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J Street Launches Ad Campaign Promoting Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal [+Video]

You probably have seen our panel discussion on the J street Challenge and comments about the pro-Iranian lobby group NIAC board members, “J Street Challenge documentary and Informed Panel Discussion in Pensacola.“ We noted:

Former deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Lenny Ben David, revealed forensic analysis of the IRS tax filings of J Street. He noted the questionable funding by known enemies of Israeli both in the U.S. and the Middle East. Jeremy Ben Ami is exposed by Ben David apologizing for why he hid major funding for J Street from George Soros, who is fervently anti-Israel. A J Street board member, Genevieve Lynch, also sits on the board of Iran’s chief lobbying arm in Washington, the National Iranian American Council. Ben David also raised the question of why a Filipino woman living in Hong Kong underwrites almost a third of J Street’s budget.

In an earlier Iconoclast post we referenced a Breitbart News report on a former NIAC employee, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, who was now an NSC staffer in the Obama White House:

Breitbart News in a March 31st, 2015 dossier article on Ms. Nowrouzzadeh reported:

Found that a person with the same name has previously written several publications on behalf of NIAC. According to what appears to be her LinkedIn account, Nowrouzzadeh became an analyst for the Department of Defense in 2005 before moving her way up to the National Security Council in 2014.

A NIAC profile from 2007 reveals that Sahar Nowrouzzadeh appears to be the same person as the one who is currently the NSC Director for Iran. The profiles indicate that she had the same double major and attended the same university (George Washington).

Critics have alleged that NIAC is a lobby for the current Iranian dictatorship under Ayatollah Khamenei. A dissident journalist revealed recently that NIAC’s president and founder, Trita Parsi, has maintained a years-long relationship with Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif.

NIAC was established in 1999, when founder Trita Parsi attended a conference in Cyprus that was held under the auspices of the Iranian regime. During the conference, Parsi reportedly laid out his plan to introduce a pro-regime lobbying group to allegedly counteract the influence of America’s pro-Israel and anti-Tehran regime advocacy groups.

NIAC has been investing heavily in attempts to influence the talks in favor of an agreement with the state sponsor of terror. In recent days, its director, Trita Parsi, has been spotted having amiable conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s brother.

With the announcement of P5+1 nuclear agreement by President  Obama on Monday, July 14th, like night follows day, J Street is launching a multi-million dollar video campaign supporting the deal.  All while all  Israelis , many members of Congress and Americans support Prime Minister Netanyahu’s view that the pact is a dangerous  “historic mistake.” They have been joined by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf emirates castigating the deal with Iran posing an existential threat in the Middle East and some suggest here in the US, as well.

The Algemeiner reported on this latest example of J Street revealing its promotion of the President’s outreach to a nuclear Iran:

The left-wing Jewish lobby J Street said Wednesday that it is building support for the Iran nuclear deal through a “multimillion dollar national campaign.”

“J Street wants Congress to know that, despite some loud opposition to the deal coming from Jewish organizational leaders, our polling suggests that a clear majority of Jewish Americans agrees with us and backs the deal,” J Street said in its announcement of a campaign “to make the case to lawmakers that the agreement reached yesterday advances both US and Israeli security interests.”

The campaign, according to J Street, “will launch with a 30-second advertisement highlighting the unprecedented inspections and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear and military sites under the agreement.

Algemeiner noted the comments of Lori Lowenthal Marcus, national correspondent for The Jewish Press and  Jeffery Goldberg of The Atlantic, a frequent interviewer of President Obama.

Marcus said:

While every other Jewish group which praised the negotiators who reached the agreement “did so for their (the negotiators’) efforts,” only J Street praised the actual content of the deal. On Tuesday, J Street called the deal “a major step forward that will make the world appreciably safer.”

Goldberg tweeted:

“If Israel’s elected leader, and the head of the opposition, oppose the Iran deal, can J Street support it and still call itself pro-Israel?”

Maybe that’s why MK Isaac  Herzog Israeli opposition leader of the Leftist  Zionist Union (Labor) Party said he would work with Prime Minister  Netanyahu’s coalition  to stop the Iran deal.  We wonder which Iranian  conduit funneled the money to underwrite the launch of the J Street video ad with the Orwellian title: “Good for America/Good for Israel”.

Watch the J Street ad on this You Tube video:

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

Iraqi Jewish Archive Stay Extended

Jewish Immigrants from Iraq leaving Lod Airport in 1951

When we interviewed Dr. Harold Rhode, the savior of the Iraqi Jewish archives, he told the story of how he had found them in the water-logged basement of the late Saddam Hussein Mukhabarat in Baghdad in 2003 and arranged for recovery and restoration by the National Archives and Records Agency (NARA) in Washington, DC. In July 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority reached an agreement under international law with the Iraq interim government for return of the restored Jewish archives. We noted:

1815 copy of mystical Zohar source Drew Angere for New York Times

1815 copy of mystical Zohar. Source: Drew Angere for New York Times

An agreement that is controversial as Rhode and others contend that the Hussein’s Mukhabarat stole the property from the Jewish community and that it rightfully should be returned to the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center in Israel. The Iraqi government contends that the archives may contain important historical information of the origins of the country.

A report by JNS,org today brought a reprieve by the government of Iraq for exhibit of these Iraqi Jewish archives,  “Iraqi Jewish Archive’s U.S. exhibition extended”.

The JNS.org article cited an exchange of letters by the Iraq Ambassador in Washington saying:

Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Lukman Faily said in a statement Wednesday that Iraq “has authorized me to extend the period which the exhibit may remain in the United States.” The exhibit “has led to an increase of understanding between Iraq and United States and a greater recognition of the diverse heritage of Iraq,” he said.

“We look forward to completing the technical aspects of this extension with the Government of the United States within the coming days. Items which were among the material brought to the United States that are not part of the exhibit will return to Iraq in the very near future, as originally agreed,” said Faily.

Following the close of the exhibit in early January 2014, of the archives at the NARA Lawrence F. O’Brien gallery in Washington, DC, it was sent to New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage for an exhibit.

The JNS.org  report noted the comments of representatives of both the Orthodox Union and the American Jewish Committee regarding the ultimate status of the Iraqi Jewish Archives:

The Orthodox Union (OU) welcomed Faily’s announcement of the exhibit’s extension, but said its work on the issue of the archive’s final destination isn’t done.

“The historical and religious value of the Iraqi Jewish Archive materials compel us to ensure that the archive should remain in the United States where it will be easily accessible to all, particularly the Iraqi Jewish community now living in diaspora around the world,” said Nathan Diament, OU’s executive director for public policy. “We will continue to advocate for an appropriate long-term solution for these materials.”

Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee’s director of international Jewish affairs, said, “Extending the exhibit’s schedule and making it available to other American communities will benefit all who have interest in the history of Iraq’s Jews.”

Dr. Rhode in our NER interview expressed his views as to the ultimate disposition of these restored archives:

The American government considered the archives as property which belonged to Iraq and therefore the International law it has to be returned. However, this was really property stolen by the previous Iraqi governments from the Jews who fled the country, mostly in 1950-51.

The problem is most of this is private property. These were holy books that belonged to individuals. They never belonged to the Iraqi government. When, for example, Iraqi Jews had a Torah made, if you moved to another synagogue, the Torah moved with you. In 1950/51 when most of the Jews left they were not allowed to take this material with them. They were only allowed to take basically a suitcase of clothes, if that, and so the Jews were forced against their wishes to leave the material behind.

If this is private property it belongs to the Jews.  If it can’t be identified then it becomes the property of the exiled Iraqi Jewish community. 85% of the exiled Iraqi Jews and their descendants live in Israel.  As exiled Jews from the Muslim world they property was expropriated.  They have no access to their material.

We had suggested that the Iraqi Jewish Archives should instead be transferred to the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Museum in Israel to be placed on permanent exhibit there.  A significant portion of Iraqi Jews had settled in Israel after their expulsion from Iran in the early 1950’s.

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

“Zionism Unsettled” is a hatefilled document endorsed by Iran and David Duke

zionism unsettledA century ago the Presbyterian Church was among the leading Christian Zionists. These days a minority within  the Presbyterian Church USA is engaged in relentless delegitimization of Israel through a decade long BDS campaign. Their affiliate the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) released last month a 74 page guide, Zionism Unsettled (the Guide) that recently stoked the ire of the American Jewish community. A JNS.org story on the Zionism Unsettled guide cited Rabbi Noam Marans, the American Jewish Committee’s  Director of Intergroup and Interreligious Relations, who called it:

 A devastating distortion of Jewish and Israeli history, aimed at nothing less than eradicating the State of Israel.

The study guide is reminiscent of medieval Christian polemics against Judaism, with the authors claiming to know better than the Jewish community how Jews define themselves. This is another example of the ongoing effort to demonize Israel by a cadre of people who want to see the dismantlement of the Jewish state.

Here are some examples drawn from the Guide  that led to adverse criticism:

The Nakba (catastrophe) that befell the Palestinian people in the late 1940s should never have taken place. The Palestinian story is one of suffering at the hands of the international community, which authorized the division of Palestine in 1947, and at the hands of the Zionists who planned, organized, and implemented systematic ethnic cleansing.

Now, 65 years later, the Zionist quest for demographic control of the land in still underway – not only in the occupied territories, but within Israel itself.

Yesterday, the Guide received the endorsements of the Shiite Islamic Anti-Semitic Regime’s Press TV in Tehran and the American Anti-Semite, David Duke.  Duke has conducted outreach to Muslim Anti-Semitic groups in both Syria and Iran, to say nothing of his racist efforts here in the US.

Press TV’s report, “Zionism destroying lives of Palestinians, Jews” applauded the anti-Zionist Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP):

In a study guide on the Israeli regime released by the IPMN of Presbyterian Church (USA) last month, the authors argue that Jewish criticism of Zionism is on the rise, hailing the Jews who speak against the ‘supremacist’ movement.

“Contemporary voices are breaking the taboos that have stigmatized and punished critical examination of Zionism and its consequences,” says the study guide, calling on the brave Jews who criticize Zionism to resist a concerted effort by Pro-Zionist groups to silence them.

Press TV supported the Guide’s anti-Israel views:

A Presbyterian Church group has described Zionism as the single reason behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying it is destroying the lives of both Palestinians and Jewish communities across the world.

Dexter Van Zile, Christian Media Analyst for the Boston-based Middle East media watchdog, CAMERA, cited praise for the Guide from David Duke in an Algemeiner article:

In a major breakthrough in the worldwide struggle against Zionist extremism, the largest Presbyterian Church in the United States, the PC (USA), has issued a formal statement calling Zionism “Jewish Supremacism” — a term first coined and made popular by Dr. David Duke.

The IPMN website has additional acclamation from leftist Anti-Zionist Ben Gurion University Professor Neve Gordon (no relation) and former Palestinian National Council spokesman, Professor Rashid Khalidi, holder of the endowed Edward Said Chair on Modern Arab Studies  at Columbia University:

Gordon said in his blurb:

In my work I am inspired by the great Jewish prophets’ struggle for justice and freedom, while simultaneously I am often astounded how certain strains in Judaism and Christianity invoke the Bible in order to justify oppression and social wrongs in Israel/Palestine. Therefore I welcome the effort to emphasize a conception of Judaism and Christianity that espouses universalistic ethics – whereby all humans are imago dei – and to use it to expose injustices carried out in my homeland.

Khalidi said:

The denial of the rights of the Palestinians is largely driven by the exemption of Zionist ideology and its real-world implications from any serious scrutiny. Zionism Unsettled explains accurately and concisely why it is essential to look at the theological roots of Zionism, and how it has appealed to both Jews and Christians, in order to understand the true nature of the long ordeal suffered by the Palestinian people, as well as the real roots of so much of the strife in the Middle East.

Today, the Presbyterian Church (USA ) entered the fray with a news release in the wake of this kerfuffle over the Guide:

 “Our church has a long history of engaging many points of view when it comes to dialogue on critical issues facing the world around us — it’s who we are, part of our DNA,” said Linda Valentine, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “There are likely as many differing opinions as there are Presbyterians — and, like many denominations, we don’t always agree.”

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) policy calls for a negotiated settlement between Israel and Palestine and the right for each to exist within secure and recognized borders. The church has condemned acts of violence on both sides of the conflict, as well as the illegal occupation of Palestinian land by Israeli settlements. Our church has categorically condemned anti-Semitism in all its forms, including the refusal to acknowledge the legal existence of the State of Israel. At the same time, we believe that condemnation of injustices perpetrated in the name of the State of Israel, including the violation of human rights, does not constitute anti-Semitism.

In 2004, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) formed the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) to help move the church toward the goal of a just peace in Israel/Palestine. The independent group — which speaks to the church and not for the church — recently published a study guide, Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study. The guide is intended to prompt discussion on the ever-changing and tumultuous issue of Israel-Palestine. The IPMN booklet was neither paid for nor published by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

“There are myriad voices within congregations, and some would like to see the church go beyond that stance,” added Valentine. “But we remain guided by the policies of the General Assembly, seeking peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Then it quotes the head of the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace:

There are a variety of voices and opinions within the Jewish community on this issue as well. Jewish Voice for Peace advocates for a peaceful and just solution among Palestinians and Israelis that respects human rights for all.

“We are in opposition to the settlements and occupation, and in favor of a true and just peace,” said Sydney Levy, director of advocacy for Jewish Voice for Peace. “And we are not alone in this — Jews, Christians, and Muslims join us in the prayer for peace.”

Is this the view of all members of the PCUSA?  Not by any means.  Robert Norvell, a Presbyterian Minister and counter-jihad activist in Jonesboro, Arkansas wrote in an email:

I believe 85% of all Presbyterians are adamantly opposed to this study. Is Israel perfect? No, but neither is the USA. But Israel is far superior morally to Hamas, Fatah and the other Muslim savages populating the neighborhood. They are our only reliable friends and allies in the region. I am embarrassed by the actions of a few Presbyterian extremists.

Dexter Van Zile in the JNS.org article corroborated Norvell’s comment saying:

The folks who lead this church in Louisville (site of Presbyterian Church USA’s headquarters) are quite willing to allow a small but vocal minority to demonize Israel and use the church’s brand-name to do it. They have behaved like this since 2004. Most of the denomination’s laity does not support these extremists, but their voice has not proven to be decisive.

When I wrote about a battle within the PCUSA over an anti-Israel BDS resolution at the annual conference in an American Thinker article in June 2006, “Divest Hate”, I noted who were among the Presbyterians opposing it:

Because grass roots opinion has been building among both pastors and their flocks against the leadership of the PCUSA on the divestment resolution. They want to eliminate hate and most importantly protect the religious freedoms of minority Christians in the Middle East from the real threat of Islamic fundamentalism. Their allies in this battle include leading grassroots Presbyterian groups like End Divestment Now!, founded by Jim Roberts.  Among vocal opponents of the BDS resolution was former CIA director, R. James Woolsey, a Presbyterian Elder,  and chairman of the Washington, DC-based foundation for Defense of Democracies..

Zionism Unsettled  is a hateful document that has had a spotlight thrown on it  by the endorsement of Iran’s Press TV and David Duke. As cited by Norvell, we trust that  a majority of Presbyterians will rise to the occasion and defeat another BDS resolution at the Church’s upcoming annual conference in June.  Whether they can remove the current PCUSA leadership and return to the moral high ground is another matter. Nonetheless, we wish the activist laity well in their battle to support the Jewish nation of Israel.

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.