Monday, March 24, 2014

From Ian:

Double Trouble: The Leftist Threat and the Islamist Threat
Focusing on Islam, however, does not preclude worrying about the left. Both are worrisome. More to the point, they are not unrelated threats. It is unrealistic to think of the two ideological movements—the one secular, the other religious—as separate and distinct, as though we can afford to tackle the immediate threat first and the remote one later. In reality, leftism and Islamism are best understood as a combined threat. Radical leftists and radical Islamists share similar ideologies and goals and have formed numerous alliances, both tacit and not-so-tacit.
The words “Islamism” and “Islamist” were chosen because of their similarity to “communism” and “communist,” but the ideological similarities between Islam and communism were noted long before the politicized terms came into common usage. The list of philosophers, historians and intellectuals who have likened Islam to communism includes Bertrand Russell, Arthur Koestler, Whittaker Chambers, Jules Monnerot, and Bernard Lewis. More tellingly, the three most influential Islamic theorists of the twentieth century—Hassan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb and Maulana Maududi—were all deeply impressed with Soviet communism. Though they rejected the atheistic element of communism, they recognized its affinities with Islam, and their writings reflect the influence of leftist thought.
The Real Problem With Academia Isn’t the Anti-Israel Boycotts; It’s the Horrible Ideas
Just what is wrong with academia these days? If you’ve been reading Tablet, you are surely versed in the grand guignol that is the attempt by clusters of professors in a host of professional associations that have little or nothing to do with the Middle East to single out Israel as the world’s singular source of evil. It’s a fun story to follow, mainly because—as that great poet of power, Henry Kissinger, noted—the politics are so vicious because the stakes are so low. With precision that would’ve made Newton swoon, for every BDS action there is an equal and opposite and much greater anti-BDS action, and unless you’ve got your mind set on becoming a post-modernist, post-colonialist, post-Focauldian doctoral candidate in a second-tier university, chances are you can live a happy and fulfilling life and never give the rumbles of a few nasty and misguided fools another thought.
But BDS isn’t the problem. What should concern us, what is truly harmful, isn’t what a few academic organizations choose to do, but what many academic departments choose to teach. And the spirit of what they choose to teach is intimated in Evelyn Barish’s thrilling new biography of Paul de Man.
How to thwart terrorism at 29,000 feet, by the only pilot who ever did
With world attention focused on MH370, Uri Bar-Lev recalls how he saved his El Al passengers from an attempted skyjacking, and says other pilots should have been trained to do the same — on 9/11 and in countless other cases
On September 6, 1970, Bar-Lev, who had flown as a 16-year-old in the 1948 War of Independence and later during the 1956 War, was picked up from his Amsterdam hotel and brought to Schiphol airport to fly the second leg of El Al Flight 219 from Tel Aviv to New York. Before take-off, El Al’s security officer on duty at the airport told the pilot that there were four suspicious people seeking to board the flight. Two held Senegalese passports with consecutive numbers; two others, a couple, carried less suspicious looking Honduran passports, but all had ordered their tickets at the last minute.

Cloaked in Cowardice
It almost feels as if a disease is spreading throughout the world. Fueled by media hype and encouraged by certain academic personnel, it seems that Israel is the villain in the precarious situation in the Middle East. It is de rigueur to delegitimize the only true democracy in the region.
The malaise does not stop there. In countries where one might not expect it, Jews are feeling less and less comfortable about being observant and more and more concerned about movements to outlaw religious observances such as circumcision and kashrut.
Why is this happening? Have we done too good a job of assimilating? Have we become too successful, won too many Nobel Prizes, and reached disproportionate status for a people of our size? Have we become a part of that politically incorrect 1 percent, or is it just that acknowledging something positive about Jews might offend other populations who are perceived to be persecuted?
How "progressive" is Jordan now? New court ruling on veiled women may suggest otherwise....
The Jordanian Women’s Union, along with lawyers across the Hashemite Kingdom, expressed shock last week after a ruling discriminating against women who do not wear the Islamic hijab was issued by the Amman Sharia Court of Appeal, according to Al Medanah News.
The court announced late last week that it agreed with one lawyer's statement - based on a fatwa - that says a woman who does not cover up or wear a hijab is considered a “slut” and shouldn't be allowed to testify in court.
In response, The Women’s Union released a statement published on Amman net that describes the court’s decision as discrimination against women and a violation of the Jordanian Constitution, which considers all Jordanian men and women as equals.
Jimmy Carter: Obama Doesn't Ask My Advice
Sunday, on Meet the Press, former President Jimmy Carter revealed that Barack Obama does not seek out his advice and blames their differing approaches in handling the Israeli—Palestinian conflict.
NBC host Andrea Mitchell spoke with Carter. Here is their conversation:
Mitchell: Why do you think you don't have that relationship with Barack Obama?
Carter: I -- that's a hard question for me to answer, you know, with complete candor. I think the problem was that in dealing with the issue of peace between Israel and Egypt, the Carter Center has taken a very strong and public position of equal treatment between the Palestinians and Israelis and I think this was a sensitive area in which the president didn't want to be involved. When he first came out with his speech in Cairo calling for the end of all settlements and he later said that the '67 borders would prevail, he and I were looking at it from the same perspective. But I can understand those sensitivities and I don't have any criticism of it.
Christians in Israel to EU: “Stop Christian Ethnic Cleansing in Arab Countries”
150 Christian citizens of Israel demonstrated today (Mar. 23) outside the European Union’s delegation in Tel Aviv against the EU’s silence in relation to what they termed “the ethnic cleansing of Christians throughout the Middle East.” The protesters demanded that the EU act on their own cry for human rights and fight for the Christians throughout the Middle East, who are quickly becoming extinct everywhere but Israel.
Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth and strong proponent of Christian enlistment in the IDF, demanded that the attacks on Christians be stopped and thanked Israel for being a warm home for Christians.
Boycott Movement Summer Camps Aim to Change Campus Debate
Though the boycott-Israel movement remains mostly on the fringes of American life, serious efforts are under way to put it firmly in the mainstream, with a heavy focus on fighting the battle for college campuses. Last year the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker group relentlessly hostile to Israel, teamed up with the anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic Jewish Voices for Peace, to host summer institutes dedicated to teaching students how to agitate against Israel. Last week the same two groups announced they are hosting similar training again.
Boycott of Israeli academic journals indirectly aided by U.S. academic publishers
If ASA operates similarly to other small academic organizations with which I am familiar, most of the programming revenue would come from the annual meeting, including member registration fees. A key component also would come from advertising and exhibiting in connection with the annual meeting.
Advertising rates for ASA’s Annual Meeting Book can run in the thousands of dollars for multi-page spreads. Exhibitors pay at least $750 for a standard booth, with offers available for multiple booth combinations.
So who are these advertisers and exhibitors providing key revenue to an organization that has signed onto an international boycott which includes a boycott of Israeli academic journals?
Anti-Israel campus failures lead to threats of “direct action”
When they lose a motion to table a resolution, they claim it’s a denial of their free speech rights — but no one stops them from speaking; a motion to table a resolution is a legitimate procedural device (just ask Democrats in the Senate).
Nonetheless, these pro-BDS students now are taking “direct action.” Anti-Israel students at U. Michigan have taken over the student government offices, renaming it the Edward Said Lounge.
A leader of Northeastern SJP, Max Geller (see more about him here) writes in The Nation to expect more “direct action”:
Racism 101 for Rania Khalek
Khalek’s Electronic Intifada piece is entitled “Does The Nation have a problem with Palestinians?” She argues there – if this is what it can be called – that the Nation’s coverage of the BDS movement was dominated by the voices of Jewish writers. Dismissing the fact that “the majority of pieces in the latest debate were in favor of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS),” Khalek goes on to complain that “when it comes to Israel and Palestine, The Nation habitually reinforces Israeli apartheid by privileging Jewish voices over Palestinian ones.” According to Khalek, it is also ridiculous to believe that “four Jews and one Palestinian” could provide a “diversity of views,” as the Nation’s editor and publisher had claimed.
Jewish Advocacy Group: California Must Address Campus Anti-Semitism
The leadership of the Jewish advocacy group the AMCHA Initiative, will testify on Friday, March 21, before a California Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate.
AMCHA Initiative will be urging members of the state committee to examine campus antisemitism and to take the proper steps to ensure Jewish students feel safe and welcome at California’s colleges and universities.
“Unfortunately, antisemitism at U.S. colleges, and, especially, in California, is growing at an alarming rate,” stated Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a UC professor and AMCHA Initiative cofounder.
“It is a concern we hear about daily from members of California’s Jewish community, including university alumni, rabbis, professors, religious school principals and, of course, students, parents and grandparents.”
“Students have reported to us that they feel uncomfortable speaking freely about their support for Israel and have felt unsafe at times in their classrooms and on campus because they are Jewish,” explained Leila Beckwith, a UC professor and AMCHA Initiative cofounder.
Younger, Educated and Affluent – The UK's Terror Sympathizers
A British research study of Muslim radicalization is challenging some key conventional wisdom. It identifies "youth, wealth, and being in full-time education" as potential risk factors
Less than 3 percent of the 600 British Muslims surveyed by London's Queen Mary University were sympathetic with terrorism, while another 6 percent "remained neutral."
But those with the highest sympathy were respondents born in the United Kingdom, under age 20 and full time students. In addition, people from high income homes – more than £75,000 a year ($123,000) were more prone to sympathize with political violence. People with mental health problems also were more likely to support terror.
Comparing the BBC’s coverage of two tragic stories from Gaza
The fact that no mention of this latest incident of a child being killed in the Gaza Strip because of the actions of Palestinian terror organisations has appeared in any BBC News report will not come as much of a surprise to readers because the BBC habitually turns a blind eye to the many cases of Palestinian casualties caused by short-falling missiles and other terrorist activity of the type which resulted in the death of little Mohammed al Hamadin.
That state of affairs raises uncomfortable questions about which factors in a story relating to Palestinian casualties make it newsworthy – or not – as far as the BBC is concerned and why an incident in which a child was killed that does not further a preconceived political narrative is not told to BBC audiences.
Remember the BBC’s 2013 Iron Dome story?
Readers may remember that around this time last year the BBC News website published items by Jonathan Marcus and Kevin Connolly which suggested to audiences that Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system might not actually work.
Jonathan Marcus’ article titled “Israel’s Iron Dome: Doubts over success rate” appeared on March 12th 2013 and that was followed on April 22nd by two items from Kevin Connolly: a filmed report also shown on BBC television news programmes and a written article.
Recently however, the US embassy in Tel Aviv’s chief defence attaché put forward an interesting proposal.
“A U.S. general proposed on Monday that Israel upgrade its anti-missile systems to include neighboring Jordan and possibly Egypt, and an Israeli official cautiously welcomed the idea.
B.C. Radio Station Broadcasts Anti-Semitic Report Accusing Israel of Genocide
The segment broadcast on CFAX1070, a radio station in Victoria, British Columbia, saw Anchor Jessop use Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s historic trip to Israel and the Mideast region as an opportunity to trump up libelous claims that Jews – once the victims of the Nazis – are carrying out a genocide of Palestinians. It should be noted that comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy and actions to that of the Nazis fits the European Union’s, U.S. State Department’s, and Canada’s Ottawa Protocol’s working definition of anti-Semitism.
This program’s comparisons certainly do not hold up to scrutiny and were not deserving of airtime by this radio station. As Deborah Lipstadt, Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at the Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University noted, comparing “Jews to Nazis is not only ill-informed, it demonstrates a certain prejudice – anti-Semitism – which will never help resolve the situation. Whatever one thinks of Israeli policy, to describe it as akin to the Nazi policy of murdering all of European Jewry is to engage in anti-Semitism and a form of Holocaust denial.”
34% of Hungarians Blame 'Jewish Conspiracy' for Economic Woes
A survey carried out by TEV, the umbrella organization for combating anti-Semitism in Hungary, points to a slight decrease in the level of anti-Semitism in the country, even as the right-wing party Jobbik gains strength in Hungary. TEV includes representatives of all parts of the country's Jewish population.
In the survey, Hungarians were asked about their attitudes toward the country's Jews. The results were presented in a comprehensive study that analyzed the results based on various social cross-sections.
Egyptian Satirist’s Plagiarism of Jewish Author Prompts Anti-Semitic Maelstrom on Twitter
Youssef has a large following of 2.5 million Twitter users because of the popularity of his television program, reminiscent of Jon Stewart’s satirical Daily Show. Many of those followers “trolled” Judah, one sending him a photo of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. A Twitter user explained that some people saw it as an opportunity to go after Youssef because he plagiarized someone Jewish, “The knives are out for Bassem Youssef, and they think they finally got him,” the BBC reported Nervana Mahmoud as saying.
Judah tweeted: “Dear Egyptians! I was victim of stolen article, I accept apology, forgive man, I explain I believe peace and I get mass hate? Very uncool.”
As France Goes to Polls, Jewish Leader Says Anti-Semitism Linking Extreme Left and Right (INTERVIEW)
In an interview with The Algemeiner, Yonathan Arfi, vice president of Jewish umbrella group Crif (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France), said “the National Front is categorized clearly as an extreme right party, but in the last few years it has been able to attract voters who previously used to vote for the extreme left.”
“What is very worrying for us is when anti-Semitism makes the link between extreme left and extreme right,” he said, referring to a major Paris rally earlier this year where marchers chanted “Jew, France is not for you.” At the demonstration “there were people from the extreme right mainly but some people of the extreme left as well,” Arfi said.
Sanctions on Russia would send Israel to World Cup
Israel would participate in the 2014 World Cup if the head of international soccer’s governing body heeds the suggestion of two US senators to sanction Russia over its Crimea actions.
Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dan Coates (R-Ind.) in their letter last week urged FIFA Chairman Sepp Blatter to suspend Russia from the World Cup in Brazil as punishment for its takeover of Crimea.
If Russia is banned from participation, its place would be assigned to Israel, which finished third in Group F at the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, trailing Russia and Portugal.
"The success of the 'Tavor' has taken us by surprise"
When Israeli small arms manufacturer IWI decided to enter the US arms market with their Tavor assault rifle, they were hoping to sell 6,000 rifles during their first year of operations.
The actual results have exceeded even the most optimistic projections: in nine months, not less than 15,000 Tavor rifles have been sold throughout the USA. At the same time as the commercial success, the Tavor rifle – in its first year in the USA – has been selected by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and American Rifleman Magazine for their Golden Bullseye Award as 2014 Rifle of the Year.
Computer access for the poorest, at $7 a head
An Israeli start-up is embarking on what could be one of the most important tech projects to ever hit the developing world, it believes. Beginning next month, hundreds of kids and adults in Mathare, located in Nairobi, Kenya – one of the world’s worst slums – will be joining the world’s “digital elite,” with computing devices that will allow them to use the latest software, access the Internet, and develop the skills needed for success in tomorrow’s world.
And it will only cost seven dollars a head, said Philipp Pfeffer, Brand Manager for Keepod, the “social enterprise” company behind the Unite for Mathare Project.
“Seventy percent of the world’s population doesn’t have access to a computer of any kind,” said Pfeffer. “Keepod has developed a way to bridge that digital divide, in Africa and all over the world – not by buying everyone a laptop, but by supplying them with an operating system, software, and storage on USB ‘disk on key’ flash drives.”
Knesset introduces bill to mark ‘Aliyah Day’
If passed, the bill will designate the 10th of Nisan, which this year falls on April 10, as an official day of national celebration in which Jewish immigration to Israel is honored and noteworthy immigrants are recognized for their contributions to the nation. The day would be marked by special activities in the education system, a discussion in the Knesset plenum and other official events.
The bill will not become law in time for this year’s holiday, as the Knesset went to its spring recess at the end of last week. But MKs confirmed to The Times of Israel this week that the bill will advance when the Knesset returns to its summer session in June.

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