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Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

Pro IDF Priest’s Son Suffered Brutal Beating

Monday, December 9th, 2013

The teenage son of Father Gabriel Nadaf of Nazareth, who was soon to be drafted into the Israel Defense Forces, suffered a brutal beating on Friday evening. He is being treated at the English Hospital in Nazareth.

A 21-year-old affiliated with the anti-Israel Hadash party was arrested in connection with the attack, Israel’s Channel 2 television reported.

Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest known for encouraging participation in military and national service among local Christians, said in the TV interview that his wife and other son fear leaving their home.

“As I call for integration in Israeli society, extremists are trying to divide and tear and incite against me,” Nadaf said. “The incitement of verbal threats has passed yesterday into physical violence as their goal is to intimidate me and my family.”

His family has been threatened not only physically; Israeli politicians have interfered to prevent the Jerusalem Patriarchate from firing Nadaf and destroying his livelihood.

Matan Peleg, director of operations for Im Tirtzu (“If you will it”), an Israeli organization promoting Zionist values, told United with Israel that last year, when a number of Christians in Nazareth had decided to promote enlistment in the IDF and join the Israeli mainstream, “we helped them immediately. They were placing their destiny with the State of Israel.”

Nadaf is “a good friend,” Peleg said, adding that only last week his group had warned that “something like this would happen.”

The past several months have seen a growing patriotism among Christian Israeli Arabs, which has alarmed enemies of the Jewish state.

In July, a new Christian party, Brit HaHadasha (meaning “Sons of the New Testament”), was created, calling for service in the IDF among other forms of integration

By mid-summer, the number of IDF recruits from Israel’s Arab-Christian community more than tripled since last year – from 35 to 100 – and 500 had volunteered for national service. They identify themselves as “Arab-speaking Israeli Christians.”

“At a time when Christian communities across the Islamic world are facing vicious persecution in the form of arrests, mob violence and bombings of churches, it’s no coincidence that this assertive form of Christian identity has manifested in democratic Israel,” noted JNS journalist Ben Cohen. “Increasingly, Christians in the Middle East understand that if their faith is to have a future in the region, the states in which they live need to be governed by the values of democracy and tolerance. A state that is Jewish in terms of its identity but which gives the same rights and demands the same duties of all of its citizens is truly a revolutionary development for the Middle East – and a key reason why so many of its neighbors dream of its destruction.”

“Our goal is to guard the Holy Land and the State of Israel,” Nadaf declared at a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the summer. “We have broken the barrier of fear – the state deserves that we do our part in defending it. Those who oppose the integration of the Christian community in the institutions of state do not walk in the path of Christianity.”

“Members of the Christian community must be allowed to enlist in the IDF,” Netanyahu asserted. “You are loyal citizens who want to defend the state and I salute you and support you. We will not tolerate threats against you and we will act to enforce the law with a heavy hand against those who persecute you. I will not tolerate attempts to crumble the state from within. The State of Israel and the Prime Minister stand alongside you.”

Following the attack, Netanyahu vowed that Israel will not tolerate continued violence against Christian supporters of Israel.

Visit United with Israel.

Great News: US Has Security Plan for the ‘West Bank’

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

One has to be sparing with exclamation points, but this one’s a lollapalooza.  A dilly!  A doozie.  A big honkin’ mess-a that Middle East Security Hotness.  You heard right folks:  the United States of America has a “West Bank security proposal” for Israel, and we’re sending a retired Army general to present it to Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, himself.  !!!!!!!!!!

Why did no one think of this before?  Finally, someone has done something pragmatic and positive about the Israeli-Palestinian standoff, and just written up a proposal for the Israelis to chew on already.  The Obama administration has at last gotten things off top dead center with Iran, and it’s time to tackle those other intractable Middle East Security Problems, while the momentum is still red-hot.

The New York Times has done yeoman work in recent years pitching verbatim the information themes of the Obama administration, but interestingly, it comes off as a tad perfunctory in the story about the West Bank security proposal.  The tale seems to lack a little of that believer’s heart to it.  You might almost get the sense that there’s some editorial skepticism about the wisdom of this fresh Brainstorming for Peace initiative.

Almost.  Letting the Obama administration off the hook, as usual, for vagueness and strange diplomatic fire, NYT notes the following:

General Allen’s presentation appears to signify a more active American role, in which the United States is doing more than coaxing the Israelis and the Palestinians to negotiate and is presenting its own ideas.

What are the ideas about, exactly?  The NYT authors again:

Officials involved in the negotiations said security had been the prime focus lately, with most of the discussion revolving around the Jordan Valley. Israel has insisted that its own military continue to patrol there, rather than rely on an international force similar to those responsible for its tense borders with Lebanon and Syria. The Palestinians have said they cannot abide the presence of any Israeli soldiers in their future state.

Keep in mind, if George W. Bush’s officials were being so elliptical about a U.S.-drafted West Bank security proposal, NYT would be right in there concluding indignantly that American troops were about to be drop-kicked into the Jordan Valley to embroil a duped and overextended United States in Another Vietnam Quagmire (Marine Barracks Beirut Variety).  It would be barely possible to figure out what the Bush administration had actually said, so thick would be the underbrush of quotes from policy “critics” through which the reader would have to hack.

No such quotes enliven the current NYT piece.  The Obama administration gets the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe putting U.S. prestige and bona fides on the line with an unsolicited, and apparently very specific, security proposal to an ally isn’t a bad idea.  Maybe it’s not undiplomatic and prejudicial to announce it publicly before our briefer has even presented it to Israel’s prime minister.  Maybe it’s just, what, enthusiastic.  Maybe there’s nothing to be concerned about in the fact that the preemptive announcement is so vague.  Hey, we’re just talking – probably – a about U.S. proposal for administering military security in the Jordan Valley.  What could go wrong?

NYT lets this priceless, preemptive characterization go without comment:

State Department officials described the security briefing as an “ongoing process” and not a finished product on which the United States was demanding a yes-or-no vote from the Israeli side.

Sure, because announcing it in advance will put no onus on Israel to respond in a yes-or-no-type manner.  This formulation is like an addict pleading that he’s not using, he’s just snorting some coke.

Fowl Peace Talks a Treif Thanksgiving Turkey

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Middle East experts are experts by virtue of their positions of power.

Some of them, like former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, even have learned a thing or two about international affairs. Rice actually has a Ph.D., which as comedian-pianist Victor Borge once said, should be read as “phttttttttttt.”

The experts, and that includes John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Catherine Ashton and the Oslo Accords crowd, may have learned about prophets, kings, oil and sheikhs in International Relations 101, but they missed out on the basics, like selling non-kosher turkeys to the Arabs.

I learned more about Arab-Jewish relations by working in kibbutz turkey barns than Kerry and Ashton could ever learn in their worldwide visits to official residents of presidents and prime ministers in Ramallah, Jerusalem and Amman.

Turkeys, like people, are cute when they are babies, but after a few weeks, they are not like most people. Their feet are scratchy and they begin to stink. When they get to be three months old, some of them pick up a cold, a little bronchitis, or start to hobble on weak knees, probably from too many carbohydrates.

Then they start acting like grown teenagers. The stronger turkeys pick on the weaker ones, just like fifth-graders playing king of the hill. They peck at the skin until the poor gobbler cannot stand on his feet.

When I was in charge of the birds on a kibbutz farm, the sick and injured had their own quarters, a fenced-off intensive care ward where the bullies couldn’t bother them. But sometimes it was too late. Their broken legs and their bronchitis often are more than modern medicine can cure on a cost-efficient basis.

What can you do with a sick and lame turkey? You sell it cheaply. After all, the reason to raise turkeys is turn them into fat candidates for the slaughterhouse and convert them into cold cash. The Humane Society really does not have much demand for them.

That’s where a revised International Relations 101 course could have taught the experts, sitting in their sterilized offices, something besides making roadmaps to nowhere. Even Professor Yossi Beilin, the darling of the Israeli Left, doesn’t know a kibbutz from Damascus.

Peace is a business, like anything else these days. But you have to know the rules of the game. A good Western businessman knows that a handshake is a handshake, a word is a word, and a deal is a deal.

For instance, Tom wants to sell his two-year-old Chevy for $5,000. Clyde wants to buy it for $4,000. One of them budges or there’s no deal. Jim tries to cut a deal at $4,400. If Tom and Clyde compromise at $4,500, Tom gets his money and Clyde gets his wheels. As for Jim, that’s his problem.

But that’s not the way it works in the Middle East. Here, Abe writes out a check and Ahmed gives him the key. The next day, Abe discovers the key doesn’t fit. “Of course it does not fit,” Ahmed retorts. “The price of the car was according to the real value of the dollar. The inflation rate went up 0.2 percent yesterday. You owe me $10!”

Abe protests, “Where’s the cell phone antenna that was on the roof? I am stopping payment on the check. You owe me $25 for the bank charge.”

“I’m not finished stripping the car,” retaliates Ahmed. The DVD is mine, but I’ll put back the original radio. It works most of the time, especially the Al Jazeera channel.”

“Look, here,” snarls Abe. “I paid you $4,500, but that was based on the price of gold. It went up two cents yesterday. The real price is $4,498.09.”

“You can add another $120 for the deluxe hub caps, or I’ll take them with me,” Ahmed shouts.

They agree to talk again tomorrow. That was 10 years ago. They still are talking.

It doesn’t matter that Abe still has to thumb a ride to work and that Ahmed does the same because he doesn’t have enough money for gas. The principles are that the other guy didn’t get what he wanted so they can continue arguing.

In Western societies, negotiations are a means to an end. The objective is to make a deal so both sides get what they want.

Abbas Backs Off Threats on Ending Talks with Israel

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Palestinian Authority  chairman Mahmoud Abbas, undoubtedly under pressure from the Obama administration, has backed off his latest threat to halt the American-led direct talks with Israel.

He told the French news agency AFP Monday, “We have committed to continue the negotiations for nine months, regardless of what happens on the ground.”

However he added that at the conclusion, “We will take the appropriate decision.” The statement is open to interpretation but all logic points to one direct – a direct request to the United Nations Security Official for recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a country based on his own definition of borders.

From Kerry’s standpoint, the talks will end with a mutual agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but all actions and words by both sides show that they simply are playing along with the Obama administration until “game over.”

The Undivided Past

Friday, October 4th, 2013

There are several words used in the Bible to describe the Jewish people. At one stage we were simply tribal. Then we became an “Am”, a people, a “Goy”, a nation, a “Mamlacha”, a kingdom. Post-Biblically, if the gentiles called us Jews, Judeans, Israelites, Hebrews, Yids, or whatever, we used “Yisrael” as the name of choice, in the main, which meant a people, a culture, a religion, a relationship with God and a land, all of that in varying and amorphous degrees. We knew what it meant, even if others were confused or bemused. It takes one to know one.

Under pagan empires religion was not a factor, just loyalty to an overarching regime or royal family. If you were a serf it was loyalty to your lord and village. Neither the Persian, nor the Greek, nor the Roman Empires cared how you worshipped or behaved, so long as you professed loyalty to the empire. Then Christianity emerged as the religion of the Roman Empire and other religions were marginalized. Ironically the bloodiest battles were within Christianity, between one theological variation and another. The same thing happened under Islam. Ideals soon got perverted by politics and as today, Muslims of different sects killed more Muslims than all their enemies put together and doubled. Freud memorably described this internal divisiveness as “the narcissism of minor differences”.

In the West, most Jews that non-Jews encounter are not particularly committed to being Jewish. For Jews like a Soros or a Zuckerberg, it’s an accident of birth, a minor casual affiliation, like belonging to the Church of England. And this explains why most of those in the West who think about the matter reckon that the Jews are not really too concerned about having a land of their own and that it was only the accidental intervention of imperialist powers that explains the Jewish presence in the Middle East. It was a misjudged adventure. And really the Jews ought to pick up and leave and stop being nasty to the indigenous population.

It takes an objective observer to notice that for millennia Jews have shared a powerful core identity, even if in almost every situation except when they were given a choice, most Jews actually abandoned the community of Jews. But it took a determined minority within a minority to fight hard, relentlessly, and ultimately victoriously for its Jewish identity.

In his book The Undivided Past: Humanity Beyond Our Differences, David Cannadine writes:

“Egypt under the Pharaohs may have resembled a nation…but there was no accompanying sense of public culture or collective identity. As for the ancient Greeks, their limited pan Hellenic aspirations embodied in their shared language, Homeric epics and Olympic games foundered on the disputatious reality of their fiercely independent city-states. Similar objections have been made to claims that the Sumerians, the Persians, the Phoenicians, the Arameans, the Philistines, the Hittites and the Elamites were ancient nations, or that the Sinhalese, the Japanese or the Koreans might be so described during the first millennium of the common era. Only in the case of Israel does it seem plausible to discern a recognizable ancient nation with its precise though disputed territoriality, its ancient myths, its shared historical memories of the Exodus, the Conquest and wars with the Philistines, its strong sense of exceptionalism and providential destiny and its self-definition against a hostile “other” and its common laws and cultures. These were and are the essential themes in the unfinished history of the Jews this example has also furnished ever since a developed model of what it means to be a nation.” (p. 58)

Throughout exile we somehow did preserve a sense of belonging to a people, to a tradition, to a land, a sense of community, Klal Yisrael. This is why the problem of Israel in the Middle East, the Jewish problem, is so intractable. The overwhelming majority of Jews now living in Israel or the West Bank are committed to the notion of a Jewish people. It is not to be compared as ignorant opponents of Israel try, to a few British or white imperialists imposing themselves on a vast majority “other”. Some may try to delegitimize us by overturning a decision of the United Nations, but they cannot delegitimize or wish away the Jewish people.

How to Turn a Campus Into an Indoctrination Center

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

If you want to understand how the far left controls campuses, consider this story.

There is no university more supportive of the Arab nationalist (historically), Islamist, and anti-Israel line in the United States than Georgetown’s programs on Middle East studies. Every conference it holds on the Middle East is ridiculously one-sided. The university has received millions of dollars in funds from Arab states, and it houses the most important center in the United States that has advocated support for a pro-Islamist policy.

One day in 1975, not long before he died, the great Professor Carroll Quigley walked up to me when I was sitting in the Georgetown University library. Everyone was in awe of this brilliant lecturer (remind me to write him a tribute explaining why he was so great).

[In fact the  classroom where Carroll Quigley taught his main class was Gaston Hall, where decades latest Obama demanded to cover up the cross before he spoke there! What would this pious Catholic have said!]

I thought he might have remembered me from my extended explanation of why I was late for class one day because I had rescued a sparrow and taken it to a veterinarian (true).   I vividly recall that detail, because I couldn’t think otherwise why he would want to talk to such a lowly person.

“May I sit down?” he asked.

“Of course!” I said, stopping myself from adding that it was an honor. Without any small talk, he launched into a subject that clearly weighed on his conscience. “There are many who don’t like your people.”

What was he talking about? I thought, is he talking about Jews?

He explained that he had just come from a meeting where it was made clear that the university had a problem. They were getting Arab money, but on the secret condition that it was for teaching about the Middle East but none of it could be used to teach about Israel. How was this problem to be solved?

Simple. They would call the institution to be created the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. It was explicitly expressed that this was how the problem would be dealt with.  Quigley was disgusted. Ever since then, I have referred to that institution as the Center for Contemporary Arab Money.

Georgetown was the place where the university accepted tens of thousands of dollars from Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi–who was, of course, very active in promoting anti-American terrorism–to establish an endowed chair in Middle East studies. When the president of the university backed down due to bad publicity, the professor who had been named to the post responded by calling the Jesuit university president a “Jesuit Zionist.”

This same professor–and I am not joking in saying that compared to today, he was a fine scholar and a comparatively decent man given what goes on now–was also a personal friend of Palestinian terrorist leader Nayif Hawatmeh and an outspoken Marxist.

To his credit, he told me in 1974 on a visit of mine to Lebanon, “One day we will be ashamed of all the terrorism [against Israel].” But I don’t think he ever spoke out publicly. At my Ph.D. oral exams, he said something like this as his question: “I don’t care whether you believe it or not, but give the Marxist analysis of development in the Middle East.” He did not ask me to critique it! As a Marxist, atheist though, the son of a Muslim imam, he did participate in the traditional glass of scotch after they passed me. And they did pass me, something I would never assume might happen today. These professors really did believe in scholarship and balance in the classroom.

Another professor (you can guess I was sure he was not on my board), however, was an example of the new generation of indoctrinators. One day, I was standing in the line in the campus post office shortly after I had clashed with him in class. The two girls I could overhear were talking about the disturbing incident in class. To my relief, they took my side. I guess that, too, wouldn’t happen today.

This teacher’s radicalism and knee-jerk hatred of Israel was so terrible that we used to joke about it.  A right-wing Zionist in the class did an experiment. He wrote an exaggerated version of a Marxist, anti-Israel rant. It read like a satire. He got an “A” from this professor. In retrospect, however, we should have seen that the field was getting far worse.

Go East

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

The anniversary of the Yom Kipur War always reminds one of Israeli fallibility, arrogance, and overconfidence, yet at the same time of its capacity to defy the odds and come back from the brink. It was another example of our bringing disaster upon ourselves and then fighting back to survive. After all, that is what the name “Israel” means in the Bible: “to struggle with man and God and survive”.

If I were to listen to the voices, Jewish and non-Jewish, that I hear in such examples as The New York Times, in The New York Review of Books, the intellectual and leftwing talking heads of Europe and the USA, or indeed popular left wing opinion, I would have a depressing sense of impending catastrophe. This week Peter Beinart, in The New York Review of Books, tells us that we Jews neither know, nor understand, nor feel the suffering of the Palestinians, whether under Hamas or the PLO. Ian S. Lustick goes on at length in a one-sided peroration typical of The New York Times that the lays the blame on Israel for making the Two State Solution irrelevant. They are not entirely wrong. But I tell you I am bloody fed up with people lumping all Israelis, all Jews together in their simplistic apportioning of blame, seeing things in black and white rather than in greys. Palestinians are good victims. Israelis are bad oppressors. In fact, both are both. That’s what humans are, a mixture of good and bad.

Some Israelis, some Jews are indeed intolerable racists. It is as true as is the fact that in South Africa under Apartheid there were Jews who acquiesced, who remained silent and failed their moral duty. But it is equally true that many Jews fought long and hard and at great cost to themselves, to oppose Apartheid and to promote freedom for the black population. That the ANC finally triumphed has not replaced immorality with morality, discrimination with equality. Sadly, too often those who suffer respond not by continuing the drive towards greater freedom but by grabbing all they can for themselves. This is the usual consequence of most struggles for freedom. Similarly, in Zimbabwe the relatively benign but overtly racial regime of Ian Smith was replaced by the much more evil and murderous regime of black Mugabe. Good fighters for freedom turn into very bad governors of countries. But that is the price of the struggle. And politics is dirty and messy everywhere.

The role of government is to protect its citizens and the vision of its founders. Israel was created as a state with a Jewish heritage, just as much as Muslim states were established to preserve and propagate Muslim heritage. Most of us would like to see both as tolerant and democratic societies. Israel is imperfect indeed, but it is our homeland. If we care for it we should fight to protect it and to improve it, not to undermine it. We should focus just as much on those who are working hard on reconciliation, on doing good, not just on the bad, on Syrians treated in Israeli hospitals, on Israel providing for Gaza what Egypt is not. But don’t expect this from the anti-Israel amen chorus.

So how are we expected to relate to a dysfunctional Middle East that is constantly stirred up against us by a distorted Western mentality? Surely not by capitulating to its mental diseases. I suggest we try to ignore its pathologies as best we can. But I must stress, I do not advocate cutting ourselves off from the Muslim world. The Middle East is not the only Muslim location. I do not think the divide between Judaism and Islam is either inevitable or healthy. We have far more in common with each other than we do with Western religions. To both of us, religion is not a series of theological propositions but a way of life. However if we want to heal the breach we must look further east.

It always surprises Jews to learn that the Muslims of the Far East, from India to Indonesia, from Cambodia to China, see the Arab jihadis of the Middle East in much the same way that non-Orthodox Jews view Charedim. They regard the Salafists and the Wahhabis as over the top extremists. It’s true in both cases that guilt often leads them to support the pious at arm’s length. The Far East also has its extreme and violent Islamic movements and terrorists, but the general mood of Islam is far more benign the further you get from the Middle East. It is more tolerant, less anti-West, and less fixated on blaming everyone else, especially the Jews, for their own ills. Yes, you can quote me that nasty former Malayan premier Mahathir bin Mohamad, who blamed the Jews for everything. But, thank goodness, he was not typical. I believe Israel should reduce its links with Europe with is ghastly legacy and history. It should be cultivating relations and economic involvements with India, China, Korea, and other emerging powers out in the Far East.

Daniel Goldhagen, the controversial and outspoken American historian who wrote Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, has stirred things up with his latest book about Western anti-Semitism, The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism. Anthony Julius wrote a dismissive review in the Wall Street Journal accusing Goldhagen of sloppy research and unreliable statistics, even if he agrees with the core of his thesis. But even if Goldhagen exaggerates when he says 200 million Europeans compare Israelis to Nazis, let us reduce it by half. The fact is that huge swathes of opinion in Europe and the USA are venomously opposed to Israel’s existence on principle. So who is Israel to rely on? We knew Europe would never go to war to defend the Jews. Now we have seen all too clearly that the USA cannot be relied upon to fight. It is war weary. Israel must defend it itself as best it can, both socially and militarily. It is time to look for friends elsewhere.

In addition, I believe Judaism has more in common with and is more appreciated by the religion and mysticism of the East than of the West. The West is fixated on pain, suffering, guilt, and negativity. The East has much more positive religious energy. We have been identified with the Western religious tradition for too long. We have adopted too much of this guilt and pain. We could well redress the balance. It is time to think about a new alliance, a new love affair, with the Far East for Israel and Jews in general. I only hope our present leaders, secular and religious, will not be as myopic as those of the past.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/go-east/2013/09/24/

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