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August 25, 2016 / 21 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘real’

Erdogan Utilizing Turks’ Ingrained Conspiracy Theory Culture to Purge Foes, Real and Imagined

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Devin Devlet (lit. giant state, col. deep state) is a Turkish word referring to the notion of there being a permanent government, existing through a shadowy network of civil servants, military officials and academics, who are the real decision makers. Every country on earth sports its own crowd of conspiracy theorists, who seem to proliferate following national disasters. But according to a growing number of respected voices in the media, Turkey, with its unique political history, may be the only democracy whose leader is the biggest believer in those conspiracy theories, which actually serve as the foundation of his policy and may have fashioned the ultimate conspiracy — a fake coups d’état.

Imagine that every conspiracy theory you’ve heard, from the Communists taking over America, to Obama conspiring with the deans of Al Azhar University to bring Islam to the US, to the CIA blowing up the World Trade Center, “was, if not true, at least plausible, and you have some idea of what the deep background of Turkish politics looks like,” James Palmer wrote this week in Vox. Palmer described the twentieth century in Turkey as a violent streaks of democratic government interlaced with military coups, resulting in an inevitable sense that someone in there is the puppeteer of this show, pulling the strings to fit his needs.

The Devin Devlet notion provided a reasonable explanation of their reality to generations of Turks living through perpetual instability: “To Islamists, its fundamental purpose is to crush religion; for liberals, it’s anti-democratic; for Kurds, it’s fanatically nationalist and anti-Kurdish; for nationalists, it’s secretly in league with the US; for anti-Semites, it’s an Israeli-backed scheme,” Palmer pointed out.

Roger Cohen, writing for the NY Times (Turkey’s Coup That Wasn’t) joined the growing voices suspicious of the Erdogan version of reality. “As coups go, the Turkish effort was a study in ineptitude: no serious attempt to capture or muzzle the political leadership, no leader ready to step in, no communication strategy (or even awareness of social media), no ability to mobilize a critical mass within either the armed forces or society. In their place a platoon of hapless soldiers on a bridge in Istanbul and the apparently uncoordinated targeting of a few government buildings in Ankara.”

Cohen is convinced that not only was the coup produced by the Erdogan regime, but that it was done with the tacit approval of the Obama Administration. He quoted a former special assistant to Obama on the Middle East, Philip Gordon, who said: “Rather than use this as an opportunity to heal divisions, Erdogan may well do the opposite: go after adversaries, limit press and other freedoms further, and accumulate even more power.”

Indeed, in a few hours more than 2,800 military personnel were detained and 2,745 judges were removed from duty, Cohen noted, adding that what’s coming next is “a prolonged crackdown on so-called ‘Gulenists,’ whoever Erdogan deems them to be, and the … ‘deep state.’ . . . An already divided society will grow more fissured. Secular Turkey will not quickly forget the cries of ‘Allahu akbar’ echoing from some mosques and from crowds in the streets.”

The speed with which the coup rose and crumbled continues to intrigue the western media. Mehul Srivastava and Laura Pitel, reporting from Turkey for the Financial Times, have suggested that “among the mysteries yet to be unraveled from the failed Turkish coup was this: the attack on Saturday morning by helicopter-borne commandos against a resort hotel in Marmaris. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was meant to be staying there. But the attack took place nearly an hour after every news channel in Turkey beamed images of Mr Erdogan addressing the nation from the airport in Istanbul, some 750 km away.”

“That episode is one of many inconsistencies and strange occurrences in a coup whose amateurish — almost kamikaze — nature preordained its failure and is now providing rich fodder for conspiracy theories,” Srivastava and Pitel wrote.

Kristin Fabbe and Kimberly Guiler, writing for the Washington Post, noted that the war of words in Turkey is being waged by two armies of conspiracy theorists. “On one side, government detractors are speculating that the attempted coup was a masterful, state-managed scheme to consolidate Erdogan’s power. On the other side, the AKP government is placing the blame for the coup attempt on perpetrators — real and imagined. The government’s list of villains ranges from bitter Erdogan rival Fethullah Gulen, a cleric who now lives in the United States, and other shadowy foreign ‘invaders’ to supporters of Turkey’s Ataturkist secular establishment and even the U.S. government. The skeptics are painting Erdogan as a megalomaniac tyrant bent on elected dictatorship; the believers are portraying him as a savior and victim.”

It is highly doubtful that the coup was initiated by Gulen, not because such action is necessarily beneath him, but because at the time Gulen immigrated to the US, his followers were estimated to number between 5 and 9 million, and had he launched the coup, it would not have collapsed overnight.

In June 1999, after Gulen had left Turkey, Turkish TV ran a video in which he said, “The existing system is still in power. Our friends who have positions in legislative and administrative bodies should learn its details and be vigilant all the time so that they can transform it and be more fruitful on behalf of Islam in order to carry out a nationwide restoration. However, they should wait until the conditions become more favorable. In other words, they should not come out too early.”

Gulen later complained that his words were taken out of context, and his supporters said the tape had been “manipulated.” Gulen was subsequently tried in absentia, and acquitted in 2008 under the new Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But the ideas Gulen, or his manipulated recording, espoused, were just the kind of nourishment the Turkish conspiracy theorists everywhere needed to confirm their worst fears or highest aspirations, take your pick.

At the moment, President Erdogan is riding high on his conspiracy accusations: he has just suspended democracy in Turkey for three months (he could go three more, according to Turkish emergency laws), and his henchmen are busy weeding out pockets of resistance across Turkish society, regardless of their connection to the coup or obvious lack thereof. Many thousands of people have been sacked or arrested following the failed coup. According to a BBC report, Thousands of soldiers, including high-ranking generals, have been arrested, along with members of the judiciary. More than 50,000 state employees have also been rounded up, sacked or suspended and 600 schools closed. Academics have been banned from foreign travel and university heads have been forced to resign. The government has revoked the press credentials of 34 journalists.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn on Thursday urged Turkey to respect the rule of law, rights and freedoms. The EU is “concerned” about developments after Turkey imposed its emergency rule, and about the measures taken so far in the fields of education, judiciary and media, which are “unacceptable,” Mogherini and Hahn said in a statement.

But it is doubtful Erdogan is going to interrupt his sacred mission of ridding Turkey of its clandestine Devin Devlet, real or imagined. And what if anything of the secular Turkish state will remain standing come September 2016, by the end of Erdogan’s own coup against his country’s democratic institutions, is anyone’s guess.

JNi.Media

INTO THE FRAY: Israel and American Liberal Jewry: The REAL Reasons for the Rift

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

Israel’s accomplishments have been remarkable.  Israel has created a thriving economy, and has been a refuge for hundreds of thousands of the displaced and the needy. Israel has generated a rich and diverse cultural life and its scientific and educational achievements have been exemplary.  In spite of these achievements, however, Israel in my view has gone astray…sadly, after a life and career devoted to Jewish community and Israel, I conclude that in every important way Israel has failed to realize its promise for me. A noble experiment, but a failure.

– Rabbi David M. Gordis, Reflections on Israel 2016, Tikkun, February 22, 2016

 

Like the United States of America, the modern state of Israel is a country born from the aspiration for freedom, and standing out among the nations as a beacon of democracy and humanity. Israel is…an exceptional country that shares our most essential values. It is the only country in the Middle East where freedom of speech and freedom of religion are found. Therefore, support for Israel is an expression of our Americanism

–  Republican Party’s 2016 Platform

 

‘Name a single country in the history of the world faced with internal and external threats comparable to those faced by Israel that has ever had a better record in human rights; a better record with compliance of the rule of law; a better record of concern for civilians?’ I have been asking that question now for 20 years probably to a million people around the world, and I’ve never gotten a single person even to stand up and name a country, because you can’t do it.

– Alan Dershowitz, a longstanding supporter of Democratic Party, Jerusalem, June 9, 2015

 

In recent years there have been frequent reports of a growing rift between liberal Jewry in the US and Israel, and of the increasing difficulty liberal American Jews—particularly the younger generation—have in identifying with the Jewish state.

Neither inevitable nor irreversible

This is of course an entirely absurd state of affairs.

After all, if logic, common sense and truth had any significant role to play in determining the “liberal” discourse on Israel or “liberal” attitudes toward it, Israel would be enthusiastically embraced by all who purport to cherish liberal values, such as civil liberties, socio-cultural diversity and religious tolerance. Indeed, Israel would be held up as source of pride, celebrated as a shining example of how such values can be sustained in the most inclement of circumstances, which in many other places might well have been considered justification for considerably more authoritarian governance (see Dershowitz’s quote above).

Various profound explanations have been proposed to account for the emerging disconnect between the “liberal” Jews in the US and Israel, ranging from philosophical differences to divergent societal shifts in both countries. But while there might be some measure of validity to these claims, to my mind, they largely miss the point and the dominant reason for the rift is far more mundane.

Accordingly, this alleged “animus” is neither inherently inevitable, as several pundits appear to have to resigned themselves to, nor is it inherently irreversible—other than by some far-reaching transformation of Israeli society.

Narcissistic hypocrisy vs indolent incompetence

At the root of the “liberal” Jews disaffection with the Jewish nation-state lies a dual fault—the one of “liberal” Jewry, the other of the Jewish nation state itself.

On the one hand, liberal Jewry in the US has been gravely afflicted by a narcissistic hypocrisy, which sets unattainable standards for the Jewish state to avoid being the target of its disapproval. On the other hand, Israel, as the nation-state of the Jews, has been deplorably derelict in presenting its case to the world in general and to US Jewry in particular. This has left them gravely misinformed, allowing disapproval of its policy and disinformation as to its nature to go unchallenged—and hence to flourish.

Indeed, much of the disappointment expressed by liberal Jewry is rooted in a misperception of what Israel once was, and what it has become today.

In order to illustrate this, the moronic—and often self-contradictory—lament by David Gordis (not to be confused with his nephew Daniel Gordis) as to Israel’s alleged moral degradation, is perhaps a good place to start (see introductory excerpt).

After summarily dismissing Israel’s “remarkable accomplishments” in creating “a thriving economy”, providing “refuge for hundreds of thousands of the displaced and the needy” and generating “a rich and diverse cultural life and…scientific and educational achievements [that] have been exemplary”, Gordis perversely declares Israel a failed experiment—despite its staggering successes.

Totally detached from fact & reason

Gordis then goes on to elaborate on his abstruse indictment of Israel today:“Jewish life and thought have successfully navigated between three pairs of values that are in tension with one another. First, the Jewish experience has balanced the rational with the affective, the assertion with the question…Second, it has embraced both particularism with universalism, probing Jewish interiorities but looking out to the larger world, recognizing the common humanity of all people. Third, it has shaped positions which looked to the past for sources and inspiration but at the same time projected a vision for a world transformed in the future into something better than its current reality.”

Then in a wild diatribe, totally divorced from any semblance of reality, he blares:

“Present day Israel has discarded the rational, the universal and the visionary. These values have been subordinated to a cruel and oppressive occupation, an emphatic materialism, severe inequalities rivaling the worst in the western world and distorted by a fanatic, obscurantist and fundamentalist religion which encourages the worst behaviors rather than the best”.

In reality, “present day Israel” is—demonstrably—far closer to the model of Gordis’s ideal than it ever was, certainly far more than it was back in the days for which he allegedly yearns.

Wrong on every count

Today Israeli society is driven far less by ideological zeal; it far less ideologically monolithic, far less under the sway of a doctrinaire socialistic hegemony, for which Gordis waxes nostalgic. How does that make it less rational?

Israel has been in the forefront in extending aid to “the other” whenever disaster has struck: In Nepal, in Haiti and even in providing life-saving medical treatment to the victims of the Syrian civil war–to name but a few of present day Israel’s humanitarian initiatives. How is that indicative of “the worst behaviors rather than the best”?

Israeli innovation and inventiveness in medicine, agriculture, water conservation is saving/improving the lives of multitudes across the globe? How is that indicative of Israel discarding the “universal?”

And Israel’s cutting edge activities in the field of space research and exploration have put it in the world’s top five countries in this sphere of human endeavor. So has Israel really discarded the visionary?

This is merely a small sampling of how intellectually dishonest the derogatory drivel of Israel’s “liberal” detractors has become.

This narcissistic hypocrisy was aptly exposed in a perceptive piece in a Washington Post blog by David Bernstein, professor of Law at George Mason University. He wrote: “Israeli Arabs have never been more integrated into Israeli society, or made more rapid economic and social progress, than…under Netanyahu… surrounded by hostile enemies, absorbing about four times its original population in refugees, very few of whom came from countries with a longstanding liberal or democratic traditions, expecting a progressive utopia to emerge was ridiculous. Creating a reasonably liberal, multiethnic, democratic state with religious freedom in a region where there aren’t any others should be more than enough to satisfy all but the most starry-eyed idealists.”

Indeed, it should.

Beneath the disingenuous gobbledygook

Of course, denigrating Israel because it fails to meet some unattainable criteria of human behavior, conjured up by disenchanted “liberal” Jews, serves no useful purpose other than to expose their self-centered insincerity—especially when they refrain from applying the same stringent standards to any other country, including their own.

For, once one strips away all the disingenuous gobbledygook, one comes to the core reason for “liberal” chagrin with Israel. This has nothing to do with how diverse or tolerant Israeli society has become, or the level of humanitarian relief it may extend to others, or how Israeli enterprise contributes to the betterment of mankind at large. It has to do with one – and only one—politically partisan issue—Israel’s interaction with the Palestinian-Arabs across the pre-1967 Green Line (a.k.a. the “Occupation”). The only remedial measure that “liberals” advance to deal with the “undemocratic blight” is to implement a “two-state-solution”.

Incredibly therefore, according to Israel’s “liberal” detractors, the only panacea for Israel’s “democracy deficit” is to facilitate the establishment of yet another Muslim-majority tyranny, whose hallmarks will be homophobic persecution of homosexuals, misogynistic discrimination against women and girls, intolerance of religious diversity, and repression of political dissent.

But this is not only wildly irrational in terms of its internal logic, it is equally imprudent in terms of its operational implications. After all, every time Israel has transferred territory to Arab control, it has sooner or later, become a platform to launch deadly attacks against it. Yet with unswerving doctrinaire zeal “liberals” cling to the perilous prescription of touting tyranny and bringing hundreds of kindergartens within the range of rockets and mortars along Israel’s eastern flank.

Down to the last Israeli

It would thus seem that much of US Jewry is so blinded by its obsessive attachment to the failed formula of two-states-for-two- people that they are prepared to defend it—paradoxically under the banner of liberal political philosophy – down to the last Israeli. Indeed, in its mindless subscription to the two-state notion as the touchstone of Israeli democracy, “liberal” Jewry disregards Israel’s many merits and highlights its inevitable defects—thus greatly contributing to its international de-legitimization across the globe. After all, who better for the Judeophobes to cite than the Jews themselves?

But beyond disregard for Israel’s virtues, US liberal Jews seem to be blind to the nature of its adversaries. Despite ample evidence, they refuse to acknowledge that Arab (including Palestinian Arab) animosity is not rooted in anything the Israel does—or does not do; but in what Israel is: Jewish. Concessions will not satiate Arab appetites, only whet them.

But if US “liberal” Jews frown upon the coercive measures that Israel is compelled to use against the Palestinian-Arabs, were they to apply the same criteria to their own country, they would have good reason to feel even more disenchanted. For when faced with threats far less severe than those faced by Israel, the US has responded far more vigorously and less discriminately than Israel, whether in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan and even Yemen, with “collateral” civilian casualties dwarfing anything Israel has been accused of.

Yet strangely, few if any, embittered Jewish liberals have distanced themselves from the USA because they have been disappointed by American brutality and its failure to live up to their immaculate standards of state behavior.

Expose and inform

Given the facts on the ground, Israel should in fact be the proverbial “apple of the eye” of US liberal Jewry, an object of pride it is eager to be identified with—especially in light of the harrowing circumstances under which it is forced to exist.

Sadly, Israel has done inexcusably little to harness the facts to rebuff the attacks on its democratic credentials and has allowed imperative coercive actions to ensure the security of its civilians against an implacable foe, to be portrayed as racist brutality.

Thus, Israel is losing the support of the US diaspora by default. By spending a pittance on public diplomacy, it is by its own incompetence and impotence fostering the narratives of its adversaries.

The Spring 2016 edition of the Columbia University journal, “Current”, ran an interesting piece entitled “Reclaiming Alienated Liberals: Israel’s Imperative for Diaspora Jews” by Benjamin Davidoff, self-professed pro-Israel advocate. There are many things I disagree with in the article -such as the need for a Palestinian state and the call for Israel to empower J-Street, but on one matter Davidoff was spot on. He conveyed the feeling that pro-Israel advocates had been abandoned by Israel. He aptly notes: “Israel has an obligation to aid in pro-Israel advocacy on university campuses. Israel has largely ignored those fighting for Israel on campus and has failed to offer any true support for diaspora Jews… this issue directly affects the viability of the Israeli state in the future and should be of primary concern for Israel.”

On this he is quite right – and Israeli officialdom will ignore this obligation at the nation’s peril.

Dr. Martin Sherman

Finally: Congress Asking UNRWA for Real Number of Palestinian Refugees

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Both houses of Congress are at work to modify funding bills for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as part of an effort to investigate the very legitimacy of the decades-old agency, Michael Wilner reported in the Jerusalem Post Friday. Both the House and the Senate want the State Department to, once and for all, define the term “Palestinian refugee,” and while they’re at it, reveal how many are receiving aid from UNRWA.

UNRWA was established in 1948 to assist the 750,000 Palestinians who had left Israel. Since then UNRWA has been a promoter of the Palestinian cause, funding as many as 5 million “refugees,” the majority of whom never left the homes where they were born in the Gaza Strip, the “West Bank,” eastern Jerusalem, or other Arab countries, to the tune of $1.23 billion annually, $250 million of which is donated by US taxpayers.

Many in Congress have been saying, since about 2012, that the majority of Palestinians are permanently settled, and should not be under the jurisdiction of a refugee agency.

Needless to say, Wilner points out, “such a finding would fundamentally change the narrative of the decades-old conflict.”

The first Palestinian census was completed 15 years ago, and the head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) admitted then that the census was, in effect, “a civil intifada” rather than a scientific survey. In 2011 the Bureau attempted to correct that blatant misrepresentation, claiming that 2.6 million Palestinian Arabs inhabit Judea and Samaria.

But Israeli demographer Yoram Ettinger challenged those numbers, claiming they overstated the real number of Arabs there by as much as 66%. He explained that the PCBS’s total counts 400,000 Palestinians living overseas, and double-counts 240,000 Jerusalem Arabs. It also undercounted Palestinian emigration.

In 2014, UNRWA came up with the figure of 5 million Palestinian refugees living in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and the US responded by providing hundreds of millions of dollars for UNRWA’s health, education, and social service programs.

“UNRWA is sort of becoming an entitlement program of the Middle East, and the desire is to increase transparency on who actually are refugees relevant to that conflict,” a senior Senate aide familiar with the language told Wilner, suggesting the new bill “goes to the heart of the debate over UNRWA funding.”

Republicans in both houses have launched parallel efforts to compel the State Department to go on the record with who qualifies as a “Palestinian refugee,” and the combined version of the law, once passed, will compel the secretary of state to provide “a justification of why it is in the national interest of the United States to provide funds to UNRWA.”

The bill’s language continues: “Such justification shall include an analysis of the current definition of Palestinian refugees that is used by UNRWA, how that definition corresponds with, or differs from, that used by UNHCR, other UN agencies, and the United States Government, and whether such definition furthers the prospects for lasting peace in the region.”

And, naturally, “the committee directs that such report be posted on the publicly available website of the Department of State.”

Finally, it should be noted that there are two distinct definitions of the term “refugee” in international law.

A refugee, according to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, is a person who is outside their country of citizenship because they have well-founded grounds for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and is unable to obtain sanctuary from their home country or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country; or in the case of not having a nationality and being outside their country of former habitual residence as a result of such event, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to their country of former habitual residence.

It is rare for a refugee status to extend beyond the lifetime of the original refugee, because normally it is expected that their offspring will have settled someplace else.

Not so regarding Palestinian refugees, according to UNRWA’s definition of the term, which includes the patrilineal descendants of the original “Palestinian refugees,” limited to persons residing in UNRWA’s areas of operation in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

JNi.Media

The Real Threat to Israeli Democracy

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Commentary Magazine website}

After a year of talking about it, the Knesset has finally passed a watered-down version of its controversial NGO law. The vote has unleashed a torrent of criticism from left-wing critics of the Netanyahu government, defenders of the NGO’s who are targeted by the bill, and the European governments whose funding of these groups is at the heart of the controversy. For its supporters, the bill is a long overdue attempt to expose an ill-intentioned effort to undermine Israeli self-defense and back Palestinian attacks on the Jewish state. Opponents consider it a blow to Israeli democracy and an attempt to suppress dissent. But for all of the hot air and ink expended on this topic, the truth is that it is really neither.

What exactly does the bill that finally passed the Knesset do? The short answer to that is not much. The sum total of its impact on affected groups is to marginally increase requirements about transparency. Non-profit groups that receive more than half of their funding from foreign governments must now include a disclaimer of the sources of their support in all communications much like the warnings on cigarette packs. That’s it. In the end, a much-criticized provision of one of its original drafts that would have required representatives of such groups to wear an ID badge noting their status (something that is required on Capitol Hill and most state legislatures in the U.S.) was dropped. They aren’t prevented from receiving such funds and their activities are not in any way restricted.

All of which is to say that the effort expended on debating the bill seems like a tremendous waste of time for both sides. But it would be wrong to merely dismiss the topic as much ado about nothing. The issue isn’t a meaningless bill but how one feels about foreign-funded left-wing groups that work to oppose Israel’s presence in Jerusalem and the West Bank as well as to buttress Palestinian claims of ill treatment at the hand of the Jewish state. The issue here is democracy but not the right-wing conspiracy to suppress dissent alleged by the left. Rather, it is an understandable backlash from the center-right majority about the efforts of the Israeli left to leverage foreign backing in order to make up for the fact that it has been marginalized at home.

Of the 27 groups that would be affected by it, 25 are left-wing advocacy groups. But many more groups supported by the political right are not touched by it because they get their foreign funding from private donors or foundations. The modern Jewish state was built in large measure on foreign donations largely raised by Diaspora Jews for philanthropies like the Jewish National Fund. As J.J. Goldberg also notes in the Forward, there is also nothing unusual foreign governments funding NGOs. The U.S. and other Western governments have been supporting NGOs around the world that promote cultural exchanges and democracy ever since World War II. So what’s the real issue here?

The problem with the NGOs in question is that, unlike the sorts of groups that get U.S. funding in Eastern Europe or Asia, the Israeli left is not really interested in promoting democracy. Their basic goal is to delegitimize the Jewish presence in parts of the country and to undermine the efforts of the government and the army to keep tabs on and to suppress Palestinian terrorism. The funding they get from the European Union and other largely hostile foreign governments is not about making Israel more democratic. It’s about building support for pressure on Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians, to undermine its claims to disputed territory and to handicap its counter-terrorism work, as the support for the anti-Israel Defense Forces group called Breaking the Silence attests.

Israelis are free to support those positions and some do. But their problem is that while the majority of Israelis may not be happy with the current stalemate with the Palestinians, they also view Western pressure to force their country into more suicidal territorial retreats as unreasonable and unfair given the intransigent nature of the Palestinian Authority and its Hamas rivals. Moreover, they view groups like Breaking the Silence and others like them as crossing the line between loyal opposition into sympathy for their country’s avowed enemies. They also keep electing Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partners and have relegated left-wing parties that sympathize with the NGOs to marginal status. So the left must rely on foreign governments rather than Israelis or even Diaspora Jewish donors to keep their groups going. If most Israelis, including the majority that elected the current government as well as some opposition parties that are equally hostile to groups like Breaking the Silence, resent such efforts, who can blame them?

So while the NGO bill does nothing, the arguments about foreign funding are about something important: respecting democracy. Right-wingers who obsess about foreign involvement in Israel’s affairs are a bit hypocritical since their side also benefits from money raised elsewhere. But the Israeli left needs to stop looking abroad for support they can’t find at home. They should concentrate their efforts on persuading Israelis, not the EU, to back their positions. Until they do, they will remain a permanent and increasingly unpopular minority. And that is something that no legislation can save them from.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Tefillah: A Meeting With Hashem Our Real Best Friend

Friday, July 8th, 2016

“Man’s best friend” is one of those phrases we have gotten so used to that we overlook its absurdity. This phrase, of course, refers to a furry, four-legged creature – namely, the dog. Have we ever contemplated how ridiculous this statement is? How can one say that a human being, the bearer of a soul from the upper spheres, is best friends with a canine mammal of the Order Carnivora? And, if we are discussing a Jew, who has a holy neshama from under Hashem’s Throne of Glory, which gives him the ability to connect to Hashem, it is even more ludicrous.

So who is really “man’s best friend”? The answer is G-O-D … not D-O-G! Yes, they have the same letters, but we have gotten the word totally backwards!

In many places, we refer to Hashem as our friend. For example, “Rei’acha v’rei’ah avicha al ta’azov – Do not forsake your Friend and the Friend of your father” (Mishlei 27:10). Rashi explains that the friend of our father is Hashem, who was a close friend of our forefathers. But He is not just a family friend, He is our own personal friend – “your Friend,” the verse states. We ourselves see that He is our best friend, so Shlomo HaMelech tells us not to forsake Him!

 

So Many Presents!

Last month (6-10) we mentioned that one of the prerequisites to turning to Hashem in prayer is knowing that He loves us and has our best interest in mind. We explained how we can see this love from the fact that Hashem gave our nation His precious Torah, the source of true life. But from the aforementioned verse in Mishlei, we also see that we must be aware that Hashem is our personal friend. One of the best ways to build that awareness is by contemplating all the wonderful gifts that our Friend is constantly bestowing upon us. Let us mention just a few.

If you ask, “How much is that person worth?” most people will answer based on his assets. But the correct answer is that if he has a healthy heart, liver, and kidneys, he is worth several million dollars! Why? Well, the average cost of a heart transplant is $ 1,250,000; for a liver, $750,000; and for a kidney, another $350,000. That brings us to the grand total of $2,350,000 to receive “used” organs. Studies show that approximately half of heart transplant recipients are still alive at 10 years post-transplant. A living donor kidney functions, on average, 12 to 20 years, and a deceased donor kidney from 8 to 12 years. That being the case, how much would a person pay for a brand new heart or kidney, straight from the “Manufacturer”? At least double the price! That means that we, who have “original” organs, are worth millions of dollars! And we take these wonderful presents from Hashem for granted.

But it doesn’t stop there. Do we think about that fact that He is constantly making sure that they function properly? We do not have to attach ourselves to a dialysis machine three times a week for several hours to clean our blood. Our heart pumps smoothly and effortlessly – no pacemaker necessary. Our lungs draw in wonderful oxygen – no need to drag around an oxygen tank. We do not wheeze as we breathe and coughing does not tear our innards apart. We hear just fine without hearing aids. No need to tap with a white cane or be led by a seeing-eye dog. We are able to use the facilities, our food gets digested properly, and we can enjoy the different types of food Hashem gives us. Perambulating with our wonderful legs is a pleasurable experience! Arthritis and muscle pain? Those are things we hope never to meet. Our heads are free of horrible migraines, our skin is generally not dry or chapped and, for the most part, when it is time to go to bed, we place our heads on the pillow and drift off into a peaceful slumber without too much delay.

Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus

EU, UNHCR Show How Different Palestinians are From Real Refugees

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

As mentioned, the Palestinians and UNRWA try very hard to pretend that a significant number of worldwide refugees are Palestinian.

But when you dig only a little bit beneath the surface, you see that no one really believes it, and the only reason that Palestinian “refugees” are recognized as refugees by anyone is because the UN insists that they are.

Exhibit A, from a statement on World Refugee Day by the EU:

We call on all partners to strengthen the international framework for refugee protection and resettlement through global responsibility-sharing and solidarity.

Resettlement? No one is calling for Palestinians to be resettled! But if they are refugees, shouldn’t they be included in the massive worldwide push to resettle refugees? Why aren’t they?

Exhibit B, from the UNHCR annual report (which tries hard to include the pretense that Palestinians under UNRWA’s definition of refugee are real):

unhcr1

True, this is a list of people under UNHCR’s mandate; But look at the categories and how they apply to “Palestine”:

They would claim to have about 2.5 million “refugees.” But how many are seeking asylum? The question doesn’t even make sense for Palestinians under PA control, it is only relevant to real refugees.

In fact, UNCHR says there are some 3.2 million refugees seeking asylum elsewhere. But virtually none of them are Palestinian, and the very few who do seek asylum are refugees from Syria or Gaza, escaping death from ISIS or Assad or Hamas – real refugees, not the fake ones who claim to be refugees from pre-1948 Palestine.

The very definition of asylum is “the protection granted by a nation to someone who has left their native country as a political refugee.” 

Refugees naturally want to seek asylum, right? But Palestinian “refugees” don’t! So why are there essentially no UNRWA “refugees” seeking asylum elsewhere?

In fact, European countries would never consider “refugees” under UNRWA’s definition to be eligible for asylum.  Their rules for accepting asylum are specific and apply only to those who are real refugees, e.g., those who have “a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.” – in other words, not Palestinians. 

World Refugee Day is a wonderful occasion to highlight how bogus the “refugee” status of Palestinians really is.

Elder of Ziyon

If Palestinians are Scared, it Must be Real

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through}

On May 21, 2016, the New York Times ran a front page story “New Tunnels Instill Fear on Gazan Side Too.”  The front page story continued onto page A6 with two black-and-white pictures of attack tunnels dug from Gaza into Israel.

The story spoke of the fear of Palestinian Arabs living in Gaza because Israel might seek to destroy the Hamas tunnels. The article described the “parallel anxiety” of Palestinian Arabs and Israelis stemming from the tunnels.

The Times article failed to mention that Hamas was democratically elected to a majority of parliament by these same Palestinian Arabs, based on a public platform that called for destroying Israel. For their part, the Israelis had no role in bringing Hamas to power.

The article correctly pointed out that “the tunnels were the prime rationale Israel gave for its ground invasion of Gaza during the 2014 battle with Hamas.”  However, back in 2014, the New York Times did not think much about those attack tunnels.

As detailed in “The New York Times’ Buried Pictures,” it took three weeks into the 2014 war for the Times to produce any pictures of the Hamas tunnels, even though multiple news sources had already been publishing pictures of them.  When the Times finally decided to write about it in an article called “Tunnels Lead Right to Heart of Israeli Fear,” it published the story underneath a picture of Palestinian Arabs mourning.

The Times author, Jodi Roduren, made light of Israelis fear of the tunnels.  She repeatedly used language to make Israelis fear about seem completely overblown.  Consider her remarks:

  • Tunnels have lurked in the dark places of Israeli imagination at least since 2006,”
  • In cafes and playgrounds, on social media sites and in the privacy of pillow talk, Israelis exchange nightmare scenarios that are the stuff of action movies.”
  • “As part of the propaganda push, the military has also invited a few journalists underground for a tour.”

One would think that the Israelis were completely paranoid for no reason and dreamed of scenarios that could not take place in the real world.  Roduren seemed to suggest that the Israelis then used the tunnels to advance a “propaganda push” to validate their invasion.


For the New York Times, the war is felt in Gaza and the Palestinian Arabs’ fears are real.  However, for Israelis, fears are overblown in imagined nightmarish scenarios, which the army then uses as a propaganda to conceal their over-reactions.

Even when the left-wing paper can admit that both sides have real fears, it cannot lay blame for the situation on the Palestinians that elected, -and continue to support – this government.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The New York Times Wrote About Computer Hackers Charged by the US and Israel. Differently.

New York Times Lies about the Gentleness of Zionism

New York Times’ Tales of Israeli Messianic War-Mongering

The New York Times Refuses to Label Hamas a Terrorist Group

Educating the New York Times: Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood

It’s the Democracy, Stupid

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Paul Gherkin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/firstonethrough/if-palestinians-are-scared-it-must-be-real/2016/05/29/

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