Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cash strapped PA spent $100K at 5-star hotel in Gaza

Felesteen reports that last weekend PA prime minister Rami Hamdallah spent two days in Gaza along with an entourage - and that they weren't exactly parsimonious.

According to the article quoting PA sources, the delegation spent the two days in the five-star Movenpick (Al Mashtal) Hotel. It is the only five-star hotel in Gaza. 

They took over 40 rooms and other parts of the hotel. The rooms cost $400-$600 a night and the suites go for up to $1400 a night, for a charge of $70,000 for room rentals. In addition, they spent $20,000 for food and $10,000 for transportation, for a total of about $100,000 for a two day stay. (I imagine that there were some additional security costs for them to visit Gaza.)

There is a bit of criticism in Arabic media from Arabs who have not been receiving their full salaries who are seeing the leaders of the PA spend money so extravagantly.

Palestinians accuse religious Jews of uprooting olive trees - on Shabbat

From Ma'an:

Israeli settlers on Saturday destroyed more than 1,000 olive trees near the village of al-Shuyukh north of Hebron, in the third such attack on the villagers' livelihood in recent memory.

Local activist Ahmad al-Halayqa told Ma'an that Israelis from the nearby settlement of Asfar, also known as Metzad, attacked the village and destroyed 1,200 trees.

He said that all of the destroyed trees had been recently planted following a similar attack by individuals from the same settlement which had destroyed trees in the area last month.

He said that the trees in the area belonged to local Palestinian farmer, Muhammad Abu Shanab al-Ayaydah as well as the children of Abd al-Qader Abu Shanab al-Ayaydah and Mousa Abu Shanab al-Ayayadah.

Al-Halayqa told Ma'an that the settlement of Asfar is located on land confiscated by Israeli authorities from Palestinian residents of al-Shuyukh, and now they hope to expand the land under their control by taking over the area where the olive trees were targeted.

Metzad is a haredi Jewish community. The idea that their members are uprooting olive trees on the Sabbath is beyond absurd.

And since "Local activist Ahmad al-Halayqa" is lying about that, he is probably lying about everything else.

As is nearly always the case, there are no photographs of these destroyed 1,200 olive trees, just as there weren't any photos of the 500 trees allegedly destroyed last month and 70 the week before that.

These numbers are now added to the absurd figure of 800,000 olive trees that the PA and an anti-Israel NGO have reported as being destroyed since 1967.

Of course, Ma'an reports the obvious lies as fact.

OCHA-OPT, which has its own problems with the truth, when in reporting on the alleged February incident, notes that the 500 "trees" were planted in a "donor-funded project," meaning that some Europeans had been paying for Arabs to plant these saplings in public lands illegally.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Virginia State Bar boycotts Israel

All members of the Virginian State Bar received this email early this morning:

Dear Fellow Members of the Virginia State Bar,

Certain members of the Virginia State Bar and other individuals have expressed objections to the VSB’s plan to take the Midyear Legal Seminar trip in November to Jerusalem. It was stated that there are some unacceptable discriminatory policies and practices pertaining to border security that affect travelers to the nation. Upon review of U.S. State Department advisories and other research, and after consultation with our leaders, it has been determined that there is enough legitimate concern to warrant cancellation of the Israel trip and exploration of alternative locations.

Undoubtedly, this news will disappoint some VSB members. But we are a state agency that strives for maximum inclusion and equality, and that explains this action. Fortunately, we still anticipate being able to find a suitable location for the November seminar trip, and we will send out further news very soon.

Finally, we are pleased that our members and citizens feel able to express concerns and look to us to protect rights. In the end, we are all part of the same team, and the VSB will continue to stay focused on advancing its primary objectives—public protection, access to justice, and improvement of the profession.

As always, I appreciate having the honor of serving as your president.

Best regards,

Kevin E. Martingayle,

President, Virginia State Bar
The Volokh Conspiracy blog in the Washington Post notes:

(1) The American Bar Association has recently held meetings in Israel, for example here and here [update: along with hundreds of international conferences that are held in Israel every year, including, for example, a conference on Arabic literature with Muslim attendees from abroad.]  Virginia has a state agency called the Virginia Israel Advisory Board “that proactively serves as the bridge and facilitator between Israeli companies and the Commonwealth of Virginia.” The idea that either the state bar as an attorney organization or as a state agency has some obligation to avoid Israel is nonsense. Surely Martingayle and colleagues can’t be so naive and out-of-touch to think that the concerns raised are not part of the broader divestment, sanctions, and boycott movement meant to delegitimize Israel.
(2) If the Virginia State Bar is in effect boycotting Israel, I, and I suspect many others, will henceforth be boycotting the State Bar, in my case beyond what is necessary to assist my students, which is my professional obligation. I would hope that no Virginia attorneys who are supporters of Israel will attend whatever alternative venue the State Bar settles on.
(3) As near as I can tell, the only public discussion of all this before Martingayle’s letter was a petition circulated three days ago by anonymous“Concerned Members of the Virginia State Bar” that, as of this writing, has received a grand total of thirty-four signatures. It’s hard to imagine that the Martingayle and colleagues canceled a planned event that already had a hotel booked, a CLE program, and even optional tours set up based on those objections. Who are the “other individuals” mentioned by Martingayle who objected?
(4) Relatedly, as a state agency, the Virginia State Bar is subject to FOIA. If no enterprising journalist is already FOIAing the relevant correspondence that led to this decision, I’m sure somebody else will be.
Legal Insurrection adds:

This clearly was a well-planned, under-the-radar move, and it is odd that the email was circulated on a Friday night long after the seminar was planned.The VA State Bar already had a hotel reserved for the event, which was well-advertised, and had registration and travel procedures in place.Virginia State Bar Mid Year Legal Seminar Brochure Jerusalem topThere was a full brochure produced for the trip:Virginia State Bar Mid Year Legal Seminar Brochure Jerusalem.pdf

I have a feeling that many are going to quit the Virginia Bar Association after this debacle. (UPDATE: See comments; they can't without losing their ability to practice in VA.) But perhaps this publicity is what they want. As lawyer David Schraub comments on his blog, maybe Martingayle had no idea what he was supporting the antisemitic BDS movement, but just maybe - he did:
The second possibility, though, is that Mr. Martingayle is going in with eyes wide open. He knows the backlash that will emerge, and he fully expects it, and he fully expects it to win. Again, given what I know about Virginia and Virginia state politics, I do not believe that Mr. Martingayle has the political backing to take a stance like this and survive the fallout. But provoking an overreaction is a form of strategy too. A too-vitriolic response by the rest of the Virginia government -- a direct encroachment on the Bar's autonomy, for instance -- could have disastrous long-term consequences even if it ousts Martingayle in the short-term. And more generally, Mr. Martingayle benefits from the truth of any political controversy that has Jews at the center: If he wins, he's the man who boldly stood up to Jewish power. If he loses, he's the martyr who sacrificed himself before the unstoppable juggernaut of Jewish power. We still live in a polity where the exercise of Jewish political agency is presumptively illegitimate insofar as it clashes with gentile preferences. One reason that Jews Lose is that any situation where we don't lose is coded as a system failure. Jews losing means the system is working properly, Jews winning means we've successfully subverted the system. It creates a severe double-bind, and means that someone who comes in and is willing to play the martyr to demonstrate the malevolence of the big bad Jewish lobby will have little difficulty succeeding.
Finally, as Volokh Conspiracy notes, literally hundreds of thousands of Arabs have visited Israel in recent years without incident. Israel's profiling isn't against Arabs but against potential troublemakers - plenty of which are not semitic at all.

03/28 Links: We don't need another failure; Prosor: 'Break silence' on minority persecution in ME

From Ian:

Ben-Dror Yemini: We don't need another failure
Given the upheaval in the Arab world, Obama needs to ask himself why he thinks a Palestinian state is viable right now; meanwhile, Israel's right needs to understand that its actions are leading to a bi-national state.
The Muslim world is undergoing a massive upheaval. Arab identity is disappearing. National identity is falling apart. The identity on the rise is Islamic, tribal and sectarian. Death and destruction have reached monumental proportions.
Muslims are murdering hundreds of thousands of Muslims. None of the bloody conflicts – between Shias and Sunnis, and between Sunnis and Sunnis – have anything to do with Israel or the Palestinians. Most of those perpetrating the killings don't even know where Israel is on the map.
The Palestinians are deep in the picture. According to a study carried out by a research institute in Qatar, they lead the way in terms of support for Islamic State and the implementation of Sharia law. And just like everywhere else where radical Islam rears its head, Hamas, too, is sowing death and destruction.
The most peaceful place in the Middle East is the Israeli-controlled West Bank. Over the past six years, 122 Palestinians have been killed there. So when Obama talks about the chaos in the Middle East because of Israel, he appears to be living in a world of his own. Because of Israel? How does Obama come up with such an assessment of the situation?
Anne Bayefsky: UN says Israel, not Iran, North Korea or Syria worst violator of human rights
What country deserves more condemnation for violating human rights than any other nation on earth? According to the U.N.’s top human rights body, that would be Israel.
Last week, Israel was the U.N.’s number one women’s rights violator. This week it is the U.N.’s all-round human rights villain.
The U.N. Human Rights Council wrapped up its latest session in Geneva on Friday, March 27 by adopting four resolutions condemning Israel. That’s four times more than any of the other 192 UN member states.
There were four resolutions on Israel. And one on North Korea -- a country that is home to government policies of torture, starvation, enslavement, rape, disappearances, and murder – to name just a few of its human rights violations.
Four resolutions on Israel. And one on Syria. Where the death toll of four years of war is 100,000 civilians, ten million people are displaced, and barrel bombs containing chemical agents like chlorine gas are back in action.
Four resolutions on Israel. And one on Iran. Where there is no rule of law, no free elections, no freedom of speech, corruption is endemic, protestors are jailed and tortured, religious minorities are persecuted, and pedophilia is state-run. At last count, in 2012 Iranian courts ordered more than 30,000 girls ages 14 and under to be “married.”
Prosor to UN Security Council: 'Break silence' on 'plague' of minority persecution in Mideast
Israel's envoy to the United Nations Ron Prosor on Friday called on the UN Security Council to "break its silence" on the "plague" of persecution of minorities in the Middle East.
Prosor noted the upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover and the escape of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, saying the phenomenon of persecution continues "without interruption and under the nose of the international community."
In a meeting of the 15-nation body on minorities in the region, Prosor warned that millions of Christian, Kurds, Yazidis, Baha'i and Jews are still facing persecution in the Middle East.
"It doesn't matter where you come from, what faith you belong to, or what politics you preach, no decent human being can ignore the calamity facing minorities in the Middle East," Prosor told the council.
Amb. Prossor at UNSC on on attacks and abuses on ethnic or religious grounds in the Middle East

Friday, March 27, 2015

03/27 Links Pt2: UN Bookshop stocks anti-Semitic books; The J Street Challenge - Full Film

From Ian:

UN Watch: World body urged to investigate anti-Jewish books in U.N. Bookshop
UN Watch is deeply concerned by the highly suspect selection of books featured in the United Nations Bookshop, and we urge you to investigate.
Perusing the shelf displays, one cannot miss the carefully orchestrated line-up of anti- American and anti-Israeli book titles, from “Reflections on Israel’s War Against Palestinians” to “The Punishment of Gaza.” Worse, the UN bookshop—situated just below the Human Rights Council prominently displays a book entitled “How I Stopped Being a Jew.” The author accuses the Jewish religion of a “genocidal Yahwestic tradition.”
Let us be clear: under no circumstances whatsoever would we presume to dictate to the UN bookshop which books to sell. We unflinchingly support the freedom of expression and full exchange of ideas, good and bad. Yet the unmistakable pattern of anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish books is a matter that requires your attention. We recall the promise of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the historic 2004 United Nations gathering against anti- Semitism: “The fight against anti-Semitism must be our fight,” said Mr. Annan, “and Jews everywhere must feel that the United Nations is their home, too.” As I am sure you will agree, the selective offering of one-sided and inflammatory books that demean Israelis and Jews does not contribute to the culture of acceptance promised by Mr. Annan.
At a time when Jews across Europe are being targeted by violent attacks and incitement, it is deeply distressing that the United Nations Headquarters in Europe would promote books on “how to stop being a Jew.” Significantly, we note there are no other books in the shop targeting or criticizing any other religious or ethnic group.
Anti-Israel Activist ‘Fact-Checks’ Hirsi Ali
Max Blumenthal, the David Duke-endorsed anti-Israel writer who is best known for being the son of long-time Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, launched a barrage of twitter attacks on the Somali-American women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Tuesday.
Blumenthal also took issue with a recent column in the Wall Street Journal in which Hirsi Ali, a critic of radical Islam, said that “at least 70% of all the fatalities in armed conflicts around the world last year were in wars involving Muslims.” In the essay, Hirsi Ali cited an International Institute for Strategic Studies analysis.
Blumenthal questioned the stat in an email to Hirsi Ali’s foundation on Tuesday:
The J Street Challenge - Full Film in HD
The J Street Challenge is an important and timely documentary about a significant issue facing the American Jewish community.
Since it was founded in 2008, J Street's idealistic message has attracted many Jews, young and old, who are frustrated by the Middle East conflict and sincerely want peace between Arabs and Jews. J Street has been a subject of controversy. Critics claim that J Street has divided the Jewish community and weakened American Jewish support for Israel. "The J Street Challenge" lets viewers hear both sides of this important debate over the elusive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The film explores the reasons for J Street's appeal, as well as the diverse and at times contradictory motivations of its leaders and followers. The film is being released at a critical time for the American Jewish community given the intense efforts by the United States to resolve the conflict and influence the community's leadership to support these efforts. The Kerry peace initiative has further divided the Jewish community, with J Street working to weaken the influence of AIPAC while strongly backing the administration.
The film includes distinguished scholars and writers from a wide political spectrum, including Harvard professors Alan Dershowitz and Ruth Wisse, Rabbi Daniel Gordis of the Shalem College in Jerusalem, Caroline Glick, Managing Editor of the Jerusalem Post, Professor Richard Landes of Boston University, Lenny Ben David -- former Israeli diplomat and author, and Bret Stephens, Pulitzer prize winning columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

"Methuselah" date palm from 2000 year old seed has a "child"

When Methuselah was very young*
From National Geographic:
A male date palm tree named Methuselah that sprouted from a 2,000-year-old seed nearly a decade ago is thriving today, according to the Israeli researcher who is cultivating the historic plant.

The plant was sprouted in a laboratory in 2005, and when a National Geographic news story about the event resurfaced this week on the social media website Reddit, we decided to check in on Methuselah and see how it's doing. (See our 2005 story: “2,000-Year-Old Seed Sprouts, Sapling Is Thriving"He is a big boy now," says Elaine Solowey, the director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel.

"He is over three meters [ten feet] tall, he's got a few offshoots, he has flowers, and his pollen is good," she says. "We pollinated a female with his pollen, a wild [modern] female, and yeah, he can make dates."

In 2005, Solowey, an expert in desert agriculture, germinated the ancient seed, which was recovered decades earlier from an archaeological excavation at Masada, a historic mountainside fortress. The seed had spent years in a researcher's drawer in Tel Aviv.

In the years since Methuselah first sprouted, Solowey has successfully germinated a handful of other date palms from ancient seeds recovered at archaeological sites around the Dead Sea. "I'm trying to figure out how to plant an ancient date grove," she says.

To do that, she'll need to grow a female plant from an ancient seed as a mate for Methuselah. So far, at least two of the other ancient seeds that have sprouted are female.

If Solowey succeeds, she notes, "we would know what kind of dates they ate in those days and what they were like. That would be very exciting."

In 2012, scientists in Russia were able to grow a plant from 32,000-year-old seeds that had been buried by an Ice Age squirrel in Siberia. (See "32,000-Year-Old Plant Brought Back to Life—Oldest Yet.")

Genetic tests indicate that Methuselah is most closely related to an ancient variety of date palm from Egypt known as Hayany, which fits with a legend that says dates came to Israel with the children of the Exodus, Solowey says.

"It is pretty clear that Methuselah is a western date from North Africa rather than from Iraq, Iran, Babylon," she explains. "You can't confirm a legend, of course."

In addition to Solowey's hopes of establishing an orchard of ancient dates, she and colleagues are interested in studying the plants to see if they have any unique medicinal properties.
The tree has its own web page, but unfortunately I couldn't find a recent photo.

(h/t JW)

*Photo credit: "JudeanDatePalmMethuselah" by Benjitheijneb - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:JudeanDatePalmMethuselah.JPG#/media/File:JudeanDatePalmMethuselah.JPG

Do states really have to be contiguous?

Whenever anyone tells you that territorial contiguity is a requirement for viability of a governed area, you can do one of two things:

1) Refer to one of my favorite sarcastic infographics.

2) Have them watch this video.

(h/t Irene)

03/27 Links Pt1: Managing Obama’s war against Israel; Reassessing the Two State Solution

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Managing Obama’s war against Israel
On Wednesday, the Jerusalem Municipality announced it is shelving plans to build 1,500 apartments in the Har Homa neighborhood. Officials gave no explanation for its sudden move. But none was needed.
Obviously the construction of apartments for Jews in Jerusalem was blocked in the hopes of appeasing US President Barack Obama.
But is there any reason to believe he can be appeased? Today the White House is issuing condemnations of Israel faster than the UN.
To determine how to handle what is happening, we need to understand the nature of what is happening.
First we need to understand that the administration’s hostility has little to do with Israel’s actions.
As Max Boot explained Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, the administration’s animosity toward Israel is a function of Obama’s twin strategic aims, both evident since he entered office: realigning US policy in the Middle East toward Iran and away from its traditional allies Israel and the Sunni Arab states, and ending the US’s strategic alliance with Israel.
Rethinking Israel's Position on the Palestinian Authority
There will also be a cost to Israel, including an attempted surge of terrorism against the Jews of Judea and Samaria, as well as inside the Green Line. The Israeli government must be prepared to take severe measures to prevent it.
The United Nations, the European Union and the Obama Administration will also be furious, but it will pass, as there will be nothing they can do to create a Palestinian state once the Palestinian Authority no longer exists.
The collapse of the Palestinian Authority will not be cost free to Israel, which is why Abbas frequently issues empty threats to dismantle the Palestinian Authority himself. It would be delusional to believe that Israel can avoid the imposition of a Palestinian state without paying a price. Such a price, however, is small change compared to the catastrophe that would result from the creation of a Palestinian state and the benefit of terminating that threat once and for all.
It is unrealistic, of course, to expect that the Israeli government will declare the termination of Israel's cooperation with the Palestinian Authority at this time without provocation. The Prime Minister's cautious nature precludes such a bold move. Nevertheless, the possibility that Israel will take this step in response to any change in support by the United States for Israel in various international bodies should be floated.
Simply put, if the Obama Administration can reassess its position with regard to Israel, the Netanyahu government can reassess its position with regard to the Palestinian Authority. The street runs two ways.
 Israel’s UN Envoy Says Hamas Would ‘Gladly Create’ Terror State in Judea and Samaria
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said on Thursday that, given the opportunity, Gaza-based terror group Hamas would eagerly create a terrorist entity in Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, like they did in the Gaza Strip.
“Iran’s proxy, Hamas, took over the Gaza Strip and created a terror stronghold. It has used this stronghold to fire tens of thousands of rockets into Israel. Given the chance, Hamas would gladly create a second terror state in Judea and Samaria,” Prosor said at a press conference at the UN. “You don’t have to be a political scientist to look at the Middle East and see a region in chaos…The region is in turmoil – and the very last thing Israel can afford is another terror state in its backyard.”
The envoy’s comments came as the White House escalated criticism of Israel’s newly reelected Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu over comments he made questioning if the security climate was right for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Prosor appeared to be reinforcing Netanyahu’s position.
Prosor said the new “terror state” could be called ISIL – standing for Iran, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon – because, he said, the entity would be sponsored by the Islamic Republic and be “as volatile” as the other Middle East countries.
Amb. Prosor statement following UNSC debate on the Middle East

Yes, @Amnesty, Hamas used human shields by EVERY definition

The Amnesty report I mentioned yesterday referenced the IDF document "Violations of the Law of Armed Conflict, War Crimes, andCrimes Against Humanity Committed by Hamas and OtherTerrorist Organisations During Operation Protective Edge" that was released earlier this year.

Yet they seem very selective as to what they believe.

While the title of one previous Amnesty document slamming Israel, "Nothing is Immune," came from an out-of-context quote of an anonymous Israeli official, the only quotes they believe from Israelis are the ones that confirm their pre-existing biases. Amnesty will also happily quote Gazans without any skepticism. When the IDF publishes what soldiers actually saw first-hand, however, those testimonies are not worth even mentioning.

Because Amnesty (and HRW) assume a priori that Israelis are liars.

The IDF document shows that Hamas didn't merely warn the general Gaza population to stay in their homes, as Amnesty claims, They were a lot more specific:

  • Prior to the July 19 entry of IDF ground troops into Shejaiya, neighborhood mosques instructed civilians to remain in the area despite IDF warnings to evacuate, assuring civilians that Hamas was strong and no harm would befall them. 
  •  International organisations reported to the IDF’s Coordination and Liaison Administration that Hamas had used megaphones to exhort residents of northern Gaza, particularly Shejaiya, not to evacuate their homes. 
  •  On July 16, Fatah officials reported to the Palestine Press News Agency that Hamas security services had placed Fatah members under house arrest in order to prevent them from assisting civilian evacuations. 

Amnesty's response?
[T]he Hamas authorities instructing civilians in the Gaza Strip not to leave their homes could have been out of concern for their safety or a desire to avoid further panic. It cannot be presumed that the intention of any such statements by the authorities was to use civilians to prevent the targeting of specific military objectives by Israeli forces.

This is even though the IDF found Hamas documents that said how valuable it was to their efforts to have civilians around to frustrate Israel's ability to fight! Amnesty can't mention that...it would rather give Hamas the benefit of the doubt.

But Hamas went even beyond this in its use of human shields:

Hamas and other terrorist organisations in Gaza sometimes directed the movement of civilians by explicit coercion. This was confirmed by eyewitness testimony from a number of IDF officers present in Gaza during the ground maneuver.

One such account was provided by IDF Civilian Affairs Officer Lieutenant Kfir. According to Lt. Kfir, when IDF troops entered the Khan Younis area during the first week of the ground operation, the IDF warned civilians to evacuate the area due to impending military activity. Following the warnings, Lt. Kfir came upon 17 Gazan civilians who had remained in a house in the area. When he asked why they had not evacuated despite the warnings, they relayed to him that Hamas had forced them to stay.109

According to additional eye-witness accounts of IDF officers, militants of Hamas and other terrorist organisations sometimes physically coerced civilians, including women and children, into providing them cover as they moved around Gaza. IDF Sgt. Avi testified that:

A man about 40 years old walked out of a house nearby, and then I saw that he was holding a woman, and he was using her as a shield...And I can see very clearly that the woman doesn’t want to be there and he’s pulling her with him. Only after he finally let go of the woman could we neutralise him.110

Another IDF officer, Lt. Adam, witnessed the use of a child to provide cover to a militant. He described how, as IDF troops were searching for a militant known to be hiding in a particular house, he saw the militant grab a small boy nearby and use him to shield his escape.
Amnesty made no attempt to interview these witnesses these stories which they are aware of.. They merely said "Amnesty International has not been able to corroborate the facts in any of these cases. Specific assertions of the use of civilians as “human shields” by Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip should be independently investigated."

As usual, claims that benefit Hamas are believed unless there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and claims against Israel are believed, well, completely.

Amnesty is truly a joke.

J-Street speaker calls for destruction of Israel - to applause (update)

Here is Marcia Freedman, in a J-Street panel discussion on Liberal Zionism and sitting next to Peter Beinart, describing how she believes that the Jewish people should not have a state, and that instead they should live as a minority in an Arab Palestine as a "protected minority" - in other words, as dhimmis. I kept all the context (although I accidentally cut out the applause at the end:)

The entire session is here; her section begins at 1:02:45.

The moderator didn't challenge her, and as far as I could tell neither did any other panelists. 

Isn't it interesting that at a conference that claims to be "pro-Israel, pro-peace" and that hammers away at how it wants a two state solution, there is no objection to this one-state solution where Jews are "protected" by people who want to kill them?

J-Street refuses to let Alan Dershowitz, an advocate of a two-state solution since the 1970s, speak. But this crazy lady who thinks that Israel treats Arab citizens worse than Arabs would treat Jews is given a platform, without a single dissenting voice that I could find, either at the session or on Twitter afterwards, from J-Street members or attendees..

In fact, J-Street U tweeted her remarks seemingly admiringly:

I am reminded of a series of tweets a few days ago by a BDS supporter and anti-Zionist who said that J-Street was her "gateway drug" to hating Israel:

J-Street has an open tent policy for people who want Israel to disappear, and spends most of its time attacking Jews who passionately love Israel.

Worse than that is that despite its avowed purpose, the organization cannot and does not defend Israel's existence against its critics - instead, it gives its critics a platform where they can spout their hate unopposed.

My test for whether people are really "pro-Israel" stands, and J-Street has flunked.

This is not exactly pro-Israel, or pro-peace.

UPDATE: Freedman's opinions are not anathema to J-Street, despite that organization's press releases. She is a member of their advisory council!   (h/t nursemedic)

Arab allies reportedly killing civilians in Yemen airstrikes

From AFP:

At least 39 civilians have been killed in more than 24 hours of Saudi-led air strikes against Shiite rebels in Yemen, health ministry officials said on Friday.

Twelve of the victims were killed when a raid against a military base north of Sanaa hit surrounding residential areas, officials from the rebel-controlled ministry told AFP.
We can see two layers of hypocrisy, from two different angles,in these two sentences.

In the first case, the reporting of civilian casualties is not causing any angst on the part of those who are up in arms over Israeli airstrikes against Islamist terrorists in Gaza. There won't be any emergency UN sessions to condemn this. There won't be daily body counts in every single article about this new war.

In the second sentence, we see that AFP says up front that the statistics come from a ministry controlled by the Houthis - but wire services rarely mentioned that the Gaza health ministry was controlled by Hamas when reporting their figures of "civilian" casualties.

I have a feeling we'll be seeing lots more hypocrisy in how the media reports the Arab allies' actions in Yemen in the coming days and weeks.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Walking down J-Street (part 4)

The final report from Messy57 ((parts 12, 3)

On the last day of the conference, I started out with a panel on “What’s Next for the Palestinians Leadership?” Which sounded like a very interesting one, especially since I really didn’t know very much about it. Who is running the Palestinian Authority besides Abbas, and what are they going to do when the old man dies?

The answer was clear as mud. The didn’t really talk about who the major politicians or factions were, but they did mention that there were free local elections in ’12, (so much for Palestinians not being able to vote) except for, naturally, Gaza, and that the “Palestinian State” that was sitting in the UN General Assembly was NOT the Palestinian Authority, but the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
These are important facts that aren’t known to many people. There is also a move afoot by some groups to permit political parties to exist. That would be nice. But they didn’t really say much beyond that. I should have gone to the “Rise of anti-Semitism in Europe” panel.

But the really big show was the morning plenum, and that was the one where Obama’s Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, would be giving a major speech. Everyone wanted to see that, as did I, and I was thrilled to hear they were letting the press early….only to discover that they gave us seats in the back and the side with a lousy view of the preceedings….

The opening speaker (not counting the introduction by some committee member) was Stav Shaffir, who is still the youngest member of the Knesset and the most popular member of the Zionist Union. She repeated her CV, how she spent a couple of terms in the Army, then tried to find a decent job while living in a crappy Tel Aviv apartment and starting what was the equivalent of the “Occupy Movement” in 2011 before becoming a professional politician in ’13. She then went on saying that Israel was a great country and would be far better if Bibi was no longer there. The youth in the audience loved her, as did I. (we had had a conversation the previous day)

Then…something happened that shocked the living daylights out of me.

They announced that there would be a televised message from the President of Israel. I hadn’t expected that. Considering that Reuven Rivlin is a dyed-in-the-wool Likudnik, and considering how J-street and Likud aren’t exactly lovey-dovey with each other, I hadn’t even considered he would do that. But there he was on the big screen (which I could see), giving a platitudinous greeting and wishing everyone in the audience well. A majority was enthusiastic, but some weren’t, I wasn’t surprised more weren’t.

Then came Denis McDonough, the second most powerful person in Washington. “…an occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end!” Mr. McDonough thundered, “Israel cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely,”

That got a standing ovation. It was easy to see why.

It was something EVERYONE can agree with. Not even Bennett thinks the present state of affairs is something that most Israelis want to maintain indefinitely. Everyone at the conference was unified on the basic concept of the Two-state solution, but nobody agreed on the details.

The panel discussion afterwards led by Ethan Bronner wasn’t at all edifying, although someone mentioned Abbas’ threat to dissolve the PA because they’re running out of money. That was it.

There was going to be a gala, the press was told they would be provided pizza and seats in the back for James Baker’s speech, but that meant I’d miss my flight.

I almost did, but that’s another story….