Friday, November 13, 2015

From Ian:

‘There is a clash of civilisations’: An interview with Benny Morris
GNB: Your work has been hugely controversial. Looking back, would you do anything differently if you could?
BM: To be completely honest, in the interview with Ari Shavit, in Haaretz in 2004, I should have said some things in a more temperate way. Not that I have a problem with what I said, but there were one or two phrases which provided ammunition to hostile critics . But I don’t think I have changed anything I have ever written. I would take nothing back regarding my views about 1948 or the conflict, because what I wrote originally and what I continue to write is always based on persuasive evidence.
Politically, the thing which has changed for me (and you can see that in my journalism), is my view of the Palestinians and their readiness to make peace with the Israelis. This is the crux. I would say that in the 1990s, while I was not persuaded by Arafat — the man was always a vicious terrorist and a liar — I thought then maybe he is changing his approach, because he now accepts the realities of power and what is possible.
But when it came to the crunch, when he was offered a two-state solution in 2000 by [Ehud] Barak, and then got an even better offer from [Bill] Clinton at the end of 2000, Arafat said ‘no’. And I think this was the defining moment for me. He was simply unable to reach a compromise with Israelis.
GNB: And that affected you how, exactly?
BM: From that point on, I lost a lot of sympathy for the Palestinians — and I came to understand that they are not willing to reach a two-state solution. And then there was Mahmoud Abbas’s rejection in 2008 of the Ehud Olmert proposals, which were fairly similar to the Clinton proposals of December 2000. Abbas was offered a state with 95 to 96 per cent of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, and he too said ‘no’.
I understood that it wasn’t really a question of a bit of territory here or there — it was a matter of the Palestinians non-acceptance of the legitimacy of the Jewish state. That was what lay behind Abbas’s inability to accept any Jewish state next to a Palestinian state. This is really what it has always been about: for Arafat, for Abbas, and before them for [Haj Amin] al-Husseini in the 1930s and 1940s.
Elliott Abrams: Israel, “Racism,” and “Apartheid”
One of the most common Palestinian attacks on Israel is that it is building a racist and “apartheid” society.
Here is a minor but standard example from Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian official who is actually chief negotiator with Israel and a reliable voice of PA propaganda: In March of this year he said Netanyahu’s election victory was based on “a campaign platform based on settlements, racism, apartheid and the denial of the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people.”
I was thinking of Erekat and of the constant Palestinian accusations of “racism” and “apartheid” when reading the following headline in today’s Israeli press: “Government set to approve final wave of Ethiopian aliyah.”
This would be the last group of Jews coming from Ethiopia to Israel, under proposals being debated now. Israel has brought more than 85,000 Ethiopian Jews out to live in Israel, and there are about 50,000 Israeli-born descendants of Ethiopian Jewish immigrants. Unsurprisingly, the transition from small villages in Ethiopia to 20th and 21st century Israel has been difficult, and there are plenty of tensions. Unemployment is higher and average income is lower than for the rest of the Israeli population.
The Jewish population of Israel is now 3 percent Ethiopian, and anyone who travels there can see groups of schoolchildren or groups of soldiers that include Israelis of Middle Eastern, European, and African origin.
Some racism. Some apartheid.
Melanie Phillips: Congress helps fund attack on Zionism
A movie called The Zionist Idea has been making its way round Jewish film festivals in the US. I caught up with it this week when it was shown at the Jewish Film Festival in London. I wish I hadn’t.
Directed by garlanded American filmmakers Oren Rudavsky and Joseph Dorman, it purports to be a history of Zionism through the eyes of both Israeli Jews and Arabs. The film’s website tells us: “Zionism remains little understood and its meanings often distorted.
We believe that it is critical for Americans to better understand Zionism’s meaning, history and future.”
They will not do so from this movie. It is nothing short of a travesty. Its message is that Israel is fundamentally immoral, oppressive and illegitimate and that Zionism is a creed that brings suffering to the innocent.
Through selective reporting, omission and distortion the movie puts Zionism in the dock and judges it guilty. Falsely placing its origins in Czarist Russia, it presents an affecting enough picture of the alienation and persecution of Diaspora Jews only to state that they found redemption by dispossessing another nation – the Palestinians.
That nation, however, never existed. When Jews started to return to their ancient homeland early in the last century, Arabs living there described themselves variously as Syrian or part of a pan-Arab nation. On the backs of the returning Jews, Arabs poured into Palestine from surrounding Arab countries.

Top Clinton Backer Accused of Bigotry For Attacking Pro-Israel Christians
A leading Democratic operative who has been a top donor to both President Obama and the Clinton Foundation was caught lashing out at pro-Israel Christians, accusing them of “building a stairway to heaven on the backs of the Jews in Israel.”
Comments from National Jewish Democratic Council board chair Greg Rosenbaum have led to accusations of bigotry by pro-Israel organizations and criticism from those who advocate for Christian support of Israel.
While speaking Tuesday on a panel hosted by the Jewish Federation of North America, a Jewish community umbrella organization, Rosenbaum attacked evangelical Christians and attempted to distort their religious beliefs.
His comments have attracted particular scrutiny given his previous role as an Obama campaign bundler and current status as a donor to the Clinton Foundation, according to open source materials.
“I’ve always said, you’ve got Evangelical Republicans supporting Israel because they are building a stairway to heaven on the backs of the Jews in Israel,” Rosenbaum said.
“We don’t get to go with them, unless—as Michele Bachmann said over the weekend—all of the Israeli Jews convert to Christianity, as soon as possible,” Rosenbaum continued. “So you have to look beyond the numbers to really understand how the parties shake out in support of Israel.”
JFNA rejects Jewish Democrat’s anti-Evangelical remarks
The Jewish Federations of North America has distanced itself from a Jewish Democrat who said at the federation umbrella group’s annual General Assembly that some evangelical Christian Republicans support Israel in order to hasten the “End of Days.”
“Federations work closely with pro-Israel churches and church leaders across the continent,” Rebecca Dinar, the group’s spokeswoman, said Thursday when asked to respond to comments by Greg Rosenbaum, the chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council. “We strenuously object to any characterization that calls into question their motives for supporting the State of Israel.”
Rosenbaum was speaking Tuesday at a debate with Matt Brooks, the director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, moderated by Jewish Insider.
Brooks had noted the widening gap in polls between Democrats and Republicans over whether they identify more with Israel than with the Palestinians.
Douglas Murray: Why is the BBC letting the Islamic Human Rights Commission set the agenda?
The farcically named ‘Islamic Human Rights Commission’ has featured here many times before. The last time was earlier this year when this Khomeinist group decided to award their ‘Islamophobe of the Year’ award to the murdered staff of Charlie Hebdo. At their ‘awards ceremony’ for this the IHRC even joked about what a shame it was that none of the staff of Charlie Hebdo were around to collect the award.
Today the IHRC has thrown a smoke grenade into the public debate by issuing ‘findings’ claiming that the UK government’s counter-extremism and counter-terrorism policies are having a ‘negative impact’ on British Muslims. The ‘work’ is the usual confection of non-research and pre-ordained ‘findings’ that you would expect from such an ideologically driven group. For instance the report is based on ‘respondents’ to IHRC questions. Not quite the same thing as a poll is it? I wonder if they chose themselves?
But why has the BBC chosen to put this non-story as a lead story on their news bulletins and on the front page of their website this morning? Under the alarming headline ‘Government policy “negatively affects” Muslims’.
Are the BBC going to go to Combat 18 for their next headline? Find out what ‘respondents’ to a few carefully pre-ordained questions from a tiny extremist group think about some aspect of government policy or other? It would be no more ridiculous than letting the IHRC set the agenda. But if one of those ideas is unthinkable, the other has once again become a disgraceful reality. Shame on the BBC for becoming a megaphone for the late Ayatollah Khomeini’s agenda.
Brendan O'Neill: Why are student-union officials censoring criticism of Islamic State?
Just when you thought the self-important, ban-happy uber-bureaucrats who run student unions couldn’t get any worse, they go and No Platform a guy who fought with the Kurds against Isis. Yes, not content with expunging lads’ mags from campus, crying for the censorship of everyone from Germaine Greer to Dapper Laughs, and wailing about Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ like outraged nuns at a school disco, now they have silenced someone who spent five months facing down the head-choppers of the Islamic State.
Macer Gifford, a former student at University College London (UCL), was due to give a talk at UCL this week on his experiences with the YPG, the fighting units of Syrian Kurdistan who have valiantly stymied the spread of Isis. But the Kurdish Society who invited him was told by Asad Khan, the activities and events officers of UCL’s students’ union, that the talk couldn’t go ahead, because ‘in every conflict there are two sides, and at UCLU we want to avoid taking sides in conflicts’.
It’s true there are two sides in the YPG v Isis conflict. One side has both men and women fighting hard to protect their homeland and people from falling to brutal Islamist rule; the other pushes gay people off buildings, stones adulterers, sets fire to its prisoners of war, and mows down anyone who stands in the way of the growth of its creepy Caliphate. If you can’t ‘take sides’ in a conflict like that, then your moral compass is in serious need of repair.
Fred Maroun: Bigots, idiots, cowards, failures, and slackers united
Anti-Zionists are perhaps not all anti-Semites.
There, I have said it! Anti-Zionists can start rejoicing.
There are indeed logical explanations, other than filthy old anti-Semitism, as to why a person would deny Jews the right to one tiny state on traditional Jewish land.
I am not kidding.
That person could be an idiot who is unable to understand Jewish history in the Middle East or the fact that the Israel/Arab conflict was created by anti-Semitism and can only be resolved by containing anti-Semitism.
That person could be a coward who is afraid of standing up to the anti-Zionist cliques who have slithered their way into much of the political elites, the media, and academics
ICC issues first report on war crimes in Palestinian- Israeli conflict
The International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Office released its annual report on Thursday, including its first preliminary report regarding alleged war crimes committed by Israelis and Palestinians since June 2014. Its greatest focus is on Operation Protective Edge in July-August 2014.
Although there have been rumors for months of informal Israeli cooperation with ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, and the government has publicly stayed quiet on the issue, the report states that Israel has been formally cooperating since July 9.
The Foreign and Justice ministries did not have official comments, but a senior Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post that “Israel has an engagement with the ICC over competence issues.”
“Competence” is a code word for trying to convince the ICC that there is no state of “Palestine” and that the ICC cannot investigate IDF personnel, because the IDF’s own investigations of its personnel meet international law standards.
After the preliminary investigation was launched in January 2015, the ICC received and analyzed 66 communiques from Israel, the Palestinians and various organizations around the world detailing incidents of Operation Protective Edge, alleged settlements- related war crimes, and other issues.
Many have expected the ICC prosecutor to copy the conclusions of a summer 2015 report by the UNHRC, which was highly critical of Israel and many of whose allegations cited could be serious issues for the IDF. However, the prosecutor’s report in several instances also noted the Israeli narrative.
How to Avoid the Unilateral Fantasy
Eisner is right that the status quo is awful and is disliked by the vast majority of Israelis. But the reason why there is no surge of support for unilateralism is that they know it has been tried and failed. If they have lost faith in hopes for peace, it is not because they want to hold onto all of the West Bank, but because they know they are locked in a long war with an enemy that views the conflict as a zero-sum game. Unfortunately, as Polisar’s study of 20 years of Palestinian opinion surveys shows, huge majorities of them don’t think the Jews have a right to any part of the country. That’s why Netanyahu is right to insist that they give up that hope of Israel’s destruction before he risks the lives of its people on the sort of gamble that Sharon attempted in Gaza.
Contrary to Netanyahu’s critics, that doesn’t mean that Israel is doomed to be a bi-national nation or be branded as an apartheid state. As it has for the last 48 years, Israel will remain both a Jewish state and a democracy even as it is forced to keep the West Bank in an unsatisfactory limbo. Israel can’t make peace by itself. Nor can it assure its security by handing over territory that will be turned into another Gaza.
Common sense is the antidote to the unilateral delusion. Like it or not, the status quo will end as soon as the Palestinians are finally ready for peace and not before. Rather than pressure Israel’s leader to do something foolish, Israel’s friends that are tired of this awful situation need to put the onus on Abbas, Hamas, and the rest of the Palestinians to give up their fantasies. Until they do, Palestinian leaders will continue to think that they can go on waiting for the West to someday hand Israel over to them on a silver platter.
Indyk: Israel offered Palestinians portions of Area C in West Bank and a building freeze
During the 2013-2014 negotiations Israeli officials were willing to hand portions of Area C of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority and freeze settlement building, Martin Indyk said on Thursday in Tel Aviv.
He served as the US special envoy to the nine months of Israeli-Palestinian talks that ended in failure in April 2014.
“In the last night of the negotiations that I was involved in, the Israeli negotiators came with an offer of tens of thousand of dunams of C Area, that they were prepared to give over to the Palestinian Authority’s control to build what they would want to on them without the permit regime and so on,” Indyk said on Thursday.
“And that came in the context of a settlement freeze,” Indyk told the audience at the Israel Conference on Peace, sponsored by the newspaper Haaretz.
Indyk: Settlement freeze would make Abbas a peace partner ‘tomorrow’
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas could be a partner for peace “tomorrow” if Israel were to impose a freeze on settlement construction, former US special envoy Martin Indyk said Thursday.
Speaking at Haaretz newspaper’s peace conference in Tel Aviv, the former envoy also conceded that the previous round of peace negotiations in 2014, in which he played a role, were a “magnificent failure.”
Abbas “could become a partner tomorrow for the deal you’d like to make if there was a settlement freeze,” he said. “Why not freeze the settlements? Does it affect your security?”
Indyk added that he believed settlements were one of the major issues preventing peace, contrary to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stance on the matter.
Yachad poll of UK Jews and Israel compromised by loaded questions
Lots of headlines yesterday in the UK and Israel about a claimed totally independent survey done by IPSOS MORI, that says a huge percentage of UK Jews feel Israeli policies re settlements make them feel ashamed, the world is going to impose more sanctions if Israel doesn’t get out of the settlements, etc. (A Guardian report by Harriet Sherwood, uncritically citing the survey results, has been shared over 4000 times.)
Which is really strange, because a genuinely independent carefully sampled and non-loaded question survey of UK Jews at the time of the Israeli elections this year found that a huge majority of UK Jews supported Bibi Netanyahu.
Well, the research may have been technically assembled and carried out by IPSOS MORI, but it will have been shaped and the questions devised by the organisation that paid for it, Yachad, and the three retired academics who wrote the covering report, whose views are all in line with those promoted by Yachad, the UK equivalent of JStreet.
You can have all sorts of highly sophisticated number crunching methodology and convincing surrounding kosher social science apparatus attached.
You can even have a section of questions which appear to go against your usual message, just so no-one can claim you’re only asking questions which suit your agenda.
But that’s just a nifty way of covering your back.
Bibi’s Excellent Washington Adventure
Leaving behind a legacy on Israel-Palestine is not Obama’s only concern and is likely not the most important one in the year or so that remains on his presidential clock. This president would like to see a Democrat succeed him. The last time a two-term president passed on the White House to a member of the same party was more than a quarter century ago. The last thing Obama or the Democrats need is a major row with Israel during a presidential election year. It would only give the Republicans ammunition to attack the administration and the Democratic nominee. Should that nominee be Hillary Clinton, a fight with Israel would put her in an awkward position of walking away from the White House. Her recent article in Forward was designed to tout her pro-Israel credentials and the extent to which she’d restore relations with Israel’s government. Still, as Obama’s former secretary of state, she can’t walk too far without undermining her own credibility. After all, she will be hammered for helping shape the very policies that led to the Obama-Bibi wars during the first administration.
Finally, Netanyahu knows that more than likely, come January 2017, he’ll be around and Obama won’t. And he also knows that during the U.S. presidential campaign before that point, the atmosphere will be filled with Republicans and Democrats competing with one another to show who loves and admires Israel (and its prime minister) the most. Bibi will fight Obama and push back against the United States on the peace process and Iran if he needs to. But for now he can maneuver and evade, secure in the knowledge that in just over 51 weeks America will have a new president-elect, one who is most likely, at least in tone and style, more congenial than the old one. Then the only question is how long it will take the new president and Bibi to start annoying one another.
It's Not Just Campuses—Liberal Think Tank Employees Want Safe Space From Netanyahu
The Center for American Progress (CAP), one of the largest and most influential liberal think tanks in Washington, recently extended an invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He spoke there yesterday, and the New York Times write-up notes that Netanyahu "project[ed] a benevolent tone even as he countered criticism of his approach to resolving the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians."
And yet, in the run-up to Netanyahu's speech, a number of CAP employees objected to his appearence because, well, they think he's a bad man and it seems they don't like being exposed to ideas that differ from their own. At a meeting on Friday, some staffers read aloud a statement objecting to Netanyahu's appearence. According to a report in Foreign Policy, "opponents of the upcoming event received an enthusiastic round of applause in the 100-plus person conference room despite the presence of senior CAP leadership." What's notable about the statement, however, is how the rhetoric sounds awfully similar to the embarassing hyperbolic social justice boilerplate we've been hearing at Yale, Mizzou, and other colleges:
Coming to work at CAP gives many of us the opportunity to make this country safe and accepting of all. While we watch the hate crimes, discrimination and biases faced by some of our communities, we come to work every day proud that this institution is a space where our voices will be respected and where our leadership assures we feel safe, respected and heard. In that sense this place isn’t so much a job or a profession or a nine-to-six. It’s a survival tactic. But it’s not just about our individual struggles because, in the words of MLK, we’re not free until we’re all free.
And at CAP we are a family. We spend more hours with one another at this institution than we do with our own families and friends outside the office. It is imperative that we feel confident in this building to improve the lives of all Americans, and essentially to work on getting us all free. It becomes difficult to step outside of our building and say to our allies why this visit is happening, for some of us here we ourselves feel that we were not considered in that decision.

The statement goes on to address Netanyahu's role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a way that is predictably pro-Palestinian. But the expectation that merely being in the same building as a democratically elected head of an important state is a threat to employees' personal well-being, exacerbates their "individual struggles," and is otherwise oppressing people the world over is just cringeworthy. (Also, the employees at CAP spend more time with each other then their friends and families? Get out more, guys.) The statement concludes this way:
Shmuley Boteach: American Jews Should Not Forgive Supporters of the Iran Nuclear Deal
We cannot simply forgive and forget those members of Congress, including our friends, who turned their backs on our principles when we needed them most. They must act now to mitigate the damage of the catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal and hold Iran accountable for its words and deeds. Only then should the pro-Israel community accept them back into the fold. And those who are not willing to atone and stand up to Iran’s genocidal intent against Israel and America should pay an electoral price. They should not receive financial backing from donors. Why would we support elected officials who vote to confer legitimacy on the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism — a regime that has also murdered hundreds of American soldiers? Those who stood beside us in this fight, like Senator Robert Menendez, Israel’s great friend from New Jersey, deserve our thanks and support.
Too many members of Congress take our support for granted, as we learned from the fight over the nuclear deal. That makes us politically weak, and such weakness can lead to the failure to protect Jewish and American values. And history has taught us that powerlessness can have devastating consequences for the Jewish people. As Jews, we believe in forgiving those who atone, but, to simply overlook those who played politics with Israel’s survival? We can’t.
I hope that Netanyahu gets what he asked for from the president in terms of military assistance for Israel. But no conceivable arms package can compensate for allowing Iran to remain an existential threat to the Jewish state. And no conceivable aid package can make up for legitimizing a government that brutalizes its citizens to an horrific degree. I also trust that President Obama will not force Netanyahu to make dangerous concessions to the Palestinians at the very moment when incitement by their leaders is once again making Jewish blood run in the streets. Instead, Netanyahu should consistently and adamantly demand that the president unequivocally condemn the Palestinians, lest the mullahs in Iran be given further evidence that this administration will not take sufficient steps to stop the murder of Jews and to stand up for democratic principles.
Shiite Cleric Asks Top Sunni Institution to Unite with Him Against the Jews
Muqtada Al-Sadr, one of the most influential clerics in the Shiite world, has sent out an olive branch to Egypt’s Al-Azhar, a known hotbed for jihadi indoctrination and the most prominent Sunni institution in the world, seeking to unite the sects of Islam against the Jews.
Al-Sadr, who hails from Iraq, said: “Let’s have a common enemy: jews and their extremist subordinates. Let’s put our hands together,” according to a message published on his website over the weekend.
The Iraqi Shiite leader has been encouraged by Al-Azhar’s recent rejection of describing Shiites as infidels, the Egypt Independent newspaper reported on Monday.
“Here, I do not want to engage in a doctrinal argument,” Al-Sadr continued, “I neither want a Shiite to be a Sunni nor a Sunni to become a Shiite.”
UN: Iran Must Stop Arresting, Harassing Journalists
Iran’s crackdown on journalists is the continuation of an aggressive campaign to limit civil liberties and dissent by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), whose influence is only expected to grow a result of the nuclear agreement signed between the regime and the P5+1 nations in July.
Iran’s government has responded to Shaheed’s efforts to report on the civil rights situation in the Islamic Republic by forging documents suggesting that he was paid by Saudi Arabia to portray Iran in a negative light.
Last month, Shaheed issued a scathing report documenting the government’s meting out of brutal punishments and what he called “its unprecedented assault on the right to life.”
According to the Associated Press, two Iranian poets were imprisoned and sentenced to 99 lashes apiece for shaking hands with members of the opposite sex. In the same report, the AP noted that at least 30 journalists have been arrested by the regime by the end of 2014, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was detained in Iran’s notorious Evin prison for over a year before being convicted of espionage in a secret trial.
In Should the U.S. Take Iran’s Human Rights Problem More Seriously?, which was published in the April 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, senior editor Ben Cohen highlighted Shaheed’s efforts to document Iran’s human rights situation, which has worsened since the election of Hassan Rouhani as president two years ago.
Bumbling Iran hackers target Israelis, Saudis – badly, report shows
The Rocket Kitten hacker gang, according to the report, has for the past two years targeted individuals and organizations in the Middle East, as well as across Europe and in the United States.
But as the report showed, they haven’t been very careful about protecting their identities – leading Checkpoint to term them “amateurs” despite the fact that they are nation-state hackers whose prime directive is to ensure that no one is able to connect them with their government.
Its sloppiness notwithstanding, however, the group has continued to operate, successfully targeting individuals and groups by using poorly crafted phishing emails as well as relatively unsophisticated malware. Said Checkpoint, “The attackers have struck again-and-again by making minor changes to their tools or phishing domains.”
According to the report, most of the attacks – 44% – were against targets in Saudi Arabia, while 14% of them were against Israeli targets. The Checkpoint researchers were able to determine this, they said, because the evidence of who was attacked and when they were targeted were listed in an openly accessible database, that was not even protected by a password.
“’Such a gaping hole must be a decoy. we immediately thought,” the Checkpoint report said. “There is no way nation-state attackers would err in such amateur fashion, leaving their phishing server database exposed… would they?”
Apparently they would, and in addition to allowing password-less root access to any browsing visitor, the hackers committed numerous other sloppy mistakes, such as failing to hide a path to the server from where the attacks originated – providing clear evidence that the attacks originated in Iran. Even the name of the head of the Iranian hacker program – Yaser Balaghi – along with a clear outline of his hacking activities, was easily accessible.
Netanyahu gave red line to Putin on Syria intervention
Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would respond "strongly" to any effort by Iran to establish an offensive corridor on Syria's border with the Golan Heights despite Russian military operations nearby, he said on Monday night.
Speaking to the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which honored him at a black tie gala with its highest award, Netanyahu said that Israel's primary goal is to prioritize its defense threats, and to defeat or mitigate them accordingly.
Those begin with Iran, which— according to the premier, in conversation with the institute's Danielle Pletka— is creating new proxies in both hemispheres on a bimonthly basis.
"Giving Israel the tools" to defend itself, Netanyahu told the gala of two thousand at the city's National Building Museum, requires a drop in the bucket in US aid compared to the cost of Washington's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Report: Russia deploys missiles in Syria that could take down jets as far away as TA
Russian President Vladimir Putin stationed an air-defense missile system in Syria that is capable of striking aircraft as far away as Tel Aviv, according to a report published on Friday.
The S-400 air-defense system has been deployed at the Latakia airbase on the Syrian coast, according to the British Daily Mail newspaper.
The Russian-developed advanced missile system is an upgrade of the S-300 anti-aircraft system, which according to reports Moscow has recently agreed to sell to Tehran.
The S-400 missiles can reach a range of 400 km. and strike aircraft at 90,000 feet. From Latakia, the missiles could reach much of Israel, as well as the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus and southern Turkey.
Russian involvement in the Syrian civil war has stepped up in recent weeks, with Moscow leading air strikes in Syria to support the regime of ally President Bashar Assad.
From Israel’s perspective, there are two emerging consequences of Russia’s aerial intervention in Syria.
The first is that Russia’s allies on the ground in Syria, who happen to be Israel’s bitter enemies, will now expand their troublesome presence near the Israeli border.
The second consequence of Russia’s operations in Syria is that it complicates Israel’s own extensive intelligence efforts and, according to international reports, covert strike sorties over Syria.
The Quakers, No Friends of Israel
American religious history is filled with examples of faiths whose public perceptions defy deeper realities. The Quakers, for instance, are known as peaceful and supremely benign. Few suspect that one central mission is promoting the boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, movement that opposes Israel’s existence.
The commitment of the Quakers through their primary organization, the American Friends Service Committee, is unmistakable. It is a leading member of the BDS umbrella group known as the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and provides support to BDS efforts on numerous college campuses. The AFSC works alongside the Students for Justice in Palestine and the rabidly anti-Zionist Jewish Voice for Peace. Its representatives have even helped write Israel divestment resolutions for student governments.
One Quaker group describes the BDS movement as “the transforming power of love and nonviolence, having faith that enmity can be transformed and that oppression can give way.” How much of the AFSC’s $34 million annual budget is devoted to BDS isn’t known, as the Internal Revenue Service classifies the organization as a church.
Quakers, who tremble or “quake” before God, began as dissenting Protestants in England during the 17th century. Adherents rejected traditional sacraments—baptism and the Bible’s inerrant authority—and instead bore witness through “spirituality in action” and followed the “inner light,” which founder George Fox described as “spirit, and grace, by which all might know their salvation, and their way to God.”
Alan Dershowitz: Selective Outrage on Campus
According to the Johns Hopkins News-Letter, another petition claimed that "by denying Israel's alleged war crimes against Palestinians," I violated the university's "anti-harassment policy" and its "statement of ethical standards." In other words, by expressing my reasonable views on a controversial subject, I harassed students.
Some of the posters advertising my lecture were defaced with Hitler mustaches drawn on my face. Imagine the outcry if comparably insensitive images had been drawn on the faces of invited minority lecturers.
I must add that the Johns Hopkins administration and the student group that invited me responded admirably to the protests, fully defending my right to express my views and the right of the student group to invite me. The lecture went off without any hitches and I answered all the questions -- some quite critical, but all polite -- for the large audience that came to hear the presentation.
The same cannot be said of several other lectures I have given on other campuses, which were disrupted by efforts to shout me down, especially by anti-Israel groups that are committed to preventing pro-Israel speakers from expressing their views.
The point is not only that some students care less about freedom of expression in general than about protecting all students from "micro-aggressions." It is that many of these same students are perfectly willing to make other students with whom they disagree with feel unsafe and offended by their own micro- and macro-aggressions. Consider, for example, a recent protest at the City University of New York by Students for Justice in Palestine that blamed high tuition on "the Zionist Administration [of the University that] invests in Israeli companies, companies that support the Israeli occupation, hosts birthright programs and study abroad programs in occupied Palestine [meaning Israel proper] and reproduces settler-colonial ideology throughout CUNY though Zionist content of education."
Let's be clear what they mean by "Zionist": they mean "Jew". There are many Jewish administrators at City University. Some are probably Zionists. Others are probably not. Blaming Zionists for high tuition is out and out anti-Semitism. It is not micro-aggression. It is in-your-face macro-aggression against City University Jews.
Yet those who protest micro-aggressions against other minorities are silent when it comes to Jews. This is not to engage in comparative victimization, but rather to expose the double standard, the selective outrage and the overt hypocrisy of many of those who would sacrifice free speech on the altar of political correctness, whose content they seek to dictate.
Megyn Kelly, Alan Dershowitz rip liberal fascism on campuses: 'These students are book burners'

The Good Guy – On Peter Tatchell and BDS
Peter Tatchell is one of the best known proponents and organisers of the BDS movement in the UK. He debated the BDS issue with Alan Dershowitz at the Oxford Union this month and followed it up with an article at IB Times setting out the case for BDS.
Peter starts his piece by pointing out that though he lost the vote at that debate there was more to that outcome than meets the eye: “Dershowitz would have won, though perhaps by a smaller majority, without his family members, Israeli Embassy staff and other allies in attendance”.
On the one hand Peter’s remark might simply be read as the complaint of a sore loser, but I think there is something rather more interesting going on there. Jews, Zionists, Israel are almost never seen as abiding by the standard rules of “fair play”. They are almost always accused (subtly or aggressively) of manipulation, exerting undue influence and control. This is one of the abiding tropes of anti-Semitism that has sustained through centuries of discourse around the Jews in order to invert the definition of a small and persecuted minority from powerless to powerful and therefore legitimate suspicion, hatred and containment. That Peter Tatchell demonstrated this reflexive device at the head of his piece is interesting, though one can of course debate intentionality till the cows go home to Oxford’s Port Meadow.
Peter starts his argument by stating that he supports BDS as a “last resort, made necessary because of Israeli intransigence.” And yet any well informed reading of the history of Israeli-Arab/Palestinian positioning over the establishment of a Palestinian state shows that rejectionism has been a consistent and key strand of Arab/Palestinian stances dating back to 1937 when a 2 state settlement was first proposed by the British. Benny Morris – a left wing Israeli historian – traces the multiple instances of this rejectionism in a recent interview published by Fathom. Now, this is not to claim that successive Israeli governments have always been consistent forces of conciliation and compromise, but it is intellectually lazy and/or disingenuous to identify “Israeli intransigence” as the single explanatory factor for why there is no independent Palestinian state. Only the most ill-educated on the subject could possibly make such a claim with a straight face. Anyone who has been passionately interested in the Middle East for decades, as Peter has been, will know that this is simply not the whole story and might in fact possibly not be a significant part of the story at all. Why then – we might wonder – does Peter Tatchell rely on this as the touchstone for his position?
Ferguson Effect: 1000 at Berkeley 'Million Student March'
Roughly 1,000 demonstrators gathered in front of Sproul Hall at the University of California Berkeley to protest for free tuition and demonstrate solidarity with students at the University of Missouri.
The Berkeley demonstration was one of more than 100 across the country, part of a “Million Student March” that demanded free tuition, student debt forgiveness, and a minimum wage of $15 per hour. However, events of the past several days have linked the economic campaign to the broader racial protests sweeping across U.S. campuses.
Earlier this week, students at “Mizzou” deposed both the university president and the chancellor after protests linked to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, sparked by the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson last year.
Anit-Zionist Slogans Dominate CUNY Student Protest at Hunter, Administration Looks Other Way
Vicious implicitly antisemitic slogans were chanted at a protest at Hunter College in Manhattan on Thursday afternoon after organizers on Facebook called for participants to oppose the school’s “Zionist administration.”
But despite footage of the rally circulating online, a spokesperson for Hunter denied the hateful nature of the demonstration.
“Zionists out of CUNY! Zionists out of CUNY,” shouted protesters, who had ostensibly gathered to fight for free tuition and other benefits.
“Intifada! Intifada! Long live the Intifada,” they chanted, as a group of Jewish students waved Israeli flags nearby.
A Hunter College representative, who had not been made aware of the demonstration — or the blatantly antisemitic social media announcements — responded Thursday evening: “The rally just took place. There were less than 50 students and it was totally focused on tuition. There was no claim of antisemitism.”
CUNY Hunter Chants
The face of anti-Semitism: what does tuition have to do with the Zionists?! Here it is ...

Students for Justice in Palestine Hosts a Supporter of Terrorism against America
My aunt was supposed to be on one of the planes. On September 11th, 2001, she slept in, missed her flight, and saved her own life. Even as a Canadian, I had many friends back home whose family members were not so lucky. Many of you, as Americans, have even more gut-wrenching stories. 9/11 was an event that shook America – and indeed, the world – to its core. But you all know that.
Or at least, I thought you did. I was appalled to learn that tonight, Students for Justice in Palestine at Stanford (SJP) and the Arab Students Association at Stanford (ASAS) will host Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian physician and politician who openly supported 9/11 and others attacks like it.
Only weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Gilbert told a Norwegian newspaper this about 9/11: “If the US government has a legitimate right to bomb and kill civilians in Iraq, also the oppressed have a moral right to attack the United States with the weapons they may create.” Stunned, the reporter asked him to clarify if he supported terror attacks against America. Dr. Gilbert responded, “Terror is a poor weapon, but my answer is yes.” When told that his views would make front-page headlines, Dr. Gilbert continued, “The white world does not understand that it is possible to see such an action in a different perspective.”
Days later, Dr. Gilbert went into damage control mode and apologized for his comments, but this type of extremism comes as no surprise from him. Dr. Gilbert has called for “bloody” revolutions and made numerous false accusations against Israel, including covering up evidence of the terrorist usage of Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital, and he even called for the boycott of Medicins Sans Frontières for not taking political sides. No ordinary doctor, he told The Guardian “My camera is my Kalashnikov.”
Settlement: Steven Salaita gives up claim to faculty job
Will get $600,000, but gives up demand for tenured position.
The saga of controversial anti-Israel professor Steven Salaita is coming to an end, at least as concerns the University of Illinois.
Salaita, whose inflammatory tweets prior to and during the 2014 Gaza conflict caused the Board of Trustees not to approve his conditional offer of a tenured position, sued in federal court. The University indicated early on that it would cut Salaita a check, but Salaita has been insistent as a matter of principle and justice for the Palestinian cause that he would accept nothing less than a tenured position.
But Salaita has given up that principled position and accepted money in settlement of all claims.
BREAKING Western Liberals Hope Radical Muslim Groups Can Supplant Corrupt American Empire With Righteous Islamic One (satire)
The ‘American Empire’ is more than just the name of a boring college class taught by some old commie at one of the U.S.’s many liberal arts feel-gooderies– it’s a system that some liberals claim is the root of all the world’s ills. From famine in Africa and wars in the Middle East, to the Boston Red Sox and Kim Kardashian’s fame, all the evil can all be blamed on the most star-spangled country the world has ever seen. But it seems that despite the fact that many of these liberals hail from the home of the Cronut, they can’t seem to find a dictionary that has the word “hypocrite” in it. This is certainly the case when it comes to Middle Eastern affairs, as the demographic in question seems to like the idea of a caliphate a whole supersized-Big Mac-more than U.S. policies.
In the same breath, these neo-hippies will denounce fascism and imperialism, and go on to champion the cause of fascist, imperialist radical groups seeking to reestablish the caliphate. They support the missions of these anti-neo-hippies just because they appear to be partners in the fight against the birthplace of cheese in a can, and why liberals hate cheese in a can so much remains a mystery.
BBC could be perceived as 'institutionally antisemitic' says leading academic
The BBC could be perceived as “institutionally antisemitic”, according to a leading academic expert on Jew-hatred.
Lesley Klaff, senior law lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, accused the BBC of “recycling antisemitic tropes”.
She said that the disproportionate attention afforded to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the BBC suggested it could be seen as institutionally antisemitic.
Ms Klaff made the comment at Finchley United Synagogue, north London, on Tuesday, at an event co-organised by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), Campaign4Truth and monitoring group BBC Watch.
The organisers said over 500 people attended.
Citing studies from the Community Security Trust and the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism which showed a correlation between media coverage and antisemitic incidents during the Gaza conflict in the summer of 2014, Ms Klaff concluded: “The BBC plays a significant role in the creation and or maintenance of negative attitudes towards British Jews.”
Fellow panellist Jonathan Turner, chairman of the UK Lawyers for Israel group, asked audience members to raise their hands if they had ever made a complaint to the BBC. Almost everyone in the room had.
‘Muslim’ Heathrow Official Tried To Enforce Mosque Rules On A Rabbi In Airport’s Multi-Faith Prayer Room
A British Rabbi has launched a complaint after mosque practices were enforced in a supposed multi-faith prayer room at London’s Heathrow airport.
Liverpool university Rabbi Shmuli Brown visited one of Heathrow’s nine interfaith prayer rooms after flying back from the United States to make his morning prayers, reports the theJC.
Speaking to the paper, Rabbi Brown reported during his prayers he was interrupted by “a man in uniform, though I am not sure from which department”. The man proceeded to ask Rabbi Brown to take his shoes off while he was in the multi-faith prayer room — as is the faith in Muslim mosques.
Tweeting about the incident, the Rabbi claimed the staff member who tried to force the rule on him was “Muslim”.
The airport’s own Rabbi has since confirmed this was not the first time worshippers have been asked to remove their shoes in the prayer room.
Watch: UK court rules this vile anti-Semitic rant is legal
Cohen, who founded the Israel Advocacy Movement, described how a "furious" Abdullah emerged out of nowhere and began screaming at other Muslims who had been peacefully engaging with him "don't trust the Jews, they're evil!"
"Fearing for my safety I took out my camera to capture whatever events were about to unfold," he told Arutz Sheva.
What unfolded was a bizarre, vitriolic, hate-filled rant, into which Abdullah astonishingly managed to fit almost every possible anti-Jewish trope - from simultaneously denying and justifying the holocaust, to claiming Jews drink Christian children's blood and quoting the infamous anti-Semitic forgery "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Among other insults, he branded Jews "Asian monkeys," "blood-suckers" ("both literally and metaphorically"), "whores," and asserted that they "genetically smell."
Abdullah further declared that Hitler "was the best president Europe ever had," and that the holocaust - which both did and didn't happen - was intended to "educate" the Jews. He also said that ISIS "is the best."
An incredulous Cohen can be heard laughing at points, as the increasingly outlandish and at time incoherent rant went on; but he said that he did feel genuinely threatened - particularly when Abdullah, who claimed to be an Algerian, lunged at him, grabbing his phone and smashing it on the floor.
Nordstrom pulls ‘offensive’ Hanukkah sweater
The Nordstrom department store chain pulled a women’s Hanukkah sweater from its outlets and its website after it was criticized for perpetuating negative stereotypes of Jewish women.
The blue sweater has the words “Chai Maintenance” knitted on the top and “Hanukkah J.A.P.” on the bottom. J.A.P. stands for Jewish American Princess, a pejorative.
The sweater still appears on the website, but only the back, which has no writing, is visible and the page says “Product not available.” It was removed earlier this week.
A men’s version says “Mazel tov” on the top front and “Oy vey” on the back, and Happy Hanukkah on both sides. It remains on sale.
Ioanina's Jews: Remants of a vibrant Romanioti community
Not all Jewish visitors to Greece have the city of Ioanina, capital of the northwestern Epirus province bordered by the Pindus mountain range, in their itinerary, but they may wish to add it once they are aware of its unique Jewish history.
Only 30 kms from the popular Vikos Gorge (the deepest canyon in the world according to Guinness), it is a long drive from Athens, but a pleasant one, by way of the modern highways that cross Greece today. The view from above as one approaches the city, spread out around placid Lake Poamvotida, is breathtaking and seems quintessentially Greek.
Yet Ioanina was also a welcome refuge for Jews in ancient times. The first Jews, labelled Romanioti, came to the city from the Holy Land after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E by Rome. Greece is a relatively short distance from Israel, and Ioanina, inland from the Ionic sea coast, was possibly a good place for the defeated Jews to look for some tranquility in a land that also did not see the Romans as friends. The city was not too isolated, as it was situated on the ancient road from Rome to Constantinople, a route the modern highway follows to a great extent.
This traditional account of Jewish history was scoffed at by Greek scholars who dated the city's existence from a later period. However, recent archaeological excavations in the city, now a tourist attraction, show that the Jewish tradition was correct and the city did exist during Temple times.
Paradise lost, and remembered, for the Jews of Rhodes
Under a blazing July sun in 1944 the Nazis forced 1,800 men, women and children of Rhodes onto waiting ferryboats. This was the start of a harrowing three-week journey to Auschwitz-Birkenau and signified the Nazis’ attempt to obliterate all traces of the Greek island’s Jewish presence.
The Jews of Rhodes were first mentioned in the Book of Maccabees and for more than 2,000 years stood at the intersection of East and West. When the Nazis occupied the island it appeared their culture, as well as the people, would be forever lost. But Dr. Richard Freund, Director of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford, is making sure that doesn’t happen.
A new exhibit at the university — “It was Paradise: Jewish Rhodes” — explores the island’s more recent Jewish community, and links between ancient Israel and the Greek island. It also showcases Turkey’s consul Selahettin Üklümen, who saved the lives of 42 Greek Jews during World War II, as well as displays of personal items and books in Ladino on loan from the Rhodes Jewish Museum.
“I’ve worked on ancient sites in Israel, I’ve worked in Sobibor in Poland and I was struck how sad it was for this small island Jewish culture to be wiped out in the space of an afternoon. It’s cataclysmic,” Freund said. “This is a way of not giving Hitler a posthumous victory.”
The exhibit was born of Freund’s 2014 archeological excavation of the island’s Kahal Shalom synagogue. Founded in 1557 the synagogue was destroyed during the Allied bombing of Rhodes but has since been restored; it is the oldest synagogue in Greece today.
Treasured collection of rare Hebrew texts to be auctioned off
Sotheby's is offering what experts consider the world's most important private library of Hebrew books and manuscripts, collected by a London diamond dealer.
The 11,000 items document life in the Jewish Diaspora from Europe and Africa to Asia, spanning a millennium, Sotheby's vice chairman David Redden told The Associated Press on Thursday. Some items have burn or water marks or other signs of religious persecution such as censored, inked-over passages.
On Dec. 22, a dozen treasures from the collection will go on the auction block, including a Hebrew Bible from 1189, the only surviving dated Hebrew manuscript written before the Jews were expelled from England in 1290, Sotheby's said.
The "glory" of the auction, Redden said, is the first printing of the Talmud in Venice in the 1520s. The pope in Rome then issued an edict banning Hebrew books, and by 1550 most were burned or otherwise destroyed.
The 16th-century Oxford University professor who owned this Talmud had willed it to London's Westminster Abbey, where it sat for 450 years, Redden said.
For first time, Israel to honor Jews expelled from Arab states
The heritage of the Jews who fled Arab and Muslim lands will be celebrated with much fanfare on Nov. 30 at the Malha Arena in Jerusalem. This is the first time such a large, state-sponsored event is held in memory of those Jews.
Last year, then-Regional Cooperation Minister and current Interior Minister Silvan Shalom spearheaded a campaign to increase awareness on this issue and introduced a special bill to that effect. The measure passed, setting Nov. 30 as a special day dedicated to the theme, "The Exit and Deportation of Jews from Arab Lands and Iran." Under its provisions, the Knesset must hold special meetings on that date. The first such meeting was held last year.
The event in Jerusalem is a brainchild of Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel. A 10-member musical ensemble will honor the Jews who lived in 10 different regions for about 3,000 years until their forced departure, which began in the late 1930s, against the backdrop of the Jewish struggle for independence. The event will include artifacts and audiovisual displays honoring the communities, some of which could be traced to the Babylonian Exile following the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. Many of the Jews left behind their property and effects. It is estimated that some 50% of their descendants live in Israel.

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 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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