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Posts Tagged ‘Manfred Gerstenfeld’

Mainstream Double Standards Against Israel

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

The use of double standards against Israel has permeated large parts of the world’s mainstream. One finds it at the United Nations, among governments, in major media, academic institutions, NGOs, liberal churches and trade unions.

The definition of a double standard is rather simple. The Cambridge Dictionaries Online put it succinctly: “A rule or standard of good behavior which unfairly some people are expected to follow or achieve, but others are not.”

That the use of double standards against Jews was at the heart of anti-Semitism throughout the centuries has often been recognized.

Natan Sharansky, seeking to discern when anti-Semitism drives anti-Israel rhetoric and acts, invented the “3D test” – Demonization, Double Standards, Delegitimization. The definition of the European Agency for Fundamental Rights, an EU affiliate, suggests that manifestations of anti-Semitism targeting Israel include applying double standards by requiring behavior of it that is not expected of any other democratic country.

Double standards can be broken down into seven categories, some of which overlap. A major category consists of one-sided declarations or biased reporting. The third Durban Conference in New York was a recent example of the frequent use of double standards against Israel in the UN environment.

One additional example: the targeted killing of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. was praised by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin in 2004 by Israel was condemned by then-Secretary General Kofi Annan. The European Commission, along with the British and French governments, among many others, reacted with similar duplicity.

A second category is conscious self-censorship or omission of essential information that would render a balanced view. After the lynching of two Israeli reserve soldiers in Ramallah in 2000, Ricardo Christiano of Italian state TV Rai wrote a letter to the Palestinians stating it was another Italian station that had broadcast the pictures. He stressed that he would never have made them public.

A third category is disproportionality. Media and many human rights NGOs look at Israel through a magnifying glass and have repeatedly ignored major crimes in Muslim states.

Yet another category is interference in internal Israeli affairs. Liberal Party leader Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister of the U.K., has said the interests of the Israeli people are not being met by its government. One should ask him to show when he has said something similar about the Tunisian government, the Egyptian government, and too many others to recount here.

A fifth category would be that of discriminatory acts. Dore Gold relates that in 1997, when he was Israel’s ambassador at the United Nations, the Arab states succeeded in convening an emergency special session of the General Assembly to address Israel’s building of condominiums on the Har Homa hill. Gold learned there had been no such emergency sessions called when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan or Czechoslovakia, when Vietnam invaded Cambodia, and when Turkey invaded Cyprus.

A sixth category is the application of double standards in international law.

A seventh type of double standards one can call humanitarian racism. It attributes intrinsically reduced responsibility to non-white people. The less some people are held responsible for their acts, the more they are considered to be demented, unintelligent or even animals.

The writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali told me that in the Netherlands she was taught that racism is only manifest among white people. She recalled, “My family in Somalia, however, educated me as a racist and told me that we Muslims were very superior to the Christian Kenyans. My mother thinks they are half monkeys.”

Humanitarian racists tend to hold Israel responsible for whatever it does to defend itself against terrorism. Palestinian responsibility for suicide bombings, missile attacks and the glorification of murderers of civilians is downplayed at best.

Many individuals and organizations apply double standards toward Israel. One can carefully choose a few such anti-Semites to be monitored. Most people are cowards. Many enjoy free anti-Semitic lunches, yet once it becomes clear that someone will have to pay for the meal, the number of diners will likely begin to drop.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Norway: Image And Reality

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

The two despicable terror attacks in Oslo and on the island of Utoya carried out by Anders Breivik propelled Norway onto center stage.

Norway is a country that normally draws little attention – even Swedes and Danes who can read Norwegian are generally uninterested in what happens there. The only annual event that regularly generates publicity for Norway is the awarding of the Noble Peace prize.

Due to this lack of attention, the international image of Norwegian society is mostly superficial and differs from the reality.

What is currently being reported about Norway in the international media gives the impression that the country’s population of nearly 5 million represents much of what is good in the world. Statistics seemingly prove this. Norway is ranked the ninth most peaceful country in the world; second in the Press Freedom Index; tenth among the least corrupt countries in the world; and fourth in a survey that “rates 21 rich countries on how much they help poor countries build prosperity, good government and security.”

Its major oil and gas earnings make Norway a wealthy country. In fact, according to the United Nations Development Program, which ranks countries based on factors such as income, education, and life expectancy, it is the best country in the world in which to live.

All of this supports the image the Norwegian elites want to present to the world – that of a progressive paradise, open-minded, tolerant, moral, democratic, fair and humanitarian.

But upon closer scrutiny, Norway reflects a different picture. It is difficult to analyze complex entities like nation-states. Sometimes, therefore, it helps to observe a country through a smaller lens in order to better perceive the reality behind the myths. Often, a country’s attitude toward Jews and Israel is a useful indicator.

This is happens to be the case with Norway, however surprising that news might come to some. After all, the number of Jews in Norway is miniscule – under 2,000, of whom 800 belong to the two existing Jewish communities in Oslo and Trondheim. And Israel is, of course, a small and distant country.

Nonetheless, a recent survey published by the Oslo municipality found that 33 percent of Jewish high school students are physically threatened or abused at least two to three times a month. One Jewish girl declared that all Jewish students she knows have been harassed at school.

This phenomenon has been known for at least the past ten years, yet authorities have chosen to ignore it.

The major Norwegian media are characterized by shallowness, political correctness, and a conspicuous lack of self-criticism. Norway’s elites include in their ranks major purveyors of hatred toward Israel. Several ministers in the Labor-left socialist government are at least nominal anti-Semites while the state TV and radio company NRK has its anti-Israel bias officially approved by the Broadcasting Council. There is a dominant strain of anti-Israel feeling in the Norwegian media and a significant anti-Israel stance in its academic circles.

Trade unions in Norway are much better described as hate unions. Some Norwegian Lutheran bishops are major hate inciters. Because the tragedy of the recent terror attacks is so huge, no one was paying much attention to the fact that before the shootings at the youth camp, participants were incited against Israel by their leaders from the Labor Party youth movement and visiting lecturers, including Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Störe. Signs reading “Boycott Israel” were clearly visible in press photographs from the site.

Fortunately, there are many true and politically active friends of Israel in Norway. One finds them mainly among opposition politicians and parties and pro-Zionist Christians. They cannot, however, compensate for the evil continuously inflicted by the cultural elites. If one were to challenge Norwegian Jews in a debate, they would have no choice but to admit they are rarely – if ever – considered an integral part of Norway, and are only “tolerated” by society. Even several Norwegian Jews in Israel who helped me with my research wish to remain anonymous.

As stated above, attitudes toward Jews and Israel provide a lens on Norwegian society. Thereafter, one can see similar phenomena concerning others more easily. Non-Jewish academics with dissenting views have told me how they are discriminated against in universities. Christians, particularly evangelicals, complain about how the elites despise and marginalize them. The Christian weekly Norge Idag – the only paper that dares take a critical look at the Norwegian elites – is hampered in many ways. It’s clear the intolerance of those currently in power runs quite deep.

An Apology To Turkey Would Distort History

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

The ongoing Turkish request for an Israeli apology over the killing last year of nine pro-Palestinian flotilla activists has been a major hindrance in efforts to improve Israeli-Turkish relations.

The negotiations between Israel and Turkey come at a convenient time. The Turkish elections, during which Prime Minister Erdogan employed anti-Israeli feeling as a propaganda tool, are behind us. There are no great benefits at this time for Erdogan to incite against Israel. Anti-Israel hatemongering is no longer a political necessity. It is more of a luxury, to be used when there are no other pressing issues for the Turkish government.

Putting anti-Israel incitement on ice may even help the Turks as they try to wean Israel, even just a little bit, from its warming relations with Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus – countries that view Turkey’s increased power in the region in a very negative light.

On the other hand, the continuing Syrian riots and their suppression by the country’s government pose a genuine problem for Turkey. Erdogan has no way of knowing whether President Bashir Assad will continue to govern in Damascus and for how long. Another uncertainty is whether Turkey will have to absorb more Syrian refugees.

With large parts of the Arab world in turmoil, there are other developments that require Turkey’s constant attention. Who, for example, will rule Egypt after the autumn elections – and will the new government view Turkish support for Hamas positively or negatively?

There are those who argue that strengthening Erdogan is in Israel’s interests, and if Israel were to apologize for the deaths of those killed on the Mavi Marmara in May 2010, Erdogan would avoid losing face after having demanded for so long that Israel “admit its guilt.”

Apologies, say those who push the above argument, are only words; it costs Israel nothing to admit it was at fault.

The Turkish government was, however, heavily involved in many aspects of the flotilla incident. This information can be found in investigative research by Steven Merley, who specializes in political extremism.

Merley exposes Turkish government support for the flotilla, channeled through the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood network. This support included the presence of officials from Turkey’s ruling AKP party at many important Muslim Brotherhood network events in support of the flotilla, as well as a meeting attended by Erdogan himself with a delegation of the Global Muslim Brotherhood and flotilla movement leaders from Britain and France. This get-together took place shortly before the ships left port for Gaza. (“Turkey, the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Gaza Flotilla,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2011).

Without Turkish government support, the Mavi Marmaraprobably would never have approached Israel’s waters.

Any apology by Israel, however limited and politically calculated, would have far more negative aspects than might seem to be the case at first thought.

Israel and the Jewish people have historical experience with apologies and therefore should have a keen understanding of their importance.

Nations, as well as organizations such as the Red Cross, various church bodies and others, have apologized for their behavior during the Holocaust. Apologies by nature bring something of closure to a debate. The two parties involved jointly agree on their interpretation of the past.

After the collapse of communism, when Israel requested apologies from the newly independent nations in Eastern Europe, there were those who stressed that such apologies would not be genuine. Others maintained that those apologizing were not the ones who had committed the actual crimes.

Israel’s leadership, however, understood that official apologies play an important role as potential anchors in collective memory. They are preserved in archives and become an important source for historians. These apologies will remain well documented for future generations.

Apologizing to Turkey over the flotilla incident would, seen in that light, mean distorting Israeli history forever.

The world has had enough time by now to understand how Erdogan operates. In 2004, out of the blue, he accused Israel of state terrorism. In 2005, he came on a visit to Israel to mend fences. What probability is there that he will structurally change his future behavior in a positive way? When it becomes politically expedient to do so at home, he may well consider it opportune to attack Israel again.

How Israel Should Fight Non-Violent Wars

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

A massive fly-in of pro-Palestinian activists into Ben Gurion Airport is the most recent anti-Israel provocation to be announced. It is yet another ostensibly non-violent act by some of Israel’s enemies for which the Israeli authorities will have to find an adequate answer.

Israel tries to fight such non-violent attacks – which have as their goal the country’s delegitimization – on an ad hoc basis as best it can. The initiative in these provocations always lies with its enemies. Their conceptual approach is simple: Non-violent initiatives against Israel that are largely unsuccessful are abandoned. Those that garner any significant results are repeated.

Some protesters succeeded in crossing the Israeli border on Nakba day. A few provocateurs were killed, which led to several condemnations of Israel by Western politicians. The result of this particular initiative was considered satisfactory by Israel’s enemies, and so similar efforts were made again on Nakba day.

In May 2010, a flotilla of terrorist supporters masquerading as human rights activists was prevented by Israel from reaching Gaza. Yet the killing of nine flotilla passengers (seven of whom had expressed their desire to become martyrs) brought Israel a load of bad publicity.

In view of those condemnations, a new flotilla with many more ships was assembled and is due to arrive in the coming weeks. It seems that however Israel reacts, it will lose the battle for world opinion.

All this is part of the largely non-violent war of attrition currently being waged against Israel. Such an asymmetric form of war is not winnable with Israel’s current approach. There are several reasons for this. One is that the initiative always remains with its enemies; another, that international law is often interpreted in ways that favor terrorists and provocateurs above democracies.

In addition, the unbounded right of free speech, which includes the right to extreme defamation and major lies, helps Israel’s enemies. Further, the physical risks taken by anti-Israeli provocateurs are rather minor. If they were to apply these same methods against Muslim countries, many more would die, as witness what some diehards still insist on referring to as the “Arab Spring.”

There is also an Israeli component that explains why this war is not winnable at present. Israeli leaders have understood little about how non-violent warfare against their country functions in the post-modern world. Treating these attacks mainly on an ad hoc basis cannot produce overall satisfactory results.

This lack of understanding on the part of successive Israeli governments of the all-out “soft war” being fought by their enemies contrasts strongly with Israel’s effective approach to physical acts of war. The IDF has been extremely innovative in fighting violent attacks against the country. Its techniques are monitored worldwide and copied by other armies.

After the 2001 United World Conference against Racism in Durban, the policies of systematic delegitimization of Israel were formulated in a multiple point program. It included the creation of worldwide solidarity against Israel as “a bastion of apartheid,” the use of universal law mechanisms, discrediting the law of return and replacing it with a law of return for Palestinian refugees, reinstating the Arab boycott and trying to impose a much wider international boycott of Israeli activities.

Today this seems like a rather rudimentary approach. It has since been extended in many directions through distortions of language, falsification of history, misinterpretation of archaeology, and, most recently, the series of provocations mentioned above.

In principle each of these methods can be used against any democracy. The Danes had a little taste of it after one of their newspapers published cartoons deemed disrespectful to Muhammad in 2005. Israel, however, is by far the main target of such “soft” aggression – which means it must continually come up with creative methods of repelling such attacks.

Much of what is done in this area consists, at present, of efforts carried out to a large extent by private bodies. Some are major Jewish organizations. Others are grassroots groups – Camera, Honest Reporting, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Memri, Palestinian Media Watch, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and NGO Monitor are a few that immediately come to mind. But even if all these bodies operated in an integrated manner, Israel’s defense system against non-violent warfare would still amount to so much Swiss cheese – with more holes than cheese.

In The Netherlands, Animals Are Winning, Jews Are Losing

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Animals are advancing in the Netherlands and Jews are regressing. There are many examples of this. A large building project was halted recently because it was the habitat of a protected owl. However, the habitat of the head of the Dutch Rabbinical Seminary, Rabbi Raf Evers – easily recognizable as a Jew by his clothing – is not protected. Due to aggressive behavior the rabbi has encountered – mainly from Muslims – he no longer uses public transportation and ventures out of his home as infrequently as possible.

Another example is the proposed law on the prohibition of ritual slaughter. The proposal has wide support among the Dutch population for whom, apparently, it is easier to understand the supposed mindset of a cow than that of an Orthodox Jew. The bill is presently supported in the Dutch parliament by a large majority, with only the three Christian parties opposing it, despite the fact that it would affect a small amount of kosher slaughter – 3,000 cows per year – and some halal slaughter.

The leader of the tiny left-wing Party for the Animals, Marianne Thieme, had supported her proposed law with poor scientific data and false claims, several of which have been debunked.

One of the myths she propagates is that the Rabbinical Assembly condones stunned ritual slaughter. The R.A. has since requested an apology from the Party for the Animals for this untruth. A recent study by world-renowned food science expert Professor Joe Regenstein at Cornell University is devastatingly critical of the Dutch scientific reports on which Thieme bases her claims. Advertisement

In the meantime, some cracks have begun to appear in the positions of the major parties that support the bill. In the largest opposition party, Labor – which draws the most Muslim voters – there is strong opposition in Amsterdam and several other branches. And there seems to be opposition to the bill in the country’s largest party, the Liberals of Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

There were also newspaper reports that there is substantial dissent in the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders. This anti-Islam Party had not understood that Orthodox Jews would become the main victims of the proposed law, since a majority of Muslims are willing to consume halal meat from stunned animals. Several PVV parliamentarians are very pro-Jewish and fight against the manifestations of anti-Semitism in the Netherlands.

Wilders probably understands by now that the many negative reactions to the proposed law from foreign Jewish organizations may have an impact on his international projects. When speaking abroad, the last thing Wilders needs are questions as to why he supports a major anti-Jewish measure at home.

But even if a compromise is found, damage to the Dutch image abroad has already been done. The long list of foreign Jewish organizations that have approached Parliament or the Dutch government with criticism of the bill has no precedent in Dutch history. It is clear to these organizations that if this law passes it will unleash further attacks on Jewish rituals in Europe.

Those who have expressed their criticism include the Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the American Jewish Committee, the World Jewish Congress, the European Jewish Congress, the Conference of European Rabbis, and the Assembly of Italian Rabbis.

In addition, the chief rabbi of Great Britain, Lord Sacks, and the chief rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt, have written to the Dutch Parliament. The latter mentioned that under the totalitarian regime in the Soviet Union Jews were hoping for the day they could perform their religious rituals freely. They saw in the Netherlands a country of tolerance.

In the Netherlands itself, official Jewish voices are heard which are stronger in tone than anything said publicly by community leaders in the last fifty years. The only resident chief rabbi, Binyomin Jacobs, stated earlier this month on National Liberation Day: “Many Jews think back to the prelude of the Second World War . the psychological danger is major . There is fear.”

Rabbi Jacobs predicts that the next attacks on Jewish rituals will be the prohibition of circumcision and that Jewish schools will be forced to close because of a shortage of students.

In a recent book of mine, The Decay: Jews in a Rudderless Netherlands, the former Dutch EU commissioner and Liberal leader Frits Bolkestein was quoted as saying that Jews would do well to advise their children to leave the Netherlands for the U.S. or Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/in-the-netherlands-animals-are-winning-jews-are-losing/2011/05/25/

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