Sunday, August 12, 2018

It’s not ‘anti-Arab’ to criticize an Arab supporter of terrorism

My column from JNS.ORG about western Jewish liberal reaction to events in Israel.

It’s not ‘anti-Arab’ to criticize an Arab supporter of terrorism

Eight Jewish organizations this week signed a public statement accusing Israel of being, in effect, a racist state. Seven of them were left-of-center groups whose harsh criticism of Israel is old news. But one of them was the National Council of Jewish Women, a venerable American Jewish organization that ordinarily does not associate itself with such vile smears of the Jewish state.

The statement, distributed on July 31 as an Internet advertisement, accused “the Prime Minister and Government Ministers” of Israel of engaging in “shameful and dangerous incitement” against Israel’s Arab citizens.

That is an extremely serious charge. A regime that deliberately incites hatred against citizens of a particular ethnic and racial group is behaving on the moral level of some of the worst authoritarian regimes in memory.

So what’s the evidence? Where’s the proof that the Israeli government has degenerated into a mob of racist inciters?
The declaration cites three pieces of “evidence.”
The first refers to an incident in April. An Israeli news report claimed that some fans at a soccer game in the Israeli Arab village of Sakhnin refused to stand, or even booed, during a moment of silence for Israeli victims of a recent flood. The article was then posted on the Facebook page of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with a statement by the prime minister calling the fans’ behavior “an utter disgrace.”
Criticizing individuals for their behavior is not “racist,” and it’s not “incitement.” In this case, however, as soon as doubts arose concerning the accuracy of the report, the prime minister’s staff removed it from the Facebook page. Certainly, it was careless of them not to have looked further into the story before publicizing it. But that’s not the same as deliberately and maliciously trying to whip up hatred of all Israeli Arabs.
The other “evidence” in this week’s declaration was even less credible. It pointed to the fact that two cabinet ministers strongly criticized the pro-terrorist statements and actions of Arab Knesset member Ayman Odeh.
The ministers didn’t criticize Odeh for being an Arab. They didn’t call for Arabs to be banned from the Knesset. In fact, they didn’t call for any action against Arabs at all. They called for action against Odeh because of his indisputable record of supporting terrorism and terrorists.
For example, in an interview with Israel Army Radio on Oct. 6, 2015, Odeh was asked about that week’s Palestinian murders of U.S. citizen Eitam Henkin and his wife, Na’ama, in front of their four young children. At first, Odeh avoided endorsing the murders, but then he asserted that Palestinians have “a right to struggle” against Israel. He cited the first intifada—with its thousands of bombings, shootings and other attacks—as an example of “struggle” that is “fully justified.”
Pressed by the interviewer as to whether throwing rocks at Jews is legitimate, Odeh replied: “I always blame the occupation for being guilty. I cannot tell the nation how to struggle, where and which target to throw the rock. I do not put red lines on the Arab Palestinian nation.”
Knesset member Itzik Shmuly denounced Odeh’s statements as “angering and disappointing.” Shmuly represents the Zionist Union, better known as the Labor Party. One of the eight groups signing this week’s statement was Ameinu, better known as the U.S. wing of the Labor Party. I wonder why they didn’t include Shmuly in their denunciation of “incitement.” I guess if “our guy” says it, then it’s not incitement.
In an interview with Al-Arabiya television on March 4, 2016, Odeh was asked about the wave of Palestinian knife attacks against Israelis. He replied: “We should examine our history and the history of the nations to determine strategies. There is no doubt that a popular intifada is most beneficial to the Palestinian people. I, from my place, cannot tell the Palestinian people how to resist.”
Just six weeks ago, on June 18, Odeh took part in a conference in eastern Jerusalem sponsored by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). The PFLP and the DFLP are terrorist groups that have murdered and maimed many hundreds of Israelis—and Americans—since the 1960s. That’s who Ayman Odeh chooses to associate with. And that’s why he deserves to be criticized.
I’m not surprised that J Street and Americans for Peace Now signed the “anti-incitement” declaration. Pointing an accusing finger at Israel has become their trademark. But I am profoundly disappointed that the National Council of Jewish Women would sully its good name by allowing itself to be dragged into this smear of the Jewish state.
I’m giving the leaders of the NCJW the benefit of the doubt, assuming that they were misled by the other signatories. Perhaps they did not see the final text before they gave their approval. Maybe they didn’t carefully research the claims that are made in the anti-Israel declaration. They can rectify this error by immediately disavowing the declaration.
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Well, that's what I think and invite you to comment.

Look for my new book in October, "A Father's Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror"

The Day Trump And The Media Saw Eye To Eye

In case you missed my column on A look at an extraordinary event-

The Day Trump And The Media Saw Eye To Eye

Something remarkable happened in the nation’s capital last week. The president, who derides
most journalists as purveyors of “fake news,” and journalists who openly despise the president, suddenly found an issue on which they could agree: the innumerable virtues of a visiting dictator who shelters murderers of American citizens.

It was a week in which enraged journalists compared the president’s border policies to those
of the Nazis, and prominent Democrats called for mobs to besiege administration officials
whom they spot in restaurants. Yet, amid all this sound and fury, the political combatants
paused, set aside their mutual hatred for a few hours, and joined hands in a lovefest devoted
to a foreign tyrant who rules by royal decree and provides haven to the killers of American
women and children.

Who is this extraordinary despot who captures the hearts of American journalists and the
president alike? Why, it’s King Abdullah of Jordan, of course.

Liberals are outraged when Trump seems to behave like a would-be monarch, yet they swoon
when a real-life king came to town. Conservatives were furious over the exchange of Bo
Bergdahl for Taliban killers of Americans, yet they rolled out the red carpet for the Jordanian
leader who protects killers of Americans.

After President Trump and King Abdullah met at the White House, they spoke to reporters.
Trump began by praising Abdullah as “incredible” and “fantastic.” The reporters then asked
about the president’s executive order concerning border separations, about the chances for
Middle East peace, and about the administration’s forthcoming Mideast peace plan.

Later in the day, the president spoke to reporters again. They asked about Harley-Davidson
moving some of its operations overseas; the tariffs dispute; the actions of steel manufacturers; U.S.-China trade; the Supreme Court travel ban ruling; the process for deporting illegal immigrants; and funding for the border wall.

President Trump did not say a word about the killers of Americans whom Abdullah is
sheltering. And not one journalist asked him about it. It was “Don’t ask, don’t tell” at its most

But since the president and the news media won’t tell you about it, I will. On August 9, 1982,
Palestinian terrorists firing submachine guns and throwing hand grenades attacked lunchtime
diners at the Chez Jo Goldenberg restaurant in downtown Paris. Six people were murdered, 22
were wounded. Among the fatalities were two women from Chicago: Grace Cutler, age 66,
and Ann Van Zanten, age 31, a curator at the Chicago Historical Society.

In 2016, Zuhair al-Abbasi, one of the perpetrators of the Paris attack, was detained in Jordan
because of an Interpol warrant. France asked Jordan to surrender him. Jordan refused, claiming the French-Jordanian extradition treaty went into effect only after al-Abbasi was arrested in Jordan.

Then why not extradite him to the United States? The U.S.-Jordanian extradition treaty has been in effect since 1995. But the Trump administration has never asked Jordan to hand over al-Abbasi.

Exactly 19 years to the day after the Paris attack, on August 9, 2001, terrorists bombed the Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem. Fifteen people were killed, 130 wounded. Three of the
fatalities were American citizens, including 15-year-old Malki Roth. Two of the terrorists were
captured. One was 21-year-old Ahlam Tamimi. She confessed, was sentenced to 16 terms of
life imprisonment, and then released in a 2011 prisoner exchange.

Tamimi settled in the Jordanian capital of Amman, where King Abdullah’s regime rewarded her
with her own television show, called “Breezes of the Fire.” She repeatedly boasted on air about her role in the Sbarro attack.

Last year, the Trump administration finally unsealed a U.S. indictment against Tamimi that had originally been issued four years earlier. Why it took four years to unseal it was never explained.

When the indictment was unsealed, Tamimi was added to America’s Most Wanted list. Yet, no
monetary reward was offered for her capture, as is routinely done in all such cases. It took an entire year of pressure by the Roth family to finally get the Trump administration to post a reward.

The Justice Department also belatedly issued a wanted poster with Tamimi’s photo. But it’s
written in English, not Arabic. And it appears only on the department’s website, not in the
streets of Jordan. It’s not even posted at the American embassy in Amman.

Indeed, the Justice Department has told the Roth family that if a bounty-hunter were to capture Tammy and bring her to the U.S. embassy in Amman, the U.S. would refuse to accept her because she must be transferred according to the extradition treaty. Talk about a Catch22!

And so, the murderers of Americans continue to walk free in Jordan, the Jordanian regime continues to receive $1 billion in aid each year from the Trump administration, and justice continues to be trampled upon.

Well, that's what I think.
Stephen M. Flatow

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This column and others I have written may be read on line at JewishPress.comBe sure to be on the lookout for my book "A Father's Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror" out in October.