September 2007 Archives

Say it ain't so

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Cox and Forkum are hanging it up.

This sucks. But best wishes to John and Allen in their future (and present) endeavors. And sincere thanks for years of some of the best editorial cartoons ever.

Teach your children well

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A letter to the editor in last Wednesday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Can't answer that

Last week I was reading your article on the anti-war protesters in Oakland when my 9-year-old son asked me what I was reading. I told him what the article was about, pulling our troops out of Iraq. He stated he agreed with the protesters, we should not be in Iraq. I asked him why he thought that and he stated that "if we leave them alone, they will leave us alone."

I explained to him that normally that is true but not in this case. I gave him a quick rundown of what the hijackers of Islam have done over the years against Western civilization around the world for no other reason than the culture. I started with their attacks as far back as the '70s with the Iranian hostage crisis and pointed out the recent ones, the U.S. embassies, the USS Cole, the Marine barracks, Bali, London and of course 9/11, just to name a few.

My son then asked, "So if we leave them alone, they won't leave us alone?" My one word answer was "exactly." He then asked if the protesters know this, and if they do, why do they want to bring the troops home instead of fighting them where they are? I told him "that I don't know."

BILL HOAGLAND
Whitehall

Thanks to my mom for the heads up.

Hoax: and the winner is...

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In my last post, I mentioned a screw-up by the Jerusalem Post. It doesn't happen often, and certainly not to this journalist, whose integrity and fastidiousness are truly beyond reproach. But they got him this time. And within hours he has acknowledged it and asked for the story to be removed (which it was).

HOAX

From: Khaled Abu Toameh
To: imra@netvision.net.il
Sent: Sunday, 30 September, 2007 02:43
Subject: Re: Caught on tape: How a 16-year-old girl was lynched in Gaza by
Hamas members and relatives

Hi,

Can you please correct: we were the victims of a hoax. some
Fatah people misled us into thinking that the case was in
Gaza, while it actually occured in Iraq. Please remove the
story.

Thanks,
Khaled Abu Toameh

Compare and contrast to the MSM (e.g., Dan Rather) and, well, other sources, which perpetrate hoaxes ad infinitum, even after they're proven to be fiction beyond the remotest a shadow of a doubt (e.g., al-Dura).

Nevertheless, this will be (already is being) used by the perpetrators of those hoaxes to malign Israeli journalism and the JPost and Khaled in particular. Ironic. Sad. Outrageous.

Update via IMRA:

Saturday, September 29, 2007
Fatah hoaxes
From: Khaled Abu Toameh
To: "Dr. Aaron Lerner"
Sent: Sunday, 30 September, 2007 05:43
Subject: Fatah hoaxes

In the context of the Hamas-Fatah power struggle, Fatah
officials and security agents have distributed a video
documenting the alleged killing of a 16-year-old girl in the
Gaza Strip.

But it has emerged that that the footage was taken in Iraq,
where a 16-year-old girl was killed for "dishonoring" her
family.

Fatah claimed that the victim was Nahed Juha, a 16-year-old
girl who was indeed killed together with her two sisters,
Lina and Suha, in the Gaza Strip last July.

Fatah security officials even provided reporters
with two "eyewitnesses" who claimed that that had witnesses
the lynching of Nahed Juha.

For the past few years, both Fatah and Hamas have been
involved in a smear campaign against each other. The two
parties have devoted tremendous efforts to manipulate the
media, often feeding reporters with false information.

Last week Fatah managed to sell another hoax to reporters
when it claimed that its security forces had discovered
rocket launchers in Bethlehem that were directed against
Jerusalem. It later turned out that the "rockets" were
simple pipes that has been set up by children who were
trying to imitate Hamas.

Later update: Here.

Flying pig sighting

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UN: We have criticized Israel unfairly

The United Nations Human Rights Council has not managed to deal fairly with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the council's president Doru-Romulus Costea told a Spanish newspaper on Saturday, according to Israel Radio.

Doru admitted that he was dissatisfied with the fact the council had overly focused on the degree of human rights violations by Israel.

"The body which I head must examine the actions of both sides equally, and we have not done that," said Costea. "Clearly, from now on things need to change."

Israel Radio reported that earlier this week, US President George Bush criticized the UN Human Rights Council, saying that it had put too great an emphasis on Israeli actions.

Pinch me. No, wait. Don't.

Hopefully, this isn't another JPost screw-up. They've already had a big one today.

Nope. Ha'aretz has it too.

Etrog and lulav

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Courtesy of Sharon Binder -- whose work never ceases to amaze and inspire me.

lulav.jpg

But on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the yield of your land, you shall observe the festival of the Lord seven days: a complete rest on the first day, and a complete rest on the eighth day. On the first day you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. You shall observe it as a festival of the Lord for seven days in the year; you shall observe it in the seventh month as a law for all time, throughout the ages. You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.

-- Leviticus 23:39-43

Chag Sukkot Sameach!

Relieved from duty

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Yes, please. Lori Lowenthal Marcus explains why it's way past time for the Congressman from Pennsylvania's 7th District to go.

In less than 6 months, freshman Congressman Joe Sestak managed to insult US war veterans, Jews, African Americans, Polish-Americans and Irish-Americans. He did this publicly and proudly. But the one group he extolled repeatedly was a segment of his Muslim constituency -- the one connected to terrorism and Jew-hatred. Why? And why are both political parties ignoring what should be considered acts of political suicide? Sestak said voters would be doing him a favor by voting him out of office. Doing so would not only be a favor to Sestak, but a favor to all Americans.

Incognito

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This may have been the most interesting Yom Kippur I have ever experienced. For many (probably -- but you never know) unrelated reasons.

For one: here's something amazing I learned about that I had completely missed. If you (like me) didn't read this story when the WaPo published it last spring ... please ... do NOT miss it. It's truly amazing.

HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L'ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play. ...

G'mar tov

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To all who are observing Yom Kippur, may your fast be meaningful and easy. And may we be sealed for a good year.

Shabbat Shalom.
G'mar Hatima Tova.

Columbia U.

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The Columbia [University] Spectator online edition has a note in its sidebar:

Due to an extremely high volume of traffic, the Spectator's Online Edition may load quite slowly at the moment. We're working to speed things up a bit—please bear with us.

I wonder why? Part of it, of course, is this:

Nearly 50 student leaders and a dozen administrators sat down with University President Lee Bollinger for an hour on Thursday for a passionate yet civil discussion to air concerns about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s scheduled speech on campus on Monday.

When asked by Bollinger, student leaders overwhelmingly agreed that the event was in line with the academic purpose of the University, but several students expressed their disappointment in Bollinger’s handling of the invitation, with many airing concerns about student participation. Meanwhile, students began to solidify plans for a rally on Low Plaza this Monday.

Students’ concerns with the event included the logistics of establishing a rally on campus and the worry that lending Ahmadinejad a podium from which to speak would elevate and legitimize his views. Those in attendance expressed their greatest concerns regarding how students would be involved in the event itself.

Hmmm. Well, Columbia hasn't of late appeared too concerned about lending a podium to or elevating and legitimizing abhorrent views. For more on that, see John Podhoretz's amusing essay "A Terrorist for Tea" in today's NY Post.

And speaking of Nadia Abu El-Haj (Podhoretz does), back at the Spectator, Professor Alan F. Segal responds to some of his critics and explains in substantial detail why he is opposed to granting her tenure. He takes care to address his concerns solely to her scholarship, not her opinions, and he raises several points I haven't seen raised before. Here's part of his conclusion:

But the issue in a tenure scrutiny must be focused on the quality of the work. My opinion comes after having read her dissertation and her book carefully, after having served for six years on Barnard’s ATP committee, and after having been a chair myself, charged with preparing cases in my department, as well as being professionally interested in the fields she needs to make her case. My judgment is “No.” Her theory of the production of knowledge in science based on archaeology in Israel is worth little without clear substantiating data. The book is so tendentious that even were a second book-length manuscript available, which one normally expects in this field for tenure in our university, it would probably not change my judgment. Why should we be stampeded into tenuring her, just because there has been negative discussion of her work on the Internet? Ironically, she would have been more successful if she published her dissertation as it is. I respect her desire to add a whole new dimension to her work since her dissertation but it is clear to me that the whole enterprise was unsuccessful.

If you've been making any attempt at all to follow this controversy, this is one piece you don't want to miss. No excerpt can do it justice.

Awesome

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Corrie v. Caterpillar: dismissed again.

So the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit knows the law. Who'da thunk?

Because we agree that plaintiffs’ claims present nonjusticiable political questions that deprive the district court of subject matter jurisdiction when construed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), we do not reach the remaining questions presented under state, federal, and international law. Plaintiffs’ action cannot proceed because its resolution would require the federal judiciary to ask and answer questions that are committed by the Constitution to the political branches of our government.

In other words: GO AWAY.

Yes, parts of the opinion read like an ISM manifesto. But bear in mind that in considering a Motion to Dismiss, the court must accept all facts alleged in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs (i.e., Cynthia and Craig Corrie and various other parties who claim that members of their families were killed or injured when the Israel Defense Forces demolished homes in the Gaza Strip using Caterpiller bulldozers).

The court's decision rests on the fact that, since 1990, the U.S. government has approved and financed the sale of every Caterpillar bulldozer supplied to the IDF in its efforts to contain and deter terrorist attacks against its civilian population. Our judicial system isn't empowered to second guess foreign policy decisions made by the executive and legislative branches of our government.

So will Rachel Corrie's parents, et al., reluctant to step out of the spotlight, appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will probably decline to even hear the case? Stay tuned.

Despite my efforts to keep an eye on this one, I missed the break. Thanks to LGF for the heads up.

Just a little late

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By, oh, about six years, eleven months and two (ok, three) weeks.

The IDF has abandoned its official silence in a seven-year-old case that has been characterized as a "blood libel" against the IDF and the State of Israel.

On September 10, the deputy commander of the IDF's Spokesman's Office, Col. Shlomi Am-Shalom, submitted a letter to the France 2 television network's permanent correspondent in Israel, Charles Enderlin, regarding Enderlin's story from September 30, 2000, in which he televised 55 seconds of edited footage from the Netzarim junction in the central Gaza Strip purporting to show IDF forces shooting and killing 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura.

After its exclusive broadcast that day, France 2 offered the edited film free of charge to all media outlets. The footage, and the story of the purported IDF killing of al-Dura, was quickly rebroadcast around the world.

Within days, al-Dura became a symbol of the Palestinian war against Israel. His name has been repeatedly invoked by terrorists and their supporters as a justification for killing Israelis, Jews and their Western supporters.

In his letter, Am-Shalom asked for the entire unedited 27-minute film that was shot by France 2's Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu-Rahma that day, as well as the footage filmed by Abu-Rahma on October 1, 2000. Am-Shalom requested that the broadcast-quality films be sent to his office no later than September 15. France 2 has yet to hand over the requested film.

Of course, the IDF immediately took responsibility for the "death" of Al-Dura and issued an apology. Maybe it would have been prudent to have requested these tapes, you know, before that?

Please. Read the whole piece. And if you're not yet intimately familiar with the Al-Dura hoax, this is the address you're looking for. Previous posts on this fraud at In Context are here, here and here.

In progress

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The Days of Awe edition of Haveil Havalim (#134) is now up at Soccer Dad's. This will be the last HH for a few weeks, so be sure to get your fill. And check back from time to time as SD will likely be adding more links throughout the day.

Shanah tovah!

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Wishing to all a ketivah tovah ... may you be inscribed for a sweet and joyous New Year!

Shofar Apples and Honey.jpg

In context

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Yes, that's our name. It gets abused a lot, but we're sticking with it.

Take this NYT discussion of the controversy over Barnard College's proposal to award tenure to Nadia Abu El-Haj (about which I've written before). It's balanced, it's bland, it contains quotes and opinions from "both sides" of the debate and it comes to no conclusion. But, in the end, it's not quite so balanced after all, as it adopts the language and the narrative of the anti-Israel camp in framing the debate.

As Dr. Abu El-Haj's tenure deadline approached, Paula R. Stern, a 1982 Barnard graduate who lives in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, began an online petition against the professor for what it called her "demonstrably inferior caliber, her knowing misrepresentation of data and violation of accepted standards of scholarship." As of yesterday, it had more than 2,000 signatures, some of them from Columbia faculty members.

(Note: the petition is here.)

Paula Stern, if I'm not mistaken, lives in Ma'ale Adumim, a beautiful and thriving city of approximately 35,000 people located on a hilltop just east of Jerusalem. It's no more a "settlement" than, say, Albequerque, NM is. Is this a small point? No. Not really. Because when you start with the proposition that the Barnard alumna leading one of the many campaigns against El-Haj's tenure "lives in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank," you've both loaded the dice and stacked the deck.

And the article ends on a decidedly pro-El-Haj note, with an utterly disingenuous quote from an anthropology professor who, channeling his University of Chicago colleague John Mearsheimer, tosses out the tired canard that El-Haj is being "persecuted because she has the courage to focus an analytical lens on subjects that others wish to shield from scrutiny" (my emphasis). The author also injects this broad and unsubstantiated comment:

Dr. Abu El-Haj's supporters say that she has come under attack partly because she is a Palestinian-American and that her opponents often quote her out of context to distort her arguments.

So. How much "context," exactly, do Abu El-Haj's opponents need to put her arguments in their proper perspective? There's a limit to how much of her book we can quote online or in print without subjecting ourselves to claims of copyright infringement. Nevertheless, here's a full paragraph, copied verbatim, which you can check in all of its glorious context at Amazon.com, where it's (currently) included in the "excerpt" from the book that the publisher has made available.

The Jewish state was founded in a territory under colonial dominion. It was the British who first promised Palestine to the Jews as their national home, a pledge that ultimately precluded the possibility of its indigenous Arab inhabitants (some of whom were Jews) achieving sovereignty during the process of decolonization to come. And it was within the context of Palestine that the contours of the so-called "new Hebrew" nation and citizenry took shape. It was within the realities and encounters of a settler-colonial society that national culture and ideology were formed. European nationalist imaginations and histories and, for that matter, the Zionist movement's commitment to distinguishing the new Hebrew person and culture from Jewish counterparts in the Diaspora was not the only relevant context -- and certainly not the primary context -- in relation to which the new Hebrew national culture was fashioned. In fact, the near complete occlusion of "the question of Palestine" (Said 1992) from most Israeli historical and social scientific scholarship can be argued to be but one outcome of "the shaping of an acceptable range of Zionist discourse that set the terms of the polemic and therefore enabled a range of exclusions" (Boyarin 1996:61).

So there you have it. Context. Let's break it down.

The Jewish state was founded in a territory under colonial dominion.

Under whose "colonial dominion" was this territory when the Jewish state was founded? Well, arguably, the dominion of the United Nations, hardly a colonialist/imperialist nation-state, which had awarded a "mandate" for the territory to Great Britain, under certain well-defined and notably anti-colonial conditions. And before that? For a few hundred years, the same territory was under the dominion of the Ottoman Empire, a demonstrably colonialist/imperialist nation-state, which somehow failed to inspire more than a murmer of protest from the oppressed occupied indigenous Arab inhabitants (nor, I might add, from the many indigenous Jewish inhabitants).

It was the British who first promised Palestine to the Jews as their national home, a pledge that ultimately precluded the possibility of its indigenous Arab inhabitants (some of whom were Jews) achieving sovereignty during the process of decolonization to come.

The "context" we are missing here, of course, is the fact that this statement is so demonstrably false as to be laughable. Let's be clear. At least by one account, widely accepted by a large portion of the Western world, it was God, not the British, who first promised what much later came to be known as "Palestine" to the Jews as their national home. More to the point, it wasn't by any stretch of the imagination the Balfour Declaration that ultimately precluded the possibility of the indigenous (and not-so-indigenous) Arab inhabitants achieving sovereignty after the fall of the mandate, but rather the complete and utter (not to mention violent and murderous) refusal of those inhabitants to accept the sovereignty of a single Jew in their midst.

And it was within the context of Palestine that the contours of the so-called "new Hebrew" nation and citizenry took shape. It was within the realities and encounters of a settler-colonial society that national culture and ideology were formed.

This is called "assuming the conclusion," (a/k/a "begging the question" [edit]) and "Facts on the Ground" is full of it. Whatever the "context of Palestine" may be, and whatever early Zionist literature Abu El-Haj may have excavated to uncover a phrase like "new Hebrew nation," the basic premise that permeates her book is exemplified in this impenetrable and confusing assertion. Israeli culture and nationhood is an anachronistic invention imposed upon a land to which it is foreign, an interloper, an unwelcome intruder. It is flawed, its origins are flawed, and therefore any activity that might have the effect of appearing to legitimize it in any way (rigorous archeological research, for example) must be equally flawed. (As an aside, I must add here that I took a few anthropology courses in college and, as I recall, the prime directive of the discipline is that you never approach the culture you're presuming to study with a superior, condescending or judgmental attitude. I'm just saying.)

European nationalist imaginations and histories and, for that matter, the Zionist movement's commitment to distinguishing the new Hebrew person and culture from Jewish counterparts in the Diaspora was not the only relevant context -- and certainly not the primary context -- in relation to which the new Hebrew national culture was fashioned.

May I be excused? Seriously, I suppose that the purpose of this digression is to put an even finer point on El-Haj's hypothesis that Zionism's roots lie firmly in colonialist/imperialist European culture or the rejection thereof and, of course, have nothing to do with "Palestine" or the culture of the indigenous descendants of the Arab invaders who constituted part of the population there before Jewish resettlement began in earnest. But so what? If nationalism was a European concept, then it was equally alien to those non-Europeans who, long after the birth of Zionism, suddenly discovered a previously non-existent "Palestinian" culture, identity and zest for self-determination that had somehow eluded them until the Jews got uppity. Amazing how that works.

In fact, the near complete occlusion of "the question of Palestine" (Said 1992) from most Israeli historical and social scientific scholarship can be argued to be but one outcome of "the shaping of an acceptable range of Zionist discourse that set the terms of the polemic and therefore enabled a range of exclusions" (Boyarin 1996:61).

In plain English, Israeli scholarship has failed to recognize the superior legitimacy of the "Palestinian" narrative because it doesn't want to and, as a colonialist/imperialist oppressor, it doesn't have to. Giving a nod, of course, to Edward Said, without whom most palestinian arabs, let alone much of the world, wouldn't be privy to that narrative, since he virtually invented it (two can play). And, of course, the ubiquitous reference to Daniel Boyarin, one of El-Haj's very favorite authorities (check it out). Boyarin, an Israeli-born academic, is probably most famous for this penetrating comment, published in Tony Kushner and Alisa Solomon's compilation, "Wrestling with Zion:"

Just as Christianity may have died at Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibor...so I fear that my Judaism may be dying at Nablus, Deheishe, Beteen (Beth-El) and El-Khalil (Hebron).

So much for taking Nadia Abu El-Haj out of context. For yet more context, please check out this website, which is devoted to the tenure controversy and the facts behind it.

Tuesday, September 11

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And in Israel, the toll of the wounded at Zikim army base is now up to 69. Islamic Jihad is calling the attack on new recruits a "victory from God."

Carnival time

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This week, Haveil Havalim is here, at Crossing the Rubicon3. But you knew that already, right?

What? You haven't been there yet? So nu? Go! Right now would be a good time.

More birds

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Here's a link to some wonderful photos by Glynn Wilson. They're from Alabama, but we have some of these birds here in SE PA, too. This one, for instance.

hummingbird1b.jpg

Shabbat Shalom.

How propaganda works

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Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Tell a lie often enough, ... We all know the tactics, but sometimes we just get worn down. In today's anti-Israel propaganda war, one of the crucial battles is being fought on the front of terminology. And the Israel bashers are winning big time. Why is that? Well, mostly because they've managed to change the language of the discussion, loading it up with expressions that carry baggage, that assume as concluded the argument being made. Once the media mindlessly adopts the memes, it just gets too hard to constantly contradict them. We start to give up and go with the flow. Whether it's referring to Arafat's terror war as an "intifada" or conceding the term "Palestinian" to refer exclusively to Arabs or describing Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights as "occupied" (rather than "disputed") territories, we allow ourselves, inadvertently, to repeat the progaganda even as we work to refute it.

No one has fought harder against this trend, at least with respect to the "occupied territories" misnomer, than Ocean Guy. And last week he got involved in and posted on a classic example of the extent to which the propaganda has permeated our discourse. The fact that Israel's enemies use and abuse this terminology isn't surprising and we're not going to change that. It's one of their most effective weapons and they aren't going to surrender it. The problem is the people who "have no dog in the fight," who truly are looking for answers and explanations, and who readily admit they don't have the information to even know when they're being gaslighted.

So please follow the links to the essays here and here, and pay special attention to the comments posted by OG and Richard Baehr. We are all in need of at least a refresher course in the valuable history and factual background that these guys provide -- history and background that few people seem to remember any more because there are precious few sources to remind them.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2007 is the previous archive.

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