Monday, December 02, 2013
The axis of evil, the alliance of jihadi Islamofascism with anti-Semitic Leftism, has a new cause and it is bashing Israel over its supposed mistreatment of the Bedouins in the Negev. Israel, you see, holds the racist opinion that Bedouins have to obey the law and cannot simply seize any parcel of land they want to own and keep it without paying for it. As you know, Israeli leftists believe Arabs should be exempt from obeying the law because they are gosh oh so oppressed. Enforcing any laws for Arabs is racist and discriminatory. Israeli Arabs held violent "protests" yesterday, demanding that the entire Negev be turned over to the Bedouins, and they were joined by Jewish communists and Israeli Leftists for a Second Holocaust.
Ben Dror Yemini "outs" the campaign of the axis in this excellent piece, a bit long but worth reading:
The blood libel film
Ben-Dror Yemini November 29, 2013,
The main star of the film is Theodore Bikel, who was recruited for this role mainly because of his past portrayal of Tevye the Milkman in Fiddler on the Roof. The film, in a propagandized play on words, is called Fiddler with no Roof, and that is nothing compared to the film's content. The Bedouins are portrayed as the victims of the terrible expulsion decree that was issued against the Jews in the dark days of the anti-Semitic Tsarist regime, as described at the plot of Fiddler on the Roof. And a plot is just what it is. Difficult to believe, but the film was produced by Rabbis for Human Rights (sic).
Standing shoulder to shoulder with this film, as usual, is Haaretz, which provides innumerable articles, all with the same angle, all presenting the same position, about the thieving and oppressing state, and about the expelled Bedouins. Freedom of debate and expression has never looked as neglected as it appears in this uniform, Bolshevist perspective of the newspaper for people who all think the same.
The debate over the proper procedure of the settlement of the Bedouins is an important debate. Some say that the Bedouins are nomads, that their entire claim to land ownership is fictitious, while others claim that the state should recognized their claims of ownership even if these are not consistent with recognized registration methods, from the Ottoman period, then the British, and now, of course, the Israeli.
For years the Israeli authorities have been struggling with this issue. On the one hand, the ownership claims have been rejected outright in legal proceedings. In some of the claims, the assertions of "ownership for hundreds of years" were exposed as fraudulent. Aerial photographs from the last century proved that "a settlement that had existed for centuries" had not even existed for a few decades.
Despite the legal determinations, the state decided on a generous arrangement. Every Bedouin family is entitled to a plot of land in one of the Bedouin towns built in the region where they live, and there are plans for the construction of many more towns. These arrangements attempt to approximate the Bedouin tradition and heritage as much as possible.
For this reason a plot of land in a Bedouin town is nearly one dunam (1/4 acre), which is much larger than the plots in other towns. (Few Jews own this much land -- SP) On the other hand, this is an arrangement that is in line with accepted practices in modern countries, in which land ownership requires registration, and in which human habitations require infrastructure, running water, connection to the electricity grid and paved roads.
This is no simple matter. There is a clash between a nomadic tradition and a modern country. Israel is not the only country that, over the course of its establishment, has had to contend with the claims of population groups with different lifestyles. Australia had issues with its aborigines, in the U.S. it was the Native Americans, in Scandinavian countries it is still the Samis who complain about historical and current deprivation, and many other countries have gypsies.
The propaganda film does not present the tough dilemmas. The film makes life easy for itself. Israel is portrayed as the cruel anti-Semitic ruler, expelling and disinheriting and destroying and robbing, and the poor Bedouins stand helpless in the face of this abysmal cruelty. There is nothing like the expulsion of the Jews in Fiddler on the Roof to accentuate the tragedy, and to play on the most sensitive heartstrings of the world in general, and of Jews in the U.S. in particular. Here we have one more proof of what Israel is doing to its minorities. Here is one more proof of apartheid, racism, and other accusations from the familiar list.
There is, of course, just one problem with the plot of this film. It never happened.
Let's take, for example, the repetitive chorus of the past few weeks, which sounds like this: "The Bedouin community of Umm al-Hiran is slated to be turned into Hiran, a community for Jews only, via the disinheriting and transfer of the Bedouins, in accordance with the racist policy of the State of Israel." This is also a summary of the claims in a series of articles in Haaretz.
After setting sail on the sea of lies, it's worth returning to the solid ground of facts. First, the Bedouin members of the Al-Qian tribe, who are the focus of the current fuss, were transferred to the Yatir region of the Negev decades ago, of their own volition and at their request, due to a dispute with another tribe.
Second, when Hiran was being planned, a little over a decade ago, there were only a few Bedouins there, if any. The move to Umm al-Hiran occurred mainly in the wake of the plans for the new town. Aerial photographs prove this.
Third, only a small part of the master plan for Hiran is on the land occupied by the new squatters.
Fourth, adjacent to the Al-Qian compound, the state built Hura, a proper Bedouin village, with paved roads, electricity and water infrastructure and more.
Fifth, every family in the tribe is entitled to receive nearly a dunam of land. Even a bachelor over 24 is entitled to a plot of land, in preparation for future generations.
Sixth, in addition to the free land, with free infrastructure development, each family also receives monetary compensation for the previous, illegally built house where it lived.
Seventh, and here we're in for a surprise, most of the tribe – 3,000 of the 4,000 members – actually felt this was a fair arrangement, and they indeed moved to Hura.
Eighth, Hiran is not designated only for religious Jews, and also not only for Jews. Any Bedouin who wishes to buy land there is invited to do so and is entitled to do so. Of course, that would cost money. In Meitar, for example, Bedouins from the surrounding area decided to buy plots of land. No one stopped them.
How is it possible to produce a film that completely ignores the background, the benefits granted to the Bedouins, the legal rulings, etc.? In response, Rabbis for Human Rights (sic) claimed that the court rulings are inapplicable and that even courts make mistakes – the Bedouins receive state compensation for only some of their lands, the transfer was executed under coercion, and even those who chose to move to a community like Hura did so out of lack of choice. The rabbis continue to claim that Hiran is designated for religious Jews, and that Bedouins will not live there. The detailed response can be found in the undersigned blog.
The rabbis and the journalists and the activists have the right to present the problems with the arrangement. They have the right to claim that the Bedouins have greater entitlements, and that any place where a camel walked, or where a Bedouin pitched his tent for the night – is his and his descendants' forever. Criticism of government proposals, such as the Praver Plan that was drafted following the report by the commission headed by retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Goldberg, is legitimate. There are arguments that are worth voicing. Maybe there should be a better solution.
This campaign, however, is not criticism, but rather deception, disregard for the basic facts and incitement against the state. The campaign that is spreading like wildfire all over the world portrays the racist anti-Semitic style expulsion being perpetrated by Israel. Even the well-known self-righteous (neo-nazi -- SP) Norman Finkelstein has joined the fray, completely caught up in the excitement over Bikel's heart-wrenching words. Finkelstein never misses an opportunity to goad Israel.
"This film clip is not, perish the thought, intended to compare Israel to Tsarist Russia," write the rabbis on the web page accompanying the film. This appeared only in Hebrew. Following Yedioth Ahronoth journalist Nahum Barnea's criticism of this outrageous comparison, Rabbis for Human Rights issued an press release that, "in certain respects, the Praver expulsion is worse than the expulsion of the Jews to the Pale of Settlement," and we, they say "are concerned about Israel's image."
The concern is highly illustrated in the film. In its English version, the film leaves little room for doubt. Someone on the production team is a skilled propaganda artist. The film depicts a Bedouin receiving an expulsion notice. He refuses to leave. Suddenly two threatening helicopters appear overhead. Who knows, perhaps they are carrying bombs. Everything is insinuated. After all, no one claimed they were bomber helicopters. They simply appear in the sky.
An excellent, manipulative trick to promote the hate campaign and the exploitative state. At that stage the demolition bulldozers appear, and interspersed with them, as expected, photos of exiled Jews trudging to their bitter fate. As if the context were not clear, Bikel ends the film with a monologue that leaves no doubts: "What hurts even more is the fact that the very people who are telling the Bedouins to get out are the descendants of the people of Anatevka."
A viewer unfamiliar with the facts is left full of anger and ill will. A masterful work of atrocious propaganda. Israel is not a civilized state. Israel is a monster.
In the background a campaign has being going on for a long time, crafted by Haaretz. There have been a lot of baseless claims, but I will make do with just two that were published this week. Oudeh Basharat claimed that Israel was robbing the Bedouins of land in Umm al-Hiran, and immediately called this apartheid. One day later, Prof. Eyal Gross claimed that Bedouins were being evicted from their homes in order to build a Jewish town. When a lie is repeated a thousand times, it becomes fact.
The words transfer and apartheid appeared in the campaign, in order to finger the culprit. This, of course, is the Zionist enterprise. This is what it did in 1948. This is what it is doing in the territories. This is what it is doing to the Bedouins. This is how incitement is created. This is how demonization is done. Haaretz readers have no inkling that Bedouin began to live in Umm al-Hiran only after the initiative to establish Hiran. Is it unreasonable to demand that a law professor know the facts before writing a report?
A fair arrangement for the Bedouins is no simple matter. One thing certain is that the path the state has chosen is not expulsion, disinheriting or transfer, but rather a generous offer that has cost and will cost the state hundreds of millions of shekels, and provides the Bedouins with tremendous benefits. This is discriminating against the Jews and affirmative action favoring the Bedouins. No Jew is entitled to receive free land in a Bedouin community, nor to buy land that is offered to Bedouins at reduced prices, when that possibility exists. A Bedouin, on the other hand, can choose between a Bedouin community and a Jewish community. If he wants to live in Hura, there is land with infrastructure waiting for him, at no charge. If he wants to live in Hiran, he may do so, under the same conditions as a Jew, Armenian or Buddhist.
When "rights groups" and Haaretz automatically side with the Bedouins who oppose the arrangement, rather than with those who support it, the arrangement is doomed to failure. Just like the "forces of progress" in the world, who fan the flames of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign and the fantasy of the Arab Right of Return. This is no way to reach an arrangement, and only bolsters the objectors. This perpetuates the suffering and the conflict and the bloodshed. What the "progressives" are doing for the Palestinians, the "rights activists" are now doing for the Bedouins.
Truth be told, it is doubtful if there is a population anywhere in the world with similar characteristics, native or nomadic, that has been awarded such a generous settlement. But the propaganda film has managed to reverse this picture, such that matters must be returned to the proper perspective. It's not that Jews are doing to the Bedouins what anti-Semites did to the Jews. Just the opposite. It is the "rights groups" and Rabbis for Human Rights, and it's Haaretz that are continuing the old, despised tradition of libels. In the past it was against the Jews. Now it's against the State of Israel.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
(Too good to save for Independence Day)
Just a fast "only in Israel" story for you.
Friends of ours just got married and spent part of the honeymoon in Safed, the city of kabbalah and mysteicism. There they wanted to join in one of the local synagogue congregations for prayers that were devotes of Shlomo Carlebach. For those not familiar with him, Carlebach was a singing "hippy" rabbi in the US active in the 60s and 70s, who composed some beautiful melodies for prayers and religious songs. (I met him a number of times in the 60s when he came through Philadelphia.) His songs are popular among Jews all over the world, but there are some congregations that see themselves as special followers of Carlebach and sing as many prayers as possible using his melodies. You can hear many of these on Youtube, including Carlebach Yom Kippur services.
Our problem was to find the Carlebach synagogue in Safed. As it turns out, there are five Carlebach congregations, two main ones, just in Safed. At the hotel we asked the doorman to show us on the map where the main congregations were. He sat with us patiently at length, explaining the pluses and minuses of each congregation, one closer but the further one has some charms the closer one does not, and marking the map to let us know the best way to get to each. The doorman seemed to know everything there was to know about the local Carlebach congregations.
The doorman in question is an Arab whose first name is Jihad.
Friday, November 29, 2013
In my humble opinion, these are his best albums:
Thursday, November 28, 2013
A fast afterword on the death of Arik Einstein. The past 48 hours saw an interesting transformed Israel, where the funeral and ceremonies for Einstein dominated the news and the talk on the street, erasing Iran from the headlines, and every radio station has been playing nonstop Arik Einstein songs in an atmosphere that is a little like Memorial Day here.
In any case, since it is a little difficult for those who do not speak Hebrew to appreciate Einstein's music and lyrics, a collected from the web English translations for some of his better known songs. These are but a small portion of his entire repertoire but give you a nice feel for his style and diversity.
1. This is another Einstein Greek-imitation song but read the lyrics and their powerful Zionist message, one of his best songs of patriotism:
The Song of the Caravan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLKZi1pfRJs
English Translation of Lyrics: http://elmsintheyard.blogspot.co.il/2012/05/shir-ha-shayarah-caravan-song.html
*(Can you guess who the "old man" is in the song?)
2. One of Einstein's best loved songs: Clip - Drive Slowly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVnRh-raz2s
Translation Lyrics in English: http://www.historama.com/online-resources/israeli-music/israeli_singers_bands_music_online.html#Slowly
3. How good you came home: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Che2jea8z_Q
4. Clip: San Francisco: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRQJ87yBPsM
English Translation of Lyrics:
5. Ani V'ata: Clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETqJxlBrQbc
English Translation Lyrics: http://www.hebrewsongs.com/?song=aniveata
6. Finally, one of the stranger of the Arik Einstein songs became the semi-official song of mourning for Rabin after he was assassinated by Yigal Amir. The song itself was originally written by Aviv Gefen as a song mourning a young personal friend of his who died, and in fact Gefen had written a separate song mocking Rabin and dismissing him as a bumbling drunk. Then after the assassination, the words to the mourning song were slightly altered and it became the universally played song in Israel to express the shock from the assassination, and Einstein's rendition of it is the best known and most "official." You can hear the song here:
To cry for you - clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtkHYM35CC8
English lyrics: http://hebrewsongs.com/?song=livkotlecha
See also this: http://www.haaretz.com/culture/arts-leisure/1.560395
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Israel is a much poorer country this evening, having lost Arik Einstein. He died last night at age 74.
I have over the years posted lists, especially around Independence Day, of what I love most about Israel and invariably Arik Einstein is high up on the list. Einstein was in many ways the epitome of the modern Israeli, the sabra. He is often described as a "folk singer" but that term is misleading. His music contained much of what is positive and beautiful in the contemporary Israeli soul. He was among the best that sabra Israeli culture has produced.
I believe that, of all the arts, Israel's greatest achievements are in its music, especially its popular music. There are many different styles and flavors and countless superb singers and performers. And in the midst of all this, Einstein always stood out. He was the secular sabra from the bohemian circles of Tel Aviv who refused to pursue the political fads of so many of the other members of the chattering artsy classes. His was a deeply felt if humble pride in his Israeliness. Judaism for him was captured in that Israeliness and needed nothing more, and he was not really a Jewish singer beyond being an Israeli singer. He never preached. He did not sing about religious themes. If he had political opinions, he kept them to himself. He never had the saccharine melodrama of singers like Yehoram Gaon.
It is said that Will Rogers never met a man he did not like. Well I do not think there is a single Israeli who did not like Arik Einstein. His appeal crossed all barriers and lines and classes and subdivisions. There are styles of Israeli music that appeal to only subsets of the population, like Oriental music or religious music. But Einstein was beloved by everyone from all walks of life. His secularism never alienated the religious. His quiet love of country never offended the politically correct. His patriotism was not a political proclamation but rather it was expressed in songs of affection for and attachment to country, to the land, to places, to Ein Gedi, to history.
He loved "Land of Israel" songs, ballads of love of country from yesteryear. He could sing songs from the Palmach from the 40s without sounding corny, stale, or archaic. He could sing old songs of the pioneers, and then transition into modern love ballads. One of his most famous songs was about the beauty of San Francisco, a song also filled with deep longing for home in Israel and anticipation of returning to the mundane of life in Tel Aviv. The Ashkenazi northern Tel Aviv bohemians saw him as one of their own, and even they raised no objection to his patriotism, as he sang, "This land, this land is OURS."
His was the life of the Ashkenazi sabra salt of the earth. Born in Tel Aviv, he made his musical debut like so many of the generation of the 1960s in Israeli army musical troupes. He worked in theater after completing his military service.
His humor was legendary and characterizes the many clips, movies, and performances of his. He played the young kibbutznik in the Israeli classic movie Salah Shabbati, one of the only Israeli movies ever made worth watching. His music was a bit of Paul Simon, a bit of Woody Guthrie, a bit of folk-rock, and a bit of so many others. And his musical career lasted for decades. Some 10 or 15 years back he stopped appearing. Rumors are that he was suffering from depression. The live performances ceased all the while his music continued to dominate many fhe airwaves. In 2010 a survey found that his were the most widely played and heard songs on Israeli radio of any performer. He spoke to the ordinary Israeli. His songs were about driving old cars, eating watermelon, strolling in Tel Aviv, doing reserve service in the army.
One of my very favorite songs of Einstein is this, "Fly Away Little Bird": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkiv2jHaWsg
It is a lovely description of the fears and hopes of parenthood as a child strikes off in independence. It is a song to which few parents can listen with dry eyes. The clip has Hebrew subtitles but you can see an English translation here:
http://ulpan.com/uf-gozal.html It is a highly typical Einstein song.
A highly atypical song, but another of my favorites, is Einstein's parody of Greek music. Einstein had a delicious sense of humor, and this is really worth watching:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cygVEtou0E The guy in beret with moustache is Arik.
Youtube has a large number of other clips if you are interested.
Arik was buried today in the Tel Aviv "Trumpeldor Cemetery."
Sunday, November 24, 2013
1. The past week or so all the media have been filled with stories and reminiscences about JFK and his assassination, and plenty of print space and air time have been devoted to the conspiracy theories. We now know that even John Kerry is an aficionado not only of Iranian nukes but also of the conspiracy theories about JFK.
Here is not the place for a whole debate and debunking of such theories. I just wanted to point out one small thing, and kept being reminded of this while listening to the newsreels.
Conspiracy "theories," not only about the JFK assassination but also about other things, including famously the Rabin assassination, invariably build upon "seeming puzzles." These are things that do not seem to make sense when staring too closely at them. It always reminds me of medical imaging. When one stares too long and too closely at medical images, lots of things seem puzzling and confusing and do not seem to make sense. Ditto for historic events.
But the problem with "seeming puzzles" in conspiracy "theories" is that if the "theory" were correct, then the number of seeming puzzles and inconsistencies would in fact be a thousand times worse than those of the actual events. The conspiracists never want to address THESE seeming puzzles contained within their own "theories."
I will mention but one of these and then give it a rest. If Lee Harvey Oswald were part of some grand conspiracy masterminded by evil geniuses (and not just a pathetic little communist as Jackie Kennedy called him), then how come his getaway from the Texas book depository building consisted of Oswald running out the building with thirteen dollars in his pocket trying to flag down a taxi and eventually taking a bus to escape?
[And if Yigal Amir was in fact a patsy who shot blanks and Rabin was killed by a Peres-Shin-Bet conspiracy, how come no one bothered to let Yigal Amir know and how come HE still insists that HE killed Rabin, as do his family members?
2. Current Events Quiz. Please take a look at this photo http://sports.walla.co.il/?w=//157/1560865/5/@@/media and see if you can answer this question. What is the difference between these two figures in the photo?
The answer is this: one of the two figures in the photo is in fact a brainless hand puppet while the other has brown fur?
I think you know which of the two is more qualified to be president of Israel.
Raed Salah is the head of the Islamofascist "Northern Islamic Movement" in Israel, a thinly disguised front for the Hamas. He is violent and pro-violence. He is also a naked anti-Semite who makes the Grand Mufti of the 1940s look tame.
Salah, you may recall, gave a talk at Haifa University a few years back in which he called upon Arab students to become suicide bombers. The administration of the University prohibited Jews from entering the lecture hall in which the jihadist sheikh Salah spoke, ordering guards to "select out" Jews trying to enter. This is the same administration now defending the "legal clinics" in the university's law school that are sending out students to counsel jailed terrorists.
A while back, the same Salah proclaimed the following in a speech in 2007: "We [Muslims] have never allowed ourselves to knead the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children's blood…Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the holy bread." (See http://www.timesofisrael.com/jerusalem-court-convicts-sheikh-of-incitement/ ). In the same speech he called for violence against Jews.
Yup - the sheikh is repeating the medieval libels about Jews using the blood of Christian children to make Passover matzos. And no, Salah has never been jailed for this in Israel, because it is protected speech here, in contrast with criticism by non-leftists of the public political activities of leftists.
Now the above blood libel quote from Salah has played an interesting judicial role. It seems the Sheikh wanted to visit the UK. But the UK has a list of racist inciters that it bars from entry and ordered him deported after he got through. Never mind that its list is politically distorted and includes people like US radio personality Michael Savage, Moshe Feiglin, and some preachers against homosexuality. But it also includes some actual racist mongrels.
The UK ruled that the bloody Sheikh Salah was barred from entering or staying in Britain. But the local jihadis in Britain ran to the court and petitioned to have the ban lifted. The case went before an immigration judge named Ockelton. And the star witness for the Salah lobby was none other than Ilan Pappe, the notorious pseudo-academic fraud who fabricated the imaginary "Tantora Massacre," who has spent recent decades demanding that Israel be annihilated, and who lives in the UK now as professor of Jew-bashing at the University of Exeter. As "expert" witness, Comrade Pappe appeared in court and told the judges that the above quote from Salah was not referring to Jews at all but to Christians of the Inquisition who used the blood of Muslim children. Never mind that the Christians of the Inquisition never made religious use of the blood of Muslim children. Never mind that the quote is from a diatribe by Salah against Jews and not against Christians. Pappe's testimony was about as valid and reliable as everything else Pappe has ever written or said. The British court laughed Pappe out of the pub and dismissed the petition of the Salah lobby.
A while after this, the same quote by Salah was raised when there were calls in Israel to prosecute Salah under Israel's "anti-racism" law. That law of course is never applied to Arabs or to Jewish leftists. But a hearing was held over Salah's speech. The presiding magistrate judge was Judge Hannah Miriam Lomp. She ACQUITED the sheikh of the racism charge, although did convict him of incitement to violence, even though Salah was just minding his own business and shouting at a crowd of hundreds to murder Jews.
In the hearing before Lomp, Salah was represented by the Marxist lawyer Avigdor Feldman, who otherwise has specialized in defending Arab terrorists who murdered Jewish children, including the infamous torture/murder of 15 year old Haifa youth Dani Katz. Feldman went beyond Pappe. He argued that actually Salah's words in the above quote were a denunciation of Christians in Europe for carrying out pogroms against Jews, and so it was actually Salah DEFENDING Jews. He argued this with a straight face. AND JUDGE LOMP ACCEPTED THIS CLAIM AT FACE VALUE!!
That is correct. A sitting Jewish judge in Israel accepted without protest the Orwellian claim that an Islamofascist accusing Jews of drinking the blood of gentile children was REALLY defending Jews from Christian pogroms!
Even more amazing is the fact that Lomp herself is originally from a religious home (see http://elyon1.court.gov.il/heb/cv/fe_html_out/judges/k_hayim/87942962.htm) . Like so many, she seems to understand the writing on the wall and bends over backwards and to the left so as not to be accused of being prejudiced in any Jewish-nationalist ideological way. Here is another of her rulings, celebrated by the Far Leftist B'Tselem group: http://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20130410_police_officer_convicted_for_beating_yunes_abu_ermeileh . To her credit she also has a couple of rulings against the police for mistreatment of rightwing protesters. She also convicted the leftist pederast Ezra Nawi of "insulting a public official" when Nawi called him a war criminal.
Of course there is nothing the public can do about unelected judges who make rulings such as that by Lomp concerning the blood libel. If we do not like it we can just Lomp it.
There is however one bright ray of hope on the horizon. The wonderful law Professor Daniel Friedmann, who served as Minister of Justice, has long led the battle against judicial activist judges in Israel, meaning judicial tyranny. Friedmann is the main voice in Israel denouncing the anti-democratic behavior and ideology of the judicial Left. The very first serious error in judgment when Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister - and hardly his last - was the decision NOT to extend Friedmann's position as justice minister.
And Friedmann has just published a 620 page volume (Hebrew only for now) detailing the decades of abuse by Israel's "activist" judges. It is already the talk of the legal corridors and it may actually make a difference. It is devastating. The title is The Purse and the Sword, which is not exactly my first choice for title. But it is one of the most important books to come out in Israel.
Friday, November 22, 2013
1. The Israeli Supreme Court is ordering the Israeli government (executive branch) to appear in court and justify the fact that it is NOT suppressing freedom of speech.
No, that was not a misprint. The Supreme Court of Israel, which has never been willing really to defend freedom of speech, ordered the government to justify and explain why it refuses to prosecute two rabbis who wrote a controversial book, and also two other rabbis who recommended to people to read that book.
The whole case involves the controversial book "The Path of the King," also titled "King's Torah," written by Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur. It is a rabbinic text that discusses, among other things, circumstances under which Jews may kill non-Jews, such as in war. The book has been denounced as "racist" by the Left and also by some not on the Left. It appears to have been published by the authors less as an exercise in scholastic research and more as a provocation. Because of its sections discussing killing of non-Jews, it has long been featured by every Neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic web site on earth trying to paint Jews as ghouls. I have not read the book nor do I plan to read it. From my impression of it in the media reviews of it, I think it would have been preferable had the authors never published it.
The Supreme Court was petitioned by members of the Reform synagogue movement in Israel, which is deeply involved with the Israeli Left. They petitioned to have the two authors indicted for "racism," along with two other highly-controversial rabbis who endorsed the book, Dov Lior and Yitzhak Ginzburgh.
Now it is quite possible that the contents of the book are as upsetting as what its critics are claiming. So what?
Since when is it the job of the government in a democracy to arrest or indict people for exercising their freedom of speech? Suppose the book is really as "racist" as its critics are saying, although one should always bear in mind that in Israel the word "racism" in general is used merely to refer to people who disagree with the political agenda of the Left. So what? Since when is it legitimate for a government to arrest people for holding or expressing racist opinions and feelings?
It is not against the law in any real democracy to hold and express racist opinions. It might get you punched in the nose and a judge might even deal with the puncher leniently, but you will not be arrested for expressing your opinions. If you were to arrest every person in the United States who had ever expressed a racist or anti-Semitic thought or opinion, the bulk of the population would be behind bars.
So here we have the spectacle of the book-burners from the Reform-synagogue Left in Israel (itself a microscopic Israeli movement) petitioning the anti-democratic Supreme Court with a demand for the indictment of rabbis who exercised freedom of speech and who dared to express their opinions in a book. The Court then demands that the government appear and justify the fact that it has NOT indicted (yet) the rabbis for this felony.
And let us note the selectivity of the jihad against freedom of speech. Even if the rabbis' book is as bad as the media are saying, it still would be nowhere near as racist as the books by, say, Prof. Shlomo Sand from Tel Aviv University or Ilan Pappe, to mention but two members of the tenured anti-Semitic campus pogrom. Their books appear in every university library in Israel and are sold freely in book stores. No one has initiated a campaign to ban them. No one burns anti-Semitic leftist books. You can buy books in Israel by Walt and Mearsheimer, Chomsky, and even Norman Finkelstein. No one censors the anti-Semitic outbursts in the Israeli Arab media. No dogs in the airport attempt to sniff out anti-Semitic books being carried in by travelers.
A big part of the problem is that the devotion to and understanding of basic democracy and freedom of speech is extremely thin and weak and superficial in Israel, and this weakness extends all the way to the top of society. The number of law professors in Israel who protested the past persecutions of these and other rabbis when they exercised their freedom of speech or who protested other attempts to deny freedom of speech to non-leftists is exactly zero. The Supreme Court has yet to overturn the ridiculous law proclaiming the Kahanist factions terrorist organization, whose freedom of speech is denied in Israel. Israel's "anti-racism" law is simply an anti-democratic bludgeon used to persecute right-wingers and suppress their freedom of speech. It has never been used to prosecute leftists or Arab. Laws against treason in Israel are almost never applied against anyone.
Instead, for years the judicial Left, led by the guy who was just appointed State Prosecutor, attempted to silence the Right with police harassment and prosecutorial persecution. Settlers, a professor, teenagers who attended anti-Oslo protests, rabbis, and many others became the target-rich hunting environment for the judicial Left. Leftists openly calling for non-leftists to be murdered were never touched. The Supreme Court has never demanded that the government appear and justify its past prosecutions of rabbis for expressing opinions deemed "racist" by the fascist Left. To the contrary, it now orders the government to explain why it has not prosecuted them ENOUGH!
The anti-democratic hostility towards freedom of speech by the Israeli chattering classes continues to metastasize. It is today bordering on book-burning.
(news report on background to petition: http://www.timesofisrael.com/academics-petition-to-prosecute-torat-hamelech-authors/ ):
Shelly, whom I have long called Little Bo Peep, was the rather clueless chief of the Israeli Labor Party, preaching and dreaming of a grand socialist society based on 19th century socialist utopianist ideas. Yesterday she was defeated in a landslide by Isaac Herzog in the Labor Party primaries. The turnout was 53% of party registered members.
I had been hoping Shelly would win the primaries. That is because I think Labor is more likely to implode with Shelly in command. Herzog comes across as more intelligent and polished.
But do not hold your breath waiting for him to restore the Labor Party to the vision and values of David Ben Gurion.
3. Haaretz joins the Said campaign of lies:
I'm sure you remember how in 1999 Edward Said's life story was exposed (by Justus Reid Weiner in Commentary) as a total fabrication. Said claimed to have grown up in Talbieh in Jerusalem and to have fled with his family at the age of 12. Whereas in fact Said's family came from Egypt and, although born during a family visit to Jerusalem, he was raised in Cairo.