Thursday, July 15, 2010

Attacks against Jews on the rise in Europe

Ever more reasons to be grateful to live in the U.S...

"Anti-Semitic Alliance: The Shared Extremism of Neo-Nazis and Migrant Youth," Sven Röbel. Der Spiegel. July 14, 2010
It was supposed to be a carefree festival in Sahlkamp on the outskirts of the northern German city of Hanover. Billed as an "International Day" to celebrate social diversity and togetherness, the June celebration included performances by a multicultural children's choir called "Happy Rainbow" and the German-Turkish rap duo 3-K. Music from Afghanistan was also on the program.
But then the mood suddenly shifted.
When Hajo Arnds, the organizer of the neighborhood festival, stepped onto the stage at about 6:45 p.m. to announce the next performance, by the Jewish dance group Chaverim, he was greeted with catcalls. "Jews out!" some of the roughly 30 young people standing in front of the stage began shouting. "Gone with the Jews!"
The voices were those of children -- voices full of hate, shouted in unison and amplified by a toy megaphone. Arnds, the organizer, was shocked. He knew many of the children, most of them from Arab immigrant families in the neighborhood.
A social worker, Arnds tried using the tools of his profession -- words -- to save the situation. But his words were met with stones, thrown at the stage by people taking cover in the crowd.

"Jews reluctantly abandon Swedish city amid growing anti-Semitism," Donald Snyder. The Forward via Haaretz. July 11, 2010.

A continentwide study, conducted by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence at the University of Bielefeld in Germany, released in December 2009, found that that 45.7% of the Europeans surveyed agree somewhat or strongly with the following statement: “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.” And 37.4% agreed with this statement: “Considering Israel’s policy, I can understand why people do not like Jews.”


Gerecht on the PC way to be condescending to Muslims

"Islam: Unmentionable in D.C.," Reuel Marc Gerecht. The New Republic. July 14, 2010. 

Gerecht suggests that our political leaders are so concerned with trying to "be nice" to Muslims that they are actually being quite condescending to the very objects of their purported niceness--not to mention neglecting violent threats to liberal civilization.

President Obama’s operating philosophy toward the Muslim world appears to be that being “offensive” towards Muslims can’t be good for Muslim–non-Muslim relations. Mr. Obama’s dispensation more or less follows the arguments made by a wide variety of liberal intellectuals while Mr. Bush was president. To wit: The Iraq war (though not the Afghan war), Guantanamo, rendition, waterboarding, and Mr. Bush’s existential presence (his Christian Evangelical essence) accentuated the Muslim–non-Muslim divide, thereby contributing to anti-American anger and the manufacture of holy warriors. We never knew how many holy warriors Mr. Bush produced, but the implication was lots.
And the black Barack Hussein Obama would do wonders to fix all this. In the immortal words of The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan, Mr. Obama’s “face” would be “the most effective potential rebranding of the United States since Reagan."
...The history-annulling quality of this “New Beginning” line of thought (Islamic militancy has a very long history; it attracted many of the Muslim world’s best minds to its standard long before President Bush destroyed Saddam Hussein; being a black Christian son of an African Muslim is much more important and estimable in America than in the Middle East) really should have encountered a bit more resistance from those who knew the Muslim world.
...When Mr. Obama’s attorney general twists himself into knots trying to avoid juxtaposing the word “Islam” with the word “terrorism,” and when the president’s senior counterterrorism advisor gives speeches on Islam that would be more appropriate on “Sesame Street,” you gotta wonder whether the dumbed-down level of public Washington discourse is the visible sign of internal bureaucratic rot. In any case, we would do well to remember the observation that Princeton historian Michael Cook made about Islamic history:
"It was the fusion of … [an] egalitarian and activist tribal ethos with the monotheist tradition that gave Islam its distinctive political character. In no other civilization was rebellion for conscience sake so widespread as it was in the early centuries of Islamic history; no other major religious tradition has lent itself to revival as a political ideology—and not just a political identity—in the modern world."
Osama bin Laden, a rebel if there ever was one, is much older than he appears. We would do well also to remember that the libraries in Iran’s dissident-rich universities and the homes of the country’s increasingly secular intellectuals are full of books that are chapters to the exquisitely invidious but enormously productive dialogue between the West and Islam. And great books, like great statesmen, are almost never nice.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

U.S. Senators criticize legislation in Knesset

America is finally telling the Israelis that we've had enough! We will use our undeniable influence to pressure you to change your policies!

Incidentally, it has nothing to do with Arabs. We have more important things to discuss, actually.

"Conversion bill dismays US senators," Hillary Leila Krieger. Jerusalem Post. July 15, 2010.

The bill includes a provision to put conversions under the control of the Orthodox chief rabbinate, anathema in any case to non-Orthodox Jews but particularly raising concerns that those who have undergone Conservative and Reform conversions abroad would no longer be eligible for Israel citizenship under the Law of Return.
It’s very rare for members of Congress to criticize a law under consideration by the Knesset, particularly in the form of a senatorial letter. But American Jewish officials who have been in touch with members of Congress on the issue attributed the reaction to the depth of consternation.
See more links in this previous post.


Paul Berman: What You Can't Say About Islamism

"What You Can't Say About Islamism," Paul Berman. Wall Street Journal. July 10, 2010.
[link to full article not permanent]

Berman, author of Terror and Liberalism (2003), a book I cannot recommend highly enough, reflects on the critics of his recent book, Flight of the Intellectuals (which I have not read).


Hollow Men -- Lee Smith's column in Tablet this week

"Hollow Men: Why Israel's enemies will always be the darlings of Western intellectuals," Lee Smith. Tablet Magazine (July 14, 2010).

Smith is on a roll these days, here exploring why it's so fashionable to be anti-Israel among today's intellectual elite.

In reality, of course, Israel isn’t all that heroic. No one and nothing is. Israel’s men and women of honor do not accomplish Homeric deeds in south Lebanon or Gaza to the beat of martial songs, like the resistance; instead they ride the bus home on the weekend to see their parents, go out drinking with friends, and pick up the wrong guy or girl in a smoky bar with awful pop music. “Our warriors,” says one former tank driver, “are Jewish boys who are bossed around by their wives.” And yet during the war with Hezbollah four years ago, the country’s incompetent political and military leadership sent too many of those Jewish boys to their deaths, without sufficient training or a strategy for victory. It seems like almost every day there is news that another of Israel’s chief political leaders is under investigation for corruption charges, which is to say the system is rotten and the system works. To say that Israel is normal is to say that it is, like all democracies, mediocre.
Intellectuals are not interested in the quotidian mediocrity of a functioning democracy. They are interested in ideas. Once an idea is realized in the form of a political organization that must function on a day-to-day basis, it is difficult for men and women of ideas to stomach the result.
 Read the whole thing


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lee Smith's (sort of) defense of Octavia Nasr at The Weekly Standard

"The Western Press and Hezbollah," Lee Smith. The Weekly Standard. July 13, 2010.

I think he's right that Nasr is, in a way, a scapegoat for a much more profound problem that the Western media is unwilling to address in earnest.

"Who knows what Octavia Nasr really thinks about Fadlallah, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that she fell prey to minority politics, twice over. As a Christian journalist working in a Muslim majority region, she imagined her profession of respect for a theorist of terror would win her bona fides as an “objective” reporter. And as an Arab she’s taking the fall for a conviction held by virtually all of her Western professional peers."


Giving the lie to latest theory of why Jews are responsible for all our problems

"Why the Death of Israel Would Not Slow Anti-U.S. Terrorism," IPT News (The Investigative Project on Terrorism).  July 12, 2010.

Knesset conversions bill

Governing conversions--one of the biggest intra-Jewish controversies

It's hard to believe that the fault line here is merely Israel versus the Jewish diaspora.
What else it means, well, I am happy to hear suggestions.

**For previous news about this conversion bill, see my permanent page on "Other stories in Israeli and Jewish politics."

"Sharansky: We can't divide Jewish people," Yediot Aharanot. July 13, 2010.


IDF's report on flotilla: commandos performed well despite poor intelligence

The IDF internal investigation panel, led by retired Israeli Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland, presented its conclusions today.


"Stark variance in coverage of IDF flotilla probe," July 13, 2010.

"IDF to blame navy in scathing report on Gaza flotilla raid," Tomer Zarchin, Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel. Haaretz. July 12, 2010.

"Eiland Report Finds, 'Mistakes, But No Failures,'" Hanan Greenberg. Yediot Aharanot. July 12, 2010.

"Israeli Military Finds Flotilla Killings Justified," Ethan Bronner. New York Times. July 12, 2010.

"Israel Report Cites Flawed Planning," Charles Levinson. Wall Street Journal. July 12, 2010.

"Gaza Flotilla: Tsahal identified 'errors'-- The IDF military investigation exonerates the commandos but criticizes their hierarchy," Adrien Jaulmes. Le Figaro. July 12, 2010.


Israel: more than just foreign policy

"Knesset committee approves conversion bill," Kobi Nahshoni. Yediot Aharanot (July 12, 2010).

See my permanent page on this and OTHER big stories in Israeli and Jewish politics.