America Is Snoozing As Europe Wakes Up by Bruce Bawer

There was a time, in the years immediately after 9/11, when I was reasonably (though not entirely) confident that we Americans would be too savvy to let ourselves be led down the primrose path of Islamization. I assumed that the alarming example of Europe – where the destructive nature of Islam’s impact was there for all to see – would be effective enough to persuade us to pull up the welcome mat and double-lock the door. What I didn’t count on was that so many of our politicians and media would do such a splendid job of covering up the facts about the European situation and whitewashing the Religion of Peace. Nor could I have imagined that the post-9/11 generation of Americans would grow up to be so thoroughly drenched in political correctness that many of them would, in fact, come to see Islam not as a violent existential threat but as the most vulnerable of victim groups.

Yes, Americans elected Trump. Red-state Americans, anyway. But coastal elites went ballistic over his executive order that sought to put a temporary halt to immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. Hollywood, the bubble-headed brain trust of blue-state America, set the tone of the backlash: Judd Apatow denounced Trump’s “ignorance and cruelty”; Patricia Arquette suggested returning the Statue of Liberty to France; John Leguizamo reminded his Twitter followers that “The pilgrims came here on the #mayflower as refugees!” Several celebrity tweets implied that Europeans would never support such a monstrous act. Yet a new poll tells otherwise. Most EU citizens, it shows, would be happy to see a total and permanent end to immigration from the Islamic world. To be specific: 71% of Poles, 65% of Austrians, 53% of Germans, 51% of Italians, 64% of Belgians, 58% of Greeks, 61% of Frenchmen, and 64% of Hungarians want Muslim immigration to stop. For good. Only in two of the ten European countries surveyed did a Muslim immigration ban not win the support of a clear majority, and even in those cases a plurality approved of a ban: in Britain, the numbers were 47% for, 23% against; in Spain, 41% to 32%.

Chatham House, the London-based think tank that conducted the survey, plainly found these results distasteful. Calling them “sobering” and attributing them (at least in part) to the influence of the so-called “radical right,” the pollsters sought to discount opposition to Muslim immigration by emphasizing that it was stronger among pensioners, the undereducated, rural types, and those “who are dissatisfied with their life” – in other words, not the right sort of people. Of course, what self-respecting think tank would be willing to admit that Europeans – having had enough of doling out welfare to immigrants who, in return, rape women and children, torment Jews and gays, commit violent crimes on an unprecedented scale, and express contempt for democracy and their infidel neighbors while tacitly supporting terrorism and sharia – are finally waking up?

How depressing that while more and more Europeans are snapping out of their self-delusions, all too many North Americans remain first-class dupes. According to the results of a Rasmussen poll that were released just the other day, 56% of Democrats actually believe that Muslims undergo serious persecution in the U.S, while only 46% think that Christians are persecuted in the Islamic world. What could be more delusional? Meanwhile, a CBS survey showed that only one in seven Democrats consider Islam to be more dangerous than any other religion and that nearly seven out of ten Democrats think Islam encourages violence to approximately the same extent as other faiths. Insane. Not to leave Canadians out, on February 16 the Parliament in Ottawa will actually consider a motion, known as M-103, that would criminalize Islamophobia. It’s a move that should elicit mass protests in the streets; but most Canadians appear to be far more worked up about Trump than about the prospect of their own government severely curtailing their free-speech rights.

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UNRWA: The Scam That Keeps on Scamming by Ruth King

Many years ago, when I graduated from college, a friend and classmate got her first job in the visitor’s service of the United Nations. There were two perks. One was a free parking space and the other privileges to the debates in the General Assembly. Thanks to this I attended many sessions in the gallery as her guest. The “distinguished” members most often started their disquisitions by telling a humorous anecdote from their respective nations. They suffered greatly in translation but I can offer the punch line to a real UN joke–namely The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, UNRWA was established by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 to carry out relief and works programs for Palestine refugees. The Agency began operations on 1 May 1950. In June 2017, its mandate and funding come up for review. It deserves to be shut down.

First of all, it is a numbers racket. According to its own statement: “When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.”

Even if we accept the questionable number of 750,000 Arabs who left Israel, how is it that sixty-seven years later–again from the home page, we read: “UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees. It has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees, defined as ‘persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.’ The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration.“

Again, in its words: “UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty.”

Since World War Two, hundreds of millions of displaced persons from every continent have been relocated. They have had to learn new languages, new alphabets and adapt to new cultural mores. They have become participants in the politics of their adopted countries. How is it then that only Palestinian Arabs merit assistance? Furthermore, why has the status of “refugee” become a heritable entitlement, bequeathed from generation to generation?

When members of the media traipse through the camps, they are seldom shown nearby housing with facilities and running water. Instead local Arabs stage themselves near running sewers, cynically using children as props. As soon as the journalists move on to the next stop in their bash-Israel “fact finding” tour, the cast moves back to their updated lodgings.

Today the world is confronted and affronted by a tsunami of refugees from the Middle East. They flee jihad and tribal and civil warfare. The demand for haven and social services is enormous and yet UNRWA services only Palestinian Arabs in camps in Gaza (why Gaza, which is now ruled by Arabs?), Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

In the midst of the mayhem in Syria, on Feb. 1, 2017 Mohammed Abdi Adar, a Somali national, assumed his duties as Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the Syrian Arab Republic. He describes his mandate thus: “It is an important opportunity to serve Palestine refugees in Syria,” said Mr. Abdi Adar. “I look forward to working with the Syrian Government and other partners to help alleviate the suffering of Palestine refugees, who like the Syrians have experienced the dire consequences of the crisis over the last six years.” Why only the “Palestinians?” This is a form of “profiling” that raises no hackles among Western hypocrites.

And UNWRA’s so called relief is a canard since in its own words, conditions have worsened: “Over the years, these camps have transformed from temporary ‘tent cities’ into hyper-congested masses of multi-story buildings with narrow alleys, characterized by high concentrations of poverty and extreme overcrowding. The camps are considered to be among the densest urban environments in the world, but because camp structures were built for temporary use, over the decades the buildings have become overcrowded, critically substandard and in many cases life-threatening.”

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MIDEAST OUTPOST FEBRUARY 2017

Outpost

Editor: Rael Jean Isaac

Editorial Board: Ruth King, Rita Kramer

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The Encirclement of Jerusalem by William Mehlman

With much of the West’s political elite, including its Greater Tel Aviv branch, on extended angst duty over the prospect of President Donald Trump relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, major swaths of world Judaism’s signature city and its surrounding areas are illegally and virtually unopposedly being swallowed in an Arab vortex of stone and cement. The past few years have borne witness to the construction of more than 15,000 unlicensed, unregistered housing units in east Jerusalem and its tributaries by “thugs” and “criminal gangs posing as contractors,” as described by Bassam Tawil in a recent report for the Gatestone Institute.

In a process conspicuously devoid of subtlety, “they lay their hands on private Palestinian plots, preferably land whose owners are living abroad,” Tawil avers, and quickly move in to seize control. One east Jerusalem victim of this broad daylight hijacking related to the reporter that “they tell you if you don’t like it, you can go to court, knowing that by the time the legal procedures are over, they will have succeeded in completing another tall building and even selling some of the apartments. They tell us it is a national duty to build as much as they can on empty land, otherwise the Jews will be building there.”

The Gatestone correspondent’s disclosures are totally in sync with the facts uncovered by human rights lawyer and Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs scholar-in-residence Justus Reid Weiner in his new illustrated book Illegal Construction in Jerusalem: A Variation on an Alarming Global Phenomenon. Based on interviews across the political spectrum, it documents a pattern of politically motivated behavior and criminal profiteering that characterizes much of the construction in and around the Arab sector of Israel’s capital. “Illegal construction,” Weiner writes, “has reached epidemic proportions.” He recalls one senior Arab official boasting “they have built 6,000 homes without permits during the last four years, of which less than 200 were demolished by the city.”

Moreover, Weiner informs us, this frantic pace of unlawful construction continues unabated in the face of the city’s authorization of more than 3,600 permits for new housing in the Arab sector, ”more than enough to meet the needs of Arab residents through legal construction until 2020.”

The excuse offered by sympathetic Israeli NGOs that Arab Jerusalemites are forced to build illegally because of systemic municipal rejection of their permit applications is glaringly at odds with the facts. “Arab residents who wish to build legally,” Weiner submits, “are free to consult urban plans translated into Arabic and to receive individual assistance from Arab speaking employees.” Arab and Jewish applicants are subject to an indiscriminant wait of 4-6 weeks for approval, which includes the payment of an identical fee (about $3,600) for water and sewage connections.

The charge of attempting to further “Judaize” Jerusalem–directed at a municipal planning commission Arab leaders have boycotted over the last 35 years–does not hold water. Jerusalem’s Arab population share has risen from 27 percent to 32 percent since the city’s reunification and legitimate new Arab housing construction has outpaced Jewish construction. In contravention of these facts, Weiner declares, we have seen an Israeli Arab and Palestinian leadership spending hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize and encourage massive felonious construction in the conduct of a “demographic war” against the Jewish state and its capital.

The parameters of that war defy the imagination. From Ras Al-Amoud to Jabal Mukaber at the southern and eastern perimeters of the city, from Kalandrya to Anata in the north, unlicensed, unplanned, whole villages have been slapped together for the sole purpose of creating “irreversible facts on the ground.” They fail even the most minimal engineering and architectural standards with safety concerns thrown to the four winds. Virtually all of this wildcat invasion of stone and cement-block, moreover has been directed at “Area C,” the 59 percent of the “West Bank” supposedly under exclusive Israeli civil and military control per the Oslo Accords, in a city reunified under Jewish sovereignty 49 years ago. All of which makes it fair to ask, as Tawil does, whether “building a great collar of cement” north, east and south of Jerusalem, choking it off from all but westward Jewish expansion, was part of the Oslo Accords or simply in its unread footnotes?

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From the Editor : Rael Jean Isaac

Fake News

“Fake news” has suddenly emerged as a major issue. But no one has drawn attention to the fact that large scale dissemination of fake news by the mainstream media had its birth in Israel’s 1982 war in Lebanon. The situation was so bad that AFSI published a study by Edward Alexander “NBC’s War in Lebanon: the Distorting Mirror.” NBC was only chosen, Alexander wrote, “because the malpractices common to the three major networks were drawn out into extreme or radical form by NBC.”

To take only a few examples: On August 2 a photograph seen round the world showed what was described as a severely burned baby girl with her arms amputated, allegedly wounded in an Israeli bombardment. NBC’s Fred Francis reported Secretary of State George Schultz’s endorsement of Ronald Reagan’s view that “the symbol of this war” was that “picture of a baby with its arms shot off.” It turned out the baby was a healthy boy (NBC even had the sex wrong) with a broken left arm in a cast. NBC never corrected the misrepresentation. NBC disseminated ludicrous numbers (invented by the PLO) of “600,000 homeless civilians” and 10,000 civilian deaths at the hands of Israel. It eluded NBC that “600,000” was more than the total population of southern Lebanon under Israeli control. It turned out the number who died was closer to 100 than 10,000. The bogus figures were cited by NBC time and time again and never retracted. NBC also repeatedly described Beirut as a city “slowly reduced to rubble” from which almost all civilians had fled when photographs showed the city essentially intact with people crowding into supermarkets.

Alas, the current uproar is likely to make matters worse as gatekeepers (especially in Europe) primarily go after critics of government action on politically sensitive issues (like Muslim immigration) in the name of stopping “fake news.”

Fake News from JTA?

The JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) is the mainstream news service for Jewish media around the globe. Daniel Greenfield has reported on the deceptive way in which JTA has provided” news” on supposed Jewish support for Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), at this writing a frontrunner for chairman of the Democratic National Committee. For many years Ellison, a convert to Islam, was affiliated with Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic Nation of Islam (at times acting as its spokesman). Moreover, writes Greenfield, Ellison “has lied about it and distorted his past.”

You wouldn’t know this from the JTA’s recent story. It is about 300 Jewish community leaders, including 100 rabbis, who have signed a letter in support of Ellison. The letter states that it is not an endorsement of Ellison for DNC chair but is “a call to reject the unfair and baseless accusations some have leveled at him.” Greenfield notes that the JTA story is essentially “a press release repeating most of the letter’s contents while making it seem like this was an independent initiative.” In fact, says Greenfield, minimal investigation would have shown that the source of the letter is “Keith for DNC”, a website prepared and paid for by the campaign to make Ellison the DNC’s next head. What’s more, the JTA provides no names of the “leaders” and 100 rabbis who signed on. (Subsequent to publication of the article, the JTA provided several names, most of them anti-Israel activists.) Greenfield sums up: “The story is blatantly dishonest and it’s another example of the extremists in the media promoting an extremist candidate using deceptive and dishonest tactics.”

Modern Language Association Shoots Down BDS

The boycott-Israel movement received a welcome setback as the 25,000 member Modern Language Association (MLA), at its annual convention in Philadelphia in January, rejected a motion to boycott Israeli universities.

It’s a welcome reminder that when opponents mobilize these outrageous resolutions can be defeated. Russell Berman, a former president of the MLA, reports that following the 2014 MLA convention in Chicago, which featured a pro-boycott session, opponents organized an MLA Members for Scholars Rights to counter the boycott movement. This led to the recent showdown in Philadelphia between rival resolutions, for and against BDS. The call to boycott was turned down and the resolution to refrain from boycotting endorsed (although by a narrower margin). The votes are the more welcome given that the MLA, under then president Louis Kampf, pioneered passing political resolutions that had nothing to do with the mission of academic associations.

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In Memoriam: Steven Plaut

AFSI deeply mourns the loss, not only to his family but to Israel and the Jewish people, of Professor Steven Plaut.

Born in Philadelphia in 1951, Plaut emigrated to Israel at the age of 30, becoming a professor of economics at the Graduate School of Business of Haifa University. He almost died of cancer over a decade ago, recounting his brush with death in his book The Scout. He finally succumbed to the disease at the age of 65.

Plaut was a fierce champion of Israel who pulled no punches in his articles, many of which appeared as columns in The Jewish Press. He immediately recognized the folly of the 1993 Oslo accords; clearly setting forth the reasons they undermined the state. For over two decades he lashed out at Israeli leaders, whether on the left or (ostensibly) on the right, who persisted in pursuing the two state delusion. In one memorable column he declared the real name for the Oslo appeasement process and the subsequent “Road Map” was “the Cult of Moloch,” a Canaanite cult whose chief feature, according to the Bible, was the sacrifice of children.

At times, for Plaut, Israel’s misguided policies defied rational discourse and he resorted to satire and verse.

Plaut was also erudite, something that could be overshadowed by his biting rhetoric.

We reprint here a 2013 column that represents Plaut at his polemical and scholarly best– as topical now as the day it was written.

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On the ‘Tikkun Olam’ Fetish by Steven Plaut

“The central mitzvah or commandment for our era is the mitzvah of Tikkun Olam. It is the defining mission of Jews to strive for the repair of the world by making society more just, fair, egalitarian, and sensitive. Judaism demands that we repair the world by striving for social justice. It is the mission of Jews in the Divine Plan for the universe to repair the world by repairing man, by improving and advancing mankind.”

The above paragraph is a fair representation of what has become the defining raison d’etre of Judaism as conveyed by non-Orthodox liberal Jewish organizations and synagogues in America. It is not a direct citation from any of them, but is an accurate paraphrase of what has become the canon of non-Orthodox Jewish liberalism in our time.

It is the “modernized” and contemporary “reinterpretation” of “Jewish ethics” as defined and inculcated by much of the Reform and Conservative movements. It is also the “theology” of Jewish radical leftist groups operating at the fringes of the Jewish community, including the “Renewal/ALEPH” movement, the “Eco-Judaism” groups, the “Tikkun community” of people and groups that are satellites to the magazine by that same name published by tikkun-activist Michael Lerner, and what remains of the “Reconstructionists.” Lerner, it should be added, discovers “repair of the world” even in LSD consumption.

What are we to make of “Tikkun Olam” proclamations?

The most important thing that must be understood about the Tikkun Olam catechism in the United States is that each and every sentence in the above proclamation is false.

First of all, there is no such thing as a mitzvah or commandment of “Tikkun Olam.” Jews are nowhere commanded to “repair the world.” In all the authoritative or traditional compilations of the commandments of Judaism, none list “Tikkun Olam”. The expression itself does not appear anywhere in the Torah or in the entire Bible.

Those assimilationist liberals who insist that the entire “ethics of the Prophets” can be reduced to the pursuit of “Tikkun Olam” have to explain why none of the Books of the Prophets use the term. “Tikkun Olam” is used sporadically in the Talmud, but as a technical term for resolution of certain judicial problems that arise before rabbinic courts.

The only place the expression appears in Jewish prayer is in the “Aleinu” and there it clearly has nothing at all to do with social justice. In the “Aleinu,” Tikkun Olam is explicitly explained in the prayer text itself as the quest to eliminate pagan superstition and to see God’s rule of the universe implemented. It is a theological concept, not a social, political or environmental one.

In Judaism, the world does not get repaired by redistribution of income and wealth nor by cutting carbon emissions, but by humans subordinating themselves to God’s will.

Secondly, “Tikkun Olam” does not mean that Jews are obligated to strive to make the earth a more just, clean, fair and equal place. Nowhere in Judaism are Jews commanded to restructure or re-engineer the societies of nations. Jews have a certain obligation to participate in the Jewish community and to assist other Jews, especially Jews living in hardship, including through charity. Even within the Jewish community, there is no religious imperative or justification for coerced schemes of income or wealth redistribution, aside from payments to the Levites and priests. And while there is no prohibition against Jews using their resources to assist the downtrodden among the non-Jewish nations, there is also no Judaic imperative to do so.

The Torah and the Prophets do speak out about the plight of Jewish widows, orphans, and converts, but in every single case where the matter is brought up, the concern is for protecting the rights of these weaker groups in the courts, assuring they do not face judicial discrimination. There is no official obligation to transfer resources to these disadvantaged groups except for the “tithe for the poor” collected out of agricultural produce in two years out of seven. (If you do the math, it averages out to about 3% of farm resources per year.)

The idea that it is somehow the religious duty of Jews to “repair mankind” is not only unfounded, it is a manifestation of the ignorance of assimilationist Jewish liberals. The simple fact of the matter is that in actual Judaism, it is none of the business of Jews to fix or repair humanity. More generally, in Judaism it is the job of Jews to repair the Jews–a not inconsiderable task–not to repair the world.

Non-Jews are not in need of being “repaired” by Jews, at least as long as they observe the seven “Noahide Commandments,” the rules of living that Jews interpret to be conferred upon all humans, all descendants of Noah, by God. Beyond that, what the gentiles do and how they do it is none of the business of Jews, and Jews simply have no religious standing to interfere.

It is certainly not the job of Jews to instruct non-Jews about matters such as income and wealth distribution, abortion, environmentalism, health care provision, or discrimination. Only in matters of cruelty that negate the Noahide Laws are Jews commanded to interfere.

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Britain Gets It Right. Twice. What Gives? by Melanie Phillips

Extraordinary! The British government has started making bold and good moves. No fewer than two such sets of developments have been spotted in as many days.

On Sunday, at the Paris conference called to get the Middle East peace process back on track and stick the knife into Israel good and proper before Obama leaves the White House, Theresa May’s government refused to sign its closing statement. “There are risks,” said the UK Foreign Office, “that this conference hardens positions at a time when we need to be encouraging the conditions for peace. We have particular reservations about an international conference intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them – indeed which is taking place against the wishes of the Israelis.”

You don’t say.

Not content with that, according to Ha’aretz the UK the next day used its veto to prevent the EU Foreign Affairs Council from passing a French resolution adopting the Paris conference conclusions.

Can this really be the same British government that just three weeks earlier not only voted for the infamous Israel-bashing UN Security Council resolution 2334 but helped draft it and push it through? No wonder Ha’aretz called the move “highly irregular”.

It would be thoroughly uncharitable to suggest that Britain’s stance at Paris, like Mrs. May’s onslaught on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech attacking Israel a few days after resolution 2334, happened because she suddenly became aware that it might not be the most brilliant strategy to thoroughly cheese off the incoming, pro-Israel US President. So I won’t.

It would be even more uncharitable to suggest that because President-elect Donald Trump stated in his interview with The Times of London that “the UK may have another chance to veto if what I’m hearing is true, because you know you have a meeting as you know, this weekend”, Mrs May promptly fell into line. So I won’t suggest that either.

I will merely observe that the Foreign Office statement did specifically add that the Paris conference was taking place “just days before the transition to a new American President when the US will be the ultimate guarantor of any agreement.”

And I will also observe that Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has exulted that Britain is negotiating a post-Brexit trade deal with Trump, who has been saying in turn what a brilliant move Brexit was. It is hard to overstate the importance for the UK of such a trade deal with America which would enormously strengthen Britain’s hand in negotiating its departure from the EU.

This relates to the second positive development. After months of failing to respond robustly to EU threats to damage Britain as much as possible over Brexit; after allowing the impression to be created that Britain was a powerless supplicant at the EU table; and after doing nothing to quell the wailing from British “Remainers” opposed to Brexit that the UK was in danger of falling out of the EU through a “hard Brexit” of punishing tariffs that would undoubtedly bring about the economic apocalypse Remainers had been predicting since the referendum campaign, suddenly the May government has started stating the obvious: that although Britain wants a mutually beneficial Brexit deal, if push comes to shove the UK can hurt the EU far more that the EU can hurt the UK.

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Where Israel Advocacy Fails, and How It Can Succeed by Chloe Valdary

This past November, the student newspaper at McGill University in Montreal responded to accusations that it had been providing a platform for anti-Semitism. While denying the specific charge, the editors emphatically reasserted their core position—namely, that the student paper “maintains an editorial line of not publishing pieces which promote a Zionist worldview, or any other ideology which we consider oppressive.”

This blunt statement is a reminder that hatred of the Jewish state is rapidly becoming the default position on many college campuses. Meanwhile, Israel’s friends, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, are left to ask what, if anything, can be done to stem the rising tide of anti-Israel venom.

In more than five years of involvement in advocacy for Israel, both as a college student and in a professional capacity, I’ve spoken at hundreds of events, worked with dozens of organizations, designed campus programs and social-media campaigns, and advised members of Congress, donors, and even Israeli government officials on how best to advance the cause of the Jewish state. As a member of the “millennial” generation, I have also been privy to the frustrations and complaints of my activist, pro-Israel peers whose own enchantment with the Jewish state is a driving force in their lives and who believe that too much institutional support is going to forms of advocacy that have outlived their usefulness.

Partially in response to these frustrations, I conducted a year-long study of how pro-Israel groups engage millennials. What works? What doesn’t? How to improve? In addressing those questions, I compared the available survey data about the attitudes of young Americans toward the Jewish state with what pro-Israel groups are currently doing to reach them, and conducted hundreds of interviews with students, professors, essayists, and professional activists.

The conclusion I eventually arrived at, presented below in severely boiled-down form, is that some kinds of Israel advocacy are at best of limited effectiveness and at worst can do more harm than good. Yet I also found some approaches that promise significantly greater success.

Let’s start by looking quickly at current attitudes among all Americans between the ages of eighteen and thirty. According to several polls taken in the past few decades, most members of this age cohort, while nominally pro-Israel, are largely indifferent to the Jewish state or have no interest at all in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. If asked whether they are more sympathetic to Israel or to the Palestinians, a great many will answer “Israel”—according to a Gallup poll conducted last February. Americans in this age range favor Israel over the Palestinians by a margin of 54 to 18 percent—but, when, pressed they make clear their lack of much knowledge about, or devotion to, either side. Evidence suggests, moreover, that this neutral group is the fastest-growing sector of the youth population. Indeed, a survey of California university campuses found that 75 to 95 percent of students fall in this “soft middle.”

These ranks of the unaffiliated and ambivalent are unlikely to be engaged by traditional methods of advocacy; they won’t come to hear a pro-Israel speaker or read a pamphlet about how the peace process is being held back by Palestinian, not Israeli, leaders, or about Hamas’s hate-filled intentions and ideology. Indeed, there’s reason to believe that, among those not already interested in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, discussion of it tends less to inspire curiosity than to induce apathy. To these onlookers, the situation appears too messy and too complicated to lend itself to any obvious solution; the good guys and bad guys aren’t easily identifiable; and meanwhile the rhetoric of partisans on both sides seems angry, obsessive, and overheated.

Not even the most carefully crafted and well-articulated pro-Israel arguments can dispel these impressions. Indeed, among young Jews in particular, the sociologist Theodore Sasson has observed that, when it comes to Israel, they tend to be positively turned off by the compulsive fixation on “the conflict” displayed by most American Jewish institutions.

And yet herein, precisely, lies the challenge: how to encourage support for Israel among those who may tell pollsters they are already pro-Israel but are generally apathetic, and among those who are entirely without an opinion. How to reach them? What, in particular, have Israel-advocacy groups been doing in this regard? Is any of it effective?

For purposes of this brief essay, I’ve divided these pro-Israel groups into two types—builders and defenders—and I’ll cite two or three exemplars of each type.

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The Gray Lady Doth Protest Too Much by Gilead Ini

Fact-checking season is in full swing. Whether the conversation is about “fake news,” “alternative facts,” or any other euphemism for false information, there’s a renewed media focus on examining the veracity of claims.

The New York Times is trying to capitalize on public concerns about accuracy with an online advertisement that states, “In a world of fake news, independent, fact-based journalism stands apart.” Then, in large font, is the hard sell: “Truth. It comes at a cost.”

The ad campaign comes in the face of a particularly costly truth: Among Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, confidence in the mass media has plummeted to all-time lows. Most Americans just don’t trust that the media will report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.

The New York Times certainly hasn’t been immune to those trends. So the advertisement’s focus on “facts” and “truth” may be an attempt to reverse its own falling fortunes, first by branding the newspaper as a reliable and accurate source of information, and second by refocusing the public’s distrust onto political discourse, and by positioning itself as a foil to perceived dishonesty in politics.

But readers, regardless of how much they trust or distrust government, should be skeptical of the newspaper’s repeated assurances that it can be relied on for accurate and impartial reporting. In fact, as measured by its reporting on one particular hot-button issue, the Arab-Israeli conflict, The New York Times has if anything shown an increasing tendency to circulate fake news and alternative facts of its own.

Falsehood: The Palestinian Authority Supports “Two States for Two Peoples”

The falsehoods in recent weeks have been fast and flagrant. In late December, Times journalist Max Fisher told readers that the Palestinian Authority supports “two states for two peoples” — the idea that the conflict should be resolved with a Jewish state and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace. It’s an egregious falsehood. The formula is “unacceptable,” says Palestinian official Nabil Shaath. “The story of ‘two states for two peoples’ means that there will be a Jewish people over there and a Palestinian people here. We will never accept this.”

His boss, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, has been equally clear. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a ‘Jewish state.'”

New York Times editors have refused to set readers straight with a correction — despite repeated requests from CAMERA that they do so.

Falsehood: Donald Trump “Vowed to Support Israel No Matter What”

An article published in January opens with the claim that Donald Trump “has vowed to support Israel no matter what.” When asked about the provenance of this claim, editors admitted the article was not referencing any specific statement by Trump. Instead, they insisted, the “vow” is a sort of composite of his collective statements. In other words, reporters told readers of a vow that did not really exist.

The newspaper has refused to correct the misinformation.

Falsehood: A Paris Communiqué Called for “A Return to the 1967 Boundaries”

In that same news story, readers were told that, at the end of an international meeting in Paris about the two-state solution, “countries issued a joint communiqué that reaffirmed support for…a return to the 1967 boundaries between the Israelis and Palestinians, including the removal of Israeli settlements from the West Bank.”

In fact, the communiqué says nothing at all about a return to specific boundaries, nor does it reference the removal of settlements.

Editors insisted no correction is warranted.

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Outpost

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

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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

August 2017
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