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October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Jason Maoz’

The View From 1999

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

A reader responding to last week’s column concerning Commentary magazine’s symposium on President Obama, Israel, and American Jews, cautioned that such endeavors be taken with more than the proverbial grain of salt, since even the brightest of minds can fail to see what lies ahead, particularly when the subject is as volatile and unpredictable as U.S. Mideast policy or the Arab-Israeli conflict in general.

He cited as evidence the Winter 5759/1999 issue of Azure, the quarterly journal published by the Jerusalem-based Shalem Center, a non-partisan (leaning right) think tank,which featured a much-remarked-on symposium titled “The Jewish State: The Next Fifty Years.”

The questions posed by the editors concerned such basic issues as the moral and philosophical legitimacy of Israel; the nature of the state in terms of its institutions and its mission; and the contributions a Jewish state can make to the Jewish people as a whole and the world in general.

Conspicuously missing from the dozens of responses, he said, is even an inkling that Yasir Arafat would launch a second intifada in the fall of 2000, or that Israelis, completely disillusioned with the Oslo peace process, would elect Ariel Sharon prime minister, or that Israel would become a virtual pariah state in the eyes of a good part of the world.

Point well taken, but hindsight is always easy. And while the thoughts and observations expressed by the respondents reflect the world as it was more than a decade ago, many of them hold up quite well eleven years later.

In addition to those quoted below, the symposium’s roster of 56 intellectuals and public figures from Israel and around the world included such notables, some of them since deceased, as Jack Kemp, Malcolm Hoenlein, Natan Sharansky, Yosef Mendelevich, Martin Peretz, Charles Krauthammer, Emil Fackenheim, Zerah Warhaftig and Rabbi Noah Weinberg.

Tom Bethell, a (non-Jewish) Washington-based writer for conservative publications, asserted that “It is impossible to believe that the rebirth of Israel after so long a hiatus, and the revival of Hebrew when it was on the verge of extinction, were not miraculous events, showing the hand of God in history more plainly than perhaps any other historical event.”

Equally eloquent was Bethell’s description of the conundrum of Israeli democracy: “Without a majoritarian check on their power, the nation’s secular elites would have given most of the country to the Arabs by now . At the same time, democracy has also taken its toll. Arab Knesset members supported the Oslo ‘peace’ agreement; without their support, Rabin and Peres would have lacked their majority. If the question ‘Who is a Jew?’ is ever put in the lap of the Knesset, it is possible that it will be decided by Arabs – another absurdity.”

Author and translator Hillel Halkin, who can sound like the epitome of hard-headed pragmatism when writing for publications like Commentary,comes off here as a self-loather extraordinaire, bemoaning “the shameful way in which Israel has discriminated de facto against its Arab citizens since 1948″ and voicing his conviction “that practical solutions could be found for most aspects of [Jewish-Arab tensions] if Jewish prejudice and indifference did not stand in their way.”

Prompted by a statement from the editors in the symposium’s introduction, Halkin pointed to “Hatikvah” as a particularly egregious example of Israeli insensitivity, characterizing as “absurd” the fact that a country could “have a national anthem that a fifth of its citizens cannot sing” and suggesting that “the whole problem be easily solved by changing a single word … and singing nefesh yisra’eli (‘the Israeli soul’) instead of nefesh yehudi (‘the Jewish soul’)….”

To which the novelist Cynthia Ozick gave a stinging rejoinder, writing that to cast aspersions on the anthem “because it speaks of the ‘Jewish soul’ is to mock and betray those dozens of generations who survived the savagery of massacres or resisted the easy escapes of conversion or self-propelled vanishing. It is, besides, a suppression of history; and, when all is said and done, a kind of auto-lobotomy.”

Unfortunately for what it said about the state of elite opinion in Israel, the symposium’s most telling entry came from the late former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick, who related this glimpse into the mindset of a large and influential segment of the Israeli intelligentsia, a segment that yearns for a country stripped of its ethno-religious roots:

“On one of my more recent trips to Israel, I dined with a group of individuals primarily on the political Left, including some members of the Israeli foreign policy establishment … these people spoke of the end of Israel as an explicitly Jewish state.”

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

A Father’s Shining Life

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
   The 14th of Sivan (May 27) marks the tenth yahrzeit of my father, Zechariah Schwarzberg, z”l, a man who experienced the worst humanity had to offer and responded with the best the human spirit could muster.
 
   The only member of his large family not to have been murdered by the Nazis, he survived the Warsaw Ghetto uprising only to be imprisoned in Maidenak, Skarzysko and Buchenwald.
 
   After the war he served as a cantor in several European countries – Switzerland, France and Italy, among others – before emigrating to the United States in 1954.
 
   From the furnace that was Europe he built a shining life in America. Within a few years of his arrival he had learned a new language, become a husband and father, embarked on a career in real estate and established himself as a familiar and respected presence in the Orthodox community of Essex County, New Jersey.
 
   He epitomized the term Family Man. Robbed so cruelly and at such a tender age of everyone he held dear – parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – he doted on his wife and two children, concentrating exclusively on their needs, their comfort, their well-being.
 
   He would rearrange his business appointments at a moment’s notice to accommodate the schedules – and often the whims – of family members. Rarely did anyone in the family have to walk to a store or wait for a bus or a train; he insisted on driving everyone himself – otherwise, he said, he would worry.
 
   The family lived just a few blocks from the local yeshiva, but when his children were younger he took time off from work to drive them to school every morning and back home every afternoon.
 
   Though he was intimately acquainted with mankind’s darkest side, he never lost his faith in God or his love for other people. In his daily life and in his business dealings he refused to distinguish between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jew or between Jew and non-Jew.
 
   Always he had a good word to all and about all. He was incapable of believing the worst about anyone, even when he had reason to suspect it might be true.
 
   Scrupulously honest, he never hesitated to dissuade clients from deals he felt would not be beneficial to them – even when doing so meant a financial loss for him.
 
   The pursuit of money as the focus of one’s life was a concept foreign to his very nature. His favorite aphorism was the verse from Pirkei Avot by which he lived every day of his life: Eizeh hu ashir? Hasameach b’chelko – Who is rich? He who is satisfied with his lot.
 
    He saw no conflict between love of Judaism and love of the State of Israel, and had little patience with Orthodox Jews who did. He knew all too well what happens to defenseless Jews.
 
    His pride in young Jewish soldiers defending a strong Jewish state was deeply felt, as was his gratitude for having been privileged to witness the birth of the first sovereign Jewish commonwealth in two millennia.
 
    When Israel stunned the world in 1967 with its lightning victory in the Six-Day War, my father – then just 22 years removed from the concentration camps – was glued to the radio and the television, following the news as though he himself were riding in a tank or toting an Uzi.
 
    And in a sense he was. This, he told his very young son, was God’s answer to a world that mockingly asked why He had abandoned His people. This was His response to Jews whose faith had vanished in the smoke of Auschwitz. From the ashes of the worst catastrophe in Jewish history, a people who for endless centuries were scattered and scorned and slain, homeless and powerless and friendless, had returned to Israel and now strode the land of their patrimony as battle-tested warriors, blowing the ram’s horn and raising the Star of David at their holiest places.
 
    When Israeli commandos staged the electrifying Entebbe rescue in 1976, my father reacted with unrestrained emotion. “Never in my wildest dreams,” he said, “when the Poles and the Ukrainians and the Germans were spitting and cursing at us, beating us and killing us, could I have imagined that one day – in my lifetime – the world would watch with awe as Jewish soldiers and Jewish pilots flew 2,500 miles, undetected, to rescue Jewish citizens of a Jewish state.”
 
    When in February 1986 Prisoner of Zion Natan Sharansky, at long last permitted to leave the Soviet Union, was greeted upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport by the Israeli prime minister, foreign minister and a host of assorted rabbis and other dignitaries, my father phoned me to say he was watching the ceremony on the news.
 
   “Can you understand,” he asked, his voice breaking, “what Israel means for the Jewish people? Imagine if there had been a country my father and my mother and the rest of the six million could have escaped to and where they would have been welcomed with such open arms.”
 
   The highest compliment my father could pay someone was to say he was tzu Gott und tzu leit (to God and to people) – meaning that person conducted himself properly in matters both spiritual and temporal. Which is precisely how anyone who knew him – who experienced, even fleetingly, his kindness, generosity and good nature – would describe Zechariah Schwarzberg.
 
    His values and legacy live on in his wife, his two children and five grandchildren – the youngest of whom never knew him but proudly and lovingly carries his name.

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   Jason Maoz is senior editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

A Diplomatic Memoir Worth Reading

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

The Monitor never much cared for Martin Indyk during the latter’s service in a variety of diplomatic roles (including ambassador to Israel and assistant secretary of state) for President Bill Clinton. He seemed to be the very embodiment of the Clinton foreign-policy mindset that had as its centerpiece the pursuit of a nebulous Middle East “peace process” and the elevation of Yasir Arafat to statesmanlike status.

That’s why reading Indyk’s 2009 memoir Innocent Abroad (Simon & Schuster) was such a delightful surprise. While Indyk still puts way too much stock in the salubrious effects of negotiations, he does admit that for all the “time, energy, and prestige” the Clinton team invested in Mideast diplomacy, “ultimately it failed.”

What really distinguishes Indyk’s book from other first-person accounts of Clinton-era Mideast policy is its remarkable candor – along with a feast of insider tidbits.

Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, for example, “was so keen to reach [an] agreement that he had gone beyond his instructions and informed Arafat that he could have even have sovereignty over the Jewish Holy of Holies, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. But at the last moment, Arafat reneged.”

And this: “In one conversation with [Secretary of State Warren] Christopher in 1994, [Syrian President Hafez] Assad actually referred to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

And this, concerning the first meeting between Arafat and Bill Clinton, prior to the signing of the Oslo accords in September 1993:

Arafat was infamous for his kissing on public occasions. When he met Arab leaders, he would perform a kissing spectacle, repeatedly planting his bulging lips on both their cheeks…. How could we prevent him from showering the president as well as [Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin with kisses? This was a job for the State Department!I had already informed the Saudi ambassador, Price Bandar, about the “no kissing rule” and Bandar had agreed to explain to Arafat that in the United States, unlike in the Arab world, leaders shake hands rather than kiss one another. However, as assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, it fell to Ed Djerejian to be the first American official to greet Arafat when he landed at Andrews Air Force Base. Lest a precedent be set, we needed to make sure that Ed did not allow Arafat to kiss him before Bandar had the opportunity to deliver the message. Ed and his aides developed a technique for shaking hands with the right hand while placing the left hand firmly on the bicep of Arafat’s right arm so that he would be unable to embrace and kiss his greeter.

I watched on CNN as Ed tried out his technique on Arafat…. It worked perfectly. On the morning of the signing, [National Security Adviser] Tony Lake taught the president the same technique in case Arafat tried it on him. The president demonstrated with a knee to Tony’s groin what he might do if the technique failed.

And then there’s this gem from Indyk about what happened when Rabin let it be known he would not participate in the Oslo signing ceremony if Arafat wore his familiar military outfit:

“I asked Bandar to help me with the problem of getting Arafat out of his uniform. Bandar arranged for some suits to be delivered by a local tailor to the chairman’s hotel room. He explained to Arafat that protocol required him to wear a suit like everybody else at the ceremony. When Arafat reluctantly tried on one of the jackets in front of his aides, who had never seen him in anything but his battle fatigues, they burst out laughing…. [Arafat] felt humiliated, took off the coat, and insisted that he would only wear his uniform to the ceremony.”

Arafat actually ended up wearing a safari suit that afternoon.

Indyk also recounts the time Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, visiting the White House in 1998, “leaned across the table and explained in a hushed voice that he had ‘information’ that Monica Lewinsky was Jewish and part of a Mossad plot to bring the president down because of his efforts to help the Palestinians. He told Clinton that he intended to share this intelligence with senators … in an effort to forestall his impeachment.”

Read All About It: U.S. Presidents And Israel

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Several years ago the Monitor recommended a bunch of books on U.S. presidents and the Middle East. The following is an updated and expanded listing for anyone interested in filling some hours during the upcoming Pesach holiday that otherwise would be spent sitting in a hotel lobby or zoning out on the couch at home.

These are not necessarily the best biographies of the individual presidents listed (though some rank right up there), but are strong in terms of presidential attitudes and policies toward Israel.

Truman, the Jewish Vote and the Creation of Israel by John Snetsinger (Hoover Institute Press, 1974): In-depth account of the struggle for a Jewish state during the first three years of the Truman presidency. Very strong on how the 1948 presidential election influenced U.S. policy.

A Safe Haven by Allis and Ronald Radosh (Harper, 2009): The most recent addition to the Truman/Israel library, the book makes use of newly released documents but is a little too sympathetic to Truman, whose vacillation regarding his position on a Jewish state was punctuated by shockingly anti-Semitic outbursts.

Eisenhower and the American Crusades by Herbert S. Parmet (Macmillan, 1972): A thorough look at the Eisenhower administration, with considerable attention paid to the Suez Crisis of 1956. Despite its having been written before the release of many classified Eisenhower-era documents, the book has aged well.

“Let Us Begin Anew”: An Oral History of the Kennedy Presidency by Gerald S. and Deborah Hart Strober (Harper-Collins, 1993): Real inside stuff here; the Strobers interviewed dozens of surviving Kennedy-era officials and opinion-makers who spoke candidly and on the record, many for the first time, on the major issues of the day.

Support Any Friend: Kennedy’s Middle East and the Making of the U.S.-Israel Alliance by Warren Bass (Oxford University Press, 2002): A worthwhile read, though Bass probably gives Kennedy too much credit for a U.S.-Israel partnership that really began to blossom during the Johnson and Nixon years.

Flawed Giant – Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973 by Robert Dallek (Oxford University Press, 1998): The second and concluding volume of an authoritative biography, with the focus here on Johnson’s vice presidential and presidential years.

Nixon: The Triumph of a Politician, 1962-1972 and Nixon: Ruin and Recovery, 1973-1990 by Stephen E. Ambrose (Simon & Schuster, 1989, 1991): Parts two and three of a magisterial three-volume biography of Nixon, with plenty on the evolution of Nixon’s Mideast policies.

Nixon: An Oral History of His Presidency by Gerald S. and Deborah Hart Strober (HarperCollins, 1994): The Strobers do for Nixon’s presidency what they did for Kennedy’s (see fifth entry above).

The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford by John Robert Green (University Press of Kansas, 1995): The definitive history of the Ford administration has yet to appear, but this slim volume offers a good examination of the Kissinger-Ford Mideast policy.

The Presidency of James Earl Carter, Jr. by Burton I. Kaufman (University Press of Kansas, 1993): As with Ford, a comprehensive history of the Carter presidency has yet to be written; in the meantime, this account touches on all the important points, with interesting details on the Camp David negotiations.

President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime by Lou Cannon (Simon & Schuster, 1991): A big book by a political reporter who covered Reagan longer than just about anyone else.

Reagan: The Man and His Presidency by Gerald S. and Deborah Hart Strober (Houghton Mifflin, 1998): Yet another superb oral history from the Strobers.

George Bush – The Life of a Lone Star Yankee by Herbert S. Parmet (Scribner, 1997): The first full-length Bush biography. Fair to its subject and rigorously researched, with a detailed account of the Gulf War and the Bush-Baker Mideast policy.

The High Cost of Peace by Yossef Bodansky (Prima, 2002): A smart and informed recounting of how U.S. diplomacy during the administrations of the first President Bush and President Clinton undermined Israel’s security and ultimately left the U.S. more vulnerable to Islamic terrorism.

American Presidents, Religion, and Israel: The Heirs of Cyrus by Paul Charles Merkley (Praeger Publishers, 2004): An examination of how the religious backgrounds of American presidents have influenced U.S. foreign policy.

Lost Years by Mark Matthews (Nation Books, 2007): The book’s subtitle – “Bush, Sharon and Failure in the Middle East” – makes the author’s bias clear, but this is a detailed and for the most part objective account of the U.S.-Israel relationship from 2001 through Ariel Sharon’s stroke in 2006.

What Petraeus Really Said

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

When Gen. David Petraeus was portrayed last month as having made statements suggesting that America’s support of Israel was imperiling the lives of U.S. soldiers, the usual anti-Israel suspects had a field day on blogs and websites. Turns out, though, that the general didn’t quite say what was being attributed to him.

As The American Spectator’s Washington correspondent, Philip Klein, reported last week, “a posting on the Foreign Policy website caused a firestorm by reporting that in January, Gen. David Petraeus ‘sent a briefing team to the Pentagon with a stark warning: America’s relationship with Israel is important, but not as important as the lives of America’s soldiers.’ “

Klein continues: “According to the dispatch by Mark Perry (an advocate of talks with terrorist groups), Petraeus requested that the West Bank and Gaza be shifted to his Central Command (from European Command) so that the U.S. military could ‘be perceived by Arab leaders as engaged in the region’s most troublesome conflict.’

“The report, which was presented as context for the recent blowup between the Obama administration and Israel, was quickly seized on by critics of Israel as confirmation of their view that U.S. support for Israel hinders America’s national security interests…. But on [March 24], Petraeus poured cold water on the controversy….”

Responding to a question by The American Spectator at a press briefing during an appearance at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, Petraeus, writes Klein, “said he never requested to have the West Bank and Gaza added to his responsibilities as leader of the military’s Central Command. He said that ‘every year or so’ commanders submit a plan that takes a geographic look at their areas of responsibility, and then there’s discussion about whether it would make sense to redraw the boundaries. For instance, he said, last time Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti were shifted to the Africa Command.

“ ‘Typically, there’s a question of should we ask to have Israel and Palestinian territories included, because what goes on there is obviously of enormous interest to the rest of the Central Command area, which is the bulk of the Arab world,’ Petraeus said. However, he emphasized that it was ‘flat wrong’ to claim he actually requested responsibility for the areas….

“He also refuted the claim that he had sent a request to the White House, saying he ‘very rarely’ sends things to the president, and only does so if he’s specifically asked.

“In addition, he explained that the quote that bloggers attributed to his Senate testimony was actually plucked out of context from a report that Central Command had sent the Armed Services committee.

“‘There’s a 56-page document that we submitted that has a statement in it that describes various factors that influence the strategic context in which we operate and among those we listed the Mideast peace process,’ he said. ‘We noted in there that there was a perception at times that America sides with Israel and so forth. And I mean, that is a perception. It is there. I don’t think that’s disputable. But I think people inferred from what that said and then repeated it a couple of times and bloggers picked it up and spun it. And I think that has been unhelpful, frankly.’

“[Petraeus] also noted that there were plenty of other important factors that were mentioned in the report, including ‘a whole bunch of extremist organizations, some of which by the way deny Israel’s right to exist. There’s a country that has a nuclear program who denies that the Holocaust took place.’

“Petraeus continued, ‘So we have all the factors in there, but this is just one, and it was pulled out of this 56-page document, which was not what I read to the Senate at all.’

“Concerning the charge that American troops are at greater risk due to the perception that the U.S. is too pro-Israel, Petraeus said, ‘There is no mention of lives anywhere in there. I actually reread the statement. It doesn’t say that at all.’”

Klein notes that Petraeus “said the only point was that moderate Arab leaders are worried about a lack of progress in the peace process. ‘Their concern is that those who promote violence in Gaza and the West Bank will claim that because there’s no progress diplomatically, the only way they get progress is through violence,’ he said. ‘And that’s their concern.’”

Tom Friedman, Again

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Thomas Friedman, who in the past has written of American officials being held “under house arrest” in the White House by an Israeli prime minister, used a crass Yad Vashem metaphor to describe Israel, and viewed Menachem Begin’s pride in things Jewish as “his pornography” (more on those statements later), is at it again, this time likening Israeli leaders to dangerously inebriated motorists.

Vice President Joseph Biden, wrote Friedman on Sunday, should have reacted in the following manner to the Israeli announcement, made during Biden’s visit to Israel last week, of new apartments being built in East Jerusalem:

“He should have snapped his notebook shut, gotten right back on Air Force Two, flown home and left the following scribbled note behind: ‘Message from America to the Israeli government: Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. And right now, you’re driving drunk.”

When it comes to Israel, Friedman, the New York Times’s foreign affairs columnist, has long had a short fuse, especially when Israeli officials have had the temerity to disagree with Friedman’s presumed wisdom.

Usually Friedman expresses his anger in the plodding, workmanlike prose for which he’s been lampooned by a number of writers (not that it’s prevented his books from automatically becoming best-sellers). But on occasion he lets loose and the invective goes flying.

He did so in a 2004 column in which he wrote of Israel’s then-prime minister: “Mr. Sharon has the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat under house arrest in his office in Ramallah, and he’s had George Bush under house arrest in the Oval Office. Mr. Sharon has Mr. Arafat surrounded by tanks, and Mr. Bush surrounded by Jewish and Christian pro-Israel lobbyists, by a vice president, Dick Cheney, who’s ready to do whatever Mr. Sharon dictates.…”

As former New York City mayor Ed Koch noted at the time on Bloomberg Radio, “Of all the anti-Semitic slurs, one of the most outrageous is that Jews secretly control the world. Last week we heard yet another version of the same old lie, this time from Tom Friedman.”

Koch continued: “Friedman, who is full of himself, believes he can resort to the anti-Semitic slur of secret Jewish control, and avoid criticism because he is a Jew. In reality, Friedman disgraced himself and his newspaper. His false words, coming at a time when anti-Semitism is skyrocketing worldwide, are particularly irresponsible and repulsive. If he is capable of feeling shame, I hope he feels it now.”

Friedman’s vicious streak when it comes to Israel was on full and painful display in his 1898 book From Beirut to Jerusalem. As the Monitor has noted on a couple of occasions, Friedman boasted of how his disdain for Menachem Begin colored the dispatches he filed as a Times Middle East correspondent, first in Lebanon and then in Israel.

Friedman’s contempt for Begin led him to crudely psychoanalyze the Israeli prime minister. “Begin,” he wrote, “loved the idea of Jewish power, Jewish tanks, Jewish pride. They were his pornography. He needed a war to satisfy his deep longings for dignity.…”

Friedman ascribed much of what he found objectionable in Israel to what he characterized as the country’s unhealthy obsession with the Holocaust, which he blamed in part on the presence of Holocaust studies in Israel’s high school curriculum.

In a turn of phrase so flippant and insensitive it’s hard to believe it could come from a Jew, Friedman dismissed the State of Israel as “Yad Vashem with an air force.” And in writing about his coverage of the 1982 Lebanon war, Friedman came as close as a journalist can to admitting a lack of objectivity.

Friedman didn’t appreciate the answers he was getting during an interview with Major General Amir Drori, commander of Israeli troops in Lebanon, so he proceeded to turn in a classic hatchet job.

“I buried Amir Drori on the front page of The New York Times,” boasted Friedman, “and along with him every illusion I ever held about the Jewish state.”

Two decades later, nothing’s changed. On the bright side, Friedman is now an opinion columnist and readers know in advance they’re getting Friedman’s subjective views rather than the unvarnished, undisputed truth.

In that position he’s considerably less harmful than he was as a foreign correspondent shoehorning his personal issues with Israel, Jewish pride and Holocaust remembrance into news slots supposedly reserved for objective coverage.

Joseph Farah, Mythbuster

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Joseph Farah the founder and editor of WorldNetDaily, is so solidly and unashamedly pro-Israel that he’s developed something approaching a cult following among pro-Israel Jews. (Yes, “pro-Israel Jews” – it has, unfortunately, become necessary to make that distinction.)

Many of Farah’s columns on the Middle East are e-mailed around the world to be read, downloaded, photocopied and faxed countless times over. A number of them have appeared over the years as Jewish Press op-ed articles.

Here’s Farah back in 2000, alerting readers to a sermon delivered by Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabita, a Gaza-based cleric and former acting rector of Islamic University (typically, the speech was all but ignored by the American media, with the usual exceptions like then-New York Post columnist Rod Dreher):

“If you think you get an accurate idea of what Arab leaders believe when you listen to Hannan Ashrawi interviewed on ‘Nightline’ or on CNN, think again,” wrote Farah, who then quoted extensive portions of Halabita’s tirade, some of which went as follows:

None of the Jews refrain from committing any possible evil…. O brother believers, the criminals, the terrorists, are the Jews, who have butchered our children, orphaned them, widowed our women and desecrated our holy places and sacred sites…. They are the ones who must be butchered and killed, as Allah the Almighty said: ‘Fight them; Allah will torture them at your hands, and will humiliate them, and will relieve the minds of the believers…. Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them. Wherever you are, kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them and those who stand by them….

It was a column in October 2000, titled “Myths of the Middle East,” that really brought Farah to the Monitor’s attention. In it, Farah gave his readers the sort of history lesson they’d never get from Thomas Friedman or the Haaretz editorial board. It’s worth quoting extensively:

Isn’t it interesting that prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, there was no serious movement for a Palestinian homeland? “Well, Farah,” you might say, “that was before the Israelis seized the West Bank and Old Jerusalem.” That’s true. In the Six-Day War, Israel captured Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem. But they didn’t capture these territories from Yasir Arafat. They captured them from Jordan’s King Hussein. I can’t help but wonder why all those Palestinians suddenly discovered their national identity after Israel won the war.

The truth is that Palestine is no more real than Never-Never Land. The first time the name was used was in 70 A.D. when the Romans committed genocide against the Jews, smashed the Temple and declared the land of Israel would be no more. From then on, the Romans promised, it would be known as Palestine.

The name was derived from the Philistines, a Goliathian people conquered by the Jews centuries earlier…. Palestine has never existed – before or since – as an autonomous entity. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I…. There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc.”

What about Islam’s holy sites? There are none in Jerusalem. Shocked? You should be. I don’t expect you will ever hear this brutal truth from anyone else in the international media. It’s just not politically correct.

I know what you’re going to say: “Farah, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem represent Islam’s third most holy sites.” Not true. In fact, the Koran says nothing about Jerusalem. It mentions Mecca hundreds of times. It mentions Medina countless times. It never mentions Jerusalem. With good reason. There is no historical evidence to suggest Mohammed ever visited Jerusalem….

By the way, Farah happens to be an Arab-American who writes from an evangelical Christian perspective. What – you thought a Jew would write like that?

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/joseph-farah-mythbuster/2010/03/03/

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