Monday, March 30, 2009

Theater J in Washington, DC - Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy?

We have previously written about the Caryl Churchill play, "Seven Jewish Children, a play for Gaza" and have discussed its anti-Semitic undertone. We complained about its appearance at the New York Theatre Workshop. As feared, the play is now making its rounds, including a stop at Theater J of the Washington, DC Jewish Community Center.

It's one thing when a play such as this is performed at a public theatre, but when it's performed at a venue sponsored by the community that it attacks, where are we headed.

The director of Theater J, Ari Roth, is on record as having said he knows people would be offended by the play and that he was "upset" by it. Yet he appears to have bent over backwards to produce the play by adding two other plays to deaden the impact of Seven Jewish Children, by arranging for friendly posts on the theater's blog, and communicating with the play's author.

I think it's ludicrous for a Jewish, albeit nominally, theater to present a play that brings a message equating Israelis with the worst of mankind. Here is the letter sent to Mr. Roth:

"March 29, 2009

Mr. Ari Roth, Artistic Director
Theater J, Washington District of Columbia Jewish Community Center
1529 Sixteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Re Production of Seven Jewish Children, a play for Gaza

Dear Mr. Roth:

I am the father of Alisa Flatow a 20-year old woman murdered in 1995 by Palestinian terrorists who were raised since childhood on a never ending stream of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda to hate Israelis and Jews. By presenting “Seven Jewish Children, a play for Gaza” at Theater J, you have added another propaganda log to the bonfire of hatred that has been stoked by the Arab world since 1948.

Anti-Semitism has taken on a new face. It is masked by anti-Zionism. In other words, “we love the Jews, but hate what the State of Israel has done to the Palestinians.” Mr. Roth, in the former, its proponents shout “Jews to the ovens” as they did in Florida this past January. In the latter, they de-legitimatize the Jews’ 2,000-year old quest for a state of their own. In the end, there is no difference between the two because both seek the destruction of the Jewish people. Yet the latter is worse, because it hides under the mask of the theater arts. You have helped nourish hatred.

You reportedly said "people have a right to be offended, and I respect those who have read the play and are offended" and, that the script upset you. Unfortunately, you were not upset enough to decline production of the play and your silly attempt at balancing it with two other plays makes you the laughingstock of anti-Semites around the world because you have literally given them a stage from which to speak.

I believe in general that everyone has the right to make a fool of himself. You have done that here, but there is nothing to laugh about."

When will such foolishness--the desire to be open to all thoughts even those inimical to your own interests--be put to bed?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

United Nations Continues to Weigh-in on Gaza Crossings

The U.N. weighed in with another demonstration of hand wringing over Israel's refusal to allow unfettered access to Gaza. Accusations flew across the Security Council table on March 25, 2009 as Israel was accused of making the humanitarian situation worse in Gaza.

B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, lamented that a " a worrying situation of impasse and uncertainty existed. Despite international engagement and support, very little concrete progress had been made on key issues outlined in Council resolution 1860 (2009), including the establishment of a proper ceasefire regime in Gaza, unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance, opening of the crossings, prevention of illicit trafficking in arms and ammunitions, and intra-Palestinian reconciliation."

No mention was made by Mr. Pascoe of the fate of Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier held hostage by Hamas for more than 3 years.

As the Palestinian representative charged that
"Everyone was now aware of the human and physical tolls of destruction deliberately inflicted by the occupying Power [Israel] over three weeks, the magnitude of which was unprecedented since the beginning of the occupation in 1967."
Gabriela Shalev, Israel's Ambassador to the UN, responded by agreeing that

"civilians on both sides, including children, had indeed borne the burden of the conflict. Children in the cities of southern Israel asked their parents why more than 1,000 rockets had been fired into their communities. Osher Twito, who had loved playing soccer, had been eight years old when he had lost both legs a year-and-a-half ago and asked his parents that question every day. Each side had stories to tell, but they should only be used to advance the cause of peace.

Interestingly, representatives from Uganda, Turkey, China, Costa Rica, Viet Nam and Russia did not waste their time criticizing Israel. Instead, they focused on the need to stop rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.

Here's the full briefing to Security Council.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Price for Everything

There is no country on Earth as blessed as the United States of America. While no longer a melting pot where immigrants eagerly sought to speak the English language and adopt American customs, we still maintain the freedom of ideas of all shapes and colors and sizes and beliefs. However, as long ago stated by Justice Cardozo, freedom of speech is not absolute. He stated that there is no right to shout fire in a theater. That phrase has long been used to limit speech that we find hateful or derogatory or inflammatory.

So now we turn to the real topic at hand, the Caryl Churchill play "Seven Jewish Children." Don't let the title fool you. The play is not about little Jewish children running around a park. It's an attempt to mask anti-Israel and anti-Semitic attitudes.

Seen in London in February 2009, the play drew many complaints. Now it is making its way to the New York stage through the efforts of the New York Theatre Workshop that has scheduled three readings of the play followed by a panel discussion led by noted Israel basher Tony Kushner.

I think it's outrageous that the play is coming to NYC and wrote the following letter:

Mr. James C. Nicola, Artistic Director
Mr. William Russo, Managing Director
New York Theatre Workshop
79 East Fourth Street
New York, NY 10003

Re Seven Jewish Children


I am writing to ask you to cancel the readings of Seven Jewish Children now scheduled for March 25 & 27, 2009. I write as the father of Alisa Flatow a 20-year old woman murdered in 1995 by Palestinian terrorists who were brought up on a never ending stream of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda to hate Israelis and Jews. Seven Jewish Children is just another piece of such propaganda, masked as a play, and will add another log to the bonfire of hatred that has been stoked by the Arab world since 1948.

Despite your stated goal to encourage "public discourse about the myriad of issues surrounding" a "deeply complicated conflict," the play does not address the very context in which this "conflict" takes place. While there is an indirect reference to the Holocaust, the clear implication of the play is that Israel is the new Goliath, that Israeli parents do not want their children playing with Palestinian children, and that all humanitarian issues are on the Palestinian side. Nothing is mentioned of suicide bombers sent to attack innocent civilians on public buses, in restaurants and coffee shops, that the Palestinians declined the offer of a state 8 years ago, that the Palestinians have elected a government with the sworn goal of destroying Israel, or that Israel has left Gaza.

Seven Jewish Children does nothing to advance understanding between peoples or the cause of peace in the Middle East and has no place on the New York Theatre Workshop stage. I urge you to halt the scheduled presentation.

I hope you will join in my protest to the New York Theatre Workshop. You can find their page on the play here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

United Nations Creates Refugees

The United Nations has announced that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) "tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees will be able to improve living conditions for thousands living in Lebanese camps thanks to a new partnership with the United Arab Emirates."

The money, $6,000,000, is coming from the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent (UAERC) and will go to UNRWA in accordance with two agreements signed on March 16, 2009. According to the UN,
"$5 million will go to rehabilitating 343 of the most structurally unsound, hazardous and unhygienic shelters in Bourj El Shemali camp in South Lebanon.The project is part of the Camp Improvement Initiative launched by the Lebanese Government and UNRWA in 2006 to improve the living conditions of Palestine refugees in Lebanon’s 12 refugee camps. Another $1 million will enable UNRWA to construct 149 temporary housing units for Palestinian families who were displaced from the Nahr El Bared camp nearly two years ago."

For those who may have forgotten, the UN points out that "the camp was basically a complete town of over 30,000 inhabitants before it was destroyed by intense fighting between the Lebanese national army and Fatah el-Islam gunmen between May and September 2007."

UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd welcomed both agreements, noting that much of the world’s attention recently has been on the situation of Palestine refugees in Gaza. “However, we must not forget refugees elsewhere in the region who may be living in deplorable conditions,” she stated.

This is not the first venture for UAERC. It has previously "funded major construction projects including Khan Younis in Gaza, Jenin in the West Bank, and more recently Neirab in Aleppo, Syria."

UNRWA notes that there are 4.6 million Palestinian refugees in camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Long used as pawns by the Arab nations in the Mid East, this latest "humanitarian" gesture does nothing to bring peace to the region. In fact, it will stoke the fires of hatred now being bred in the refugee camps. What other people keep their brethren in conditions of squalor? None. What other people keep their brethren out of society, employment and citizenship rights? None.

Rather than investing $6 million dollars to rebuild camps destroyed in internecine fighting, would not the money be better spent integrating these so-called refugees into the society of their host country?

For the full story, go to UN News Centre

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

History's Oldest Hatred - anti-semitism

Writing in the Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby writes
ANTI-SEMITISM is an ancient derangement, the oldest of hatreds, so it is strange that it lacks a more meaningful name. The misnomer "anti-Semitism" - a term coined in 1879 by the German agitator Wilhelm Marr, who wanted a scientific-sounding euphemism for Judenhass, or Jew-hatred - is particularly inane, since hostility to Jews has never had anything to do with Semites or being Semitic.
This week Jews around the world celebrated the holiday of Purim. The story takes place in Persia. It recounts how Haman, an advisor to the king, feels insulted when a Jew, Mordechai, refuses to bow down to him. That act led Haman to appeal to the king for a decree to destroy the Jewish community of Persia and all its provinces.

Jacoby asks "what drives such bloodlust?" The Jewish community had done nothing to Haman, "just as Jews in later ages did nothing that justified their persecution under the Church or Islam, or their repression at the hands of Russian czars and Soviet commissars, or their slaughter by Nazi Germany."

Of course Haman had his ostensible reasons for targeting Jews. So did Hitler and Arafat; so does Ahmadinejad. Sometimes the anti-Semite focuses on the Jew's religion, sometimes on his laws and lifestyle, sometimes on his national identity or his professional achievements. Ultimately, however, it is the Jew's Jewishness, and the call to higher standards that it represents, that the anti-Semite cannot abide.

With all their flaws and failings, the Jewish people endure, their role in history not yet finished. So the world's oldest hatred endures too, as obsessive and indestructible -- and deadly -- as ever.

Read the full article.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Planning for Mumbai-style Attack - a follow-up

We previously wrote about NYPD Trains for Mumbai-style Attack. John Yoo, writing in the Wall Street Journal, "Yes, We Did Plan for Mumbai-Style Attacks in the U.S. Why the latest assault on Bush anti-terror strategy could make us less safe," compares the Bush administration's response to al-Qaeda's attacks and the threat of a Mumbai-style attack happening here with new policies of the Obama administration.

Suppose al Qaeda branched out from crashing airliners into American cities. Using small arms, explosives, or biological, chemical or nuclear weapons they could seize control of apartment buildings, stadiums, ships, trains or buses. As in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, texting and mobile email would make it easy to coordinate simultaneous assaults in a single city.
After 9/11, we had a responsibility to consider all possible threats.In the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes on New York City and Washington, D.C., these were hypotheticals no more. They became real scenarios for which responsible civilian and military leaders had to plan. The possibility of such attacks raised difficult, fundamental questions of constitutional law, because they might require domestic military operations against an enemy for the first time since the Civil War. Could our armed forces monitor traffic in a city where terrorists were preparing to strike, search for cells using surveillance technology, or use force against a hijacked vessel or building?
According to Yoo, while the military did its job, "it was the duty of the government to plan for worst-case scenarios -- even if, thankfully, those circumstances never materialized." Such efforts raised "unprecedented questions under the most severe time pressures."

Judging from the media coverage of Justice Department memos from those days --released this week by the Obama administration -- this careful contingency planning amounted to a secret plot to overthrow the Constitution and strip Americans of their rights. As the New York Times has it, Bush lawyers "rush into sweeping away this country's most cherished rights." "Irresponsible," harrumphed former Clinton administration Justice Department officials.
Yoo's article does not descend into an apologia for Bush administration tactics. It is a look at the Constitutional underpinnings of the post-9/11 actions of the government going as far back as Alexander Hamilton's opinions on the use of Federal force.

To blame Yoo and others for abuse of Constitutional powers is just silly and that's what is "irresponsible."

There's a good history lesson here, one that folks on the left and right should read. Read the full article.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lifeline cut as Palestinians vacate Israeli hospitals - Update from JTA

Terror Victims' Voice previously commented on the Palestinian Authority's decision to curtail and then eliminate the treatment of Palestinians in Israeli hospitals. Dina Kraft reporting through the Jewish Telegraphic Agency updates the story.

Pediatric oncologist Michael Weintraub of Hadassah Hospital recently found himself in the unenviable position of turning away ailing Palestinian children after the Palestinian Authority decided to halt payment for their treatment.
“People could die in the next few weeks” if they do not receive proper treatment, said Weintraub, director of pediatric hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplantation at Hadassah. “Patients were denied coverage from one day to the next. If you stop cancer therapy for a month or two, the risk of relapse and death increases every day.”

Palestinian leadership is throwing away years of relationship building through health care between Israelis and their Palestinian neighbors. Playing with the health and welfare of your fellows is a terrible game with the potential for disastrous results.

Read the full article here.

India's Partition of 1947 - Is the world still paying a price?

Anyone familiar with the motion picture Gandhi will recall the plea made by Hindu leaders to their Muslim counterparts for the latter to drop their demand that India be partitioned and thereby create the Muslim state of Pakistan.

The Mumbai attacks, organized from outside India, and a list of many more, are symptomatic of Muslim "disaffection." Identifying that disaffection is easy according to some. Norman Berdichevsky, writing in New English Review, takes a different approach.

A few academics and editorial writers claiming to be scholars and quite a few liberal pundits/observers, have argued that some blame for the recent atrocious acts of terror in Mumbai should be put on India’s Hindus by stressing that the terrorist group of “disaffected Muslims” carrying out the outrage of random murder of civilians was “probably funded from outside India." They believe as Fareed Zakaria stated in Newsweek, that Indian Hindus “had it coming” because "One of the untold stories of India is that the Muslim population has not shared in the boom the country has enjoyed over the last 10 years. There is still a lot of institutional discrimination, and many remain persecuted."

He continues,
This view is not just wrong and short-sighted, it is symptomatic of why India has become a major target for terrorism that enjoys widespread support not only in Pakistan but in the wider Muslim world. Hatred of India stems from a psychological need to link India and Israel as guilty in the “injustice” Muslims believe they have suffered and to deflect blame and muddy the waters by shifting responsibility for the Partition of India in 1947 to the Hindus and conjuring up the vision that the Jews and Zionism did precisely this in Palestine in 1948. Nothing is further from the truth.

Berdichevsky explores the similarities and dissimilarities between India and Israel and the partitions that created the modern states. But he does not brook the argument that the creation of modern Israel was foisted on a Muslim population.

The truth of the 1948 partition in Palestine is that the Muslims rejected it totally and any possibility of living in peace alongside a tiny Jewish state. Instead they aided in the invasion of the country by the regular armies of six Arab states plunging their homeland into war and ending as defeated refugees. Had they accepted it, the great majority of Palestinian Arabs would today be enjoying the rights of their own independent homeland without the bloodshed of the last sixty years and a minority of them would be citizens of a much more secure, serene and tolerant Israel, untroubled by the threat of constant renewed warfare and terrorism.

Read the full article A Tale of Two Partitions: India 1947 and Palestine 1948 here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gilad Schalit - A Letter Home? Hamas plays games

No one in their right mind would claim that Hamas's so-called social services network makes these killers and thugs nice people. Hamas's callousness and disregard for the lives of Gazans by using them as human shields is well documented. Its unabated firing of rockets and mortars into Israel lead to immeasurable damage to peoples' lives on their side of the border—the same people they claim to represent. Yet the world is now rallying to alleviate the "humanitarian" crisis in Gaza by providing money to Hamas through the Palestinian Authority.

Now comes another Hamas ploy to show its humanitarian side—the delivery of a letter from Gilad Schalit to his parents through the efforts of Hamas no. 2, Moussa Abu Marzouk.

According to the Jerusalem Post,

"Damascus-based Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk received a letter written by captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit during his short visit to the Gaza Strip last week, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reported on Tuesday."

"Marzouk, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal's deputy, met with Gaza leaders from his organization's military wing "including officials responsible for the captivity of Schalit" such as Izzadin al-Kassam Brigades' top commander Ahmed Jabari, the article stated.

"Marzouk will deliver the letter to the Syrian Foreign Ministry but it is not known where it will go from there, the article stated.

"The Kuwaiti report, which cited anonymous "Palestinian sources close to Hamas," could not be verified by The Jerusalem Post. A Hamas official in Gaza would not confirm the report, Israel Radio reported on Tuesday."

According to the website China View, "the armed wing of Islamic Hamas movement on Tuesday refused to comment on reports that a letter from captive Israeli soldier was handed out to Hamas' leadership in order to be sent for his family."

So, here we are again, Hamas playing the downtrodden social network pleading with the world to alleviate a crisis brought to Gaza by its own callousness and demonstrating just how callous they are by playing with the emotions of a family who misses their son. Wake up world.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Gaza Rebuilding is Center Stage at Sharm e-Sheikh

U.S. Secretary of State joined other representatives in the opening day of discussions at Sharm e-Sheikh designed to bring aid and comfort to Gazans. According to the AP, Clinton declared ‘the Obama administration committed to pushing intensively to find a way for Israelis and Palestinians to exist peacefully in separate states.

The conference came about to halt, in the words of others, the “cycle of violence” between Israel and Hamas beginning with Hamas launching rockets and mortars into Israel.

"We cannot afford more setbacks or delays — or regrets about what might have been, had different decisions been made," she said in apparent reference to the failure of previous peace initiatives, including those pushed vigorously by her husband's administration.”

With almost $900 million US dollars on the table for Palestinians, the AP reports that Clinton said, "We have worked with the Palestinian Authority to install safeguards that will ensure our funding is only used where and for whom it is intended and does not end up in the wrong hands," Clinton told the conference. She did not explicitly mention Hamas but alluded to extremist elements.”

Before Clinton spoke, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the conference he was encouraged by the Obama administration's approach to the Mideast. He singled out Obama's decision to appoint Mitchell a special Mideast peace envoy.” Unfortunately, Mr. Ban’s remarks as reported by the United Nations are less than satisfactory.

A UN press release dated March 2, 2009 reporting on Mr. Ban’s attendance at the conference states,

"When building a house, we begin with the foundation," he noted. "So too with our work today. When it comes to rebuilding Gaza, this foundation must be a durable ceasefire.

"And that, in turn, requires us to face a number of political realities -- and to deal with them squarely," he stated.

“The Secretary-General stressed that the first priority must be to ensure open crossings, which are vital for aid delivery and to implement social and economic programme -- the starting point of reconstruction.”

Unfortunately, nowhere in his remarks does Mr. Ban make mention of the reason for Israel’s launching of Operation Cast Lead, rockets and mortars fired by Hamas into Israel, nor does he mention Hamas’s captivity of Israeli soldier Galid Schalit.Israel, once again, is given the blame for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Shame on you Mr. Ban for not recognizing that humanitarian gestures run both ways.

What do you think?

Read the full reports: Clinton Calls for Action; United Nations Press Release