Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Comment on Ellison and Baird

Following the Jerusalem Post reporting on the visit to Gaza by U.S. Representatives Keith Ellison and Brian Baird, I sent the following letter that appears in the February 24, 2009 edition.

Eating macaroni vs sitting shiva

Sir, - Israel is long accustomed to foreign criticism of its actions. It is one thing, though, when the complaints come from the usual list of anti-Semites; but when they come from elected representatives of Israel's staunchest ally, it must hurt more than usual.

So on behalf of my fellow Americans, I wish to apologize for the silly remarks made by Congressmen Keith Ellison and Brian Baird, as reported in "Visiting US Congressmen say Israel has to change 'counterproductive' Gaza policies" (February 22), following their tour of Gaza. I am sorry these gentlemen do not understand the most basic of facts: that Israel is at war with Hamas.

It seems every American politician is now a maven when it comes to the security of Israel and its people. Until these folks know the difference between macaroni and sitting shiva, they ought to mind their own business and stop embarrassing the US.


When Elected Officials Sound Silly -- Ellison and Baird Weigh-in on Gaza

U.S. Congressmen Keith Ellison and Brian Baird recently made a visit to Gaza. Their comments? Per the Jerusalem Post, after urging that more aid be allowed through Israeli checkpoints,
"When have lentil bombs been going off lately? Is someone going to kill you with a piece of macaroni?" asked Rep. Brian Baird (D-Washington).
Ellison added, "When people have been deprived and feel beat down long enough, you cannot make them do what you want by beating on them more. They are used to that. They know that. They have been without and they can be without," he said.
Gee, thanks for those insightful remarks, gentlemen. How about this-- Israel is at war with Hamas. What country in history has been asked to provide supplies to its enemy? Yes, Gazan civilians suffer but it the fault of their leaders who call for the destruction of Israel and, therefor, its citizens on a daily basis.

The story about the visit, 'Israel must change "counterproductive" Gaza policies' is found here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

To the Students of Hampshire College

In my previous post Shame on Hampshire College, I took issue with the college's adoption of a divestment program directed against companies that sell to Israel. I have been taken to task by one commentator from the college and have reviewed a divestment blog run by students at the college.

I respond to the commentator by referring him or her to an op-ed in the February 17, 2009 edition of the Jerusalem Post. It is called "When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews, said Martin Luther King" and was written by Arno Lustiger, a German historian who survived Hitler's death camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

He writes:

Is criticism of Israel anti-Semitic? The Six Day War sparked a wave of anti-Zionistic reactions, triggering the Left's denial of solidarity with Israel, a stance that holds until today.

In August 1967, Martin Luther King wrote in Letters to an Anti-Zionistic Friend:
"You declare, my friend, that you do not hate the Jews, you are merely 'anti-Zionist'... When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews - this is God's own truth. Anti-Semitism, the hatred of the Jewish people, has been and remains a blot on the soul of mankind."

He quotes from Jean Améry who said in a 1969 speech

"Anti-Semitism was once the socialism of the stupid guys. Today it is about to become an integrating ingredient of socialism as such, and thereby every socialist turns himself, by his free will, into a stupid guy. Anti-Semitism has become respectable again, but there is no such thing as respectable anti-Semitism!"

Quoting "well-known literary scholar and dedicated leftist" Hans Mayer Lustiger writes
"Whoever attacks Zionism, but by no means wishes to say anything against the Jews, is fooling himself and others. The State of Israel is a Jewish state. Whoever wants to destroy it, openly or through policies that can effect nothing else but such destruction, is practicing the Jew hatred of yesterday and time immemorial."

"Unfortunately, these 30-year-old texts still hold true today."

Lustiger then outlines Hitler's plans for the Middle East, one that would be Jew-free. With Nazi collaborator Grand Mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini as a model for many in today's Middle East, "the comparison of the lives of Palestinians in the occupied areas with the starvation and murder of Jews in the ghettos of Europe living under a death sentence is impudent and the product of possible deliberate ignorance."

So I recommend Lustiger's article to the good students of Hampshire College and pray that they are not deliberately ignorant of history.

Read the full article here.

NYPD Trains for Mumbai-style Attack

We recently posted The Coming Swarm - Get ready for small attacks regarding the likelihood of Mumbai-style attacks in the United States.

Well, it looks as though the New York Police Department is planning for such an event. In an AP story posted today,
"NYPD officials say the mission at their firearms training facility reflects their belief that the city is vulnerable to a New York sequel to the Indian siege, and their determination not to be outgunned."

Makes sense to me. And a good example of fine police work in anticipating the worst. Will other cities follow through?

Shame on Hampshire College

Hampshire College, located in Amherst, Massachusetts, has fallen victim to the latest round of Israel bashing by a small group of pro-Palestinian anti-Semites who succeeded in having the college divest from companies doing business with Israel.

The college’s decision was made following a petition drive by the virulently anti-Zionist (read anti-Semitic) college group Students for Justice in Palestine. They are proud supporters of Hamas and critical of the Oslo Accords and the Palestinian Authority. In my book, they are not nice kids.

Opposition by American colleges and universities to divestment campaigns that single out one country is widespread. Most have seen through the fog of divestment campaigns and realize that there are other countries with human rights abuses far worse than those alleged against Israel but that Israel is singled-out for attention. Thus, the success of the SJP at Hampshire College has taken many by surprise.

Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz addressed the issue in his blog Double Standard Watch at jpost.com on February 15, 2009. He noted,
“Several months ago, a rabidly anti-Israel group on the Hampshire College campus began a campaign to try to get the college to divest from six companies that they claim helped ‘"the Israeli occupation of Palestine."’ Those who came up with this formulation regard all of Israel, including Tel Aviv, Haifa and Ben Gurion Airport, as ‘"occupied Palestine."’ In other words, their goal is to end the existence of Israel. This divestment effort is part of an international campaign against Israel.”

Despite college denials to the contrary, Dershowitz writes, “the student group, supported by many faculty members, claimed total victory, issuing a press release that boasted that Hampshire has become the first college in the United States to divest from Israel.”

Should we write this off to over-exuberant college students? I think not. Experience with anti-Israel campaigns by other pro-Palestinian groups at colleges around the country shows that the anti-Palestinian college crowd is well placed with backing from the anti-Israel camp. There is no interest there for Israelis to live side by side in peace with a Palestinian state. Their goal is to destroy Israel and the Jews who live there.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Coming Swarm - Get ready for small attacks

The New York Times runs an op-ed by John Arquilla, who teaches in the special operations program at the Naval Postgraduate School and is the author of “Worst Enemy: The Reluctant Transformation of the American Military.” His topic-- the prospect of more "Mumbai model" terror operations, including the possibility of similar attacks taking place in the United States.

What's the attractiveness of these smaller group attacks?

The basic concept is that hitting several targets at once, even with just a few fighters at each site, can cause fits for elite counterterrorist forces that are often manpower-heavy, far away and organized to deal with only one crisis at a time. This approach certainly worked in Mumbai, India, last November, where five two-man teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives held the city hostage for two days, killing 179 people. The Indian security forces, many of which had to be flown in from New Delhi, simply had little ability to strike back at more than one site at a time.
So, why should America get ready for such attacks? Because it's already happened here in the form of the 9/11 attacks "where four small teams of Qaeda operatives simultaneously seized commercial aircraft and turned them into missiles, flummoxing all our defensive responses."

So how are swarms to be countered? The simplest way is to create many more units able to respond to simultaneous, small-scale attacks and spread them around the country. This means jettisoning the idea of overwhelming force in favor of small units that are not “elite” but rather “good enough” to tangle with terrorist teams. In dealing with swarms, economizing on force is essential.

It's not too late to develop a response. Read the full op-ed here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Self-Made Woes for Palestinians

The New York Times reported on Palestinians Stop Paying Israeli Hospitals for Gaza and West Bank Patients on April 10, 2009. "Scores of Palestinian patients being treated in Israeli hospitals, a rare bright spot of coexistence here, are being sent home because the Palestinian Authority has stopped paying for their treatment, partly in anger over the war in Gaza."

The rationale?

The Palestinian health minister, Fathi Abu Moghli, said he was examining the entire referral procedure because he was tired of adding to what he called Israel’s “oil well,” meaning the payments for Palestinian patient care. In particular, he said, he had no desire to see the wounded from the Gaza war receive Israeli care.

“We already pay $7 million a month to Israeli hospitals,” he said in a telephone interview. “Since the first day of the Gaza aggression, I said that I will not send to my occupier my injured people in order for him to make propaganda at my expense, and then pay him for it.”

This led me to think of the harm arising from such a decision. I know first hand that Israeli hospitals treat Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza and have done so for year. I also know that Arabs from other Middle Eastern countries frequently come to Israel (albeit anonymously) for treatment.

I wrote a letter to the Editor of The New York Times in response to the article. The letter was printed on February 14, 2009. Here's the text:

The Palestinian Authority’s decision to force the removal of Palestinian patients from Israeli hospitals is a sad one.

Israel’s major hospital centers — among them, Rabin Medical Center, Hadassah Hospital and Soroka Medical Center — are on a par with the finest institutions in the United States and provide a quality of care and treatment not found in the West Bank, Egypt or Jordan. They are leaders in robotic surgery, cancer research and treatment, organ transplantation, stem cell research and therapies, and have become world renowned for trauma care.

How is it in the interest of Palestinians to be treated as medically second-class patients by depriving them of the best treatment?

If there is to be coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis, what better way to work toward that goal than through the trust created by the bond between doctor, nurse and patient? Given the chance to break down stereotypes held by Palestinians and Israelis about each other, why lose that opportunity?

Stephen M. Flatow
West Orange, N.J., Feb. 10, 2009

The writer is secretary of American Friends of Rabin Medical Center.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Taliban- Anything to laugh at?

There is humor everywhere you look. Even when dealing with Jihadists. This from the Internet.


1. You refine heroin for a living, but you have a moral objection to beer.
2. You own a $3,000 machine gun and $5,000 rocket launcher, but you can't afford shoes.
3. You have more wives than teeth.
4. You wipe your butt with your bare left hand, but consider bacon"unclean."
5. You think vests come in two styles: bullet-proof and suicide.
6. You can't think of anyone you haven't declared Jihad against.
7. You consider television dangerous, but routinely carry explosives in your clothing.
8. You were amazed to discover that cell phones have uses other than setting off roadside bombs.
9. You have nothing against women and think every man should own at least two.
10. You've always had a crush on your neighbor's goat.

'nuf said.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rutgers Gets Wise - Promises to Think Twice in the Future

Rutgers, the New Jersey State University, created an uproar when it suspended its study abroad program in Israel because of Israel's incursion into Gaza. Read the Star-Ledger report.

Following a meeting with leaders of the New Jersey Jewish community, Rutgers has not done an about face, but admitted a mistake was made.

Quoted in the New Jersey Jewish News, Barry Qualls, vice president of undergraduate education at Rutgers said,

“Our suspension of the program this semester was never meant to suggest that being in Israel in general was unsafe. Our only concern was the safety of our students, and we proceeded using the best information we had, which included State Department and third-party advisories and reports from members of our faculty who were in Israel.

“We are taking steps to ensure that in any future discussions of this issue, we talk to parents and students and community leaders.”

As the father of a victim of terror, I am inclined to challenge unilateral decisions made by universities in the name of student safety. I wrote to Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick. the text of my letter follows:

"I am a West Orange resident and founder of the Alisa Flatow Memorial Scholarship Fund that was established in 1995 following Alisa's murder by Palestinian terrorists while she was on a six-month leave of absence from Brandeis University. I am writing to express my concern over the university's decision to cancel its study abroad program in Israel because Rutgers University believes "the safety of our students cannot be reasonably assured" due to the conflict in Gaza and missiles from Lebanon.

First, your students' safety can be "reasonably assured" by following simple, common sense rules pertaining to travel, e.g. by avoiding entry into Gaza. Indeed, I fret for your students in Newark, downtown New Brunswick, and Camden who might wander off streets in student populated areas that are well patrolled by Rutgers security. In other words, simply living in today's world is not without risk and challenge. Growth comes about by exploring the world.

Second, your students are being deprived of living in a community that shares its homes and lifestyle with tourists and students of all nationalities, religions and ethnicity.

Third, your students are being deprived of the opportunity to rub shoulders with students of different backgrounds and thereby gain a worldview not available to them on any of the Rutgers University campuses.

Fourth, Israel, being the home of the world's three major faiths, imparts something intangible as your students will not only return as better Jews, Christians or Moslems but as better people. Study in Israel is an experience of a lifetime and I do not regret my decision to allow Alisa and her four siblings to study and travel in Israel.

Finally, the decision to attend an overseas program in Israel or elsewhere should be that of the student and his or her family. They, not the university, should be the final arbiters of the safety and security of any location chosen for study.

I hope you will reverse the university's decision."

I did receive a response from Dr. McCormick. He writes "Rutgers is responsible first and foremost for the safety of students in our programs." He goes on to say "[I]n the future, if our crisis group thinks the situation in any country is too dangerous to allow Rutgers to send students there, we will consult with the students and families involved."

A perfect resolution, no, but what's perfect in our world?

Friday, February 6, 2009

UNRWA Finally Catches On and Suspends Aid to Gaza

Is UNRWA, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency responsible for keeping Palestinians in refugee camps through the Middle East, waking up from its deep sleep? UNRWA has been criticized, rightfully so, for turning a blind eye to Hamas's goings-on in Gaza when it comes to so-called social service and humanitarian programs.

During and following the Israeli incursion, UNRWA bemoaned the lack of humanitaritan aid flowing into Gaza. Despite claims that such aid was being delivered and then diverted by Hamas, UNRWA pretended it didn't happen. Now, things have changed.

According to a CNN report, "the U.N. agency that provides humanitarian aid to Middle East refugees has suspended relief to Gaza after two incidents this week in which the ruling Hamas government seized the supplies, the U.N. group said Friday."

"The U.N. Relief and Works Agency won't resume deliveries until the stolen supplies are returned, and the agency is "given credible assurances from the Hamas government in Gaza that there will be no repeat of these thefts," the agency said in a written statement."
It's about time that someone an UNRWA woke up. Its action today was long overdue.

Read the report here.

Gaza Scene - Palestinians killing Palestinians

Ever since day one of Israel's offensive into Gaza, reports have been issued about Hamas members killing Palestinians affiliated with Abu Mazen's Fatah. Now comes the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights with a report outlining the "human rights violations" perpetrated by Palestinians against Palestinians.
Among them-

  • killings of prisoners and detainees
  • other violations of the right to life and the right to personal security
  • imposition of house arrest

In its introduction, the report states,

Since the launch of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) sic military offensive in the Gaza Strip on 27 December 2008, there has been a significant increase in human rights violations perpetrated by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. For the past five weeks, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has collected testimonies from victims and eyewitnesses regarding dozens of human rights violations perpetrated across the Gaza Strip by armed members of the Palestinian Security Services (PSS) and unidentified gunmen. According to PCHR documentation, at least 32 Palestinians have been killed by members of the PSS and unidentified gunmen during this reporting period. In addition, dozens of other people sustained injuries after being shot or severely beaten by unidentified gunmen who in some cases claimed to be members of the PSS.

The report then goes on in great detail to list the violations, such as, gunmen killing at least 17 prisoners and detainees who fled Gaza Central Prison; nine other civilians were killed by identified and unidentified gunmen across the Gaza Strip; the abduction and killing of two other persons by masked gunmen who claimed to be members of the Internal Security Services; and, in a separate case, two civilians who had been accused of collaborating with the Israelis were abducted and killed by unidentified gunmen. Other civilians were also shot and injured after being abducted by gunmen across the Gaza Strip.

The Report concludes:

In view of all of the above, PCHR:
• Demands the Government in Gaza takes immediate and effective measurements within the law to end these violations of human rights, conducts serious investigations into all allegations of violations, bringing perpetrators to justice, whether they are members of the Palestinian Security Services or members of armed groups, and publishes all of its findings.
• Reiterates that many of the crimes and violations that have been perpetrated are a continuation of the state of security chaos and attacks on the rule of law plaguing the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) (sic)
• Calls for an immediate halt to all house arrests, as well as impositions of restrictions on the movements of civilians. The Centre reiterates all civilians have the right to freedom of movement.
• Expresses its dismay at the restrictions being imposed on civil society organizations in the Gaza Strip. These organizations conduct their activities according to the law, as well as to stated objectives. These organizations have certificates of registration, and licenses that have been issued by the Ministry of the Interior. The Centre states the necessity of these organisations being allowed to carry out their activities freely, especially in order to meet the demands currently imposed on them in the aftermath of the IOF (sic) offensive of the Gaza Strip.

And not a peep from the United Nations. "Why can't we all just get along?"

Read the PCHR Special Report, February 2009
Inter-Palestinian Human Rights Violations in the Gaza Strip

Thursday, February 5, 2009

St. Petersburg Times Sacrifices Accuracy - Once Again

Reporter Meg Laughlin has been covering the twisted case of Dr. Sami Al-Arian for many years. Al-Arian first came to the public eye in 1995 when his computers and other records were seized in a November raid in connection with terrorism allegations.

After years of seeming government disinterest, Al-Arian was put on trial. Acquitted of most counts, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to "conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Dedicated Terrorist..." (Read the full Plea Agreement.)

Called to testify before a grand jury in a non-related terrorism case, Al-Arian refused and standing trial for contempt. Among the issues to be resolved is whether his plea agreement exempted him from further cooperation with the government. Demonstrations on behalf of Al-Arian have been frequent. He draws his supporters from the far left fringes of society. Under the guise of protecting Al-Arian's rights, his supporters quickly turn to the Palestinian cause and Israel's "occupation of Palestine." Nonetheless, the trial has begun.

While reporting on the case today, Ms. Laughlin writes, "in May 2006, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to helping associates of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad with immigration issues." I think the language of the plea agreement disproves that statement.

One of the purposes of this blog is to seek honesty in reporting. It's a never ending challenge. I wish it weren't.

Read Laughlin's report here.