Editor: Rael Jean Isaac

Editorial Board: Ruth King, Rita Kramer

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The Spitting Pool : William Mehlman

Should the exceptional indulgence accorded the foreign press covering Israel–arguably the most pampered assembly of journalists and journalistic wanna-bes east of the Mediterranean–be entirely immune to the security concerns of its host?

The oft-asked, never-answered question got a fresh airing several weeks back with the brief detention by Israel’s Border Police of Washington Post Jerusalem bureau chief William Booth and Sufian Taha, his Arab “colleague,” on suspicion of inciting Palestinians they were interviewing outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate to stage a mock protest in order to see how the police would respond. The pair were released 20 minutes later with an accompanying apology from the Israel Government Press Office for “an unfortunate misunderstanding” and a prime ministerial assurance that “we do not arrest journalists.”

Having officially judged Booth and his interlocutor innocent of maybe creating a little noise for a next-day WP headline, Israel should have been able to close the books on the incident. The Israel Foreign Press Association thought otherwise. ”We do not think it coincidental that a baseless accusation of ‘incitement ‘ was made,” it declared in a blistering statement, “at a time when blanket accusations of bias are being leveled at the foreign press by Israeli officials and commentators.” “We note,” the statement added, “that it comes in the context of heavy-handed tactics, including violent attacks, deployed in recent months by the Border Police against foreign journalists and their Palestinian co-workers covering the unrest in Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

“Heavy-handed tactics”? “Violent actions”? Could anyone imagine charges of that nature being directed at the governments and police forces of Damascus, Baghdad, Riyadh, or that template of press freedom, Gaza, by the “journalists” pretending to cover those areas? Indeed, confronted in these venues with real, as opposed to contrived challenges to its bejeweled mandate, the press has consistently chosen to fold its cards. Never more so than in its reporting on the recurring violence emanating from Gaza. Even at the relatively safe distance of its Jerusalem bureau, where he served as reporter and editor from 2006 through 2011, Canadian-born Matti Friedman (author of the prize-winning The Aleppo Codex) bears witness to the self-censorship of the Associated Press, the world’s largest news gathering organization, from ballooning the “civilian death toll[s]” from Israel’s response to Hamas’ rocket showers by knowingly including Hamas fighters dressed as civilian in its final tallies, to the spiking of a story by its own Jerusalem news editor on Hamas’ intimidation of AP reporters, to its studied avoidance in the five years he worked for the AP of any mention of the fact that Hamas’ charter calls not only for Israel’s destruction but for the murder of every Jew on its soil.

“The central tropes of the international media, the ‘Israel story,’” Friedman avers in an illuminating Tablet Magazine article, “is a story on which there is surprisingly little variation among the mainstream media outlets and one which is, as the word ‘story’ suggests, a narrative that’s largely fiction…Many of the people deciding what you will read and see from here [Israel], view their role not as explanatory but as political. Coverage is a weapon to be placed at the disposal of the side they like.”


From the Editor: Rael Jean Isaac

Their Own Islam

One of the most puzzling features of this administration is its refusal to call Islamic terror by its name. In an excellent speech at Hillsdale College, Andrew McCarthy offers an explanation.

“[O]ur top officials may be ideological, but they are not stupid. Why is it that they can’t say two plus two equals four when Islam is involved? The reason is simple: stubbornly unwilling to deal with the reality of Islam, our leaders have constructed an Islam of their very own. This triumph of willful blindness and political correctness over common sense was best illustrated by former British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith when she described terrorism as ‘anti-Islamic activity.’ In other words, the savagery is not merely unrelated to Islam; it becomes, by dint of its being inconsistent with a ‘religion of peace,’ contrary to Islam….

“The dangerous flipside to our government’s insistence on making up its own version of Islam is that anyone who is publicly associated with Islam must be deemed peaceful. This is how we fall into the trap of allowing the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Islamic supremacist organization, to infiltrate policy-making organs of the U.S. government, not to mention our schools, our prisons and other institutions….

“In the real world, we must deal with the facts of Islamic supremacism, because its jihadist legions have every intention of dealing with us. But we can only defeat them if we resolve to see them for what they are.”

The Academy Disintegrates

In the March 24 Wall Street Journal Ruth Wisse reports on the annual March madness of Israeli Apartheid Week (fueled by a coalition of leftist and Moslem students) and the ongoing Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement (largely fueled by academics). Awareness that many of our elite institutions are descending into sink holes of anti-Semitism while administrations defend the onslaught as “freedom of speech” is finally taking hold.

What is less recognized is a related issue (in that it also exemplifies the triumph of irrationality)– the extent to which the humanities have descended into inanity and downright gibberish. In the last issue of Outpost we documented the violence to the English language perpetrated by Prof. Jasbir Puar in her anti-Israel rant at Vassar. Rick Moran, under the heading “The Most Grotesquely Comical Academic Paper Ever Published,” describes a paper on the subject of glaciers co-authored by a team of historians at the University of Oregon. From the abstract: “Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions.” Climate change, melting glaciers, feminism, colonialism, just and equitable human-ice interactions, who can resist this combination of shibboleths? Not the National Science Foundation, which funded the paper.

It’s reached the point where it’s impossible to distinguish papers intended to be taken seriously (like the Oregon one) from spoofs. Even some left-of-center professors are upset. In a recent article in American Prospect Peter Dreier recalls the bogus paper he submitted six years ago for presentation at a humanities conference. Titled “On the Absence of Absences,” the paper was designed, says Dreier, to “make no sense whatsoever.” A sample: “Self-delusion and self-discipline inhibits the reflective self, the postmodern membrane, the ecclesiastical impulse forbidden by truth-seeking and sun worship, problematizing the inchoate structures of both reason and darkness, allowing knowledge, half-knowledge, and knowledgelessness to undermine and yet simultaneously overcome the self-loathing that overwhelms the Gnostic challenge facing Biblical scribes, folksingers, and hip-hop rappers alike.” The paper was accepted by the “referees” to whom, presumably, it seemed no more incomprehensible than many of the other papers that had been submitted.

Maybe there’s a needed role for those “safe spaces” on campus after all. To escape from the mind-blowing balderdash that permeates the academy.


Muslims and the Maypole : Eileen F. Toplansky

Since 2006, when Bruce Bawer wrote his illuminating book entitled While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, the situation has worsened tenfold. Not surprisingly, when his book was first published, Bawer was accused of Islamophobia. Yet as early as 1998, Bawer noted the widening divisions between the liberal and democratic policies of the Netherlands and the fact that “Dutch Muslims kept that society at arm’s length, despising its freedoms[.]”

In the late 1990s, Bawer and his male partner decided to live in Amsterdam because it seemed to him to be “the one place [he’d] ever been where homophobia really seemed to have disappeared.” He felt that the Netherlands had moved from the “foolishness of [American] fundamentalism,” and although he loved America “not because of its wealth or power, but because of its culture and values,” he wanted to really know what it meant to be an American by living elsewhere as a means of contrast.

Once in the Netherlands, Bawer began to appreciate “American virtues” that he’d always taken for granted–most importantly a “belief in the future.” He found that while he enjoyed the culture of Europe, he also saw that much of Western Europe was “bound up with a stifling conformity, a discomfort with excellence and an overt disapproval of those who strove too visibly to better their lot”–in short, “mediocrity.” He saw that France and Germany were “plagued by low growth and rising unemployment, a direct consequence of welfare state policies.” He also realized that Europeans “had been fed a zero-sum understanding of economics.”

In addition, he perceived that “fundamentalist Muslims were on the march and their numbers and power were large and growing rapidly–and the ultimate objective was far more than a ban on abortion or gay marriage.” A sea change was overtaking Europe that involved female genital mutilation, viewing women as property, and subsidies from the Dutch state as well as from Islamic governments that taught hatred of Jews, Israel, America, and the West. The very countries that these Muslims were living in were to be scorned, since they were meant to be replaced by a Muslim caliphate governed according to sharia law.


The U.N. Reaches a New Anti-Israel Low : Elliott Abrams

It may seem hard to believe that the United Nations can hold any new surprises when it comes to unprincipled attacks on Israel, but never despair: There is always farther to fall.

For more than 20 years, the U.N. Human Rights Council has had a dedicated “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” (Needless to say, there’s no U.N. Special Rapporteur for the condition of Tibetans or Cubans; only Palestinians.) Now, the incumbent Israel-Hater-in-Chief is leaving and his replacement must be chosen.

This being the U.N., what kind of candidate will they choose? Be careful, now: The position’s entire purpose is to condemn Israel, so it’s important to disqualify anyone who might examine the evidence in an unbiased search for truth. Heaven forfend. Much better to choose someone whose anti-Israel bias is absolute.

And this being the U.N., that’s what they’re doing.

There are two top candidates, both worthy successors to Richard Falk, who served in the post from 2008 to 2014. Falk was the nut-case Princeton professor who wanted U.S. officials prosecuted as war criminals for deposing Saddam Hussein, and once said, “Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not.” You can see why the U.N. chose him.


Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society—Not Even ‘Hebrew’ Anymore Abraham H. Miller

In parts of Europe, Jews have been warned that wearing anything that identifies them as Jewish means putting a target on their back. In Stockholm, Jews were asked to stay away from the Kristallnacht remembrance ceremonies for fear of sparking violence. French Jews are immigrating to Israel in increasing numbers. In Manchester, England, special police accompany Jewish children to school. The main synagogue in Florence, Italy, looks like an American military outpost in Afghanistan.

All of this is in response to a growing and flourishing anti-Semitism in Europe reminiscent of the 1930s. And while neo-Nazism and a remnant of fascism still lurk in the netherworld of European society, the new anti-Semitism is a direct consequence of the tide of Muslim immigration that has been rising throughout Europe.

In America, anti-Semitism has become an integral part of academic life, and at Vassar College it seems to be central to the learning experience itself. At University of California, San Diego, it is possible to stand at a public forum and call for killing Jews, without the remotest consequence on a campus known for its multi-cultural sensitivity and commitment to diversity. Try expressing such sentiments about any other ethnic group and you would be thrown out of school without even a convening of the campus diversity and opportunity Star Chamber.

Invite a speaker to talk positively about Israel, and the Muslim Student Association and its leftist cohorts will be there to impose the heckler’s veto.

So amid all of this, it stands to reason that sponsoring the absorption of even more Syrian Muslim refugees, who have spent a lifetime being indoctrinated in Jew-hatred, is exactly what the Jewish community in America needs. Right?


Hell on Earth in Europe : Ian Kershaw, To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949 Reviewed by David Isaac

How did World War I lead to World War II? That is the central question historian Ian Kershaw asks in To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949, the first of an ambitious two-volume work covering the history of Europe in the twentieth century. Why did “the war to end war” instead bring about a far more devastating conflagration that took the continent into what Kershaw calls “an assault on humanity unprecedented in history…a descent into the abyss never previously encountered, a veritable hell on earth in which Europe came close to destroying itself.”

Ironically, Kershaw locates the intellectual foundation of this “bottomless pit of inhumanity” in the turn of the century “Golden Age” of civilization and progress referred to as La Belle Époque by the French and, fondly, as the Wilhelmine era by the Germans. Here were the origins of eugenics and racial anti-Semitism. Moreover, this was an era when national, religious, class, and ethnic hatreds simmered. Everyone is familiar with the massacre of Armenians during World War I, but few are aware that 80,000 Armenians were massacred in 1894-1896 under Sultan Abdul-Hamid II and an additional 15,000 to 20,000 by the Ottomans in 1909.

Kershaw, author of the two-volume definitive biography of Hitler, is no revisionist historian. He tells the well-established story, with his chief contribution lying in the balance he strikes between its elements, a major feat given the scope of his subject. The broad outlines are familiar enough. The Treaty of Versailles punished a Germany that did not feel defeated. The Allies stripped Germany of 13 percent of its land, 10 percent of its population, shrank its military, and banned its air force. In addition, Germany was required to pay $442 billion in today’s dollars in war reparations. Economically, Germany could recover, Kershaw writes, “but the real damage was political and psychological”—a blow to the country’s “pride and prestige.”


Turkey’s Runaway Anti-Semitism : Burak Bekdil

The 74th anniversary of an embarrassing tragedy took place in Turkey on February 24, 2016.

The MV Struma was a small iron-hulled ship built in 1867 as a steam-powered schooner, but was later re-engined with an unreliable second-hand diesel engine. In 1941, it was tasked with safely transporting an estimated 781 Jewish refugees from Axis-allied Romania to Britain’s Mandatory Palestine. Between its departure from Constanta on the Black Sea on Dec. 12, 1941 and arrival in Istanbul on Dec. 15, the vessel’s engine failed several times. On Feb. 23, 1942 with her engine still not running but the refugees aboard, Turkish authorities towed the Struma from Istanbul through the Bosporus out to the Black Sea. On the morning of Feb. 24, the Soviet submarine Shch-213 torpedoed the Struma, killing all but one of the refugees and 10 crew aboard.

Until this year Turkey, one of the main culprits, had only once commemorated the victims. This year, official Turkey decided, should be the second time. A wreath and carnations were hurled at the sea in the shadow of the horrible event that took place decades ago.

At the commemoration ceremony at Sarayburnu harbor on the Bosporus were the head of Turkey’s Jewish community, Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva and Istanbul’s governor, Vasip Sahin. In his speech, Sahin said: “We observe that the necessary lessons were not drawn from such tragedies.” He was right, at least from a Turkish point of view.

When it comes to diplomatic conflict between Turkey and Israel or Turkish anti-Semitism, there is always an unusual optimism in the official language chosen by Israeli officials or Jewish community leaders.

For instance, Ibrahimzadeh praised “recent steps by the Turkish state to mend history with the Jewish community.” Echoing the same optimism, chairman Stephen Greenberg and executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, assured that Turkey’s small (less than 17,000-strong) Jewish community feels “safe and secure” despite being placed in the middle of a political feud between Turkey and Israel — sparked first in 2009 by then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s clash with former Israeli President Shimon Peres at a World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.


Dutch Zionist Christians Defy Labeling with ‘Made in Israel’ Warehouse Cnaan Liphshiz

A Christian Zionist businessman in Amersfoort, some 25 miles east of Amsterdam, Karel van Oordt sought to strengthen the Jewish state economically by purchasing its exports to feed his family of eight. But it wasn’t easy.

“At the greengrocer, my father asked for Jaffa oranges, but they didn’t offer those,” Pieter van Oordt recalled. “Then at the liquor store, dad asked for Israeli wines. Same reply.”

Four decades later, those Israeli goods and thousands more are available across the Netherlands thanks to the international advocacy group founded by Karel van Oordt in 1979. Pieter and his brother Roger have run Christians for Israel since their father’s death in 2013.

Through its own import agency, the Israel Products Center, or IPC, the organization brings in 120,000 bottles of Israeli wine each year, as well as many tons of Dead Sea cosmetics and other merchandise. Most of the products are sold in IPC’s own store, on its website or by a corps of 200 volunteer door-to-door sales agents, a majority of them women.

The effort is unique in Europe, and not only because IPC profits are distributed annually among a small group of shareholders who reinvest the money back into the business. Also because IPC openly promotes the sale of settlement goods, part of a conscious effort to bolster the settler movement and push back against European efforts to distinguish them from goods produced in Israel proper.


By George! The Creation of Modern Israel Ruth King

The liberal media and academic elite deride “Creationists”–those who deny the theory of evolution and believe that the world and all its creatures were created in six calendar days. However, they encourage Mideast “creationism”–namely, a belief that the Arab/Israel conflict occurred as the result of six calendar days in 1967 when a land grab by Israel established an unjust occupation of ancient Arab lands.

The combined attacks on Israel of five Arab states in 1948 are dismissed as ancient history. The Ottoman rule of Palestine, the geography of the Middle East, its divisions following World War 1 and the role of David Lloyd George and the Palestine Mandate are as irrelevant to these ignoramuses as the Peloponnesian wars.

Here are facts from the late Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial:

“In the twelve and a half centuries between the Arab conquest in the seventh century and the beginnings of the Jewish return in the 1880’s, Palestine was laid waste. Its ancient canal and irrigation systems were destroyed and the wondrous fertility of which the Bible spoke vanished into desert and desolation… Under the Ottoman empire of the Turks, the policy of defoliation continued; the hillsides were denuded of trees and the valleys robbed of their topsoil.”

In a “Report of the Commerce of Jerusalem During the Year 1863,” it says the population of the City of Jerusalem is computed at 15,000, of whom about 4,500 are Moslem, 8,000 Jews, and the rest Christians of various denominations.

And here is Mark Twain’s description of the Galilee in Innocents Abroad.

“… these unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness, that never, never do shake the glare from their harsh outlines, and fade and faint into vague perspective; that melancholy ruin of Capernaum: this stupid village of Tiberias, slumbering under its six funereal palms…. We reached Tabor safely….We never saw a human being on the whole route.”

This was the state of the land under the Ottomans until its conquest by the British in World War 1 under the leadership of then Prime Minister David Lloyd George.


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

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March 2016
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