Thursday, January 25, 2007

Israel Descends into Mire

Just for the record, I noticed that the President of Israel is accused of rape and other heinous crimes, and that many are calling for his resignation, according to the Washington Post. Meanwhile Prime Minister Olmert is accused of corruption, using his office to financially benefit friends.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that many Israelis are fed up with the government.

We had Bill Clinton, but at least that appeared to be consensual sex. One would think that a religious state would have higher standards. Don't Jews have any regard for the Ten Commandments? Of course, in the US, many religious leaders (Ted Haggard) don't pay much attention to the Ten Commandments either.

Robert Joseph Resigns

Robert Joseph, the Under Secretary of State responsible for nuclear non-proliferation has resigned. The spate of resignations seems to indicate that all is not well in Condi Rice's State Department. At least Joseph waited until Rice had filled the Deputy Secretary spot by bringing back John Negroponte.

This administration has almost completely mishandled the non-proliferation issue, first under John Bolton, and then under his successor, Joseph. Iraq turned out not to be a threat; Iran has largely ignored our holding our breath and stomping our foot until they give up their nuclear program; and the Washington Post says one reason Joseph may be leaving is because he does not like what is happening with North Korea.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Jewish Greed for Eastern European Holocaust Reparations Stirs Up Anti-Semitism in Return

This Christian Science Monitor article picked up by Reuters points out that there is a backlash to the never ending Jewish litany of "Holocaust, Holocaust, Holocaust!"

The article says:

"Six decades after World War II, the once-dormant pursuit of Holocaust-related justice is forging ahead in newly democratic central-eastern Europe. Yet the hunt carries a price: It has stirred resentment among a financially struggling populace, which bristles at the multimillion-dollar property claims by their Jewish communities, and sees the harassment of nonagenarians as unnecessary or even cruel."

"For those stalking war criminals, though, time is running out. To speed the process, Mr. Zuroff and the Simon Wiesenthal Center launched 'Operation Last Chance' in 2002, offering $10,000 rewards for information leading to convictions, while ratcheting up the rhetoric against reticent governments. That has made some local Jews squirm. In Lithuania, where nearly 95 percent of its 220,000 Jews were killed and fewer than 5,000 remain today, many Jews say that each time a Holocaust-related issue hits the media, it sparks a backlash. 'I understand it's the right thing to do,' says one young Jewish woman in Vilnius, the capital. 'But I sometimes wonder whether it's worth it, since it'll cause another conflict with the people.'"

As the article points out, one problem is that the Holocaust is increasingly being used to make a few people rich (or richer). I don't have any figures, but I would guess the vast majority of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust did not have world class art works, real estate or life insurance worth millions of dollars. Yet, increasingly the Holocaust issue is being used to help a small number of families recover hundreds of millions of dollars. That puts a small value on the lives of the millions who died, and one could say that it brings out the very worst stereotypes about Jews and money.

Man Who Fought for Holocaust Restitution Resigns in Scandal

Just for the record, New York state comptroller Alan Hevesi had to resign after admitting that he illegally used state chauffeurs to drive his wife and pleading guilty to a felony. Hevesi, the great-grandson of the prewar chief rabbi of Budapest, was one of the most outspoken advocates of restitution for victims of the Holocaust, and he was an advocate of greater investment by New York in Israel, according to the Forward. It just takes some of the luster off the whole Holocaust cause.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Jews on Center Stage

Just a note of three recent articles:

"Does Abe Foxman Have an Anti-Anti-Semite Problem?" from the NYT Magazine yesterday, which says, "...Colin Powell ... links President Bush's Middle East policy more to Jewish-neoconservative influence than to principle." And Foxman says, "One out of three people in these United States believes that the Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the U.S.... That's a classic anti-Semitic canard." The article's author says, "I asked [Foxman] isn't slinging the dread charge of anti-Semitism at people like Jimmy Carter and Tony Judt and Mearsheimer and Walt really a way of choking off debate? 'No, it isn't,' Foxman said.... I asked if it was really right to call Carter, the president who negotiated the Camp David accords, an anti-Semite. Foxman replied, 'I didn't call him an anti-Semite.' 'But you said he was bigoted. Isn't that the same thing?' 'No, "Bigoted" is you have preconceived notions about things.'"

"Fury Over Delegate's Remarks on Slavery" from the Washington Post. Virginia state delegate Frank Hargrove criticized a proposal for the state to issue an apology for slavery, likening it to requiring Jews to apologize for "killing Christ." The ADL (Abe Foxman) condemned Hargrove's comments about Jews.

"The Neo-Cons Route to Disaster," from the Financial Times, which says, "The neo-cons stand accused of many errors: imperialism, Leninism, Trotskyism (New York school), militarism. Some believe that the real problem is that so many of them are Jewish – this is an alarmingly popular theme, to judge by my e-mails. But the problem with the neo-cons is not that so many of them are Jews. The problem is that so many of them are journalists."

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Record Number of Jews in Congress

I wasn't looking for this. It just appeared in the Washington Post, so presumably it is newsworthy. According to the article about 2% of Americans identify themselves as Jewish, but there are 30 Congressmen and 13 Senators who are Jewish. Clearly there is no prejudice against them. The article says that in the midterm elections 90% of Jews voted Democratic. I should like that.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Economist on Jews and Israel

The Economist magazine has a long article on young Jews' attitudes toward Israel. It makes a number of interesting points:

-- Although Chaim Weizmann, the head of the World Zionist Organization, told President Truman that the choice for Jews was "between statehood and extermination," Jews who had fled eastern Europe's pogroms for America two generations earlier already felt safe and established there.

-- When Israel was founded, Jews felt they had only two options: assimilate in the countries where they lived, or identify very closely with the new state, if not migrate there.

(The Economist article routinely cites "assimilation" as an evil for Jews outside of Israel. While there should be no pressure for Jews to give up their religion, why should it be good for Jews not to assimilate, but rather to think of themselves as Jews first and Americans second? Many do think of themselves this way, and particularly because of older Jews' love for Israel, it means they put Israel first and America second, although they are American citizens.)

-- Currently, however, Jews face the question of how should a conscientious Jew react to Israel's new image as military giant and flawed oppressor. (Can you say Jimmy Carter?)

-- The article says, "Most diaspora Jews still support Israel strongly. But ... their ambivalence has grown. Many are disturbed by the occupation of the Palestinian territories.... The most radical say, as the Palestinians do, that the idea of an ethnically based state is racist and archaic." (Can you say Jimmy Carter?)

-- "In November, Ze'ev Bielski, the head of the Jewish Agency ... got in hot water for saying that one day American Jews 'will realize that they have no future as Jews in the US due to assimilation and intermarriage." (Can you say Israel first and America second for American Jews?)

-- "Nonetheless, Jewish Americans have long been Israel's strongest supporters.... The main Jewish lobby groups have tended to back right-wing Israeli governments."

-- "The pro-Israel heavy guns still predominate.... In the long run [Mr. Cohen] predicts a polarization of American Jewry: a small group growing more pious and attracted to Israel, while a larger one drifts away."

-- "In Britain, even more than in America, Israel is an anchor of Jewish identity."

-- "Britain's chief rabbi, Jonathan Sachs, ... has cautiously criticized Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and recently chided it for lacking 'a Jewish sense of ethics permeating the great institutions of society."

-- "France, by contrast, has more Jews than anywhere else in western Europe.... They are less attached to France.... Young French Jews ... are also likely to more anti-Arab and right-wing. I think that Bibi [Netanyahu] is more popular in France than in Israel." (So America is not the only country where Jews put their ethnicity ahead of their loyalty to the country of which they are citizens.)

-- Most Jews in Germany have come from Russia recently. "Young Jews in Germany ... are less likely to go to Israel than to England.... But Zionist activism ... gets very little response."

-- "The world's least-expected Jewish revival, however, is going on in Russia itself.... As many as 100,000 Russian-Israelis have gone back to Russia."

(The article does not mention than many of the billionaire Russian "oligarchs" are Jewish. Although many of the oligarchs have left Russia, except for jailed ex-Yukos head Khodorkovsky, their success and financial help have no doubt encouraged other Russian Jews to return.)

According to a graphic in the article, there are more Jews in North America (5,650,000) than in Israel (5,314,000).

More Jewish Hate Mail for Jimmy Carter

Former President Jimmy Carter continues to get blasted by Jews for his book on Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Dennis Ross' op-ed in the NYT is not the worst, but represents the depth and breadth of the attack, because Dennis Ross is a pretty reasonable guy. His op-ed does not really push the issue of the maps that Carter is supposed to have lifted from Ross' book, which makes me think that maybe there is not much legal basis for a plagarism claim. Ross' main point is that Carter has mischaracterized Clinton's old, failed Middle East proposal. I'm guessing that Ross went public mainly because of pressure from the American Jewish community.

Besides Dennis Ross, there is also the matter of mass resignations from the Carter Center, reported by the NYT and others. Those resigning appear to be almost all Jewish. Interestingly, one, named Berman, said "the religious affiliation of the resigning members, which include some prominent Jewish leaders in the Atlanta area, did not influence their decision." Sure, and if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you. These people might believe in what they are doing by resigning, or they might, like Ross, just be giving in to pressure from other Jews, which the article said included the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

Furthermore, there was a full page ad taken out against Carter in the December 28, 2006, NYT by Camera has a list of articles attacking Carter, interestingly almost all written by Jews.

The sad thing is that this debate, like the debate over the scholarly article written by Mearshimer and Walt, has illustrated the racist of hatred of Jews for gentiles. I don't think that all Jews hold such racist hatred, but like Dennis Ross and some of those who resigned from Carter's board, they allow themselves to be pressured by the more radical Zionists, who used terrorism before World War II to create Israel, and who do hold such views.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Thank You Jimmy Carter

It takes someone with courage to criticize Israel. You will be branded an anti-Semite and get full page attacks in the New York Times. The NY Times book review of Jimmy Carter's book on Israel and the Palestinians didn't get quite that personal, but it was certainly defensive about Israel. Many of the criticisms of Carter's book have been somewhat nit-picky, but touted as if they meant that the whole thrust of his book was wrong. The NYT review followed that tack.

American Jews should welcome Carter's book, as well as the critique of the Jewish lobby by the two professors, because Israel is in danger of going off the deep end. It has serious international, domestic, and religious problems. It is perceived by many, with justification, as an evil state. It doesn't have to be, but it needs to make changes, just as America has to make changes. I worry that America's decision to embrace torture in Iraq, Guantanamo, and other places is built on the Israeli model.

Israelis and American Jews should be thanking Carter, rather than criticizing him, because if they don't make changes now, they will pay for it later.