Tag Archives: USA

A columnist of hate hopes Obama wins

It is chilling to read the writings of the popular and influential Arab columnist Jihad el-Khazen: on the one hand, he claims to “accept” a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but on the other hand, he relentlessly demonizes Israel in language that would not be acceptable in any self-respecting mainstream publication in the West. As one critic observed:

Unfortunately, these inflammatory statements do not spring from the fevered imagination of an Arab blogger, or the anonymous ravings of an Arabic chatroom denizen. Jihad el-Khazen is an influential writer [for] a Middle Eastern magazine listed as one of the world’s 100 most influential Arabs. El Khazen’s screed appeared in al-Hayat, a Saudi financed London based publication, which the New York Times describes as “regarded as by far and away the best and most intensely read Arab newspaper.”

A report by the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism from 2006 noted:

Accusing Israel and Zionism of Nazism and racism is associated in the Arab discourse with Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. This was a recurring theme in many of Jihad al-Khazin’s columns in the London-based liberal paper al-Hayat. Attacking European and American decisions to suspend financial aid to the PA, following the Hamas victory in the PA parliamentary elections in January, al-Khazin labeled Israeli government members on 9 March “Nazi war criminals,” accusing them of being part of one of the most barbaric and terrorist movements in the modern age with its “Nazi army.” On 19 April, following Israeli retaliation for a Palestinian suicide attack in Jerusalem, he repeated his allegation, asserting that since many members of the government and the army were descendants of Holocaust victims or survivors, “they can exploit their knowledge of Nazi expertise in order to apply ‘the final solution’ to the Palestinian problem.”

A crticial survey of Khazen’s writings in 2007 noted:

Jihad al-Khazen is an anti-Israel, anti-American, anti-Semitic columnist for the London-based al-Hayat, one of the leading newspapers in the Arabic Diaspora. Though al-Hayat is somewhat pro-West on some issues, al-Khazen’s ink poisons the editorial page. In a recent column, the Lebanese columnist openly admits, “Throughout my journalistic career I have mainly focused on criticizing the United States and on attacking Israel.” His blatant lies and vitriol, in the last month alone, are worth recounting.

On September 19, he wrote a column attempting to explain how American demonstrations against the Darfur genocide are actually a pro-Israeli (a thinly-veiled euphemism for “Jewish”) plot.

“Efforts are made by pro-Israeli groups,” he wrote, “to divert attention from the crimes Israel has perpetrated against the Palestinians by focusing on Darfur.”

He continues by saying that the, “American-Israeli evil cabal is focusing on Darfur to divert attention from American war crimes perpetrated against Iraq.”

The prolific but delusional al-Khazen also asserts that Washington’s alarm over Iran’s nuclear program is a plot hatched by Jews. He claims that the possibility of armed conflict with Iran, which continues to develop nuclear weapons against the wishes of the international community, has been orchestrated by the same cabal.

Since then, there are plenty of examples illustrating that Khazen has continued his vulgar and vicious expressions of hate in his columns.

In September 2009, Khazen suggested that “the Palestinian cause can only be resolved through war” and he accused Israel of sustaining “a Nazi criminal occupation,” claiming that Palestinian “prisoners are being treated by Israeli Jews in the same manner as the Nazis treated the German Jews.”

A month later, he described Israeli soldiers as “nothing but occupation soldiers” and asserted that therefore, “killing them is not only justified, but also a warranted duty.” He also claimed that the “rate of Palestinians killed at the hands of the Israelis is a Nazi rate par excellence.” Commenting on efforts to negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit, Khazen wrote: “Those who cry for a captive soldier are thus no better than the war criminals, since they are accomplices and hidden agitators to the degree of being complicit to the continuing crime. May God curse them all.”

In December 2009, Khazen used the publication of Shlomo Sand’s spurious book on “The Invention of the Jewish People” to repeat his own frequent denials of Jewish history, asserting: “What quintessentially is a work of fiction that is not based on any historical evidence however, are the biblical myths that speak of the ancient Jewish kingdom, the Israelite prophets, as well as Judea and Samaria, while this kingdom never existed and the Israelite prophets never lived.”

Khazen also insisted “that the temple itself was never built, simply because the biblical figures of Solomon and David before him never existed, nor did the kingdom mentioned in the first and second books of Samuel, as well as the first and second books of Kings.”

More recently, in September 2011, Khazen wrote a column under the title “I Tell the Terrorist and His Government That All of the Land Belongs to Palestine.” Apparently, Khazen watched the UN speech of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the company of Lebanon’s UN Ambassador Nawaf Salam, who then served as President of the Security Council, and according to Khazen, both he himself and Lebanon’s ambassador were moved to tears.

Lashing out against Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, Khazen claimed he “came across as a liar and an international terrorist;” Khazen also referred to Netanyahu as “a Khazari immigrant who changed his family name […] because he is a mongrel like every Israeli Prime Minister before him.” Khazen then proclaimed: “I say to the terrorist impostor and his government and the settler rabbis that all of the land belongs to Palestine, from the Sea to the River, and they are nothing but murderers and thieves.”

He concluded by stating: “Israel has no one in the world to defend it except for the Obama administration […] and his country that once was the hope of the world as a pioneer of human rights, and ended up with a fascist occupation state running its foreign policy.”

In his most recent column of January 11, Khazen – obviously a fan of Walt and Mearsheimer’s “Israel Lobby” – blames the weakening of US influence and the rise of Islamism in the Middle East on “U.S. foreign policy, run by Israel and the treasonous American neocons and Likudniks.”

Khazen concludes his column with what he calls “a positive note”: “President Barack Obama loathes and despises Netanyahu, and his policies will change radically should he win a second term, and I believe that a Palestinian State will be attainable after 2013 if Obama remains in the White House.”

If this is meant as some kind of endorsement for Obama, it should be one of the most unwelcome expressions of support imaginable. But given Khazen’s standing and popularity, I’m afraid that there is plenty of reason to conclude that many Arabs will hope for a second Obama term based on the hate-filled views expressed by Jihad el-Khazen.

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 Cross-posted from my JPost blog.



American Judas money

Writing in the Washington Post at the end of last November, Daoud Kuttab explained that due to “principled” opposition, “the Palestinians might reject U.S. aid.”

According to Kuttab, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had informed his aides that he intended “to reject some $150 million in federal money earmarked for Palestinian security.”

Kuttab explained this stance in the context of a decision by the House Foreign Relations Committee that reacted to Palestinian plans to apply to the UN for statehood by putting a hold on a grant of $800 million for Palestinian development projects. The subsequent release of just $200 million – including $150 million for Palestinian security services – was according to Kuttab not acceptable, because “Palestinian Authority leaders have been accused of being security agents for Israel. Palestinian-Israeli security cooperation has become taboo in Ramallah.”

Therefore, Kuttab argued, it “would be a political misstep to accept funds earmarked for security services while schools and nurseries are not completed. Palestinians would see the aid as analogous to the 30 pieces of silver that were accepted by Judas Iscariot when he delivered Jesus — a position Abbas does not want to be in.”

After expecting Washington Post readers to believe that the overwhelmingly Muslim Palestinians would associate US aid with a story from the Christian Gospels, Kuttab concluded somewhat condescendingly:

The intricacies of foreign policy are usually unknown to the average American. But it doesn’t take much to understand that aligning with one side in the Middle East peace process not only erodes the United States’ diplomatic leverage but also plants the seeds of doom for the United States in a sensitive region.

Arguably, Kuttab has it backwards (and underestimates the average American): if there is any point in talking about “seeds of doom for the United States” in the context of this story, it makes more sense to think that it would be ill-advised for the US to accept the notion that the Palestinians can demand funds without committing themselves to anything at all. In other words, Kuttab would like to convince his readers that if the US is to avoid “doom”, the Palestinians should be indulged even when they resist every effort to entice them to return to peace negotiations and instead pursue unilateral action at the UN, and even when they pretend that security cooperation is not in their own interest, but just a big favor they’re doing to the US and Israel.

But the notion that, irrespective of Palestinian conduct and policies, the West and the US in particular should simply be grateful to pay, has apparently some appeal against the backdrop of the increasing strength of Islamist forces in the Middle East. In the recent issue of The Economist, Mahmoud Abbas is described as “Palestine’s beleaguered president.” According to The Economist,

the Palestinian Authority (PA) that runs it [i.e. the West Bank] is being cast adrift—possibly with dramatic consequences. The cafés of Ramallah, the Palestinians’ fledgling seat of government near Jerusalem, have been bereft of chattering aid workers from the West since the American administration withdrew its support in the wake of President Mahmoud Abbas’s controversial bid for full statehood at the UN in late 2011. As a result, Mr Abbas may solicit political and material help from elsewhere.

While the article neglects to mention that Abbas and the PA have refused to negotiate with Israel for three years now, it revealingly argues:

With the region’s winds blowing the Islamists’ way, Mr Abbas may be tiring of trying to persuade the West to give him a state.

It may not be quite intentional, but it’s spot on: Abbas wants the West – America and Europe – to give him a state and spare him the trouble of negotiating a two-state solution and a peace agreement with Israel, and he wants the West to help him avoid any recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

Abbas wants to be given a state, and he wants to be given the money to develop this state, and he wants this state to have no obligations whatsoever – just rights, including the right to pursue a “two-stage-solution” and the right to team up with Islamist terror groups like Hamas and threaten jihad.

In the meantime, it would be nice if Washington Post readers could be convinced that anything else would be Judas-like betrayal of Christ-like Palestine.

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Cross-posted from my JPost blog.

Fans of Friedman

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman may shrug off the criticism of his recent article coming from conservative quarters, but the new fans he has won definitely support the conclusion that he is on a “slippery slope from legitimate criticism of Israeli policies […] to a position indistinguishable from the anti-Semitic smears of Israel Lobby authors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer.”

So Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss is ecstatically celebrating that after six years, we can finally (!!!) have a proper “debate” about the “Israel lobby”. After quoting Friedman’s astonishing claim that “the standing ovation he [Netanyahu] got in Congress this year […] was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby,” Weiss notes with apparent satisfaction:

By echoing Walt and Mearsheimer’s title, he [Friedman] upped the ante on his statement of a few weeks back that a ‘powerful pro-Israel lobby’ holds Obama ‘hostage’ on settlements.

Weiss goes on and on at considerable length, eventually anticipating that soon enough, it will be possible to address the really important issues:

As the two-state paradigm dies, the battle between liberal Zionists and hardcore Zionists, in essence another scene in the Israel lobby rondelet, is going to fade away into larger and deeper questions: Why is there a need for a Jewish state when western Jews are faring so well in liberal democracies? Why should western Jews devote so much political energy to a militant discriminatory country that they would hate to live in themselves, as a majority let alone a minority?

In a second post published yesterday, Weiss heaps praise on Friedman:

The last time Tom Friedman shocked the American Jewish community was in 1982 when he said that Israel’s bombardment of Beirut was “indiscriminate.” The word was disputed by his copy editors, but Friedman prevailed, and it made his career. The ponderous pontiff has now outdone himself with his laser shot at the Israel lobby in yesterday’s column, writing the “standing ovation [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.

The line is a shot heard round the world.

And, while we’re talking about “shots”, it’s worthwhile noting that already back in September, Philip Weiss published a jubilant post entitled: “It’s open season! Tom Friedman says Obama is ‘hostage’ to ‘powerful pro-Israel lobby’.”

If Tom Friedman continues to promote “open season” on the “powerful pro-Israel lobby”, Philip Weiss may be willing to forgive him for “cheerleading the Iraq war in 2003.”

Indeed, Weiss has already co-opted Friedman as a useful voice to support his view that “Israel isn’t good for the Jews anymore.” So maybe when Weiss announces “open season”, he really means “open season” on Israel?

For anyone lucky enough to have never heard of Philip Weiss and his blog Mondoweiss, I’m tempted to just refer to Ron Kampeas’ characterization of Weiss “as a provocateur of little intellectual consequence” who “throws bombs at Israel, at its defenders and at Jews in general.”

But here’s a bit of additional background: Weiss is convinced that liberals “like to deceive themselves about Jewish power” and therefore he likes to keep track “of the Jewish presence in the Establishment.” He has criticized Israel’s “Warsaw-treatment of Gaza” and since he also likes to use “the words apartheid and Jim Crow […] all the time,” I suppose it’s fair to conclude that he considers Israel a Nazi-Apartheid state.

Philip Weiss also talked to Gilad Atzmon about “Jewish identity;” among other pearls of Weiss-dom, the interview includes this statement:

I believe all people act out of self-interest. And Jews who define themselves at some level as Jews — like myself for instance — are concerned with a Jewish self-interest. Which in my case is: an end to Zionism.  A theory of political life based on altruism or concern for victims purely is doomed to fail.

When Gilad Atzmon interviewed Weiss, he was presumably just finishing his recently published ramblings on Jewish identity – that have been warmly recommended by none other than Israel lobby author John Mearsheimer, whom Weiss so ardently admires.

Mearsheimer obviously thinks that somebody like Atzmon – who rejects comparisons between Nazi Germany and Israel by hysterically claiming that such a comparison is really unfair to Nazi Germany because “Israel is nothing but evilness for the sake of evilness” – is just the right man to provide stimulating thoughts on Jewish identity.

Finally, one more example of Friedman’s new fan club outside the Mondoweiss universe: in an Al Jazeera op-ed published in September, MJ Rosenberg encouraged his readers “If Tom Friedman can say it, you can too.” Perhaps it’s time for another installment of the “repeat-after-Tom-Friedman”-exercise?

Anti-racism, UN-style

As a follow-up to my last post about the UN, it’s worthwhile highlighting a new report by Anne Bayefsky on the UN’s Durban III proceedings. Some of the contributions listed by Bayefsky include:

• The foreign minister of Tunisia, co-chair of one of the roundtables, said that the Durban anniversary provided an opportunity “to highlight…first and foremost, the Palestinian people” so as to avoid “exacerbating intercultural tensions.”
• The foreign minister of Iran ranted about “the racist Zionist regime” while proclaiming the DDPA [2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action] to be “one of the richest record of achievement of humanity in today’s world against racism.”
• The Lebanese minister of foreign affairs denied the meaning of anti-Semitism: “Anti-Semitism is not known in the Arab world because Arab nations are Semitic.” He then manifested his own anti-Semitism by objecting to the “Jewish character of Israel” as “contrary to any vision of a future based on peace and tolerance.”
• The Syrian UN ambassador complained about “unpleasant practices in our region” – by which he didn’t mean his own government’s habit of butchering its people – but “the racist concept of a ‘Jewish state of Israel,” “the Facist racism of Israel” and “the mass racist violations by Israel.”

Durban III was also a golden opportunity for countries to attack the West, undermine democratic freedoms and play dress-up as a human rights advocate.

• The deputy foreign minister of Cuba railed against “subjugated” Palestinians and against institutionalized racism “in Europe and North America.”
• The Islamic Republic of Mauritania hailed Durban’s “significant achievements, in particular, condemning slavery,” and Mauritania’s stellar record of following Durban’s directions – despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are enslaved in Mauritania and that its government jails anti-slavery activists.

The Saudi Arabian “undersecretary for multi-relations affairs” never showed up, but, in an extraordinary breach of protocol, the UN uploaded his “speech” to the Durban III site anyway.
Here are the words of the world’s leading practitioner of gender apartheid and the country which criminalizes public displays of religion other than those of Islam: “Islam calls upon us to refrain from offending other religions and faiths;” “the Kingdom established…agencies that call for the spread of human-rights culture;” “freedom of speech should never be used as a tool for injustice;” and “the highest degree of racism and discrimination…the clearest illustration of such comprehensive racial discrimination lies…against the Palestinian people.”

But according to Bayefsky’s report, it wasn’t just Israel that was singled out for censure – as the other well known big-time racist power, the US was also taken to task for its abominable conduct.

That sounds like “mission accomplished” for the anti-racists at the UN.



Sixty Years of Silence: The Story of Günter Grass

By Petra Marquardt-Bigman

Published in Covenant, Volume 1, Issue 2 (April 2007 / Iyar 5767)

Abstract: In August 2006, the German writer and Nobel laureate Günter Grass caused a media-quake of major proportions when he revealed that he had served in the SS. While the ensuing controversy pushed the debate about the war between Israel and Hezbollah into the background, both issues once again brought up the problematic legacy of a past that, reflecting postmodern preferences, is increasingly viewed as a “grand narrative” structured in terms of “victims” and “perpetrators.” Highlighting a casual remark of Grass about his supposedly first encounter with racism as an American POW and his failure to break his silence when he accepted the offer of an honorary doctoral degree from an Israeli college, the article explores how Europe’s “grand narrative” shapes the European discourse about Israel and the Middle East.


At the end of 2006, the Guardian’s Berlin correspondent noted that Germans would remember the year “for just one rather marvelous thing–the World Cup.” [1] Under the title “The War is Over”, the article highlighted some of the World Cup’s aspects that doubtlessly were appreciated even by those (relatively few) Germans who couldn’t care less about football: the country had shown for all the world to see that it had emerged from the shadows of its past–Germans could wave their flag and cheer their national team without projecting anything but a harmless, infectious enthusiasm for a popular sport.

Among the fans watching the World Cup was the famous German author and Nobel laureate Günter Grass. The almost 80-year-old writer had just finished his latest book, an autobiographical work about his youth that was due to be published a few weeks after the World Cup. He had also been offered an honorary doctoral degree from an Israeli college, and in between watching the World Cup matches and reading the proofs for his book, he made time to meet the representatives of Netanya Academic College.

It was reportedly a pleasant meeting that took place at Grass’s home near Lübeck in northern Germany. The Nobel laureate told his guests that he was happy to accept the honor offered to him and that he looked forward to visit Israel for an official ceremony that would be organized by the college. But Günter Grass did not tell his guests what he would tell an interviewer a few weeks later: his forthcoming autobiography Peeling the Onion[2] would reveal a secret that he had kept for more than sixty years. The secret was a most unexpected one from a man like Grass who had spent a lifetime speaking out passionately about the need for Germans to face up to their Nazi past. The secret was that Günter Grass himself had kept silent for more than sixty years about his own service in the SS. Continue reading