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August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Israeli Left’

Lincoln as a Bleeding Heart Peacenik?

Monday, March 11th, 2013

An interesting trend has emerged in recent weeks. The Israeli Left, along with most of the world’s pseudo-intellectual classes, has suddenly discovered Abraham Lincoln, and is proclaiming him an honorary member of “Peace Now.” Obviously it is thanks to the new Hollywood movie. Columnists in the Israeli media are claiming that Israel needs to follow the ethical leadership of Lincoln. Just as Lincoln freed the slaves, or so their mantra goes, so Israel must “free” the Palestinians from “occupation.”

The Israeli Left has embraced Lincoln because it is convinced that, if Lincoln is regarded as a moral champion, identification with Lincoln must clearly lead one to support the political agenda of the Israeli Left. First and foremost this would mean supporting Palestinian demands and “resistance.”

So what should we make of this new “Lincoln as Leftist Pro-Palestinian” campaign?

Well, even someone with only the shallowest familiarity with American history would know that the two most important principles represented by Lincoln would make him for all intents and purposes the ethical analogue of the Jewish settler leaders in Judea and Samaria, and not a Peace Now whiner.

Lincoln fought the American Civil War first and foremost in to order to prevent the partition or division of his homeland, and he was fully prepared to use massive military force to achieve this goal. Lincoln was in favor of peace but not under all conditions or at any price. Those in Israel proposing such a “two-state solution” are the 21st century’s Copperheads.

Second, Lincoln had no reluctance about using the word “treason,” and throughout the Civil War he made it clear that he considered the Union war against the Confederacy and its supporters to be a campaign against treason. Those who supported secession or the Confederacy were engaging in treason, not academic debate. Lincoln did not mollycoddle traitors in the name of “understanding the Other.” He did not insist that those opposing national interests be allowed to control the universities and the courts and the media.

Those who are trying to deconstruct Lincoln as the ultimate opponent of “occupation” will have to explain why his party imposed a severely harsh occupation on the member states of the Confederacy, one that continued for years. The analogue to the PLO and Hamas in the occupied Confederacy was the Ku Klux Klan, and it was suppressed mercilessly in actions that included Union militias acting as anti-Klan death squads. There were thousands of arrests of KKK “militants” and “activists,” and martial law was imposed upon counties with Klan activities. No one proposed seeking peace by granting the Klan its own country.

Aside from the two most obvious characteristics of Lincoln, which make him the moral analogue of Jewish settler leaders, Lincoln had a few other features that will make the Left squirm. Lincoln abolished habeas corpus during wartime. He had traitors executed and deported, and had no hesitation about the use of capital punishment. Among those executed, William Bruce Mumford was convicted of treason and hanged in 1862 for tearing down a United States flag. Some 500 people were executed by hanging or by firing squad during the War, some for desertion. At least one of those hanged was a woman, Mary Surratt (executed for her role in the assassination of Lincoln).

Lincoln had no patience for terrorists, known in the Civil War as “bushwhackers,” and ordered them to be executed by firing squad. “Bridge burners” were given the same treatment. He believed there was ONLY a military solution to the problems of terrorism.Lincoln also imposed censorship on the press and suppressed treasonous journalism. Want to ponder how Lincoln would handle the pro-Hamas radical Left in Israel?Then in Sherman’s march to the sea, Lincoln conducted war against CIVILIANS, explicitly targeting and attacking the civilian population and its infrastructure to end rebellion and treason. With no Betselem and no Supreme Court interference.

Lincoln also sponsored the Homestead Act of 1862, perhaps the greatest settlements construction effort in history.

Perhaps most notably, Lincoln imposed an uncompromising blockade upon the entire Confederacy. The very same Israeli Leftists, who insist that lifting the “embargo” of Gaza is the highest form of humane morality so that the Hamas can more easily import weapons, will have a an interesting challenge explaining the blockade imposed by their new-found moral champion, Abraham Lincoln. It was a policy proudly described by Lincoln as “starving the South.” Food and civilian commodities were prevented from passing through the blockade. Guess how Lincoln would have dealt with “Gaza Flotilla” blockade runners?

Israel’s Demented Leftist Icon Raves On

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
   In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on America, Uri Avnery, the ancient icon of the Israeli Left, a bitter old fool who serves as living refutation of the belief that wisdom is an inevitable byproduct of old age, placed the blame squarely on the U.S. and its support of Israel.
   America, he wrote, “is hated by millions of Arabs, because of its support for the Israeli occupation and the suffering of the Palestinian people. It is hated by multitudes of Muslims, because of what looks like its support for the Jewish domination of the Islamic holy shrines in Jerusalem.”
   When Yasir Arafat made the world a better place by leaving it in November 2004, a mournful Avnery told Haaretz that the world’s most notorious terrorist, responsible for more dead Jews than anyone since Hitler, would be recognized as one of history’s great men.
   “There is a great similarity to the death of Moses, who removed a people from slavery and led its march to freedom for 40 years, almost exactly like Arafat,” said Avery.
   “There is also a similarity in the fact that Arafat too reached the gate of the Promised Land, saw it from afar but did not enter it. I have been thinking about that a great deal in the past few days. The symbolism here is very great, and because of it the dead Arafat will be even stronger than the living Arafat.”
   Avnery went on to praise Arafat as “a giant,” someone who “will be remembered as one of the greatest leaders of the second half of the 20th century” and described him as “a very gentle person. His hands are gentle, his body language is gentle. And he is a very warm person. Very much so. Filled with empathy….”
   What, asked the Haaretz interviewer, would Avnery have said to Arafat if the two had held a “farewell conversation?”
   “I would say a few things,” Avnery responded. “I would tell him, You are a great leader. You did something for your people that no one else did. And I would say to him, Rest in peace….”
   Given that kind of pathological makeup, it’s hardly surprising that Avnery would react apoplectically to Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress last month.
   In a column that immediately got wide play on the many of the most virulently anti-Israel websites and blogs (where he has long been an honored presence), Avnery compared Congress – unfavorably – with the old Soviet government; implied that those who applauded Netanyahu were similar to the mobs that swooned for Hitler; and, competing his Hitler analogy, essentially labeled the democratically elected prime minister of Israel a dictator.

   Here’s Avnery in all his dementia:

 

     It was all rather disgusting.
     There they were, the members of the highest legislative bodies of the world’s only superpower, flying up and down like so many yo-yos, applauding wildly, every few minutes or seconds, the most outrageous lies and distortions of Benjamin Netanyahu.
     It was worse than Stalin’s Supreme Soviet, when showing less than sufficient respect could have meant death. What the American senators and congressmen feared was a fate worse than death. Anyone remaining seated or not applauding wildly enough could have been caught on camera – and that amounts to political suicide. It was enough for one single congressman to rise and applaud, and all the others had to follow suit. Who would dare not to?

     The sight of these hundreds of parliamentarians jumping up and clapping their hands, again and again and again and again, with the leader graciously acknowledging with a movement of his hand, was reminiscent of other regimes. Only this time it was not the local dictator who compelled this adulation, but a foreign one.

 

   Avnery would have gullible readers believe his criticism of Israel is reactionary, in the sense that it’s merely a response to what he sees as misguided and immoral Israeli policies, particularly vis-?-vis the Palestinians.

   But as Aryeh Tepper noted on the website Jewish Ideas Daily in a review of a political biography of Avnery (published in Israel and available only in Hebrew): “Years before there were any ‘occupied territories,’ [Avnery] incessantly compared Israel with Nazi Germany, demonizing the Jewish state in language that would later become commonplace in the United Nations and on the ‘progressive’ Left everywhere.”

 

 

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

When Naivet? Becomes Sedition

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

The most dramatic and important political change in Israel over the past 20 years has been the transformation of the Israeli Left from a movement of political naivet? to one of, in an increasing number of instances, political sedition.

For most of its history, the Israeli Left was a well-meaning if rather clueless political camp. Its core belief was that a more accommodationist set of policies could buy Israel peace with the Arab world.

Throughout the 1970s and much of the 1980s, the Israeli Left insisted that endless Israeli “goodwill gestures” would prove to the Arabs that Israel’s intentions were benign, and as a result the Arabs would be persuaded to come to terms with the Jewish state.

The Left insisted that Israel’s turning the other cheek in response to Arab terrorist atrocities was the most effective method to end them. It argued that Israeli retaliatory acts were actually causing Arab terror attacks. (Leftists everywhere have long been fond of Orwellian inversions of cause and effect.)

The Israeli Left dismissed the genocidal agenda of Arab terrorist groups as empty rhetoric. It believed Israeli self-abasement could buy friendship and goodwill from the very terrorists who hailed Hitler as their role model, who libeled Jews with the claim that they drink the blood of gentile children on Passover, and who denied there had ever been a Holocaust.

The Israeli Left of yesteryear – the Israeli Left pre-Oslo, pre-1993 – was wrong but for the most part not malevolent or self-hating. However misguided its policy prescriptions, its motivations were essentially pro-Israel.

Back in 1993 most Israeli leftists believed the Left’s ideas would benefit Israel and the Jewish people. (Today, all too many leftists support those same ideas whether or not they harm Israel and Jews.)

In 1993 most Israeli leftists believed Israeli concessions would lead to Arab moderation. (Today’s leftists know – but seemingly don’t care – that concessions are seen as signs of weakness that only inspire greater Arab violence.)

In 1993 most Israeli leftists believed in Israeli restraint because they thought it would stimulate Palestinian goodwill and most leftists thought Israel would emerge stronger if the Oslo accords were implemented. (Today’s leftists demand endless restraint even after witnessing the bloody results.)

In other words, the Israeli Left of 1993 was by and large a Left that could, if properly provoked, be awakened from its delusions. And in fact, many longtime leftists would move to the center and even to the right in the decade immediately following Oslo as Palestinian atrocities, endless violations of PLO commitments, and increasingly Nazi-like rhetoric from both Palestinians and Israeli Arabs continued to mount.

This is not to in any way excuse the old Israeli Left for its disastrous policies – policies originating out of fear and weariness rather than hard-headed realism.

Ultimately, the old Israeli Left got to implement its agenda in the great Oslo “peace process” experiment, with successive Israeli governments under Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert agreeing in principle to eventually abandon all or almost all of the “occupied territories,” even to divide Jerusalem and restore the Golan Heights to Syria’s ruling clique.

The result was escalated terrorism and a global campaign of delegitimization against Israel.

The Oslo policy of Israel’s old Left was based on a total loss of the ability to think rationally. It was a loss of historic proportions, a relinquishment of reality for a make-pretend universe, and a complete loss of the Jewish determination to survive as a nation.

How else to explain thespectacle of Israeli leaders meeting, back-slapping and kissing the same Arab fascists who murdered Jewish children and only yesterday denied there had ever been a Holocaust while at the same time insisting that if there had been one, the Jews deserved it?

* * * * *

 

Now, less than 20 years after the beginning of the Oslo “peace process,” Israel’s very continuation as a Jewish state is regarded as a legitimate topic of conversation in polite company. Even worse, it is the Israeli Left that more and more is leading the assault against its country’s legitimacy and very survival.

The “peace process” experiment proved beyond doubt that the Israeli Left’s perception of the problems of the Middle East had always been distorted. Perhaps the most egregious example of this was Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, which served to convert all of Gaza into a Hamas terror base rather than the tranquil oasis the Left was convinced would follow.

The Gaza withdrawal produced a torrent of thousands of rockets from terrorists in Gaza on Jewish civilians in the Israeli Negev, which of course is located well within Israel’s pre-1967 “Green Line” border.

And thanks to Israel’s unilateral capitulation in Southern Lebanon in 2000, there was a barrage of thousands of Katyusha rockets from Lebanon into Northern Israel in the summer of 2006 as well as the seizure of much of Lebanon by genocidal Hizbullah terrorists. The Palestinian Authority of the “moderate” PLO entered into an open competition with Hamas and Islamic Jihad over which group could launch the most terrorism against the Jews.

The Oslo disaster also triggered a global upsurge in anti-Semitism and support for Arab demands around the world.

Israel’s endless self-restraint in the face of terrorism and its countless capitulations won Israel no friends. Even the White House responded to such displays of weakness by demanding that Israel agree to turn its holiest shrines over to terrorist control. The more Israel exhibited restraint, the more the world denounced it for its “violations of human rights” and “apartheid racism.”

Israeli displays of weakness have not only convinced the Arab world the Jews are on the run, they have resulted in a worldwide campaign of demonization against Jews, including – but not limited to – medieval-style tales of Jews trafficking in the body parts of dead Palestinians and Israelis engaging in Nazi-like war crimes.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians have yet to comply with a single punctuation mark in any of the “accords” and agreements they have signed, yet the world insists in rare unison that Israel is the only obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

The failures of the “peace process” have also had interesting domestic political ramifications inside Israel. The de facto implementation of leftist thinking by the various governments of the Labor Party, Kadima and Likud has ultimately served to undermine the very survivability of the country. As a result, more and more Israelis have experienced a “dropping of the token,” as Hebrew slang describes a rude awakening.

As noted above, large numbers of Israelis abandoned the political Left as it became ever more difficult to deny that leftist-inspired policies had simply made the situation far worse and far more dangerous. The Meretz Party lost 75 percent of its electoral support within just a few years. Leftist organizations Peace Now and Dor Shalem are largely defunct.

On the other hand, the people remaining within the ranks of the dwindling Left have become increasingly extreme. Indeed, many of them have emerged as a political Fifth Column. For reasons only psychiatrists might properly fathom, this rump political Left in Israel openly identifies today with the enemies of its own country, supporting all enemy demands without reservation.

The ugly and indisputable reality is that the contemporary Israeli Left consists of people openly calling on the world to impose on Israel sanctions and divestment schemes. It consists of people proclaiming that peace has been blocked because Israel is an evil entity. The Palestinian “right of return” that would annihilate Israel from within is now supported by hundreds of leading Jewish leftists.

The Israeli Left, particularly the academic Left, churns out enormous amounts of anti-Israel hate propaganda for all takers. It was the Israeli Left that invented for world consumption the “apartheid” calumny, as well as fictions about Israeli “war crimes.” (Does it even need to be said that no leftist has ever been indicted for this under Israel’s toothless anti-treason laws?)

The Israeli Left is also increasingly involved in law breaking and violence. The government turns a blind eye to this. Even though the original idea for Israel’s security wall had actually come from the Left (because leftists thought this would calm the situation and lead to Israel’s abandoning most of the West Bank to the Palestinians), week after week Israeli leftists now hold violent demonstrations against that wall, attempt to vandalize it, and physically attack Israeli police and soldiers. They also hold demonstrations demanding that large swaths of Jerusalem be kept judenrein – Jew-free.

To grasp the absurdity of this, try to imagine U.S. civil-rights protesters wearing Klan hoods and demanding that black folks be kept out of neighborhoods “where they do not belong.” Israel is the only country on the planet where domestic leftists lobby to force their country into giving up its capital city.

Most alarming, however, has been the Israeli Left’s adoption of the political positions and agendas of its country’s worst enemies regarding almost everything. Before any audience that will listen, Israeli leftists routinely denounce Israel as essentially a colonialist racist entity with no moral right to exist and certainly no moral right to defend itself.

There is not a single act of self-defense that Israel could undertake today against terrorists that would not be denounced by Israel’s Left as criminal, fascist, or racist (sometimes all three). Israel’s most visible leftists seem to have one position and one position only – total Israeli capitulation to terrorist demands, including “talks with” (meaning capitulation to) Hamas.

The old na?ve Israeli Left may have preferred that Israel seek to resolve its conflict with the Arab world through niceness, but it had no delusions about what ultimately lay at the origins and the heart of that conflict. The old na?ve Left understood that the Middle East conflict was caused by the Arab refusal to accept any manifestation of Jewish self-determination in the Middle East.

The Israeli Left of the 21st century, in stark contrast, believes the conflict stems from the temerity of the Jews in reestablishing sovereignty in their historical homeland. Israel’s very existence, in the eyes of a dismayingly large number of leftists, particularly those in academia and the media, is a crime in itself – the original sin, if you will.

More and more Israeli leftists openly mourn the very creation of Israel, joining together with Islamists in “Nakba Day” commemorations marking the “catastrophe” of Israel’s existence.

Israeli leftists routinely join foreign anti-Semites in promoting what they call the One-State Solution – in effect a final solution under which Israel would cease to exist altogether as a Jewish state and simply become absorbed into a larger, predominantly Arab, binational state.

That a growing number of Israeli leftists regard their own country as a paragon of evil is bad enough. Also growing, however, are the manifestations of open anti-Semitism among Jewish Israeli leftists. Their intellectual nexus is Israel’s professoriate (exposed in detail at www.isracampus.org.il).

Israeli tenured academics are the sponsors and initiators of campaigns all over the world to boycott Israel, including boycotts against the very universities that pay their salaries.

Hundreds of Israeli university professors have been involved in organizing mutiny and insurrection among Israeli soldiers, and some have even been arrested for violence. Israeli university authorities wink at such faculty behavior and sometimes condone or promote it.

Israeli students are increasingly complaining about being harassed by leftist faculty members if they dare express dissenting pro-Israel opinions in the classroom, and some claim their grades were lowered as punishment for this felony.

In-classroom anti-Israel indoctrination is becoming more common at Israeli universities. Israeli extremist academics have misused their classroom podiums to force-feed their students anti-Israel libel and anti-Jewish venom. Some courses consist of little more than North-Korean-style one-sided political indoctrination. “Academic” conferences held weekly on Israeli campuses are often anti-academic exercises in one-sided advocacy of leftwing positions.

Faculty hiring and promotion decisions are often subordinated to political bias and gestures of leftist political solidarity. Authors of tracts as openly anti-Jewish as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are granted tenure automatically. Israeli extremists with mediocre academic records are hired and promoted as acts of solidarity by other leftists within the university system. University officials often pretend that anti-Israel political propaganda is serious scholarship and research.

* * * * *

 

On the left wing of the Israeli political spectrum, the simple son of the Passover Haggadah has been replaced by the wicked son. This is not to say that every leftist is wicked or has evil intentions, just that the Left as a collective entity no longer has Israel’s best interests at heart.

The Left in Israel is at war with Zionism and Israel’s continuation as a Jewish state. It is also radically opposed to democracy and freedom of speech. For too many leftists, the highest form of democracy means issuing calls for foreign powers to neutralize Israel’s electorate and to impose an outside “solution” on the country – one to the liking of the Arabs – by means of threats and force.

This is a phenomenon that needs to be understood and internalized – and actively fought – by all non-leftist Jews in Israel and throughout the Jewish world if the Jewish state is to survive.

Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at the University of Haifa. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

The Fall Of Israel’s Left

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

The Israeli Left is in dire straits. The past several months have been some of the worst it has ever experienced.

 

First came Hamas’s missile offensive against Israel late last year.

 

The darkest warnings of those who opposed the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza were borne out as more than a million Israelis from Sderot to Beersheva to Ashdod found themselves under missile, rocket and mortar assault from the Hamas-run Palestinian terror state. The post-withdrawal Gaza reality has soured the public definitively against any further withdrawals from Judea, Samaria or Jerusalem.

 

Then came the Left’s electoral drubbing in March’s general elections.

 

Meretz and Labor were wiped out as political forces. Although Kadima received the largest number of Knesset seats, its leader, Tzipi Livni is such an incompetent and disagreeable politician that no one outside Kadima was willing to serve in a government led by her.

 

Labor leader Ehud Barak’s decision to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was another body blow to the Left. By joining Netanyahu, Barak made it impossible for the leftist media to demonize the Netanyahu government as being “far right.” Even worse, by accepting Netanyahu’s governing lines – which exclude the possibility of Israeli withdrawals in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights – Barak positioned Labor to the right of Kadima and so made it impossible for Livni and her colleagues to maintain their fiction that Kadima is a “centrist” party.

 

Iran’s rise as a mortal threat to Israel is similarly disastrous for the Left.

 

Iran’s repeated calls for Israel’s destruction, its control over Hizbullah, Hamas and Syria, render indefensible the Left’s core assertion that Israel’s size and the absence of a Palestinian state are the source of all instability and war in the Middle East. So too, Iran’s sponsorship of the insurgency in Iraq, and its leading role in the insurgency in Afghanistan make it impossible for the Israeli Left to continue to argue that the Palestinian conflict with Israel is unrelated to the Islamist fight against the U.S.

 

Perhaps the worst blow to the Israeli Left is the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel.

 

The Left never enjoyed the support of a majority of Israelis. In recent years, its leaders – Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon after 2004, and Ehud Olmert – owed their electoral success to their ability during their campaigns to hide the fact that they were leftists from the public.

 

Because the Left’s policy prescriptions have never been strongly supported by the majority of Israelis, these leaders, once in office, relied on successive U.S. administrations to sell their policies to the Israeli public for them.

 

Despite the massive increase in terror after Rabin signed the Oslo accords with the PLO, and despite the Palestinians’ obvious bad faith, Israelis were willing to continue the Oslo process because Bill Clinton was perceived as a warm friend of Israel. So too, despite the moral and strategic perversity of the Gaza withdrawal, the Israeli public supported it in large part because George W. Bush supported it and the Israeli public trusted Bush.

 

But the Obama administration is a breed apart. Since taking office, President Obama and his advisers have managed to convince between 88 and 98 percent of Israelis that they do not support Israel. This dim assessment of the administration has brought about a situation where the Israeli Left has been stripped of one of its most formidable weapons. It is unable to blame the Netanyahu government for poor relations with the U.S. And since the U.S. administration is viewed as hostile, the Left cannot argue that it is reasonable for Israel to give away more land to the Palestinians because the U.S. will support Israel if it does.

 

To extricate itself from its current bind, the Israeli Left is trying to strengthen its ties to the American Jewish Left in the hopes that doing so will strengthen its relationship with the Obama administration. To this end, the Israeli Left is flirting with the new, deep-pocketed leftist J Street lobby. Whereas Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, refused to attend J Street’s inaugural convention this week in Washington, Livni sent the group a congratulatory letter and senior members of Kadima, Labot and Meretz attended the conference.

 

The Israeli Left’s embrace of J Street is dangerous because the more we learn about J Street, the more hollow the group’s protestations ring that it is pro-Israel. Just as, for example, members of Jews for Jesus use the language of Judaism to hide the fact that they are Christians, J Street uses the language of Zionism to push an anti-Israel agenda.

 

Israeli leftists are attracted to J Street because they share the group’s view that barring Israeli construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem and expelling all Jews living beyond Israel’s 1949 armistice lines from their homes is Israel’s most urgent policy challenge. But beyond that, Israeli leftists rely on J Street as a credible ally in their fight against the Netanyahu government.

 

This is first and foremost the case because of J Street’s position on Iran. J Street opposes placing sanctions on Iran for its illicit nuclear weapons program and it vociferously objects to the very notion of U.S. or Israeli military strikes against Iran’s nuclear installations in a bid to set back Iran’s nuclear program. Among J Street’s financial backers are prominent member of Iranian lobbying groups in the U.S.

 

Unlike their colleagues in J Street, Israeli leftists will have to live under the threat of an Iranian nuclear attack if Iran is not stopped from reaching the nuclear finish line. They cannot afford to be sanguine on this issue. Due to J Street’s position on Iran, Israeli leftists are compelled to break ranks with the group and stand shoulder to shoulder with the hated Netanyahu government.

 

Then there is the fact that J Street itself is highly controversial among American Jewish organizations and activists. In the past, leftist Israeli groups like Peace Now, Gush Shalom, B’Tselem and numerous others could receive funding from the likes of the post-Zionist New Israel Fund and not worry that their fellow Israelis would look askance at them. The NIF’s hostility toward the old Israel was not well-known outside narrow, generally right-wing circles among American Jews and in Israel. The same is not the case with J Street.

 

Since its establishment eighteen months ago, J Street has been rightly criticized by mainstream U.S. Jewish organizations and Jewish activists alike as an anti-Israel group posing as a pro-Israel group. Its support for the Goldstone report, which accuses the IDF of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during Operation Cast Lead, and J Street’s own outspoken opposition to Israel’s counter-terror campaign against Hamas have marginalized and discredited it in much of the American Jewish community. And the drubbing it has received at home has been reported in Israel.

 

Unlike the NIF, whose subversive post-Zionism has stayed beneath the radar in Israel, J Street is widely perceived by Israelis as post-Zionist. If they embrace J Street too enthusiastically, Israel’s leftist politicians risk exacerbating their marginalization.

 

The fall of the Israeli Left has been a long time coming. It is certainly possible that conditions may change in a manner that facilitates its return to power at some point. But with its policies discredited and its leaders divided – and in the absence of credible American support – it is more likely than not that we have entered a post-leftist era of Israeli politics.


 



 


Caroline Glick is senior contributing editor at The Jerusalem Post. Her Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the last week of each month. Her book “The Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad,” is available at Amazon.com.

Litmus Test For Nakba Law Opponents

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

            The Israeli media and the Israeli Left (but I repeat myself) have been hysterical in recent weeks over a proposed bill that would make it illegal to hold anti-Israel “mourning” events on Israel’s Independence Day, events that would declare Israel’s very existence a “nakba” (or catastrophe in Arabic).
 
            Nakba commemorations are in essence events during which Jewish leftists and Arabs call for Israel to be annihilated. The anti-nakba bill would, if passed, ban these, and has triggered hysterical opposition. 
 
            There are two groups of people posturing their outrage at the proposed law. One group consists of free speech absolutists; the other of anti-democratic haters of Israel, many of them people with a neo-fascist disdain for freedom of speech. The first group truly believes in freedom of speech, even for radicals, traitors, and extremists. The second group agrees with Israel’s enemies that the very existence of the Jewish state is a catastrophe.
 
            There is a very easy litmus test to distinguish between these two groups. If the opponent of the law is someone who spoke out clearly in the 1990s against the “anti-incitement” campaign, aimed primarily at the Right, that person is part of the first group, the free speech absolutists. But if the person endorsed that campaign against “incitement” or simply kept quiet and failed to speak up against it, he belongs to the second group.
 
            Immediately after the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995, the Israeli political establishment launched a broadside assault against freedom of speech in Israel. It repeated endlessly the idea that Rabin had in effect been killed by the exercise of free speech on the part anti-Oslo dissidents. Hundreds of people were investigated and interrogated on suspicion of “incitement.” The “judicial activists” in Israel’s legal system failed to protect the victims of the anti-democratic witch-hunt.
 
            In the anti-democratic hysteria after the assassination, Israelis were carted off by the busload to be interrogated for “incitement.” In some cases the circumstances were comically absurd. A man was arrested for cracking a joke in a bank: when the clerk had asked, “Who’s next in line?” the man responded, “Peres.” A Zionist Federation employee was arrested for “incitement” while drinking at a caf? because an eavesdropper claimed he was “inciting.” Moshe Feiglin was convicted of “sedition” because he dared to hold anti-Oslo protests that blocked a traffic artery.
 
            The notion that Rabin was killed by freedom of speech was repeated endlessly by the political elite and assumed the status of revealed truth. The government approved a decision to make a growing list of organizations on the Israeli Right illegal. Kahanists were criminalized and denied freedom of speech under Israel’s arbitrary “anti-racism laws,” which have never been used to prosecute leftist or Arab anti-Semites.
 
            A series of aggressive measures designed to prosecute those engaging in “incitement and agitation” was instituted. Right-wing protesters of various stripes were arrested and prosecuted for various charges.
 
            In this atmosphere, countless legitimate exercises of freedom of speech were persecuted and suppressed. A faculty member wearing a pro-settlement button at the Weizmann Institute was threatened with expulsion. A Haifa teacher-rabbi was fired by his school for expressing the opinion that Rabin’s political ideology should not be taught as theology in schools. Rabbis writing scholarly articles on rabbinic law were arrested for “racism” and “incitement.” Police were ordered to tear down posters on public billboards placed by anti-Oslo protesters. Israelis wearing shirts with politically incorrect slogans and those with rightist bumper stickers on their cars were harassed and interrogated by the authorities.
 
            The assertion that Rabin was killed by the exercise of freedom of speech was absurd and false. There is no reason to think Yigal Amir would have behaved any differently if opponents of Rabin’s policies had all spoken in gentle, calm tones rather than shouting angrily.
 
            And if “vile speech” causes assassination, Israel would have witnessed an endless slaughter of its political leaders going back to independence (if not beforehand). Israeli political discourse has always been characterized by rhetorical overkill, ad hominem slander and high-decibel shrieking.
 
            Vile speech is not a monopoly of hotheads of the Israeli Right, as the anti-Begin demonstrators in 1982-83 proved during Israel’s Peace in Galilee campaign in Lebanon. Their slogan was “Begin and Sharon are Murderers and War Criminals.” No one was prosecuted for voicing those sentiments.
 
            (Likud is just as capable – and culpable – as Labor when it comes to jumping on the anti-democratic bandwagon. It was Likud that closed down the rightist radio station Arutz 7. And it was Likud Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who told his cabinet on February 13, 2005, “Anyone who speaks or writes against the [Gaza] Disengagement Plan is guilty of incitement.”)
 
            Many of the people now outraged at the idea of an anti-nakba law cheered on the 1990s campaign against the Right. The far-left Israeli daily Haaretz, leading the campaign against the anti-nakba law, led the effort in the 1990s to suppress “incitement” and the exercise of free speech by those opposed to the Left’s political agenda.
 
            So here is the test: You do not like the proposed anti-nakba law? Then prove to us you are opposed to other infringements of freedom of speech in Israel. Show us what you said or wrote against the 1990s campaign against “incitement” and freedom of expression on the Right. Let us know what you have done to fight other measures designed to suppress freedom of speech, including the infamous anti-democratic SLAPP suit filed by the ultra-leftist academic Neve Gordon.
 

            If you can’t, or won’t, do that, your hypocrisy stands exposed in all its stunning ugliness.

 

 

            Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

Holding The Line On Hamas

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Once it is sworn into office, Israel’s new government will immediately have to go on a diplomatic offensive.

 

This month, under Egyptian sponsorship, Hamas and Fatah began negotiating the formation of a Palestinian unity government that, if agreed upon, will run the affairs of the Palestinian Authority. From what can be gleaned from media accounts of the proceedings, it is clear Hamas will control the government and Fatah will operate as a junior partner responsible for keeping up international monetary support for the PA. Hamas will not recognize Israel. And Fatah and Hamas militias will be unified in some manner and end all cooperation and coordination with Israel.

 

In short, if formed, the new Palestinian government will be nothing more than a Hamas-Fatah terror consortium committed to waging continuous war against Israel.

 

By all accounts, the international community, including the Obama administration, will recognize and support this government if and when it is established. Egypt halted the talks last week and sent emissaries to Washington and Brussels to secure American and European support for it.

 

General Omar Suleiman, head of Egyptian intelligence, flew to Washington to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit jetted off to Brussels where he made the same case to EU foreign policy boss Javier Solana. That their missions were successful was made clear by the announcement that the Hamas-Fatah negotiations were to resume this week.

 

Moreover, after meeting with Gheit, Solana threatened the incoming Netanyahu government that it will suffer international isolation if it does not join Europe, the U.S. and the Arab world in embracing the establishment of a Palestinian state as its chief goal in office. In doing so, Solana signaled that as far as Europe is concerned, the nature of the Palestinian government is immaterial. The only side that will be blamed for Palestinian aggression will be Israel.

 

In Washington too, things are going Hamas’s way. President Obama’s Middle East mediator, George Mitchell, has called for the administration to support a Hamas-Fatah government. Former senior officials with close ties to the administration like Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft and Lee Hamilton are publicly calling for U.S. recognition of Hamas.

 

Given the increased likelihood that the U.S. (and the EU) will recognize Hamas, one of the swiftly emerging challenges for the incoming Netanyahu government will be how to contend with the new reality.

 

As it stands, the incoming government is operating at a severe deficit. Both outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and outgoing Foreign Minister (and Kadima leader) Tzipi Livni have made it clear they will side with the U.S. and Europe against their own government.

 

Livni joined the campaign to isolate the incoming government when, like Solana, she claimed Netanyahu’s refusal to endorse the so-called two-state solution rendered him an extremist with whom she could not cooperate.

 

On Sunday evening Olmert attacked outgoing Defense Minister (and Labor Party leader) Ehud Barak for his willingness to join the Netanyahu government. In Olmert’s words, “Anyone who consciously walks into a government that does not believe in two states for two peoples is likely to force Israel into an isolation it has not seen since its establishment.”

 

Statements like these from Kadima’s leaders make it difficult for Netanyahu to withstand claims by the likes of Scowcroft, Mitchell and British Foreign Minister David Miliband that the time has come to recognize Hamas. But even with the likes of Olmert and Livni siding with foreign governments against him, Netanyahu will still have one option — and he will have to use it.

 

Netanyahu and his government must exert unrelenting pressure on the U.S. and individual European governments to end their recognition of Hamas. He and his colleagues must make constant reference to Hamas’s terror activities and to it genocidal covenant. They must repeatedly recall its ties to Iran and its likeness to al Qaeda. They must condemn calls by the Israeli Left to recognize Hamas and use the bully pulpit in Israel to attack their political opponents for working against the interests of the state.

 

It should be recalled that we have been here before. In December 1988, prodded by the incoming Bush administration and the American Jewish Left, the lame duck Reagan administration opened a dialogue with the PLO, which it claimed had accepted Israel’s right to exist and foresworn terror.

 

Following the U.S. move, the Shamir government used every opportunity to point out that the PLO had not given up terrorism and had not in fact accepted Israel’s right to exist. The pressure the Israeli government exerted on the Bush administration compelled it to break off ties with the PLO in June 1990 after the PLO committed a terror attack in Israel.

 

The country that in the end legitimized the PLO was Israel – with the September 1993 Oslo agreement – not the U.S. When then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin recognized the PLO and brought Yasir Arafat to Gaza, he did more than pave the road to the White House in gold for Arafat. By telling the U.S. to embrace the PLO, Israel found itself without recourse when — in the space of just a few weeks from the euphoric signing ceremony in the White House Rose Garden — the PLO resumed its war against Israel, transforming the areas Israel had transferred to its control into the largest terror training bases in the world.

 

After Oslo, discrediting the PLO meant discrediting the Israeli Left, which embraced the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians. Since the Left has dominated most Israeli governments since 1993 and has retained control over the media, this was a non-starter. And so even when Fatah – the PLO’s governing faction — openly colludes with Hamas, as it is currently doing in the negotiations toward the formation of a Hamas-dominated government, the Israeli Left feels compelled to uphold it as legitimate and to overlook its hostile behavior.

 

The most stunning example of the Israeli Left’s refusal to criticize Fatah came last week when Fatah security chief Muhammad Dahlan gave an interview to PA television where he explained the nature of the PLO/Fatah’s deception of Israel.

 

Fatah, Dahlan explained, has never recognized Israel. In his words, “We [Fatah] are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Rather, we are asking Hamas not to do so because Fatah never recognized Israel’s right to exist.”

 

What Dahlan’s remarks made clear is that the PLO’s recognition of Israel was an optical illusion. Without its constituent factions, the PLO is an empty shell. And its constituent factions did not recognize Israel. Dahlan then explained that the Hamas-Fatah government will operate under the same principle. Hamas will join the PLO. Hamas will form a government with Fatah. Both terror groups will recognize PLO agreements with Israel and both will continue to wage war against Israel as Hamas and Fatah – rather than as the Palestinian government.

 

It might be thought that Dahlan’s admission of premeditated and continuous bad faith would have elicited a strong reaction from Israel. But no such thing occurred. Aside from the Jerusalem Post, no Israeli media outlet mentioned the interview. Neither did any Israeli leftist politician.

 

And this makes sense. Acknowledging what Dahlan said would require a parallel Israeli acknowledgement that Israel’s strategy for the past 16 years has been based on a complete lie. It would also make Israel even more unpopular internationally since Fatah is the toast of every town in the Western world.

 

It is this state of affairs that must be avoided at all costs with Hamas. Israel must give no quarter in this debate. And who knows — if it holds the line on Hamas while pointing out the significance of Fatah’s collusion with the Iranian proxy, perhaps by the time the next terror campaign inevitably commences Israel will have finally begun to erode Fatah’s international reputation.

 

Offense is a position Israel has rarely played since 1993. The Netanyahu government will have no time to hesitate. It will have to come out attacking or it will find itself on the outside looking in as the likes of Khaled Mashaal dine in the West Wing and have tea and crumpets with the Queen.

 

Caroline Glick is deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post. Her Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the last week of each month. Her book “The Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad,” is available at Amazon.com.

The End Of Judicial Tyranny In Israel?

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

     It pains me to tell you this, but Ehud Olmert has actually done something right. Possibly the very first correct thing he has done since becoming prime minister. And it is spectacularly correct!
 
      Olmert has appointed Professor Daniel Friedmann as the new minister of justice. And Professor Friedmann is determined to blow the whistle on the long reign of judicial tyranny imposed on Israel by its anti-democratic judges and by advocates of judicial activism.
 
      First, let’s back up a bit. Israeli democracy has for many years been under massive assault by anti-democratic elitists promoting judicial tyranny. Under their doctrine of judicial activism, it is the proper role of unelected judges to trample, trump and override the decisions of the elected representatives of the Israeli people.
 
      Led by previous chief justice Aharon Barak and now by current Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, the advocates of judicial activism believe leftist judges should dictate to Israel’s legislature what laws those lawmakers may or may not make. Accordingly, judges should be empowered simply to make up the law as they go along.
 
      Bear in mind that judges in Israel cannot be removed from the bench through any process of impeachment or ballot referendum. Advocates of non-impeachable activist judges want them to dictate everything in the country, from micro-decisions made by the army to Israel’s foreign policy because “absolutely everything should be subject to judicial review” (a favorite Barak slogan). 
 
      These people generally want the courts to impose a leftist political agenda on Israel, and that is what judicial activism judges often do. Barak infamously has stated that judges in Israel impose ideas favored by “enlightened opinion,” which of course always means the secularist Left. The vast majority of Jewish Israelis hold “unenlightened opinions,” according to such snooty elitists.
 
      The Israeli Supreme Court has ordered the government to record homosexual “marriages” that were registered in other countries, and has granted spousal rights and privileges to homosexual couples. The court ruled that there is a constitutional right in Israel to be an importer of non-kosher foods (remarkable, given that Israel has no written constitution at all), but no such right to be an importer of kosher food.
 
      The court has collaborated in the many assaults against free speech and free expression in Israel, assaults invariably directed against the Israeli Right. The court has refused to stop the persecution of anti-Oslo dissidents or to overturn Israel’s ridiculous “anti-racism” law, which declares that expressing Kahanist points of view is a felony but cheering on suicide bombers or calling for Israel to be annihilated is protected speech.
 
      A Supreme Court justice, Ayalla Procaccia, last year tossed female teenage settlers into prison for their criticism of government policy at a protest, declaring that the girls were guilty of expressing an unacceptable political opinion. “The message must be made clear that the law will be enforced, at times of calm or at times of crisis, for minors or adults,” the judge declared.
 
      Just a few weeks back, hopes for reining in judicial tyranny in Israel seemed bleaker than ever. Professor Ruth Gavison had been a contender for appointment to the Israeli Supreme Court. A longtime champion of civil rights, somewhat left of center and secularist, Gavison nevertheless is a ferocious opponent of judicial activism and would have worked against the activist judges on the bench.
 
      That was enough to arouse the Left against her. In a campaign somewhat reminiscent of the malicious jihad in the U.S. against the nomination of Yale Professor Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, the Israeli Left mobilized its shock troops against the Gavison appointment and it was shot down.
 
      Meanwhile, Dorit Beinisch took over as chief justice when her mentor Aharon Barak retired. Beinisch used the occasion of her accession to praise Barak’s judicial activism and promised to conduct more of the same Like Barak, she believes the court is entitled to revoke and cancel laws passed by the Knesset, supposedly as part of “judicial review.” Never mind that there is no constitutional basis in Israel for such judicial review. 
 
      The distinguished Robert Bork mentioned above is on record as declaring that Israel’s Supreme Court is the very worst in the democratic world in terms of ignoring checks and balances and in its promotion of judicial activism. He wrote: “Israel must have the most activist, and from my point of view, the worst court in the Western world. They have developed an intrusive, pervasive constitutional law without really having a Constitution. Now that’s hard to do, but they’ve managed it and they have managed to get themselves in a position where they, in effect, control the membership of their own court.”
 
      Tel Aviv law don Daniel Friedmann is both a man of principle and a man of conservative legal principles. Politically he is a centrist. He was one of the people who served on the Beijski Commission in the 1980′s, set up after the bank share scandal of 1983. That commission recommended a program of critical economic reforms that the political hacks largely ignored.
 
      Educated at the Hebrew University and Harvard, Friedmann strongly opposes judicial tyranny and is dead serious about reining it in. He wants to end the system under which the Israeli commission for appointing judges acts as a rubber stamp for candidates supported by the judges already on the Supreme Court. He wants to create a constitutional court that will strip the Supreme Court of its powers of judicial review of laws. He wants to change the system under which the chief justice of the Supreme Court is selected.
 
      In short, he wants to appoint judges who will actually obey the law, an idea quite novel in Israel. 
 
      Professor Friedmann was one of those jurists who vehemently opposed the appointment of Beinisch as chief justice, repeatedly declaring his position that she is not competent or qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.
 
      Beinisch had personally led an earlier successful campaign against the appointment of Professor Nili Cohen as a Supreme Court judge. Friedmann was the country’s leading promoter of Cohen for the post and accused Beinisch of blocking the appointment for petty personal reasons. “It appears the justices are not immune to the possibility of misusing power, as the developments in the process of appointing judges has proven,” he wrote.
 
      All judges in Israel are appointed by a Judicial Selection Committee, which is currently made up of three Supreme Court justices, two ministers (including the minister of justice), two Knesset members, and two members of the Israel Bar Association. Once a judge is appointed, it is all but impossible to get him or her dismissed. Dismissals can take place when the chief justice leads the campaign against a judge – and not always then.
 
      In reality, the committee usually rubber stamps what the Supreme Court justices, who dominate it, want. Hence, appointment of judges in Israel effectively consists of unelected judges dictating which other unelected judges will sit on the bench.
 
      Under Friedmann’s proposals, the Judicial Selection Committee will be revamped. Only a single sitting judge will be a member. The others will be representatives of the public and the voters, and they will be in a position to flex their muscles against judicial abuse.
 
      And the Israeli Left is simply hysterical about that. Israel’s leftist Haaretz has been overflowing with outraged articles opposing Friedmann. One Haaretz writer compared the appointment of Friedmann to a hypothetical appointment of convicted traitor Tali Fahima as head of the Shin Bet intelligence service. (The comparison is amusing since Haaretz has long served as cheerleader for Fahima and would probably support her appointment as head of the Shin Bet if it were to take place.)
 
      Meanwhile, the leftist apparatchik and godmother of the Oslo debacle, Yossi Beilin, had a public fit when he heard the news of Friedmann’s appointment. Far-left Meretz Knesset member and Peace Now leader Avshalom Vilan raged in the press at the fact that an academic, not a political hack, was being appointed – someone the Left would have difficult in bullying into political compliance.
 
      A retired Supreme Court Justice and advocate of judicial activism, Mishael Cheshin, openly threatened Professor Friedmann with violence, promising to “cut off the arm of anyone who raises a hand against the court.”
 
      The Israeli law enforcement system has long been little more than the occupied territory of the Israeli Left. The attorney general does little to hide his political agenda when he makes decisions about investigations and indictments.
 

      Friedmann’s appointment upsets this cozy undemocratic arrangement and threatens to strip the Left of its unelected de facto domination by democratizing Israel’s legal system. And that’s the first piece of really good news in Israel in quite a while.

 

 

      Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at stevenplaut@yahoo.com.

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