Tag Archives: Israel

Teen terrorists made in Palestine

Note: This is an updated version of a post first published in November on my TOI blog.

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“Child Sacrifice Brings No Honor to the Palestinian Cause” was the title of a recent Ha’aretz op-ed by Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie. It’s 2015, and one might have hoped there would be no need for an op-ed with such a title. But sadly, there is even a Wikipedia entry for “Child suicide bombers in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict,” and the recent stabbing attacks by Palestinian teenagers – including a boy as young as 11 – are only another reminder of the abusive indoctrination and exploitation of children practiced by Palestinian society for decades.

Long before Hamas officials boasted in recent years that their efforts to train a “true generation of martyrdom-seekers” were so successful that “Palestinian youngsters … fight and quarrel over performing a courageous suicide operation,” a Life Magazine cover story on “Palestinian Arabs” in 1970 included a photo showing a group of very young boys with guns and the caption: “The ‘Tiger Cubs’ train at a camp in Jordan.”

Life Mag 1970 cover

Why Palestinians considered it useful to train child soldiers was explained by the prominent cartoonist Nagi Al-Ali in an article published in 1985, where he first denounced Israel’s 1982 campaign against Palestinian terror groups in Lebanon and then gloated:

“I saw for myself how afraid the Israeli soldiers were of the children. A child of ten or eleven had sufficient training to carry and use an RBG rifle. The situation was simple enough. The Israeli tanks were in front of them and the weapon was in their hands. The Israelis were afraid to go into the camps, and if they did, they would only do so in daylight.”

More than three decades have passed since then, but Palestinians still believe that the same Israeli soldiers they regularly denounce as brutal and trigger-happy are “afraid” of children – which of course means they know full well that Israeli soldiers don’t want to shoot kids. Sadly, that in turn only means Palestinians find it very useful to involve their children in protests and violent provocations.

The deeply cynical game that Palestinians like to play was illustrated a few months ago, when a video showing the attempt of an Israeli soldier to arrest a seemingly frightened boy for rock-throwing went viral. The fully armed soldier was quickly attacked and forced to retreat by a group of women and girls from the Tamimi clan of Nabi Saleh – a small village near Ramallah, which has become a popular destination for international activists who are attracted by the weekly efforts of the Tamimis to provoke clashes with the IDF.

The boy in the video elicited all the more sympathy around the globe because he had one arm in a cast. His parents, Bassem and Nariman Tamimi, proceeded to tell the media various stories about how their son had broken his arm, and needless to say, all the stories blamed the brutality of Israeli’s army. However, when I decided to look into the matter, I found out that Facebook posts by the Tamimis revealed that their son Mohammad (aka Abu Yazan) had broken his arm when he stumbled while throwing stones at an army jeep – for which his parents not only praised him to the high heavens, but which they also encouraged him to continue. When a Facebook friend expressed concern and suggested it might be better to stop these provocations, Mohammad’s loving mother coldly responded: “Either victory or martyrdom; and everything is going to be OK.”

For the Tamimis everything was more than OK when the video of the attempted arrest of their son went viral. They greatly enjoyed the global media attention and shared countless reports condemning Israeli brutality against an innocent helpless little boy on their Facebook pages. But they also shared a revealing cartoon that illustrates their cynical exploitation of their own children: the ostensibly terrified boy with the broken arm, who was exhibited to the world as the victim of a brutal assault by a heavily armed soldier, is transformed into a little superman who needs just one arm to toss a monstrously huge Israeli soldier into the air; the triumphant caption reads in English: “Shatter the myth of the Zionist army at the hands of the children of Nabi Saleh.”

Tamimi kids shatter IDF mythWhile the Tamimis gloat that it is child’s play to “shatter the myth of the Zionist army,” they also happily spread current versions of the medieval blood libel, including accusations that Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinian children for fun or arrest them to harvest their organs.

BTamimi Pal kids stolen organs

It’s arguably worthwhile to ponder for a moment how it must feel to grow up in such an environment: on the one hand, your parents and adult family members push you relentlessly to provoke Israeli soldiers and praise you when you do so; on the other hand, your parents and adult family members say that the Israeli soldiers you are supposed to provoke kill kids for fun or arrest them to harvest their organs.

Add to this frightful demonization the pervasive glorification of terrorism in Palestinian society with the clear message that there is nothing more heroic than being killed while killing – or at least trying to kill – Israeli Jews, and it’s no longer such a mystery why even young Palestinian teens would grab a knife and go out to stab a Jew.

So it was no surprise that the Tamimis cheered the recent stabbing attacks – even when the attacks were thought to be carried out by 15-year-olds.

MTamimi 15yo hero stabs settler

In this case, the attacker turned out to be actually 19, and the victim was a yeshiva student; but as I have shown in a detailed documentation published recently by The Tower Magazine, the Tamimis had been rooting for a “third intifada” for years and could see nothing wrong when it seemed that this long-hoped-for “third intifada” might be brought about by knife-wielding Palestinian teenagers stabbing Jews on the streets of Israel’s cities. Since the Tamimis had long promoted the use of children in violent confrontations with the IDF, they were now ready to hail teenaged terrorists as “heroes” if they were arrested, and as “martyrs” if they were killed while killing or trying to kill; at the same time, they were shameless enough to claim repeatedly that the “martyrs” were innocent victims executed in cold blood by the evil Zionists.

Sadly, the Tamimis are quite representative of mainstream Palestinian support for violence and terrorism, which is well-documented in surveys that go back more than two decades.

What makes the Tamimis’ support for terrorism – along with their openly displayed Jew-hatred and their frank rejection of a peacefully negotiated two-state solution – noteworthy is that they have the unwavering support of Amnesty International. At the end of the second intifada, Amnesty eventually got around to issuing a belated statement criticizing “Palestinian armed groups” for using children. But apparently, Amnesty sees nothing wrong when the Tamimis insist that even children have the “duty” to “resist.” Indeed, when Bassem Tamimi recently faced criticism for trying to indoctrinate American Third Graders during a US-speaking tour that was co-sponsored by Amnesty, an official of the organization rejected the criticism and emphasized that Amnesty had “adopted his village of Nabi Saleh as a community-at-risk” and that “AI groups globally work on behalf of the village long term.”

It’s supposedly an African proverb that says “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” As I have shown in The Tower Magazine documentation, children in the Amnesty-supported village of Nabi Saleh are raised by adults who push them relentlessly to put themselves in danger in order to fulfill their “duty” to “resist;” the children see their parents cheer teenagers who went out to stab Jews, and they grow up among adults who feel that Israel’s Jews deserve to be killed because they are all bloodthirsty “settlers” and “Zionists” who want global strife. And as soon as the children are on Facebook, they will be “friends” with one of the most notorious Tamimi-clan members: Ahlam Tamimi, the mastermind of the 2001 Sbarro massacre in Jerusalem.

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Update:

About a month after The Tower Magazine published my documentation, Amnesty International decided to show again its support for the Tamimis and organized a campaign on Twitter that was joined by numerous regional and local Amnesty branches all posting tweets with the hashtag #NabiSaleh.

Amnesty’s continued support for the Tamimis is shameful, all the more so since in the meantime, some Palestinian journalists and intellectuals have begun to speak out against the indoctrination and exploitation of children in confrontations with the IDF and terror attacks. To quote one voice repudiating the kind of views promoted by the Tamimis:

“Do not send your children into the fray, even though the occupation does not distinguish between children, youth, and adults… We must not bring our children into the cycle of violence… Even the Prophet Muhammad refused to bring children into battle… We should keep our children away from the demonstrations in the areas of conflict and clashes so they can experience their childhood. Even if it is a difficult [childhood], it is better than the childhood of the injured, the prisoner, or the martyr who is [completely] bereft of a childhood.”

[…]

“Do not cheer [the stabbing children] and do not take pride [in them], since this has become a game of blood. Those who scream and roar, congratulating a child for pulling out a knife or a schoolgirl for taking up a pair of scissors, should see them as though they were their own children. Would they agree to throw their son into this furnace?”

However, a recent poll shows overwhelming support for the current wave of Palestinian terror attacks, though most do not want “young school girls” to commit stabbings.

Happy New Year and a belated Merry Christmas from Palestinian Jew-haters

For several years, I have documented how Palestinians exploit Christmas as yet another occasion to deny the historic Jewish connection to the ancient Land of Israel and to present Israel as illegitimate and evil. The installment of this past Christmas is cross-posted below from my Times of Israel (TOI) blog; Legal Insurrection has a much more comprehensive post aptly titled “Guide to How Anti-Israel Activists Hijack Christmas.”

But in the meantime, there was also a noteworthy New Year’s greeting of sorts posted on January 1st by Radio Bethlehem on their Facebook page, where the post has garnered more than 1400 “Likes”. The page is very popular and has been “liked” by more than 2,3 million people; I scrolled through several dozens of posts and saw that, while there are some viral posts “liked” by thousands, most posts get several hundred “Likes” – so this one was fairly popular.

Radio Bethlehem Happy2016

A Palestinian Christmas tree for terrorists

Based on the stories associated with the annunciation of the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, Christians everywhere view Christmas as the season of peace and goodwill to all. Unfortunately, in the environs of what the Gospel of Luke describes as “the town of David” – i.e. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus – Palestinians have long been trying to establish a very different tradition. This Palestinian Christmas tradition exploits Christianity’s most popular holiday as yet another occasion to deny the historic Jewish connection to the land where Jesus was born and to fan the flames of hatred against Israel.

Three years ago, an utterly tasteless op-ed in the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida asserted: “Jesus is a Palestinian; the self-sacrificing Yasser Arafat is a Palestinian; Mahmoud Abbas, the messenger of peace on earth, is a Palestinian. How great is this nation of the holy Trinity!”

Two years ago, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) produced a YouTube clip showing Santa’s trip to Bethlehem threatened by various symbols of the occupation; the short text posted with the clip explained that on Christmas, “Palestine celebrates the birth of one of its own, Jesus Christ.”

One year ago, there was apparently no official attempt to claim Jesus as a symbol of Palestinian nationalism, and the Christmas clip posted by the PLO focused on contrasting how wonderful it would be for tourists to be able to visit Bethlehem in the State of Palestine as opposed to having to pass countless security checks on their way to occupied Bethlehem.  However, for those familiar with Palestinian demands, the clip’s title “All I Want For Christmas Is Justice” hinted at much more than the desire to have an independent state, since “justice” as understood by Palestinians includes the imaginary “right of return” of Palestinian refugees and millions of their descendants to Israel.

While I haven’t seen any official Palestinian message for this Christmas, I noticed in early December that “pro-Palestinian” activists on Twitter were eagerly sharing a picture showing a “#Xmas tree in o’#Jerusalem decorated with pictures of 108 martyrs killed by the Israeli occupation since 1 Oct 2015.”

Christmas terror tree

I was first not entirely sure if the claim that the tree was decorated with pictures of “martyrs” – which usually means terrorists killed during an attack – was correct. After all, it is obviously quite an outrageous idea to decorate a Christmas tree with pictures of terrorists – a bit like decorating a table for the nightly Ramadan meal with a pig’s head. However, Israeli journalist Gal Berger also tweeted a picture of the tree, noting that it was a Christmas tree at Al Quds University in Abu Dis and confirming that it was indeed decorated with pictures of terrorists.

In the meantime, the Hamas mouthpiece MEMO also reported on this incident under the title “‘Martyrs’ Christmas tree at Al-Quds University angers Israelis.” According to this report, the Christmas tree was “decorated with photos of ‘martyrs’ killed by Israeli settlers and security forces” and it “was unveiled on the Abu Dis campus in a ceremony attended by the university’s President, Imad Abu Kishk, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna and the Mufti of Bethlehem, Sheikh Abdul Majid Amarna.”

The event was reportedly “praised and welcomed widely by Palestinian students” and was seen as a demonstration of “the unity and cohesion between Christians and Muslims at the university.” This inspired Quds Open University in Jenin “to follow suit by putting up its own ‘martyrs Christmas tree’.”

Of course, Christmas is pretty much the only time of year when Palestinian Christians in the West Bank can hope for positive attention and praise if they are willing to demonstrate “unity and cohesion between Christians and Muslims.”

But Palestinians envision their future state as designating Islam as “the official religion in Palestine,” and the “principles of the Islamic shari`a” are supposed to be “a main source for legislation.” Indeed, a poll published last year shows that a shocking 24% of Palestinians view the savagely brutal terror group ISIS positively.

However, it is of course Israel that is usually blamed for the difficult situation of Palestinian Christians. But as Michael Oren once pointed out in a related article, Bethlehem provides a good example of what is really going on:

“The church in Bethlehem had survived more than 1,000 years, through wars and conquests, but its future now seemed in jeopardy. Spray-painted all over its ancient stone walls were the Arabic letters for Hamas. The year was 1994 and the city was about to pass from Israeli to Palestinian control. I was meeting with the church’s clergy as an Israeli government adviser on inter-religious affairs. They were despondent but too frightened to file a complaint. The same Hamas thugs who had desecrated their sanctuary were liable to take their lives.”

According to Oren, Bethlehem’s Christian population grew by 57% under Israeli rule. But since the Palestinian Authority took over in 1995, “those numbers have plummeted. Palestinian gunmen seized Christian homes—compelling Israel to build a protective barrier between them and Jewish neighborhoods—and then occupied the Church of the Nativity, looting it and using it as a latrine. Today, Christians comprise a mere one-fifth of their holy city’s population.”

For sure, a Christian like Father Gabriel Naddaf who openly dares to criticize Abbas for the preposterous claim that Jesus was a Palestinian wouldn’t fare very well under Palestinian rule. Perhaps not all Christians in the West Bank feel comfortable with a Christmas tree celebrating those who tried to kill Israeli Jews, but speaking out against it would obviously be very risky.

Unveiled: The nun, the hijabi, and Zionist supremacism

I didn’t quite trust my eyes: while browsing the output of anti-Israel activists on Twitter, I came across a tweet shared and “liked” by hundreds of users (and re-tweeted by “progressive” anti-Israel activist Max Blumenthal) that – as you can see in the screenshot below – compares a Christian nun with a woman wearing a hijab, i.e. the covering for the head and neck that is either mandatory for women or imposed by social pressure in most Muslim countries and societies.

Hijab 1

Supposedly, this image had led to the suspension of a user who posted it on Facebook – and I’ll get back to this below. But let’s first consider the image that is cut in the tweet shown in the screenshot. When I checked out the full image on the Twitter account of the tagged user, i.e. @Resistance48, I saw that below the pictures of the nun (whose perfect make-up indicates that she’s not a real nun) and the hijab-covered Muslim woman there is the question “What’s the difference..?!” Above the picture, Abbas Hamideh aka @Resistance48 had answered the question: “The only difference is racism, bigotry and #Islamophobia.”

Well, no: the difference is that one picture shows a nun, i.e. a woman who dedicates her life to celibacy and service to her order and church – which nowadays very few Christian women do –, whereas the other picture shows a woman who wears the head- and neck covering that the vast majority of Muslim women chose, or are forced, to wear. It is very relevant in this context that the male counterpart to a nun, i.e. a monk, also has to follow a strict dress code, as required by his order. In stark contrast, Muslim men are generally free to wear whatever they please, with the exception of some particularly reactionary Muslim societies.

Equating the hijab with a nun’s head covering provides by far the best argument against the hijab I have ever encountered.

So it’s now apparently as politically correct as it can get to say: the Muslim hijab is just like a Christian nun’s head covering – it is meant to set the wearer apart from society, indicating a life that sacrifices individuality and sexuality in favor of selfless service.

There has been an often heated debate in western societies about what the hijab signifies, and perhaps the post as well as the related tweets were a response to a very interesting recent contribution to this debate authored by Asra Q. Nomani and Hala Arafa in the Washington Post. Both women firmly oppose supposedly well-meaning “interfaith” efforts that encourage non-Muslim women to show solidarity with Muslims by donning a hijab.

Nomani and Arafa also provide a fascinating glimpse of the history of the notion that Muslim women must demonstrate their “modesty,” religiosity and good character by covering their hair and neck. Interestingly, they point out that “Hijab’ literally means ‘curtain’ in Arabic. It also means ‘hiding,’ ‘obstructing’ and ‘isolating’ someone or something. It is never used in the Koran to mean headscarf.”

Could anything be more revealing than supposedly “progressive” people in the West promoting the hijab for Muslim women by equating it with a nun’s head covering and the renunciation of individuality and sexuality it implies?

But there’s more revealing stuff: as mentioned above, the image of the nun and the Muslim woman had first been posted by Abbas Hamideh, aka Twitter user @Resistance48, who claimed that his Facebook account had been suspended because of this post. In his Twitter bio, Hamideh describes himself as a “Palestinian Right of Return Activist.” He also mentions that he is a co-founder of Al-Awda, an organization that campaigns for the imaginary Palestinian “right of return.” Hamideh’s Twitter bio also includes the declaration “I don’t compromise on one inch of Palestinian land!” His Twitter handle @Resistance48 is a not so subtle hint that he opposes the existence of Israel.

Naturally, @Resistance48 couldn’t resist (pun intended) offering some explanations for the suspension of his Facebook account. The first was “@facebook succumbed to #Islamophobic @realDonaldTrump (#Trump) White Supremacist supporters & disabled my account.” A few minutes later, @Resistance48 realized that there must be another reason: “@facebook is just another racist Zionist supremacist tool. So far no trouble with @twitter when posting comparisons.”

Hijab Zio FB

But of course: who else but racist Zionist supremacists could object to equating nuns with Muslim women!!!

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Update: Here is another recent piece on the subject from Pakistan’s Nation (not to be confused with the “progressive” US Nation, which would be very unlikely to publish any criticism of dress codes for Muslim women). The author’s conclusion:

“The ‘freedom to wear what I choose’ argument is in fact an insidious dynamic of women sustaining the mullah directed patriarchal order of Muslim society, and treating those women who reject it as enemies of the correct and proper order of Muslim society.

One has to see objectively what the hijab, niqab, and burqa have come to signify. There [sic] are symbols of oppression of the unwilling, and the atrocities faced by Muslim women who don’t keep their “proper” place. When the Taliban got projected into our living rooms in the 90s with their stadium executions and thrashings of women in blue burqas, there was no doubt as to what was going on.  With the advent of Wahabbism/Salafism across the Muslim world, the hijab is being enforced on girls as young as three.

So I find it very hard to accept the efforts of women in free countries to use the symbol of oppression as a means of showing solidarity. I can only label it as either ignorance of the Liberals of the West, or outright appeasment by the regressive Left of the backward, oppressive, misogynistic attitudes of Muslim society.

I am still unable to understand the desperate desire in the Western democratic Left to appease and coddle the most regressive aspects of the conservative Muslim right.”

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I saw only now that the image equating the nun with the hijab-covered Muslim woman was also posted on Facebook by Al-Awda, the “right of return” organization Hamideh co-founded. At the time of this writing, this post had garnered more than 500 “likes” and had been shared by more than 800 people.

Breaking the silence in Israel and the US

Note: This post was first published in early June on my JPost blog.  I realized I had forgotten to cross-post it when I was catching up with some of Ben-Dror Yemini’s recent writings, which include an excellent article on the Israeli NGO “Breaking the Silence”(BtS) entitled “Breaking the truth: The mission to demonize Israel.” While Yemini emphasizes that “[e]very democratic country needs to be proud that entities critical of the state operate within it,” his verdict on BtS is devastating: “Hamas doesn’t need a propaganda department: it has Breaking the Silence.”

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Last month [i.e. in May], the Israeli group “Breaking the Silence” (BtS) attracted much attention – including international media coverage – after it published damning anonymous testimony about the IDF’s conduct during the war against Hamas and other Gaza terrorist groups last summer. While BtS claims on its website that its goal is exposing alleged misconduct by the IDF in the Palestinian territories and “pushing Israeli society to face the reality whose creation it has enabled,” the group publishes much of its material not only in Hebrew, but also in English. Unsurprisingly, there is a market for the kind of material BtS produces abroad, and members of the group are currently “in the midst of another international tour of Europe and the United States.” Indeed, according to NGO Monitor, “BtS has been part of at least 50 events in Europe, the U.S., Canada, Australia, and South Africa” in the past three years and the group’s work is, either directly or via third parties, “almost entirely funded by European governments.”

As Israeli journalist and author Matti Friedman noted in a critical response to the latest BtS publication:

“Breaking the Silence’s money is foreign, not Israeli, and the primary customers for its product are foreign, not Israeli. At its extensive English website, Jewish soldiers are presented for international consumption as a spectacle of moral failure, a spectacle paid for by Norwegians, French Catholics, and Germans. This being so, it is completely reasonable for Israelis to wonder what exactly this group is and which side it is on.”

An answer to Friedman’s last point can be found in an analysis of the latest BtS publication by the Times of Israel’s military correspondent Mitch Ginsburg who suggests that it is hard to avoid the conclusion that BtS wants to see “Israel’s ability to bring its military might to bear against Hamas […] drastically reduced.”

In addition to all this well-founded criticism of BtS’s methods, goals and modus operandi, IDF veterans – including soldiers who fought last year in Gaza – have challenged the latest anonymous BtS testimonies on social media.

Even though all this indicates that BtS is a fringe group whose methods and aims are viewed with suspicion by mainstream Israelis, the group has obviously well-connected supporters abroad. A recent Ha’aretz report highlights meetings between BtS representatives and “members of the White House National Security Council” as well as “senior officials” of the State Department’s human rights bureau. According to the report, these meetings were organized by Matt Duss of the Washington-based three-men Foundation for Middle East Peace, and Duss reportedly felt the meetings showed that BtS “has an open door to the administration.”

This is very interesting in view of the fact that there is actually an American organization that seems comparable to BtS – though it has apparently an incomparably harder time when it comes to attracting media attention or finding an “open door” to senior government officials. Like BtS, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) wants to give a voice to soldiers critical of what they experienced during their service. But unlike BtS, IVAW seems to get no major funding from European governments or NGOs, and when I was trying to research the media coverage of the group, I quickly came across complaints that even efforts to put on major events were met with “silence” by US mainstream media. Not much success with “breaking the silence” for IVAW, it seems.

One of the complaints that focuses on the failure of the New York Times (NYT) to cover a 2008 event put on by IVAW cites the NYT public editor’s explanation that the paper wasn’t really interested in covering “charges and counter-charges at home by organizations with strongly held political viewpoints about the war.” But apparently, the NYT has a different standard when it comes to covering charges against the IDF made by an organization like BtS, which obviously has “strongly held political viewpoints” about the wars Israel has to fight: BtS’s latest allegations were covered in an Associated Press report;  in 2007, the NYT published a report on a BtS event in Jerusalem that described BtS as “a group of former Israeli combat soldiers and some current reservists [who are] shocked at their own misconduct and that of others” and helpfully included a link to the group’s website; and a 2010 article entitled “Israeli Rights Groups View Themselves as Under Siege” counts BtS among Israel’s “most prominent human rights organizations.”

[Update: a NYT editorial of June 23, 2015 on “War Crimes and the Gaza War” again cited BtS in support of a UN report accusing Israel of serious violations and possible war crimes]

 When it comes to ‘open doors’ in Washington, America’s own IVAW again seems to have a harder time than Israel’s BtS. According to one relevant report I could find from 2008, there was “a packed public hearing on Capitol Hill” organized by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, but the report also notes that even “politicians who have consistently criticized the [Iraq] war” regarded IVAW as “a politically risky ally,” and one IVAW representative confirmed that the group is “generally viewed as too radical for most politicians.” Maybe Matt Duss, who so helpfully opened important doors for BtS, could also be of assistance to IVAW?

Unsurprisingly, IVAW shares BtS’s criticism of Israel’s presence in the West Bank and the group has also condemned last year’s Gaza war.

IVAW on Gaza

But for some reason, denouncing Israel’s military clearly attracts more funding and publicity than denouncing the US military. This also seems to be reflected on social media: currently, IVAW’s Facebook page has 26,472 “Likes”, while the BtS Hebrew Facebook page has 39,538 “Likes” and its English Facebook page has 173,918 “Likes” – despite the fact that both groups were founded just a few months apart in 2004 and that American military campaigns in the intervening decade have obviously affected many millions more than Israeli military campaigns.

Last but perhaps not least, some questions: is it conceivable that any American organization of military veterans would collect anonymous testimony from active soldiers, would accept foreign funding for their work, and would travel the world to present their publications, including to foreign government officials, while retaining any credibility at home? And another question: when BtS representatives recently met with Obama administration officials, did they wonder if these officials would be equally interested in anonymous testimony collected from US soldiers?

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Update:

In the current debate about Breaking the Silence, a number of additional interesting pieces have been published; a recent post at the Tower links to some of them. The arguably most noteworthy article comes from Ha’aretz columnist Ari Shavit. While his newspaper went all out defending BtS, Shavit used his column to not only offer some mild criticism of the organization, but also to recount two instances when he broke his silence about abuses he observed as a young IDF recruit and later as a reservist.

In the first instance, back in the late 1970s (i.e. long before Shavit became a well-known commentator), Shavit recounts that he wrote “a touching letter to the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff” and was very surprised when “it was brought to his attention and he ordered an investigation.”

In the early 1990s, Shavit wrote an article about abuses he had seen during his reserve service in a detention center in Gaza during the first intifada. As he explains:

“the establishment’s response in that case was also surprising. Although I was not a well-known journalist, then-Justice Minister Dan Meridor summoned me and asked to know exactly what went on in the facility. Then-State Prosecutor Dorit Beinisch made use of what I had written to change protocols and influence the interrogation methods of the Shin Bet Security Service. The text that I had written out of heartbreak made it possible for decent and courageous officials to make some real changes.”

Germany’s bridge to the Islamic world

Qantara – which is Arabic for “bridge” – is a website funded by the German Foreign Office; according to its own description, the site “represents the concerted effort of the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Center for Political Education), Deutsche Welle, the Goethe Institut and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations) to promote dialogue with the Islamic world.”

Unfortunately, I have repeatedly had the impression that Qantara’s idea of promoting dialogue with the Islamic world includes promoting the hatred for Israel that is so prevalent among Muslims. Given the site’s government backing and its prestigious partner organizations, it could be a very worthwhile project to study their coverage of Israel in detail. But a cursory examination of Qantara’s offerings on Israel seems to indicate a preponderance of articles that are hypercritical, if not outright hostile to the world’s only Jewish state. Occasionally, Qantara will even stoop to giving a platform to professional anti-Israel activists like Ben White – who fittingly started his career with a post explaining that he can “understand” why some people are Jew-haters. What is arguably even more worrisome is that at a time when antisemitism in Europe is widely seen as growing alarmingly, Qantara will publish a truly hair-raising piece downplaying antisemitism – and just to be on the safe side, this piece is of course authored by a Jew who feels that “Anti-Semitism has never made much etymological sense” and that it’s a bit unfair that “Jews have been getting exclusive use of the term for quite some time.” But in any case, Qantara’s Jewish antisemitism expert thinks it’s not quite appropriate to talk of antisemitism when an Islamist terrorist kills Jews in a kosher deli in Paris, because anything short of “systemic extermination by national decree” shouldn’t really be called antisemitism and it is also “no wonder some may see a Jewish person or site as an extension of the Israeli policy they detest.”

How would Qantara like an article arguing that it is ‘no wonder some may see a Muslim person or site as an extension of the Saudi/Iranian/ISIS policy they detest’?

Qantara’s recent offerings include a post that promotes BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel together with the BDS goal of the ultimate elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. The post, presented as a review of a recently published book by veteran Israel-bashers Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, echoes a similar review (by a different author) previously published at the Electronic Intifada, which has long provided anti-Israel activists with variations on the Nazi motto “The Jews are our misfortune.” Nowadays, it is of course the Jewish state that is presented as mankind’s misfortune, and the Qantara post indeed urges the site’s readers to understand that anti-Israel “activism has now become a duty – at international level.”

When I saw that this post was authored by regular Qantara contributor Emran Feroz, I remembered that I had come across this name before. Indeed, it turns out that Feroz – who describes himself on his Twitter profile as an Austro-Afghan journalist and blogger – is an ardent admirer of Max Blumenthal. It is thus hardly a surprise that he happily announced his satisfaction that his Qantara post “made many Zionists angry.” Perhaps Feroz hopes to have as many Jew-hating fans as Blumenthal?

In any case, it seems that Feroz came to admire Blumenthal after “toiletgate”, i.e. the infamous incident last fall when Max Blumenthal visited Germany with his fellow anti-Israel activist David Sheen and they both chased the leader of the Left Party through the corridors of the German Parliament all the way to the toilet, demanding he explain his decision to cancel an event that had been organized for them by some Left Party members. Feroz apparently admired Blumenthal’s and Sheen’s disgraceful conduct, and tried very hard – and ultimately successfully – to meet Blumenthal and interview him about his exploits and his views on Israel. The result was published in the Electronic Intifada under the title “Germany made Palestinians ‘indirect victims of Holocaust,’ says author Max Blumenthal.” In his introductory remarks, Feroz claimed:

“Some German politicians have tried to muzzle debate about Israel by denouncing its critics as ‘anti-Semites.’ The American journalist Max Blumenthal — author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel — faced such a smear on a recent speaking tour in Germany.

A number of elected politicians alleged that a scheduled talk by Blumenthal and his colleague David Sheen in a Berlin theater would serve ‘to promote anti-Semitic prejudice.’ This was deeply ironic: both Blumenthal and Sheen are themselves Jewish. The politicians denouncing them failed to produce any evidence that they are hostile towards fellow Jews.”

Well, if Feroz wants evidence of Blumenthal’s antisemitism, he can find a link to some 60 pages of it here. And since he seems to know very little about antisemitism, he might also want to check out this short introduction to “Anti-Semitism 101.”

It is of course very regrettable that a government-funded site intended to serve as Germany’s “bridge” to the Islamic world employs a regular contributor who downplays antisemitism, admires professional anti-Israel activists and has started to publish on the sites that cater to these activists. In addition to his Electronic Intifada contribution, Feroz has also recently published a post at the hate site Mondoweiss that has been shown to promote antisemitic material.

But it would be wrong to think that this affects only the coverage of Israel. As I have often argued, anti-Israel attitudes tend to come as a package deal, combined with anti-American and generally anti-Western resentments and a host of pseudo-progressive poses. It is thus hardly surprising that Feroz responded to a complaint of the notorious Electronic Intifada contributor Rania Khalek about the German media coverage of Blumenthal’s “toiletgate” with his own complaint about how apparently unpleasant it is to be a writer in Germany. Naturally, Max Blumenthal was sympathetic to Feroz’s plight.

Qantara Feroz1

Qantara Feroz2

In addition to the already mentioned article promoting BDS and the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state, another of Feroz’s recent contributions to Qantara illustrates his eagerness to promote material popular among the anti-Israel crowd. In late March, Max Blumenthal published a vicious attack on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and sure enough, two months later, Qantara published an article by Feroz that faithfully recycled many of Blumenthal’s smears. It is somewhat heartening to see that a Qantara reader who claims to be Muslim took the trouble to post a response in defense of Hirsi Ali. But among the anti-Israel activists Feroz admires and promotes, voices that are critical of Islam and urge wide-ranging reforms are generally viewed with hostility – which is only natural when leading activists openly favor Islamist and jihadist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

A particularly offensive paragraph in Feroz’s piece denouncing Hirsi Ali recycled some previously refuted lies that she “absolved” the right-wing Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik “of all blame;” and for good measure, Feroz also threw in a reference to the German-Jewish writer Henryk M. Broder, trying to implicate him somehow as not only a fan of the supposedly vicious and mendacious Hirsi Ali, but also as an inspiration for Breivik.  Qantara editors apparently liked that so much that they opted to illustrate the article with a picture of Broder, including a caption explaining that he is “one of the best known critics of Islam in Germany” and that he “was in the front row applauding Ayaan Hirsi Ali at an event held at the Axel Springer publishing house in Berlin in 2012.”

Qantara Broder

So unfortunately, it seems that some of the building blocks for Germany’s “bridge” to the Islamic world include the downplaying of antisemitism, the recycling of anti-Israel propaganda popular among activists devoted to eliminating the world’s only Jewish state, and even vilifying a German Jewish writer as a fan of supposedly vicious Islam critics and an inspiration to a mass-murdering Muslim-hating far-right extremist. One might wonder if Qantara has perhaps a rather low opinion of the Islamic world or if the site is just trying to cater to its basest instincts?

* * *

This is a very belated cross-post from my JPost blog.

The bloody hypocrisy of Vegans against the Occupation

[Note: This is an updated version of a previously published post]

When I first heard about “Vegans against the occupation,” I thought for a moment that this was surely a group opposing the Chinese occupation of Tibet. After all, even though Tibet’s climate makes it difficult to be a vegetarian or vegan, Buddhism has traditionally been very sensitive about the suffering of animals and is often associated with promoting vegetarian or even vegan diets.

But of course I was wrong: “Vegans against the occupation” is just another group with an intense hatred for Israel – so intense, in fact, that one of the leading members of this small group has been devoting a lot of energy to promoting the Tamimis of Nabi Saleh, who obviously couldn’t care less about veganism.

[Warning: disturbing screenshot below, showing a teenaged Tamimi family member posing mockingly with the severed head of a goat or sheep slaughtered for Eid al Adha, the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice]

Vegans against occupation

But Ariel Gold, aka Ariel Gold-Vegan of Ithaca, New York, hates Israel more than she hates this kind of revolting “fun”. While “Vegans against the occupation” is a tiny group that doesn’t warrant much attention, it provides an excellent example of the bottomless hypocrisy that is the hallmark of anti-Israel activism.

According to her Facebook (FB) page (publicly accessible at the time of this writing), Gold’s profession – or maybe more accurately, her all-consuming occupation – is “delegitimizing zionism.” [Note: this has now been changed to show that Gold works for CODEPINK, a group that likes to mingle with Jew-haters]

In recent weeks, Gold has been pre-occupied with promoting Bassem Tamimi, whose current month-long speaking tour in the US has apparently been organized by Gold. Just like the Tamimis, Gold also finds it useful to exploit her children for her activism, as she did most recently when she sent her 12-year-old daughter to accompany Bassem Tamimi to teach third-graders in a school in Ithaca about “the suffering of Palestinian children at the hands of Israel.”

Well, at least Palestinian kids sometimes have a bit of fun with dead goats, and sometimes they also have the chance to enjoy themselves while watching adults torture and slaughter cattle. Just in case kids get the idea that abusing animals is OK, Hamas once even devoted an episode of a notorious kids’ program to showcasing “the worst way … to teach kids to be kind to animals.”

Among animal rights activists, Palestinians have something of an international reputation for being particularly cruel to animals. But while her friends were getting ready to slaughter animals and pose with their remains, Ariel Gold was busy baking “Vegan Anti-Zionist Sweet Potato Challah” and bragging about how she raised her “vegan” children “to recognize zionism as a racist ideology rooted in ethnic cleansing.” Even her son’s bar mitzvah was all about Gold’s anti-Israel activism.

She concluded her little story about the successful indoctrination of her children and the “Vegan Anti-Zionist Sweet Potato Challah” with the bolded declaration:

“Being Progressive except #Palestine is like being #Vegan except bacon.”

And it’s probably like real vegan bacon to hate Israel intensely while idolizing people who can get more than 200 FB “Likes” for a photo of a teenaged relative posing mockingly with the severed head of a slaughtered animal.

To be sure, that the Tamimis are amused by one of their family members imitating the look of a slaughtered goat is really a minor matter. What is incomparably worse is the fact that the Tamimis don’t mind the slaughter of human beings – or, to be precise: the slaughter of Jews.

I did quite a bit of research on the Tamimis for several articles I wrote in the wake of the recent viral video that showed the futile attempt of an Israeli soldier to arrest the 12-year-old Mohammad Tamimi for stone throwing. First I noticed that some of their publicly accessible FB posts include statements and material that is hard to square with their otherwise carefully cultivated image as “non-violent” activists and “human rights defenders.” There are, for example, FB “likes” from Bassem Tamimi for pages and comments promoting the Hamas-affiliated jihadist Al-Qassam Brigades. Moreover, while the Tamimis have always refused to condemn terrorism, I was taken aback to see that Bassem Tamimi’s wife Nariman openly shared a popular FB post that objected to the description of the perpetrators of several murderous terror attacks as “terrorists” and insisted they should be hailed as “rebels.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of these murderous “rebels” is Tamimi family member Ahlam Tamimi, the mastermind of the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria massacre in Jerusalem.

As I have noted elsewhere, I have therefore increasingly come to understand that when the Tamimis invoke their “right to resist,” they also mean the “right” to commit mass murder. This is particularly obvious in statements reported by an Israeli news site and highlighted in a recent post at the blog of Frimet and Arnold Roth, who lost a daughter in the bloodbath of which Ahlam Tamimi and her admirers are so very proud. As the Roth’s translation of the Hebrew original shows, Nariman Tamimi – the mother of the child stars of the recent viral video – declared in no uncertain terms:

“What she [Ahlam Tamimi] did was an integral part of the struggle. Everyone fights in the manner in which he believes. There is armed uprising, and there is popular uprising. I support every form of uprising.”

Chances are that Ariel Gold (-Vegan) will be more disturbed by the tasteless image Nariman Tamimi shared on FB than by her open display of support for an unrepentant murderer who was only too delighted to find out that her victims included eight children.

* * *

Update:

In the wake of the recent terror attack in Jerusalem that claimed the lives of two men and left one woman seriously injured and one toddler lightly injured, Bassem Tamimi’s wife Nariman posted a cartoon glorifying the lethal stabbing on her FB page. The cartoon misleadingly suggests that the terrorist was targeting a soldier, whereas in reality he was targeting a couple with two children returning from prayers at the Western Wall.

Nariman Tamimi shared this cartoon from a Palestinian news site, where it was “liked” by almost 14,000 people and shared by almost 1,700.

NTamimi cheers Jerusalem stabbing

In addition to this cartoon, Nariman Tamimi and other members of her family posted countless other endorsements of terrorism on social media. I have documented a few examples in a previous post and will add more material. Most notable, however, is the Tamimis’ ongoing promotion of the vile ideology of Sbarro massacre mastermind Ahlam Tamimi, which I have documented in a recent guest post at Elder of Ziyon’s blog.

While there is clear evidence indicating that the FB page revealed in this post is indeed Ahlam Tamimi’s page, it is obvious that even if it is maintained by someone else, the page promotes her vicious views – and Bassem Tamimi as well as his wife and daughter are FB “friends” with this person.

Below a screenshot from Bassem Tamimi’s FB page, taken recently when he had just shared one of Ariel Gold’s many posts promoting him (and shamelessly using her daughter for this purpose), with the sidebar icon showing his FB “friends” including the “Princess of the Free” Ahlam Tamimi, whose FB profile and cover picture show the man who detonated the bomb at the crowded Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001.

BTamimi Gold Ahlam Tamimi

That is the company Ariel Gold (-Vegan) wants for her own children, and these are the people Gold wants third-graders in her town Ithaca (NY) to admire.

Anticipating Islam’s conquest of Europe and America at Al-Aqsa

Any European who would oppose Muslim immigration by arguing that the current waves of desperate people hoping to find safety and prosperity north of the Alps will pave the way for a hostile attempt to conquer Europe for Islam would certainly be denounced as an “Islamophobe.” But what do you call it when a preacher at the Al-Aqsa mosque – which is usually described as Islam’s “third-holiest” place – passionately announces that “soon, we will trample them [Europe’s Christians and Jews] underfoot, Allah willing”?

Europe will fall to Islam

In an address delivered some two weeks ago at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Muhammad Ayed argued according to a translation provided by MEMRI that in Europe, “all the hearts are infused with hatred toward Muslims.” According to the Sheikh,

“Europe has become old and decrepit, and needs human reinforcement. […] they have lost their fertility, so they look for fertility in their midst. We will give them fertility! We will breed children with them, because we shall conquer their countries – whether you like it or not, oh Germans, oh Americans, oh French, oh Italians, and all those like you. Take the refugees! We shall soon collect them in the name of the coming Caliphate. We will say to you: These are our sons. Send them, or we will send our armies to you.”

If this sounds “Islamophobic,” the politically correct thing is of course to simply ignore this story – and this is just what most of the mainstream media seem to have done. It almost goes without saying that this is not the first time that politically inconvenient stories from the Muslim world have been ignored. Frequently these are stories that would show deeply ingrained Muslim Jew-hatred; however, the arguably very belated revelations in a recent New York Times report about the shocking “tolerance” adopted by the US military regarding the widespread sexual abuse of children by its Afghan allies also provide a more general indication of how eagerly western institutions apply double standards that downplay or ignore profound evils in Muslim societies.

Personally, I would agree that the above cited remarks by the Al-Aqsa preacher are not necessarily newsworthy. After all, one can find fanatics who come up with deranged rants in every creed. But since Muslims claim the Al-Aqsa mosque as Islam’s “third holiest” site, one should assume that the Islamic Waqf – which was left in charge of the whole Temple Mount after Israel’s victory in the Six Day War 1967 – would ensure that crackpots don’t get a platform in this supposedly so important mosque.

Unfortunately, however, the hate-filled rant envisioning a Muslim conquest of Europe was by no means a unique incident. Over the past year, MEMRI has documented several similar “sermons,” and one can only speculate how many go undocumented and what is preached in local mosques all over the Muslim world.

On July 24, Sheik Ahmad Al-Dweik declared in an address at the Al-Aqsa mosque that the “Caliphate” promised by Allah “will be the number one country in the world.”

“It will fight the U.S. and will bring it down. [The Caliphate] will eliminate the West in its entirety. […] Allah promised that there would be an Islamic state, and that we would prepare for the West whatever strength and steeds of war we can, in order to strike terror in the hearts of the enemies of Islam and of Allah, until we become those who command and Islam rules [the world].”

Similar remarks were made by two other persons speaking at the mosque in early July.

Islam will rule earth

In March, another preacher addressing worshipers at the Al-Aqsa mosque on two different occasions recalled Islam’s history of conquest and declared:

“today, the religion and ideology of Muhammad – including Islam’s men of Truth, the men of the Caliphate and of jihad – are laying siege to America, despite its nuclear arsenal. They are laying siege to Europe and to the fabricated democracy, the great lie.”

“America will be trampled by the hooves of the horses of the Caliph of the Muslims, Allah willing. This is the promise of Allah.”

In February, Palestinian political researcher Ahmad Al-Khatwani (Abu Hamza) urged his fellow Muslims at Al-Aqsa to treat “Islam in a political manner, on the basis of the Islamic creed in its political sense.” He explained:

“If the Muslims accept Islam as a political and ideological foundation and guide, they will be able to confront America and its war on the Muslims, and they will be able to vanquish it with ease. We pray that Allah will enable the Muslims to wage war on America and against its true terrorism. May He grant victory to the Muslims, and may they raid America on its own land and the land of heresy everywhere.”

In January, a cleric speaking at the Al-Aqsa mosque praised the terror attacks in Paris as “defense of the Prophet Muhammad.”

Last November, a Palestinian publicly prayed in the Al-Aqsa mosque:

“Oh Allah, annihilate America and its coalition. Oh Allah, enable us to cut off their heads. Oh Allah, help our brothers, the mujahideen in the land of Iraq and Syria.”

Annihilate America

These “sermons” seem to indicate – and encourage – support for the savagery of the Islamic State terror group.

In addition, there are plenty of examples showing incitement of Jew-hatred in the vilest and most primitive terms imaginable.

Jews are evil

The video clips show that most of these rants are not formal sermons with worshipers listening attentively. It seems more like a Muslim version of Speakers’ Corner, where anyone – any man, that is – who feels like delivering a hate-filled rant against the Jews and the West can do so at Islam’s “third holiest” site. Men and young boys mull around, some stop to listen; but in general, the reaction of the audience shows that no one regards it as unusual to come to a supposedly very sacred place of worship and hear non-Muslims demonized and Islam exalted as destined for the bloody subjugation of the non-Muslim world.

So it seems that Muslims are quite flexible when it comes to perceived violations of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa. As the recent violence has shown once again, the mere idea that non-Muslims might dare to even just think about a prayer while visiting the Temple Mount easily enrages Muslims, whereas they apparently don’t mind at all when self-styled “defenders” of Islam use the Al-Aqsa mosque to stockpile rocks, debris and incendiary devices to attack police and visitors. Likewise, nobody seems to have a problem with fanatics bellowing out hate-filled rants at Al-Aqsa on a fairly regular basis.

To be sure, there are a few individual Muslims who have sharply criticized Muslim conduct at Al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount, notably the well-known writer Qanta Ahmed who has repeatedly published heart-felt calls for tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Last December, a Jordanian preacher even explicitly suggested that a part of the Temple Mount platform “where there are trees” should “be allocated for the prayer of the Israelites.”

But those lone voices are drowned out by overwhelming support for Muslim hypocrisy and supremacism. As I have argued previously, the Temple Mount has become a symbol of Muslim fanaticism, and those who most like to invoke the platitudes about Islam as a religion of peace are perhaps most cowed by the constantly repeated threats of Muslim violence. The well-practiced reflex of deferring to threats of Muslim rage was starkly illustrated when the UN Security Council (UNSC) published a warning about the recent violence avoiding any mention of the historic Jewish ties to the Temple Mount by referring to the compound only with the Arabic term “Haram al-Sharif,” and demanding that “Muslim worshipers at the Haram al-Sharif must be allowed to worship in peace, free from violence, threats and provocation.”

As documented above, the reality ignored by the UNSC is that Muslim worshipers at the Haram al-Sharif are absolutely free to indulge in violence, threats and provocation.

While Israel may have little choice but to constantly try to appease the always simmering Muslim rage about as yet unfulfilled dreams of Islam’s global domination, Arab leaders and media try their best to pour fuel on the flames. Particularly noteworthy is perhaps that Al Jazeera chose to promote incitement even in English: there is little doubt that the news network knows (or could know) about the vile rants that are regularly delivered at Islam’s “third holiest” place; yet, it featured a contemptible “analysis” explaining “Why Israel wants a religious war over Al-Aqsa.”

This is quite plainly what psychologists call projection: since the days of the Palestinian leader who later became notorious as “Hitler’s mufti” – who is still considered a Palestinian hero – Arab and Muslim leaders, as well as activists like Ali Abunimah, have fabricated Jewish or “Zionist” threats to “Al-Aqsa” (increasingly understood not only as the mosque, but the entire Temple Mount compound) to incite often lethal violence.

It should not be overlooked that this incitement also serves as an important tool to prop up Muslim “solidarity.” The powerful Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was established in 1969/70 after the guards employed by the Islamic Waqf failed to prevent a mentally ill Australian Christian tourist from entering the mosque to set a fire there. At the OIC website, there is no hint of the negligence of the Islamic Waqf guards; instead, the implication is that the “criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque” happened because Jerusalem is “occupied.” Palestinian media regularly repeat the libel that the Australian was a “Jewish terrorist;” most recently it was featured in TV programs and media commentaries marking the anniversary of the arson towards the end of August. Similarly, the previously cited Al Jazeera screed also implies that the 1969 arson happened because “Jews wanted to take the Noble Sanctuary.”

It is thus hardly surprising that the OIC currently plans once again “to hold an emergency meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the OIC Member States to discuss the Israeli violations in the occupied city of Al-Quds and ways to stop the Israeli aggressions on Al-Aqsa Mosque.” In addition, the OIC secretary general recently sent a letter to the heads of major international organizations voicing “his strong condemnation of the Israeli attacks on the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque” and warning “that burning parts of the mosque, attacking worshipers inside it by occupation forces, and arresting those stationed in its courtyards are crimes, aimed at freedom of worship.”

In the same letter, the OIC insists without the slightest sign of embarrassment that Jews and Christians should be denied freedom of worship on the Temple Mount.

This shameless hypocrisy is perhaps inevitable as long as freedom of worship for Muslims at Al-Aqsa includes the freedom to indulge in vile fantasies of Islam’s coming conquest of the non-Muslim world.

* * *

Cross-posted from my JPost blog.

The Tamimi masterclass on media manipulation

In a recent post that focused on Bassem and Nariman Tamimi’s cynical exploitation of their children as props for their efforts to provoke clashes with the IDF in order to ignite a “Third Intifada,” I noted that the Tamimis can usually rely on completely uncritical and indeed outright sympathetic media coverage of their activism. The most striking example of the cozy relationship that the Tamimis have cultivated with the media is perhaps the fawning tribute featured as a New York Times Magazine cover in March 2013, which was authored by American writer Ben Ehrenreich after he had been a house guest of the Tamimis for three weeks.

It is thus hardly surprising that by now, the Tamimis apparently feel free to tell the media any story that suits their purpose. Their complete disregard for facts and the ease with which they fabricate a story to bolster their image as righteous defenders of a noble cause was on full display in the wake of the widely covered recent attempt of an IDF soldier to arrest Bassem Tamimi’s 12-year-old son Mohammad (also known as Abu Yazan) for stone-throwing. As the viral video-clip showed, the fully armed soldier was beaten and bitten by a group consisting mostly of women and girls – prominently including Bassem Tamimi’s daughter Ahed – and the soldier ultimately released the boy from his hold and retreated.

Most parents watching this clip would probably shudder to imagine their own children in the place of Mohammad Tamimi. But according to a CNN report, Bassem Tamimi remained calm enough to film the attempt to arrest his son from a safe distance, explaining to CNN that he and his family “routinely” film “all of the protests to keep a record of the conflict there and collect what he says is evidence of Israeli abuses.”

One element that undeniably added to the emotional impact of the clip was the fact that Mohammad Tamimi had a plaster cast on his left arm. The various explanations offered by Bassem and Nariman Tamimi about how their son sustained the injury that required the cast reveal their mendacious modus operandi and their reliance on uncritical and sympathetic media coverage.

Before documenting the fabrications of Bassem and Nariman Tamimi in detail, it is noteworthy that their son’s previously injured arm not only added to the impact of the viral clip that showed an ostensibly frightened boy with one arm in a cast, but that it also greatly intensified the sense of victory felt afterwards by the family and their supporters. As the saying goes: one picture is worth a thousand words – and this widely shared picture with which the Tamimis celebrated their “victory” transforms the frightened and injured boy who was exhibited to the world as the victim of a brutal assault by a heavily armed soldier into a little superman who needs just one arm to toss the hapless soldier into the air.

Tamimi kids shatter IDF myth

As far as the Tamimis are concerned, it truly is child’s play to “shatter the myth of the Zionist army.” Needless to say, if the “Zionist army” was as brutal and trigger-happy as the Tamimis usually claim, their “heroic” son would have had two broken arms in the best-case scenario.

But how did Mohammad Tamimi, aka Abu Yazan, break his left arm? One journalist who apparently addressed this question to Bassem Tamimi reported:

“According to his father, the child in the video, Mohammed Tamimi, broke his wrist while fleeing an Israeli tank in his village, which was why he was wearing a cast.”

Apparently, the journalist did not notice that it would be rather unusual if the IDF drove a “tank” through the village and children would have to ‘flee’ this tank. It seems that the journalist did not question the claim and no evidence is offered to support it.

But the question of how Mohammad Tamimi injured his left arm also came up in an interview with Nariman Tamimi, the boy’s mother. She offered not only a completely different story [as highlighted below], but also used what will be shown to be a fabrication to justify the participation of her children in the regularly instigated confrontations with soldiers:

NTamimi story on broken arm

Again, no further evidence of the alleged attack on the Tamimi’s home is provided.

So did Mohammad Tamimi break his arm while fleeing an Israeli tank, as his father claims, or did he break his arm while sitting peacefully at home, getting hurt by tear gas canisters shot into the Tamimi house by the IDF, as his mother claims?

The answer suggested by checking the relevant Facebook (FB) posts of Bassem and Nariman Tamimi is: none of the above.

Nariman Tamimi’s story appears to be a complete fabrication, invented at the spur of the moment to justify why she would not only allow, but actually encourage even her youngest child to participate in regular protests that are designed to provoke clashes with IDF soldiers.

On August 25, at 7.40 PM (all times given are Israel time), Nariman Tamimi announced in a post on her FB page that her son Abu Yazan had broken his arm; a fairly literal translation of her post would read: “Abu Yazan is wounded, [his] hand is broken, a thousand wishes of get well, oh great one!”

About an hour later, at 8.46 PM, Nariman Tamimi posted a follow-up, including a photo, via mobile upload on her FB page.

NTamimi 2nd FBpost on broken arm

Curiously, the photo Nariman Tamimi chose to upload was several years old; it can e.g. be found in a post from November 2012 at the blog of the French branch of the notorious International Solidarity Movement. (The post also includes a video clip showing a small group of children – including Ahed Tamimi and her brother Mohammad – screaming at bemused soldiers and trying their very best to provoke them.)

2012 pic of boy and jeep

Why she chose to upload this old picture is anyone’s guess, but the text she added is fairly clear; again, staying as close as possible to the original, the translation would be:

“When you are wounded, your hand is broken, you put it in your shirt and put the edge of the shirt in your mouth and keep hitting the occupation with your pure stone – then you are my son, Abu Yazan, may Allah return you to me healthy, oh mother.”

The message Nariman Tamimi has for her son here is clear: never mind that you broke your arm while throwing stones at an army jeep, pull yourself together and keep throwing stones. This is a truly chilling glimpse of the ruthless pressure the Tamimis exert on their children.

Both of Nariman Tamimi’s posts elicited many responses, with people expressing concern and wishing a speedy recovery. In response to a question of what exactly happened, posted by FB user Sheerin Al Araj at 8.56 PM, Nariman Tamimi explained a little more than half an hour later, at 9.35 PM: “He fell while he was throwing stones at the jeep, and he broke his hand.”

NTamimi admits son threw stones

Just two minutes later, at 9.37 PM, Nariman Tamimi explained in another post:

“Allah be blessed, he fell when he hit a jeep; his hand broke, there was a possibility that it would be operated on, but Allah be blessed, the fracture returned to its place, it was put in a plaster cast, and he is going home.”

NTamimi 937 post

Shortly afterwards, another exchange indicates that even some admirers of the Tamimis began to feel they are overdoing it. At 9.46 PM, Sheerin Al Araj writes: “May Allah protect you, what is [it] going to be with you, stop, enough.” Nariman Tamimi’s rather chilling response two minutes later is: “Either victory or martyrdom; and everything is going to be OK.”

NTamimi Victory or martyrdom

At 10.24 PM, Bassem Tamimi shared his version of the incident on FB, uploading an image of his son with the cast, adding comments English and Arabic. The Arabic text says: “May Allah cure you Muhammad/Abu Yazan. In a confrontation with the forces of the occupation, tear gas canisters surrounded him, he fell and broke his hand. May you be healthy, oh hero!” Tamimi added in English: “today the IOF attacked the village of Nabi Saleh. during the clashes my son Mohammad was injured and broke his arm. free Palestine.”

Nariman Tamimi shared this post on her own timeline at 11.13 PM.

NTamimi share Bs version broken arm

Bassem Tamimi’s version was of course vague enough to allow both of them to fill in details and dramatize as needed when they were asked a few days later how their son had broken his arm. Bassem Tamimi chose to come up with the frightening scenario of a tank ploughing through the village, forcing his son to flee in panic; whereas his wife felt the need to invent the very different scenario of an IDF attack on the house, because she wanted to justify her insistence that it was best for her children to be sent out to confront soldiers.

Both obviously counted on the credulity of the reporters and didn’t expect to be asked for any evidence. Their son had a cast on his arm – who would doubt that in some way or other, a vicious act of the brutal “IOF” was to blame? How often have the Tamimis played the same game without being caught lying?

But worse than their lies and their shameless manipulation of the media – which, after all, love to be fed the kind of stories the Tamimis are eager to provide – is their ruthless exploitation of their children. It emerged in the comments responding to Nariman Tamimi’s post that this was already the second time that her son Mohammad had broken his arm, presumably under similar circumstances. But when a concerned friend suggested it was “enough” and time to stop, Nariman Tamimi defiantly responded “Either victory or martyrdom.” It is a terrible thought, but given the way the Tamimis have exploited their children so far, one has to wonder if they might ultimately consider the “martyrdom” of one of them a “victory.”

And make no mistake: the “victory” for which the Tamimis are fighting is not the peaceful co-existence of the Jewish State of Israel and an Arab-Muslim Palestinian state. In various interviews published on sites that oppose Israel’s existence as a Jewish state – such as the “hate-siteMondoweiss and The Electronic Intifada (from where an interview conducted by the notorious Max Blumenthal was even cross-posted on the website of the Al-Qassam Brigades), Bassem Tamimi has indicated that he is a determined proponent of the so-called “one-state-solution” that would absorb the world’s only Jewish state into yet another Arab-Muslim majority state.

* * *

This is a slightly edited version, including additional screenshots, of the piece recently published on my JPost blog.

Update: A recent YNet report illustrates that the Tamimis are not the only ones to freely fabricate stories: “A Palestinian source reported on Saturday that an Israeli had shot a six-year-old Palestinian boy;” however, an investigation by the IDF found that “the boy was wounded while playing with a gun owned by his brother, a Palestinian police officer.” The IDF suspected that “the family invented the story of an Israeli attacker to protect their older son and additionally to get a paycheck from the Palestinian Authority as victims of terror at the hands of Jewish settlers.”

Delegitimizing Israel at Southampton University [updated]

Update: When this post was first published on my JPost blog in February (and cross-posted at Harry’s Place), the conference that is criticized here was scheduled to take place two months later, in mid-April. However, it soon became apparent that there was a lot of opposition, and Southampton University eventually decided to cancel the event “due to concerns that the safety of staff, students and visitors could not be guaranteed.” Legal challenges by the conference organizers against the cancellation were rejected in court. A summary and commentary on the controversy can be found here.

* * *

In an article on “Europe’s New Anti-Semitism,” Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks argued a few years ago that it was important to realize that throughout history, assaults on Jewish life always needed “justification by the highest source of authority in the culture at any given age.” For our own time, this means according to Sacks that “any assault on Jewish life – on Jews or Judaism or the Jewish state – must be cast in the language of human rights,” which is reflected in “the by-now routine accusation that Israel has committed the five cardinal sins against human rights: racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, attempted genocide and crimes against humanity.”

Against the backdrop of deadly terrorist attacks on Jews in several European capitals in recent months, some of Europe’s political leaders – most notably French Prime Minister Manuel Valls – have passionately denounced antisemitism and pledged to fight it. Yet, the problem identified by Rabbi Sacks remains, and in the wake of the most recent attacks in Copenhagen, a Wall Street Journal editorial rightly noted that “[e]lite hostility to Israel amplifies street-level anti-Semitism.”

Unfortunately it seems that such elite hostility to Israel will be showcased at a conference scheduled for April at the University of Southampton. The official announcement describes the conference as “a ground-breaking historical event on the road towards justice and enduring peace in historic Palestine.” The conference is supposedly “unique because it concerns the legitimacy in International Law of the Jewish state of Israel;” however, as students of antisemitism will know, there is nothing “unique” about singling out the world’s only Jewish state for delegitimization.

The conference has been initiated and organized by University of Southampton professor Oren Ben Dor, and his views on the conference’s subject are no secret: the intensity of his animus against Israel is nicely illustrated in a fundraising letter for the conference, where the Nahariya-born (former) Israeli claims to have grown up “in Palestine.”

Ben Dor SouthamptonU1

Ben Dor’s fundraising letter notes explicitly that the “conference is fully hosted, and supported by the University of Southampton. The university enables us to use its hospitality services, event organisation, marketing network and financial administration for the organisation, delivery, recording of the conference. It is a remarkable achievement in itself that such a conference will be help [sic] in UK academia.”

Indeed, it is remarkable that, almost seven decades after Israel’s establishment, the University of Southampton is holding a three-day conference devoted to searching for ways to use international law to deny the world’s only Jewish state the right to exist. But arguably, Professor Ben Dor’s record of “academic” activism against Israel is hardly less remarkable: it seems that roughly half of the publications listed on his official university page are either reviews of the writings of anti-Israel propagandists (e.g. Ali Abunimah, Jonathan Cook), or contributions to various “One State” conferences and other supposedly “pro-Palestinian” events focused on the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. On his official page outlining his research, Ben Dor emphasizes that his academic work “relates” to his “political activity regarding Palestine, the gist of which is a call for justice and peace in Palestine (in that order).” Ben Dor’s writings leave little doubt that as far as he is concerned, “justice” requires the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state; indeed, Ben Dor has even asserted that it was time to “legitimate” the “voice” of Hamas, because “understanding this voice as an ethical cry to the world to not allow Israel the right to persist in its racist self-definition is a much better way of articulating the moral message.”

This brazen attempt to not only ignore but even whitewash the genocidal antisemitism and fascism of the Hamas Charter is unfortunately not the only indication that Ben Dor has no hesitation to embrace open anti-Jewish bigotry. The “numerous articles in Counterpunch” that he highlights on his official university page also include a passionate protest against what Ben Dor calls “the constant attempts to silence Gilad Atzmon.” According to Ben Dor,

“It would be an understatement to say that debating Gilad’s voice is supremely important. No thinking person could fail to be stimulated by the deep connections Gilad makes.”

In case you haven’t heard of Gilad Atzmon, you could find out more about him on the neo-Nazi Internet forum Stormfront, where members broadly agree with Ben Dor’s view that his “voice is supremely important” – indeed, Atzmon’s writings are regarded as so important there that they are often shared and posted on the site.

Ben Dor Atzmon Stormfront

Alternatively, you could have Ben Dor’s view about the importance of Atzmon’s voice confirmed by former Klan leader and avowed white supremacist David Duke, who has praised him as “perhaps the bravest and clearest thinking person of Jewish descent in the world.”

Ben Dor Atzmon DDuke

The admiration is mutual – this is what Atzmon said in an interview last year:

“The left is devastated by David Duke for instance. He was in the KKK when he was young. But here is something quite amazing: I read him and I was shocked to find out that this guy knows more about Jewish identity than I do! How could a supposedly ‘racist’ Gentile who probably never entered a synagogue knows [sic] more than I do about Judaism? The reason is in fact very simple: he is a proud white man.”

One could fill pages upon pages to document Atzmon’s well-deserved popularity among Jew-haters, white supremacists and neo-Nazis. So Ben Dor was wrong to complain that Atzmon is being silenced: he gets plenty of publicity at all the sites frequented by bigots looking for their daily dose of stories about Jewish cunning and evil. And Ben Dor himself has repeatedly done his part to promote Atzmon and his odious views, including even hosting him at Southampton University. Why not also invite Duke if the “supremely important” Atzmon recommends him so enthusiastically as an expert on “Jewish identity”?

To what extent Ben Dor actually agrees with Atzmon’s “gutter anti-Semitism” is hard to ascertain given that he likes to write in a style that reflects his fascination with the now utterly disgraced German philosopher Martin Heidegger; but there can be little doubt that Ben Dor shares Atzmon’s conviction that Israel is an absolute evil that cannot be allowed to exist. While Atzmon has expressed the view that even Nazi Germany was less evil than Israel, Ben Dor has repeatedly described Israel as utterly immoral and has denounced the Jewish state as “a terrorist state like no other” and demanded that “the herrenvolk (master race) nature of its democracy” must be openly debated.

Ben Dor certainly knows that it is generally regarded as antisemitic to equate Israel with Nazi Germany and to argue that the world’s only Jewish state is too evil to exist. Yet, it seems that this is what Ben Dor is arguing in his political writings, and given his own emphasis on the connection between his academic work and his “political activity regarding Palestine,” the planned publication of the proceedings of his conference at the University of Southampton may turn out to be of interest not only for anti-Israel activists in and out of the Ivory Tower, but also for researchers studying 21st-century antisemitism and the ‘elite hostility to Israel’ that provides ostensibly new justifications for the oldest hatred.

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Update 2: The CST’s Mark Gardner argues in a related post that Ben Dor’s views put him “firmly in the same ball park as Atzmon.” Gardner also quotes from a video-taped speech where Ben Dor asserts “that there is something so Jewish in that which has provoked the Holocaust” – which, as I already suggested above, seems to echo the preposterous notion of Jewish “self-destruction” developed by Heidegger in his “Black Notebooks.”

David Sheen knows what it takes to demonize Israel [updated]

A few days ago, the media monitor CAMERA exposed one of the lies that budding anti-Israel activist David Sheen is spreading in order to make a living by demonizing Israel. As I have noted in a previous post, Sheen apparently hopes to appeal to the same audiences that enthusiastically embraced Max Blumenthal’s odious screed “Goliath,” which equated Israel with Nazi Germany and earned Blumenthal devoted fans wherever there are Jew-haters.

But even if one focuses relentlessly on Israel’s failings, it’s of course no easy job to pretend that the modern, pluralistic and democratic Jewish state is like Nazi Germany. While Sheen does his best to provide his audiences on social media and at activist gatherings on US campuses with the Israel-bashing they expect from him, he is also unwittingly demonstrating that it takes lots of lies to demonize Israel as a uniquely monstrous evil.

CAMERA caught Sheen when he claimed on Twitter that “Just as Nazis compared Jews to vermin to incite racism against them, Netanyahu compares non-Jewish Africans to ebola.” But even when his lie was exposed, Sheen continued to insist that Netanyahu “compared” African migrants to Ebola, because Netanyahu mentioned Israel’s “general efforts to defend our borders from illegal infiltrators and terror” in remarks addressing measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

DSheen Ebola

On Twitter, Sheen has often been challenged when he posted other lies and inaccuracies by Nurit Baytch, who has also published a detailed analysis of some of the fabrications Sheen has been presenting to activist gatherings in the US. Most recently, Nurit noted Sheen’s pathetic attempt to use a real estate advertisement that refers to Tel Aviv’s historic “White City” as yet another proof of Israel’s ingrained racism.

DSheen White City

Of course, Sheen’s utterly ridiculous claim was eagerly retweeted by almost 200 of his followers – which apparently encouraged him to dig deeper and insinuate that calling white buildings white is somehow racist. Surely he will soon start a campaign to rename the White House…

DSheen White City2

No less bizarre is Sheen’s apparent obsession with what he refers to as Israel’s “rape culture.” In recent days, I noticed two tweets where Sheen alludes to this supposed “rape culture” and provides links that are obviously meant to indicate there is a validation for his smears – but in both cases, the material he links to has nothing whatsoever to do with rape: one link leads to a report criticizing Ultra-Orthodox Jews for vandalizing ‘bat mitzvah’ ads in Jerusalem, while the other link, rather amusingly, leads to a report on the diametrically opposed world of fashion and “racy” advertisement.

DSheen rape1DSheen rape2

But whether it’s about Ultra-Orthodox men insisting on an anachronistic “modesty” or young women repudiating any notions of “modesty” and confidently showing off their bodies, David Sheen can only fantasize about a “rape culture.”

Sheen’s bizarre tweet on the fashion article (which was retweeted by Max Blumenthal) is arguably particularly offensive, as reflected in this response:

DSheen rape3

I couldn’t find any other recent tweet that explains Sheen’s “rape culture” claims. While Sheen seems to accuse Israel in general of a “rampant rape culture” in one tweet, the other seems to suggest that this “rape culture” has something to do with the “army’s crimes” – presumably meaning that IDF soldiers rape Palestinians. Unfortunately for Sheen, he is going against the stream here: as deranged as it may sound, anti-Israel activists really prefer to point to the rarity of rapes by IDF soldiers as yet another proof that Israel is racist… As an award-winning Israeli research paper put it so preposterously: “In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it can be seen that the lack of military rape merely strengthens the ethnic boundaries and clarifies the inter-ethnic differences.”

While this illustrates nicely that truly anything can be used to bash Israel, Sheen usually focuses on the supposedly particularly dire plight of African migrants and refugees in Israel. Neither he nor his fans seem to be bothered by the fact that migrants and refugees face harsh experiences in countries around the world. If Sheen’s audiences in the US don’t follow the news (other than Electronic Intifada-style news from Israel), it would take only a quick search on Google to find plenty of harrowing reports on US detention centers and the merciless American “deportation machine” that even deports children – but of course, it is so much more thrilling to get worked up about problems in Israel, because when the world’s only Jewish state shows the same failings as the rest of the world, the Jew-hater happily concludes that Israel is too evil to be allowed to exist.

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Cross-posted from my JPost blog.

UPDATE:

Together with his admired mentor Max Blumenthal, Sheen is currently in Berlin, where he and Blumenthal have faced some opposition to their efforts to demonize Israel (see here.) This evening, both Sheen and Blumenthal have boasted on Twitter about their shockingly thuggish attempts to harass and intimidate their critics. Blumenthal posted or re-tweeted several tweets by their fans that link to a clip featuring Sheen aggressively pursuing the leader of Germany’s Left (party) into the men’s room, screaming hysterically that his life will be in danger because Gysi called him an antisemite. Sheen posted this clip on YouTube with the title “Gysi, I’m asking you for an apology.”

DS pursues Gysi2

But of course, Gysi has nothing to apologize, since he just called Sheen what he is – and Sheen proved once again what he is with his hysteric lies about having his reputation ruined and his life endangered because of Gysi’s entirely justified rejection of Sheen’s relentless demonization of Israel.