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October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Hasbarah’

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.

Beinart Lies About the Jerusalem Light Rail

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

More mendacious propaganda at Open Zion, Peter Beinart’s weapon of words bunker:

One of the only mixed modes of transportation in Israel is the Jerusalem Light Rail—which, as it was originally built to connect surrounding Israeli settlements to central Jerusalem, is hardly equally inclusive to Palestinians. Historically, when the light rail system was first constructed, it uprooted several Palestinian neighborhoods, further displacing many Palestinians who once lived in Jerusalem. Now, though the train passes through several traditionally Arab neighborhoods, the stations are named in Hebrew rather than Arabic. A. The light rail does not connect “Israeli settlements.” It connects the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Neveh Yaakov and Pisgat Ze’ev and French Hill. (By the way, Neveh Yaakov was attacked, destroyed and ethnically cleansed of its Jews by Arabs in late 1947). B. No “Palestinian neighborhoods” were uprooted. That is simply untrue.

C.  The stations are name in Hebrew, yes.  That is the language of the country.  However, Arab place names are also voiced out over the loudspeaker.  For example, Damascus Gate (in English), Sha’ar Shchem (in Hebrew) and Bab El-Amud in Arabic.  The stops in Arab-populated neighborhoods are sounded off as Bet Hanina and Shuafat and Es-Sahil in all languages with no special Hebrew alteration.  Shimon HaTzaddik, though, is not called Sheikh Jarrah.  (Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood was also ethnically cleansed of its Jews in early 1948).

D.  The Light Rail was originally built to ease mass transportation problems and then, to avoid charges that the city’s Arab population would be discriminated against, tracks were purposefully laid through those neighborhoods.

The writer is a liar.

Visit My Right Word.

The Rise of Israel’s Words Warriors

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Yarmulkes off to Secretary of State John Kerry who pushed back against the repellent nauseating comments of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who had said, at a U.N.-organized conference in Vienna (where else?) on February 27, that Zionism was a crime against humanity. Kerry said that United States found his comments “objectionable.”

Erdogan has said far worse. In 2010 he offered this nugget: “Even bullies, pirates and criminals have a code of honor. But for those who have none, it would be a compliment to call them names.” And last November he accused Israel of state terrorism and of an “attempt at ethnic cleansing.” But Kerry’s condemnation is essentially the first time Erdogan has been called on his disgusting remarks.

There is a reason.

The current thinking of the State of Israel and its allies worldwide is that the Jewish state must embrace whatever friends it can find in whatever form they take. And if those ‘friends’ offer outrageous oral attacks, just sweep it under the rug. Verbal assault? Water off a duck’s back. What matters is what people do, not what they say. Erdogan has to cater to his constituents at home. He’s got to serve up fresh meat in order to remain popular. Turn the other cheek to his insults. Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi, who called Jews “apes and pigs” in an Egyptian television interview in 2010, has to cater to the Arab street. He hasn’t gone to war to reverse the Camp David accords, right? So never mind what he says. Don’t respond or things will escalate.

I remember how Israel and world Jewry adopted this posture with Yasser Arafat after he signed the Oslo accords. Here was a man who had ostensibly made peace with Israel. But that did not stop him from regularly speaking of “the terrorist activities of the Israeli occupation and the Israeli crimes” (CNN Interview, 2002). At the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2001, Israel’s partner in peace said that the Jewish state was engaged in a “savage and barbaric war” against the Palestinians. He later spoke of Israel using “blatant and fascist military aggression against our Palestinian people” (The New York Times). Most significantly, he declared in July 2008 that Palestinian men, women, children would fight until Judgment Day, when the Palestinians will take over Jerusalem as their capital.

Err… it may sound like war. But he wasn’t openly calling for hurling bombs at buses, correct? So he remained kosher.

But it is my strong opinion that overlooking incendiary rhetoric is exactly what led to the global delegitimization of Israel from which we suffer so severely today. The Jewish State is trapped not only in a war of bombs and missiles but primarily in a war of verbs and words. Its major defenses can no longer include just tanks and helicopter gunships but eloquence, articulateness and factual fluency.

How did Israel, the Middle East’s sole democracy, which respects the rights of women, gays, and everyone in-between, become one of the most maligned and hated nations on earth? How is it possible that Israel retains, in a global poll of citizens of 22 countries conducted by Globescan, the same negative rating as North Korea (50) and is seen more negatively then even Iran, which stones women to death?

The answer is that Israel has paid lip service to the verbal assault against its reputation for decades. Israeli hasbarah has been a monumental failure not because Israel cannot enunciate but because it failed to understand the importance of words. While Israel was developing advanced radar and the Iron Dome defensive shield, the Arabs were unleashing a global army of articulate spokespeople on campuses, the BBC, and CNN. Arab leaders who were Israel’s ostensive allies were criticizing Israel daily at the U.N. It did not take long before Israel – defenseless and silent – became one of the great pariah nations of the world.

And the only way to combat now and reverse the growing delegitimization it is to create an army of words warriors who employ the power of spoken truth to champion Israel’s cause.

First, we must create an institute, an advanced scholarship, where young Jewish leaders will be trained to become charismatic spokespeople of the Jewish community and defenders of Israel worldwide. The institute would provide real-world media training, debate preparation, broadcasting, op-ed writing, and rhetoric in an effort to create the most charismatic spokespeople for Israel and a new generation of global champions of the Jewish cause. It is the objective of This World: The Jewish Values Network, to create this institute in the near future.

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.

Pink Anti-Semitism is Still Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

The core characteristic of anti-Semitism is the assertion that everything the Jews do is wrong, and everything that is wrong is done by the Jews. For the anti-Semite every rich Jew is exploitive, every poor Jew a burden on society. For the anti-Semite, both capitalism and communism are Jewish plots. For the anti-Semite, Jews are both too docile, allowing themselves to be led to the slaughter like sheep, and too militant, having won too many wars against the Arabs. For the anti-Semite, Jews are too liberal and too conservative, too artsy and too bourgeois, too stingy and too charitable, too insular and too cosmopolitan, too moralistic and too conniving.

To the anti-Semite, every depression, war, social problem, plague must have been the fault of the Jews. Whenever the Jews appear to be doing something good – giving charity, helping the less fortunate, curing the sick – there must be a malevolent motive, a hidden agenda, a conspiratorial explanation beneath the surface of the benevolent act.

Now the very twisted illogic that has characterized classic anti-Semitism is being directed at the Jewish state, which for the anti-Semite has become “the Jew” among nations. When Israel sent help to tsunami and hurricane victims, the Jewish state was accused of merely trying to garner positive publicity calculated to offset its mistreatment of Palestinians. When Israeli medical teams save the lives of Palestinian children, they must be up to no good. When it was disclosed that the Israeli army has the lowest rate of rape against enemy civilians, radical anti-Zionists argued that this was because Israeli soldiers were so racist that they did not find Palestinian women attractive enough to rape! Nothing the Jew or the Jew among nations does can be praised, because its purpose is always to “manipulate,” to “conceal,” to “divert attention away from” or to “distort” the evil that inheres in all Jewish actions and inactions.

That is the bigoted thesis of a new anti-Israel campaign being conducted by some radical gay activists who absurdly claim that Israel is engaging in “pinkwashing.” This burlesque of an argument first surfaced in a New York Times op-ed in late 2011 that claimed that Israel’s positive approach to gay rights is “a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violation of Palestinians human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life.” In other words, the Jew among nations is now being accused of feigning concern over the rights of gay people in order to whitewash – or in this case pinkwash – its lack of concern for Palestinian people.

How this pinkwashing is supposed to work, we aren’t told. Is the media supposed to be so obsessed with Israel’s positive policies toward gays that it will no longer cover the Palestinian issue? If so, that certainly hasn’t worked. Are gays around the world supposed to feel so indebted to Israel that they will no longer criticize the Jewish nation? That surely hasn’t worked, as evidenced by increasingly rabid anti-Israel advocacy by several gay organizations.

Well, to the unthinking anti-Semite, it doesn’t matter how the Jewish manipulation works. The anti-Semite just knows that there must be something sinister at work if Jews do anything positive. The same is now true for the unthinking anti-Israel bigot.

In Israel, openly gay soldiers have long served in the military and in high positions in both government and the private sector. Gay pride parades are frequent. Israel is, without a doubt, the most gay friendly country in the Middle East and among the most supportive of gay rights anywhere in the world. This, despite efforts by some fundamentalist Jews, Muslims and Christians to ban gay pride parades and legal equality for gays.

In contrast to Israel are the Palestinian ruled areas, where gays are murdered, tortured and forced to seek asylum – often in Israel. In every Arab and Muslim country, homosexual acts among consenting adults are criminal, often punishable by death. But all this doesn’t matter to the “growing global gay movement” against Israel, which according to The New York Times op-ed, regards these positive steps as nothing more than a cover for malevolent Israeli actions.

The pinkwash bigots would apparently prefer to see Israel treat gays the way Israel’s enemies do, because they hate Israel more than they care about gay rights. Nor do these pink anti-Semites speak for the majority of gay people, who appreciate Israel’s positive steps with regard to gay rights, even if they don’t agree with all of Israel’s policies. Decent gay people who have themselves been subjected to stereotyping, recognize bigotry when they see it, even – perhaps especially – among other gay people. That’s why so many prominent gay leaders and public officials have denounced this “pinkwashing” nonsense.

Finding the Jewish Billy Graham, the Israeli Martin Luther King

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

The Jewish people can be characterized as a noble and distinguished nation who have excelled in nearly every area but sports and messaging. We can cite but a handful of Jews who have won an Olympic medal, caught a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl, or hit a home run in the World Series. And we can cite even fewer who have succeeded in countering the prevailing notion of the Jews as Christ-killing political subversives who have cynically sucked the economic life out of the nations that have been gracious enough to host them.

The failure at sports is forgivable. If the Jews do not hoist the Vince Lombardy trophy their peoplehood might yet survive. The failure at PR, however, is fatal. The catalogue of accusations that have been hurled against the Jews without a proper riposte boggles the imagination and has led to mounds of dead Jews.

Two thousand years ago we were accused of murdering the man Christians believe was the creator’s son. A thousand years later we were drinking the blood of all Christian sons. A few hundred years and we were now poisoning the wells of Europe. And in modern times we are bombing innocent Palestinian children, cutting down their olive gardens, and evicting them from their homes.

My recent Congressional race was against an opponent who had signed a letter accusing Israel of collective punishment against the Palestinians in Gaza. Many pro-Israel groups said they would support him nonetheless because words did not matter so much as actions and Bill Pascrell had repeatedly voted to support Israel aid. The same is now being said of Chuck Hagel whose accusations against the Jews run the gamut from intimidation to “keeping Palestinians caged up like animals.” But he is kosher because he voted for American military aid to Israel. The rest is but commentary.

But of what use are American helicopter gunships that were given to Israel as a result of these votes if they cannot even be deployed because of the deligitimization that resulted from harmful words hurled by lawmakers? You can have the strongest army on earth. But if it can’t be used because a CNN camera is trained on it amid false accusations of atrocities over legitimate defense then that military force may as well not exist.

What I’m really saying is that PR is nearly the whole ball game and we Jews have lost the battle not just in modern times with Israel but throughout a long and tragic history. A nation charged with being a light unto the nations has singularly failed to communicate the humanity of its character, the generosity of its lifestyle, and the holiness of its ways.

In mid-century America evangelical Christianity was seen as extreme, fundamentalist, unsophisticated, and backward. Evangelicals believed in a faith-filled revival but the results were dismal. Then, a great charismatic spokesman arose in the son of a dairy farmer named Billy Graham. The focus on communication, messaging, and mass-market public relations turned the tide. Today, an astonishing one out of every five Americans calls themselves a born-again Christian.

Charismatic spokesmen likewise turned the tide of the civil rights movement. In 1955 black men and women were required to move to the back of the bus in many cities of the South, including Birmingham, Alabama. A black child kicking a soccer ball in the oppressive summer heat of Selma could not drink water from a white fountain. Rising to the occasion to protest this humiliating injustice, Martin Luther King, Jr., all of 25 years old, found the words to combat the monstrous prejudice and convince the masses to march. His stirring words haunt us still today. “There comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression. There comes a time, my friends, when people get tired of being plunged across the abyss of humiliation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair.”

But one searches in vein for the Jewish Billy Graham or the Jewish Martin Luther King. Where are the great spokesmen of our people to teach the world of Jewish charity, Jewish education, and Jewish values? Why are we not training a generation of media and press Ambassadors to expose and reverse the fraudulent accusations against Israel that are daily occurrences at the U.N., the BBC, and the Arab press?

The High Cost of Defending Israel

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Whenever I speak in support of Israel or in criticism of its enemies, the dogs of defamation are unleashed against me. The attacks, all from the hard left, seemed coordinated, focusing on common ad hominem themes. They accuse me of being a plagiarist, a supporter of torture, a right wing Zio-fascist, a hypocrite, an opponent of the two-state solution and a supporter of Israel’s settlement policies. All these allegations are demonstrably false but this does not seem to matter to those whose job it is to try to discredit me.

Let me begin with the charge of plagiarism—a charge originally made by the discredited academic, Norman Finkelstein, who has falsely charged virtually every pro-Israel writer with the same academic crime. In my case, the charge centered around a one-paragraph quotation from Mark Twain in my book The Case for Israel. I cited the paragraph to Mark Twain, but Finkelstein said that I should have cited it to a woman named Joan Peters, because he believes I found the quote in her book. But the truth is that I found the quote ten years prior to the publication of Peters’ book and used it repeatedly in debates and speeches. When Finkelstein leveled his absurd charge, I immediately reported it to the Harvard University President and to the Dean of the Law School and ask that it be thoroughly investigated. Harvard appointed its former president, Derek Bok, to investigate the charge. After a thorough investigation he found it to be utterly frivolous. But to the dogs of defamation this only goes to prove that Harvard must be part of the pro-Israel conspiracy.

The second charge is that I am pro-torture, despite my repeated categorical statements in my writings that I’m opposed to all torture under all circumstances. I do believe that torture will be used, not should be used in the event we ever experience a ticking bomb situation. Accordingly I have suggested that no torture should ever be permitted without a court approved warrant, of the type the ACLU has demanded in targeted killing cases. But to the dogs of defamation, this distinction is irrelevant. Because I am pro Israel, I must be pro torture. This is particularly ironic, since both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas routinely torture dissidents, without their leaders being called pro torture by the same hard left defamers who falsely accuse me.

The most recent unleashing of the dogs of defamation was stimulated by the position I took on a BDS conference at Brooklyn College. Although I support the conference going forward, and oppose any attempt to censor it, I raise troubling questions about whether the Brooklyn College political science department should be sponsoring and endorsing that advocacy event, if they would not be willing to sponsor and endorse an anti-BDS event by an equally radical anti-Palestinian right wing group. My position, of course, has been distorted, and I have been lumped with those who would censor the event. I have been called a hypocrite because apparently the political science department at UPENN once co-sponsored an anti-BDS speech I gave there, despite the fact that I was totally unaware of this sponsorship and would have been opposed if I knew about it. I was informed and believed until now that the event had been sponsored by Hillel and the Jewish Federation.

Along the same lines, two members of the political science department at Brooklyn College have claimed that my speeches there were sponsored by the department and were as controversial as the BDS advocacy event. That is totally false. So far as I can remember I have made three speeches at Brooklyn College: One, the Konefsky lecture in the late 1960s or early 1970s which was a purely academic lecture focusing on the work of Professor Samuel Konefsky. There was nothing controversial about it. Second, a speech I was invited to give when I donated my papers to Brooklyn College. Again not very controversial. And third, a talk I gave in 2008 about my teachers at Brooklyn College and about a letter by Thomas Jefferson I had found in a book store. Again, not particularly controversial.

Why then is there such a concerted effort to attack me personally and to question my integrity every time I speak about Israel? It has little to do with me, because my attackers know that I can fight back and that my academic standing will not in any way be influenced by their attacks. The attacks are directed at young academics without tenure, who would dare to speak up on behalf of Israel. The message is clear: If you support Israel, we will attack you like we attack Dershowitz, but you will be hurt much more that Dershowitz would. We will damage your reputation, hurt your student evaluations and decrease your chances for tenure. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that so many pro-Israel young academics refuse to speak up. I know because they call and discreetly tell me about the fear they have that they will be subjected to the same kind of McCarthyite tactics that I am subjected to.

That is why I will continue to fight back and respond every time the dogs of defamation are unleashed against me.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-high-cost-of-defending-israel/2013/02/10/

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