25 June 2013

Palestinian Islamists are cleansing the Holy Land of Christians

From Cranmer Blog, Wednesday, June 12, 2013, by Simon McIlwaine (Anglican Friends of Israel Newsletter):        

Anglican Friends of Israel reflects on the significance of Hamas’s legislation which would mean the closure of Christian schools in Gaza, and urges Christian leaders in the West to start holding Palestinian leaders responsible for what happens to Christians under their jurisdiction.
 Last week the
Catholic Herald reported that five Church Schools ("two Catholic and three Christian") are under threat in Gaza because of the ruling party Hamas’s intention to extend their Muslim Brotherhood-inspired version of Islam throughout their fiefdom. Their edict, which forbids the education of boys and girls together, will mean that the schools must close down because of lack of space and staff. That most of the students are Muslim matters not at all. What’s important is the segregation of male and female as far as possible.
 For some, this will be the first chill wind signalling what a Palestinian state dominated by Islamists will mean for Palestinian Christians. But such folk have missed warning signs going back
many years.
 In 2005, the annual report on human rights abuses around the world produced by the US State Department
recorded abuse of Palestinian Christians by individuals and by Palestinian institutions, such as government and the police. The report stated: 
The PA judiciary failed to adjudicate numerous cases of seizures of Christian-owned land in the Bethlehem area by criminal gangs. There were credible reports that PA security forces and judicial officials colluded with gang members to extort property illegally from Christians. Several attacks against Christians in Bethlehem went unaddressed by the PA, but authorities investigated attacks against Muslims in the same area.
About this time a Roman Catholic priest in Ramallah bewailed the fact that in his experience Muslim Palestinians did not want Christians living among them.
Then there are the attacks on Christians and their property by fellow Palestinians in both the
West Bank and Gaza, few of which were reported by Western media outlets. Bible Society official Rami Ayyad was kidnapped and murdered by Jihadists in Gaza. The YMCA in the West Bank town of Qalqilya was torched, as were church schools in Gaza. 
The steady trickle of information about the harassment and persecution of Palestinian Christians by other Palestinians has increasingly come from Palestinians themselves, notably from the East Jerusalem-based Israeli-Arab journalist
Khaled Abu Toameh. Abu Toameh risks his life to report various aspects of the underbelly of life under the Palestinian Authority. He reports on corruption within the PA leadership, the effects of chaotic and wasteful governance, and the way in which Palestinian leaders talk peace for eager Western ears whilst inciting their citizens (in Arabic) to believe that their Jewish neighbour can be eliminated.
Khaled Abu Toameh has covered the treatment experienced by Palestinian Christians in both the West Bank and Gaza extensively.
He insists that the haemorrhage of Christians from the Holy Land is not due, as many would have us believe, to the Israeli ‘occupation’, but to their increasing marginalisation at the hands of neighbours who use their power to disadvantage Christians.
Then there is the increasing fear that Mahmoud Abbas’s weak Fatah regime in the West Bank could give way at any moment to a Hamas coup. If this happens – given Hamas’s previous record – it could well be the death-knell for Christianity in the Palestinian Territories. Only last week, Abbas permitted Muslim fundamentalists to
strut down the streets of Ramallah. Why?
And now another source of information about the realities of life for Palestinian Christians is opening up. Palestinians from within the Territories are speaking out about the injustices that Palestinians are inflicting on other Palestinians. They do so at risk of their lives to whomever will listen.
One young
Christian Palestinian woman – who had to flee her West Bank home because she dared to challenge the narrative that holds Israel responsible for all Palestinian woes – has spoken to audiences of all faiths and none in the UK and Europe about the unnecessary poverty and misery which years of mismanagement and corruption have brought to all Palestinians. She has also given accounts of the discrimination Palestinian Christians suffer at the hands of fellow Palestinians from both her own and her friends’ experience.
At a recent meeting in the Midlands, she told how, earlier this year, a student was beaten up by his classmates in a classroom in front of a teacher, with no action taken against the perpetrators. His crime? Refusing to give up his Christian faith and adopt Islam. She tells tales of the way in which she and other Christian students were sexually harassed by Muslim boys on their way to university because, unlike Muslim girls, they had to share public transport with the boys.
Even more chillingly, she reports how Palestinian Christian businessmen were murdered because they refused to pay the protection money demanded by what she described as the ‘Palestinian mafia’.
Though disturbing, the testimony of people like this young woman and journalist Khaled Abu Toameh is refreshing because it breaks a conspiracy of silence which has gone on for years. 
Many Palestinian Christians have claimed that their relations with their Muslim neighbours are nothing but cordial; that they are Palestinians first and foremost, united against their common (Jewish) foe. Yet the steady exodus of Palestinians from territories that are under the day-to-day control of other Palestinians suggests that something else is going on. 
Why Christian Palestinian leaders are unwilling to admit in public what they certainly acknowledge in private is unclear: fear of reprisals from their government, neighbours and even family must have some bearing on the situation. Nevertheless, this is a disaster for Christianity in the Palestinian Territories. As Abu Toameh comments: "By not talking openly about the problem, the Christian leaders are encouraging the perpetrators to continue their harassment and assaults against Christian families."
Nevertheless, Hamas’s action cannot be misunderstood by anyone. Respect for the views and culture of minorities such as Gaza’s Christians has no place in their thinking. Perhaps this is why it was reported by West Bank Christians and by
Abu Toameh that
'Out of the 600 Christians from the Gaza Strip who arrived in the West Bank in the past two weeks to celebrate Christmas, dozens have asked to move to Israel because they no longer feel comfortable living under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.’It is time for the churches in the West to stop fooling themselves and their congregations into believing that the horrifying reduction in numbers of Christians in the Middle East is somehow the fault of the Jewish State. The future for Christianity in the land of its birth is grim indeed as long as Western Christians avoid holding Palestinian leaders responsible for what happens to Palestinian Christians on their watch.

Syrian doctors violate BDS guidelines by sending gunshot victim to Israel for treatment

From the New York Jewish Week Editorial, 19 June 2013:
For pop singer Alicia Keys, who will soon visit Israel in defiance of a personal appeal to boycott from noted author Alice Walker, the decision to visit Israel, while worthy of our gratitude and applause, was made from a position of strength. After all, Keys is successful, confident and wealthy enough to do as she pleases.
On the other end of the spectrum is a Syrian doctor and his patient, 28, in the throes of a civil war whose decision to go to Israel was made in the ultimate weakness, with a bullet in his gut and life slipping away.
A few days ago, that doctor, who knew he could do no more to save his patient, pinned a handwritten note to his patient, whom he sent over the border to Israel: “Hello distinguished surgeon,” said the note, which explained the patient’s medical history. “Please...do what you think needs to be done and thanks in advance.”
The patient is now recovering in a hospital in Safed (in Israel).
According to the Times of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces has set up a field hospital near the border, where doctors have treated some 20 Syrians who were wounded in the civil war.
In one Syrian’s pocket the Israeli medics found a live hand grenade.
After the story of the Syrian with the note was reported, journalist Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted and tweaked the advocates of BDS (the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement):
“Syrian doctors violate BDS guidelines by sending gunshot victim to Israel for treatment.”
In a few days, critics of Israel will likely resume echoing Alice Walker, who compared Israel to an apartheid state, a place supposedly too evil for Alicia Keys to play, a place deserving of boycott and isolation. With far less publicity, Israel goes about the business of building a country that couldn’t be more different than its neighbor to the north.

22 June 2013

Young Greens question Israel's right to exist

...the NSW Young Greens posted a poll on Facebook questioning whether the Jewish State should exist or not.
The poll, posted last Thursday – but which has since been taken down – asked users if they “believe that Israel has a right to exist”, to which they could select either “No, I believe in the rights and sovereignty of Palestine” or “Yes, I support the creation and continuance of the state of Israel”.
...a posting by the page admin in the comments stream under the poll stated that “the Greens is also not an authoritarian party. We are free to disagree with our party leader because it fosters debate. Leaders aren’t always right”.
... Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) executive director Peter Wertheim said although Greens policy accepts Israel’s right to exist, “they continue to be embarrassed by extremists in their own ranks, including some of their MPs, who are fixated on singling out Israel, among all the nations of the world, as a target of hatred and demonisation”.
“Regardless of their personal views, their activities and rhetoric have time and again been magnets for gross expressions of anti-Semitism, both online and in public forums,” he said. “The Greens as a party have a choice to make … They can speak and act as a party with mainstream voter appeal, or they can pander to the radical fringe of politics. With a federal election fast approaching, they can no longer do both.”
An admin comment on the Facebook page attempted to justify the poll: “The main purpose of facebook questions is to illicite (sic) reponses (sic), debate and hopefully growth towards different viewpoints. The question is loaded, we acknowledge that but let me reiterate once again. this isn’t about jewish (sic) people. it’s about Israel.”
NSW Young Greens convenor Evan Gray told The AJN: “We posted a poll not to advocate policy but to encourage discussion – unfortunately the discussion we expected did not occur and so we removed the poll.”

21 June 2013

Australian Greens Party: fringe numbats, conspiracists and enemies of the truth

From The Australian Editorial, 21 June 2013:
EVEN if Fredrick Toben is right, and the murder of six million Jews is a fable pushed by "Holocaust racketeers, the corpse peddlers and the Shoah business merchants", it would do nothing to solve the moral bankruptcy of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
It would suit the extreme pro-Palestinian argument if the founders of Israel were the oppressors rather than the oppressed, and if the foundation of a Zionist state was indeed an act of imperial aggression, rather than a recognition by the international community that the Jewish people had been wandering too long.
Dr Toben, however, is wrong. He is perversely, empirically and offensively wrong. Through gritted teeth, we defend his right to state his case. Nonetheless, no reasonable person acquainted with the facts would give him the time of day.
The bounds of reasonableness, however, rarely trouble the BDS movement, where actions range between the crass and the repugnant. When BDS supporters punish Israel by picketing Australian chocolate shops owned by a Jewish businessman, their absurdity invites us to laugh. Yet when they call for the severing of ties between Australian and Israeli academics and the banning of Israeli books, the ugly, illiberal and frightening face of BDS is revealed for all to see. Understandably, some conclude that Israel is only collateral damage for the BDS movement. Its real target is the Jews.
By flirting with BDS, the Greens forfeit the right to be considered a mainstream party.
It demonstrates a preference for the company of the numbats and conspiracists in the dark and dangerous fringelands. Until the party disentangles itself, forcefully and unambiguously, from the BDS movement and those who would see a democratic, sovereign nation wiped from the map, its chances of being taken seriously are zero.
Now we learn that NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge asked Dr Toben to join the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Palestine for a cruise on Sydney Harbour. Mr Shoebridge says it was all a terrible mistake. Dr Toben has since been divested, as it were, from the guest list. He may be right. Who among us has not occasionally pressed "send" in error? But why was Dr Toben's name on a list of potential invitees at all? It is one thing to be a friend of Palestine, but quite another to be an enemy of the truth.

For further background see this, from The Australian, June 20, 2013 by Christian Kerr:

AUSTRALIA'S most notorious Holocaust denier was invited by a NSW Greens MP to join a boat trip on Sydney Harbour last month to raise funds for Gaza.   
Greens MLC David Shoebridge invited Fredrick Toben - who served prison time for Holocaust denial in Germany in the 1990s and in Australia last decade for contempt of court after breaching an order to refrain from publishing material on his website vilifying Jews - to the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Palestine event.
...Emails provided to The Australian by Dr Toben show broader contact.
Dr Toben emailed Mr Shoebridge following an incident in March when upper house debate on a motion reporting on a study trip to Israel by a delegation of NSW parliamentarians, organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, was hijacked by pro-Palestinian MPs to attack Israel.
Mr Shoebridge's office emailed Dr Toben a link to his speech on March 25.
"Many, many thanks, Mark - and all the very best to David - and I do hope there will not be a bending to Jewish pressure after this courageous stance!" Dr Toben said in a return email the same day.
"Definitely not," came a response from Mr Shoebridge's office two days later.
Dr Toben was invited to the "Sail with us in solidarity" fundraiser organised by the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Palestine, co-chaired by Mr Shoebridge and Labor MLC Lynda Voltz, on April 3.
"There was never any intention to invite Mr Toben to the event," Mr Shoebridge said yesterday.
"Mr Toben was inadvertently invited to the event via an automated email. Once we realised who he was - namely a Holocaust denier - we withdrew the invitation ..."
Emails between Mr Shoebridge's office and Dr Toben show it took some time for the realisation to hit.
Dr Toben asked in an email on Monday, April 8: "Do you still have a spot for me on that harbor cruise? If so, then I shall book a return flight from Adelaide to Sydney and join the cruise on 2 May."
A response came the following day. "Hi Frederick. Yes there are still spaces available. It would be good to see you there. Mark for David."
On Wednesday, April 10, though, the invitation was withdrawn. "Hi Frederick, I'm afraid we're going to have to rescind our invitation to this event. I have been informed that, based on your past actions and views, your presence will likely offend a number of guests who we work with frequently. Apologies for any inconvenience. Mark for David."
...Peter Wertheim, director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and a solicitor for [Mr Jeremy Jones of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council in a legal] action against Dr Toben, added:
"Whatever Shoebridge's personal views may be, the time has surely arrived for the leaders of the anti-Israel movement to ask themselves some serious questions about what it is about their campaign that repeatedly attracts outpourings of gross anti-Jewish hatred, both online and in other public contexts, and the enthusiastic support of an avowed Holocaust denier."

18 June 2013

BDS = antisemitic prejudice, rhetoric and hate campaign

From a Statement to the Senate: London Declaration on Antisemitism, 18 June 2013:

Senator KROGER (Victoria—Chief Opposition Whip in the Senate) (15:44):  I, and on behalf of Senators Abetz, Birmingham, Payne, Ronaldson and Smith, move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes: 
(i) that although nearly 70 years have passed since the end of World War II and the Holocaust, antisemitism still exists, 
(ii) the vital work of the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism in drawing the attention of the democratic world to the resurgence of antisemitism in international affairs, politics and society, and
(iii) that more than 125 parliamentarians in over 40 countries have signed the Declaration;

(b) recognises the vast contributions made by the Jewish people to Australian society; 

(c) expresses its solidarity with the Jewish people;

(d) affirms that antisemitic prejudice, rhetoric and hate campaigns, such as the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions campaign, utterly contradict the democratic values Australian society and the Parliament hold dear; and

(e) encourages all senators, regardless of party or politics, to sign the Declaration and so assist to combat antisemitism across the globe.

I seek leave to make a short statement.

Leave granted.

Senator KROGER:  The London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism, a declaration that asserts the need for international cooperation to fight anti-Semitism, is regrettably necessary today, just as it was 70 years ago. It is deeply disturbing that, whilst decades have past since World War II, when the world witnessed the holocaust, we are witnessing a resurgence in anti-Semitism across the globe that is manifesting itself in all sorts of ways. 

Only last week, I attended an event hosted by the Victorian state government to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Israel's Independence Day. Walking into that venue, I saw some 100 police inside and outside the doors. They were concerned about trouble that they had been advised was possible, and they were there to secure all—an extraordinary situation in Melbourne, a site where we have seen the BDS movement boycotting the Max Brenner chocolate business. I challenge all to expose all who engage in this racist behaviour and commend all Coalition Members and Senators for supporting this.

14 June 2013

Sydney University BDS racists are warned

From Israel law Canter, 13 June 2013:
A Tel Aviv-based civil rights group warned Australian supporters of a proposed boycott against Israel on Thursday that their activities were racist, and in violation of Australian Federal anti-discrimination laws.
Recently, faculty and students at Sydney University called for the severing of links with Israeli institutions.
In letters sent to Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Professor Stuart Rees and others, Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center threatened to take legal action if they did not immediately discontinue their boycott campaign.
This past semester, the university’s student body endorsed Associate Professor Jake Lynch’s academic boycott of Israel. Lynch had publicly announced his refusal to work with Dan Avnon, an Israeli professor from the prestigious Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which promotes Israeli-Arab coexistence, and also called for a boycott of Technion University in Haifa.
Professors’ Lynch and Rees’ actions, although widely condemned by mainstream politicians and community figures, have also been supported by NSW Labor MP Lynda Voltz and Mary Kostakidis.
According to NSW Solicitor Andrew Hamilton of Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has been recognized as anti-Semitic by leading authorities such as Anti-Defamation League in the United States, and in a report recently released by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
In the letters Hamilton pointed out that the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 made it “unlawful for a person to do any act involving a distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, … national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of any human right or fundamental freedom in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”
Hamilton also warned that any “successful” boycott of Israel was illegal under the Competition and Consumer Act of 2010 if they damage the businesses they target, and that as a result parties could be investigated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and face legal action for damages.
“Lynch, Rees, Voltz and others like them seek to impose restrictions on those having Israeli and Jewish national, racial or ethnic origins, whether these are goods, services, persons and organizations. The participants of the BDS movement clearly seek to violate freedoms guaranteed by Federal law,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton added out that “these individuals act with the clear purpose of nullifying or impairing the recognition and equal footing of those persons and organizations whom they seek to boycott, divest from and sanction.”
Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center is an organization dedicated to enforcing basic human rights through the legal system and represents victims of terrorism in courtrooms around the world. Its clients include American, European, and Israeli citizens. It is a fully independent non-profit organization, unaffiliated with any political party or governmental body.

Click here for a copy of the letter to Lynch.

13 June 2013

Raoul Wallenberg Honorary Citizenship Ceremony

From A-PAC, 12 Jun 2013:
(37-minute) Ceremony at Government House on 6 May 2013 conferring honorary Australian citizenship on Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thosuands of Hungarian Jews from deportation to the Nazi death camps. Speeches by Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of Australia, the Hon Julia Gillard MP, Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, Leader of the Opposition, Peter Wertheim AM, Executive Director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry

BDS: a fringe movement and an abject failure

From AIJAC, 13 June 2013, by Ahron Shapiro:

The cult-like and self-aggrandising Boycott, Diverstment and Sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel campaign suffered another embarrassing setback this month when Facebook and Google wooed the Israeli content-savvy phone GPS app company Waze...
...Google sealed the deal on June 11 for US1.3 billion...
The high-profile takeover caught the attention of top business writers, who expect the deal to inspire more investment in Israeli tech companies, as Google's funds are parlayed into a new wave of spinoff projects.
...with the acquisition of Waze by Google, BDS activists will surely now be in the unenviable position of having to boycott the world's top internet search tools or be exposed for their hypocrisy.
(Google is currently used in 67 percent of internet searches. Its closest competitor, Microsoft's Bing which is used in 17 percent of all searches, is also BDS unfriendly, given Microsoft's substantial investment in Israeli R&D).
...The harmful effects of BDS to the Palestinian economy have been well documented, such as in this JTA story from February about how BDS threatens the livelihood of some 900 Palestinians from the West Bank and east Jerusalem who work for the Israeli do-it-yourself soda company SodaStream. 
...SodaStream has indeed been one of the prime targets for BDS campaigners in Australia and abroad.
On June 1, when a band of anti-Israel activists 
roamed through a mall in Brisbane, pulling Israeli products off shelves and creating a disturbance that required the police to clear, SodaStream was among a handful of products they targeted.
But how's that boycott going? Well, SodaStream beat earnings estimates once again in Q1 2013, posting "strong growth" in Australia and notably Europe. It has just raised its projected earnings for the year by about 10 percent. This, in spite of setbacks in Japan unrelated to BDS that have held back its Asia/Pacific sales totals for the quarter.
Investors continue to be bullish on SodaStream. The company's stock just hit a 52-week high, fuelled by rumours that the company may follow Waze as Israel's next big takeover target - this time by either Pepsi or Coke.
...The continued success of SodaStream - not by some subjective analysis but by the cold, hard sales figures that financial advisers depend on - is the most compelling evidence that BDS remains the fringe movement that it always was and an abject failure.
In light of this very obvious failure, there stands a chance that BDS organisers may rethink their focus on SodaStream as counterproductive to the illusion of growing success they are trying to create (much as Brisbane's BDSers appears to have removed a boutique shoe store that stocked an Israeli product from its "BDS Walking Tour" itinerary this time around after experiencing a backlash of overwhelmingly negative publicity that surrounded its bullying tactics on its last tour.)
BDS is a cowardly and duplicitous intimidation campaign that lies constantly about its so-called "victories" (often taking credit for things entirely unrelated to the boycott)...
Yet it also lies equally about its goals. While it claims to want to use the boycott to pressure Israel to improve its treatment of Palestinians and its promoters often obfuscate whether the movement supports a two-state or one-state outcome for Israelis and Palestinians, in private most of its prominent supporters freely admit the aim is to delegitimise Israel in order to undermine its very right to exist.
This goal behind BDS was most recently driven home by Palestinian Red Crescent official and activist Mona El Farra in a lecture before Palestinian supporters in Perth on June 4.
BDS' push for a one (Arab) state to replace Israel was on display at the fourth annual BDS conference in Bethlehem last weekend, when leader Omar Barghouti demanded, among other things, a Palestinian "right of return" to pre-1967 Israel as a precondition for "peace", espousing the extreme Palestinian position which asserts that Israel should be forced to demographically undo its Jewish majority and become, in essence, a Palestinian state.
While BDS activists like to present themselves to the media as "peace activists", this is also meaningless doublespeak, as Barghouti also made clear that his movement rejects negotiations with Israel, even if Israel renewed a freeze on construction in its West Bank settlements and agrees to withdraw completely to its pre-1967 boundaries. He makes it abundantly clear that he sees delegitimisation of Israel through BDS as an end in itself, not a means to change Israel's policies.
The only way to ensure the Palestinians secured all their rights is through the non-violent "resistance" of a full boycott of Israel.
BDS is also a campaign that has often crossed the line between anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activity.
Last year, BDS activists in Melbourne planned a protest in front of a prominent synagogue. The organisers were eventually shamed into cancelling the protest.
More recently, BDS activists have harassed Jews attending synagogue in Boulder, Colorado as AIJAC's Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz has blogged.
These are hardly exceptional examples. As an incident with an Australian BDS Facebook page illustrated last month, while all BDS supporters are not antisemites, its fair to say that nearly all antisemites are BDS supporters.
Given the preponderance of evidence that BDS harms, and not helps the chances for peace by weakening moderates, BDS activists have found the need to resort to deception in their attempt to market their ideology to the mainstream.
It hasn't been easy for them. BDS activists crave validation that their methods are working in order to build morale and recruit more supporters. When the evidence says otherwise, they naturally seek to create an illusion of success. It's impossible for them to make the case that their campaign has made even the slightest dent in SodaStream. For this reason, it stands to reason that sooner or later, they will be compelled to shift their focus and prey upon far poorer performing companies - or more likely, bully more small businesses - in order to maintain this deception.

10 June 2013

Remind people of the Forgotten Refugees

From Commentary, 7 June 2013, by Evelyn Gordon:

Pro-Israel activists in Norway, where anti-Israel sentiment is rampant, assuredly don’t have it easy. So it was fascinating to read David Weinberg’s account of the issue they’ve found most successful in making Israel’s case–which, surprisingly, is one American activists generally ignore: the story of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

Norwegian activist Odd Myrland terms this tale, which most Norwegians have never heard, a “knockout punch” that “evens out the playing field, and forces people to think about justice for Israel.” As Weinberg explained, it reframes the conversation: Instead of being about Palestinian rights versus Israeli security–a nonstarter with many Westerners, for whom rights easily trump security–it “becomes a debate about a balance of rights: about Israeli/Jewish rights and Palestinian/Arab rights.”

At first glance, this seems bizarre. After all, what does Israel’s absorption of hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab lands have to do with the issues anti-Israel activists usually target: “the occupation” and the settlements? But a clue emerges from an unrelated interview with Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a British-born Muslim who practices extensively in Arab lands.

Ahmed, who made her first visit to Israel last month, noted that throughout the Muslim world, she hears nonstop that “because of Israel, the Palestinians were dispossessed from their property and land.” That, of course, is also what many Westerners hear.

But Ahmed, whose parents became refugees when the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan sent 10 to 12 million people fleeing in both directions (the Ahmeds fled to Pakistan), isn’t quite so sympathetic. Though she understands how wrenching refugeehood can be, she’s seen her own parents create new lives–and “I also see how people came to Israel, some of them barely surviving the Holocaust, to a land where they were not used to the climate and where they had no family, and yet somehow managed to build this extraordinary, complicated nation.”

While she never says it explicitly, the implication is clear: The Palestinians’ current plight is due less to Israel’s creation than to their own insistence on living in the past, and Arab countries’ insistence on keeping them there. Instead of building new lives for themselves as other refugees have done, they clung to the dream of eradicating Israel and “returning” to its territory–a dream that has precluded peace for 65 years now, and shows no sign of dying. In 2011, for instance, the PLO’s ambassador to Lebanon asserted that a Palestinian state would still deny citizenship to all Palestinian refugees, even those already living there, in order to preserve the demand for their “return” to Israel.

Moreover, as Weinberg noted, this issue shows Israel to be “a just and moral actor,” in sharp contrast to Arab states: While it absorbed the Jewish refugees and allowed them to build new lives, Arab states refused to absorb Palestinians: They denied them citizenship and kept them in squalid camps to preserve them as a weapon against Israel.

Finally, it sheds new light even on “the occupation.” Ahmed, for instance, considers it unjustified, but admitted there’s no obvious alternative: “How do you relinquish control when there’s a virulent Jihadist ideology and many Muslin leaders outside the region who say that not only shouldn’t Israel be recognized, but it shouldn’t be there at all?” That’s a problem too few Westerners are willing to acknowledge. Yet the refugee issue highlights this ongoing desire to eradicate Israel.

Disgracefully, Israel seems to have abandoned this issue: Nobody in the current government is continuing the work of former Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who labored to bring it to global attention via everything from conferences to YouTube campaigns.

But American and European Jewish groups could step into the breach. Congress has already introduced bipartisan legislation to include the issue of the Jewish refugees in any Mideast peace effort, but most of the world remains ignorant of their existence. And as the Norway experience shows, that ignorance urgently needs to be rectified.

Restoring the Zionist Idea

09 June 2013

Palestinians Have Suffered … at the Hands of Their Leaders

From Commentary, 7 June 2-13, by Jonathan S. Tobin:

Sometimes a great truth can be found even in a compendium of lies. That’s the upshot of the latest rant against Israel from a Palestinian leader. The leader in question is Jibril Rajoub, who currently serves as head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, though prior to assuming that post this senior official of the Fatah Party was an Arafat advisor and a terrorist who was imprisoned for throwing a hand grenade at an Israeli bus. Rather than concentrating on trying to get Palestinian kids to turn to sports as a preferable outlet to violence, Rajoub has been outspoken about his commitment to conflict with Israel recently and was quoted as having said that Palestinians suffered “three times as much” as Israelis as a result of the 1972 Munich massacre.

There is something egregious about a Palestinian Olympic official attempting to rationalize or even downplay the significance of an event in which terrorists under the command of Arafat and Fatah (albeit operating under the false flag of “Black September” which was merely a front for the PLO) murdered 11 Israeli athletes. But as wrong as Rajoub is about so much else, he’s right that the Palestinians have suffered more as a result of these events even if he doesn’t quite understand what the source of the suffering really was.

When he spoke of Palestinian suffering, Rajoub was referring to the Israeli efforts to kill all those involved in that bloody terror attack. But the real suffering was the ultimate impact on the Palestinian people of that crime and the thousands more like it committed in the name of Palestinian nationalism. By embracing terror, the Palestinians have doomed themselves to decades of war and hardship that might have been entirely avoided had they decided to devote themselves to reconciliation and coexistence. Rather than focus on the supposed misdeeds of the evil Israelis, as Rajoub would have his people and those that wish them well do, Palestinians would do well to finally realize that the ones who have been inflicting suffering on them are their own violent and corrupt leadership.

Rajoub’s checkered career has included some time spent trying to cultivate the affection of Israeli and American Jewish left-wingers via the Geneva Initiative, of which he was one of the signers. But in the last year, he has been among the most outspoken Palestinians when it comes to attempts to demonize Israel. As the Times of Israel reports:

Rajoub, former director of the Preventive Security Force in the West Bank, told a conference in October 2012 that “Jews are Satans, and Zionists the sons of dogs.”

In an interview with the Lebanese TV channel al-Mayadeen on May 1, he said that, for Fatah, “resistance to Israel remains on our agenda.

“I mean resistance in all of its forms,” he elaborated. “At this stage, we believe that popular resistance — with all that it entails — is effective and costly to the other side [Israel],” Rajoub said in the hour-long interview, which was highlighted by the watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch.

“If you ask me as a Palestinian,” he continued, “I say — our battle is with the Israeli occupation. Our main enemy, not [just] as Palestinians but as Arabs and Muslims, is Israel and the Israeli occupation.”

These sorts of statements are in keeping with the general tone of Palestinian politics in which vilification of Israel and support for conflict is always in fashion. But Rajoub’s reference to Munich is an opportunity to address just how badly those who act on such sentiments have damaged the Palestinians.

Violence against Jews and rejection of Israel has been the key element of Palestinian nationalism throughout its history. But imagine what the outcome would have been if instead of concentrating on trying to kill Jews, be they Olympic athletes or the children slaughtered by suicide bombers during the second intifada, Palestinians had focused their efforts on peaceful development, refugee resettlement or peaceful outreach. Untold suffering, death and destruction would have been avoided on both sides. And there’s little doubt the Palestinians would have achieved an independent state long ago.

Israelis have suffered from Arab terror such as the Munich massacre. But it is probably true that as awful as that pain has been, the Palestinians have been the much big losers in the exchange. It’s a pity that Rajoub can’t realize that. It’s even more of a pity that the people he supposedly represents haven’t come to the same conclusion and ousted their corrupt and violent Fatah and Hamas leaders in exchange for leaders who wish to end their suffering rather than prolong it in the name of an endless unwinnable war against Israel.

08 June 2013

A determined illegal Muslim immigration is creating a monstrous problem

From: The Australian, June 08, 2013, by GREG SHERIDAN, FOREIGN EDITOR:
Christmas Island asylum-seekers

A boat carrying asylum-seekers arrives at Christmas Island in April. More than 3000 people arrived in Australia on boats that month, with another 3000 last month.              

THE arrival of almost 45,000 boatpeople in Australia's north since Labor unwound John Howard's border protection policies in late 2008 represents the most comprehensive policy failure since World War II.
...Although the Australian public is profoundly hostile to this development, the elite debate on the issue has been overwhelmed by two considerations: humanitarian concern for the hundreds of people who have drowned trying to get here by boat, and the Gillard-Abbott contest.
But there are other grave policy concerns. This policy failure threatens to overwhelm and contaminate Australia's entire immigration program, it has grievous security implications and may fundamentally change the nature of Australian society in a way that corresponds to no national policy objective. There are huge economic and social implications as well.
Sri Lanka is the main non-Muslim source in recent years. A lot of Sri Lankans were sent back as they were "pre-screened" and determined not to be claiming refugee status. However, the correct form of words to recite has spread through the Sri Lankan networks and it now may be much harder to pre-screen them out.
In reality, almost no one ever goes home from Australia against their will, no matter what their refugee status determination is. Certainly more than 40,000 of those who have arrived under Labor are still here, with a small number at Manus Island and Nauru. About half those who have gone back are Sri Lankans, and most of the rest are Indonesian boat crew.
This boatpeople phenomenon is essentially a determined Muslim immigration. It is important to confront the sensitivities of this situation head-on. The overwhelming majority of Muslims in Australia are law-abiding and productive citizens. They should not be made to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable because of the necessary debate about this huge, unregulated Islamic inflow. But to dodge the debate because of that sensitivity is a recipe for continued, disastrous policy failure.
The case of convicted Egyptian terrorist Maksoud Abdel Latif illustrates how the security system is overwhelmed by the present numbers, but it is not the key policy question.
Assume that 40,000 of those who have arrived so far are Muslims, mostly low skilled and with limited English. Assume that eventually they will all stay in Australia, which is the only rational assumption if policy doesn't change radically. Then assume that, on a very conservative basis, each is responsible, eventually, for one family reunion immigrant, whether a spouse, fiance, parent or sibling. That is a cohort, so far, of 80,000 low-skilled Muslims with poor English predominantly from countries that have the most radical and extreme jihadist traditions in the world.
Of course, most Muslims in any country are not extremists. But after the latest terrorist atrocity in London, former British prime minister Tony Blair, while acknowledging that most Muslims were moderates, commented: "There is a problem with Islam - from the adherents of an ideology which is a strain within Islam. We have to put it on the table and be honest about it. Of course there are Christian extremists and Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu ones. But I am afraid the strain is not the province of a few extremists. It has at its heart a view about religion and about the interaction between religion and politics that is not compatible with pluralistic, liberal, open-minded societies ... At the extreme end of the spectrum are terrorists, but the world view goes deeper and wider than it is comfortable for us to admit. So by and large we don't admit it."
The numbers coming to Australia will continue to rise dramatically unless the people-smuggling industry is broken.
A former senior officer of the Immigration Department spoke to me this week, on condition of anonymity, on the way the illegal immigration trade to Australia has become regularised, from Iran in particular. When he first got involved in this issue, Iranians and others would go to Malaysia, then on to Indonesia, and it would be months before they could find a people-smuggler. Now, he says, it is more often like a travel agent service, with everything arranged inside Iran.
Security against jihadist violence from a small but dangerous minority, though extremely important, is not the only problem. A huge force in people-smuggling now consists of people who came to Australia as boatpeople themselves. Similarly, boatpeople families are, according to sources in the bureaucracy, heavily involved in financing one-way trips to Australia for extended family.
Thus the boatpeople phenomenon entrenched in Australia is a big, organised crime industry.
There will be many consequences beyond this.
The Immigration Department's figures, released last year, revealed that five years after arrival the rate of employment - not unemployment but employment - of Afghans was 9 per cent, while 94 per cent of Afghan households received Centrelink payments. From Iraq, 12 per cent were employed while 93 per cent of families received Centrelink payments. Overall, households that came under the humanitarian program had 85 per cent receiving Centrelink payments after five years. The family reunion cohort had 38 per cent, and skilled migration 28 per cent.
Taken together, these figures demonstrate the way in which the boatpeople phenomenon can overwhelm our immigration program. We are allowing, indeed attracting, a huge cohort of unskilled Muslim immigrants who have not been chosen by Australian policy or process. But there are almost no unskilled jobs, which is why we stopped unskilled migration in the 1970s. If it follows even remotely the European pattern, this cohort will be characterised by high unemployment, intergenerational welfare dependency, high crime rates, social problems across a broad spectrum and a minority tendency to extremism. For a nation to create this syndrome by avoidable policy failure, knowingly and with full foresight, is remarkable. Nonetheless, it is also wrong to dismiss short-term security problems.
The Latif case illustrates this. ASIO told the Immigration Department Latif was a convicted terrorist. The Immigration Department sent a submission to the office of its minister, then Chris Bowen. Neither the minister nor the department took any action about the fact Latif was housed in a minimum-security facility. Later, after media attention, he was moved to a more secure detention facility.
Yesterday, the pro-refugee lobby was screaming that Latif's conviction in an Egyptian court under Hosni Mubarak lacked credibility. This is truly a bizarre position. Is it the refugee lobby's view now that only terrorists convicted in exemplary courts can trigger security concern?
Although ASIO is not primarily at fault in the Latif case because it eventually did flag his presence to the government, the case illustrates the impossibility of ASIO's task.
About 80 per cent to 90 per cent of boatpeople arrive without documents. Among people-smuggling networks, it is widely known what the correct stories are to tell, indeed the correct form of words to use, to trigger protection under the refugee convention; these are widely promulgated and practised at length.
Notionally, ASIO subjects all arrivals to a security check. This process has broken down and is now all but meaningless. The convention prohibits approaching the country someone is allegedly fleeing for identity or security checks.
So what can ASIO possibly do? It can run the name that the boatperson gives through its various databases, and the international databases to which it has access. It can watch and listen to the boatperson while they are in custody in Australia which, given the way the system is overwhelmed, is increasingly a short period. And, in quite rare cases, it can try to match bio-data, fingerprints, facial patterns and so on, with international databases. The Latif case demonstrates that even when putting the name through a database raises urgent red flags, the system is still too overwhelmed to respond meaningfully. But the broader idea that the tens of thousands of illegal arrivals have been subject to security clearance is farcical.
Two other questions are central. One, are we dealing with a genuine refugee exodus or is this just determined immigration? The refugee acceptance rates in Australia are much higher than those in UN camps overseas or evaluations made by other countries. About half the applications are rejected at their first evaluation but then the vast majority of these are accepted on appeal, especially in the courts. There are multiple, lengthy layers of appeal in the Australian system. The courts handle these questions with integrity, but the overall elite legal/social atmosphere is extremely sympathetic to claimants. Once a claimant has disposed of identity documents and tells the correctly formulated story, there is no way of verifying, or falsifying, it. Therefore the courts overwhelmingly give the benefit of the doubt to the claimant.
Decades of involvement in refugee questions have convinced me of the absolute subjectivity of these judgments. There is probably a need for legislative change here.
Second, can we do anything about the situation in policy terms? Laurie Ferguson's cri de coeur this week that the issue was killing Labor in western Sydney was accompanied by an important statement from Ferguson. These concerns were not expressed by rednecks or racists, he said, but by people of all backgrounds in his electorate, including immigrants - Muslims, Asians, everyone. Former Labor minister Gerry Hand, now resident in Melbourne's western suburbs, similarly reports that no one is more hostile to the boatpeople phenomenon than immigrants who have gone about coming to Australia in the regular fashion.
...[This] epic policy failure has created a monstrous problem for Australia. If it is not solved Australia will be changed fundamentally in a way that no Australians want.

05 June 2013

ANU Censors Speech Offensive to Islam, Threatens Students

From a Press Release 3 June 2013, by Martin Sherman:
Australian National University (ANU) administrators have given student board members and authors of the school's newspaper Woroni an ultimatum: retract a recently published infographic satirizing Islam or face disciplinary proceedings that could include expulsion. Not surprisingly, the students responded to the school's threat by removing the image from the Internet, having already published an apology to "any readers who felt victimised, while stressing that the piece was intended to be satirical."
The infographic was the fifth in a student-produced series that satirized aspects of different religions, preceded by instalments on Catholicism, Scientology, Mormonism, and Judaism. Only the piece on Islam drew university censorship, following a complaint by the International Students Department. According to ANU vice-chancellor Ian Young, the Chancelry (administration) "felt [the piece] actually breached the rules of the university in terms of student conduct and . . . breached the rules of at least the Australian Press Council principles to which Woroni abides." Young denied that the censorship was an attack on freedom of speech and asserted that previous cartoons on other major religions were permissible because they did not attract formal complaints.
The implications of this are troubling: the Chancelry has effectively endorsed a policy of selectively restricting speech deemed offensive to Islam, and Islam alone.
The school's severe and punitive interference is unprecedented. Woroni editor Gus McCubbing opined, "The problem I had here was never before had the Chancelry taken such an active role in disciplining us and saying what we can and can't publish."
The Chancelry's actions included twice summoning the student paper's board members to discuss the issue, individually threatening the board members and authors with disciplinary action, and informing them that Woroni's funding allocation could be compromised if the parody of Islam remained online.
ANU administrators further claimed that the piece threatened the school's reputation and security, stating: "[I]n a world of social media, [there is] potential for material such as the article in question to gain attention and traction in the broader world and potentially harm the interests of the University and the university community." They cited controversy surrounding the Danish Jyllands-Posten cartoon depicting Islam's prophet Mohammed and violent protests in Sydney against the film Innocence of Muslims.
"Free speech died last week at ANU, and the severity of the situation cannot be understated," commented Brooke Goldstein, human rights attorney and director of The Lawfare Project, a nonprofit legal think tank dedicated to monitoring global threats to freedom of speech. "When a university abuses its power to stifle and punish speech offensive to Muslims, singling out Islam for special treatment while allowing other religions to be lampooned, the school is effectively enforcing Sharia (Islamic law) blasphemy codes, which have no place in free society. The ANU Chancelry's policy is more akin to that of speech-repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia or China than that of a Western university, a traditionally important forum for open dialogue and debate. Particularly concerning is that the university's defense of its censorship rests on the false causation argument that violence is caused by satire. Indeed, the type of violence cited by the administrators was caused by an ideology that justifies violence based on militant religious doctrine. When will we stop excusing violent criminal conduct as an expected response to controversial speech?"
The recent incident at ANU is part of a growing pattern of speech suppression in the West stemming from fear of violent reprisal by Islamists. The fear of violence, coupled with the continued threat of lawfare lawsuits designed to silence and punish anything deemed blasphemous of Islam and its prophet Mohammad, has created a detrimental chilling effect on the inalienable human right to speak freely and openly about issues of public concern, including militant Islam. The ANU Chancelry's actions fall in line with principles pushed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to make unlawful the use of media to criticize Islam.
Unfortunately, Australia's Constitution does not expressly protect freedom of speech or expression, a void ripe for lawfare. Unlike in the United States, where restrictions on speech can be challenged for violating the First Amendment, Australia's lack of free speech protection leaves speakers with little or no recourse when they are silenced (though the High Court in 1992 held that the nation's Constitution impliedly protects the narrowly defined category of speech concerning political issues).