Mideast

MARCH 2016 MIDEAST OUTPOST

Outpost
Editor: Rael Jean Isaac
Editorial Board: Ruth King, Rita Kramer

Outpost is distributed free to Members of Americans for a Safe Israel

Annual membership: $100.

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Mideast

The Incredible Mr. Erekat by William Mehlman

Jay Nordlinger has probably given us the first and last word on the moral contradictions, factoids and fantasies struggling for dominance over the conflicted psyche of Saeb Erekat, “Palestine’s” chief negotiator with Israel since the l991 Madrid Conference and as of late last year, the PLO’s Secretary General.
“Erekat says all the right things–almost all the right things,” Nordlimger avers in an article for National Review On-Line. “Yes, he accepts Israel’s right to exist–even as a Jewish state. And yes, he would accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and leave the rest of Israel alone…He is a great assurer. Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. But can you trust him as far as you can throw him?”

The question has assumed singular relevance in light of the growing possibility that 2015 may have marked the 11th and final full year of an 81 year-old and ailing Mahmoud Abbas’ reign as President of the Palestinian Authority and his reportedly strong leaning toward the San Francisco State University alumnus as his successor. The answer, all things considered, is an emphatic, however regretful, no. Saeb Eerekat cannot be trusted, neither as near nor as far as you can throw him. For the vision that once inspired a plea in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds for a dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian academics and, in the face of charges of betrayal of the “Palestinian Cause,” his follow-up invitation to Israeli students to sit in on his lectures at An-Najah University in Nablus, is no longer in evidence. While the silver tongue, the impeccable English polished to a high gloss in pursuit of a Doctorate at England’s Bradford University continue to make him an interview fixture at CNN and other media venues, he has allowed himself, at 60, to become spokesman for a zero-sum “peace process” that has never included peace, that rejects Israel as a Jewish state because recognition of that reality would put paid to any further territorial claims against it, a process that has set its sights on Israel’s ultimate disappearance from the map of the Middle East.

Bret Stephens, foreign affairs columnist and deputy opinion page editor of the Wall Street Journal, bore witness to Erekat’s unraveling as far back as 2002, while serving as editor of the Jerusalem Post. It began, he notes, with myth-making: that, inter alia, Jewish settlers had gobbled up 42 per cent of the “West Bank,” when in fact their communities occupied barely 5 per cent of Judea and Samaria; that these same rapacious Jewish invaders were stealing Palestinian water resources, when virtually all of the settlements were already linked to the national Israel water grid and did not use local wells; that Jewish settlement activity violated international law, a charge refuted by the Fourth Geneva Convention. From this fictional springboard it was but a short hop to Erekat’s claim that “Operation Defensive Shield,” the IDF’s 2002 decontamination of a toxic Jenin terrorist camping ground, was a “war crime” resulting in the death of more than 500 innocent civilians. The actual death toll, upon investigation by the UN, was 53, more than half of them combatants.

Mideast

From the Editor: Rael Jean Isaac

Chutzpah
Another risible gem from our morally topsy turvy world: The Russian Foreign Ministry on Feb. 20 sent out a statement: “We call on the United States and other NATO countries to be responsible and discriminate in choosing targets, like the Russian aerospace forces are doing in Syria.”

A Surprising Tribute
As our campuses boil with mindless hatred toward Israel, a surprising tribute comes from a Kuwaiti columnist who titles his column in the daily Al-Qabas “Israel has Outdone Us in Everything—We Must Learn from It.” Excerpts:
“Since its founding, Israel has been committed to democracy while we refuse to even speak of it, let alone adopt it.
“Israel has given its minorities rights that most citizens in most countries do not even dream of. Furthermore, the freedom of worship there exceeds that in any Arab or Islamic country.
“Israel has focused its attention on science, spending large sums on research, while we are still focused on whether drinking camel urine or using it medicinally is actually helpful.
“Israel has known law and order since its first day, while we still try to comprehend the meaning of both these words.
“Israel has developed its technologies and developed its agriculture, industry and military, becoming an advanced and respected country, while we currently occupy the bottom slot in every field.”
Alas, it would be hard to find such an appreciation written by one of Israel’s own army of hyper-self-critical journalists.

“Neutrality”
Republican candidate Donald Trump has now distanced himself from the Republican field on yet another issue—Israel. He has declared himself “neutral.” This is apparently so he can devote a few weeks in the Oval office to solving the Arab-Israel conflict (hey, why not, when you are the world’s greatest ever deal-maker). Neutral is of course a euphemism for “anti-Israel.” There is no legitimate neutral stance between the Palestinian Arabs whose goal is what Abba Eban used to call “politicide” and Israel, which seeks to maintain its existence in the face of hatred and barbarism. Even the much pilloried Chamberlain did not consider himself “neutral” on the question of Czechoslovakia’s survival. He was deluded but not neutral.

Mideast

Teaching Antisemitism at Vassar—and Beyond by Rael Jean Isaac

The anti-Semitic hysteria on many elite American campuses (the veil of anti-Zionism now thrown off) is belatedly becoming the subject of major concern in the Jewish community. As well it should. The young people of this community, in what should be idyllic years, are being exposed, often for the first time in their lives, to unreasoning hatred. Moreover what starts on campus does not stay there. Those whose opinions are shaped in our colleges and universities move on to become the opinion shapers of the broader culture: the journalists, the academics, the professionals, the entertainers, the politicians.

While their children may not be subject to the intimidation and bullying Jews encounter, non-Jews should also be deeply worried. Most would be horrified to see our colleges descend into what Victor Davis Hanson calls places “as foreign to American traditions of tolerance and free expression as what followed the Weimar Republic.” Parents hope their children will be introduced to what Matthew Arnold called the best that has been thought and said, not mired in impenetrable thickets of verbiage, behind which lie ignorance, falsehoods and malice.

Take the lecture on Feb. 3 by Rutgers Associate Professor Jasbir Puar at Vassar College. Under the title “Inhumanist Biopolitics: How Palestine Matters,” the invitation declared: “This lecture theorizes oscillating relations between disciplinary, pre-emptive and increasingly prehensive forms of power that shape human and non-human materialities in Palestine….If Gaza, for example, is indeed the world’s largest ‘open air prison’ and experimental lab for Israeli military apparatuses, infrastructural chaos and metric manipulation, what kinds of fantasies (about power, about bodies, about resistance, about politics) are driving this project? ”

Mideast

Weimar America By Victor Davis Hanson

2016 is a pivotal year in which accustomed referents of a stable West are now disappearing. We seem to be living in a chaotic age, akin to the mid-1930s, of cynicism and skepticism. Government, religion, and popular culture are corrupt and irrelevant—and the world order of the last 70 years has all but collapsed.
Neither the president nor his would-be successors talk much about the fact that we are now nearing $20 trillion in debt—in an ossified economy of near-zero interest rates, little if any GDP growth, and record numbers of able-bodied but non-working adults. (The most frequent complaint I hear in my hometown is that the government lags behind in their cost-of-living raises in Social Security disability payments.)

No one can figure out how and why America’s youth have borrowed a collective $1 trillion for college tuition, and yet received so little education and skills in the bargain. Today’s campuses have become as foreign to American traditions of tolerance and free expression as what followed the Weimar Republic. To appreciate cry-bully censorship, visit a campus “free-speech” area. To witness segregation, walk into a college “safe space.” To hear unapologetic anti-Semitism, attend a university lecture. To learn of the absence of due process, read of a campus hearing on alleged sexual assault. To see a brown shirt in action, watch faculty call for muscle at a campus demonstration. To relearn the mentality of a Chamberlain or Daladier, listen to the contextualizations of a college president. And to talk to an uneducated person, approach a recent college graduate.

If all that is confusing, factor in the Trimalchio banquet of campus rock-climbing walls, students glued to their iPhone 6s, $200 sneakers, latte bars, late-model foreign cars in the parking lot, and yoga classes. Affluence, arrogance, and ignorance are quite a trifecta.

Bernie Sanders—a proud Eugene Debs-like socialist whose campaign in normal times would have been the stuff of caricature—is now running neck and neck with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination. He rails like an Old Testament prophet at Wall Street, often oblivious that Wall Street’s totem stands a mere three feet away on the debating stage.
Obama may have wrecked his party by losing the Congress and most of the state legislatures, but he certainly has moved it to the hard community-organizing left. Sanders has little appreciation that he is an artifact of free-market capitalism, which alone has created enough bounty for such a demagogue to call for massive redistribution—in a way impossible for socialists any longer in exhausted Cuba, Greece, Venezuela, or any other command-economy paradise. Where does Sanders think his statism has worked—China, North Korea, Bolivia, Cuba, or the ossified European Union?

Mideast

Scalia and the Jews Yvette Alt Miller

US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on February 13, 2016. Justice Scalia was a strong-willed and polarizing figure on the bench. Here are five little-known facts about Justice Scalia as they relate to the Jewish community.

“Chutzpah” in the Supreme Court
Justice Scalia–a Roman-Catholic judge from an Italian-American background–was the first judge to use the Yiddish word chutzpah in a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. He employed the word–meaning audacity or nerve–in a 1998 case, National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley. Interestingly, in his concurrence with the majority opinion, Scalia felt moved to define some other words: “decency” and “respect”, using the American Heritage Dictionary. He apparently felt that “chutzpah” was sufficiently well known to need no such explaining in his written comments.

Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel

Scalia was one of three dissenters in the 2015 case of Zivotofsky v. Kerry, which heard arguments that the United States should describe the place of birth of Americans born in Jerusalem as “Israel”. Americans born in Jerusalem have had their place of birth described on their passports as “Jerusalem” since Israel’s founding. Menachem Zivotofsky, an American born in Jerusalem, had petitioned to have his passport reflect his place of birth as “Israel” instead. The case went to the Supreme Court, and many legal scholars thought the Court would recognize his plea, allowing “Jerusalem, Israel” to describe the place of birth on passports of Americans born in Jerusalem. Instead, the Supreme Court ruled that Jerusalem continue to be listed without the word Israel on US passports. Criticizing his fellow justices, Scalia wrote that their reasoning was a “leap worthy of the Mad Hatter”, and firmly stated his belief that Americans born in Jerusalem should have “Israel” listed as their place of birth on their passports.

Public Menorahs

In 1989, Scalia was part of a majority on the Court that ruled that a menorah had the right to stand on public property. The case–County of Allegheny v. ACLU–was brought by prominent U.S. attorney Nathan Lewin, an Orthodox Jew who has defended Jewish rights before the Court–and was an old Harvard Law classmate and sparring partner of Justice Scalia.

Unlikely Friendship–and Opera

Despite their radical differences on the bench, Justices Scalia (one of the Supreme Court’s most conservative members) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (a liberal judge, and one of the Court’s three Jewish Justices) were fast friends. The two brought their families on vacations together, regularly went out together, and met up each New Year’s Eve. “Call us the odd couple,” Scalia recently said. “She likes opera, and she’s a very nice person. What’s not to like?” (Then added with his trademark wit: “Except her views on the law”.)

Mideast

The Voice of Israel Abba Eban: A Biography by Asaf Siniver Reviewed by David Isaac

There has never been a UN delegate to equal him. When it was time for Abba Eban to speak, delegates rushed to fill the hall at the General Assembly. It was said that housewives put down their vacuum cleaners when his distinctive voice emanated from radio or television. Henry Kissinger said of him: “I have never encountered anyone who matched his command of the English language. Sentences poured forth in mellifluous constructions complicated enough to test the listener’s intelligence and simultaneously leave him transfixed by the speaker’s virtuosity.” The Washington Post zeroed in on an important aspect of his appeal. “It is probably Abba Eban’s supreme achievement that he always judges the grievance and rights of Israel against the ennobling perspectives of history and conscience. He is a people’s advocate—but his theme is universal justice.” A less elegant but pithy tribute came from then U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles who was overheard saying to U.S. ambassador to the UN Henry Cabot Lodge: “It’s a pity we can’t have him instead of you as our delegate here.”

From 1950 to 1959, along with leading Israel’s UN delegation, Eban served as Israel’s ambassador to the United States. He went on to serve as Israel’s foreign minister from 1966 to 1974. Given his significance for Israeli politics, it’s surprising that this biography by Asaf Siniver, a professor at the University of Birmingham, is the first serious attempt to chronicle his extraordinary life. The only other biography was published in 1972 by journalist Robert St. John. It, as Siniver rightly observes, “sits more comfortably in the company of unapologetic hagiographies” than scholarship.

The young Eban’s meteoric rise as what David Ben-Gurion called “the Voice of Israel” (he was only 32 when he was dispatched to the UN in 1947) would not have surprised those who knew him as a student at Queens’ College, Cambridge in the 1930s. Eban scored a triple first in classics and Oriental languages, which means little to American readers, but which Siniver makes clear is nothing short of incredible. He honed his debating skills in the Cambridge Union Society, known as “the nursery of statesmen.” Eban was the best of the best. Siniver quotes one Cambridge newspaper reporter: “I am getting tired of repeating all the time that Mr. Eban is the best speaker in the Union.”

Siniver notes that Eban could have settled down to the quiet life of a university don, but Zionism was in his bones. His father, who died when he was an infant, had made a habit of starting Zionist societies wherever he went. His mother worked as a secretary for the Zionist offices in London during World War I and helped translate the Balfour Declaration into French and Russian. After serving as an intelligence officer in World War II, against the advice of friends and family who warned him that he would never be heard from again, Eban chose to join the Jewish Agency. Ironically, his decision ensured that the world would do nothing but hear from him.

Mideast

Who’s to Blame? Ruth King

Oh my! Jewish liberals are having vapors at the mounting anti-Semitism on American campuses as the bully, bash, sanction and divest movements gain more and more adherents throughout the nation.

The Jewish culprits of whom I speak go beyond familiar radical Jewish groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and J Street. (Even some of them are now “shocked, shocked” that the anti-Israel stance they happily endorsed in company with their “progressive brethren” has morphed into anti-Semitism directed against them.)
I also refer to the liberal “establishment” Jews who now voice dismay and apprehension–but not a tad of contrition at their complicity in laying the groundwork for this bigotry that has developed to the point that they feel its bite.

When they supported a two state delusion did they not see where it was all going?

Did they not understand that the so called “peace process” was a means for destroying Israel’s legitimacy? Did they not realize that only a safe and secure Israel was the guarantor of the safety and security of Jews throughout the world, including America, the most benign corner of the Diaspora?

How did they voice their frustration at the failure of all the so called “peace processing?”

By blaming Israel for “intransigence,” for not turning the lights off and committing suicide.

They supported libel instead of facts and history and their ignorance and moral preening is astonishing.

Outpost

Editor: Rael Jean Isaac
Editorial Board: Herbert Zweibon, Ruth King

Outpost is distributed free to
Members of Americans For a Safe Israel
Annual membership: $50.

Americans For a Safe Israel
1751 Second Ave. (at 91st St.)
New York, NY 10128
tel (212) 828-2424 / fax (212) 828-1717
E-mail: afsi @rcn.com web site: http://www.afsi.org

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