Does the JPost want Israel to be utterly alone in the world? 
Posted: 07 May 2010

A typically arrogant Jerusalem Post editorial. Israel couldn’t survive without Diaspora support so God forbid some of us are critical about the state’s policies. Let them try and live for one day without Uncle Sam (and Western Jews) by their side:

A group of European Jews, apparently working under the premise that Israel’s leaders lack reason, issued a Web-based petition last weekend entitled “European Jewish Call for Reason.” As of Thursday, the petition, dubbed JCall, had been signed by about 5,000 self-defined Jewish citizens of Europe – including respected intellectuals such as Bernard Henri-Lévy and Alain Finkielkraut – though the establishment European Jewish organizations have criticized the initiative.
JCall denounces Israeli settlements as “morally and politically wrong” and beseeches the European Union and the US to “put pressure on both parties” to “achieve a reasonable and rapid solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict.”
Its raison d’etre and very name are modeled after J Street, a Washington-based lobby group with widening grassroots support. But JCall is currently nothing more than an online petition.
Its drafters, who include the chairman of Peace Now in France, David Chelma – a former IDF officer born in Tunisia who served in the Yom Kippur War before moving to France in 1977 – were careful, to their credit, to acknowledge that “the final decision [about a peace agreement with the Palestinians] belongs to the sovereign people of Israel.”
Still, one cannot escape the sad irony inherent in the initiative: Here they are, the remnant of European Jewry, expressing their lacking faith in the political reason of their own brethren – the Jewish leaders of Israel – while choosing to placing their own destinies in the hands of Germany, France, Austria and other countries that failed miserably to protect their Jewish citizens during the Holocaust.
Europe’s historical baggage did not escape the authors of the petition. Indeed, they noted that “history confers on Europe a particular responsibility in this region of the world.”
It is not, however, the responsibility to respect the sovereign Jewish nation’s decisions as it seeks to protect its people more effectively than Europe did seven decades ago. Rather, JCall is imploring Europe to press a solution on Israel, and thus essentially declaring that it trusts EU nations to champion Israel’s existential interests more effectively than our democratically elected government.
Most galling of all, these Diaspora Jews proceed in their advocacy knowing that the violent consequences of any failed initiative they would help impose would be paid not by themselves, far away in Europe, but by us – “unreasonable” Israelis who might be forced to live next to a hastily created, terrorist-sponsoring Palestinian state in the West Bank.
Apparently unthinkable to JCall, and arrogant others like it, is the possibility that Israel has been unable to reach a viable peace with the Palestinians because of the other side’s intransigence, and that Israeli leaders’ caution today, even as they seek a two-state partnership, is warranted.
JCALL RAISES a question about Diaspora Jews’ fascination, even obsession, with Israel. One might ask why many Diaspora Jews feel the need to maintain such close scrutiny of a country in which they have chosen not to live. Not all exiled peoples maintain such strong emotional ties to their mother countries.
Obviously, part of the reason is the centrality of the Land of Israel in Jewish liturgy, theology, history and culture, whether as an idyllic symbol of redemption or as the spiritual and physical homeland of all Jews. But another part of the explanation is some Diaspora Jews’ discomfort with the way Zionism is being represented in Europe.
“The word Zionist has become an insult in France,” Roger Cukierman, the former president of the French Jewish umbrella group CRIF and vice president of the World Jewish Congress, explained to the JTA recently.
“In our streets we hear ‘Israel murderer, Israel apartheid.’ They set fire to the flag of Israel, they boycott its products,” added Cukierman, who said he was empathetic to the JCall initiative – though he did not sign, out of concern that it would split European Jewry.
True, visibly Jewish Europeans often pay a heavy price for anti-Israel sentiments. Admittedly, it is difficult to constantly defend Israeli policies against a flood of anti-Zionist criticism. Perhaps signing a petition critical of Israel makes life easier.
The sad truth is that there are no instant solutions to the disproportionately negative bias heaped on Israel. But seeking to force Israel into a potentially dangerous imposed deal with a Palestinian people not yet prepared to live side-by-side with a Jewish state is no solution for us here in Zion, and it is no answer to what some of European Jewry regards as an uncomfortable Zionist connection.

How far does Thai law reach? 
Posted: 07 May 2010

What’s wrong with this picture?

Reporters Without Borders and the World Organization for Human Rights USA (“Human Rights USA”) are outraged that Anthony Chai, an American citizen from California, was interrogated by Thai officials in Thailand and again later in the U.S. for allegedly insulting the monarchy in 2006. Originally from Thailand, Chai was granted US citizenship in the late 1970s. He faces possible arrest if he returns to Thailand.
In 2006, Thai officials also contacted the company who hosted http://www.manusaya.com, the website where comments about the Thai king were traced to Chai’s business computer. It is believed that Chai’s IP address was provided by the web hosting company without his knowledge. In response, the U.S.-based hosting company shut down the website.
“We are concerned about the widespread impact of Thailand’s lese majeste laws, including the direct implications for nationals of other countries, especially at a time of political tension through out the country.” the organizations said. “Chai’s case seems to show that American authorities do not object to foreign officials interrogating US citizens on American soil .
Even more scandalous, Thai officials can require American firms to comply with Thai laws even when operating in the US . This is contradictory to US law and protection of national business. We are urging the Department of Justice to take action regarding this case”, Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights USA declared.
Anthony Chai told Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights USA: ”According to one of the officials who came to interrogate me, he said he wanted to finish his report and to secure documents, booklets relating to the Thai monarchy.
Fearing that I might not be able to go back to Thailand, I did cooperate with him, the Thai prosecutor and a palace representative fully. They were a party of three. I answered whatever he needed for his police report and gave him some literature and booklets regarding the Thai monarchy that my assistant and I had received in the mail during the past years. I was shocked to learn that Thai authorities have decided to file a lese majeste charge against me.”
The Fourth Amendment of the American Constitution states: “The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Give a gun to every American and see how that goes 
Posted: 07 May 2010

What an insane country (via the New York Times editorial page):

Congress, for example, is cowering before the gun lobby insistence that even terrorist suspects who are placed on the “no-fly list” must not be denied the right to buy and bear arms. Suspects on that list purchased more than 1,100 weapons in the last six years, but Congress has never summoned the gumption to stop this trade in the name of public safety and political sanity.

The Jewish state may soon end sending public officials into the firing line 
Posted: 07 May 2010

A few Israelis are challenged in the West and the state considers ending public talks? Perhaps isolation of Zionism is having more of an effect than we think:

Foreign Ministry officials are considering stopping the lectures by senior figures around the world, particularly in Britain.  The reason: The outspoken verbal attacks by students and pro-Palestinian activists, which render them ineffective.  The attacks peaked last week, when demonstrators assaulted the Israeli deputy ambassador to Britain at the end of a lecture she gave at the University of Manchester.
Ma’ariv has learned that Israeli diplomats stationed in the US have significantly reduced the number of public lectures that they give to students, as a result of the frequent heckling.  The last [lecture] was given by Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren in February at the University of California.
“It seems that giving lectures in public halls at universities in Britain is becoming ineffective in terms of PR.  The pro-Palestinian students cause major disruptions and prevent any dialogue.  In the worst case, the lecture is simply stopped,” a Foreign Ministry source said, “in the end, the heckling and the incitement get the newspaper headlines, and not the message that the lecturer wanted to convey.”
The Foreign Ministry has raised several alternative ideas.  One of them is to increase the use of social networks as a means of PR.  The Foreign Ministry has several staff members who are considered experts on public diplomacy using the Web, including Deputy Director of the Training Bureau Yaron Gamburg and Ilan Sztulman of the Public Affairs Department.  Another alternative is to allow the lectures to continue only in closed forums of lecturers and teachers.
Last week, it was reported that the Deputy Israeli Ambassador to London, Talya Lador-Fresher, was attacked at the end of her lecture at Manchester University by violent pro-Palestinian demonstrators.
As soon as she stepped out of the lecture theater she was stormed by the demonstrators, until security was able to smuggle her back inside the room. Afterwards, she was escorted out in a police car, but the demonstrators surrounded the vehicle and even climbed on top of the bonnet.
Israeli Ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, believes that the public lectures must not be cancelled, despite the attacks. Even Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, who suffered disruptions throughout his lecture in February, believes that “We have to appear in every forum open to us, despite the disruptions.
We cannot leave the floor open to enemies of Israel. If we show weakness, and show that their violence and shouting is working, they will continue like that everywhere we go”.

Greens finally make their mark in the UK 
Posted: 06 May 2010

Despite the British electoral chaos, a small piece of history occurred yesterday:

The Green Party was this morning celebrating having its first MP in Britain with the election of Caroline Lucas.
She won the Brighton Pavillion constituency from Labour in what many consider is the nation’s most ‘alternative’ city.
The leader of the Greens was regarded as the frontrunner but there were fears of a surge by the Liberal Democrats amid the excitement surrounding Nick Clegg.
However, as the Liberal democrats suffered a disapopointuing night nationwide, Ms Lucas was able to claim victory in the south coast resort.
She said as the Greens began their celebratyions: “Tonight the people of Brighton Pavilion have made history by voting Britian’s first Green MP to Westminster.” She added that the result was a triumph of hope over fear.
Around the country, early indications suggested the party polled more than 200,000 votes which, if proportional represnetation were to be introduced, would be likely to give them more seats.
In a sign of the party’s growing influence and support the Greens fielded more than 100 candidates in the election and already ahve 126 councillors spread around 43 local authorities.
The victory in Brighton ends Britain’s status as the only major European country never to have had a Green MP. There have, however, been Green MEPs from Britain.

New Zealand remembers well how Israel views its sovereignty 
Posted: 06 May 2010

The Dubai/Mossad saga rolls on:

A former Israeli diplomat at the centre of a passport scam in New Zealand in 2004 has been named as a suspect in the assassination of a top Hamas leader.
Zev William Barkan is one of 32 people Dubai police say they want to speak to as they investigate the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel room in the emirate on January 19.
Barkan fled to Israel after the April 2004 arrest of his associates Uriel Zoshe Kelman, 30, and Eli Cara, 50.
The pair were caught in New Zealand trying to obtain a passport using the birth certificate of an unsuspecting Auckland tetraplegic with cerebral palsy.
Barkan, who has not been caught for his involvement in the passport plot, spent time in New Zealand plotting with Kelman and Cara, then left for Sydney, police believe.
But he remained in contact with the pair and kept his New Zealand cellphone active to take calls from Internal Affairs and the travel company he had contacted to arrange a passport.
Senior New Zealand government figures believe the men were Israeli agents.
Officials in the United Arab Emirates have identified five new suspects in their investigation of al-Mabhouh’s killing, sources say.
The five newly identified suspects were believed to be carrying passports from Britain, Australia and France.

Mubarak may just have to accept that he can’t kill Gaza 
Posted: 06 May 2010

So much for Egypt’s inhumane wall on its border with Gaza actually stopping the smuggling into the Strip.

Jews have more than one opinion on Israel (but not too often) 
Posted: 06 May 2010

A New York Times headline to savour:
On Israel, Jews and Leaders Often Disagree

Irish figures lead the way against Israel’s entry into OECD 
Posted: 06 May 2010

The following letter in the Irish Times, signed by Irish MPs, is a welcome development in a decision that should shun Israel:

On May 11th, 2010, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will vote on whether or not to complete Israel’s application to join its ranks.
Supporting Israel’s ascension to the OECD would be tantamount to supporting its actions in the Occupied Territories.
The Roadmap for the Accession of Israel to the OECD Convention, adopted by the OECD Council in November 2007 stated that Israel has to demonstrate a commitment to pluralist democracy based on the rule of law and the respect of human rights. Israel has proven repeatedly that it simply does not meet this requirement, with laws in place that grant privileges for Jews over non-Jews, who make up 20 per cent of its citizens.
Furthermore, according to a leaked OECD report, Israel breached a key requirement of membership by including its colonies in the occupied West Bank in its economic report.
By accepting Israel, the OECD will give official approval to Israel’s illegal occupation and colonisation of Palestinian and Syrian territories. To ignore these facts will see the OECD violating its own foundation principles.
Ireland was one of the six OECD members that voted in support of the recommendations of the Goldstone Report in the United Nations. We must reaffirm our position that Israel, like all other states, is to be held accountable to the standards of international law and human rights.
It only takes one country to vote against accepting Israel in order to block the process. We the undersigned, appeal to the Irish Government to show courage and leadership, and use its vote in order to veto this application until Israel demonstrates real commitment to the fundamental values shared by the OECD member states.
Senator JOE O’TOOLE,
Senator MARK DALY,
Senator DAN BOYLE,
Leinster House, Dublin 2.
See: www.antonylowenstein.com


  1. Wow – now that’s perspective! I think we often react in agreement or disagreement because of our emotions, but hearing another side, passionately presented, really makes us think!

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