Friday, May 24, 2019

From Ian:

James Kirchick (LAT): The world faces many tragedies. The lack of a Palestinian state ranks low on the list
By investing the Palestinian cause with such monumental importance, politicians and polemicists mistake a regional quarrel for a global struggle. Even before the state of Israel was founded more than 70 years ago, Arab regimes and their Western sympathizers began pushing a narrative that the proverbial “Arab street” is stirred by nothing more deeply than the fate of Palestine. Yet, as the so-called “Arab Spring” demonstrated, what really motivates the Arab masses are not Israeli settlements in the West Bank but the daily indignities of their own lives, blame for which lies with their rulers, not the Jews. And as for those rulers, Shia Iran’s growing assertiveness on a variety of fronts — a nuclear program on the threshold of weaponization, suborning the genocidal Assad regime, fueling the ruinous war in Yemen — has led the Sunni Arab states to reach a historic realignment with the nation they used to lambaste as “the Zionist entity.”

The human cost of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is also marginal compared with other contemporaneous world conflicts. Since five Arab armies invaded the nascent Jewish state in 1948, the total number of casualties incurred on both sides pales in comparison to the lives lost in the Congolese civil war, the Russian carpet-bombing of Chechnya, or North Korea’s politically engineered famines. As you read this, some 1 million Uighur Muslims are languishing in Chinese reeducation camps, suffering a fate far more heinous than that endured by the average Palestinian.

The amount of global resources heaped upon the Palestinians appears wholly disproportionate when contrasted to the measly efforts expended upon other stateless peoples, like the Tibetans and Kurds, whose claims are at least as justified and whose tactics have been nowhere near as morally objectionable. (It was the Palestinians, after all, who pioneered the scourge of terrorism in the 1960s and ’70s.) And as for the argument that U.S. military aid to Israel validates heightened attention to the conflict, a comparison with U.S. commitments — in actual blood and treasure — to treaty allies in Europe and Asia renders it hollow.

That the Palestinians lack a state is a tragedy, but it is a tragedy largely of their own making. More than once have they been presented with the opportunity to create a sovereign country alongside Israel; each and every time they responded with violence. On the long and growing list of world problems, the absence of a Palestinian state ranks somewhere between the conflicts over Transnistria and Western Sahara, neither of which you are likely to read about on newspaper front pages.
Hen Mazzig: Who Gets to Speak for Mizrahi Jews?
When they arrived in Israel, my grandparents did not see themselves as Palestinian Jews—they had never before lived in Mandatory Palestine. They saw themselves as Jews of Iraqi descent returning to the ancient homeland they and their ancestors had dreamed of and prayed of for thousands of years, the land from which they were once expelled and to which they were overjoyed to return. And they also understood themselves to be distinct from their Ashkenazi brothers and sisters: They were all Jews, but my grandparents were proud of their Mizrahi heritage just as the 200,000 Israelis of Ethiopian descent are proud of theirs.

Lamont Hill ignores all that. He also turns the imperial narrative on its head, accusing Israel of the crimes that were, in reality, committed by its Arab neighbors in the name of pan-Arabism. Since the 20th-century rise of pan-Arabism, leaders advocated Arabization policies of indigenous national groups—whether the Kurds, the Berbers, the Arameans, or the Sudanese—and sought to permanently reduce the status and power of indigenous religious groups, such as the Copts and Maronites, across the region. This sort of abuse goes on: Two decades ago, there were 1.4 million Christians living in Iraq; today, there are fewer than 250,000, an 80% drop. It’s precisely the same imperialist policy, intolerant of minorities, that drove my grandparents out all these decades ago.

You’d think that Lamont Hill, a self-proclaimed researcher of these topics, would know these facts. And you’d think that, as a self-described progressive, he’d at least listen to me as I shared my personal family history with him. He did not: In response to my article, Hill merely claimed that he studied Mizrahi Jews, and thus he knows better than me about my own community. It’s a statement that would make any decent person cringe. Imagine if I claimed that I studied racism and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, and had the right to make any claim I wanted about the African American community, lecturing it about its own history. Lamont Hill, I suspect, would be rightly outraged, and yet he and many of his allies on the anti-Israel left expect the Jewish people to sit back and listen to him—a man who doesn’t speak the language, hasn’t lived in the region, and doesn’t understand the culture—lecture us on our history and our identity.

In the wake of some of Lamont Hill’s recent controversial statements about Israel, several leading Jewish voices, including Peter Beinart, rushed to defend Lamont Hill against charges of anti-Semitism. It is hard, however, to see how distorting Jewish history and silencing Jewish voices to promote a vicious and false charge could be construed as anything but.
Irish Citizens Could Go to Prison for Shopping in Pre-1967 Israel if This New Anti-Israel Law Passes
A new bill pending approval by the Irish government is just a few steps away from becoming law.

The proposed law would make it illegal for Irish citizens to buy goods and services from Israeli citizens in what they define as the occupied territories. That would make it illegal to buy an ice cream, a postcard or a bottle of water in the old city of Jerusalem.

Irish citizens Karen and Norman Ievers along with their twins Natalie and Nathaniel visit Israel often and would be significantly affected by the law

“We bought ice cream and we bought water here in the old city next to the Jaffa Gate and if this bill passes what we just did would be illegal,” Karen told CBN News.

“It’s an infringement upon our freedoms,” Normal added. “I just hope it won’t hurt anybody and that it won’t hurt Ireland.”

The bill is called the “Control of Economic Activity (in) Occupied Territories”. If convicted under the bill, an Irish citizen could be fined more than a quarter of a million dollars and spend up to five years in jail.

“The proposed Irish law is the most extreme anti-Israel legislation proposed anywhere outside the Arab league,” said Prof. Eugene Kontorovich. “If you come to the holy city and you buy some holy water, if you buy a Jewish prayer shawl or religious books and bring them back to Ireland, bang, jail.”

Prof. Kontorovich says the bill targets Israel.

“What’s shocking about this law is that it’s clearly discriminatory in nature. So, they say, ‘We consider this occupied territory. We have a problem with occupied territory.’ But other than the fact that it’s not occupied territory, the law does not apply to any other people or group other than Jews in their biblical homeland.”

  • Friday, May 24, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
Aussie Dave at Israellycool has had a long standing feature showing luxury hotels, restaurants and tourists spots in Gaza (I used to do that as well, but he does a better job!)

Most recently he has shown some private chalets available to rent in Gaza.

Many of them have swimming pools.

Doesn't Gaza have a water crisis?

Don't Israel haters love to claim that Israeli "settlements" steal all the water for their pools, while Palestinians don't get any water?

These pools don't look like they are filled with sewage.

It's almost as if the reporters from Gaza are not telling us the whole story about water.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.
  • Friday, May 24, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
USA Today has an op-ed by Jason Kimelman-Block, who is a rabbi and Director of the "progressive" Bend the Arc Jewish Action.

The article pretends to be against weaponizing antisemitism from the Right. He has a point, but he undermines it by doing exactly what he blames the Right for doing - politicizing antisemitism instead of acknowledging it. In so doing, he is downplaying the experiences and alienating millions of Jewish Americans who are the victims of both left and right wing antisemitism.

...The pattern is by now quite clear. A Muslim member of Congress makes remarks about Israel. A conservative media outlet cherry picks a phrase, a couple of words, spinning opinion into news. Republican members of Congress — like Liz Cheney, Lee Zeldin, and Steve Scalise — launch disingenuous attacks on Twitter or in press releases. Conservative media —like Breitbart and The Federalist — pile on with front-page articles amplifying their blatantly false claims of anti-Semitism.

Then mainstream media outlets get in on the act, with more traditional platforms reporting on on the false accusations, lending them undue legitimacy. Even seemingly neutral headlines further the idea that the member of Congress has sparked a controversy, or is suddenly embattled, while allowing conservative voices to speak on behalf of the Jewish community. All that is before President Donald Trump jumps in with a tweet, continuing his offensive effort to push Jewish Americans to abandon the Democratic Party with fear-mongering and divisive rhetoric.
When Ilhan Omar made her comments about the "Benjamins," she was not referring to Israel. She was referring to American Jews controlling Congress.  She then went on to accuse Jews of having more loyalty to Israel than to America. Those, plus her "hypnotizing the world" statement, were undoubtedly antisemitic dog-whistles at the very least. To say that this is part of a pattern of remarks about Israel being treated falsely as antisemitism is a lie. To downplay them is to deny Jews the agency to decide for ourselves what is offensive to us - not viewed through the lens of partisanship but the reality of Omar's statements.

A Jew offering support for Omar after three distinct offensive statements takes himself out of the community of Jews.

Tlaib's comment about the Holocaust was not antisemitic - but it was offensive to most Jews, nonetheless. She lied about a major event in Jewish history and downplayed her people's complicity in historic Jew-hatred. The Arab hatred of Jews has cost the lives of tens of thousands of people. Historical revisionism is not something to be dismissed so readily.

Ignoring these real concerns about the statements from members of Congress is insulting.
Here’s how the distraction works: when the waters are muddied, we can no longer see clearly. When threats are everywhere, they are nowhere, and fear can be sown about anyone. Fingers will often point to Muslim or Black leaders, people who have long been scapegoated as a source of danger in our society, and who are thus easy targets for people’s fear.
This is really offensive. If I find someone saying something that insults me as a Jew, I will call it out - no matter what the color, religion, gender or party of the person who says it.

Kimelman-Block is accusing anyone who feels the way I do of being a bigot. Yet he is the one who is saying that the color of a person affects how we should respond to their words.

If racism is treating people differently because of their color, Kimelman-Block is the racist here.

In this way our attention can be shifted from the people responsible for unleashing a wave of white supremacist violence targeting our communities. That’s why within 24 hours of the shooting at Chabad of Poway there were members of Congress and conservative pundits who obscured the shooter’s white nationalist manifesto by directing blame on a Muslim member of Congress and a cartoon in the New York Times International Edition.
...Ultimately, all the faux outrage and manufactured smears have real life consequences: they reduce the time, attention, and resources devoted to tackling the real sources of anti-Semitism that are actively putting my community and others at greater and greater risk.

The best way to respond is to keep the focus where it belongs, on the radical ideology of white nationalism and its normalization in our politics, and to reject efforts to divide our communities from each other. 

 If anyone actually blamed the New York Times for Poway they are obviously wrong. But notice that Kimelman-Block doesn't even characterize the NYT cartoon as antisemitic. His inability to even hint that there might be antisemitism outside the Right makes his entire essay an exercise in partisanship. It isn't about antisemitism at all.

 I care about the safety of Jews more than I care about American politics. There is no question that right-wing antisemitism is an immediate danger to Jewish lives - usually, only right-wingers have guns. But left-wing, black and Muslim antisemitism are each real and toxic in their own ways. All of them feed Jew-hatred throughout the nation and makes Jews feel marginalized. This includes those who single out the Jewish state for criticism that is out of proportion to even the worst crimes anyone can accuse it of. It is all the same unhinged hate and it should all be exposed for what it is, no matter who the perpetrator is.

Kimelman-Block is not speaking as a Jew, no matter where he got his rabbinical ordination from. He is speaking as a leftist. He is purposefully downplaying and ignoring the other threats to Jews because they do not come from the far-Right. He does not talk about the near-daily attacks on religious Jews in New York City by blacks. He does not even acknowledge the existence of antisemitism in left-wing circles, even though at the grassroots level it is quite loud and obvious, both in the US and overseas - the far-Left and the far-Right are virtually indistinguishable in Jew-hatred.

Arab and Muslim antisemitism is endemic - and roundly ignored by Kimelman-Block and the Left. The only reason there have not been more Pittsburghs and Poways is because the FBI manages to foil an Islamic extremist plot to blow up synagogues every couple of years. (They tend to favor bombings rather than shootings.)

 Not only that, but left-wing hatred of Israel directly fuels right-wing antisemitism - they routinely use biased Leftist sources like Max Blumenthal or Electronic Intifada to justify their own hate of Jews. The far-Right has embraced BDS just as enthusiastically as the Left. Pretending that the Right's hate of Israel is somehow antisemitic while the exact same language from the Left is merely political is yet another example of Leftist blindness to the hate on its own side. The loathing of Israel by leftists is psychologically indistinguishable from the loathing of Jews by the neo-Nazis, and to think that they don't have the same common denominator is to fool oneself.

Beyond that. Jews on campus feel real fear from the Israel-haters who intimidate them and who sometimes break out into violence. Kimelman-Block is minimizing and trashing the feelings of fear of hundreds of thousands of Jews for his own partisan reasons.

Kimelman-Block is weaponizing antisemitism just as much as he accuses the Right of doing, by implicitly saying that Jews who feel victimized by antisemitism from Muslims, BDSers, blacks or Arabs are actually making it all up or secretly in bed with Republicans or some other nonsense.  Both sides are politicizing antisemitism, and the only victims are Jews who are being used as pawns for each side and whose actual concerns are being ignored by the parties who are guilty of whitewashing the hate on their own sides. This essay is just as much a whitewash and a politicization of Jew hatred as anything Trump has done.

If this leftist rabbi actually cared about Jews, this article would not be a polemic defending leftist antisemitism of Ilhan Omar, denying the historical revisionism of Rashida Tlaib, and minimizing the real fear of Jews who live in Brooklyn and Manhattan and on campus - while only going after his side's political opponents.

Kimelman-Block is using his title of a rabbi not to defend Jews but to alienate them and to push his own politics. Don't pretend to be speaking as a Jew when all you care about is hating Republicans and not caring about Jews.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.
From Ian:

Jonathan S. Tobin: U.S. Middle East Initiative, while Futile, Is Also a Breath of Fresh Air
The Palestinian Authority has already made clear that it won't negotiate on the basis of the new U.S. peace initiative. Under the current circumstances, Palestinian leadership and the political culture that sustains them simply won't allow it. But that is not the only way to look at the plan.

By sticking to a plan that puts economics first and refusing to prioritize pandering to Palestinian intransigence, the U.S. is creating a template for peace that makes sense, one that is being welcomed by most of the Arab world. That means that even after they torpedo progress toward peace, it will be the Palestinians who will be more isolated than ever, not the U.S. Convening an economic summit in which Israelis and Arab states will openly work toward greater cooperation will enhance America's standing in the region.

The Palestinians have already repeatedly rejected peace deals that would have given them statehood in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza, and a share of Jerusalem in 2000, 2001, and 2008. What's more, they refused to negotiate seriously during Obama's eight years in office despite his nonstop efforts to tilt the diplomatic playing field in the Palestinians' direction.

The notion that the Sunni Arab states will blame the U.S. for trying to make a peace that the Palestinians will again reject is absurd. When the dust settles from the rollout of the American plan, the Arab states will be firmly in America's corner no matter what the Palestinians do.
What Would a Palestinian State Actually Look Like?
What would a Palestinian state actually look like? There have been four Palestinian quasi-states that provide ample data - in Jordan (1968-1970); in Lebanon (1970-1982); the Palestinian Authority in parts of the West Bank and Gaza (1993-onward); and the Hamas regime in Gaza (2007-onward). To the extent that the Palestinian movement has gained any semblance of self-rule and territorial control, it has built quasi-states that are militant and dictatorial - much to the detriment of the Palestinian people themselves.

Whenever the Palestinian movement has attained a modicum of self-rule over a stretch of territory, it has subjugated its own people and waged war against Israel. No honest error or inexperience with governance can explain this pattern. It reflects the ideas animating the leading factions of the Palestinian movement.

Some argue that we should suspend judgment until a sovereign, independent Palestinian state is realized. That's absurd. Why expect that handing authoritarians and theocrats more political power will convert them into champions of individual freedom? The idea of national self-determination cannot be a license to subjugate. No self-identified national community has the moral right to create a tyrannical regime.
Melanie Phillips: How are our new best friends in Saudi Arabia doing these days?
After last year's grisly murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, it looked like it might be curtains for Saudi reformist crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, known as MBS, who was accused of ordering his killing. As I revealed last October, however, Khashoggi was no reformer but an Islamist extremist. A one-time friend of Osama bin Laden, he called on all Arabs to join the "resistance" against Israel; and he opposed MBS because he wasn't jihadi enough. My own sources suggested the Khashoggi killing was an attempt by MBS to kidnap him back to Saudi Arabia that went badly wrong.

Until recently, Saudi Arabia was the principal exporter to the world of the Wahhabi strain of Islamic extremism, which has radicalized countless millions to the jihadi cause. Now, the kingdom is no longer trying so hard to do so. It has been almost completely replaced by Qatar as the main source of funding for global Islamist education, and Saudi newspapers regularly publish diatribes against Islamist extremism.

Does the Saudi thaw toward Israel go any deeper than a tactical alliance against a common foe - Iran? Some of what is now being said in the kingdom, necessarily with the tacit consent of its regime, goes further than might be expected from merely tactical considerations. During the most recent rocket onslaught from Gaza, several prominent Saudi journalists and intellectuals expressed support for Israel that went beyond merely blaming Turkey and Iran for being behind the attacks.

Saudi reform is moving at a glacial pace. With a population and culture steeped in Islamist fundamentalism and anti-Semitism, to move too fast would produce a violent backlash. But Saudi Arabia is inching in a direction that until very recently would have been thought utterly impossible. And that is a big deal. The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK).

By Daled Amos

How do we judge if someone -- especially a politician -- is a friend of Israel?

Putting aside the political exclamations, a key component is the actual support for Israel, beyond just words. After all, Nixon -- who is recognized as having been an antisemite -- nevertheless came to Israel's aid during the Yom Kippur War. He is arguably the US president who first articulated the policy of seeing Israel as a key ally in the Middle East, a policy that continues till today.

Nixon wasn't particularly friendly to Jews, but he was a friend of Israel.
Compare him with Donald Trump, whom Democrats accuse of trafficking in antisemitic tropes.

Better yet, compare Nixon to Joe Biden.

Joe Biden. Public Domain

Is there any politician, especially among the Democrats in the running for their party's presidential nomination, who is more highly regarded as a friend of Israel than Joe Biden?

In his list of 5 Jewish things to know about Joe Biden, Ron Kampeas points out:
Biden's ties to the Jewish state go back almost 50 years, to his visit to Israel on the eve of the Yom Kippur War
Biden has personally known every Prime Minister since Golda Meir
Biden talks about his large collection of yarmulkes he has accumulated from attending Jewish functions over the years
One of Biden's favorite anecdotes retells his conversation with Golda Meir, where she confided in him "We have a secret weapon in our conflict with the Arabs. You see, we have no place else to go."
Biden's friendliness comes in spite of the fact that his state, Delaware, has a Jewish population of only 15,000.
But while he has been friendly with members of the Israeli government, has Biden been supportive of the Israeli government?

From the start, we understand that this is not an issue of backing every decision Israel has made or every action it has taken -- but has Biden consistently supported Israel?

For example, in June 1982, upon his return from the US, Menachem Begin gave a press conference on his experience there. He recounted that when he appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
a young senator rose and delivered a very impassioned speech - I must say that it's been a while since I've heard such a talented speaker - and he actually supported Operation "Peace for the Galilee" [The Lebanon War]. He even went further, and said that if someone from Canada were to infiltrate into the United States, and kill its citizens all of us (and thus he indicated a circle) would demand attacking them, and we wouldn't pay attention as to whether men, women or children were killed. That's what he said. 
Begin distanced himself on the spot from what were ostensibly supportive remarks, noting that "according to our values, it is forbidden to hurt women and children, even in war...We did not want to hurt civilians under any circumstances...we never approved a plan knowing that civilians would be hurt directly or on purpose. Unintentionally, that can happen. It must not be denied."

We know that "young senator" was Joe Biden because Begin went on to recount the famous clash between the two that immediately followed. After overplaying his hand in what was supposed to be a supportive comment, Biden went beyond criticizing Israel. He not only voiced his opposition to the Israeli settlements (a criticism which Begin did not begrudge him), but went on to suggest that he would propose cutting financial aid to Israel because of them. Begin's rebuke of Biden is famous:
Don't threaten us with slashing aid. Do you think that because the US lends us money it is entitled to impose on us what we must do? We are grateful for the assistance we have received, but we are not to be threatened. I am a proud Jew. Three thousand years of culture are behind me, and you will not frighten me with threats. Take note: we do not want a single soldier of yours to die for us.
The account, identifying Biden, was carried both by the New York Times and Time Magazine.

Biden's first comment was an attempt to be 'friendly.'
Biden's second comment, however, was not the type made by a friend.

Kampeas notes that similarly, Biden made 2 different kinds of statements depending on whether speaking to AIPAC or J Street.

During his speech at AIPAC in 2013, Biden stressed that Netanyahu wanted peace, and the Arabs needed to step up. In fact, if you read the actual speech, Biden  -- who once threatened Begin he would cut off aid on account of the settlements -- not only mentions the settlements, but goes so far as to brag:
As recently as last year, the only country on the United Nations Human Rights Council to vote against — I think it’s 36 countries, don’t hold me to the exact number — but the only country on the Human Rights Council of the United Nations to vote against the establishment of a fact-finding mission on settlements was the United States of America. [emphasis added]
Did Biden change his mind about the settlements?
Not really.

When speaking before a J Street crowd in 2016, the day after the bus bombing that wounded 21 Israelis and following months of stabbing attacks, Biden felt perfectly comfortable telling the crowd that in fact, the settlements prove that Netanyahu is taking Israel in the “wrong direction”:
“I firmly believe that the actions that Israel’s government has taken over the past several years — the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalization of outposts, land seizures — they’re moving us and, more importantly, they’re moving Israel in the wrong direction,” he said.
At AIPAC he proudly claimed that the US is the sole defender of Israel's settlement policy, but at J Street Biden turns around and condemns Israel over that very same policy.

There is nothing wrong with Biden criticizing Israel over the settlements.
But it was presumptuous of him to publicly threaten the leader of a sovereign country.
o  As a "friend" of Israel, Biden should be consistent in his position and not flip-flop in order to curry favor with the current crowd he is speaking to. US policy has been to refrain from approving of the settlements.
o  Furthermore, Biden - as a friend of Israel - should not be going around exaggerating the "systematic expansion" of the settlements. In 2012, Peace Now noted on their website For the First Time Since 1990 – the Government is to Approve the Establishment of New Settlements. That number of settlements was 3. If Biden wants to criticize Israel, at the very least he should have gotten his facts straight.
During this mutual admiration society meeting with J Street, Biden talked knowingly about Israel and what "they know in their gut"

In the absence of an Israeli leader like Menachem Begin, Biden feels free to openly speak of what Israel must do, ignoring the changing Israeli electorate that even 3 years ago was showing signs of moving to the right and an unwillingness to unilaterally make concessions to a non-existent peace partner.

Yet, during a conference call with members of the Jewish media in 2008, 2 months before the presidential election, Biden sang a different tune, saying it was up to the Israelis to make decisions about war and peace, especially the question of whether to launch a strike aimed at disrupting Iran’s nuclear program.
“This is not a question for us to tell the Israelis what they can and cannot do,” said the Democratic vice presidential candidate. ”I have faith in the democracy of Israel. They will arrive at the right decision that they view as being in their own interests.”
That is a far cry from what Biden told that J Street crowd, where he went so far as to claim
We have an overwhelming obligation — notwithstanding our sometimes overwhelming frustration with the Israeli government — we have an obligation to push them as hard as we can toward what they know in their gut is the only solution: a two-state solution.
Which of these two stands will Biden adopt during the months leading up to next years election?
More importantly, which of these 2 stands would Biden adopt if he should be elected president?

Gaffes Or Errors of Fact?

Some of Biden's statements over the years have been problematic, where he has made a gaffe -- for instance, when Biden confused Prime Minister May and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

There are statements Biden has made in connection with Israel too which are either gaffes or errors of fact.

Who cares?

Biden once boasted in 2008
I’ve spent 35 years of my career dealing with issues relating to Israel. My support for Israel begins in my stomach, goes to my heart and ends up in my head.”
Part of Biden's claim as a "friend of Israel" is that he knows Israel so well, so let's just skip the first 2 parts and see what's there.

Jonathan Pollard

Back in 2011, Biden took credit for preventing the release of Jonathan Pollard:
President Obama was considering clemency, but I told him, ‘Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time. If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life. [emphasis added]
One question is whether his claim was accurate, or whether Biden was trying to protect Obama from the ire of the rabbis.

But it is not completely clear from what he said if Biden realized that Pollard was in fact sentenced to life and "his time" would never be up. It simply was not "up to Biden" for Pollard to stay in jail for life, since that was, in fact, his sentence, despite the plea deal he had made and the US government had violated.

Giving Obama Credit For Bush's Agreement

Another example of Biden's misstatement of fact is when he told AIPAC in 2013:
President Obama last year requested $3.1 billion in military assistance for Israel — the most in history.
According to -- Biden was wrong on 2 counts.

At the time, the actual record was held by the Clinton administration, which in 2000 gave Israel $3.12 billion "which is not only slightly more in nominal dollars but much more in inflation-adjusted dollars"

More to the point, Biden was crediting Obama for something that Bush had done:
Biden is also taking credit for a level of spending that was set by the Bush administration as part of a 10-year, $30 billion agreement reached with Israel in 2007. In requesting $3.1 billion in his fiscal 2013 budget last February, Obama was honoring that agreement.

Hamas and Hezbollah

Here's another double error made by Biden during his 2008 debate with Palin where he was supposed to show his obvious superior knowledge of foreign affairs:
Here's what the president [Bush] said when we said no. He insisted on elections on the West Bank, when I said, and others said, and Barack Obama said, "Big mistake. Hamas will win. You'll legitimize them." What happened? Hamas won.

When we kicked -- along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, "Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't know -- if you don't, Hezbollah will control it."

Now what's happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel.
First, as Israel Medad points out in his blog My Right Word -- Biden confused the West Bank and Gaza:
Another absurdly wrong statement from Joe “Foreign Policy Expert” Biden, who very obviously does not know the difference between the Gaza Strip [where Hamas rules] and the West Bank [where the PA rules]
But Biden didn't get Hezbollah quite right either --
First, the US did not kick Hezbollah out of Lebanon.
Second, if Hezbollah was kicked out, how would it be able to fill that vacuum Biden warns about?


Here's another one - in 2010, Biden lectured Israel on the demographic realities
The demographic realities make it difficult for Israel to be a Jewish homeland and a democratic country. The status quo is not sustainable.
Biden claims that the larger birthrate of the Arabs as opposed to the Jews, is a potent argument for Israel to "make peace" -- i.e., retreat from the "West Bank" as soon as possible.

The problem is that the demographic argument just does not hold water. For example, an op-ed in Haaretz from 2009, the previous year, notes how easy it is to exploit demographics and the fears generated by it to further an agenda and justify or attack policies in Israel.
In 2001, there were around 95,000 Jewish births in Israel and 41,000 Arab births. Just seven years later, in 2008, Jewish births had risen to over 117,000, but Arab births had declined to less than 40,000. In a period that constitutes barely a quarter of a generation, Arab births had fallen from around 30 percent of the total to around 25 percent. This has been a steady trend and, should it continue, it will only be a very short time before Jewish and Arab births each year are broadly proportionate to the overall balance of Jews and Arabs in the population as whole - that is, 4:1, or 80 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
But the problem with Joe Biden goes beyond his misstatements and insistence he knows better than Israel what is best for it.

The issue is not that Biden does not support Israeli policy, but rather the kinds of actions Biden has actively taken that are directly against Israeli interests

Does Joe Biden Really Support Putting The Western Wall Under Palestinian Control?

Biden took an active part in US support for the UN vote on Resolution 2334, which was passed at the end of Obama's term in office thanks to the US abstention. That resolution did more than just condemn Israeli settlements.

According to Tablet Magazine, Biden was actively involved in pushing the UN vote condemning settlements
A wealth of evidence is now emerging that, far from simply abstaining from a UN vote, which is how the Administration and its press circle at first sought to characterize its actions, the anti-Israel resolution was actively vetted at the highest levels of the U.S. Administration, which then led a pressure campaign—both directly and through Great Britain—to convince other countries to vote in favor of it.

Tablet has confirmed that one tangible consequence of the high-level U.S. campaign was a phone call from Vice President Joseph Biden to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, which succeeded in changing Ukraine’s vote from an expected abstention to a “yes.” According to one U.S. national security source, the Obama Administration needed a 14-0 vote to justify what the source called “the optics” of its own abstention.
As Danny Danon, Israel's representative to the UN makes clear:
Among its many “biased and false” clauses, he recalled, the resolution designated Israel’s presence in parts of Jerusalem liberated in 1967 as a flagrant violation under international law. That included Jerusalem’s Old City and Jewish Quarter, as well as the Western Wall, the last remnant of the temple first built by King Solomon some 3,000 years ago
A pity that in this case, Biden went along instead of telling Obama "over my dead body." But the question is whether Biden has actually thought through the ramifications of his position on the settlements.

Biden Opposed Sanctions on Iran Even Before Becoming Obama's Running Mate

On the issue of Iran, Biden already voted against pressuring them back in 2007, before being nominated as Obama's running mate:
The Senate approved a resolution on Wednesday urging the Bush administration to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, and lawmakers briefly set aside partisan differences to approve a measure calling for stepped-up diplomacy to forge a political solution in Iraq.

Also called for economic sanctions.

Among those voting against it was Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who said he feared that the administration could use the measure to justify military action against Iran.
It would be a good idea to hear Biden articulate just what he would be prepared to do to counteract Iran's support of global terrorism in general and support of Hezbollah and Hamas in particular.

Biden vs. AIPAC?

AIPAC does not speak for the entire American Jewish community. There’s other organizations as strong and as consequential.
What other organizations?
Was he referring to J Street -- which had only just been founded the year before?

Biden also claimed that despite any occasional claims to the contrary, AIPAC does not speak for Israel. He did not elaborate on that one.

In any case, Biden and AIPAC patched things up, but it is obvious that it is J Street and not AIPAC that he is listening to.

Biden & Sharpton

On the other hand, Biden has apparently had no problems with Al Sharpton, whose anti-Jewish incitement played a role in both the Crown Heights Riots and the Freddie's Fashion Mart Massacre.

Sharpton and Biden. Screengrab from Facebook
It was in part as a result of his many visits to Obama at the White House that Sharpton's image was rehabilitated, and Biden is far from being the only one of the Democratic candidates to seek Sharpton's endorsement.

But this serves as a reminder that Biden's claim to friendship with Israel does not outweigh certain political considerations.

The bottom line is that Biden is a staunch opponent of the Israeli settlements. If elected, he would not be the first president to oppose them. The issue is what policies he might pursue, based on actions he has taken and the statements he has made. Biden was willing to actively support UN Resolution 2334. That raises the question of where he stands on the real-world implications of that stand.

Biden told an appreciative J Street that "we have an obligation to push them as hard as we can toward what they know in their gut is the only solution: a two-state solution." It is not hard to imagine Biden ignoring the implications of Netanyahu's re-election for what Israelis actually do know "in their gut" and instead pushing what he "knows" is the only solution -- with the aid of the same J Street that once bragged about being the "blocking back" for Obama.

That is not to say that none of the other Democratic candidates might try the same thing, but Biden has the reputation of being a "friend" of Israel that would shield him from a lot of the resultant criticism.

It is the fact that so many seem to buy into Biden's "friend of Israel" shtick that can be so disconcerting.

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  • Friday, May 24, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon

Ma'an reports that the organizers of the weekly March of Return have instructed parents not to bring kids outside the tents that are set up at a distance from the fence, because of the heat wave in the region.

Khalid Al-Batsh, Chairman of the High Commission for Return and Breaking the Siege, said: "In order to ensure the safety of our people participating today in the activities of the 59th Friday, we send the most important message to continue the process of liberation and return ...We ask them to stay inside the covered return tents in the five camps throughout the period."

Funny how they are concerned for kids' safety from the sun but not from ricocheting bullets or tear gas.

Kids getting injured or killed by Israelis is the entire point of the riots. If they die from heatstroke it does no one any good.

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  • Friday, May 24, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
Islamic Jihad has a photo essay of its "mujhadeen" participating in Ramadan Iftar meals, studying the Quran and praying with their masks and machine guns: (I'm not sure how they can eat with their mouths covered...)

I have never seen a Muslim complain about how terrorists are co-opting sacred Muslim rituals to make themselves look pious. Nor have I seen any Muslim complain that it is incongruous to say that Ramadan is a time for peaceful reflection and piousness while holding automatic weapons.

Maybe I am looking in the wrong places, though.

Are any Muslims upset when they see things like this, or do all Muslims look at this and think it is an appropriate way to mark Ramadan?

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

From Ian:

Netanyahu to Modi on apparent election victory: 'Well done, my friend'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Thursday to congratulate him on his landslide victory, the second time this week that a key Netanyahu ally won an election abroad.

On Sunday Netanyahu congratulated Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on his surprise re-election the day before.

“Narendra, my friend, congratulations! What an enormous victory,” Netanyahu enthused in a phone call. Excerpts of the call were videoed and placed on the prime minister’s Facebook page, after it became clear that Modi had won a clear majority following an election process that took six months.

“I hope that we can see each other very soon, as soon as you form a government and as soon as we form a government,” Netanyahu said. “There is much to discuss on so many other things.”

Netanyahu thanked Modi as well for his warm wishes following the Israeli elections, but added a caveat: “There is one difference: you don’t need a coalition, I do.”

Netanyahu – who likes to underline Israel’s vastly improved relations with a number of countries around the world – tweeted his congratulations to Modi in Hebrew even before their phone call. (h/t MtTB)

Morrison’s win in Australia foretells even stronger ties with Israel
The surprise election victory of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last weekend not only shook up the country’s political landscape but also potentially bodes well for another country thousands of miles away – Israel.

“We have had a strong and constructive relationship with Scott Morrison personally and had a very good working relationship with the government he led,” Jeremy Jones, director of international and community affairs for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), told Jewish News Syndicate. “We also have worked with many members of the Opposition and the Cross-benchers. We saw the defeat of a number of racist candidates and MPs who associated with maximalist anti-Israel groups.”

The victory by Morrison, who hails from the center-right Liberal Party, echoes some of the surprise electoral success other decidedly pro-Israel right-wing candidates have seen in recent years around the world, such as with U.S. President Donald Trump and more recently with Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and potentially in Canada as well next October. However, Austria’s Sebastian Kurz, who has also staked a strong pro-Israel stance in Europe, now faces snap elections after his junior coalition partner resigned from the government following a video scandal.

“The Australian government is not ‘populist’ in the sense of Donald Trump or Bolsonaro or even [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. It is conservative, center-right and ran on a platform of economic responsibility, not populism. Australia has compulsory voting, which militates in favor of responsible centrism,” said Jones.

Netanyahu, who visited Australia in 2017, quickly congratulated Morrison on his victory.

“I send congratulations to another friend of mine, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who won the elections after the polls consistently predicted that he would lose. At the last minute, in the final hours, he won,” Netanyahu said on Sunday during his cabinet meeting.

Morrison, who took office last August after ousting former party leader and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, drew headlines last fall after he suggested that he was “open” to the idea of moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem.

  • Thursday, May 23, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
At a rally on Sunday for the far Right German "Der Rechte" party, people held signs saying, "Israel ist unser Unglück", or "Israel is our misfortune!" - a direct and conscious retelling of the slogan of the Nazi Der Stürmer, "Die Juden sind unser Unglück!", or "The Jews are Our Misfortune!"

The Jewish community in Germany is understandably upset. Legal action is being taken and the issue is being reviewed.

The Federal Commissioner Felix Klein said: "Here is propaganda consciously linked to the National Socialists. Such propaganda against Jews and Israel must not be tolerated in our country. In my estimation, the police and regulatory laws of the federal states offer sufficient possibilities for municipalities to act against them. "

Amazingly, left-wing Jews and others still insist that the neo-Nazis are supporters of Israel and not supporters of BDS, like them.

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Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory

Check out their Facebook page.

Tel Aviv Is The Place To Be For Partyi- I Mean For Monitoring Human Rights

By Dominic Lord, human rights activist
activistTel Aviv, May 23 - We activists take our role seriously: forming alliances, raising awareness, generating political pressure, and partying till all hours in this fabulous city. This is where the human rights action is, where Israeli public figures can be held accountable; where journalists frequent, facilitating attention to key human rights issues; where there isn't really any major problem, but damn, is the night life amazing. It's a key location in the human rights realm.

Most people don't realize the centrality of geography as a factor in the human rights arena. Often we rely on volunteers and low-level staff in the field for data and for basic monitoring activities, and yes, such personnel perform valuable functions, but not everything we must accomplish can be accomplished in remote villages in Chad or Syrian towns facing bombardment and disease. Somebody has to undertake the serious work of living and working in Tel Aviv - some choose Jerusalem, for similar reasons - because those restaurants and night clubs are not going to visit themselves. Also, it's dangerous in sub-Saharan Africa.

Human rights workers embrace the challenges of this avenue of endeavor, formidable as they may be; difficulty inheres in all significant paths to achievement. Thus the fierce competition among UN, Red Cross, and other organizations' personnel for postings to Israel, where everyone knows Palestinian rights require ever-increasing protection, and where it's possible to eat at a different world-class restaurant every night and not have the same cuisine twice in six months. Plus we don't get shot at. Also, we have buddy-buddy relationships, not to mention romances, with journalists who share our assumptions about Israeli oppression and Palestinian victimhood and lack of moral or political agency, so this dynamic gets reinforced all the time.

That's a crucial piece of the puzzle, because if the human rights community ever admitted Israel didn't need the disproportionate attention we give the place, we'd lose our pretext to keep coming back here. And that would be a human rights tragedy. I've done work in Darfur, Central America, Southeast Asia, the Balkans, and even passed through some Arab states on my way, so I've been around, and I know which zones require the most urgent attention. Yes, people are being massacred, kidnapped, enslaved, tortured, and raped in those other places, but Jews are building homes here. Priorities.

Also, you can't expect those of us who are openly gay to actually spend time in the Palestinian territories. That would be suicide, and then who would do the crucial work of telling the world how barbaric Israelis are?

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From Ian:

Greenblatt Tells UN: Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad Are to Blame for Gaza Suffering
U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt told the UN Security Council on Wednesday: "It is simply unacceptable that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to target Israeli communities, including hospitals and schools, in a cynical attempt to extract concessions from Israel. It is simply unacceptable that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to use civilians in Gaza, including children, as human shields. It is simply unacceptable that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to siphon the scarce resources of the people of Gaza to build their terror arsenal, while preventing donor aid from reaching the people."

"There will be no end to this suffering until all of us, together, say in public...Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are to blame for the suffering of the people of Gaza. Nothing can be meaningfully fixed until they renounce terror and cease their acts of violence and their vow to destroy Israel."
Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Middle East

PMW: Fatah renews blood libel, Fatah in Lebanon published a cartoon depicting an antisemitic child-killing libel.
Starting in the Middle Ages, Jews have been accused of murdering children for ritual purposes, of poisoning wells, and more. Palestinians regularly renew the child-killing libel, claiming Israel deliberately murders Palestinian children.

Here is a new example from Abbas' Fatah Movement in Lebanon:
[Falestinona, website of Fatah’s Information and Culture Commission in Lebanon, May 6, 2019]

In the cartoon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is shown with a bloody hand, smiling over a presumably dead Palestinian infant from Gaza that has blood dripping from it. Netanyahu murdered the baby, leaving it for the Palestinian Muslim family (symbolized by the man's crescent head) for the month of Ramadan.

  • Thursday, May 23, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
By Petra Marquardt-Bigman

Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill recently made an astonishing claim when he declared: “I literally study Yemeni and Moroccan Jews for a living.” Perhaps Professor Hill doesn’t earn his living at Temple University, because the subjects (media and education) he teaches there seem to have absolutely nothing to do with the study of Yemeni and Moroccan Jews. I was also unable to find any scholarly study of the history of Yemeni and Moroccan Jews authored by Hill.

But while Hill’s claim looks very much like a pathetic attempt to assert academic expertise, it’s noteworthy that he was apparently trying to create an aura of authority for a project he has been working on. As Hill announced: “I finished a film that devotes 20% to Mizrahis [i.e. Middle Eastern Jews]. And I talk about them regularly.”

The film Hill referred to is apparently “Black in the Holy Land”, and you can watch the trailer on YouTube – but before you do so, you should read an EoZ post from last February. Amazingly enough, the trailer for Hill’s “documentary” starts off with convicted terrorist Ali Jiddah, who “planted four hand grenades on Strauss Street in downtown Jerusalem in 1968. The blasts injured nine Israelis.”

Jiddah served 17 years in prison and was released in a prisoner swap. Since then, he has devoted himself to demonizing Israel, and as he told the Times of Israel a few years ago: “I am satisfied, and I am convinced that the work I am doing today is more effective than the bomb I planted in 1968.”

While the film is apparently not yet released, it’s clear what to expect: if your trailer prominently features a convicted terrorist who hopes to achieve with words what he previously tried to achieve with bombs, you really give your game away.

So it was hardly surprising that Marc Lamont Hill wasn’t pleased when well-known Israeli activist and writer Hen Mazzig recently wrote an excellent article that was published in the Los Angeles Times under the title “No, Israel isn’t a country of privileged and powerful white Europeans.”

If you missed the heated exchange that developed between Hen and Hill on social media, you can catch up by reading a Jerusalem Post report about it. Hill’s criticism of Hen’s widely read article included the preposterous claim that “the 20th century identity category of ‘Mizrahi’ [i.e. Middle Eastern Jews]” was created “as a means of detaching them from Palestinian identity.” According to Marc Lamont Hill, those who are now considered Mizrahi should apparently be called “Palestinian Jews” and we should all remember that they “lived peacefully with other Palestinians.”

Well, if Professor Hill studies “Yemeni and Moroccan Jews for a living,” he presumably knows that they cannot really be described as “Palestinian Jews.” Those Jews who lived among “other Palestinians” – meaning presumably the non-Jews in the area that the Romans designated as “Palestine” – had to endure the fate of an oppressed minority ruled by their conquerors. And if we want to consider the barely century-old history since the local Arabs actually started to consider themselves as Palestinians, we find that the Palestinian leader of the time was the man who started his career by instigating murderous pogroms, and who later became notorious as “Hitler’s mufti.” Incidentally, the mufti was an early proponent of boycotts and would arguably deserve to be honored as the father of BDS. Under his leadership, “‘Filasteen Arduna wa’al yahud Kilabuna’ (Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dogs)” and “‘Itbach al Yahud’ (slaughter the Jews)” were the first rallying cries of Palestinian nationalism in 1920.

For the narrative that undergirds Marc Lamont Hill’s vile anti-Israel activism, this history has to be ignored. It’s no less obscene than Rashida Tlaib’s recent attempt to rewrite history by claiming that the Palestinians somehow provided a “a safe haven” to Jews. But at least Tlaib doesn’t claim to be “one of the leading intellectual voices” in the US, and she doesn’t claim to “literally study Yemeni and Moroccan Jews for a living.” As it happens, my dearest friends include both a Yemeni and a Moroccan Jew, and if Marc Lamont Hill ‘studied’ them, he could learn a lot.

But as it is, we can anticipate that Hill’s forthcoming “documentary” will document first and foremost why Hill has fans both among supposedly “progressive” anti-Israel activists and virulent Jew-haters like Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam and David Duke.

[EoZ]: This article inspired me to look at some previous posts of mine about the history of how Jews lived in Morocco and Yemen. I tweeted this today:

Absurdly, @MarcLamontHill says "I literally study Yemeni and Moroccan Jews for a living" and he says they lived peacefully among Muslims.
Ali Bey al Abbasi was the pen name of a traveler who described the lives of Jews in Morocco in 1805 quite differently.

There are plenty of examples of contemporaneous studies of Jews in Morocco describing how they were humiliated, daily, by Muslims there.

And Morocco was one of the best places for Jews to live!
Here you can see several attacks against Jews in Yemen between 1908 and 1913.

Marc Lamont Hill is not a scholar. He wants to whitewash history, ,not describe it. 

This shows that his antipathy isn't against Zionists - but Jews.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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