Friday, December 31, 2010

More Christian casualities in Iraq

We previously posted a story about the plight of a dwindling Christian community in Iraq and other countries in the Middle East.

Last night, the Times reports, 10 bomb attacks targeting Christians took place in Baghdad.

For some Christians here, the latest attacks represented the last straw. “We will love Iraq forever, but we have to leave it immediately to survive,” said Noor Isam, 30. “I would ask the government, ‘Where is the promised security for Christians?’”

Well, the answer is there is no security for minority religions in Muslim lands.

Read the full story.

The Double Standard

After some rabbis in Israel instructed their followers to not sell land to non-Jews, the Jewish and non-Jewish world rose in protest. Here's one person's response.

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A good news story - sports as bridge between peoples

Palestinian Media Watch ran this story on December 28, 2010,
"Sports promote coexistence: Palestinian children hosted Israeli children for football game." Read it in full on PMW Bulletin.

Contrary to recent events in the Palestinian Authority that glorified murderers by naming parks and sports fields after them, it looks as though there are some in the PA who understand that there's more to be gained by kicking a football than lobbing a rock.

Let's hope that there are more stories of this type.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Spy" hanged by Iran

Iranian justice, whatever that might be, was meted out to Ali Akbar Siadat who allegedly confessed to spying for Israel's secret service, the Mossad.

There is no indication in any of today's reports when Siadat was tried, when the verdict was rendered, or if there was an appeal.

Read the following report, Ali Akbar Siadat hanged by Iran for relaying sensitive data to Mossad, and explain to me what constitutes "confronting the Iranian republic."

Well, that's what I have to say.

Stephen M. Flatow

Monday, December 27, 2010

Alan M. Dershowitz: The Finkler Question: Jews' irrational hatred of Israel

One of the worst epithets that one Jew can throw against another is "self-hating." We most frequently hear it when a Jew criticizes Israel. What drives a Jew to become critical of a country that one would think a Jew would have a natural adherence to?

Alan Dershowitz examines that phenomenon in a Jerusalem Post column The Finkler Question: Jews' irrational hatred of Israel.

Why do so many Jews regard Israel as a pariah state? The extraordinary characters in Howard Jacobson's novel shed light on the psychology behind the country's Jewish detractors.
Any objective assessment of Israel’s actions over the 62 years of its existence as the nation-state of the Jewish people would rank it near the top in compliance with human rights, civil liberties and efforts to minimize civilian casualties. The Israeli government has repeatedly offered statehood to the Palestinians: in 1948, in 2000-2001 and in 2008. Each time the Palestinian leadership rejected these offers. The current Israeli government is now offering to negotiate, without any precondition, a two-state solution and an end of the occupation of the West Bank. (Following the end of the occupation of Gaza, Southern Lebanon and Sinai.)
So what gives according to Dershowitz?
When I am asked the question: Why is Israel so demonized and why are the Palestinians so glorified, especially by some Jews, I am used to responding that the answer is beyond my pay scale: it is more in the domain of Freud, Sartre and others who are capable of deeply exploring the human condition. But now I have a better answer. I can point to Howard Jacobson’s remarkable comic novel, The Finkler Question. Jacobson...not only poses the question more astutely than anyone I have read, he also provides more interesting and provocative answers.
Read the full column to find out what Jacobson has to say.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christians in the Middle East - how are they treated?

Two stories about Christians in the Middle East have been in the news. And the stories are opposites of each other because in one, it's Muslims who are making life hell for Christians, and in the other, cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians makes for a merrier Christmas.

The first, from The New York Times, Traumatized Iraqi Christians Lie Low for Christmas, paints a pale portrait of a Christian community in decline.

As they gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the congregation here first contemplated death, represented by a spare Christmas tree decked with paper stars, each bearing a photograph of a member of a nearby church killed in a siege by Islamic militants in October.

The congregants on Friday night were fewer than 100, in a sanctuary built for four or five times as many. But they were determined. This year, even more than in the past, Iraqi’s dwindling Christian minority had reasons to stay home for Christmas.

Though the exact size of Iraq’s Christian population is unclear, by some estimates it has fallen to about 500,000 from a high of 1.4 million before the American-led invasion of 2003. Iraq’s total population is about 30 million.
Before you blame the 2003 invasion as the cause of Christian's plight, let's remember this--the only thing that protected Christians in Iraq was the dictator Saddam Hussein. It was in his interest to do so to give truth to the Muslim claim that Christians are always welcome in Muslim lands.

With murderous attacks as the basis for the declining Christian population, I think we see the true face of Islamism in its relationship to non-believers.

Contrast this story with this one coming via the Associated Press from Bethlehem. Bethlehem celebrates merriest Christmas in years.

The traditional birthplace of Jesus is celebrating its merriest Christmas in years, as tens of thousands of tourists thronged Bethlehem on Friday for the annual holiday festivities in this biblical West Bank town.

Officials said the turnout was shaping up to be the largest since 2000. Unseasonably mild weather, a virtual halt in
Israeli-Palestinian violence and a burgeoning economic revival in the West Bank all added to the holiday cheer.

Israelis are not going to take a back seat to anyone when it comes to protecting its citizens and tourists, so quiet translates into a Christian holiday that the "good old City" [hats off to Dickens] hasn't seen in a number of years. Shouldn't Palestinians be encouraged by this?

See this post by Jewish Virtual Library on the lives of Israel's Christian community-- Israel and its Christian citizens.

Well, that's what I think.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

'Asia 1 Convoy' Reaches Syria but the story is interesting for what it doesn't say

This post from points out the inability of folks to answer a question about Palestinian refugees. (According to its website, DP News is a full service news website that covers Syrian, Arabic, and International issues in politics, economy, NGOs, sport…etc., as well as online video and documentaries.)
Today's posting is about another aid convoy to Hamas-controlled Gaza.

The Gaza-bound humanitarian aid convoy 'Asia 1' is scheduled to reach the Syrian borders on Monday coming from Turkey. 15 countries are participating in the convoy, of which are India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Bahrain and Iran.

The Secretary of the Higher Follow-up Committee of the Palestinian National Conference Khaled Abdul-Majeed, during a conference of the Committee at al-Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, hailed Syria's support to the Palestinians' struggle against the Israeli occupation and its help to ease their sufferings and lift the siege on Gaza.

OK, maybe you have figured it out, but the unasked question is why there are still refugee camps in Syria 60+ years after the attack against the newly declared State of Israel resulted in the migration of Arabs to other countries? After all, Jews were forced to leave their homes in Arab countries at the same time. But they were welcomed into Israel and made part of the country. Why not the Palestinians?

Why have they been treated as second class citizens in other Arab countries? Why have they not been welcomed into Lebanese, Syrian or Jordanian society? Why can't they get jobs, buy a home outside of their "camp" and raise their families as do the Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanians?

So, rather than rush so-called humanitarian aid to Gaza, perhaps it's time for Mr. Abdul-Majeed, to ask the above question and see if reports on that press conference.

You can read the full report here 'Asia 1 Convoy' Reaches Syria.

Well, that's what I think.

Stephen M. Flatow

Friday, December 17, 2010

The enemy within Israel - maybe it's the media, too

Caroline Glick takes on the Left, the Israeli and American media, and Saeb Erekat in her latest column in the Jerusalem Post. Column One: Bringing down Bibi

The lede -

The media and the US administration are again colluding with the Israeli Left’s political leadership to overthrow the Netanyahu government.
Why would she say that you may ask? Because two news stories received disparate treatment by the pols, other writers and the talking heads.

Last Friday, Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority’s chief peace negotiator with Israel, published an op-ed in Britain’s Guardian newspaper in which he declared eternal war on the Jewish state. This he did by asserting that any peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians that does not permit the immigration of some 7 million foreign Arabs to Israel will be “completely untenable.”

Whoa! Is he saying what it sounds like he's saying? That if Israel doesn't allow the entry of everyone tagged as a refugee to within pre-1967, there will continue a state of war? Sounds like it to Glick and to me, too.

The second article was Tom Friedman’s latest column in The New York Times. Throughout his interminable career, Friedman has identified with Israel’s radical Left and so been the bane of all non-leftist governments.

In his latest screed, he compared Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to someone in the throes of an LSD trip. Friedman harangued Netanyahu for failing to convince his cabinet to agree to the Obama administration’s demand to abrogate Jewish property rights in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem for another 90 days. He argued that by doing so, Israel – with some help from the Palestinians – is destroying all chance of peace.

So on the one hand, the chief Palestinian negotiator declared eternal war. And on the other hand, Friedman condemned Netanyahu – for the gazillionth time.

And characteristically, the Israeli media ignored Erekat’s article and gave Friedman’s screed around the- clock coverage.

I think Glick is onto something here. It goes beyond and free and open press in a country where everyone is entitled to have, and does have, an opinion about everything. It goes to the essence of Israel's existence as a Jewish state. Flood the country with Muslims and in a year Israel is gone.

Don't agree with Erekat, then face eternal war.

Well, that's what I have to say.

Stephen M. Flatow

Friday, December 3, 2010

A fair voice in the Middle East?

When it comes to Middle East politics we are all familiar with the claims made about Israel-- it's an apartheid state, it's a colonizer, and on and on. So, it raises the question, can Israel be properly portrayed in the media?

There is a columnist that we've been reading for years, Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, who seems to defy the stereotype of Middle East report.

In mid-November Abu Toameh was interviewed by Arsen Ostrovsky who posted what follows on FrumForum. I recommend reading it in full. If you want to read it where originally posted, go here.

Abu Toameh: What the Western Media Misses

A few days ago, I was fortunate to attend a talk by Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh in Jerusalem.

Toameh gave an incredibly wide ranging talk about the peace process, the double standards rife in the West and the media when it comes to coverage of the Middle East and his perspective as a Muslim Arab of Palestinian descent living in Israel (and you thought you had identity issues!).

Toameh has been working as a journalist for almost 30 years now, covering Palestinian affairs, focusing predominantly on the West Bank and Gaza, including for the Palestinian press under the PLO and for various international media outlets in the US and Europe. He is currently at the Jerusalem Post writing on Palestinian issues. Toameh is also an Israeli citizen living in Jerusalem. In other words, he is aptly qualified to comment on the issues of his discussion.

However, if you expected Toameh to jump on the anti-Israel bandwagon with the familiar cries that Israel is an un-democratic apartheid state responsible for all that is wrong including the bubonic plague or to have a single-minded focus on the occupation, you would have been sorely disappointed.

Instead, he spoke openly, courageously and in his words, said it “as it is”. Asked what he thought was the essence of the conflict, Toameh said it was not about money or even settlements, as many so called pundits often imply, as a precursor to blaming Israel. Rather, his answer was very simple: “This conflict is about Israel’s very existence in this part of the world.”

But before you get any conclusions, Toameh is not a card carrying Zionist or as somebody once asked him “when did you get on the Israel lobby payroll”. In his own words, he says:
I’m not pro-Israel, I’m not pro-Palestinian and I’m not pro-American. But as a journalist, I’m pro the facts and pro the truth.

Here are some of Toameh’s illuminating comments:

I asked Toameh how, as an Arab Muslim Israeli, he responds to accusations that Israel is an apartheid state.

His response:

Israel is not an apartheid state. But there are problems and some discrimination with the Arab minority inside Israel. If Israel were an apartheid state, I, for example, would not be allowed to work for a Jewish newspaper or live in a Jewish neighborhood or own a home. The real apartheid is in Lebanon, where there is a law that bans Palestinians from working in over 50 professions. Can you imagine if the Knesset passed a law banning Arabs from working even in one profession? The real apartheid is also in many Arab and Muslim nations, like Kuwait, where my Palestinian uncle, who has been living there for 35 years is banned from buying a house. The law of Israel does not distinguish between a Jew and an Arab.

As for the uniqueness of the Israeli media in the middle East, Toameh added:

Israel is a free and open country with a democracy, that respects the freedom of the media. You can basically write any anti-Israel story and still walk in downtown Jerusalem or Tel Aviv without having to worry about your safety. Anyone can be a journalist in Israel.

Toameh says he finds it ironic that as an Arab Muslim living in this part of the world, the only place he can express himself freely is in a ‘Jewish newspaper’, noting that:

We don’t have a free media in the Palestinian area, we didn’t have one when I was working there in the late 70’s and early 80’s, we didn’t have one when the PLO came here after the signing of the Oslo accords and we still don’t have one under Fatah and Hamas.

But what about the media’s need for an anti-Israeli angle on stories? Toameh says that when he tried to alert many of his foreign colleagues that Palestinians were dying because of an internal power struggle or gross corruption by Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, their reflex response was:

Where’s the anti-Israel angle to the story? Give us an anti-occupation story. Make our lives much easier. An Arab killing an Arab, that’s not a story for us.

Toameh notes that the same foreign journalists would then ask him: “are you on the payroll of the Israel lobby?” Do they [the Jews] pay you to say these things against Arafat and the PLO?’ Toameh’s response to them:

what do the Jews have to do with this? I’m telling you what the Palestinians are saying about there being corruption in the Palestinian Authority. I’m even telling you that the PA is saying that the PA is corrupt.

It is a sad reflection on the state of society, and in particular, the media industry, that not only are they not sufficiently concerned or outraged at the death of Arabs by Arabs (which coincidentally has claimed many more lives than the Israel – Palestinian conflict), but that they will only muster even an iota of concern if they can put in an ‘anti-Israel’ angle.

On the proposed loyalty oath as well, Toameh offered a pragmatic response: “I have no problem with it because it applies equally to both Jews and non-Jews alike.”

One of the biggest and most intractable sticking points has consistently been the Palestinian demand for a right of return, which Israel will not agree to because it would mean the death knell of Israel as a Jewish state.

However, Toameh offers a very simple and pragmatic three stage solution, where the Palestinian refugees could:

1. Go to the future Palestinian state;

2. Resettle elsewhere, including other Arab states; and

3. Be offered compensation.

Most tellingly though, and in a statement seldom ever heard from Arabs (or the West), Toameh then asked: “and what about Jewish refugees that were forced to flee Arab nations”, suggesting that the issue of Jewish refugees must also be part of any future solution.

Focusing on the problem from Arab dictatorships and their insistence on inciting their people against Israel, Toameh says that we have a problem in the West in failing to believe what people tell us.

If Hamas say they want to destroy you, you have no reason not to believe them. And if Ahmadinejad says he wants to destroy you, there’s no need to start analysing what he means by that. Stop fooling ourselves and if anyone thinks that Hamas will ever recognise Israel’s right to exist, you’re also living in an illusion. Take it from their mouth directly…the PLO however is different – they will tell you one thing in English and then another in Arabic.

On the subject of Arab dictatorship, Toameh says:

Arab dictators survive by constantly blaming the misery of their people on Jews and the West and never accepting responsibility for anything. And by inciting against Israel and the West, you divert attention from problems at home. Why? Because you always need to make sure that your people are busy hating someone else. If they’re not hating Israel and the West, they might wake up one day and come to you, and God forbid, demand reform and democracy.

The crux of the message is:

If you keep inciting your people, then they ask ‘well, why are we then making peace with the Jews?’ We should be killing them as Hamas is saying’.

So what does Toameh think about Mahmoud Abbas, the PA President?

Abbas is corrupt, discredited, weak and does not have much power. He is reliant on Israel, whose presence in the West Bank is ironically the only reason he has managed to stay in power.

And if Israel withdrew to the 1967 borders as demanded by Abbas and the PLO:

Abbas will collapse and Hamas will take over the West Bank in less than a day. If I were Israel, I would not give Abbas one inch of land in the West Bank – not for ideological reasons, but to avoid a situation where Hamas and others would take over the area.

When we asked him how best to defeat the extremists, radicals and terrorists like Hamas and Hizbullah, Toameh answered:

The first and most important thing is you go to the Arab governments and tell them stop the incitement that’s feeding these radicals and driving people into their hands. Sometimes there’s no difference between what is written about Israel and the Jews in the papers in Egypt and Saudi Arabia with what is written by Hamas.

Noting again the billions of dollars in aid provided by the US and EU to various Arab dictatorships, Toameh says in other words, and even clearer, they should tell them: “Stop calling for my death with my money.”

I asked Toameh about what steps were needed to move forward. According to him, the answer is “very simple” and involves the following steps:

1) The Palestinians must start investing money (provided to them mainly by the US and EU) for the welfare of their people instead of incitement. Then dismantle all militias, establish a free press and democratic institutions, end the infighting, insist on good governance and speak with one voice so at least we know who we’re talking to. And then he suggests they should go speak with Israel and see what it has to offer them.

2) Deal with the enemies of peace – if you weaken the enemies of peace, like Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, the moderates will rise and start speaking out. But as long as Iran is breathing down the neck and threatening, together with Hamas and Hizbullah, who are threatening to kill anyone who makes concessions, no moderate Arab will ever dare sign an agreement with Israel. Toameh says:

I don’t even rule out military action against any of them because this is the only language these guys understand. Talking to them and appeasing them is even more dangerous.

3) “We can’t move forward when you don’t have a clear, strong, reliable and credible partner on the Palestinian side” says Toameh. According to him: “Abbas is not a partner. He and Fayaad might be nice guys with good intentions – but they cannot deliver. So the PA are not partners because they cannot deliver and Hamas are not partners because they don’t want to be partners.”

* * *
Well done. What do you think?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christian communities and the Pope

Want to bring a bomb on board, ask a nice woman to carry it for you

A Thanksgiving Day story from the Associated Press about the disabled and air travel security sent shivers down my spine.

“For air passengers already fed up with being hauled off to the side of the security line for a pat-down or facing aggressive questions about bulky clothing or odd items in their luggage, advocates for the disabled have this to say: Welcome to our lives.
“For the disabled and infirmed — many forced to go through security lines in wheelchairs with ample hiding places for contraband, wearing prosthetic limbs that could harbor drugs or explosives or lugging oxygen tanks that could really contain god-knows-what — the added discomfort and inconvenience that many travelers are now experiencing is something they've put up with for years.”

But what really caught my eye is this-

"I didn't mind; it wasn't really that bad," 89-year-old Marquerite Aswad, who
uses a wheelchair, said Tuesday after arriving at Newark Liberty International
Airport from Fort Myers, Fla. "It was a lady, and she didn't pat me very hard.
She said, 'You look like a nice woman; I don't think you're hiding anything in

Is the TSA kidding? Looking “like a nice woman” brings gentility in the scanning or search process? What kind of stupidity is this? OK, you terrorists, get yourself an old lady in a wheelchair and get a free ride to martyrdom.

Seriously, don’t they know at the TSA training sessions that one’s level of niceness has nothing to do with the security process? Instead of forcing the wheelchair-bound into pat downs, or the removal of artificial legs, why don’t the TSA folks learn how to question people like Mrs. Aswad before they board a flight.

“How long have you lived in Fort Myers? Where did you live before? Who helped you pack your luggage? Did anyone give you anything to bring with you? Why are you traveling to Newark? Who are you visiting? Where do they live? Where are the gifts you are bringing them? Where did you buy them? Who drove you to the airport?”

These are the types of questions I’ve been asked on international air travel before and since our Muslim brothers turned American airliners into missiles. The purpose of this type of questioning is to not only hear what the traveler has to say, but to watch how he answers. It’s the style of answer—maybe you’re too pat in your reply, and the body language—maybe the glance away, that leads to further questioning and examination of your luggage and private parts.

I know it’s not going to happen soon, but maybe, just maybe, one day the folks at TSA will wake up and realize that the present system is just plain silly.

Read the full story.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Free Palestine!

Bret Stephens' column in the 11/23/10 edition of is worth reading in full.

Free Palestine!
Can Palestinians abide a single free-thinking blogger in their midst?

Should the United States offer—and Israel accept—diplomatic guarantees, plus $2 billion worth of fighter jets, for the sake of a 90-day settlement freeze? Er, no. Israel can afford the planes, or at least it can afford them better than the perception that it's getting a free ride from U.S. taxpayers. The U.S. should not put a price on things it ought not to do anyway, like recognizing a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. And bribery is generally a bad idea, particularly between friends.

Then again, bad ideas are what you get when you're operating from bad premises. Premises such as: There is a deal to be had between Israelis and Palestinians, or that the settlements are the core of the problem.

So what is the core of the problem? Consider the predicament faced by a Palestinian named Walid Husayin from the West Bank city of Qalqilya. Mr. Husayin, 26, is suspected of being the blogger known as Waleed al-Husseini and author of an essay, posted on the Proud Atheist Web site (, titled "Why I Left Islam."

The pseudonymous Husseini makes no bones about his opposition to religions generally, which he says "compete with each other in terms of stupidity." But nothing seems to exercise his indignation more than the religion he used to call his own. Islam, he writes, is "an authoritarian religion that does not respect the individual's freedom of choice, which is easily noticeable from its barbaric verdicts such as stoning the adulterous, pushing homosexuals off a cliff and killing the apostates for daring to express a different viewpoint."

And that's just Husseini getting started. The essay proceeds by way of a series of questions, such as "Is Islam a religion of tolerance?" Answer: "The sacred texts of Islam also encourage blatant war and conquest of new territories." What about equality? "Islam has legitimized slavery, reinforced the gap between social classes and allowed stealing from the infidels." Women's rights? "I have a mother, a sister and a lover and I cannot stand for them to be humiliated and stigmatized in this bone-chilling way." The prophet? "A sex maniac" who "was no different than barbaric thugs who slaughtered, robbed and raped women." And so on.

This being the Arab world, it should come as no surprise that Mr. Husayin has spent the past 24 days in detention, that he has been forbidden from receiving visitors or speaking to a lawyer, that he faces a potential life sentence, and that people in Qalqilya have called for him to be burned alive.

The systematic violation of Palestinian rights by Palestinian officials is an old story, as is the increasingly Islamist tilt of what was once supposed to be a relatively secular, progressive society. Whatever might be said in favor of freedom for Palestine, there has been to date precious little freedom in Palestine, whether in the Hamas-controlled statelet of Gaza or in the parts of the West Bank under Fatah's dominion.

That's a problem. It's also a problem that when the Associated Press covered Mr. Husayin's ordeal, reporter Diaa Hadid offered that "the Western-backed Palestinian Authority is among the more religiously liberal Arab governments in the region," and that "Husayin's high public profile and prickly style . . . left authorities no choice but to take action."

How nice to see AP reporters sticking up for free expression. Indeed, the consistent willingness of Western news organizations to downplay stories about Palestinian illiberalism and thuggery goes far to explain why so much of the world misdiagnoses the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Settlements are a convenient alibi: They foster the illusion that the conflict can be resolved by Israeli territorial concessions alone. But if that were true, Gaza would have turned peaceful the moment settlements were withdrawn five years ago. The opposite happened.

Why did Gaza become more violent, internally as well as toward Israel and Egypt, the moment it was rid of Israelis? That's the central question, and one too few observers seem willing to address for fear of where the answer might lead. Yet it ought to be self-evident. The culture of Palestinian illiberalism gave rise to the discontents that brought about civil war and then Hamas's swift rise to power. Hamas is theologically committed to Israel's destruction. That commitment is politically popular: It shapes, and limits, what even the most progressive Palestinian leaders might be willing to concede to Israel in any deal. The result is what we now have: Negotiations that are going nowhere, at an increasingly heavy price for all parties, including the United States.

Like George W. Bush before him, President Obama has observed that the U.S. can't want peace more than Israelis or Palestinians themselves do. But America can, uniquely, stand for freedom like no other country. Mr. Husayin—assuming he's the author of those blog posts—surely knew how much he risked by speaking his mind, and it's tempting to conclude he had it coming.

But if Palestinians cannot abide a single free-thinker in their midst, they cannot be free in any meaningful sense of the word. And if the U.S. can't speak up on his behalf, then neither, in the long run, can we.

If you want to read the column on-line go here but I do not guarantee the link will work because of policies.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Israel is a rogue state- I'm convinced

English universities are famous for their debating clubs and societies. It's something few American universities college have and, when they do, it's without the pomp and ceremony accompanying the mother country's.

Anyway, there was a debate last month at Cambridge University. As reported in the Jerusalem Post,
When Cambridge University’s prestigious student debating society hosted a debate last month on the motion “Israel is a rogue state,” Israel’s supporters bleakly anticipated another hostile, demonizing and divisive event, and braced, too, for acceptance of the motion in the final vote.

But the motion was surprisingly and firmly defeated, with 74 percent of the votes opposing it.
One speaker, student Gabriel Latner, spoke for the motion and demonstrated that Israel is a rogue state. For that reason, the motion was defeated.

Read the full report on-line, including portions of Latner's presentation, When Gabriel Latner turned tables on the Israel-bashers. The full text of the news story is below.

Nice going Mr. Latner.

The Jerusalem Post
When Gabriel Latner turned tables on the Israel-bashers
By Jonny Paul

Canadian law student won Cambridge University student union debate for Israel... despite losing it.

LONDON – When Cambridge University’s prestigious student debating society hosted a debate last month on the motion “Israel is a rogue state,” Israel’s supporters bleakly anticipated another hostile, demonizing and divisive event, and braced, too, for acceptance of the motion in the final vote.

But the motion was surprisingly and firmly defeated, with 74 percent of the votes opposing it.

Is Israel ‘a rogue state’? You’d better hope so

At the root of that thoroughly unexpected result was the extraordinary content of the speech delivered by one of the proposers of the motion – content that subsequently prompted students unsympathetic to Israel to protest the result and demand an apology from the Cambridge Union Society.

For Gabriel Latner, a 19-year-old, second-year law student from Toronto, advanced an argument in support of the motion that “Israel is a rogue state” that would have made any Israeli diplomat proud.

Proposing the motion was Lauren Booth, an arch anti- Israel activist and sister-in-law of the Quartet’s Middle East envoy, former prime minister Tony Blair. Booth recently converted to Islam after a religious experience on a visit to Iran.

Alongside her were Mark McDonald, founder of the group Labor Friends of Palestine, and Latner.

Opposing the motion were Ran Gidor, the Israeli Embassy’s counsellor for political affairs, Shiraz Maher, a former Islamic extremist, and and Paul Livingston, a third-year law student from Glasgow.

Since that remarkable October 21 night at the Cambridge Union Society, Latner has been celebrated by the pro- Israel camp, and vilified by the not so pro-Israel camp. His performance has been discussed heatedly on Facebook and on a range of blogs; he’s become a figure of interest on campuses; and he has been the focus on ongoing interest at the Union, which initially banned him for life for allegedly swearing at Booth at the event, then reinstated him after he apologized.

The young man himself says he has been somewhat shocked at the attention.

“The fact that a rough draft of my speech went viral surprised me, I really didn’t think anyone would care,” he told The Jerusalem Post this week. “I’ve been getting on average 15+ emails and Facebook messages a day since the debate – some positive, some not.

“I’ve been sent links to dozens of sites that carried the story and scanned copies of newspaper articles about it. I even got a call from family in Australia who read about it in their local paper. I’ve received notes from Cambridge Dons and MPs about this. I expected people in Cambridge might care, but no one outside the bubble."

So how did Latner, arguing that evening for the motion that “Israel is rogue state,” become a new hero for supporters of Israel, and a villain for the detractors? He had applied to the Cambridge Union Society, which had circulated a request for student volunteers to participate in the debate, with the offer to speak for either side, and was – rather to his surprise – invited to appear for the proposers of the motion.

He was not required to submit any of his content ahead of the event.

Latner, who said he comes from a Reconstructionist Jewish background and has been to Israel several times, including reportedly as an IDF volunteer, said he was galvanized by a strong desire to win – even though, as it turned out, “winning” on behalf of Israel meant his side losing the debate.

Describing himself as a “classical civil libertarian,” Latner set out his argument to show that Israel is indeed a “rogue state” – but in the very best sense of the term. And he did so, in a 10-minute address before the approximately 800-strong audience, by highlighting the anomalous nature of Israel.

He began as follows: “I’m tempted to do what my fellow speakers are going to do – simply rehash every bad thing the Israeli government has ever done in an attempt to satisfy those of you who agree with them.”

And indeed, he continued, “It would be so easy to twist the meaning and significance of international law to make Israel look like a criminal state. But that’s been done to death.

“It would be easier still to play to your sympathy,” he acknowledged, “with personalized stories of Palestinian suffering, and they can give very eloquent speeches on those issues. But the truth is that treating people badly, whether they’re your citizens or an occupied nation, does not make a state ‘rogue’. If it did, Canada, the US and Australia would all be rogue states based on how they treat their indigenous populations.

Britain’s treatment of the Irish would easily qualify [it] to wear this sobriquet. These arguments, while emotionally satisfying, lack intellectual rigor.”

If his direction was becoming visible at this point, Latner now made it explicit: “By the end of my speech,” he declared, “I will have presented five pro-Israel arguments that show Israel is, if not a ‘rogue state’ than at least ‘rogue-ish’. Let me be clear, I will not be arguing that Israel is ‘bad’. I will not be arguing that it doesn’t deserve to exist. I won’t be arguing that it behaves worse than every other country. I will only be arguing that Israel is ‘rogue’,” he said.

The speaker, having noted that the word “rogue” is actually “value-neutral” even though it has “come to have exceptionally damning connotations,” now highlighted the five promised areas to demonstrate the extent of that Israeli ‘rogue-ness’.

“The fact that Israel is a Jewish state alone makes it anomalous enough to be dubbed a rogue state,” was his first argument. After all, he had calculated, “the chance of any randomly chosen state being Jewish is 0.0051%.”

Next he showed how Israel’s treatment of Darfurian refugees is “anomalous.”

Asking why refugees from Darfur cross deserts to reach Israel, he continued: “Why would they take the risk? Because in Israel they are treated with compassion – they are treated as the refugees that they are – and perhaps Israel's cultural memory of genocide is to blame. The Israeli government has even gone so far as to grant several hundred Darfurian refugees citizenship. This alone sets Israel apart from the rest of the world.”

For his third argument, Latner suggested that Israel’s readiness to negotiate with terrorists complies emphatically with the dictionary definition of ‘rogue’ – “behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal.”

Sticking with the dictionary, he invoked the definition of “rogue” as “occurring at an unexpected place or time.” “When you compare Israel to its regional neighbors, it becomes clear just how roguish Israel is,” he exclaimed. “And here is the fourth argument: Israel has a better human rights record than any of its neighbors.

At no point in history has there ever been a liberal democratic state in the Middle East – except for Israel. Of all the countries in the Middle East, Israel is the only one where the LGBT community enjoys even a small measure of equality. In Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and Syria, homosexual conduct is punishable by flogging, imprisonment, or both. But homosexuals there get off pretty lightly compared to their counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, who are put to death.

“Israeli homosexuals can adopt, openly serve in the army, enter civil unions and are protected by exceptionally strongly worded ant-discrimination legislation. Beats a death sentence,” he said. “In fact, it beats America.”

For his final argument, Latner pointed to Gidor, the Israeli diplomat, who was present as the lead speaker of the opposing side, arguing against the motion.

“Ran Gidor’s presence here is the all evidence any of us should need to confidently call Israel a rogue state,” he asserted.

“Consider, for a moment, what his presence here means. The Israeli government has signed off to allow one of their senior diplomatic representatives to participate in a debate on their very legitimacy. That’s remarkable.

“Do you think for a minute, that any other country would do the same?” he asked. “If the Yale University Debating Society were to have a debate where the motion was ‘This house believes Britain is a racist, totalitarian state that has done irrevocable harm to the peoples of the world,’ [do you think] that Britain would allow any of its officials to participate? No. Would China participate in a debate about the status of Taiwan? Never.

“And there is no chance in hell that an American government official would ever be permitted to argue in a debate concerning its treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay,” he said.

Speaking to the Post this week, Latner stressed that “My speech wasn’t motivated by ‘pro-Israel’ or ‘anti-Palestinian’ sentiment.

I’m not an Islamophobe, even though some Islamophobes who read my speech think I am. I’m not a neo-conservative, even though critics of my speech think I am, as do some of my supporters. I’m all about freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and freedom in general. I’m a civil libertarian, and a fan of democracy,” he said.

“The philosophical underpinning of my support for Israel, and for the Palestinians for that matter, isn’t based on my Jewishness or any historical arguments: I believe that each person has an innate right to self-determination, and national, cultural, regional or political groups have the right to exercise that personal autonomy as a collective.

"Zionism, as well as Palestinian national aspirations, is simply an expression of the underlying philosophical maxim that people are born free and that each of us has the right to plot our individual course through life,” he added.

In the aftermath of the debate, a group of student union societies – which included the Palestinian, Socialist Workers, Arab, Islam, Pakistan and Turkish societies – sent a letter of protest to Cambridge Union Society President James Counsell.

“How can the Union justify inviting a speaker who clearly lacks any credibility to speak on behalf of the proposition?” they asked in the letter. “Who was responsible for selecting Latner to be on the program? Undermining the fairness of debate in such a fashion can only have negative consequences for the reputation and credibility of the Union itself.”

Calling for an investigation, the signatories said: “Our issue is not with the outcome of the debate, but with the unprofessional manner in which the debate itself took place. The events which transpired undermined its credibility, and also that of the Union. As such a prestigious and renowned society, we are perturbed by the fact that the basic values that the Union stands for were not upheld. It shows a great deal of disrespect to Union members and the other speakers involved in this debacle.”

The signatories also called for “a full and unreserved public apology for the offence caused by sanctioning a debate that lacked the basic and necessary prerequisites of balance and fairness, and for the lack of respect that entails to the members of the Cambridge Union... In addition, we would like assurances that for future events an equal opportunity is given to the relevant societies in suggesting speakers that best represent their cause.”

But the Cambridge Union itself said it had received “no letters from any groups regarding the phrasing of the motion prior to the debate.”

It noted: “The Cambridge Union tries to spark interest amongst its membership by producing pithy motions, as is evident from other debates this term such as ‘Is Islam a Threat to the West,’ and ‘This House Hates Human Rights.’ However, the caliber of our guest speakers should dispel any notion that we seek to simplify extremely complex contemporary issues.”

Other students praised Latner’s speech and the event itself.

“I think Gabriel’s speech was really wellinformed,” the Union’s President-Elect Lauren Davidson told the independent student newspaper Varsity. “The Union exists to provide a platform for free speech, and so we don’t check speeches in advance. In almost all our debates, speakers from each side twist the motion and it’s usually thought very clever and funny.”

Davidson added, “The motion was not asking ‘Is this house pro or anti-Israel?’ It was asking whether Israel is a rogue state, which Gabriel argued exactly according to the motion. So, he was not arguing for the wrong side.”

Incidentally, Latner said he’s now running for the presidency of the Union.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Don’t touch my junk! Charles Krauthammer tells you why

According to Krauthammer,

The only reason we tolerate the airport security hassle is that people are too cowed to question the absurd taboo against profiling.

He's right.

We've been cowed too long and need to state the obvious--Arab Muslims brought us airplane hijackings and airborne murder as a political statement. Show me a septuagenarian with a bomb strapped to his or her backside and I'll change my opinion.

We have to thank John Tyner for calling attention to the stupidity of present airline screening procedures by announcing clearly and loudly, "don't touch my junk" as we was about to have a thorough pat-down before boarding a flight. According to Krauthammer,
Don’t touch my junk is the anthem of the modern man, the teaparty patriot, the
late-life libertarian, the midterm election voter.
He's right, it's time to call a spade a spade, put political correctness to the side and do a little profiling in order to catch the next would be terrorist and let us regular folk get to the airport gate a little bit earlier.

Read the full Krauthammer column as it appeared in the Jerusalem Post, Don’t touch my junk!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Michael Gerson gets it right on Eric Holder and terror trials

About a year ago we wrote of the American government’s decision, announced by Attorney General Eric Holder, that terror suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay would be tried in civilian courts. We thought it would be a disaster, and it turns out we were right. The first Guantanamo Bay prisoner tried in civilian court beat the U.S. last week when a jury of our peers convicted him of 1 out of 200 plus charges arising from the 1998 African embassy bombings.

Michael Gerson, writing in the Washington Post, takes Holder and the Obama Administration to task for using the civilian court to try Ahmed Ghailani and losing the case. (A minor conviction was gotten.)

The case of embassy bomber Ahmed Ghailani - the only Guantanamo Bay detainee the Obama administration has brought to trial in the United States - was intended to increase public faith in civilian prosecutions. But a terrorist hugging his lawyers in victory can’t be considered a confidence builder. Days before the Ghailani verdict, the White House admitted that Mohammed, because of massive, public resistance, would not be seeing the inside of a Manhattan courtroom anytime soon. “Gitmo,” one official told The Washington Post, “is going to remain open for the foreseeable future.”

We’ve been personally through this type of trial before. The case of Sami Al-Arian. The weaknesses in both cases was pretty much the same-- the trial took place years after the event in question, many charges were brought, and the evidence is confusing. In my opinion, more than the layperson can digest.

So, Gerson asks the question,

Where do these developments leave Holder, for whom failure is not only an option but a habit? A recent profile by Wil Hylton in GQ attempts to put his tenure in the best possible light - the lonely, naive man of principle undone by politics. But the portrait is unintentionally devastating. Holder clearly views the war on terrorism as a distraction. “The biggest surprise I’ve had in this job,” he told Hylton, “is how much time the national security issues take.”


By insisting on civilian trials for terrorists, the Obama-Holder team embarked on a dangerous course of action. Obama needs a way to back off this course and get the next trials before military tribunals, where they belong.

National security is not a traffic infraction violation. It’s life and death stuff and we should learn to play by the rules need for it. And that’s what I think.

Read the full Op-ed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lincoln University harboring anti-Semite?

Lincoln University is the “first degree granting historically black university” located in southeastern Pennsylvania. It also harbors a radical anti-Semite on its faculty, Pakistani-born Kaukab Siddique.

Why do I think he’s an anti-Semite? Watch this video.

Siddique and his anti-Israel, Holocaust denying is the subject of an op-ed by Richard L. Cravatts, PhD. in the Jewish Press. He asks, "should academic free speech accommodate Holocaust denial?"

If you scratch a Holocaust denier long enough, you may reveal an anti-Semite, but not always. You will, however, probably find someone like the morally repellant Kaukab Siddique, a Pakistani-born tenured associate professor of English and journalism at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, who seemingly puts great faith in conspiratorial dramas in which a crafty and all-powerful enemy (i.e., Jews) weaves oft-repeated claims about the Holocaust just to elicit the world's sympathy and promote Zionism and the creation of Israel.

Siddique has been embroiled in an intellectual firestorm ever since his paroxysms of hatred toward Israel were exposed in a video taken during his appearance at a Labor Day rally in Washington and posted by The Investigative Project and reported on by the Christian Broadcasting Network. Siddique was filmed crying out to the crowd: "I say to the Muslims, 'Dear brothers and sisters, unite and rise up against this hydra-headed monster which calls itself Zionism...we must stand united to defeat, to destroy, to dismantle Israel, if possible [apparently not necessarily] by peaceful means."

It seems that Lincoln University will take no action because the above language was uttered at a non-university event. So what?

Imagine for a moment that a tenured professor at Lincoln was discovered to be a white nationalist, with his postings sprinkled on the pages of a hatesite such as in which he railed, as visitors to that odious site do, against the dangers of non-whites to white culture, the harm non-whites do to society through criminality, high birthrates, and low morals, and the overall superiority of the white race to other groups.

Ask yourself, would that professor long survive at Lincoln University? I don't think so. But Lincoln University is not going to take action in the case of Siddique.

Therefore, I think it right that we complain to the Lincoln University administration about its refusal to address adquately Siddique's remarks and his continued presence on campus.

Read the full Op-ed.

That's what I think.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Don't look at us, says Sikh

An item in today's New York Times about the needs for Sikhs to remove their turbans for pre-flight searches caught my eye because of this line,

“While you’re spending that much time on Sikh Americans, who have absolutely no incidents of terrorism in the country, other people are getting through,” Jasjit Singh said.

OK, here's a guy who calls it as it is. The "it" is, of course, the root cause for the need for travelers to be searched before boarding flights, Muslim terrorists.

It is Arab and Muslim terrorists who have brought the curse of body scans and searches upon us. It started with the Palestinians who hijacked airliners in their self-proclaimed war with Israel and the West, and it's now Muslim Islamists who use airlines to wreak havoc upon unsuspecting civilians.

But the Sikhs? What's done them in? Well, their turbans may not be susceptible to accurate scanning even with the new body scanners. And so,

Three national Sikh advocacy and civil rights organizations have said federal transportation officials plan to always search turbans at airport screening stations, even if wearers pass through state-of-the-art body imaging scanners.

Lots of luck to our Sikh neighbors.

Read the full news report.

Go here for more information on Sikhim.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Palestinians and their Arab brothers

For a fellow with a PhD. in history, Abu Mazen, can't seem to get his facts (or sentiments) straight. While in Kuwait to build support for the Palestinian Authority's decision to avoid negotiations with Israel, he said,
"Kuwaiti-Palestinian relations are historical and excellent. It is a great honor for us that the Fatah movement was launched in Kuwait."
Does he have amnesia?  Where was he when Kuwait expelled thousands upon thousands of Palestinian Arabs from the country following the Gulf War.  (That was the war when missile attacks by Iraq against Israel were greeted by parties in the streets of Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank.)

Author Hassan A El-Najjar writes
Following the 1991 Gulf War, Palestinians in Kuwait were reduced from a thriving immigrant community of more than 400,000 to less than 30,000 in 1998. Kuwaitis forced them out of the country using a systematic and violent campaign of ethnic cleansing. The Palestinian official support for Iraq during the crisis was used as an excuse for that campaign.

So, with friends like the Kuwaitis who needs enemies. Rather than tour the Middle East gathering support for his policy of delaying negotiations, he should be sitting down with the people who can resolve his problems for once and all time--the Israelis.

Well, that's what I think.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Riverdale bombers were no dupes--Editorial -

There is good news and bad news coming out of the conviction of the would-be synagogue bombers this week. From the New York Post:

Good news this week: Four Muslim converts who plotted to bomb a pair of Riverdale synagogues and shoot down military planes were convicted.

The bad news: Activists are turning the "Newburgh 4" into a cause célébre -- a
supposedly hapless squad of dimwits armed with fake explosives, arrested by the
feds before they did any harm.

Dimwits we'll buy, but that doesn't make them innocent. Even idiots can detonate explosives -- and this dangerous crew showed an unseemly eagerness to enlist in jihad.

And they're not alone.

The Post makes a good point when it compares these guys to others that the US has caught, prosecuted and convicted- the Newburgh 4 are home grown.

They're being grown in American prisons where Islam is the religion of choice among the violent and the gullible, and in mosques around the country. (Watch "My Name is Khan" to see how it happens.)

In any event, one could only hope that this is the last case that ever comes our way, but we know that's not going to be true.

Read the full editorial - Riverdale bombers were no dupes.

Well, that's what I have to say.

Stephen M. Flatow

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Letter to Editor of Star-Ledger

Readers of Terror Victims Voice read my post about an op-ed written by Pete McDonough Jr. regarding the effect of Israeli security checkpoints. I sent a letter to the editor of the Star-Ledger that was printed today. Here's the letter as published.

"Humiliation vs. security

Pete McDonough Jr. writes in “On West Bank, humiliation is constant” (Oct 8): “Ask any Palestinian on the streets of Ramallah to describe his or her life, especially those who travel around the occupied territory, and ‘humiliation’ is among the first words uttered.”

Now, I don’t have any objection to my money going to educate others around the world, and the Palestinians can, in my opinion, use a lot of education when it comes to public relations. However, when that teacher, in this case McDonough, enters the political fray of the Middle East, he’s out of his league.

Yes, there are checkpoints in the West Bank, but McDonough fails to ask why they are there. In case he doesn’t know, they are there to reduce the threat of suicide bombings and other serious attacks in Israel. And by all indications, the checkpoints are working.

McDonough admits that the “conflict is more than anyone could hope to understand in a short visit, even one involving meeting with cabinet ministers and other ranking government officials.”
New Jersey politics may be rough and tumble, as McDonough knows, but it doesn’t result in suicide bombings, ambushes, knife attacks and military retaliation. Yes, the situation is “complicated,” and until he learns the difference between sitting shiva for a murdered terror victim (as I did for my daughter) and humiliation suffered at a checkpoint, I think McDonough would do us a service if he kept his comments to himself. "

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where are their parents?

If there is to be peace in the Middle East, there has to be respect. As you will see from the video below, a car is set up for attack by rock throwing Arab children in the presence of the media. The news then reports,
Two Palestinian children in eastern Jerusalem were hit by a car driven by a settler leader after they threw rocks at the vehicle.

David Be'eri, the director of Elad, a nonprofit organization that runs the City of David and helps move Jews into homes in Silwan, told Israeli media that he accidentally hit the children after the car came under attack from rocks thrown by several children on the morning of Oct. 8.

A video of the incident shows the car swerving to avoid hitting a child standing in the street and then plowing into the other two. The Palestinian boys reportedly sustained leg injuries. The back window of Be'eri's car was smashed.

Jerusalem police questioned Be'eri.
David Be'eri is no wild eyed fanatic, he's an anthropologist. You can see that he ran for his life after the accident because to stop would have brought him harm.

So, where are the parents of these boys? Maybe they should be questioned by social workers for their shameful lack of parental supervision.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A dead end in Dubai

We previously wrote about the assassination of Hamas murderer, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, in Dubai.

Well, there seems to have been a break in the case after all this time. The identity of one of his alleged killers has been uncovered by the Dubai police. Unfortunately for Dubai's gendarmes, the man has been dead since 1973.

The Jerusalem Post, citing a story in the Wall Street Journal, writes,

“In cooperation with Interpol, British and French police, Dubai police were on
the trail of one of the alleged assassins of senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud
al-Mabhouh. The man reportedly entered Dubai under a British passport with the
name "Christopher Lockwood." However, they discovered that the man's "real" name was Yehuda Lustig and that he had changed it in 1994 to the more Anglicized
"Christopher Lockwood," according to the Journal's report.”

“According to the Defense Ministry, the real Lustig died in a battle along the Suez Canal during the war, as yet another lead pursued by Dubai police chief Lt.-Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim leads to a dead end.”

Sounds like something out of the French Revolution segment of History of the World, Part I. Mel Brooks fans will know what I mean.

Read the full report.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Humiliation versus murder, which do you choose?

Pete McDonough, Jr., a former press agent for NJ Governor Christine Whitman, has just returned from the Middle East as an American paid PR consultant to the Palestinian Authority.

His taxpayer paid trip resulted in a column appearing in the Star-Ledger, “For Palestinians, daily humiliation.”

“Ask any Palestinian on the streets of Ramallah to describe his or her life, especially those who travel around the occupied territory, and “humiliation” is among the first words uttered.”

Now, I don’t have any objection to my money going to educate others around the world, and the Palestinians can, in my opinion, use a lot of education when it comes to PR. However, when that teacher, in this case McDonough, enters the political fray, I think he’s crossed the line.

“Travel in the region for Palestinians always involves being stopped at checkpoints, ushered out of their cars and through narrow inspection points before being allowed to go from one part of their country to another.”[“Country?” The P.A. was offered one in 2000 but turned it down.-Ed.]

“As an American with in a consular vehicle, the checkpoints are no bother. If I were Palestinian, I could look forward to possibly being detained and searched for no reason other than my nationality and route of travel.” [The checkpoints exist to stop murderers from entering Israel. Their success is well documented.-Ed.]

“The stories from Palestinians I worked with bear an unsettling resemblance to the tales of racial profiling in states throughout our own country. The profiling in Palestine, though every bit as dehumanizing is omnipresent.” [Young boys and women are recruited as suicide bombers. –Ed.]

“Had I spent the last week working with Israeli officials, I have no doubt that they would have just as profoundly opened my eyes to the daily threats that their own people suffer through. I have no reason to expect that those threats are any less pervasive or pernicious than the humiliation experienced by Palestinians. The Arab-Israeli conflict is more than anyone could hope to understand in a short visit, even one involving meeting with cabinet ministers and other ranking government officials.” [So, he didn’t ask any questions about why the checkpoints exist? –Ed.]

“The situation is even more complicated by the political pressures to which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is subjected by hardliners in his government who insist that he not budge at all on plans to resume the expansion of settlements, and by the irrational demands of Hamas extremists who insist that Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas reject any peace negotiations unless Israelis withdraw completely from any and all occupied territory.”

New Jersey politics may be rough and tumble as McDonough knows, but it doesn’t result in suicide bombings and military retaliation. Yes, Mr. McDonough, the situation is “complicated” and until you learn the difference between sitting shiva for a murdered terror victim (as I did) and humiliation suffered at a checkpoint, I think you should keep your comments to yourself.

Read the full column.

Well, that's what I have to say.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

From the IPT - CAIR, Academic Scheme to Inflate Book Sales

The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) has uncovered a link between CAIR and a University of Chicago professor to boost sales of his recent book on terrorism.

University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape, whose research finds religious extremism has a limited role in suicide bombings, is working secretly with a suspected Hamas front to pump up sales of his new book, the Investigative Project on Terrorism has learned. That includes a secret agreement by CAIR to have its chapters around the country to buy them in bulk so they can manipulate the sales to move up the bestseller ranks. Pape is also scheduled to appear at this weekend's national banquet for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
"Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It," is Pape's latest project touting his thesis that religion is not a prime factor in suicide bombings. Rather, it is a response to occupation, he argues. That's appealing to CAIR, which court records show was part of a Hamas-support network in the United States. Prosecutors say CAIR, which touts itself as the nation's leading Muslim civil rights organization, never withdrew from the conspiracy to support Hamas politically and financially. And the FBI cut off communication with CAIR in 2008, saying it won't resume until "we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS."

Terror's supporters can be found on college campuses around the country. Read the full story CAIR, Academic Scheme to Inflate Book Sales.

Well, that's what I have to say.

Stephen M. Flatow

Monday, October 4, 2010

Israel hacking Iranian computers? Not a new war tactic.

From the New York Times, two stories about a computer worm that has been directed at Iranian computers involved in Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. Shades of the code breakers of World War II!

From September 29th,

“Deep inside the computer worm that some specialists suspect is aimed at slowing Iran’s race for a nuclear weapon lies what could be a fleeting reference to the Book of Esther, the Old Testament tale in which the Jews preempt a Persian plot to destroy them.
“That use of the word “Myrtus” — which can be read as an allusion to Esther — to name a file inside the code is one of several murky clues that have emerged as computer experts try to trace the origin and purpose of the rogue Stuxnet program, which seeks out a specific kind of command module for industrial equipment. [The Hebrew word hadas which forms the basis of the name Hadassah, commonly used as a substitute for Esther, means myrtle, a kind of plant. Ed.]

So what’s so terrible? Nothing in my book if it the worm serves to slow down, if not derail Iran’s drive for a bomb. As for the Israelis,

“Not surprisingly, the Israelis are not saying whether Stuxnet has any connection to the secretive cyberwar unit it has built inside Israel’s intelligence service. Nor is the Obama administration, which while talking about cyberdefenses has also rapidly ramped up a broad covert program, inherited from the Bush administration, to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. In interviews in several countries, experts in both cyberwar and nuclear enrichment technology say the Stuxnet mystery may never be solved.”
The follow-up story came on October 2nd.

In a good discussion on the roots of cyber warfare, they have to come back to the original thesis that Israel was behind the Stuxnet attack.
“But many military and intelligence analysts, including several with direct knowledge of Israeli intelligence operations, have said it is unlikely that either an Israeli or United States operation would leave such blatant clues. That leaves the possibility that someone wanted to plant evidence pointing incorrectly to Israeli involvement. Most computer security specialists say the authorship of the program may never be discovered.”

Bottom line- Who cares about the Times' take on the root of the worm? What's good about this worm is that it demonstrates it's still good war planning to be screwing with your enemy’s head. The Allies did it in WWII, why not the West now?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When the punishment fits the crime

Writing in the Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby writes "Ultimate evil calls for ultimate penalty."

"ELECTED OFFICIALS don't usually acknowledge wanting to torture people in dark alleys, so it made news recently when Boston Mayor Thomas Menino expressed such a wish during a talk at Emerson College.
"Menino had been speaking about the murder of Richel Nova, a Domino's pizza delivery driver who was brutally stabbed to death after being lured to an abandoned house in Hyde Park on Sept. 2. The suspects charged with Nova's late-night slaughter -- two teens and a 20-year-old -- are accused of lying in wait with knives, stabbing him repeatedly in the chest and throat, and rifling his pockets for money as he lay dying. Then, prosecutors say, the three drove off in Nova's car and ate most of the pizza from its blood-stained box."
"Maybe you guys can tell me," he said to the Emerson students, "what do they think when they do that? Don't they think life is worth anything?"

"A student asked Menino whether the three suspects ought to be tried in a state that, unlike Massachusetts, authorizes the death penalty.

"I'm not in favor of the death penalty," he answered. The death penalty is "a hot-button issue that doesn't solve anything. . . It's unfair. I just don't think the death penalty is the way to go."
Now Menino gets in trouble, he says,

"If I saw these guys in a dark alley, I'd like to have a fight with them," the mayor said. "I'd do some things that would be worse than the death penalty. . . . I would slowly torture them."
Torture, Mr. Mayor? You can imagine what comes next, the stuff hit the fan. Prosecutors, fearing that Menino had tainted any possible jury selection, forced him to retract his statement about torture. According to Jacoby,

“But the mayor took back the wrong words. It is his blanket opposition to the death penalty he ought to rethink, not his healthy and perfectly understandable urge to give Nova's killers a taste of the unspeakable evil they inflicted on their victim. It may not have been very genteel to speculate out loud about making the perpetrators suffer, but Menino was only giving voice to an innate and normal human craving: the desire to see justice done, to see those who prey on the weak or innocent get what they deserve.”
Where and when, in Massachusetts and other states that have outlawed the death penalty, does the punishment fit the crime? And what does that absence of punishment do to the rest of society?

To read what Jacoby has to say, go here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hamas video threatening Gilad Shalit

Hamas posted a video of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit on Youtube on Monday, suggesting he would be killed if a deal was not soon reached.

In the animated video, two masked men are shown standing on either side of Gilad Schalit in a dark room, with one of them holding an AK-47 assualt rifle.

From the folks at Hamas. At the end of the 24-second video, gun shots are heard as the movie goes black and the words "Is the mission completed?" are seen written in Arabic.

Sad, very sad.

Stephen M. Flatow

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

From Israel a Christmas Blessing by President Shimon Peres

Israel's president Shimon Peres extends Christmas wishes to Israel's Christian community; a growing one at that.

I give him credit and that's what I have to say.
Stephen M. Flatow

Monday, September 20, 2010

Israel and solar power

A side of Israel many people don't see - its technology side.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Frida Ghitis - "Middle East peace requires courage"

Frida Ghitis writing in the Miami Herald - "Middle East peace requires courage"

One of the most extraordinary moments in recent Middle East history came in 1993, when the world discovered that Israeli and Palestinian teams had held secret peace talks. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, formerly sworn enemies, came together on the White House lawn, formalizing their commitment to peace. The decision, and that memorably awkward hand-shake, prodded along by President Bill Clinton, required uncommon courage. They called it the Peace of the Brave. [Ed. - Yes, they did and it gave rise to a new vocabulary, such as, a Sacrifice for the Peace, to describe the murders of innocent civilians such as Alisa Flatow.]
The term deserves dusting off because it highlights one of the key requirements for peace, and one whose absence could prove the undoing of the new effort unfolding under U.S. sponsorship. Bravery, courage, are indispensable because no matter how comforting the idea of peace, reaching an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is a frighteningly dangerous process.

To reach a deal, the leaders -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas -- must make compromises that will break the hearts of millions of their followers. They will have to accept terms that will anger some enough that they will kill. And they will have to sign on to borders that could make their land -- especially in Israel's case -- vulnerable to unthinkable risks.

The euphoric events of 1993 gave way to disappointment, but they also helped draw the blueprint guiding the new quest for peace.

No one claims the new effort suffers from unrealistic expectations. Skepticism about its chances for success prevails. I call it skepticism and not pessimism, because many who claim peace is impossible in fact hope for failure. By their standards, they are optimistic.

When the leaders of Iran, Hamas or Hezbollah say the process will fail they remind us of their plan. Their solution is the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a fundamentalist Muslim regime; an alternative, backed by weapons, militias and money, that looms over the peace talks like a thick dark shadow, but also provides some of the impetus to persevere.

Ironically, the negotiating sides already agree on the solution's rough outlines. With the possible exception of the future of Jerusalem, everyone knows what is required for peace.

Even more frustrating is that the subject of closest agreement has become the most contentious. Partly because of missteps by the Obama administration, the issue of settlements has moved front and center and could provide a timid Mahmoud Abbas a way out of the talks. Abbas says without a settlement freeze he will pull out. Netanyahu says that, like all other differences, this should be resolved "through direct continuous talks.''

Already in the Clinton days that problem was essentially solved. Settlements take up about 4 percent of the disputed land. Most settlers live on a few large blocs, which in an agreement would be swapped for equal amounts of land within Israel proper.

To be sure, tough disagreements remain. But a basic obstacle to peace today is that Abbas, the Palestinian representative, appears to lack the power, the legitimacy and, yes, the courage, to close a deal.

Abbas, who rules only over the West Bank, asked for permission not just from Palestinians but from the Arab League, to start negotiations. When talks started in Washington, Hamas, which controls Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians, signaled its rejection by murdering more Israelis. The London-based Arab newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi editorialized that Abbas "negotiates without being granted the authorization to do so by his people.''

Adding irony to this sad situation, majorities of Palestinians and Israelis desperately want a peace deal. Contrary to what an ill-informed article in Time recently argued, Israelis are eager for peace. For years a vast majority of Israelis has expressed strong support for a two-state solution. A recent War and Peace Index poll found 80 percent support negotiations, easily outnumbering opponents of compromise.

A majority of Palestinians also back negotiations. But in the Arab world, public opinion carries less weight. Writing in the influential Arab daily Ashar al-Awsat, Mamoun Fandy wrote, ``The Palestinian division is not simply an internal one, as some may think, but is first an Arab division, and secondly a regional one.'' Even if Abbas achieved an agreement, he argued, he would find much of the Arab world pressuring Palestinians to reject it.

That's why Abbas announced shortly after leaving Washington that, "I can't allow myself to make even one concession.'' If he meant that, the new peace process is already over. Clearly, these are not the words from a man with the courage to make the peace of the brave. But then, Arafat ultimately lost his nerve. Maybe Abbas can find his.

Read the column on-line.

I know that Netanyahu has made previous decisions that did not rest well with sectors of his political support, but he made them anyway. Abbas, considered a terrorist by Yitzhak Rabin, does not, in my opinion, have either the willingness or the guts to make similar decisions. Will we back to base one again? The next days and weeks will tell.

What do you think?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Building a mosque near Ground Zero - opinions for and against

Sunday’s edition of the Asbury Park Press contains dueling op-eds on the proposed construction of a mosque near the World Trade Center site. The op-eds are written by Aref Assaf, president of the American Arab Forum located in Paterson, NJ, who is in favor of the mosque’s construction, and John Skoufis, a retired chemist who lives in Denville, NJ, who is not in favor of its construction.

Mr. Assaf frequently writes about Palestinian issues and finds it hard to condemn terrorism unequivocally. I had not read anything by Mr. Skoufis before today but a Google search indicates he brings a “conservative” approach to many issues.

Assaf begins,

“President Barack Obama's remarks supporting the right to build a mosque near ground zero reverberated across the country, nationalizing a passionate debate over the project. The dispute is the most prominent in a series of debates around the country where Muslims have sought to build mosques.”

[A comment from your editor, Mr. Obama’s support was tempered by his questioning the smartness of building a mosque so close to Ground Zero. This is a typical Assaf ploy. But enough from me.]

He continues

"Shamefully, Republican leaders and right-wing media pundits have made it their objective to use the issue not only to undermine public support for Obama but as a tool in the upcoming midterm elections. Gratefully, a few Republican leaders have sided with what's right. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have decided that scapegoating American Muslims was, in fact, too costly politically."

Read the full op-ed.

This is from John Skoufis,

"The proposed building of a mosque/cultural center near ground zero has engendered vociferous debate from extremists on both sides of the issue. One side tries to marginalize opponents by portraying them as bigots and Islamophobes while the other side makes unfounded claims that all Muslims are terrorists.

"We need to tune both out and discuss, rationally, our position.

"I will leave it to others to make their case for condemning those who object to this building. But the siren cry of bigotry and First Amendment and legal rights do not suffice since the vast majority, more than 70 percent, believe this mosque has both legal and constitutional rights to build while simultaneously objecting to the location. Some 70 percent of Americans cannot be labeled as bigots or against religious freedom."

Read the full op-ed.

What do you think?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Will Palestinian cult of death destroy hope of peace?

As many others were in the early 1990s, I was optimistic that peace would come to Israelis and Palestinians with the signing of the Oslo Accords. I was woken from my reverie by the attack in which Alisa was murdered. It took several years more for mainstream folks to understand the implications of what the late Israeli Prime Minister personally told my wife and I,
"Yassir Arafat was a terrorist, is a terrorist, will always be a terrorist, and is surrounded by terrorists."
With the so-called "direct negotiations" about to take place between the two sides, the recently made threats by Jibril Rajoub and Ahmed Qurei to renew attacks against Israeli civilians, must thoroughly dampen, if not eliminate, any optimism that this new round of negotiations will have the desired result.

We previously wrote about the naming of a square in a Palestinian city after a mass murderer. They've just done that again. This worship of murderers is sick and I can think of no other society that does it so well. How do you reconcile yourself with people who glorify those who killed your children?

It says on the Jerusalem Post editorial page,
The Israeli government, with mainstream support, has signalled that it will consider the painful concessions necessary for a viable accord – provided that the PA, for the first time, both internalizes Israel’s sovereign legitimacy and emphasizes that legitimacy to its own people, creating the climate for mutual compromise and long-term reconciliation.
If only the Palestinian leadership will meet them half-way.

That's what I think.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tom Friedman - let's try some constructive criticism

In case you missed Tom Friedman's column in the Sunday Times, read it now.

I've long been an admirer of Israeli filmmakers. They have an ability to touch the heart of an issue without melodrama and without finger pointing. So, when Friedman writes about a film, "Precious Life," he got my curiosity up.

The film is a documentary about Israeli medical efforts to save the life of a young Palestinian child from Gaza. From there, the story gets more interesting and I want you to read Friedman's column to get the gist of the movie.

I have been to Israeli hospitals. And I have seen first hand that they treat all patients-- Jews, Arabs, Christians, Muslims, Druze and all others-- with equanimity and first rate medical care. It's a far cry from medical treatment in other Middle Eastern countries. All that Friedman writes about medical care is true.

What disturbs Friedman today is the lack of constructive criticism when speaking of Israel and he raises one key point-- everyone there is open to it.

But there are two kinds of criticism. Constructive criticism starts by making clear: “I know what world you are living in.” I know the Middle East is a place where Sunnis massacre Shiites in Iraq, Iran kills its own voters, Syria allegedly kills the prime minister next door, Turkey hammers the Kurds, and Hamas engages in indiscriminate shelling and refuses to recognize Israel. I know all of that. But Israel’s behavior, at times, only makes matters worse — for Palestinians and Israelis. If you convey to Israelis that you understand the world they’re living in, and then criticize, they’ll listen.

As Friedman explains,

Destructive criticism closes Israeli ears. It says to Israelis: There is no context that could explain your behavior, and your wrongs are so uniquely wrong that they overshadow all others. Destructive critics dismiss Gaza as an Israeli prison, without ever mentioning that had Hamas decided — after Israel unilaterally left Gaza — to turn it into Dubai rather than Tehran, Israel would have behaved differently, too. Destructive criticism only empowers the most destructive elements in Israel to argue that nothing Israel does matters, so why change?

How about everybody take a deep breath, pop a copy of “Precious Life” into your DVD players, watch this documentary about the real Middle East, and if you still want to be a critic (as I do), be a constructive one. A lot more Israelis and Palestinians will listen to you.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

U.S. Muslim leaders turn-in wannabe terrorists

14 people have been indicted by the U.S. for

“funneling “money, personnel and services” to the Shabab, the Islamist terrorist group fighting an insurgency in Somalia.”
According to The NY Times,
“The newly unsealed indictments included charges against two women arrested Thursday in Rochester, Minn., who are accused of raising money and sending it to the Shabab, as well as charges against Omar Hammami, an Alabama man who has appeared in videos promoting the group and is believed to have become a crucial Shabab figure.”

What’s interesting about the news is the high level of cooperation between Muslim leaders and U.S. law enforcement officials.

According to IPT News,

“Federal law enforcement officials are praising Somali-Americans for their help in an investigation which resulted in the indictment Thursday of 14 people on charges of providing money, services and personnel to the terrorist organization al-Shabaab. A large part of the credit goes to Abdirizak Bihi, a Somali community leader in Minneapolis who persevered despite opposition from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and hostile mosque leaders.”
That’s welcome news because it shows that there are Muslim leaders who don’t fall under the sway of CAIR.

Attorney General, Eric H. Holder Jr. said,

“The indictments unsealed today shed further light on a deadly pipeline that has routed funding and fighters to the Al Shabab terror organization from cities across the United States. These arrests and charges should serve as an unmistakable warning to others considering joining terrorist groups like Al Shabab — if you choose this route, you can expect to find yourself in a U.S. jail cell or a casualty on the battlefield in Somalia.”
Strong words from Mr. holder, let’s see if they hold up.

For more on Al Shabab, go here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

There's no room for a double standard on anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism, not "the occupation, lies at the root of terrorism directed at Jews in Israel and around the world. So what happens when a Hollywood player, Oliver Stone, reveals his anti-Semitism?

Jeff Jacoby, writing in the Boston Globe and on his website compares the reaction to Mel Gibson's tirade against Jews to Oliver Stone's. He asks, "is there a double standard?"
LATE IN JULY, a Hollywood honcho uncorks a blast of anti-Semitic bile, the sort of malignant stereotype about Jews one might expect from David Duke or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Is that newsworthy?
It certainly was in 2006, when Mel Gibson, arrested in Malibu for drunken driving, demanded to know whether the arresting deputy was Jewish, and then launched into an anti-Semitic rant: "F-----g Jews," he raged. "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."
Calls went out for folks to boycott Gibson movies and to never work with him again. More than 1,000 news items were filed in the week after the incident.

Now, turn to Oliver Stone, the most recent prominent Hollywood figure to blame Jews for the world's ills and "Jewish domination of the media". One week later, less than 150 items have been posted. "On ABC, CBS, and NBC, the news shows completely ignored the story. The New York Times restricted its coverage to two short items in its "Arts, Briefly" section -- and few other papers ran even that much.

No widespread calls for a boycott of Stone and his work.

So, Jacoby wonders,
Gibson and Stone are both guilty of indulging in rank anti-Semitism (for which both promptly "apologized"), but only Gibson was buried under a newsroom avalanche of outrage and disgust. What explains that glaring difference? Surely the media don't think Jew-baiting is intolerable only when it comes from a right-wing Christian like Gibson. Surely they wouldn't overlook Stone's noxious rant just because he is a pluperfect left-wing activist.

Surely that can't be the explanation for so disgraceful a double standard.

Can it?

Oh, yes it can. And that's what I think.