Wednesday, March 19, 2014

From Ian:

The Problem with Judith Butler: The Political Philosophy of the Movement to Boycott Israel
When American Studies Association President Curtis F. Marez gave his absurd “one has to start somewhere” answer to a New York Times reporter’s question as to why one should single out Israel’s universities for a boycott, one might have thought he had set the gold standard for empty boycott advocacy. But soon a still more vacuous contestant arrived. At the pro-boycott session on January 9 at the Modern Language Association’s 2014 annual meeting, University of Texas professor and panelist Barbara Harlow offered her own concise answer to the “Why boycott Israel?” question: “Why not?”
With advocates like these, one might think the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel would need no opponents. Certainly the public image of the humanities is not enhanced by remarks of this sort. But in truth many boycott supporters do not look for adequate reasoning. They want their existing passions inflamed still further. Palestinian BDS entrepreneur Omar Barghouti, who lectures regularly on US campuses, is adept at generating moral outrage in susceptible audiences. But the BDS movement also has more sophisticated spokespersons at its disposal. Judith Butler, who has become the movement’s premier philosopher and political theorist, is perhaps the foremost among them. Her work, which carries significant authority among humanists, helps us get to the heart of the movement’s guiding principles. The critique I will offer thus addresses the theoretical framing of the whole BDS movement by way of Butler’s approach to Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. She has complained that pro-BDS arguments do not receive detailed analysis. I will make every effort to provide that here.
Zionism is moral and necessary
Finally, Mahmoud Abbas also wants a nation-state, for the ‘Palestinian people’. It’s pretty clear that, like Jordan and Saudi Arabia, there would be no Jews in ‘Palestine’. The proposed constitution for Palestine states that “Islam is the official religion of Palestine.” I have never heard Levy or anyone else on the Left object to this, or compare the Palestinians to Nazis. Even the usual concerns for human rights (don’t forget women, gays, etc.) are elided where the Palestinians are concerned.
The Left’s vision of a borderless world in which every nation is a “democratic state of all its citizens” is being tried now, in Europe, and it is failing badly, economically, socially, and — most important — demographically, with native fertility rates far below what’s needed for the society to survive. Israel’s Jewish fertility rate is a healthy 2.8, well above the replacement rate of 2.1. Perhaps Israel’s social and economic vitality has something to do with the national pride and religion that still exist there, despite what is written in Ha’aretz?
Without Jewish nationalism, that is, Zionism, there would be no Israel, and no reason for one — which is why psychopathic Jew-hater Gideon Levy advocates against it.
Leaked report: Israel acknowledges Jews in fact Khazars; Secret plan for reverse migration to Ukraine (satire)
Followers of Middle Eastern affairs know two things: always expect the unexpected, and never write off Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has more political lives than the proverbial cat.
Only yesterday came news that Syrian rebels plan to give Israel the Golan Heights in exchange for creation of a no-fly zone against the Assad regime. In an even bolder move, it is now revealed, Israel will withdraw its settlers from communities beyond the settlement blocs—and relocate them at least temporarily to Ukraine. Ukraine made this arrangement on the basis of historic ties and in exchange for desperately needed military assistance against Russia. This surprising turn of events had an even more surprising origin: genetics, a field in which Israeli scholars have long excelled.



Bethlehem’s ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Conference: A Personal Report
In that first session, our teacher, Reverend Alex Awad, instructor and Dean of Students at BBC, put up a photo of carnage from a suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem that took place during the Second Intifada. He said, “We renounce the horror of atrocities committed by both sides.”
My hand went up. “I see horror in the picture we are looking at, the horror of innocent civilians slaughtered by Palestinian terrorists. You say that Israel is guilty of equal atrocities? Specifically, what has Israel done that is comparable to this?”
Awad hemmed and hawed, then said, “Well, there is the Apartheid wall, the dehumanizing checkpoints and, of course, so many Palestinians killed by Israeli armed forces.” The entire classroom of about 200 erupted in cheering and applause.
When the room quieted, I followed up. “Are you saying, then, that Israeli military operations in response to terrorism are an atrocity equal to or even worse than the carnage of Israeli bodies we are looking at on the screen?”
“Yes,” Awad replied, “they are.” More cheers and applause exploded from the class.
Campus Israel-Bashers Practice Intimidation, Not Free Speech
The activists in question are now attempting to fight the suspension by invoking the most disingenuous arguments about the First Amendment and the importance of free discussion. The Jewish leader and spokesperson for Northeastern’s SJP group, Max Geller, has been at the forefront of speaking out against the suspension. During an interview with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, who was eager to emphasize Geller’s Jewishness, the talk was all about how Jewish students identify with universal human rights and equality. Geller claims that he is “troubled” by attempts to stifle debate of the “Israeli-Palestinian question.” According to him his activities are just about helping students make “informed decisions,” claiming that it is actually his group’s “viewpoint” that is being demonized.
Yet, this peace and love act couldn’t be more cynical, for Geller himself cuts a pretty macabre figure. This student’s apparent affinity with the most murderous forms of anti-Semitic terrorism is truly chilling. As well as having been photographed in the West Bank posing with a PK-class machine gun and sporting a bullet-belt strung around his neck, Geller has attended demonstrations and campus wearing an Islamic Jihad headband and a Hezbollah T-shirt. By all accounts he favors a bipartisan approach to the glorification of terror groups, yet the indiscriminate murder of civilians is the defining characteristic that both of these Islamist factions hold in common. And perhaps most disturbing of all is the photograph of Geller boldly showing off his T-shirt emblazoned with an image of the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nazrallah, a man who has said he welcomes Jews gathering in Israel so as to save Hezbollah the trouble of having to pursue them worldwide.
Are all boycotters of Israel anti-Semitic?
No doubt some of those who call for a boycott are not, or believe they are not, anti-Semitic. They may be true believers obsessed by the fallacious Palestinian Narrative of Victimhood, with its one-sided presentation of the nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Thus they appear to observe the Israeli-Palestinian issue as a struggle between good and evil, in which Jews embody the latter, responsible for both the problems encountered by Palestinians and for the failure of any peace process.
They accept in unchallenging fashion the imaginary fabricated facts presented to them by Palestinian pressure groups. The best that can be said of them is that by swallowing this propaganda without serious questioning they are in the words of James Madison (Federalist 62) “monuments of deficient wisdom.”
Let there be no mistake. There is a world of difference between rational, objective criticism of specific actions of Israel, such as checkpoints and roadblocks, or settlements, or the conduct of individual personnel on the one hand, and wholesale criticism of the State of Israel, refusal to acknowledge its legitimacy, dismissal of any Israeli claim to disputed territory, or persistence in calling Israel an “apartheid state” in the manner of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Alice Walker.
The mystery of the Left and Israel
One of the strange things about the left’s animosity to Israel is that it absurdly goes against most of the values it purports to believe in.
Try this: those on the left talk about their love of democracy, about their passion for women’s’ and gays’ rights and about their concern for the rule of law.
Yet it’s only Israel that has a robust democracy, an independent judiciary, and civil and political rights for women and for gays in the Mid-East.
Liberal pro-Israel academics reject boycotts
More than 50 Jewish academics joined an initiative rejecting academic boycotts of Israel as well as legislative attempts to inhibit such boycotts.
“Academic boycotts and blacklists are discriminatory per se and undercut the purpose of the academy: the pursuit of knowledge,” said the statement posted Monday by “The Third Narrative,” an initiative of Ameinu, a liberal Zionist group.
“Likewise, we are against legislative and other efforts by domestic or foreign interests that seek to diminish the academic freedom of those scholars who might propose, endorse, or promote academic boycotts, even if we strongly disagree with these tactics,” the statement said.
Beware of Zionists with Iranian rockets: Snapshot of bias at the Irish Times
Though the story received wide coverage, the Irish Times chose an especially interesting photo to illustrate their story centering on Ya’alon’s comments and recent White House talks:
There’s one problem with the photo of Ya’alon. The caption conveniently fails to note that the rockets in the background – evoking the malevolence befitting such a right-wing ultra-Zionist – were not Israel’s. The EPA photo was taken on March 10 during an IDF presentation of an Iranian shipment of advanced Syrian missiles seized on the Klos-C container ship, which were intended to be delivered to Gaza.
Gilad Atzmon slams the Guardian as a ‘Lame Zionist Mouthpiece’
Before we realized the identity of the author of the an essay published a various fringe websites on March 17th, it almost seemed to us like a Purim Spiel.
Here’s the classic opening passage:
The once well-respected Guardian has been reduced in recent years into a lame Zionist mouthpiece – a light Jewish Chronicle for Gentiles consumption.
So, what did the Guardian do to run afoul of the sensibilities of the following prolific critic of international Jewry?
Lessons from a 1940s anti-Semitic film
On November 29, 1940, the film Der Ewige Jude (“The Eternal Jew”) opened in theaters across the Third Reich. It was a product of Josef Goebbel’s Ministry of Propaganda and was produced by Fritz Hippler. The film was formulated as a documentary about Jewish history.
The Nazi party publication Unser Wille und Weg lauded it as “providing a broad treatment of the life and effects of this parasitic race using genuine material taken from real life.”
The film can be easily found online with English dubbing and its timeless importance, as an artifact of anti-Semitism, should not be ignored. To be sure, it formed part of a larger propaganda effort, along with anti-Semitic films such as Jude Suss and other pieces of Nazi “education.” But what makes Eternal Jew important for us today is that it provides an immediately accessible lens through which we can analyze current debates, to better understand that anti-Semitism remains a potent force. What will surprise many is the degree to which the Nazi stereotypes of Jews are not so different than current stereotypes alive and well in polite society today.
Minnesota restaurant hosts Nazi-themed dinner
Dressed in SS uniforms and surrounded by Nazi flags, members of a World War II reenactment group attended a Third Reich-themed Christmas dinner last December at a Minneapolis restaurant, City Pages reported.
The organization has held the event for 16 years running, the last six of which were at the Gasthof Zur Gemutlichkeit restaurant, a participant at the event said.
“All of the German [reenactment] groups in Minnesota have a Christmas party because we don’t typically have events going on in the winter,” Jon Boorom, a member of the WWII Historical Re-enactment Society Inc said. “It’s just like any club that has a party. Because they dress up like Germans from World War II, it’s cool to go to a German restaurant, eat German food, and drink German beer.”
On two year anniversary of Toulouse shooting, Europe's Jews still wary of terrorism
Moshe Kantor, the head of the European Jewish Congress, said that communities on the continent remain targets for potential terrorists.
“There remains a huge motivation by extremists to harm or murder Jews regardless of their age or beliefs,” Kantor said. “There is no reason why the most mundane acts of going to school or attending a synagogue should cause Jews or any European citizens to fear for their very lives.”
“Unfortunately, since the savage murders in Toulouse, there have continued to be physical attacks against Jews in Europe, as well as many very real threats which were thankfully averted.”
Alarmed by anti-Semitism, French Jews consider flight
"I am French, born in Paris, says Salome Roussel. "I'm thinking about moving to Israel, because French people are more and more against Jews. They say we are a lobby, that we are the masters of the world, and it's not so!"
Roussel, 38, is not alone. Growing numbers of French Jews are not just thinking about starting a new life in Israel: Record numbers of them are taking action. Last year 3,120 French Jews moved to Israel, according to the Israeli Immigration Ministry, a jump of 63 percent on the previous year. They even outnumbered US immigrants to Israel.
Another Teenage Holocaust Diary Discovered
While Anne Frank and her diary have become something of an emblem of early Holocaust education for students, another diary written by a teenager during the Holocaust has surfaced that can perhaps offer a different perspective of the atrocities. JWeekly reports that the diary of Rywka Lipszyc, which chronicles six months of life in the Lodz Ghetto through the eyes of a 14-year-old, has been discovered—and, after an extensive authentication process, published.
The Diary of Rywka Lipszyc has a strange provenance. The pages were reportedly discovered outside an Auschwitz crematorium by a Red Army doctor named Zinaida Berezovskaya during the concentration camp’s liberation in 1945. She then held onto the diary until her death—at which point her son did the same. The diary was brought to light by Berezovskaya’s granddaughter, a therapist living in San Francisco, in 2008.
Refugee who rescued husband from Dachau dies at 111
Gisela Kohn Dollinger tricked death twice.
Soon after Kristallnacht, when she was 36, Dollinger persuaded the Gestapo to release her husband from the Dachau concentration camp, and the two of them fled Austria for Shanghai, where she almost died of typhoid.
After that, death seemed to forget all about her — until last week, when Dollinger passed away peacefully at Manhattan’s Beth Israel Hospital. She was 111 years old.
Blind can ‘see’ using sound, Hebrew U team shows
If there’s a credo that Hebrew University’s Dr. Amir Amedi lives by, it’s that blindness is no reason for not seeing. “The fact that the visual pathways for blind people are blocked doesn’t mean that their brains don’t function,” Amedi said in a recent TED talk in Jerusalem. “Their brains work just fine.”
And for most, so do their other senses – specifically hearing, which, with the help of modern technology and a unique training program, can enable the blind to use sound to “see.” By using a combination of sounds, tones, and noise bursts, blind people can be taught within weeks to identify everyday items, and even concepts like colors, using Google Glass-type devices that contain a camera that scans items and translates them into a special musical code.
WhatsApp Deal Has MagicJack CEO Talking Billions: Israel Markets
MagicJack can differentiate itself from WhatsApp and Viber because its service allows users to call any fixed or mobile phone line, not just people who are using the same application, according to CEO Vento, who previously headed TeleCorp PCS Inc., which was sold to AT&T Inc. in 2002 for $5.7 billion.
The shares rallied 20 percent to $21.04 on March 13, a day after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates and forecast revenue of $163 million in 2014, surpassing analysts’ average projection of $148 million. MagicJack is the biggest gainer on the Bloomberg Israel-US Equity Index of the largest New York-traded Israeli companies this year. The stock gained 1.4 percent to $23.99 at 10:53 a.m. in New York.
Novartis Reportedly in Talks to Acquire Israeli Stem Cell Developer for up to $600 Million
Israel stem cell treatment developer Gamida-Cell Ltd. is in talks to be acquired by Novartis, the pharmaceutical giant, for up to $600 million, according to Israel’s Globes business daily, citing sources familiar with the deal.
Gamida-Cell has proprietary technology for growing the number and density of stem cells within a specific blood sample, increasing stem cell activity, Globes said. The company’s work could be used to cure blood cancer in adults.
Israeli mobile firm takes on Google for top industry prize
On Track Innovations (OTI), an Israeli payments platform and app maker, is up against the top dog in the mobile payments field — Google Wallet — with both apps vying to win the 2014 NACHA Payments Systems Award, at the Payments 2014 event in April. The event is sponsored by Pymnts.com, a news and intelligence site for the cashless payments industry.
Rosh Pina-based OTI has developed cashless mobile payment solutions for hundreds of customers, chiefly using two technologies — smart payment cards that are linked to a bank account, cellphone account, or other source of funds that allow users to transfer money electronically, as well as NFC (near-field communication) systems for phones that support it. With NFC, users can pay for items in retail settings simply by waving their phone at a sensor, with the payments transferred from the user’s cellphone account to the vendor.
Tunisian Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki Visits Jewish Exhibitioon on Purim


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