Tag Archives: Israel

Omar Suleiman’s indirect response to my Algemeiner article

A few days ago, The Algemeiner published my article on Omar Suleiman, a very popular Palestinian-American imam whom Linda Sarsour has repeatedly praised – and who has also expressed admiration for her. When I researched Suleiman’s views on Israel and on Jews, I quickly found a lot of alarming material: he posted an image signaling support for the Muslim Brotherhood; he repeatedly called for another intifada and tried his best to incite religious passions; he also compared Israel to the Nazis and to Taliban-affiliated terrorists who had perpetrated a horrendous massacre in a school in Pakistan. But what shocked me most was listening to some of his religious teachings that are available on You Tube. The example I cited in the article was from a lecture series on the Bani Israel that he gave a few years ago, and in the introductory lecture, he very clearly blamed the Bani Israel – literally the “sons of Israel,” i.e. the Jews – for the fact that food decays. Quite obviously, this is no less pernicious than the medieval blood libel.

Now I just discovered that, without tagging me or linking to my article, he has posted a text on his Facebook page that seems to be an indirect response to my piece – and I have to say that I found much of it quite impressive, certainly compared to Linda Sarsour’s pathetic habit to dismiss all criticism as “alt-right” and “Islamophobic.” You can read Suleiman’s post here or in the screenshot below.

Omar Suleiman Algemeiner response

Of course, I did not ‘intentionally decontextualize’ anything Suleiman said or wrote. And I think it’s not convincing to describe the material I documented as ‘slip ups,’ since in most instances, he repeatedly expressed the same or similar views. I am also working on documenting some other material from Suleiman’s lectures that I found very disturbing and that in my view is central to the Muslim unwillingness to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in any borders.

It should go without saying that I do not “hate” Omar Suleiman, and I do not “want to bury” him in his “past mistakes.” But quite obviously, it can have far-reaching consequences when an imam who has more than a million followers on social media makes “mistakes” and writes things he now wishes he “never wrote.” Indeed, some of the things I exposed were “liked” or shared by tens of thousands of people.

But I found it moving and very dignified that Suleiman wrote:

“Maybe thats a lesson though that we need to always be more responsible with our words. That even before social media, your words were being recorded and saved. That everything you’ve ever said may have impacted someone for years after even if you moved on. That we should heed the prophetic advice to not say things today that we will have to apologize for tomorrow.

I pray that I’ve written and said more good than evil, and that my carefully archived scrolls will be a proof for me rather than against me.”

Suleiman is very young – just in his early thirties, and from what I’ve seen, I do think his record includes a lot of “good.” But as I’ve already noted, I still think that he also promotes some very problematic views which I plan to document further. If he wishes to clarify or revise his views, he has many platforms to do so. And he has already shown that he is sometimes willing to change: e.g., he seemed prepared to tone down his previous condemnation of homosexuality – though only he can know if it is out of conviction or because of political expediency. But if he revises some of the views I have documented, and still plan to document, I would regard this as a small, yet still hopeful, step that could only help to improve relations between Muslims and Jews not just in the US, but perhaps even in the Middle East. After all, Suleiman is young, clearly very talented and very ambitious, and if he were to revise some of his problematic views, he could become a moderating voice that is desperately needed when so many religious leaders are eager to incite their followers by demonizing the Jews and denying their long historical attachment and rights to the land of Israel.  

Update:

Several people have told me that they feel I’m too conciliatory here, because Suleiman after all did not explicitly renounce any of his views; one person also criticized that he didn’t delete any of the offensive posts I cited (and archived). But I think only time will tell if I was too conciliatory. Even if he deleted the posts I exposed, it wouldn’t change the fact that when he published them, many thousands of people read, liked and shared them, and the incitement can’t be undone. Yet, I think compared to the reaction Linda Sarsour regularly offers when she is facing criticism, Suleiman’s vague acknowledgment that he regrets some of the views he expressed, should be appreciated — though, to be sure, Sarsour is setting a very low bar.

The past can’t be undone, but if Suleiman will now avoid calling for another intifada and stop describing Israel in terms that echo the Nazi slogan “The Jews are our misfortune,” I for one would find that a very positive outcome, since the 1.2 million (and counting) people who follow him will not be poisoned by such incitement from a religious leader they adore. Incidentally, it is very interesting to check out the comments responding to his post: most people accept very graciously that the imam they admire expresses regret about going public with some unspecified views and that he simply encourages everyone to learn from what he presents as his own learning experience.  

Having said all this, I don’t have any illusions about how deep-seated Suleiman’s anti-Israel — and arguably anti-Jewish — resentments are. I have watched some of his relevant lectures and found it all in all a rather depressing experience. But more on this in a follow-up article later this month.

 

 

 

The hate preachers of Al Aqsa

In a commentary on the tense aftermath of the recent terror attack committed by three Arab Israeli Muslims coming from what is supposedly Islam’s “third holiest” site, David Horovitz rightly notes that the current status quo on the Temple Mount is in many ways “outrageous.” Towards the end of his column, Horovitz wonders if it was perhaps “a historic mistake” that shortly after Israel took over the Temple Mount in 1967, it returned control of the site to the Muslim authorities of the Waqf.

I think Horovitz’s column answers his question: yes, it was indeed a terrible historic mistake, because – as Horovitz himself explains – this naïve gesture of good will “has empowered a Palestinian and wider Muslim false narrative that asserts the Jews actually have no connection to the Mount, no history there, no legitimacy there — and by extension no sovereign legitimacy in Israel either. Why did defense minister Moshe Dayan’s concession on June 10, 1967, fuel that false narrative? Because, the way it was perceived in much of the Muslim world, the Jews could not and would not have relinquished their authority over the site if it truly constituted the most sacred physical focal point of their faith. Israel’s restraint […] in other words, has come to be regarded as proof of our illegitimacy.”

But the status quo on the Temple Mount is also outrageous for reasons I outlined in a recent EoZ post:

Since the Temple Mount is in the news again, it’s perhaps time to update a post I wrote some two years ago about the hate preachers who hold forth quite regularly at what is supposedly Islam’s “third holiest” site. Unfortunately, the mainstream media seem to have little interest in covering what Muslim worshippers attending the Al Aqsa mosque are told about how their faith relates to today’s world. And once you know what they’re being told, it’s clear that reporting it would be dreadfully “Islamophobic.”

Thanks to MEMRI, there is a large collection of translated clips that provide a revealing glimpse of the intense hatred that passes for pious Islamic teaching at the Al Aqsa mosque. I think it would be a great service to peace in the Middle East and beyond if MEMRI put all these clips together into one chilling documentary that should be shown around the world in order to perhaps shame the responsible Muslim authorities into putting an end to these vile outpourings. After all, the Temple Mount has been a symbol of Muslim fanaticism for decades – indeed, it soon will be a century since Haj Amin al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, who later gained notoriety as a Nazi collaborator, first incited murderous Muslim violence with his mendacious fabrications about “Zionist” plots to damage the site’s Islamic shrines. But when the evil Zionists took over the Temple Mount in 1967, they naively thought it would be a wonderful gesture of good will to promptly hand the control of the site back to the Muslim waqf.

Ever since, Israel has cravenly served as enforcer of a “status quo” that is dictated by frequent threats of massive Muslim violence and that helps to entrench Muslim supremacism: only Muslims can pray on the Temple Mount – which is Judaism’s holiest site – while Jews and Christians are at best allowed to visit at severely restricted hours under strict police surveillance. 

My disgust with this arrangement isn’t due to any religious belief or sentiments; rather, with each new Muslim riot or act of violence justified “in defense of Al Aqsa,” it seems increasingly clear to me that peace has to begin on the Temple Mount: as long as Muslims are violently opposed to recognizing the Jewish and Christian attachment to the site and refuse to accept equal rights for Jews and Christians on the Temple Mount, there won’t be peace. And as long as Muslim leaders insist on denying equal rights for Jews and Christians on the Temple Mount, they should be denounced as supporters of a vile “status quo” that inevitably disgraces the religion which demands it.

So let’s have a good look at the “status quo” on the Temple Mount.

A perfect example is a recent speech by Palestinian preacher Ali Abu Ahmad during a rally at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in early May. The short clip – which concludes with a “prayer” imploring Allah to help Muslims to destroy whomever they perceive as enemies and to “annihilate all the Jews” – will give you a good idea about the intense hatred and the murderous incitement that is a regular feature of speeches and sermons at Islam’s “third holiest” site.

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Shocking, but unfortunately, a common occurrence at Al Aqsa – in June, a very similar “prayer” was led by Palestinian cleric Sheikh Nadhal Siam (Abu Ibrahim): “Oh Allah, enable us to slaughter the Americans!” Audience: “Amen!” Nadhal Siam: “And the Europeans!” Audience: “Amen!” Nadhal Siam: “And our criminal and treacherous [Arab] rulers!” Audience: “Amen!”

Just two weeks after Ali Abu Ahmad had prayed for Allah’s help to “annihilate all the Jews” in early May, he was at it again, denouncing Trump as “the White House Satan” who is eager to talk with Arab rulers “about moderate Islam.” And once again, this hate preacher implored Allah to “bestow upon us a rightly-guided Caliphate in the path of the Prophet soon. Oh Allah, annihilate Trump and the conspirators. Oh Allah, annihilate all the Jews.”

At the end of May, Palestinian cleric Sheikh Muhammad Ayed, (Abu Abdallah) enlightened his audience at the Al Aqsa Mosque about the confessions of “Jewish schemers” from “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”: “They are behind all the strife in the world. They cause all the killing, the slaughter, and the destruction everywhere.” He also got around to contemplating America’s fate: “First, the Caliphate will clip America’s nails and then move on to chopping off its hands. After we clip its nails, we will chop off its hands, and then we will chop off its feet and drive it out of our countries.”

Also in May, Palestinian cleric Sheikh ‘Abd Al-Salam Abu Al-‘Izz gave a speech at Al Aqsa that is fascinating in the context of the controversy about the meaning of “jihad” in the wake of Linda Sarsour’s call for “jihad” against Trump: “Many people say that Islam did not spread by the sword. They try to conceal Jihad for the sake of Allah as a means of spreading Islam. They say that the Muslims were only defending themselves, and that if they conquered some country or another, it was only in order to put an end to tyranny. […] Any system of governance in the world is tyranny against humanity, except Islam. If we look at it this way, we find that there is tyranny in every country. Let us not forget that the Quran makes it incumbent upon us to spread Islam through Jihad: ‘Fight the infidels who are near you, and let them find harshness in you.’ […] the Jihad continues as long as there are infidels who are not ruled by Islam. Thus, the jurisprudents defined the reason for Jihad as the existence of infidels.”

Incidentally, another Palestinian cleric who educated his audience at Al Aqsa about the meaning of “jihad” in January 2016 concluded: “The purpose of Jihad for the sake of Allah is to make His word reign supreme, and to conquer the world. Thus, the Prophet’s companions roamed the planet Earth in order to conquer it. The Islamic State, which will be established soon, Allah willing, should do the same. It must conquer Rome, Washington and Paris, Allah willing, by means of Jihad for the sake of Allah, in order to remove oppression, and to purify the land from the filth of polytheism.”

Now let me just list a few of the examples I covered in my post two years ago:

In an address at the Al Aqsa Mosque on February 18, 2015, Palestinian political researcher Ahmad Al-Khatwani  (Abu Hamza) urged his audience to “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 March 2015, preacher Muhammad Abed delivered two sermons at the Al Aqsa Mosque anticipating the establishment of a global caliphate: “Oh how similar to the past is the present! Just like the ideology of the Prophet Muhammad laid siege to the Quraysh tribe, the Persians, and the Byzantines, 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 […] They are laying siege to Europe and to the fabricated democracy, the great lie. […] Oh nation of Islam, only a real Caliphate is capable of satiating your hunger, of defending you and your honor, and of liberating your Al-Aqsa Mosque form the filth of the defilers. […] 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 a lecture at the Al Aqsa Mosque on May 29, 2015, Sheik Khaled Al-Maghrabi spoke at length about Jewish evil and justified the Holocaust: “Let us consider the Holocaust of the Israelites in Germany, and all the prior problems that they experienced throughout Europe. The Israelites were expelled from all the countries of Europe, and eventually, they were burned in Germany. Ask yourselves why. […] It was not only due to (Jewish) corruption. On Passover, every Israelite community would seek a small child and kidnap him. They would bring a barrel pierced by many needles, and would place the little child inside it. That way, the needles would pierce the child’s body. At the bottom of the barrel there would be a tap to drain the blood. Why would they collect the blood of the kidnapped child? Because Satan, or one of the other higher gods, said that if they wanted him to fulfill their desires, they would have to eat bread kneaded with children’s blood. […] On Passover, when they are not allowed to eat regular bread, they make their matzos. They would knead the dough for these matzos with children’s blood. When this was discovered, the Israelites were expelled throughout Europe. That was the beginning of the calamity of the Israelites in European countries. It got to the point where they were burned in Germany. It was because of all those things, because of their multiple kidnappings of children.”

In another frightening lecture bordering on madness, delivered at the Al Aqsa Mosque on July 4, 2015, Palestinian cleric Issam Amira told his audience: “An Islamic state is required to deliver the call for Islam to the whole world. Therefore, this state must be qualified for expansion, militarily, ideologically, economically, and geographically. […] Therefore, our main war is with whom? With the Byzantines, with America and Europe – with France, with Britain, with those places […] The Islamic Caliphate must be restored, so that it will lead the armies to war against the infidels. Then we will bring about a second battle of Badr, and a third, and a fourth… In order to achieve that, the activists must work, along with [all] Muslims, to establish the Islamic State. It also requires destroying all the entities in the Islamic world.”

In an address at the Al Aqsa Mosque on July 6, 2015, Sheik Muhammad Abed said: “From here, from the land of the Prophet’s nocturnal journey, armies will set out to conquer Rome, to conquer Constantinople once again, as well as its [modern] symbols, Washington and London. This is Allah’s promise to His Prophet: Islam will rule the entire Earth.”

During an address on July 24, 2015, Sheik Ahmad Al-Dweik told his audience at the Al Aqsa Mosque: “Allah has promised to restore the Islamic Caliphate […] The Caliphate will come to be, and the nuclear bomb will be produced. It 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.”

Finally, since Muslims now like to claim that the Al Aqsa Mosque is not just the gray-domed building, but extends to the entire Temple Mount, let’s end with an example that illustrates just how holy that area is to Muslims: almost exactly four years ago, in July 2013, Islamists held a rally there proudly displaying their murderous hatred for everyone and everything they don’t like: America, France, Rome, Britain, and of course the Jews. But as the examples listed in this post show, all the hate expressed at this rally has also often been expressed inside the mosque. And if this is what’s being preached at Islam’s supposedly “third holiest” site, one can only wonder what is being preached in mosques all over the world.

Hate preachers 2

So progressive: alt-left anti-Israel activists find common ground with the alt-right

In the aftermath of the US election, proudly progressive Israel-haters have been happy to tell everyone who’d listen that they have been right all along – alt-right, to be precise. About a week after the election, Ali Abunimah informed his Electronic Intifada readers that Trump might be “bringing ‘white Zionism’ to the White House.”

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In order to explain what “white Zionism” is supposed to be, Abunimah cited the – in my view well-deserved – criticism of Steve Bannon’s leadership role at Breitbart, which has been denounced for regularly publishing “materials designed to stoke fears about African Americans, Latinos, Muslims and other groups, and to explicitly normalize white nationalist and white supremacist beliefs.” Abunimah then declared triumphantly: “This so-called alt-right ideology has been described by one of its key promoters as a form of ‘white Zionism.’”

Well, to Ali Abunimah it must have seemed like a golden opportunity: when half of America was in shock about Trump’s unexpected election victory and appalled by the prospect of an empowered alt-right, why not seize the moment and come up with a spin that might convince all these people that Zionism was just as bad and despicable???

But Abunimah was by no means the only one to demonize Zionism as the Jewish version of white supremacism: at the hate site Mondoweiss, Phillip Weiss accused renowned Holocaust scholar Deborah E. Lipstadt of “advocating a double standard” if she was denouncing “white nationalism as a white supremacist ideology” without condemning “Jewish nationalism” in the same terms.

A more recent post at Mondoweiss gloats about the widely reported failure of Hillel rabbi Matt Rosenberg at Texas A&M University to respond to alt-right leader Richard Spencer’s claim that Jews refused to assimilate and thus remained “a coherent people with a history and a culture and a future,” and that he just wants the same for whites. As Mondoweiss contributor Jonathan Ofir concludes, “Spencer masterfully put Rosenberg in a checkmate” by exposing “how Zionism and white-supremacy in fact dovetail.”

It’s good to know that alt-left anti-Israel activists would feel so elated to have their demonization of Zionism validated by the ‘masterful’ leader of the alt-right… The intellectual depth displayed here reminds me of Rania Khalek’s excuse when she was caught linking to a Holocaust denial site and then claimed it had just been “an error,” insisting at the same time that the book she had recommended from the site was “completely factual.” As I wrote at the time, Khalek was apparently convinced that a site devoted to minimizing Nazi crimes and defending people “not believing in the existence of gas chambers” can be trusted to feature a “completely factual” book that presents Zionist Jews as Nazi collaborators – which is obviously an idea that deserves as much ridicule and contempt as the notion that a white supremacist site would be a good place to find a “completely factual” book on blacks.

What anti-Israel activists who feel that the alt-right’s supposed affinity for Zionism validates their own “anti-Zionism” really tell us is that their view of Zionism has little to do with realities in the world’s only Jewish state.

Let’s look first at what Spencer means by “White Zionism”. This is how he put it at an alt-right gathering in 2013:

“For us ‘immigration’ is a proxy for race. In that way, immigration can be good or bad: it can be a conquest (as it seems now) . . . or a European in-gathering, something like White Zionism. It all depends on the immigrants. And we should open our minds to the positive possibilities of mass immigration from the White world.”

More recently, Spencer told the notorious alt-right gathering in Washington D.C. something very similar as he told Hillel rabbi Matt Rosenberg at Texas A&M University:

“The Jews exist precisely because they were apart, precisely because they had, maybe you could say, a bit of paranoia about trying to stay away — please don’t quote paranoia,” Spencer said.”

Right, let’s not quote “paranoia” – it’s perhaps not the best word to describe the results of more than a thousand years of antisemitism…

But in any case, others at the gathering agreed that the Jews provided an excellent example for white nationalists. As one participant put it:

“The opposition to intermarriage. The creation of their own state. The recreation of their language. This is the greatest triumph of racial idealism in history.”

So let’s start with intermarriage (and leave aside that I’m writing this as a naturalized non-Jewish Israeli citizen who “intermarried” with a Jew). While the alt-right hopes to be able to mainstream their ideas under President Trump, they presumably know that Trump’s daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism and married a Jew. So if white nationalists want to emulate Jews, they’ve surely developed some ideas about how non-Whites can convert to being white? And another interesting question: what language do white nationalists plan to recreate?

Anyway, to clarify things a bit more, I thought white nationalists might find it useful to contemplate this image before praising Israel for any supposed “greatest triumph of racial idealism in history”…

idf-diversity

Mhm, you think this is how white nationalists would want their army to look? And, incidentally, how do you think white nationalists would feel if they knew the story of former Israeli president Moshe Katsav, who was found guilty of sexual offenses and sentenced to a lengthy prison term by a well-respected Christian Arab judge? If white nationalists see Israel as their example, maybe we should expect that they’ll have well-respected Black Muslim judges in their state?

I could go on, but I agree with Gilead Ini’s recent remark on Twitter: taking the alt-right’s professed admiration for the world’s only Jewish state seriously, and trying to show how insincere and uninformed it is, may not make more sense than countering other libels by  “arguing that Zionism isn’t Nazism or that Jews don’t drink blood.”

But the alt-left’s eagerness to embrace the alt-right’s fantasy of Israel as a validation of campaigns aimed at eliminating the world’s only Jewish state shows how alike both fringes are: the alt-right wants a white state without Jews, the alt-left wants a world without a Jewish state – and if their respective visions were to come true, the alt-right couldn’t care less about the fate of Jews in the diaspora, while the alt-left couldn’t care less about the fate of Jews in Israel.

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A previous version of this post was published at EoZ.

Max Blumenthal triggers a wave of buyer’s remorse

For the past few years, Max Blumenthal has worked hard to establish himself as a leading anti-Israel activist who is rightly celebrated wherever there are Jew-haters. But while Blumenthal’s “pro-Palestinian” fans could see nothing wrong with his “journalism” as long as it served to demonize Israel, they have come to reject the exact same kind of “journalism” as deeply offensive hackery when Blumenthal turned his attention to Syria. Since many people were hoping that Syria’s truly heroic rescuers known as “White Helmets” would get this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Blumenthal apparently felt an irresistible urge to show off his journalistic brilliance by exposing the Syria Campaign – a group supporting the White Helmets – as an evil tool of the West. Not deceived by “the lofty rhetoric about solidarity and the images of heroic rescuers rushing in to save lives,” Blumenthal triumphantly discovered “an agenda that aligns closely with the forces from Riyadh to Washington clamoring for regime change.”

So brilliant and so obvious at the same time, isn’t it: given Bashar al-Assad’s benevolent rule, no Syrian could possibly want “regime change”…

The backlash against Blumenthal and his closest allies – notably Ali Abunimah and some of his Electronic Intifada writers – was quick and furious. Admittedly, it was a rather enjoyable spectacle, because a lot of the harsh criticism now voiced by disappointed fans (who want to see Israel gone as much as the likes of Blumenthal) could have been quoted from posts I and other critics of his screeds have written: suddenly people were ready to denounce “Max’s fact-free delusions” and his “smear pieces;” my personal favorite was perhaps when Blumenthal’s gonzo journalism was mocked in a tweet ridiculing how he usually concocts the “evidence” to indict his targets: “This NGO took money from a fund whose director once ate lunch in the same restaurant as an employee of an Islamophobe.” (Another delightful parody of Blumenthal’s “journalism” is here). Incidentally, this is also an excellent description of the modus operandi regularly followed by Ali Abunimah and his Electronic Intifada crew.

Abunimah was quick to complain that this was a “coordinated smear campaign that’s been going on for months,” and naturally, he had no doubt about the sinister forces behind it all: it was, of course, an “Israel-lobby inspired smear campaign.” Stalwart Abunimah fans like the perpetually “Angry Arab” agreed: it just couldn’t be a “coincidence that the campaign is being directed against some of the bravest voices against Israel in the US.”

Abunimah reacted with a torrent of tweets hurling abuse against his critics – and his bullying ultimately paid off: a blog post under the title “Palestinians decry Western Assad apologists” named only Max Blumenthal and linked to a statement signed by about 120 “Palestinian signatories” that denounced unnamed “Allies We’re Not Proud Of.” The statement declared that the signatories “are embarrassed by the ways in which some individuals known for their work on Palestine have failed to account for some crucial context in their analysis of Syria” and decried the “tendency to heroize those who advocate on behalf of the Palestinian struggle,” vowing that the signatories would “no longer entertain individuals who fail to acknowledge the immediate concerns of besieged Syrians in their analysis.”

An Al Jazeera article on the controversy also avoided naming names, though the author forcefully condemned activists who regard the “Palestinian cause” merely as a convenient “platform … to vent their selective anti-imperialist outrage.” Interestingly, this article painted a rather dramatic picture of the controversy:

“The Palestine solidarity movement is facing an unprecedented internal crisis, brought about not by the conflict with Israel but by the war in Syria. The latter has caused divisions that are arguably deeper and more damaging than those over how to realise Palestinian rights and aspirations. While the effects of Palestinian political infighting have remained largely domestic, the fissures over Syria have taken on a global dimension, and created unparalleled hostility among supporters of the Palestinian cause.”

There was indeed quite a bit of “hostility” on social media, some of it helpfully documented by Ali Abunimah himself. One telling example is archived here: Abunimah complained that the “Syrian American Medical Assoc. launches incitement campaign against me/others, claims we’re paid by Assad/Russia.” And apparently, Abunimah didn’t like getting a taste of his own medicine: “This level of incitement – comparing us to Hitler – is getting to dangerous levels.” Abunimah also took offense when his dear friend Max Blumenthal got the Max Blumenthal treatment from erstwhile fans.

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Clearly, Abunimah feels that Nazi smears should only be reserved for Israel.

The controversy also revealed a few interesting tidbits showing “pro-Palestinian” stars like Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek in a rather unflattering light. If Blumenthal really “went to Gaza &burst into tears at a Hamas checkpoint,” the boundless admiration he has expressed for Hamas perhaps also reflects some rather unhealthy psychological dispositions: the more brutal the bully, the more admiration Blumenthal will feel – which may well help to explain why Blumenthal has so much contempt for Israel and the US, and so much respect for Hamas, Assad, Russia and Iran.

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But while I couldn’t find confirmation for the delightful insider rumor about Hamas reducing Blumenthal to tears, I did manage to find evidence for the accusation that Electronic Intifada “associate editor” Rania Khalek is a plagiarist: if you check out this 2008 post on “6 ‘Non-Lethal’ Weapons That’ll Make You Wish You Were Dead” and scroll to the comments, you will find one posted on August 4th, 2011, which says: “This article has recently been plagiarized by someone named Rania Khalek for a website called Alternet. It’s not even subtle. […] The title of the stolen article is ‘6 Creepy New Weapons the Police and Military Use To Subdue Unarmed People’ and it was published August 1st 2011.” Sure enough, there is such an Alternet article by Khalek, which is marked as “updated” at the beginning and adorned with an “EDITOR’S NOTE” at the end stating: “This article has been corrected since its original publication for more accurate attribution to original sources.” Isn’t this a delicate way to put it…

Khalek’s author archive at Alternet shows that her regular contributions at the site ended a few months later in January 2012, but resumed again after three years in January 2015 – and amazingly enough, the plagiarized piece was promptly recycled under the exact same title, without the “editor’s note” and without any hint that it had been published years earlier. I suppose that’s Alternet quality journalism …

Last but not least, the disappointment expressed by erstwhile Blumenthal fans offered many more revealing glimpses at how truly pathetic many supporters of the “Palestinian cause” are. One heartbroken Blumenthal fan lamented: “I regret writing a review of @MaxBlumenthal’s Gaza book for @MuftahOrg http://muftah.org/a-review-of-max-blumenthals-the-51-day-war-ruin-and-resistance-in-gaza/ … I see that he’s fallen as low as Rania Khalek.” Check out the linked review posted on July 29, 2015, and you’ll find the highest praise for the “fearless integrity that fuels Blumenthal’s reporting.” You’ll also find that this review is illustrated with an image of the aftermath of a deadly “explosion … at a public garden near Shifa hospital in Gaza City on July 28, 2014.” It’s hard to think of a better illustration for a review praising Blumenthal, because Israel had immediately said that the carnage was caused by Hamas rockets, and even Amnesty International ultimately conceded in the spring of 2015 that “the projectile was a Palestinian rocket.” Ignoring this fact is really a good example of Blumenthal-style “integrity”.

So here’s a lesson for erstwhile Blumenthal fan Joey Husseini Ayoub and the likes of him: if you hail a hack like Blumenthal who glorifies an Islamist terror group like Hamas for his “fearless integrity,” you just look utterly pathetic when you denounce him for serving as an apologist for Syria’s Assad: Hamas and Assad have pretty much the same concern for the people under their rule. Just as the current carnage in Syria is due to Assad’s determination to hold on to power, all the wars in Gaza in the last decade are due to Hamas’ cynical efforts to polish their credentials as the “Islamic Resistance Movement.”

But I suppose there’s really nothing more “pro-Palestinian” than to quickly forget how Hamas threw opponents from high-rises in Gaza, tortured them and dragged their bodies through the streets, or executed them ISIS-style on public squares – a spectacle that was actually defended by Ali Abunimah. Maybe Max Blumenthal recalled atrocities like these when he burst into tears at a Hamas checkpoint: it must be really scary to be at the mercy of people who treat their own like this – even if you’re a “journalist” who came to glorify those brutal bullies.

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This is an updated version of a post first published at Elder of Ziyon.

The terror-supporting, Jew-hating Tamimis and their enablers (summary and links)

As my regular readers will know, the American writer Ben Ehrenreich recently published a book that portrays the Tamimis of Nabi Saleh as a lovely family of non-violent activists who suffer greatly from Israel’s relentless and wantonly cruel oppression. It was not the first time Ehrenreich paid tribute to the Tamimis and their supposedly noble struggle: already in spring 2013, his story about the Tamimis’ ambition to start a “Third Intifada” was featured on the cover of the New York Times (NYT) Magazine – and Israel-haters noted with great satisfaction that Ehrenreich’s piece “contains an implicit argument for violent resistance.”

The same could be said about Ehrenreich’s new book; yet, reviewers for highbrow outlets like the NYT and The Economist were hardly able to contain their heartfelt sympathy for Ehrenreich’s terror-loving Jew-hating protagonists – which presumably means that none of them noticed or was bothered by the fact that Ehrenreich does acknowledge in his book that the Tamimi family includes several much-loved terrorist murderers.

I began to document the Tamimis’ ardent support for terror and their equally ardent Jew-hatred a year ago and wrote several posts; a more systematic and thorough documentation was published in the November issue of The Tower Magazine (How a Family Became a Propaganda Machine), where I argued that it was completely unethical for Amnesty International to promote the Tamimis as supposedly non-violent defenders of human rights.

After the publication of Ehrenreich’s book in June, I updated my research on the Tamimis and documented their ongoing support for terrorism and their seething Jew-hatred in several additional posts (see e.g. Ben Ehrenreich’s obscene empathy with the terror-supporting Tamimis).

Given that Ehrenreich’s book – and the glowing reviews for it – were published just a few weeks before the 15th anniversary of the Sbarro massacre, which was planned and facilitated by Ahlam Tamimi, I very much appreciated that Tablet published a related post of mine (though I didn’t get to choose the title): Was Ben Ehrenreich Bamboozled By a Palestinian Terror Clan?

Another related piece was first published at Harry’s Place and is cross-posted below; it includes a YouTube video I put together in collaboration with Elder of Ziyon; the clip offers a short introduction to the four Tamimi family members listed first in the Acknowledgements to Ehrenreich’s book. I later also created a slide show featuring about 40 tweets by Manal Tamimi, which provide a glimpse of the intense hatred that drives the Tamimis.

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Ben Ehrenreich celebrates the Tamimis (who celebrate terrorism)

Roughly a month before the 9/11 terror attacks, Palestinian terrorists bombed a crowded Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem on August 9, 2001. Fifteen people were killed, including seven children and a pregnant woman, and some 130 people suffered injuries; one young mother was left in a permanent vegetative state. Unwittingly or not, the Guardian marked the 15th anniversary of the bombing by promoting a book that extols the humanity and lovingkindness of the family of the Hamas-affiliated terrorist who planned, and helped perpetrate, the bombing: Ben Ehrenreich’s recently published “The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine” focuses heavily on the Tamimis of Nabi Saleh, who remain proud of their relative Ahlam Tamimi, the unrepentant mastermind of the Sbarro massacre.

Ehrenreich’s book has already won high praise from the New York Times, which recommended it warmly as a “Love Letter to Palestine” that is full of “heartbreaking and eye-opening” stories; similarly, a teary-eyed review in The Economist fawned over Ehrenreich’s “elegant and moving account” and emphasized that “[it] is in the author’s descriptions of the Tamimis that the hope, and the love, are to be found.”

The few hints Ehrenreich provides in his book about his protagonists’ sympathies for terrorism and terrorists apparently didn’t strike any reviewer as worthwhile investigating. Ehrenreich does acknowledge in passing that Ahlam Tamimi’s “relatives in Nabi Saleh still speak of her with great affection,” and he does get around to mentioning that two other Tamimi family members were convicted of the 1993 murder and burning of Chaim Mizrahi. One of them, Nizar Tamimi, happens to be the nephew of Ehrenreich’s dear friend Bassem Tamimi; Nizar is also the presumably proud husband of Ahlam: the two murderers were both released in the 2011 deal that freed Hamas hostage Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1027 convicted Palestinian terrorists – an event that was celebrated in Nabi Saleh – and they married shortly afterwards in Jordan. Bassem Tamimi and his wife Nariman, as well as their famous daughter Ahed, attended the happy occasion; needless to say, the murderous couple reportedly planned to “have resistance children.”

While Ehrenreich doesn’t tell his readers much about Nizar or Ahlam, he does devote a few pages to the stories of Said Tamimi, who helped his cousin Nizar kill Chaim Mizrahi and who was released in December 2013 in a US-brokered deal “to bring Palestinian leaders back to peace negotiations.” It’s noteworthy in this context that a still available media report published shortly after Mizrahi’s murder in 1993 stated that the killing was claimed by Hamas, describing it as “an attack by extremists determined to disrupt the peace process by provoking Jewish anger.”

Ehrenreich doesn’t bother his readers with these details, but after presenting Said Tamimi as a somewhat tragic and sympathetic figure, he does address the murder:

“About Mizrahi, Said expressed no remorse. ‘I didn’t know him personally,’ he said. ‘Those were the means that we used. It was part of the resistance and part of the struggle. I was considered a fighter, a soldier. The role of a soldier is to kill or be killed.’ Bassem interrupted: ‘This was not a personal issue,’ he said. Said nodded and agreed. ‘It wasn’t personal,’ he repeated. ‘My father was killed in a battle. I killed in a battle.’ [Note PMB: Mizrachi was reportedly a religious student in Beit El who went to the Tamimis to buy eggs.] I asked him where it happened. Bassem answered for him. ‘Near Beit El,’ he said. I asked him how. Again Bassem answered. ‘With a knife,’ he said. Out the window, the muezzin’s cry was rising from the mosques. Said stubbed out his cigarette, excused himself and kneeled in the corner to pray. I poured Bassem another coffee. ‘Ben,’ he said, laughing, ‘fuck you. Why do you ask all these questions?’”

Well, no worries: It was the only time Ehrenreich asked his friends some mildly probing questions. After all, Ehrenreich didn’t want to know too much about the Tamimis’ unpleasant views and the occasions they acted on them – or at least he didn’t want his readers to know much about all that.

But as I have shown in a fairly detailed documentation that is based on examining publicly available social media posts and other material where the Tamimis freely express themselves, their image as “non-violent” activists who valiantly fight for a noble cause is hardly more than a façade designed to attract the support of gullible “pro-Palestinian” westerners and organizations like Amnesty International. While Ehrenreich worked hard to bolster this image, the Tamimis freely share their enthusiastic support for terrorism and their ardent Jew-hatred among themselves on social media (though mostly in Arabic). Bassem Tamimi tends to be more careful about the “non-violent” Tamimi brand and only occasionally betrays his admiration for terror groups like Hezbollah or the Qassam Brigades, but the Facebook page of his wife Nariman provides a steady stream of posts and interactions with friends and family that leave little doubt about the Tamimis’ shared enthusiasm for terror.

As I have already noted in a recent piece for Tablet, Nariman has repeatedly promoted posts by Ahlam Tamimi (whose Facebook page is adorned with images of the suicide bomber who carried out the Sbarro massacre) inciting and glorifying terror attacks; she has also posted graphic instructions on where to aim a knife to ensure a lethal outcome for a stabbing attack, and whenever there are news about a terror attack, Nariman Tamimi will rush to celebrate with her Facebook friends. Even if a teenage Palestinian murders a 13-year-old Jewish girl sleeping at home in her bed, Nariman Tamimi and friends & family will hail the teenage terrorist as a heroic “martyr” who helped “to restore to the homeland its reverence.” Nariman Tamimi is also more than willing to go public with her admiration for Ahlam Tamimi: just last year, Israeli media reported that Nariman defended the Sbarro pizzeria bombing as “an integral part of the struggle,” declaring firmly: “Everyone fights in the manner in which he believes. There is armed uprising, and there is popular uprising. I support every form of uprising.”

Bassem and Nariman Tamimi are the first people Ehrenreich lists in his Acknowledgements, where he thanks them profusely: “I would not have been able to write this book without the abundant help, generosity, hospitality, kindness, laughter, encouragement, insights, and wise counsel of Bassem Tamimi, Nariman Tamimi, Bilal Tamimi, [and] Manal Tamimi.”

A clip I made together with veteran blogger Elder of Ziyon provides a glimpse of what these four paragons of lovingkindness really stand for.

Perhaps the most outspoken member of the Tamimi family is Manal Tamimi, who represents the Tamimis’ cause on Twitter in broken English under the well-chosen handle @screamingtamimi. Manal is always happy to flaunt her enthusiastic support for terror and her ardent Jew-hatred. While Bassem Tamimi will only occasionally acknowledge that the “struggle” he advocates is not just directed against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, but against Israel’s existence as a Jewish state in any borders, Manal Tamimi will frankly announce on Twitter: “We will keep resisting until the last zionist either got killed or leave palestine.” Her hatred is so intense that she sometimes just can’t resist posting the most vile antisemitic material imaginable – even if it means equating Palestinians with the Nazis, as she did in this tweet [archived here: http://archive.is/s6dvM; an almost identical image identifies the hideous creature that is beaten up by the Nazi figure as a “Jew Rat”].

It is not hard to find out that Ehrenreich shares the Tamimis’ view that one Jewish state in the world is one too many – as he put it in a 2009 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: “Zionism is the problem.” Obviously enough, however, reviewers for highbrow outlets don’t really have a problem with a writer who doesn’t want Israel to exist, but who wants everyone to share his love and admiration for a clan that has already produced several murderers, that openly justifies past terrorist attacks like the Sbarro bombing, and that cheers every new murder of Israelis quite publicly.

Note: Translation of Arabic texts courtesy of Ibn Boutros

Manal Tamimi: Still proud to showcase her hate on Twitter

When I first documented Manal Tamimi’s hate-filled views under the title “Screaming hate on Twitter” a year ago, Manal Tamimi reacted with defiant pride. As I documented in an update to this post, she responded on Facebook and Twitter reaffirming her views, and promptly continued posting additional tweets expressing her hatred for Israel and her support for terrorist attacks and a “Third Intifada”. More recently, presumably in response to my Tablet piece marking the 15th anniversary of the Sbarro bombing, she took the trouble to leave a comment on my site, thanking me (again) “4 taking all this time 2 follow me on Twitter & FB and taking time 2 write this article about me” and encouraging me to “keep [up] the good work by keeping following me so you will be updated.”

So I should really say: dear Manal, you are very welcome. In fact, it is me who should thank you for taking all this time to provide us with such a revealing glimpse of your ardent support for terror and your equally ardent Jew-hatred.

But courtesies aside, I’ll admit that I was not just being polite when I followed Manal Tamimi’s encouragement and put together a slide show featuring about 40 of her tweets (see the YouTube clip at the end of this post). There are several reasons why her tweets are important. First, it should be recalled that Ben Ehrenreich’s tribute to the Tamimis, which was featured as a New York Times Magazine cover story three years ago, presented her as a member of the “homegrown media team” that runs the PR efforts of Tamimi Press, noting that Manal Tamimi had taken it upon herself to supplement these efforts “with a steady outpouring of tweets (@screamingtamimi).” So it seems fair to conclude that the views she expresses are not just her own, but reflect the outlook of her fellow “activists” in Nabi Saleh. Indeed, if one considers the publicly available social media posts of other prominent Tamimi clan members (also documented in this EoZ video), it is clear that Manal Tamimi’s output on Twitter is quite representative of the hatred and extremism they all regularly exhibit – so far apparently without jeopardizing the support they’ve enjoyed for years from Amnesty International.

Moreover, given the fact that the prevalence of similar attitudes has been documented in Palestinian opinion surveys for almost two decades, it would be wrong to see Manal Tamimi’s tweets just as a reflection of what the Tamimis stand for. So-called “pro-Palestinian” activists often demand that more attention should be paid to Palestinian voices, and the outspoken Manal Tamimi should definitely count as a Palestinian voice that can tell you all you always wanted to know — but were rightly afraid to ask — about Palestinian “resistance.”

However, it would perhaps be unfair not to note that in her recent comment on my website, Manal Tamimi claimed to know the difference “between zionists & jew,” and she asserted: “I have a very good jew friends who come 2 my house where I cook meals and eat , laugh and enjoy our time together.”

When you view her tweets in the slide show, you can decide for yourself how well Manal Tamimi knows the difference “between Zionists & jew.” But given her reference to “very good jew friends who come 2 my house,” one should perhaps recall how she responded last fall, when veteran Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin criticized her on Twitter for calling a teenage terrorist “habibi” (a common Arabic term of endearment). But Manal Tamimi saw no reason to feel embarrassed and responded: “@gershonbaskin shame on me ???? Shame on me ???? And why is that Mr Gershon,” reminding Baskin later on: “uve been in my house & my children welcome u despite u r jew, do u remember?”

Some four weeks after this exchange with Baskin, Manal Tamimi posted a cartoon showing a Nazi figure beating a hideous creature marked as a Jew. As you can see, there is an almost identical image that identifies the creature as a “Jew Rat.”

mtamimi-jew-rat

The comment Manal Tamimi added to the image – “Hhhhhhh palestinian and zionists” – equated Palestinians with the Nazi figure, which was a somewhat surprising departure from her usual habit of denouncing Israelis as Nazis or “zioNazists”. When an obviously well-meaning Twitter user warned her in Arabic* that she had posted “a picture of Nazism” even though “the Palestinians are more honorable than the Nazis, they are defending their land and their freedom,” Manal Tamimi confidently declared: “The important thing is the idea, we the Palestinians are the ones who are going to teach Israel a lesson, we are going to hurt them and we will achieve victory over them as well.”

Perhaps she just meant to say something like “Sieg Heil”?

*Translations from Arabic courtesy of Ibn Boutros; since the Tamimis sometimes delete posts that attract widespread public criticism, the post is archived here.

First published at Elder of Ziyon.

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.”

* * *

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.”