Dersh blows it, big time

At the Herzliya Conference, no less.

Per Ha'aretz:

Dershowitz said he feared that the boycott movement had become so entrenched that even if Israelis and Palestinians were to strike a peace deal, its supporters would not back down.

"I do think that a combination of factors - the occupation, the settlements - were the cause of it, but the BDS movement now questions the legitimacy of Israel's very existence," he said. "My great fear is that tomorrow, if Israel were to end most of the settlements and make peace, the BDS movement might be weakened a little bit in some parts of the United States. But I don't think it would have any impact in Europe. I don't think it would have any impact on the hard hard left. I think that they have become so wedded to Israel's demonization and delegitimization that nothing Israel does can change that effectively today."

For an extremely intelligent man, this guy has an amazing penchant for shooting himself in the foot and his allies in the back.  Seriously.  "The occupation, the settlements - were the cause of it?"  Of course he's dead right about the rest but his fixation on "occupation" and "settlements" is truly pathological.  Let's focus for just a sec on the original "mission statement" of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

There's no disputing what "all Arab lands" refers to.  It's every inch of ground between the (Jordan) river and the (Mediterranean) sea, a battle cry echoed in many a BDS demonstration.

For reasons unknown but widely debated and disputed within the BDS community, it appears that in some quarters the first element of that mission statement has been revised in the past two years to refer only to "Arab lands occupied in June 1967.  But many BDS factions, including their prime campus column, "Students for Justice in Palestine") continue as of today to cite the original formula (e.g.,

The question remains ... if it's "the occupation, the settlements [stupid]," that were the "cause" of the BDS movement, why did it take that movement more than ten years from its founding (at the infamous 2001 Durban "Conference Against Racism") to figure that out?  And why do its goals and rhetoric continue to demonize and dehumanize all of Israel, within any borders, on any land at all?

J Street denied

This news is good enough to drag me out of semi-retirement.

BREAKING: J Street Rejected by American Jewish Umbrella Group in 'Big Tent' Litmus Test

April 30, 2014 6:23 pm - In what many observers will see as the de facto expression of mainstream U.S. Jewry's outlook on J Street, the membership of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Wednesday voted 22-17 (with three abstentions) to reject the membership application of the self-labeled "pro-Israel, pro-peace" lobby.

The 42 Conference members in attendance in New York--nine were absent--exceeded the quorum of 38 needed to hold the vote. J Street needed a two-thirds affirmative vote to gain membership.

Apparently in expectation that the vote would go in J Street's favor, Jonathan Tobin wrote earlier today:

Were J Street to be denied entry to the Conference it would, however, be a huge public-relations coup and allow it to milk the situation for sympathy and depict its critics as seeking to silence a voice for peace. But its potential entry into the Conference would be confirmation that rather than a significant force on the Jewish scene, J Street is just one more insignificant Jewish group among a welter of such organizations whose infrastructure consist of little more than a staff and a mailing list.

I would respectfully disagree.  ZOA President Mort Klein put it well: an umbrella group can have a large tent, but that does not mean a universal tent.

There was a very interesting analysis by Shmuel Rosner here.

And, wow!  I really have been a slouch.

Barry Rubin z"l


The "new" Arab Peace Initiative

Barry Rubin asks:

... [T]here is a curious lack of mention over the demand, enshrined in the previous "Arab Peace Initiative," about what is called the "right of return." Namely, to satisfy PA demands Israel would have to accept the immigration of hundreds of thousands of passionately anti-Israel Palestinians who had lived in the country 60 years ago (or their descendants) and who have been fighting all that time to wipe Israel off the map.

Is the "right of return" as a condition for making peace still in the small print? I don't see that anyone else has asked that rather important question. Presumably it is still there. Consequently, what is in fact a suicidal offer to Israel is made, by selective reporting, to make it sound like an attractive offer. But if the demand for a massive immigration of hostile Palestinians is indeed dropped that in fact is the real news. Of course, the PA would passionately denounce such a step and since it has said nothing on the point one might assume that this demand still stands.

Really important question and the first one that came to mind when I saw the announcement of this old "new" proposal.  But Rubin raises a lot of other questions, too, that make this one seem almost a moot point.  Read it all.

BDSers at it again

Once again, they're going after TIAA-CREF, and once again TIAA-CREF is fighting back.

TIAA-CREF officials are asking the SEC to allow it to take no action on a shareholder proposal by activist group Jewish Voice for Peace that would require it to consider divesting from companies that contribute to violations of human rights, including companies whose business supports Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

Jewish Voice of Peace filed a shareholder proposal with the College Retirement Equities Fund on Feb. 8 that was signed by 200 investors, requesting that shareholders be allowed to vote on the issue at CREF's July annual meeting. The date and location of the meeting have not yet been set.

CREF officials in a March letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission requested that they be allowed to take no action on the proposal, said a company source, who asked for anonymity.

The SEC has not yet responded.  In 2011, the SEC responded favorably to a similar request by TIAA-CREF for permission to take no action on an earlier divestment resolution put forward by JV4P.  But the "peace"-bots think they have that licked this time.

Sydney Levy, a spokesman for Jewish Voice for Peace, said the shareholder proposal was rewritten this year not to require divesture of a specific company.

Really?  See the text of the proposal here.


Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Israel Law Center said in an interview that the Jewish Voice for Peace resolution was "anti-Semitic" and "anti-Israel."

Ms. Darshan-Leitner said her organization would sue TIAA-CREF if the shareholder proposal was enacted to ensure the enforcement of state and federal anti-discrimination and anti-boycott laws and to ensure that Israeli companies and businesses are not harmed.

I'm not sure how helpful this approach is, given that it appears TIAA-CREF is and has been making every effort to stop these offensive attempts to subvert their shareholder meetings to the nefarious purposes of the BDS crowd.  But their overall message is an important and effective one.

More on this BDS offensive and the response of the Israel Law Center (Shurat HaDin) here, and here.

Top five reasons to confirm Hagel

In the spirit of the day after Purim (or in some places, the day of) ...

Here are my top five reasons why Chuck Hagel should be confirmed as Secretary of Defense by the U.S. Senate:

#5  Military experience!!!!!

#4  What Obama wants, Obama gets.  Or else.

#3  He'll keep those uppity neocons Jews in their place.

#2  What difference at this point does it make if Iran gets the bomb?

And the #1 reason ...

...  Every country needs a SecDef who perpetually looks like he's just been dragged out of bed after a long night of heavy partying.

On a more serious note, everyone should read Barry Rubin's column "Why It's in Everyone's Interests that the Hagel Nomination be Defeated."  It most definitely is.  And it most certainly won't be.  A pity.

The return of Soccer Dad!

William Jacobson welcomes David Gerstman (formerly a/k/a Soccer Dad) to Legal Insurrection!

It's a really good day for the blogosphere.  While I've greatly appreciated David's Mideast Media Samplers for the past few years it's going to be great to have him back on a blog.

A great light extinguished

I refuse to indulge in traditional conciliatory phrases of comfort.  He was my teacher and I revered him as such.  Nobody who studied with him came away unchanged.  All were uplifted.  May his memory and his teachings continue as a great blessing for all of us.

Snow in Jerusalem

A beautiful sight, though the weather has caused a lot of hardship and damage.  And then there's this:

Some worshipers outside the Dome of the Rock, with its now white-capped golden dome, built a replica of an artillery rocket. At Damsacus Gate, I witnessed a fairly vicious gang of Palestinian youths hurling snowballs at passersby.

They pelted a young ultra-Orthodox boy, maybe 13 years old, with real violence, hitting him so hard he fell and lost his hat. Then they set on him, smashing him with snow, then with their fists. He eventually managed to get away. There were no police or border patrol officers to be seen.

Video of what appears to be a similar incident here. (via IMRA).

Update (1-20-12):

Police arrested nine Arabs from east Jerusalem over the past week in connection with a snowball attack against two haredim during the snowstorm a week and a half ago.

[ ... ]

But the innocent snowball fight got out of hand when two haredim tried to leave Damascus Gate and were accosted by approximately 20 Arabs. The Arabs threw snowballs at them from less than a meter away and tried to steal one of their hats, while shouting obscenities.

A video taken of the incident went viral on Facebook with tens of thousands of people expressing disgust.

On Wednesday, police arrested three suspects and on Sunday night arrested six people from the Old City in connection with the attack. Both minors and adults were taken into custody.

More here.

CNN bias? Nah ...

In a truly nauseating segment this morning, filled with much dithering and hand wringing over the suffering of the people of Gaza, CNN's Carol Costello announced opined:

Gaza has basically been under siege by Israel for the past several years. Israel controls the goods that come in to Gaza, come out of Gaza. So, I'm just curious, where does Hamas get most of its weapons?
Is she kidding?  Does Carol Costello know what a siege is?  Apparently not. 

Here is a typical monthly report from Israel's COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories), summarizing its civil and humanitarian activity in the Gaza Strip for January, 2011.  These detailed reports go back to early 2009 and beyond.  Does that sound like a "siege?"

Does this sound like a siege?

18 Nov 2012

Israel is making a major effort to maintain the fabric of civilian life in Gaza, despite the situation of current hostilities.


1. Israel is making a major effort to maintain the fabric of civilian life
in Gaza, despite the situation of current hostilities. The IDF today (18
Nov) opened the Keren Shalom crossing for movement of food, medicine and
other goods from Israel despite the ongoing rocket attacks on the Israeli
population and previous attacks on the crossing.

2. The Erez crossing was open today, as on every other day of Operation
Pillar of Defense. Seventy foreign journalists entered Gaza today by way of
Erez. Twenty Gazans entered Israel for medical treatment, and twenty-three
foreign nationals, representing NGOs who until now had been prevented by
Hamas from leaving the Gaza Strip, departed.

Food and Housing Security

1. Gaza is not experiencing food scarcity. Israel is not blocking entrance
of goods into Gaza, except for weaponry and dual-use materials. Construction
materials can be imported to Gaza under the supervision of international

2. Israel is continuing the yearly supply of five million cubic meters
(1,320,860,250 gallons) of water to Gaza, despite the rocket attacks on
Israeli cities and towns.

3. UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency) reports (17 Nov 2012) that despite
some displacement of families due to hostilities, "there hasn't been any
need to provide emergency humanitarian assistance or to open UNRWA
facilities as emergency shelters."

Medical Care

1. Between January-October 2012, approximately 14,500 patients and their
accompanying chaperones entered Israel from Gaza for medical treatment. 99%
of the medical requests by Palestinian residents of Gaza were approved by

2. The World Health Organization has reported a ten-day slowdown in referral
process for Gaza patients due to disagreements between the Ramallah and Gaza
Health Ministries.

3. Gaza hospitals are currently operating at 80% capacity (17 Nov), slightly
higher than routine periods.

4. Israel is not blocking entrance of medical supplies into Gaza. Requests
submitted by the international community are answered within 24-72 hours of
submission, almost always positively, and Israel has opened the Kerem Shalom
passage for transit of medical materials and other goods, despite the danger
to personnel at the crossing.

5. At present, there is a shortage of some medical supplies in Gaza due to
disagreements between Hamas and the PA, and budgetary difficulties of the
Palestinian Authority.

6. UNRWA reports that all of its 21 health centers are open and functioning.
Of UNRWA's 12,000 staff members in Gaza, only one person has sustained
injuries in the hostilities, and those are minor.


1. Israel is supplying 125 megawatts of electricity to the Gaza Strip from
the power station in Ashkelon despite the rocket attacks on Israel's
population, and on Ashkelon itself.

2. Gaza continues to suffer from power outages due to a deliberate policy of
Hamas, which opposes import of fuel from Israel. As a result, the Gaza power
station is operating at 20% capacity.
Last but certainly not least, let's not forget Gaza's open border with Egypt, now controlled by a Hamas ally, over which Israel has no control whatsoever.  That is, of course,  the all too obvious answer to Ms. Costello's clueless question.

The "news" according to CNN (and other media outlets) is sounding more and more these day like a mere regurgitation of terrorist talking points.

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