Editor: Rael Jean Isaac
Editorial Board: Ruth King, Rita Kramer
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Zionism 101.org: This was Herbert Zweibon’s Last Project
Online now: Herzl Part 3
Learn about the roots of Israel and Zionism and pass this knowledge on to the next generation through this amazing series of films.
There are already 40 videos on the site, covering everything from Zionism’s founding fathers to Christian Zionism.
Zionism 101.org is free. You need only register to see the videos and to be informed when the next video is available.
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We are at this writing approximately a month away from a November 24th “deadline”– extended from an original July 20th “deadline” – for Iran to turn over to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) all material information related to its enrichment of uranium and the military ramifications of its decade-long atomic energy program. Senior U.S. and EU diplomatic representatives were scheduled to meet with Iranian officials in advance of the Nov. 24th target date to hammer out the final details of a “Comprehensive Agreement” by the Islamic Republic to pull the plug on uranium enrichment in exchange for a suspension of the economic sanctions imposed on it.
The year-long cat-and-mouse game the West has been playing with Ayatollah Khameini and his “congenial” front-man President Hassan Rouhani, easing some of the sanctions imposed on Teheran, conditioned on an open door (never opened more than a crack) to IAEA inspectors, has come full circle. With a military assault on Iran’s nuclear-industrial complex all but ruled out, the West is left with one of two choices: either accede to Teheran’s wishes for yet another extension of the “Comprehensive Agreement” target date or sign on to the “bad deal” President Obama initially declared and Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to insist would be “worse than no deal.”
Mr. Obama’s zeal for a tough deal with Khameini & Co. has been notably muted since he was forced to take on ISIS. He never once mentioned Iran in his September address to the UN General Assembly, giving rise to suspicions that he may be ready to soften his approach to the Shi’ite regime’s nuclear aspirations in exchange for Republican Army assistance in reining in the Sunni genocidal menace. Ephraim Asculai, a 40-year veteran of Israel’s Atomic Energy Committee, has labeled any further extension of the Nov. 24th deadline a “fatal mistake,” adding that Iran is passionately interested in “buying time because the window of opportunity for ‘breakout’ – making explosive [nuclear] devices – narrows with each passing day.” Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, who has accused the Iranians of conducting experiments to “ignite the chain reaction” in nuclear weapons at its fortified underground Fordo facility (off- limits to IAEA inspectors), views any additional extension of playtime for the mullahs as a reprise of America’s failed 2007 largesse to North Korea which assured the rogue regime of military nuclear capability
The “bad deal worse than no deal” scenario has advanced to center stage cloaked in what the State Department has envisioned as “creative” responses to Hassan Rouhani’s refusal to give an inch on the Islamic Republic’s insistence on its right to continue enriching uranium. Indeed, “Mr. Moderate” has warned that “those who think of other [than diplomatic] solutions to the nuclear question would be committing a grave mistake in doing so.” Among the “creative” responses on offer, clearly the most ludicrous is the suggested unplugging of half of Iran’s 9,000 centrifuges, leaving the remaining 4,500 to keep grinding. Not only could the connections be restored in a matter of days, nuclear experts point out, it would signify that America has given up on halting Teheran’s march to an atomic bomb . A variation on the 50-50 split would reduce the stack of uranium gas to the 4,500 functioning centrifuges, thereby stretching the calendar on Iran’s accumulation of enough bomb-making material from weeks or months to a year, a year and a half. What is clearly the worst of the “creative” solutions would allow the Iranians to substitute a reduction of the “Separate Work Units” it has established across the country to disperse and replicate its nuclear activities against elimination or a meaningful reduction of its centrifuges. “That’s a Trojan horse, “ Eric Mandel, head of the Middle East Political and Information Network, warns in a Jerusalem Post analysis. “It would make a future Iranian breakout virtually unstoppable.”
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Simple Shimon v. Rabbi Sachs
In an interview published in the Lubavitch International paper (Oct./Nov. 2014) former British Chief rabbi Jonathan Sachs observes: “Whereas Western thinkers tend to see the basis of morality in reason, emotion or calculation of consequences, for us, from the very beginning the key word was zakhor, remember [the lessons of the past]. Memory is the moral tutor of mankind.
Contrast this with Israel’s former President Shimon Peres. “It is a great mistake to learn from history. There is nothing to learn from history.” (Interview Maariv May 23, 1996) Or, from a Peres interview in Australia/Israel Review, June 1997) “I am totally uninterested in the past. The past bores me. Listen, it bores me for two reasons: it never repeats itself and secondly it is unchangeable. So why should I concern myself with it?”
What is most appalling is that polls consistently show Peres, an intellectual and moral pygmy, is the most revered man in Israel.
Invisible Dutch Soldiers
Iraq’s military has been showered with contempt for running away from ISIS, which has far fewer men. What then does one say of Holland’s military, which cowers at tweets?
The Dutch military has either ordered or counseled (there is dispute on this score) its personnel not to wear their uniforms in public. Dutch customs officials, whose garb could be mistaken for military uniforms, have received the same instruction. The reason? A Dutch jihadist known as Muhajiri Shaam, tweeted “Dutch people: your government just made you a target.” What set him off was the Dutch government’s pledge of military support for the campaign against ISIS in Iraq.
As Dutch-Iranian law professor Afashin Ellian points out: “Jihadists now know that a few tweets from a single Dutch jihadist can fundamentally alter Dutch defense policy. Dutch citizens now know that a few tweets from a single Dutch jihadist will send shivers down their government’s spine and that—instead of making sure all threats are neutralized—it will order the personnel tasked with keeping them safe, to hide.”
Jewish Legion Commander Reburied in Israel
In October the remains of Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson, commander of the Jewish Legion in World War I, were taken to Israel from the Rosedale, Calif. Cemetery in Los Angeles and (along with the remains of his wife Frances) will be reinterred in the military cemetery of Moshav Avihayil, where many Jewish Legion veterans are buried. This was done thanks largely to the efforts of Jerry Klinger, President of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation and Patterson’s grandson Alan, who wanted to honor the wish of his Christian Zionist grandfather—who died in 1947, a year before the establishment of the state–to be buried in the Jewish state alongside the soldiers he had commanded.
Prime Minister Netanyahu was supportive of the effort and he is scheduled to attend the burial and memorial service on Nov. 10 at the nearby Jewish Legion Museum. Netanyahu noted that his brother Yonatan (the hero of Entebbe) had been named for Patterson who had given the child a silver chalice which “linked the commander of the renascent Jewish fighting force with one of Israel’s future military commanders.” Netanyahu’s father Benzion was not only a friend but a great admirer of Patterson whom he called in an editorial “the fighting Irishman who gave up the best of his life for the redemption of the Jewish people—an outstanding example of…a righteous man of the world.”
It is fitting that Patterson’s wish that Israel be his final resting place is at last being fulfilled. Jabotinsky said of him, “Never in Jewish history has there been in our midst a Christian friend of his understanding and devotion.”
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Those who would like to learn more about the extraordinary life of this larger-than-life figure should read Denis Brian’s The Seven Lives of Colonel Patterson. For a briefer insight, log on to Zionism 101 and click on the unit on the Jewish Legion. Patterson was world famous as a lion hunter before he led the Zion Mule Corps and then the Jewish Legion. The railroad the British were building in East Africa had been stopped cold after workers refused to go on when two man-eating lions killed 128 men working on the project. Patterson killed the lions, a feat he recounted in The Man-Eaters of Tsavo, which made him an international celebrity and brought him the friendship of men like Theodore Roosevelt.
Editor’s note: The recent Ken Burns series has focused public attention on the out-sized role of the Roosevelts in American history. In the process Burns has whited out Franklin Roosevelt’s failure to take measures to save European Jews. This article makes clear that Herbert Hoover–who awaits a historian providing a fairer portrayal of his legacy– would have surely taken a more active role in saving Jews.
Ex-presidents seldom take an interest in Jewish affairs, with two notable exceptions: one who has repeatedly clashed with the Jewish community–Jimmy Carter–and one who turned out to be an unlikely ally of the Jews–Herbert Hoover, who passed away fifty years ago this week.
Most ex-presidents have gone quietly into the sunset, and some have taken issue with the few who have chosen to speak out on current affairs. George W. Bush, for example, had some strong words for fellow ex-president Jimmy Carter, following Carter’s public criticism of President Obama’s Mideast policies. “To have a former president bloviating and second-guessing is, I don’t think, good for the presidency or the country,” Mr. Bush said.
Much of Carter’s post-presidential activity has revolved around Israel. He has repeatedly taken controversial stands, such as comparing Israeli policies to apartheid, urging the U.S. to withhold aid from Israel to force it to change its positions, and praising Hamas as “a legitimate political actor.”
Douglas Brinkley’s 1998 book The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter’s Journey Beyond the White House, furnished some embarrassing details about Carter’s relationship with Yasir Arafat. According to Brinkley, Carter “developed a fondness for Arafat” based on his belief “that they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God.” The former president went so far as to personally draft a speech for Arafat that he hoped would “help him to overcome the deficit understanding” for him in the West.
By contrast, Herbert Hoover, as ex-president, repeatedly took positions favorable to Jewry–even when it was not in his political interest to do so.
In early 1933, Jewish leaders asked president-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt to join Hoover, the outgoing president, in a joint statement deploring the mistreatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. Hoover agreed to do so; Roosevelt declined. Before leaving office, Hoover instructed the U.S. ambassador in Germany, Frederic Sackett, “to exert every influence of our government” on the Hitler regime to halt the persecutions. But FDR soon replaced Sackett with William Dodd, and instructed Dodd that while he could “unofficially” take issue with Nazi Germany’s anti-Semitism, he was not to issue any formal protests on the subject, since it was “not a [U.S.] governmental affair.”
Hoover publicly endorsed the 1939 Wagner-Rogers bill to permit 20,000 German Jewish children to enter the United States outside the quota system. He also assisted the sponsors of the bill behind the scenes, by pressuring wavering members of the House Immigration Committee to support the measure. The endorsement of the only living former president gave the bill a significant boost.
He likely would have been able to accomplish more for Wagner-Rogers if not for some unfortunate partisan sniping. James G. McDonald, chairman of the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees, believed the ex-president could rally important support for the effort. He suggested “that Mr. Herbert Hoover might assume leadership in raising funds and in administering the work of placing the children in suitable homes.” But Roosevelt administration officials blocked the proposal.
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I am sitting with Geert Wilders, leader of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom, and the news has just flashed that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the Canadian convert to Islam who terrorized Ottawa on Wednesday, had previously had his passport lifted by the Canadian government as an officially designated “high-risk traveler.”
That means that before Zehaf-Bibeau put a bullet through the heart of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a young reservist standing guard with an unloaded rifle at the Canadian war memorial, and before Zehaf-Bibeau rushed into parliament where, thankfully, he was gunned down by security before he could murder again, Canadian authorities had already identified him as someone likely to join the jihad in the Middle East. In fact, so likely was Zehaf-Bibeau to join a jihadist group such as ISIS that Canada did what many Western governments are now doing in the name of counter-terrorism: they took Zehaf-Bibeau’s passport away.
“That’s the same as the other one!” Wilders notes energetically, referring to Martin Couture-Rouleau, also an Islamic convert and “high-risk traveler,” who drove his car into two Canadian soldiers in Quebec earlier in the week, killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Couture-Rouleau, who was shot dead at the scene of his crime, had had his passport taken from him in July when he was arrested at the airport before he could travel to Turkey.
In other words, but for good Canadian police work, it looks as if both of these Islam-inspired murderers would have left Canada and disappeared into the bloody maw of the Islamic State. Phew — that was close?
No, that was insane. Such a policy, which the Dutch government also follows, frustrates Geert Wilders to no end.
“Let them leave,” says Wilders. “Let them leave, or detain them. I find it incomprehensible that Western governments stop people who want to leave to fight for jihad in Syria or Iraq.” Let them go and never let them return, Wilders says, or, with sufficient evidence, detain them. While the West combats the Islamic State, he points out, “nothing is being done to make our own countries safe.”
But not doing anything domestically–anything, that is, that protects our liberties at home from the encroachments of Islam and its body of repressive, supremacist, and misogynistic laws known as sharia–perfectly describes the Western response in the post-9/11 era. It is such policies of appeasement that Geert Wilders has been combating for more than a decade as a Dutch MP and also leader of the Party for Freedom.
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The critical problem for the West is that with the advance of sharia comes the retreat of freedom. We can see signs all around: less freedom of religion (see armed guards at Jewish institutions), less freedom of speech (remember the Danish cartoons?), less freedom of movement (security gauntlets all over.). As Wilders has put it so often, the more Islam you have in a society, the less freedom there is.
AFSI is saddened by the passing of Miroslav Todorovich at the age of 89 in Seattle. For many years Miro was a warm friend and valued advisor to AFSI and attended our national conferences (as a special guest when Edward Teller, his close friend and partner in the energy wars, was honored by AFSI). AFSI founder Erich Isaac is proud to have served an administrative role in all of the organizations Miro founded.
Miro made an extraordinary contribution to American public life. He was founder–and behind the scenes the key player, for he always gave the limelight to others–in a series of organizations that aimed to restore rationality to our basic institutions, from our universities to our energy system. The names of Miro’s organizations tended to be cumbersome: University Centers for Rational Alternatives, the Committee for Academic
Non-Discrimination and Integrity, Scientists and Engineers for Secure Energy, but their goals were simple and fundamental: universities that–without violent disruptions–would teach the achievements of Western civilization; selection based on merit, not accidents of race and color; the development of energy sources based on scientific knowledge, not trumped-up terror scenarios or pie-in-the-sky fantasies.
Miro was born in Belgrade in 1925 where his father co-founded the Belgrade daily Politika which Miro describes as a kind of New York Times of the Balkans (before the Times morphed from the newspaper of record into the loadstone of political correctness). In 1951 he graduated from the University of Belgrade’s Department of Natural Science (with a year studying mass spectrometry at Compagnie Generale de TSF in Paris) and went straight to the Vinca Institute of Nuclear Science, which decided to send several of its most promising young scientists abroad for further study. Miro chose Columbia University. But after only a few months, in what he described as typical of Communist governments, a power struggle at the Institute resulted in an about-face. Miro was called back to Yugoslavia, supposedly for lack of funds. The Institute, unmoved when Columbia offered to provide financial assistance, used his young wife Branka, who had been scheduled to join him in New York, as a hostage. Her passport was confiscated and it would take three years before, in 1956, she was finally able to come to New York. In 1961 their son Mark was born followed by a daughter Mira. Both would eventually obtain degrees in science, Mark in physics, Mira a PhD in chemistry.
Miro would embark upon a long career teaching physics at the City University of New York. But that was only the foundation of his activities. In Yugoslavia Miro had experienced the Nazi regime followed by Tito’s Communist rule. He appreciated the freedoms and democratic values of the United States as only someone from that background could. And so when the universities came under attack in the late 1960s with students disrupting classes, seizing buildings, shrieking obscenities, destroying their professors’ research files, packing guns (Cornell), making non-negotiable “demands,” Miro was horrified at the prospect of academic freedom and indeed Western culture falling to young barbarians within the gates. What he found most appalling was the feeble response of administrations and faculty, with most cravenly caving in to the attackers.
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And while many were horrified, Miro acted. In 1968, with famed NYU philosophy professor Sidney Hook, he founded University Centers for Rational Alternatives (UCRA). Hook summed up the organization’s perspective: “Intellectual unrest is not a problem but a virtue. The problem, and the threat, is not academic unrest but academic disruption and violence, which flow from substituting for the academic goals of learning the political goals of action.” UCRA also saw the growing abandonment of any and all curriculum requirements as a major threat to a liberal education.
Here is a paradox: UNRWA, the United Nations agency that manages the Palestinian refugee issue, follows rules that contradict United States law and policy, and its practices result in perpetuating and multiplying the refugee problem rather than resolving it. Yet the U.S. Department of State gives unquestioning support to UNRWA’s refugee designation rules, even on occasion defending them in detail. How can this be?
For example, almost two million Palestinians who have long been settled in Jordan and have for decades enjoyed Jordanian citizenship are routinely counted as “refugees” by UNRWA, and the State Department supports it. This, in spite of the fact that, under U.S. law, a person who has citizenship in the country where he resides, and enjoys the protection of that state, cannot lawfully be eligible for refugee status. How can State justify this contradiction?
Here is a second example: Another two million Palestinians already settled in the West Bank and Gaza, and who, by their own account, live in the declared Palestinian state as its citizens under a Palestinian government, are registered as “refugees” by UNRWA. By American legal standards, these Palestinians are “firmly settled” and therefore ineligible for “refugee” status. Further, according to American policy reaffirmed by three Presidents, these Palestinians already reside in their own future state, the place where Palestinian refugees are meant to be settled. Yet the State Department supports UNRWA’s decision to count two million Palestinians well established in the West Bank and Gaza as “refugees,” too.
Here is a third example: Under U.S. laws and regulations, only an individual who was personally displaced, or is a spouse or an underage dependent of such an individual, can be eligible for refugee status or derivative refugee status.
Grandchildren and great-grandchildren are specifically not entitled to inherit refugee status merely because their ancestor was a refugee. But under UNRWA practices, any descendant of a male refugee, no matter how many generations and decades have passed, is automatically entitled to be counted as a “refugee.” More than 95% of today’s UNRWA “refugees,” in fact, were not even alive when Israel was born in 1948; were never personally displaced by Israel’s creation, and are listed by UNRWA as “refugees” only because of this peculiar practice of inheriting refugee status as a birthright.
Amazingly, the State Department defends all this, sometimes with great specificity. In response to critics of the descendancy principle, for example, the State Department recently reported, with approval, that UNRWA is not the only UN agency following this inheritance rule; the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) occasionally does, as well.
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On Monday night I went to the Metropolitan Opera. I went for two reasons: to see and hear John Adams’ controversial opera, The Death of Klinghoffer; and to see and hear what those protesting the Met’s judgment in presenting the opera had to say. Peter Gelb, the head of the Met Opera, had advised people to see it for themselves and then decide.
That’s what I planned to do. Even though I had written critically of the opera—based on reading the libretto and listening to a recording—I was also critical of those who wanted to ban or censor it. I wanted personally to experience all sides of the controversy and then “decide.”
Lincoln Center made that difficult. After I bought my ticket, I decided to stand in the Plaza of Lincoln Center, across the street and in front of the protestors, so I could hear what they were saying and read what was on their signs. But Lincoln Center security refused to allow me to stand anywhere in the large plaza. They pushed me to the side and to the back, where I could barely make out the content of the protests. “Either go into the opera if you have a ticket or leave. No standing.” When I asked why I couldn’t remain in the large, open area between the protestors across the street and the opera house behind me, all I got were terse replies: “security,” “Lincoln Center orders.”
The end result was that the protestors were talking to and facing an empty plaza. It would be as if the Metropolitan Opera had agreed to produce The Death of Klinghoffer, but refused to allow anyone to sit in the orchestra, the boxes or the grand tier. “Family circle, upstairs, side views only.”
That’s not freedom of expression, which requires not only that the speakers be allowed to express themselves, but that those who want to see and hear them be allowed to stand in an area in front of, and close to, the speakers, so that they can fully participate in the marketplace of ideas. That marketplace was needlessly restricted on the opening night of The Death of Klinghoffer.
Unable to see or hear the content of the protest, I made my way to the opera house where I first registered a protest with the Met’s media person and then sat down in my fourth row seat to listen and watch the opera.
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I’m an opera fanatic, having been to hundreds of Met performances since my high school years. This was my third opera since the beginning of the season, just a few weeks ago. I consider myself something of an opera aficionado and “maven.” I always applaud, even flawed performances and mediocre operas. By any standard, The Death of Klinghoffer is anything but the “masterpiece” its proponents are claiming it is. The music is uneven, with some lovely choruses—more on that coming—one decent aria, and lots of turgid recitatives. The libretto is awful. The drama is confused and rigid, especially the weak device of the captain looking back at the events several years later with the help of several silent passengers. There are silly and distracting arias from a British show girl who seems to have had a crush on one of the terrorists, as well as from a woman who hid in her cabin eating grapes and chocolate. They added neither to the drama nor the music of the opera.
In 2010 the British writer Howard Jacobson won the prestigious Man Booker prize for his book The Finkler Question which satirizes writers, artists and academics who belong to a Jewish group named “ASH-amed.” The title refers to their shame and sorrow that the Jews of Israel stoop to the venal sin of defending their nation against its enemies.
While ASHamed was a parody, the BDS movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel has become a powerful threat to the economy and existence of Israel.
Far more insidious than the hazy, hypocritical, ignorant and selective preaching and preening of leftists who moan and groan about settlements and occupation in Israel, are celebrities, performers and academics who level destructive libels of ethnic cleansing and apartheid, using Nazi metaphors to delegitimize the only real democracy in the entire region.
Much has been written on the subject, but The London Center for Policy Research, a think tank founded and headed by Herbert London has produced a first and essential book The BDS War Against Israel—The Orwellian Campaign to Destroy Israel Through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. It exposes the radical agenda and willing participation of companies, organizations, charities, academics, and a motley group of useful Jewish idiots who demonize Israel under the pretense of “humanitarian” concerns.
How did it start and how did it gain such traction?
The authors, Jed Babbin and Herbert London, meticulously expose the founding, the funding, the participating groups, the tactics and the underlying anti-Semitism of the BDS movement, which sells itself under the disguise of the pursuit of “social justice.” It uses propaganda, disinformation, and outright libel to shift world opinion by depicting Israel as a rogue nation that routinely oppresses and disenfranchises a beleaguered minority of hapless Arabs. Thus, is Israel placed among nations ruled by despots and barbarians such as North Korea and Cuba, and, ironically, its surrounding Arab enemies.
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The success of the movement is staggering. In nine years the BDS movement has persuaded a gullible left, both internationally and in the United States to 1. create global boycotts of Israeli universities and industries (purportedly only those that do business in the “occupied” West Bank) 2. to persuade nations, banks, companies and industries to divest themselves of investments in banks, companies and industries in Israel 3.to obtain international sanctions against Israel, its economy, and its people.