a lot to us,” Zarelli told the crowd, which chanted ‘freedom,’ ‘democracy’ and ‘liberty’ while waving Israeli and American flags. Several Israelis even attempted to sing The Star Spangled Banner.

“University students have come all over Israel to be here at the U.S. Embassy today to show their pride in the special friendship between the United States and Israel. No matter who attacks the values of freedom that define Western society, America can always count on Israel to her friend,” concluded Shoval.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/israeli-students-rally-in-support-of-america-at-us-embassy/2012/10/03/

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