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Sunday, April 30, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "Israel Sees Critics as Enemies": More Obsessive Israel Bashing

In an April 28, 2017 editorial entitled "Israel Sees Critics as Enemies," The New York Times begins by observing:

"The refusal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to receive the German foreign minister because of a meeting the German held with a veterans’ peace group is not in itself a major incident in Israeli-German relations. Germany’s history alone ensures it will remain Israel’s staunch supporter. What is troubling, rather, is Mr. Netanyahu’s increasingly illiberal pattern of treating critics of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands — domestic and foreign — as enemies.

The flash point in this case was a meeting Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, held with some nongovernmental groups while on a visit to Israel. One of these groups, called Breaking the Silence, is particularly reviled among right-wing Israelis because it gathers anonymous testimonies from Israeli soldiers about their service in occupied territories, often highlighting hardships imposed on the Palestinians. So Mr. Netanyahu canceled his meeting with Mr. Gabriel, proclaiming that he would not welcome diplomats who met with organizations that, he said, 'slander' Israeli soldiers."

Got it: Breaking the Silence is an Israeli "veterans' peace group." After all, according to the Times editorial, "Breaking the Silence has support from former high-ranking Israeli military officers." Unfortunately, it's not so simple...

As reported by Israel Hayom in a January 17, 2017 newsletter entitled "Breaking the Silence: Shooting soldiers is not terrorism":

"According to a Channel 20 report, [Breaking the Silence's] public relations coordinator, Nadav Weiman, told activists, 'If you shoot at soldiers, you are trying to kill soldiers. You are not a terrorist.'

Weiman made the statements to two activists for right-wing organization Ad Kan who were posing as radical leftists to penetrate Breaking the Silence.

'If there is another country that is conquering your country, the area where you live, you are allowed to use violent means to fight the conquering entity, only ... against soldiers and police officers, but if you stab a soldier at a checkpoint, that is not a terrorist attack,' Weiman said."

As reported by The Algemeiner in a June 15, 2016 article entitled "Newly Released Footage Reveals Controversial Whistle-Blower Breaking the Silence Telling Tourists That Israeli Settlers Poisoned Palestinian Wells":

"A newly released video reveals a co-founder of the NGO Breaking the Silence (BtS) telling tourists that Israeli settlers poisoned Palestinian wells, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, the clip was filmed by an undercover member of the right-wing 'Ad Kan' group, which seeks to expose activities of left-wing Israeli organizations which receive foreign funding.

In the video, which was filmed less than two years ago, Yehuda Shaul can be heard addressing a group of foreign visitors to the southern Hebron Hills in Judea (the West Bank). Speaking in English, he tells the visitors that residents of the Palestinian village of Susiya had only recently returned to their homes after being forced to leave several years earlier, when settlers poisoned their drinking water supply system."

Poisoned wells? Yeah, right.

And also as reported by The Algemeiner in a January 1, 2016 article entitled "How Breaking the Silence Lost Israel’s Trust":

"Breaking the Silence (BtS), which has been controversial for more than 10 years, gained real notoriety following the 2009 Gaza War. BtS — knowingly or unknowingly — questioned Israel’s inherent right to self-defense, and supported efforts to prosecute Israeli officials and soldiers (because allegations published by BtS resonated internationally and were used as ammunition by those siding against Israel). It also emerged at the time that several BtS funders conditioned their donations on obtaining minimum numbers of incriminating “testimonies” against the Israeli army from former soldiers. For instance, a document obtained by NGO Monitor from the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits shows similar demands from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, the Dutch church-based aid organization ICCO (primarily funded by the Dutch government), and Oxfam Great Britain (funded by the British government).

Israelis quickly recognized that these so-called testimonies were serving a political objective, one that increasingly was seen as helping defame and demonize Israeli soldiers. In the left-wing daily Haaretz, Amos Harel wrote: “Breaking the Silence…has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classified as a ‘human rights organization.’”"

Claiming that Breaking the Silence is "is particularly reviled among right-wing Israelis," the Times editorial concludes:

"Israel’s vibrant democracy has always been one of its great strengths, and it is in open and democratic debate — and not in a threatening “with us or against us” posture — that issues as critical to Israel’s future as the occupation must be discussed."

However, as observed by Yair Lapid, chairman of the centrist Israeli political party Yesh Atid in December 2015:

"Criticism is constructive for our society, but there is a significant difference between criticism and defaming IDF officers and soldiers abroad. That is not criticism; that is undermining the foundations of the state. Organizations like Breaking the Silence have crossed the red line between criticism and subversion."

Bottom line: This is just one more obsessive attack upon Israel, lacking any objectivity, coming from The New York Times.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dawn Eden Goldstein, "Was the Pope Wrong to Compare Refugee Centers to Concentration Camps?": Holocaust Trivialization Given a Platform by The New York Times

On Tuesday, in a speech commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Trump declared, "Today, we mourn, we remember, we pray and we pledge: Never again."

Meanwhile, in a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Was the Pope Wrong to Compare Refugee Centers to Concentration Camps?" published on Tuesday, Dawn Eden Goldstein sought to rebuff criticism by The American Jewish Committee of Pope Francis's comparisons of migrant and refugee holding centers in Europe with Nazi concentration camps. Goldstein, who tells us that she is "a Jewish convert to Catholicism," declares:

"[A]re parallels between Europe’s treatment of migrants and the Nazis’ treatment of Jews and other persecuted populations during World War II really such a stretch? In late 2015, The Times reported that, while the migrant crisis “is no genocide,” not since the “Jews were rounded up by Nazi Germany have there been as many images coming out of Europe of people locked into trains, babies handed over barbed wire, men in military gear herding large crowds of bedraggled men, women and children.”

The situation today is no less distressing. In January, Moria saw a spate of deaths as tents collapsed under heavy snowfall at the overcrowded camp."

As regards "a spate of deaths," Goldstein provides a link to a January 30, 2017 Reuters article entitled "Third migrant dies in a week in harsh Greek camp conditions" by Karolina Tagaris, which states:

"The third migrant to perish in a week was found dead in his tent on Monday on Greece's Lesbos island, raising alarm about the grim winter conditions in overcrowded camps that critics have denounced as deplorable.

. . . .

The death at the island's Moria camp follows those of a 22-year-old Egyptian and a 46-year-old Syrian who shared a tent and died days apart. Greek media reported they had inhaled fumes from a heater, but authorities would not confirm or deny that."

As regards "tents collapsed," Goldstein provides a link to a January 11, 2017 New York Times article entitled "Wintry Blast in Greece Imperils Refugees in Crowded Camps" by Liz Alderman, where, in a caption above the article it is stated: "Freezing conditions in Europe threaten thousands of refugees and migrants. Four deaths have been attributed to the weather in the last week, according to the United Nations migration agency."

Indeed, the seven deaths in these camps are deplorable and to be regretted, but how can they be compared with the 6,000 Jews who were gassed each day at Auschwitz (not taking into account those murdered each day at the Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka killing centers)? How can they be compared with the some 3,000,000 Jews who died during the Holocaust in Nazi concentration camps from gassing, starvation, disease, shooting and hanging?

Abraham Foxman wrote in a 2014 article entitled "Inappropriate Comparisons Trivialize the Holocaust":

"Now that 69 years have passed since the liberation of Auschwitz, the danger is that an overuse of words — and inapt comparisons — will contribute to a lessening of the true impact and meaning of the Holocaust.

It must be our commitment to remember and to constantly speak out against those who would trivialize, distort or deny the Holocaust and to inoculate the public against trivialization through education."

By giving a platform to Goldstein, The New York Times chose to ignore Foxman's warning.

Monday, April 24, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "Asking for Trouble on Iran": How Do You "Demonize" a Country That Stones to Death Women and Hangs Gay Men?

In an editorial entitled "Asking for Trouble on Iran," The New York Times would have us know (my emphasis in red):

"As with other foreign policy issues, the Trump administration’s approach to Iran has been full of mixed messages. Yet amid the confusion, there has been an ominous tendency to demonize Iran and misrepresent the threat it presents. This could lead to an unnecessary and risky confrontation."

Query: How is it possible to "demonize" a country that stones to death women for alleged adultery and hangs gay men? A country that savagely discriminates against Baha'is, Kurds, Sunni Muslims and Christians? A country that executes poets for "moharabeh," i.e. enmity to God? A country that leads the world in per capita executions?

The editorial continues (again, my emphasis in red):

"The administration’s various and conflicting responses to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are a case in point. The deal, one of the Obama administration’s major triumphs, requires Iran to curb its nuclear activities in return for a lifting of economic sanctions. During the campaign, President Trump called it 'one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen' and promised to tear it up or renegotiate it if he won the election. Last week, however, a letter from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the House speaker, Paul Ryan, signaled Mr. Trump’s intention to stick to the deal.

The letter certified that Iran was complying with the agreement, negotiated by five world powers in addition to the United States and Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors the agreement with on-site inspectors and advanced technology, reached the same conclusion in its most recent report."

"[O]ne of the Obama administration's major triumphs"? Extending, by way of an unsigned agreement, Iran's nuclear breakout time from three months to one year, while conceding to Iran the right to advance its ballistic missile capabilities, is a major triumph?

More to the point, notwithstanding the assurances of John Kerry and friends that Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles had been 100 percent eliminated, we now know that this was not the case. How naive must you be to believe that Iran, Assad's abettor in crime, is scrupulously honoring the unsigned nuclear deal?

With triumphs like these, who needs failures?

By the way, this is the conclusion reached by a June 28, 2014 New York Times editorial entitled "They Said It Couldn’t Be Done," subtitled "The Fate of Syria’s Chemical Weapons":

"President Obama’s critics excoriated the deal, but they have been proved wrong. The chemical weapons are now out of the hands of a brutal dictator — and all without firing a shot."

Yeah, right.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Marwan Barghouti, "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons": The New York Times Editorial Page Editor's Reply

In response to my prior blog item, "Marwan Barghouti, "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons": The New York Times Again Omits the Truth," James Bennet, editorial page editor of the Times, sent me the following email:

"Dear Mr. Grossman -- As you say, we should have taken note of the specific crimes of which Marwan Barghouti was convicted. We've published an editor's note providing that information (while acknowledging our original omission). It can be found with the piece, here. Thank you for your note. Sincerely, James"

The "here" to which Mr. Bennet refers:

"Editors’ Note: April 17, 2017
This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.

Marwan Barghouti, "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons": The New York Times Again Omits the Truth

Recently, in a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Israel’s Next War Is Always ‘Inevitable’," Larry Derfner observed:

"Hezbollah and Syria are well and truly deterred, and if Israel were to simply let them be, they would have to be crazy to strike first."

As I noted in a previous blog entry, at the bottom of the op-ed, the Times described Larry Derfner as "a journalist" and "the author of the forthcoming memoir 'No Country for Jewish Liberals.'" There was no mention by the Times that Derfner was fired by The Jerusalem Post after writing in his blog in August 2011, following a terrorist attack outside of Eilat, "...I think the Palestinians have the right to use terrorism against us..."

Well, it should come as no surprise that The New York Times is back to its old tricks today. In a guest Times op-ed entitled "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons," Marwan Barghouti writes:

"Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike.

. . . .

Israel has established a dual legal regime, a form of judicial apartheid, that provides virtual impunity for Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians, while criminalizing Palestinian presence and resistance. "

At the bottom of this op-ed, we are told: "Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian." Needless to say, we are not told what is reported by The Jewish Virtual Library:

"On May 20, 2004, the Tel Aviv District Court convicted Barghouti of three terror attacks in which five Israelis were murdered, and also of attempted murder, membership in a terror organization and conspiring to commit a crime. He was acquitted of 33 other murders with which he was charged, because of a lack of evidence. On June 6, 2004, Barghouti was sentenced to five consecutive life terms and 40 years.

The court said in its verdict that 'Barghouti was responsible for providing the field units with money and arms….' The judges said that the attacks were sometimes 'based on instructions' from Yasser Arafat.

The court found Barghouti responsible for a June 2001 attack in Maale Adumim, in which a Greek monk was murdered, a January 2002 terror attack on a gas station in Givat Zeev, a March 2002 attack at Tel Aviv's Seafood Market restaurant, in which three people were murdered, and a car bomb attack in Jerusalem."

Barghouti is the innocent victim of Israel's apartheid justice system? Yeah, right.

On the masthead of The New York Times, we are told "Truth. It has no alternative." Perhaps this is true, except as it relates to the unrelenting campaign of the Times to smear Israel. I can only wonder if the Times would provide op-ed space to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who, together with his brother, perpetrated the infamous Boston Marathon Bombing...


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Nicholas Kristof, "President Carter, Am I a Christian?": Coffee in Hell With Gandhi

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "President Carter, Am I a Christian?," Nicholas Kristof tells us of a recent "email conversation" with Jimmy Carter. (Which of these two Israel bashers do I despise more?) Kristof asked the former president:

"One of my problems with evangelicalism is that it normally argues that one can be saved only through a personal relationship with Jesus, which seems to consign Gandhi to hell. Do you believe that?"

And Carter answered:

"I do not feel qualified to make a judgment. I am inclined to give him (or others) the benefit of any doubt."

Translation, I'm f*cked.

Which brings me to one of my favorite jokes: A man, who recently died, descends to hell and is met there by Satan. Satan says to the man, "We don't pretend that this is summer camp, but we like to provide choices to those who have come to spend eternity with us. As such, you can pick option number one..." Satan points at millions of hapless souls walking over searing hot coals. "Option number two..." Satan points at millions of sinners whose limbs are being torn apart on the rack. "Or option number three..." Satan points to a multitude of wrongdoers standing waste-deep in excrement and drinking coffee.

The new arrival thinks for a moment and declares, "The smell of that cesspit is overwhelming, but I do like to drink coffee."

"So be it," responds Satan. "A cup of coffee, please, for our friend."

An imp comes running over and pours a cup of coffee for the newcomer, who wades into the sea of sewage, whereupon an announcement is made over the intercom system: "Coffee break over, back on your heads."

Coffee? Yes, at least five cups each day. Mahatma, I'm on my way.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thomas Friedman, "Why Is Trump Fighting ISIS in Syria?": A Question for Tom

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Why Is Trump Fighting ISIS in Syria?," Thomas Friedman writes:

"This is a time for Trump to be Trump — utterly cynical and unpredictable. ISIS right now is the biggest threat to Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and pro-Shiite Iranian militias — because ISIS is a Sunni terrorist group that plays as dirty as Iran and Russia."

Friedman concludes:

"[W]here is Trump’s Twitter feed when we need it? He should be tweeting every day this message: “Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have become the protectors of a Syrian regime that uses poison gas on babies! Babies! Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Assad — poison gas enablers. Sad.”

Do not let them off the hook! We need to make them own what they’ve become — enablers of a Syria that uses poison gas on children. Believe it or not, they won’t like being labeled that way. Trump needs to use his global Twitter feed strategically. Barack Obama never played this card. Trump needs to slam it down every day. It creates leverage.

Syria is not a knitting circle. Everyone there plays dirty, deviously and without mercy. Where’s that Trump when we need him?"

"Barack Obama never played this card"? In fact, Obama folded even before the cards were dealt.

Iran is dirty, devious and without mercy? You don't say! But here's a quick question for you, Tom. Syria did not eliminate its stockpiles of chemical weapons as we were told by John Kerry, Susan Rice and Obama's other toadies. Do you really think Iran is playing by the rules and abiding by the terms of that other Obama legacy achievement, the unsigned nuclear deal?

Go ahead, Tom, card player that you are, give us the odds!