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Senate Foreign Relations Committee passes Act aimed at Defunding Palestinian Terror

American Taylor Force killed in Jaffa, Israel by a Palestinian terrorist, March 9, 2016

Before Congress adjourned today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Taylor Force Act (S. 1697) on a bi-partisan basis with all Republican members voting. Most Democratic members voted for the measure with one amendment introduced by Virginia Democrat Sen.Tim Kaine to keep any impounded funds for the Palestinian Authority in escrow for a year beyond any sequestration action. Other Democratic members of the Committee who voted for the Act included, Ranking Member Ben Cardin (Md), Robert Menendez (NJ), Chris Coons (De) and Ed Markey (MA).

The Act is directed at withholding U.S.funds from supporting the Palestinian Authority “pay for slay” program providing monthly stipends to terrorists in Israeli jails or their surviving families.

Analysis of the Palestinian Authority budget for 2017 revealed that such payments accounted for half of foreign aid of $693 million, $345 million. The only exempted funding allowed is for humanitarian and security purposes.

The State Department is required to report to Congress every six months on compliance with the Act. The measure now moves to a vote of the full Senate following its return from the summer recess.

The Senate Committee approval of the Act was attacked by the Chief Palestinian Authority representative in Washington, Husam Zomlot.  According to Ha’aretz Zomlot claimed  it would ‘harm’ the flagging peace process with Israel. Absurdly, Zomlot said the ‘pay for slay’ funding program “provides for the security and well-being of its people” who live under Israeli occupation.

The legislation won the support of most major US Jewish organizations including AIPAC, that announced support two days before  the scheduled vote. The Zionist Organization of America and the Orthodox Union were early supporters of the Taylor Force Act.

The eponymous Act is named for the late Taylor Force, a 29 year old West Point graduate and former US Army artillery officer, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan . He was stabbed and killed by a Palestinian terrorist at a restaurant in Jaffa, Israel on March 9, 2016. His surviving widow was severely injured in the attack. Force, a student at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, was in Israel at the time with colleagues leaning about the dynamics of the country’s high tech start up entrepreneurship.

School Chancellor at Vanderbilt Nicholas S. Zeppos issued the following statement at the time of Force’s tragic death:

This horrific act of violence has robbed our Vanderbilt family of a young hopeful life and all of the bright promise that he held for bettering our greater world, Taylor’s family and his friends and colleagues have our deepest sympathy and utmost support.

Should the full Senate follow suit  and pass the law sending it on to President Trump for his signature  it will be a living memorial aimed at stopping the incentive for Palestinians to commit violence heedlessly taking the lives of Israelis and visiting Americans like the late Taylor Force z”l of blessed memory.

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

White House Officials meet with Anti-IDF Israeli Leftists

Why did  Obama National Security  and State Department officials meet  with Israeli leftist NGO Breaking the Silence to provide maligned ‘testimonies’ of IDF reservists about allegations of “revenge firing” on Palestinians during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge?  Especially, since testimonies of fellow serving IDF reservists who appeared on IsraelChannel 2 in early May 2015 said the ‘testimonies” were a pack of lies.  Earlier this week Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called out the Swiss Foreign Ministry for funding a photographic exhibit mounted by Breaking the Silence.  This is not the first time for an Israeli objection to foreign programs funding  programs of  the leftist group.  A prior episode occurred following  the 2009 Operation Cast Lead when groups in The Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK launching similar disinformation efforts maligning IDF self-defense operations against the rocket wars in Gaza perpetrated by Hamas.

Breaking the Silence was formed in 2004 during the Second Intifada.  NGO Monitor reported the following sources of the group’s funds:

2013/4 donors include the European UnionMisereor (Germany), Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), NorwayAECID (Spain), Dan Church Aid (Denmark), ICCO (Netherlands), CCFD (France), Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Sigrid Rausing Trust (UK), SIVMO (Netherlands), Rockefeller Brothers FundOpen Society InstituteNew Israel Fund, and others

Based on financial information submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, in accordance with the Israeli NGO transparency law, BtS received 992,901 NIS from foreign governmental bodies in 2014 and 1,271,368 NIS in 2013 (accessed March 15, 2014).

In 2008-2013, the New Israel Fund (NIF) authorized grants worth $560,428 to Breaking the Silence (200820092010201120122013).

Received two grants from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund totaling $145,000 (2012-2015).

Matt Duss, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, known for its agitation against Israeli settlement policies in the disputed territories, escorted the Breaking the Silence representatives to both Obama NSC and State Department Human Rights meetings.  This is another instance of Israeli leftists being given entre by the Obama Administration seeking to delegitimize the conduct of IDF front line soldiers during combat in Gaza against the rocket and terror tunnel wars of Hamas.  This has infuriated Ministry of Defense and IDF commanders from the platoon level on up to the Chief of Staff.

Here are excerpts from a Ha’aretz report about yesterday’s Breaking the Silence meetings in Washington:

Senior White House officials met this week with members of the left-wing NGO Breaking the Silence. The meeting, the first of its kind, dealt with testimonies that the organization had collected on alleged human-rights violations by the Israel Defense Forces during last summer’s war in Gaza. The meetings were held a few days after Israel’s Foreign Ministry tried to get a Breaking the Silence exhibition to be held in Switzerland canceled.

Matt Duss, president of the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, organized the meeting between Breaking the Silence representatives and members of the White House National Security Council.

The meeting did not take place at the White House but at the offices of an American nonprofit in the capital.

A Breaking the Silence representative also held a separate meeting at the State Department with senior officials in its human rights bureau.

Duss told Ha’aretz that during the meetings, Breaking the Silence presented its recent report last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. Obama administration officials reacted with a great deal of interest, Duss said, asking “many questions about the vetting process of the witnesses, the testimonies and the fact-checking.”

According to Duss, the fact that both White House staff and the State Department held meetings with Breaking the Silence shows that the organization has an open door to the administration.

“It is in line with what Obama said recently. These are the shared values between Israel and the United States – wanting to improve our society,” said Duss. This is Washington recognizing “they are young Israeli patriots who are trying to improve their society,” he added.

An Obama Administration official said: “U.S. Government officials met with Breaking the Silence, as we routinely meet with a range of actors from official and non-official international groups, including from civil society.”

The State Department also responded, “Officers from the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor met with a representative from the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence. The State Department regularly meets with a broad array of political and civil society organizations from various countries worldwide.”

[…]

Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland, Yigal Caspi, lodged a protest with the Swiss Foreign Ministry over it, and asked that donations and support for a group that deals with the “defamation of Israel” be halted.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who this week called for action against the Breaking the Silence exhibition, said the organization “is working against Israel from within,” adding, “We will not ignore it when an organization whose whole purpose is to defame IDF soldiers works in the international arena to seriously damage Israel’s image.”

In early May 2015 several soldiers and officers who served in a tank unit appeared on Israeli Channel 2.  The Algemeiner reported their contrasting comments disputing testimonies acquired by Breaking the Silence.  The soldiers spoke on Israel’s Channel 2 to give their side of the story to counter the testimonies compiled by Breaking the Silence.

One soldier called the report “a wicked story” and a “stab in the back.”

Another soldier, Lt. Oren (a pseudonym), was a platoon commander in the 7th Brigade during the previous Operation Cast Lead, which began in late 2008. The Breaking the Silence report claimed that one of the tank commanders in Oren’s platoon carried out a “revenge attack” by targeting civilian houses in Gaza.

Oren refuted the claim, saying “this nonsense about ‘fire on the house that you want for revenge’ is simply a total lie.”

He said “it is very hard for me to believe that one of ours said something like that, definitely not someone who was there.”

Oren, who was personally involved in the operation, told a different story.

He said that any “revenge” incident might have occurred after Armored Core Capt. Dmitri Levitas (26) was killed in battle, but that the Breaking the Silence testimony “simply is not true.”

He said despite the fact that he and his fellow soldiers were severely affected by the death of Levitas, “we maintained combat ethics.”

“While it’s true there was heavy [IDF] fire, this fire was directed at positions from which we were being fired upon, or suspicious locations,” he recalled.

IDF tanks only fired “in accordance with procedure, and after a very strict identification process,” he said.

Oren emphasized that despite “losing a great commander and friend … we still abided by shooting procedure.”

A decade ago I attended a presentation at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut by an IDF Sgt, a refusenik reservist. Anti-Israel and BDS leftist group Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) sponsored the event at Wesleyan. The IDF reservist had served a term in a military jail for refusing to serve with his unit in the disputed territories during the Second Intifada.  The packed amphitheater lecture hall was filled with attentive students and some faculty listening to the reservist rationale about why he refused to serve because of alleged human rights problems occasioned by Israeli occupation.  When it came time for Q&A I raised my hand, was recognized by the moderator.  I asked the refuseniks IDF Sgt. if he knew anything about the group he was marching with at his next stop in San Francisco. He said, “no”.  I told both he and the audience that ANSWER, the sponsoring group was rabidly anti-Semitic.  I explained that the ADL considered A.N.S.W.E.R one of the leading anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic groups in the US.  A.N.S.W.E.R stands for Act Now to Stop War and Racism.  The ADL also considered  the JVP on the leading anti-Zionist groups in the U.S. The refusenik sheepishly smiled and scurried off in a clutch of admiring students and faculty for refreshments shepherded by his JVP minders.

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

In ‘Progressive’ Madison, Wisconsin, an Outbreak of Antisemitic Hate

Jim Hoft of the Gateway Pundit reported on a Ha’aretz article  on an outbreak of Antisemitic screed spray painted on garage doors in liberal Madison, Wisconsin, Thirty Madison, Wisconsin Homes Spraypainted With Anti-Semitic Slurs.”   A h/t to Ken Lamb of Pensacola for forwarding this  hate screed attack  plastered on garage doors in Wisconsin’s capital.  However, as the Ha’aretz report notes there were over 30 such reports of Antisemitic hate reported in Madison in 2014. Perhaps time for Gov. Walker to investigate the hate mongers ringing Lake Mendota. Are these KKKers, white supremacists?  How could this ferment occur in liberal Madison?

At least thirty Madison, Wisconsin homes were spray-painted with anti-Semitic slurs this weekend.

Haaretz reported:

At least 30 homes in Madison, Wisconsin, were vandalized overnight Friday, some with anti-Semitic slurs and swastikas.

Other residents awoke to derogatory words geared toward women and other minorities sprayed on their homes, cars, garage doors, mailboxes and driveways, according to the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism.

One resident, Jim Stein, told Wisconsin television station WISC TV, “Everyone in the neighborhood is pretty upset.”

Stein woke up Saturday morning to discover “F— Jews” scrawled on a garage door across the street and a swastika on the driveway.

“It was, of course, extremely disturbing to me,” Stein, who is the president of the Jewish Federation of Madison, told the station. Other graffiti included a garage door defaced with the words “KKK Bound.”

There have been over thirty confirmed antisemitic incidents reported in Wisconsin in 2014.
JS Online reported:

There were 33 confirmed incidents of anti-Semitism of those reported in 2014, compared with 13 a year earlier, the audit says.

They included an unprecedented number of swastikas drawn on public and private property, continued harassment of Jewish middle and high school students, and attacks on Zionism and Israel that went beyond legitimate political criticism to attack Jews personally, according to the audit.

Among the confirmed incidents:

■ At least nine swastikas were drawn, carved or painted at various places, including public streets, the driveway of a Jewish high school student’s home and in an elevator of a Jewish institution. Swastikas and a Star of David were carved at two golf greens, causing $5,000 in damage. Another included a reference to “1488,” a known white supremacist symbol.

■ A man entered a Jewish facility shouting “All Jews will (expletive) burn.”

■ At one business, a hairdresser told a potential client that she doesn’t cut “Jewish hair.” At another, an employee called his boss a “stingy Jew” when he refused to give him a raise.

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

American Jewish Baby Killed by Hamas Terrorist in Jerusalem

Baby-Killed-NY-Jerusalem

Insert is photo of three month old Chaya Zisel Braun. Photo courtesy NBC Channel 4 New York.

Three month old Chaya Zisel Braun was run down and killed at the Silwan Light Rail Station in Jerusalem by a Hamas terrorist, 21 year-old Abdel Rahman  Al-Shalodi. Eight other persons were injured in the crowd he ploughed into on the station platform. Ha’aretz reported:

According to witnesses, Al-Shalodi drove the car 14 meters on the tracks itself, hitting disembarking passengers and continuing on along the length of the track. He stopped after hitting a pole a few hundred meters down and then attempted to flee on foot, when he was shot, arrested, and hospitalized.

[…]

An eyewitness reported seeing the car hit the mother and baby and continue plowing through the crowd. “The stroller was shattered and the mother was screaming.

[…]

The stroller flew into the air and the baby was found 10 meters away from the stroller.”

Hamas issued a statement calling Al-Shaludi’s murder of Chaya Zisel an “act of heroism”.

Al-Shaludi  had served  time  in an Israeli prison on terrorist-related charges.  Chaya Zisel  parents and visiting grandparents from America, the Halperins, grieved for their loss. Shimon Halperin and his wife had just arrived in Israel on their first visit after their birth of their granddaughter to see Chaya Zisel. Instead they were rushed  to Hadassah Hospital  on Mount Scopus   Chaya  succumbed to her injuries and  was laid to rest  at a Jerusalem cemetery  at midnight, Wednesday, October 22nd.  Al -Shaludi’s  mother,  did not acknowledging her son’s murderous action.   The Times of Israel  reported 42 year old Inas Sharif  saying “I feel [Chaya’s mother’s pain, I am a mother after all. I don’t wish for any mother in the world to lose her child.”

 Biased media  obfuscated what occurred on Wednesday  at the Silwan Light Rail stop in Jerusalem located at the bottom of Ammunition Hill.

What passes for the leadership of the Palestinian Authority (PA)  stoked the violence that broke out during the recent Sukkoth holiday.  The AP had an initial headline, “ Israeli Police shoot man in East Jerusalem”  and only after complaints about it being misleading changed it to read,  “Palestinian Kills Baby at Jerusalem Station. “ The  U.S. consulate in Jerusalem issued statement hours after the event  calling it a “traffic incident”.  When the news caught up  at Foggy Bottom  they called it an act of terrorism, but with the usual proviso of  “all parties remaining calm.”  Jen Psaki  State Department Press Spokesperson made  the following statement:

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem. We express our deepest condolences to the family of the baby, reportedly an American citizen, who was killed in this despicable attack, and extend our prayers for a full recovery to those injured. We urge all sides to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this incident.

Jerusalem Mayor  Nir Barkat said:

We must restore peace to Jerusalem – as I said for months, the situation in Jerusalem is intolerable and we must be acting unequivocally against the violence taking place in the city,

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu put the blame squarely on the PA leadership. He said:

This is how Abu Mazen’s  partners in government act, the same Abu Mazen who – only a few days ago – incited  a terrorist attack in Jerusalem.

Khaled Abu Toameh  squarely put the blame for the eruption of violence in Jerusalem  on PA President Abbas in a Gatestone Institute article, today, “Abbas’s Responsibility for Murder.” Toameh wrote:

To understand what drives a young Palestinian to carry out such a deadly attack, one need look at the statements of Palestinian Authority leaders during the past few weeks.

The anti-Israel campaign of incitement reached its peak with Abbas’s speech at the UN a few weeks ago, when he accused Israel of waging a “war of genocide” in the Gaza Strip. Abbas made no reference to Hamas’s crimes against both Israelis and Palestinians.

Whatever his motives, it is clear that the man who carried out the most recent attack, was influenced by the messages that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership have been sending their people.

Toameh drew attention  to the record of incitement  perpetrated by Abbas and  his cohorts like chief negotiator Saeb Erekat .  They concocted  the hate that led to Wednesday ‘s vehicular homicide by  al-Shalodi.  There was  Abbas’ UN General Assembly speech in September accusing Israel of waging  a “war of Genocide” in the 50-day war against  terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.  This from a man who ordered Palestinian security to cooperate with Israel  during the rocket and terror tunnel conflict fomented by his partner in the unity government, Hamas.   Abbas used the Sukkoth visits to the Kotel to inflame Palestinian. That  resulted in Israeli police cordoning off the Al Aqsa Mosque preventing Palestinians from raining rocks and Molotov cocktails on  the festival crowd of observant Jews below.  Abbas railed about Jewish desecration of Islamic  holy places. Abbas said:

We must prevent them from entering the Noble Sanctuary by all means. This is our Al-Aqsa. Al-Aqsa is a red line: Israel must be aware that the ongoing raids and attacks on Al-Aqsa will cause a volcanic explosion in the area that will reach Israel. Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Palestine, and without it, there will be no state.

The flash point for al-Shalodi’s  terrorist act was reports that Jewish  “settlers” were buying buildings in the Silwan  section in Jerusalem.   The National , published in the UAE had  a  report that vaulted  to world coverage  when it popped up on Yahoo News, “By hook or by crook, settlers rack up gains in East Jerusalem.” The report looks suspiciously like hate filled PA agit-propaganda , tantamount to throwing oil on the fire of the “silent Intifada”.

By fair means or foul, Jewish settlers are notching up property gains in the heart of Arab east Jerusalem through a series of shady deals involving front men or straw companies.

The process by which such properties are acquired is shrouded in mystery, with the new Jewish occupants often moving in under the cover of darkness to avoid confrontation with residents.

The latest controversial acquisitions took place in Silwan, a densely populated Palestinian neighborhood on a steep hillside flanking the southern walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

In the past three weeks, hardline settlers have moved into 35 apartments there, sparking anger and consternation among Palestinians who vehemently oppose such moves as a hostile attempt to Judaise Silwan.

Some were allegedly acquired fraudulently, and others legally.

Jewish groups buying up property in the heart of Arab neighborhoods is an explosive political issue because it touches on the future of east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as capital of a future state.

The reality is that Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal and undivided capital. East Jerusalem was formally annexed  by the Knesset on June 28, 1967, reunified following the Six Day War.. Earlier this month we posted on the Iconoclast:

The President and State Department condemned  Netanyahu’s announcement of 2,610 apartments in Givat Hamatos completing the Jewish areas of the municipality and separation from Bethlehem.   The Administration said the move would “poison relations” among Israel’s allies.  Nir Barkat , Mayor of Jerusalem,  took exception to the Administration’s criticism of the building program noting that it was anti-discriminatory and had been approved over two years ago.  Nearly half of those apartments were allocated for Arabs. There were death threats against Arab property brokers for sales of apartments to Jews in the Silwan section of Jerusalem, that prior to the War for Independence had been occupied by Jews.

Wednesday’s vehicular homicide of three month old Chaya Zisel Braun was perpetrated by Hamas terrorist al-Shaludi  with  PA President Abbas, as  an accomplice after the fact for inciting the terrorist act.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. Photos courtesy of NER.

IDF arrests 100 Hamas Leaders after kidnapping of three Jewish boys

It hit us like a proverbial 2×4 this morning when we opened today’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) with a report on 100 Hamas leaders arrested yesterday by the IDF, “Israel Arrests Hamas Officials”. These arrests were in retaliation from the alleged Hamas kidnapping of three Jewish youths caught hitchhiking home five days ago from a yeshiva in the Gush Etzion bloc between Bethlehem and Hebron. See our Iconoclast post, “IDF Raids Seek an American and Two Israelis Allegedly Abducted by Hamas”.

Among those  the IDF detained was  Abdul Aziz Duwaik, speaker of the non-functioning Palestinian parliament and a University of Pennsylvania Architecture graduate.   Students  from the  University of California  at Irvine Olive Tree Initiative program purportedly met him by accident in the disputed territories back in 2009. We chronicled that in our NER article, “Does the Olive Tree Initiative Lack Credibility?”   This is not the first arrest for Duwaik as the IDF previously detained him in January 2012 in the wake of the October 2011 release by Hamas of former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, held in captivity in Gaza since his capture by terrorists in 2006.  Duwaik had previously been detained by the IDF in 2006, when Shalit was originally abducted.

Investigations by local Orange County Zionist activists, among  them Deidre or “Dee” Sterling  and Debra Glazer, had revealed funding of the OTI program in part by an affiliate of the Orange County Jewish Federation, the Rose Project,  and the Chancellor of the UCAL University system. Those revelations of the chance encounter  with Duwaik raised contretemps over why a Jewish Federation of Orange County (JFOC)  was funding the OTI program that  put  UCIrvine students, both Jewish and not, in harm’s way during trips to the disputed territories.  A subsequent OTI trip included a visit to Ramallah to pay respects at the tomb of the late Fatah-PLO leader, Yassir Arafat.   In our NER article on the episode we noted:

The JFOC’s credibility problem surfaced from a response to a California Public Records Act (PRA) request by local activists from Ha’Emet. That information surfaced a “smoking gun” letter sent by JFOC President Elcott to UCI Chancellor Drake in October, 2009 revealing a meeting between OTI students and Hamas representative Duwaik. The JFOC leaders seized upon this letter as evidence that they had brought this to the attention of UCI administrators seeking an investigation. The JFOC leaders never informed the community.

In the JFOC letter the authors wring their hands about the fact that Jewish students on the 2009 OTI trip inadvertently met with a Hamas leader of the West Bank, Aziz Duwaik, on September 16th. The students were told by an unidentified person, presumably, the field co-coordinator for the OTI program, to say nothing while passing through Israel or upon arrival back in California, as it might look as if under our laws they were giving material assistance to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

As noted in a  FrontPage Magazine article, “The Patrons of Anti-Israelism”, U.Cal   Chancellor Yudoff also provided funds to OTI:

. . . only a matter of weeks after the Hamas meeting was made known to Drake, University of California Chancellor Mark Yudoff donated $5000 to the OTI via the Lumina Foundation for Education. This was followed in May 2010 with a $2000 award to the STUDENT LEADERS OF OTI by Yudoff for the university’s Presidential Leadership Award.

Sources tell us that the same OTI program leaders who perpetrated the 2009 encounter with Duwaik are still in charge at UCIrvine.  Further that UCIrvine graduate are conducting OTI program elsewhere in the UCAL university system.

Then there was Sheik Hassan Yousef, co-founder of Hamas in West Bank and father of the fabled Shin Bet double agent,  Mosab Hassan Yousef, subject of the 2010 bookSon of Hamas , and the  acclaimed 2014 Sundance Festival movieThe Green Prince.   We had contacted  the younger  Yousef in 2010 to facilitate  legal clinic aid to assist him in fighting a  Department of Homeland  Security  (DHS) immigration hearing that might have resulted in his being deported  back to Israel.  The immigration Judge dismissed the charges in a June 2010 decision granting Mosab asylum.  We noted in an Iconoclast post on the DHS immigration hearing decision:

The efforts of many, including his former Shin Bet handler, have been rewarded with this decision of the DHS. We had been an early advocate for Congressional investigation of this misinformed deportation matter.

Ha’aretz in a March 2010 report noted that Sheik Hassan has disowned his son Mosab when it was revealed that the latter had become an agent for Shin Bet. Mosab had  assisted  in conducting intelligence operations disrupting terrorist plans purportedly saving lives, both Israeli and Palestinians.   Part of the Sheik’s animus for doing this was Mosab’s public conversion to Christianity. The Ha’aretz article cited the Sheik’s message conveyed by letter while serving a six year term in an Israeli prison:

Hamas Web sites published a letter by Sheikh Hassan that the militant group said was smuggled out of the Israeli prison where he is serving a six-year sentence.

In the letter, he said his family announced its “complete renunciation of the one who was once our eldest son, who is called Mosab.” The father said though he was sorry to take such [a step], he had no choice after his son “disbelieved in God…and collaborated with our enemies.”

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

Was the Jewish Pogrom in Baghdad on June 1, 1941 a Holocaust Event?

In our June 2014 New English Review interview with Dr. Harold Rhode, we discussed the Farhud, the Nazi influenced pogrom that occurred on the Jewish festival of Shavuot, June 1, 1941, The Future of the Babylonian Jewish Archives.  Note this exchange:

Gordon: During World War II, the Jewish community in what we call Iraq really had a series of horrible experiences.  What was the experience during World War II and who were the persons who were involved?

Rhode:  The British had ruled Iraq and in the mid 1930’s, Iraq was given its independence. It had a king but there was a coup led by a man by the name of Rashid Ali who was working with the Nazis, in cahoots with the Mufti of Jerusalem who was living in Baghdad at the time. The Mufti was also working with Hitler. When Rashid Ali’s forces took over in 1941, there was a pogrom (farhood in Arabic) against the Jews. The Jews up until then never really worried. Yes they had been second class citizens because in the Muslim world, neither Jews nor Christians nor any non-Muslims were allowed to rule over Muslims.

In reality, however, the Jews actually ran much of the Iraqi economy at that time, and were involved in many other activities which helped Iraq run relatively smoothly. … After about six days in 1941 when approximately 180 people were killed, a lot of property was destroyed and many Jews were injured – all of a sudden Jews said: “wait a minute, something is wrong here. Maybe we don’t have a future here.” Iraqi Jews weren’t ardent Zionists at the time. But the farhood really shook them to their very foundations. The State of Israel was declared in 1948, i.e., it was the rebirth of the Jewish state which had existed 2000 years ago.

After Israel’s Declaration of Independence, the Arabs – including Iraq – did their utmost to destroy it. Life became almost unbearable for the Jews of Iraq. Especially in Baghdad but in other places in Iraq as well. Kurdistan, however, was a different story. Life was much better for the Jews in Kurdistan which was Northern Iraq.

On the occasion of the 73rd commemoration of the Farhud Ha’aretz published an article raising the question of whether it should be considered a Holocaust event, “Lawyers make case for giving Iraqi Jews Holocaust benefits”.    There is ample evidence of Nazi involvement in the coup by Iraqi strongman Ali Rashid al-Gaylani, the Nazi Foreign ministry, and the German Ambassador to Iraq.  Then there was the role of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al Husseini who was living in Baghdad after he was forced by British Palestinian Mandatory authorities to leave given his role in the Arab riots from 1936 to 1939. prior to the occurrence of the Farhud, for sanctuary in Berlin as Hitler’s house guest during WWII.  Edwin Black chronicled the 1941 Baghdad pogrom and both Nazi and Hussein’s involvement in his 2010 book, The Farhud: Roots of the Arab-Nazi Alliance in the Holocaust.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/rknnKYP5Iqg[/youtube]

See our January 2011 Iconoclast post on Eric Stakelbeck’s interview with author.

The Ha’aretz article presented evidence by experts representing the Farhud victims and surviving families, contested by Israel’s Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority at the Finance Ministry.  Ha’aretz cites Dr. Yaakov Toby of the University of Haifa, an expert retained by the Authority, saying:

 “Berlin’s affairs were directed toward the European continent, not elsewhere.” He added, “There was no expectation, and certainly no order, from the German government to the Iraqi government to carry out any government activity inside Iraq, and certainly not one of violent incidents or killing of Jews.”

The rebuttal to the Authority’s expert Dr. Toby is based on the investigative research of Professor Yitzchak Kerem, an expert on Spanish and Oriental Jewry.   Ha’aretz notes:

In his professional opinion, he wrote, “The deciding factor in the outbreak of the Farhud was Nazi incitement against Iraq’s Jews, which was carried out by the Nazi regime through the representatives and agents it appointed.”

He draws a firm conclusion. “The Farhud must be seen as an integral part of the Holocaust that the Nazi regime brought on our people.” He calls the Farhud “the Kristallnacht of Iraqi Jewry.”

Here is some of the evidence cited by Ha’aretz of Nazi involvement in the Baghdad pogrom supporting Professor Kerem.

On the devastation wrought by the Farhud, the Ha’aretz article noted:

According to statistics at Yad Vashem, 179 Jews were killed, more than 2,000 wounded, and 50,000 were victims of theft during the Farhud (an ancient word meaning imposing brutal terror on the subjects of a regime). “Terrible acts of cruelty were carried out during the pogrom. Babies, elderly people and women were murdered and their limbs hacked to pieces. Women were raped. Synagogues were damaged and Torah scrolls desecrated,” according to a brief paper in Hebrew about the Farhud at Yad Vashem’s website.

The extent of Nazi involvement in the Farhud revealed:

The historical material includes minutes of a German military discussion, the Nazi foreign ministry’s correspondence, British army intelligence reports and the report of the investigative committee established in Iraq after the pogrom. The Iraqi prime minister, Rashid Ali al-Gaylani; the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini; Adolf Hitler and his book Mein Kampf; the Nazi radio station that broadcast from Berlin and had reception in Iraq; and the fascist youth movement that mirrored Germany’s Hitler Youth all play major roles in the material.

Professor Kerem collected testimonies proving that al-Gaylani’s government had been funded by the Nazis. In a telegram sent on May 21, 1941 from Baghdad, Dr. Grobba, Germany’s ambassador in Iraq, writes that he transferred tens of thousands of gold ingots to al-Gaylani. Alongside that, he gives an update about al-Gaylani’s request for 80,000 more gold ingots and mentions the agreement that was about to be signed between Germany and Iraq, as part of which the Nazis would grant a loan of one million gold ingots to their allies in Baghdad.

Money and propaganda were not the only things the Nazis provided to Baghdad. They also sent weapons to Iraq in an attempt to help the Iraqis fight against a common enemy — the British. Professor Kerem found evidence of that in the archives of Germany’s Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry. He says that in the minutes of a meeting of the supreme German command from May 7, 1941, it is written that “Hitler decided to assist Iraq in every possible way, including sending arms, ammunition, money and military aid.”

While the German effort failed, before the British returned to install a new government, the Farhud occurred:

Indeed, the German attempt to help the Iraqis fight the British failed On May 29, 1941, after the British reached the gates of Baghdad, al-Gaylani fled from Iraq. The Jews thought that the danger had passed, and on the morning of the Shavuot festival, June 1, 1941, they emerged wearing their holiday clothing to welcome the pro-British ruler, who had returned to Iraq. But Iraqi troops set upon them, and within hours Jews were being attacked all over the city and in other places as well.

“Farhud, ya ummat Muhammad!” (Farhud, O nation of Mohammed!) was the cry of the mob when the signal was given to murder and rob the Jews,” Hela Kargola later said. “Thousands, regardless of gender, age or status, took part in the celebration of slaughter and theft.”

Carol Basri President of the Corporate Lawyering Group, LLC, published a monograph in the Fordham Journal of International Law  in 2002 entitled,   “The Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries: An Examination of Legal Rights: A Case Study of the Human Rights Violations of Iraqi Jews”. In a section concerning the Farhud in Baghdad, she cited six causes of the rampage drawn from the Official Iraqi Government Report prepared by the British. They appear to support the arguments of Professor Kerem:

First, was the German Legation spreading sustained anti-Jewish Nazi propaganda under the direction of Dr. Fritz Grobba?

Second was the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, and his entourage, which accompanied him to Iraq in 1940.

Third, the Report blamed Palestinian and Syrian schoolteachers, installed in every school, which had “poisoned the pupil’s [sic] minds and turned them into instruments of their propaganda. Whenever they perceived that the government was taking any steps against Nazism, they went into action, arousing the students who would then go out in demonstrations and issue harmful manifestos.”

Fourth, the Report blamed the German Arabic-language radio station, which also spread Nazi propaganda (and had an increased effect after Rashid Ali made it legal to listen to the station).

 Fifth, was the Iraqi Broadcasting Station, which over the two months Rashid Ali was in control,” broadcast false reports about misdeeds in Palestine. The broadcasts contained patently inflammatory agitation against Jews and powerful appeals to Nazism.”

Sixth, the Report blamed the Futuwwa and Youth Phalanxes, both pro-Nazi paramilitary groups, which have participated heavily in the Farhud. The Report also laid blame on the hierarchy of the Baghdad Police for its inaction and ordered it brought before a military tribunal.

As Basri noted the British Ambassador could have ordered British forces encamped near Baghdad to quell the two day rampage, but didn’t. Moreover after the Farhud was over, Nazi sentiments were still rampant. She cites Freya Stark who was at the British Embassy, who observed in 1942, Iraq was a “country seething with disguised Nazis and swastikas appearing everywhere (even on the back of my car).” Then Basri cites a British Intelligence report in the same year saying:”whatever the outcome of the war.., the Iraqis will punish the Jews eventually.”  The report noted “fear inspired by Moslem threats” and the fear of Hitler’s upcoming Spring Offensive in the Middle East.

After the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 the Iraqi government moved to deprive Jews of citizenship and passed  national legislation expropriating property including personal possessions. The estimates cited by Basri of property stolen by the Iraqi government ranged from $150 to $200 million and with economic indexing may be in well excess of a billion.  For the Israeli Finance Ministry’s Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority to suggest that the Farhud wasn’t a Holocaust event would appear too questionable in view of the evidence. The irony is that while Iraq’s Jews were not Zionists at the time of the Farhud, following their repatriation to Israel in Operation Ezra and Nehemiah  in 1950 to 1951, they became highly productive and committed citizens of the Jewish nation.  The repatriation, resettlement and absorption of Iraq’s Jews was paid for by the State of Israel with contributions from world Jewry. No UN or American government funding was involved.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is of  a mass grave of victims of the Farhud, 1941. It is a scan of a page from the book ‘Iraq’, edited by Haim Saadoun, published by the Ministry of Education and the Ben – Zvi, Jerusalem, (5762, 2002) page 17.

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

Stopping the Academic Boycott of Israel

Yesterday, at the Modern Language Association (MLA) annual meetings in Chicago there was Panel 48, one of more than 800 on this year’s program. The MLA has a membership of more than 30,000 university and college academic specialists in English, literature and history. This panel in particular has drawn media attention and controversy because of the theme, “Academic Boycotts: A Conversation about Israel and Palestine”. It is reflective of the furor raised over recent resolutions favoring Academic Boycotts passed by both the 5,000 member American Studies Association (ASA) and even smaller 1,700 member Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) in mid-December 2013. These academic groups are a distinct minority in the groves of American Academia.

Moreover the Academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions is a two edged sword, as it would bar contact with a number of similarly minded Israeli academics.  The uproar has led to formal rejection of the academic boycott  of Israeli  institutions by more than 150 American Universities, including some of the universities where MLA Panel 48 members are affiliated.  Six of the objecting Universities have withdrawn department affiliations with the ASA. Further the 47,000 member  American Association of University Professors (AAUP), with 500 local campus and 39 state chapters, has opposed the ASA and NAISA Israel academic boycotts on the grounds of denial of academic freedom as contained its 1940 protocol and 2005 restatement.

Across town in Chicago another panel was convened under the auspices of the Chicago Jewish Federation to express opposing views from pro-Israel advocates including Hillel International (HI), the Israel Campus Initiative (ICI), and StandWithUs.  Pro-Israel and anti-boycott advocates had protested the denial of opportunities to present opposing views  at the MLA panel.  Moreover as noted in a January 2, 2014 JNS.org release on the contretemps the MLA had advised them that counter panels would have had to file by the deadline, April 1, 2013.  The JNS.org release noted the exchange between MLA executive director Rosemary G. Feal who wrote ICC director Jacob Baime, “We do not rent space at our convention for nonmembers to hold discussions.”  To which ICC‘s Baime and HI’s Neusner replied:

“We believe the members of the MLA deserve to hear a far more diverse set of perspectives on the issue of academic freedom in Israel and nearby countries. The MLA members, as academics, certainly can appreciate the value of multiple perspectives on what is a very controversial issue,” ICC’s Baime said.

“MLA has its policies, as any organization is privileged to do. We are disappointed that they wouldn’t make room for us at the convention,” Noam Neusner, a spokesman for Hillel International said.

Panel 48 presenters included Samer M. Ali, Univ. of Texas, Austin; Omar Barghouti, Independent Scholar; Barbara Jane Harlow, Univ. of Texas, Austin; David C. Lloyd, Univ. of California, Riverside; and Richard M. Ohmann, Wesleyan Univ.  Samer Ali of Texas University presided at MLA Panel 48. He indicated that the genesis was the unsuccessful intervention by New York City politicians and Mayoral candidates to prevent pro-BDS advocates from appearing at Brooklyn College in February 2013.

Weekly Standard article by American Enterprise Institute Fellow Max Eden, “Why this Boycott is Not like the Others” provided background on the panelists. Eden wrote:

The panel on Thursday will feature four belligerent anti-Israel activist advocates and a moderator who makes the panelists look like Likudniks. Barbara Harlow has already publicly endorsed an academic boycott. Richard Ohmann has declared that our “taxes have for years supported Israel’s project of ethnic cleansing.” David Lloyd wrote in the Electronic Intifada, a website devoted to Israel’s destruction, “It is not only that … all Israeli institutions are complicit in the occupation. It is that the occupation and its practices are the truth of Israel itself.” Omar Barghouti, the fourth panelist, is a co-founder of the BDS movement who says “the white race is the most violent in the history of mankind.” In a hypocrisy nearly too great to be believed, Barghouti earned a Master’s degree from Tel Aviv University and is currently pursuing his second Master’s there.  The university was overwhelmed by a petition with more than 175,000 signatures calling for Barghouti’s expulsion, but it stood on principle and refused.

The panel moderator is UT-Austin’s Samer Ali, whose public Facebook page gives away the game. One of his posts reads: “Our enemy is not radical Islam. It is global capitalism.” This page features multiple posts depicting Iranians as morally superior to Republicans and a link to a video highlighting Ayatollah Khomeini’s alleged personal generosity.

Three separate reports provide coverage  of what transpired at the dueling sessions in Chicago yesterday:  Inside Higher Ed blog article, “The Two Session Solution”;   Ha’aretz, report  “Israel boycott debate sows dissent at annual MLA convention“; and, JNS.org coverage, “Dueling panels debate BDS inside and outside of MLA convention.  They provide a  comprehensive picture of the proceedings  and  the proposed resolution of MLA Panel 48 to be introduced at Saturday’s plenary session.. That resolution condemns Israel for barring American scholars from pursuing academic engagements with Palestinian universities in Gaza and the West Bank.  The Forward noted in its article on the MLA contretemps, “Israel Battle Roils the Modern Language Association”, the language for the proposed resolution of MLA Panel 48:

MLA urges the U.S. Department of State to contest Israel’s arbitrary denials of entry to Gaza and the West Bank by U.S. academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.

The Panel 48 resolution is to be introduced at the plenary session Saturday by Ohmann of Wesleyan University and Columbia University English Professor Bruce Robbins.  We know Robbins because of the debate that roiled the Morningside Campus with the release of the Columbia Unbecoming documentary about intimidation of Jewish students by members of Middle East Arts Language and Culture faculty. That was crystallized by the controversial tenure appointment of pro-Palestinian Professor Joseph Massad.  Robbins, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia was quoted during the episode saying, “The Israeli government has no right to the sufferings of the Holocaust” and has “betrayed the memory of the Holocaust.”

Cary_Nelson

Professor Cary Nelson, University of Illinois. Former AAUP head and anti-Boycott advocate.

Former AAUP President and University of Illinois professor, Cary Nelson, who appeared at yesterday’s second panel, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Another AntiIsrael Vote Comes to Academia in which he laid out the issues confronting academia.  His conclusion was:

A truer indication of the real goal is the boycott movement’s success at increasing intolerance on American campuses. Junior faculty members sympathetic to Israel fear for their jobs if they make their views known. Established faculty who grasp the complexity of Middle East politics hold their tongues for fear of harassment by those who are more interested in offering lessons in contemporary demonology than in sound history. The politically correct stance in many academic departments is that Palestinians are victims and Israelis are oppressors. Period.

The fundamental goal of the boycott movement is not the peaceful coexistence of two states, one Jewish and one Palestinian, but rather the elimination of Israel. One nation called Palestine would rule from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Those Jews not exiled or killed in the transition to an Arab-dominated nation would live as second-class citizens without fundamental rights.

There is no political route toward a one-state solution. But some American professors are too blinded by hatred of Israel—or too naive—to see that they are inadvertently advocating for armed conflict.

At the MLA panel 48 discussions, Barghouti took Nelson to task, by suggesting that AAUP’s long standing Academic Freedom standards did not comply with the  lesser ones of the United Nations.  Nelson at the second opposing panel countered suggesting that the arguments of Barghouti and others on the panel  were “delusional and irrational”:

…praising Barghouti for at least admitting that he was calling for academics to give up some freedom.

Nelson said that was the least of the problems with the boycott as envisioned by Barghouti and the ASA. Nelson noted that the groups have left open the possibility of working with Israeli scholars deemed to be supportive of the Palestinian cause. However one feels about that cause, Nelson said, the idea of creating lists of acceptable and unacceptable scholars can’t be taken seriously as consistent with academic freedom.

This system creates “the right to suppress people he doesn’t like,” Nelson said. “This is selective academic tyranny.”

Russell Berman, director of German studies and professor of comparative literature at Stanford University and former MLA President drew attention to the selective anti-Semitic stands of the Israeli academic boycott supporters, saying:

That when boycott defenders talk about facing false charges of anti-Semitism, they are engaged in “an attempt to silence the Jewish community.” When pro-boycott people criticize the “Zionist lobby,” they are trying to question the right of anyone affiliated with certain groups to participate in the debate.

[…]

What does it mean, Berman said, if boycott supporters have “come around to Jew counting?”

According to the JNS.org account of yesterday’s session less than 125 of the 4,000 conference attendees were at the Israeli Academic Boycott MLA Panel 48.  Perhaps, that may be a forecast of a possible defeat for the misguided resolution at Saturday’s plenary session of the MLA.

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

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.