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Rabbi Praises Anti-Israel, Anti-America Noam Chomsky

Rabbi Isabel de Koninck

Rabbi Isabel de Koninck

My colleague, Lori Lowenthal Marcus, founder of Z Street and national correspondent for The Jewish Press, demonstrates in this article why progressive rabbis at college Hillel chapters are leading this generation of Jewish college students, astray. Witness the honorary degree given to Noam Chomsky at the June 12, 2015 commencement at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Drexel handed out 14 honorary degrees, including Chomsky. He was one of several honorees who spoke at a number of campus ceremonies.  According to the Drexel announcement Chomsky received his honorary degree as “professor emeritus at MIT, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician and political commentator.” The Drexel Hillel executive director and campus rabbi, Rabbi Isabel de Koninck, posted on her Facebook page about being in the presence of Chomsky. de Koninck exclaimed: “That’s me with Chomsky and President Fry!”  A former Drexel Hillel student cited by Marcus said:

A representative of the Jewish community should probably not be in a photo op with him. It is a bit disturbing that a figurehead of the Jewish community would allow herself to be next to him.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some students felt alienated and more hesitant to be involved in the organization after seeing such a photo.

de Koninck is an alumna of Brandies U, received her ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, was a Wexner Fellow and is a board member of the Reconstruction Rabbinical Association.

Chomsky originally hailed from a Philadelphia Jewish family, where his father was a noted Hebrew linguist and Hebrew school administrator; his mother came from an avowed leftist anarchist background. Chomsky was fortunate to have been educated at the University of Pennsylvania where he received in rapid order over the period from 1944 to 1950 a BA, MA and PhD before settling down as a cognitive linguist at MIT. He is a linguist who adhered to an environmental / behavioral model of how speech developed and disputes the view that speech was genetically determined. Despite being the author of 100 books, many of them anti-war, anti-American, anti-Israel and socialist/anarchist tracts. The New York Times Magazine did a profile on him that revealed his biggest problem at the time was estate planning. He had made a fortune from sales of his books published by the progressive London-based Pluto Press. Chomsky came to the fore in 1967 at the peak of the Vietnam anti-war movement as an advocate of the New Left, from which he made a career giving college lectures and receives honoraria.

Marcus notes some of Chomsky’s extreme views.

On Israel:

He has called the Jewish State such a consistent and extreme violator of human rights “that you hardly have to argue about it.” For that reason, he claims, U.S. military aid to Israel is in direct violation of U.S. Law. He also contends that peace proposals made by Hamas have been more “forthcoming” and sound than any proposed by Israel.

Although he is distressed that the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel) Movement has not yet been successful, he is very supportive of it.

On America’s foreign wars and policies:

Chomsky also denied there was proof of Osama bin Laden’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks, and said the U.S. attack on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan would justify a retaliation scenario in which “Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic.”

Also, according to Chomsky, the United States is not a democracy; it is a “plutocracy” in which most citizens are disenfranchised.

12 Years ago, on a rainy night in November 2003 in New Britain, Connecticut, I witnessed the award of a $50,000 honorarium presented to Chomsky  then President of Central Connecticut State University, who subsequently resigned in March 2004 over charges of plagiarism and fiscal misappropriations. I was there in the presence of the Hillel director and students from the nearby University of Hartford. Also present was a fellow Army Intelligence reserve officer and high school history faculty member, Richard Bruneau. At the time CCSU was notoriously “occupied” by pro-Palestinian and anti-Iraq war activists, including a local Chomsky acolyte, distinguished university professor emeritus Norton Mezvinsky.

We witnessed a succession of speakers queuing up at a microphone excoriating the US for the “unlawful” invasion of Iraq, and Israel as a colonial power occupying Palestinian lands. This despite the Jewish nation defending its citizens in the midst of a bloody Intifada.  I recall remarking to Bruneau at this convocation at CCSU   it reminded me of the images of Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies. Except that those participating in the adulation for Chomsky were community pro-Palestinian anti-Israel and anti-War leftists supported by CCSU faculty and its President.  The sense of that occasion was caught in Bruneau’s report on the Chomsky ‘honor’ in a Frontpage magazine article, “College Pres Cheers Chomsky”:

On Tuesday night at Central Connecticut State University, a capacity crowd filled Welte Auditorium to honor Noam Chomsky, touted as “one of the world’s most distinguished scholars” and a “noted foreign policy critic.” A standing ovation and resounding applause greeted Chomsky as CCSU President Richard Judd deemed his appearance a “special night” for venerating “one of the greatest intellectuals” of the last two centuries.

I attended wondering why taxpayers should subsidize reverential treatment for a man who has provided sustenance for Holocaust deniers and who blames America for virtually every international calamity of the past 100 years. Moreover, why pay homage to an anti-American viper who has characterized the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as less vile than American air strikes?

However, I left thinking that maybe Chomsky should have his own television show. The exposure would destroy his credibility, and we could bury his reputation right along with the other enemies of civilization like Mao Zedong, Pol Pot and Fidel Castro, whom he has endorsed.

Fast forward to June 2015 and the Drexel University’s honorary doctorate bestowed on Chomsky and the problem of misguided Hillel leadership.  You may recall the Swarthmore ‘free Hillel’ episode that we posted in December 2013, “Defining Moment: Hillel International Confronts Swarthmore College Chapter on Zionism”.   Swarthmore College is a member of the Hillel of Greater Philadelphia.  The kerfuffle concerned the challenge by the college chapter to the standards imposed by Hillel International CEO Eric Fingerhut.  We wrote:

The confrontation between the Hillel Chapter at elite Swarthmore College near Philadelphia and Fingerhut over the chapter’s so-called Open Hillel policy of presenting speakers delegitimizing Israel marks a new and potentially important development for this Jewish campus organization.

We concluded:

Given our exposure to problems on U.S. campuses over a decade, we applaud what Fingerhut at Hillel International is doing.  We presume that he has the backing of the principal funder of Hillel International programs, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Let us hope Fingerhut’s arrival as President of Hillel International isn’t too late to reign in anti-Zionist efforts like the Swarthmore Open Hillel initiative on many US college campuses.

With the Drexel Chomsky honor, it would appear that more ‘missionary work’ is required by both Fingerhut and the Hillel of Greater Philadelphia to combat demonization of Israel by the Jewish campus group chapters across America. The example of this growing problem with Hillel is chronicled in our series of articles on the anti-Zionist environment at UCIrvine. See in our June 2015 edition: “How One Southern California Jewish Federation Undermines Student Zionism at a State University.”

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review.

Jewish Federation of Orange County undermines Student Zionism at UC-Irvine

Over the past several years we have chronicled anti-Israel hate mongering by campus  Muslim  Student groups and  violation of opposing  views  of pro-Israel  speakers   and events  at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).  In a series of New English Review articles, interviews and Iconoclast blog posts we revealed the heckler’s veto of former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren in February 8, 2010 by an organized disruption of his speech by campus members of the Muslim Student Union (MSU). That was followed by   the arrest, prosecution and conviction of 11 students, 8 from UC Irvine and 3 from UC Riverside for disturbing a public event   The legal action brought by the Orange County District Attorney triggered a one year suspension of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate by the Administration only to be reduced to 10 weeks by the retiring deputy Chancellor at UCI.  In the interim, Students for Justice in Palestine was formed as a placeholder for the suspended MSU.  We also  unraveled  the story  behind  the Jewish Federation of Orange County (JFOC)  affiliate, the Rose Project, funding  the Olive Tree Initiative that brought  students to Israel and the West Bank  in 2009 for an alleged  chance encounters with a Hamas leader, Aziz Duwaik,  former Speaker of the Palestine Legislative Council.  See our NER article:”Does the Olive Tree Initiative have Credibility?”   We questioned  both the leadership of the Jewish Federation of Orange County and the UCI Administration dissembling over this incident.

UCI has a small Jewish student body versus a much larger Muslim one.  For most of the 32 weeks on the UCI campus, things are relatively quiet. However, during Anti Zionism Week (AZW) and Israel Festival, iFEST, sponsored by Anteaters for Israel (AFI)   the decibel levels and protests hate towards Israel rises to a veritable crescendo.  The AZW events organized by the MSU have typically involved anti-Israel speakers, and in the past some like Malik Ali with anti-Semitic statements, holding forth at noon events at the flagpole.  Despite this, JFOC President Shalom Elcott has suggested in the past, there is no anti-Semitism at  UCI.  Last year , an assault by  MSU protesters  disrupted  iFEST with calls for campus police assistance that resulted in a woman student being upbraided by  a JFOC  board member.  This year  AFI President Sharon Shaoulian organized  a three day event  from April 22 to 24th without JFOC funding, but with sponsors including  the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), StandWithUs, CAMERA on Campus, the Israel on Campus Coalition, and Hasbara.  Hillel, with is affiliated with JFOC, provided funding for Shabbat.

What happened during  iFEST  on April 23, 2015 revealed why JFOC   and Hillel have  undermined Jewish student  Zionism at UCI.  This year it was triggered  by an ambush of MSU and Students for Justice in Palestine (JSP)  pouring out  of the Campus Cultural Center  to attack  the Jewish student Zionist group , Anteaters for Israel’s (AFI)  during  their  iFEST Yom Ha’atzmaut  celebration of Israel’s Independence.   The iFEST attendees in opposition to the MSU/SJP protesters created space between the opposing groups  with massed Israeli and American flags  and Israeli dances. A Frontpage Magazine article  by Arnold Ahlert “Pro-Israel Student Group Meets Opposition from Jewish Leadership” revealed what happened when JFOC President Shalom Elcott and aide Lisa Armony, Hillel  Executive, intervened:

Witness Gary Fouse, adjunct UCI lecturer, reported that Lisa Armony, Director of the Jewish Federation of Orange County and Hillel Executive, was among those attempting to move the flag wavers back. One witness reported that they were “approached and told that it was wrong for anyone holding a flag to be standing facing the MSU/anti-Israel faction.” The witness was told that waving the flags was “antagonizing.” One of the flag wavers, who did not wish to be named, said that students who “seemed to be pressured by someone else” approached him and other flag carriers “and told us that we should not march with the flags since it ‘makes us look bad.’” It was further suggested to him that they move down the street and away from the area.

This witness also saw the far more troubling exchange between a man subsequently identified as Shalom Elcott, JFOC president and CEO, and AFI president Sharon Shaoulian. Elcott was seen “getting in the face of” Shaoulian, a third-year student, and screaming at her. As the witness explained, “I did not hear what this man said, but I saw Sharon break into tears,” he recalled.

Shaoulian confirmed that Elcott “advanced on me in a threatening fashion and began screaming at me and berating me” and was “looking down at me two inches away from my face.” He “blamed me..for ‘inciting’ the MSU/SJP to come out to protest,” though the anti-Israel protest happens every year. Elcott allegedly called Shaoulian “derogatory names, a ‘liar’ and a ‘disgrace.’”

Watch these YouTube videos of the UCI  iFEST encounter on the FouseSqwak blog:

Video One

Video Two

Video Three

Here is an excerpt from our NER interview with Shaoulian about the encounter with Elcott  at the UCI iFEST Yom Ha’atzmaut clash with MSU and JSP:

Jerry Gordon:

You had a recent exchange with the head of the Orange  County Jewish Federation.  I wonder if you could talk about that and the context in which that exchange occurred?

Sharon Shaoulian:  Yes, it happened on April the 23rd, which was a big festival day for AFI during iFEST.  Because the Federation, threatened AFI through another student, not to associate with the Zionist Organization of America, my board and I decided that it would be prudent not to ask for a Rose Project Grant and stand more independently on our own.

[…]

We were walking towards Shalom Elcott so he heard me pretty much the entire time, and that’s when he started advancing on me.  I’m five feet tall, and so he got very close to my face, just centimeters away from my face, peering down, screaming at me in front of everybody.  He called me a liar repeatedly, “You’re a liar.  You’re a liar.  They’re not going to come rush through the event.  You’re inciting all of these people.”  He told me that I was a disgrace, that the protesters were here because of me, that I caused all of this uproar, and that I should be ashamed of myself.

When he paused, while berating me, I told him, “You know, sir, what you are talking about?  They [meaning MSU protesters] are here every single year.  They’re not here because of me.  They’re here because we’re trying to be pro-Israel on this campus and they won’t stand for that.”

Elcott continued to yell and to make a scene. I flat out told him, “You, sir, you and Rose Project, you didn’t give us any funding for this event.  You expressly told your son, Jordan, not to be a part of iFEST.  So, with all due respect, why are you even here?  You know, if you didn’t want to have a stake in this event, why are you even here at our event?”

He didn’t say anything.  He obviously had nothing to say. That’s when I told him. “You know what?  You should be ashamed that you’re screaming at me, that you’re yelling at me.” He started recording me. While this was going on, community members were defending me and trying to get him to back away from me.  I think a lot of people were nervous about his proximity to me and the level that he was screaming at me.  Eventually we were pulled apart.  So that’s when Lisa Armony  caught what he did and tried to defend the action to my own parents.

On May 5, 2015, Carolyn Glick commented about the altercation at AFI’s UCI iFEST in a Jerusalem Post (JP) column, “Siding with the Victims of Aggression”:

Last month, the heads of the Jewish Federation in Orange County reportedly interfered with student celebrations of Yom Ha’atzmaut at University of California at Irvine on behalf of Muslim anti-Israel protesters who sought to ruin the festivities. According to a report of the events at the online FrontpageMagazine, the pro-Israel students separated participants in their event from Muslim student protesters by placing a line of students waving Israeli and American flags between them.

The move was angrily opposed by Federation Director Lisa Armony and Federation President Shalom Elcott. They reportedly insisted that the Israeli flags be taken down because they were “antagonizing” the anti-Israel protesters.

The accusation against JFOC of the FPM expose and Glick’s JP column comment led to the  response by Armony in the JP blog post, “Turning against fellow pro-Israel advocates“ of May 14th:

The accusation that we interfered with a Yom Ha’atzmaut [Independence Day] celebration at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) on behalf of anti-Israel protesters is based solely on a recent piece from the online FrontpageMagazine. The blogger relied primarily on unnamed sources and unsubstantiated assertions to paint a misleading picture of the festival, JFFS, and Elcott’s and my activities.

We reject the claims in the article that we told people to stop waving Israeli flags at anti-Israel protesters, claiming that we accept anti-Jewish discrimination on campus and “stand with the (anti-Israel) aggressor against the (Jewish) victim.”

FrontpageMagazine on May 15, 2015 published an editorial castigating Shalom Elcott and Armony for obfuscating what occurred at AFI witnessed by others, “An Attack on Front Page from the Jewish Federation of Orange County.”  That was crystallized by the May 4th FPM article suggesting  that their interference  at the IFEST event and shameful attack  on AFI President Shaoulian  were  an affront to decency  and unwarranted.   FPM considers JFOC’s defense of its actions calumnious.  The FPM editorial concluded:

Without a doubt the JFOC has much to answer for. The JFOC can be assured Frontpage will continue our no-holds-barred coverage of its brazen attacks on Jewish students and pro-Israel activists without apology.

The JFOC  alleged defense  reminds this writer of  J Street’s Orwellian meme of “Pro-Peace, Pro Israel”.  But this is nothing new for Elcott and JFOC. This is just the latest example of their nefarious activities on the UCI campus.

Elcott’s interference with Jewish student Zionist activities on the UCI campus amounts to bullying:  denial of free speech rights of Shaoulian and fellow AFI members. It amounts to a heckler’s veto equivalent to what occurred in 2010 during former Israeli US Ambassador Oren’s speech at UCI when MSU members shut down his talk.  The Elcott and Armony actions at iFEST and subsequent  slander of both Glick and FPM   does not  serve the interests of the Jewish student community at UCI.  Ms. Armony’s Jerusalem Post blog post upbraiding Glick and FPM  was emblematic of  what Dr. Johnson once said about patriotism, the last refuge of a scoundrel.  Witness JFOC claiming the mantle of a ‘responsible’ adult leadership on all pro-Israel activities at UCI implying less than adult behavior by Zionist AFI. That is truly topsy turvy  chutzpah.  The screaming attack by Elcott against Shaoulian  demeaning her  is not ‘adult behavior’. It is indicative of manifestly  deep rooted animus  against critics of his leadership at  JFOC especially   concerned  Jewish community  supporters  of the Jewish Student Zionism  of AFI.  The JFOC attacks against a colleague, Nonie Darwish, preventing her from speaking at an AFI-sponsored event in 2014, accusing her of being an “Islamophobe  are indicative of an  out of control  leadership at JFOC.   It is past time for responsible directors of JFOC to review Elcott’s unacceptable behavior.  Perhaps this most recent episode during IFEST at UCI may result in a search for new more effective leadership at JFOC.

More will be revealed about JFOC’s behavior in this latest episode in our interview with Ms. Shaoulian to be published in the June edition of the NER.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

If you want to know what’s in the Nuclear Deal with Iran — Ask Tehran

Yesterday, we wrote how 47 Republican Senators, led by Arkansas U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, did us a real favor when they sent an open letter to the “Leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran”. By published the open letter to Iran’s leaders, responses from Tehran revealed that the Congress may be by-passed and its approval might not be required to ratify a nuclear deal with Iran. Secretary of State Kerry indicated during his Senate Armed Services Hearing Wednesday that the Memorandum of Understanding was “non-binding” and thus no approval was required. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki affirmed that position. The White House “We the People” website petition campaign created by  “C.H.” of Bogota, New Jersey accused the 47 signatories of ‘traitorous’ actions violating the 1799 Logan Act which  bars private persons, but not members of Congress, from conducting  foreign relations was simply a smokescreen. Ditto for the New York Daily News front page and editorial declaration published Tuesday. 

Two independent legal experts confirmed the Constitutional requirements for review of foreign treaties and Congressional executive agreements. Sen. Cotton’s letter also pointed out that any executive order signed by the President may not survive past the end of his term in 22 months and might be modified or terminated for cause by any successor. That raised a question of why the Memorandum of Understanding was non-binding. That provoked responses from both Foreign Minister Zarif and Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei.  While the latter railed in rhetoric about how the GOP initiative reflected “the disintegration of the U.S.” and why our representations can’t be trusted and laughing at the State Department citing Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. It was left to Foreign Minister Zarif, to reveal that Congress wouldn’t have to approve anything saying: “The executive agreement was not bilateral but rather multi-lateral with the rest of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, subject to a resolution of the Security Council.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu wrote in a Jewish Press article published today, “U.N. Security Council’s lifting of sanctions and endorsement of a deal might make Congress irrelevant.” He then cites the observation of Omri Ceren, Communications Director for the Washington, DC-based The Israel Project:

The letter forced the Administration to explain why they’re icing Congress out of Iran negotiations, and now that explanation has ignited a firestorm. The administration looks like it intentionally chose a weaker, non-binding arrangement, rather than a treaty, to avoid Senate oversight

After we published our clarification of Sen. Cotton’s letter, our colleague Ken Timmerman wrote and thanked us for our piece. He said more would be revealed in his FrontPage Magazine, article published today, “Iran Deal Secrets Revealed – by Iran.”

Here are some excerpts from the Timmerman article.

On why Zarif said Congressional approval wasn’t required:

 That if the current negotiation with P5+1 result[s] in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.

Timmerman’s observation:

The Obama administration has told Congress that it won’t submit the nuclear agreement with Iran for Congressional approval, but now Zarif is saying that it will be submitted to the United Nations, to form the basis of a United Nations Security Council resolution, presumably aimed at lifting UN sanctions on Iran.

That prompted Sen. Coker (R-TN) and Foreign Relations Senate Committee chair co-sponsor of The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 to write President Obama Thursday:

There are now reports that your administration is contemplating taking an agreement, or aspects of it, to the United Nations Security Council for a vote.

Enabling the United Nations to consider an agreement or portions of it, while simultaneously threatening to veto legislation that would enable Congress to do the same, is a direct affront to the American people and seeks to undermine Congress’s appropriate role.

Timmerman then recounts the repeated Iranian violations of the interim Joint Plan of Action adopted in November 2013 and how the Administration has caved to Iran’s demands:

When the negotiations began, the U.S. was insisting that Iran comply with five United Nations Security Council resolutions and suspend all uranium enrichment. Now the discussion is on how many centrifuges Iran can spin, and more importantly, how many new generation (and more efficient) centrifuges Iran can install.

On issue after issue, it’s the United States – not Iran – that has given way. When Iran got caught violating the terms of the November 2013 agreement within the first two months, by enriching fresh batches of uranium to 20%, the United States pretended not to notice.

When the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that Iran had produced fresh batches of 20% uranium on Jan. 20, 2014, no one called it a violation, highlighting instead Iranian steps to convert a portion of the 20% uranium into fuel rods for a research reactor.

Anyone who was been observing Iran’s nuclear cheat and retreat over the past twenty years recognizes the pattern: Iran is constantly pushing the limits, and when they get called out, they take a step backwards until they think we are no longer watching, when they do it again.

And we never punish them. Not ever.

Timmerman asked a rhetorical question and gave the obvious answer:

Can Obama legally circumvent Congress and go directly to the United Nations?

Undoubtedly, just as he could ignore multiple U.S. laws – and his own statements – that prevented him for granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens by Executive Order.

But if the Iranians really believe they can find sanctuary from Congress in Turtle Bay, former White House speech writer Marc Thiessen suggests they should think again.

“The US constitution trumps international law. The U.S. constitutional trumps the United Nations,” he told FoxNews anchor Megyn Kelly on Thursday. “The Supreme Court has actually ruled on this.”

It should be crystal clear to anyone observing the U.S.-Iran charade what Tehran wants from these talks: absolute victory over the United States.

Iran’s “moderate” president Hassan Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator himself, said it the day the November 2013 agreement was announced: “In #Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iran’s national will,” he tweeted victoriously.

So why is Iran engaging in this subterfuge?  It is all about achieving victory, meaning continuing the inevitable development of nuclear weapons, and having their financial sanctions lifted:

This is the deal-maker for the Iranian regime, the one thing they want so bad they actually will make concessions to achieve it.

But wait: even though the Iranians claim the sanctions are unjust, and that all the sanctions imposed over the past two decades must be removed instantaneously for a deal to be signed, that does not mean they will walk away if some sanctions stay in place.

“What they really care about are the financial sanctions,” an Iranian businessman familiar with the way the Tehran regime moves money told me. “As long as they can use and move dollars, the rest they don’t care about.”

Iran has lived so long with sanctions on dual use technology and weapons procurement that they have learned how to get around them. “They can get anything they want,” the businessman told me. “It may cost them 5 percent or 10 percent more, but they consider that the cost of doing business.”

So be prepared for a last minute, Hail Mary deal that will lift financial sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iranian promises not to build the bomb.

If such a deal will prevent or even delay a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East is anyone’s guess.

Remember, Sen. Cotton’s observation in a Tweet, after hearing Secretary Kerry’s testimony on Capitol Hill, Wednesday:

cotton tweet on iranEDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, second from right. Source: CNN September 2014.

A rebuttal to Ari Shavit’s book “My Promised Land”

my promised land book coverWhen I opened David Hornik’s  FrontPage Magazine article, “Ari Shavit’s ‘Doomed’ Israel”, I felt compelled to answer him, as he had not read Shavit’s New York Times “best seller”, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel.   Shavit’s book is the Winner of the Natan Book Award. On the reverse of the jacket are blurbs extolling his personalized view of Israel by the likes of Franklin Foer, Editor of The New Republic, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, Rabbi Daniel Gordis author and Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem college in Jerusalem, former Newsweek editor and author, Jon Meacham and author Daphne Merkin.  They extol it as “beautifully written”, “full of moral complexity”, “powerful book about the making of Modern Israel”, “passionate and fair minded”.  In the course of his polemic against Shavit’s theme of ‘gloom and doom’ for Israel, Hornik quotes a review by Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse:

However, a review by another of my esteemed authors and commentators, Ruth Wisse, makes me all the more leery of putting any time into the book.

“[E]verywhere in My Promised Land,” Wisse writes, “the techniques of literary foreshadowing are deployed to telegraph impending doom.” And yet, “according to Shavit himself, his fears arise less from what Arab and Muslim leaders intend to do to Israel than from what Israel has done to them.”

Israel, in other words, as a doomed country—as comeuppance for its own sins. Sounds all too familiar.

David Hornik may not have read Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land. I have. I found it morally flawed and in many cases redolent of the peace at all costs mentality of the marginalized left in Israel and their supporters here in the West.  Here is an Israeli leftist intellectual who engages in secular ‘yahrzeit’ memorializing all of the disappeared Arab villages and towns whose residents fled the UN partitioned areas at the behest of the Arab Higher Council warning Arabs to flee to let five invading armies crush the embryonic Jewish nation, the State of Israel.  Nowhere in Shavit’s book does he recognize the enormous toll of Jewish lives in the War for Independence, 6,000 or 1% of the 600,000 Jews.  As one graphic example he does not mention the massacre of  79 Jewish doctors, nurses and others in the April 1948 Mt. Scopus Hospital medical convoy.  His heart bleeds for  the ”massacre” of Lydda when the embryonic IDF was allegedly ordered by Ben Gurion in July 1948 to sweep out the Arab fifth columnists and Jordanian Legionnaires  from Lydda and Ramle after the Arab notables had agreed to surrender.

“Lydda 1948”, a chapter in his book,  becomes an iconic theme that Israel haters in the US and elsewhere used to promote Shavit’s book.  Note  Shavit’s article on “Lydda 1948”  that is published by the New Yorker in the October 21, 2013 issue.  Middle East media watchdog  CAMERA unloaded on Shavit five days later with a broadside of facts about what occurred in the battles for Lydda and who triggered it.   Witness the Margaret Warner interview with him on Friday, December 20, 2013, on the PBS New Hour in the venue of the historic Washington synagogue, at Sixth and I Streets, see here.  All Shavit talks about are the two pillars of ‘intimidation’ and ‘occupation’, that Israel is led by an unworthy government continuing the mantra of ‘woe is me’ Israel is doomed.

One of the more  revealing chapters in Shavit’s book is “Up the Galilee, 2003”, that recounts his journey with Palestinian–Israeli attorney Mohammed Dahla, his co-chair of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel  to visit Sheikh Raed Salah of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in the village of Umm el-Fahem. What I have taken to call Hamas in Israel. Then they visit Azmi Bishara, the traitorous former Knesset member of  the Arab List Balad party at his office Nazareth. Both Bishara and Salah are fervent Islamist enemies of Israel and the West.  Shavit says he “loves” his friend Dahla, a leader of “Israel’s Palestinian Community”.  Shavit concludes:

He is as Israeli as any Israeli I know. He is one of the sharpest friends I have. We share a city, a state, a homeland.  We hold common values and beliefs. And yet there is a terrible schism between us. What will become of us, Mohammed?  I wonder in the dark. What will become of my daughter Tamara, your son Omar?  What will happen to my Land, your land?

Perhaps fellow Israelis, including Hornik may have answered Shavit.  They are no longer buying Ha’aretz, what some have mockingly called  the New York Times of Israel.  Shavit’s colleague at Ha’aretz, Amira  Hass has been the center of controversy with her biased Pro-Palestinian coverage and allegations of radicalization of the newspaper.  Arnold Shocken publisher of Ha’aretz  has been forced to lay off staff for this newspaper of record in Israel because of its biased coverage and other competition. This is perhaps reflection of the free Hebrew version of Israel HaYom backed  by American magnate Sheldon Adelson that  has clobbered  the circulation of Ha’aretz, forced Ma’ariv to lay off its print staff  and threatened  many other Israeli dailies.

Most Israelis don’t harbor for one moment  the gloom and doom theme of Shavit and his book.  They are reinventing our world with their impressive high tech developments backed by savvy venture capitalists from around the globe.  They are producing oil and gas off and on-shore to achieve energy independence  generating royalty revenues and wealth to ensure a future.  Moreover, Israelis are committed to an active national defense of that future despite the existential threats of Iran’s nuclear project.  Why? Because their Jewish faith invented a future. A future embedded in the national anthem of the State of Israel,  Hatikvah,  “the Hope”.  That Promised Land is not Shavit’s promised land of gloom and doom.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.