J’ACCUSE ON POLLARD
Jerusalem Post, August 22, 2011
He is a convicted spy. He has an Israeli passport. He is serving a life sentence. He is the only American to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally. It’s one of the most painful wounds in the Jewish world. All Israeli attempts to obtain leniency for Jonathan Pollard have failed.
Some 113 years after French novelist Emile Zola famously wrote “J’accuse!” charging that an anti-Semitic government had wrongfully convicted a young Jewish captain named Alfred Dreyfus, Pollard’s supporters wonder if history may record his case as America’s Dreyfus affair. The former president of B’nai B’rith International, Tommy Baer, said the Pollard affair was “the closest thing to an American Dreyfuss case.” If Pollard’s incomparably harsh sentence is allowed to continue, all but the most naive will have to confront the idea that he is still in prison only because he is a Jew.
Dreyfus and Pollard are, of course, different cases in one significant respect. Dreyfus was innocent, and Pollard has admitted his guilt. But a close look reveals striking similarities.
The French Jew was exiled to the hell of Devil’s Island. Pollard is being held in solitary confinement in an underground cell. Dreyfus was a political prisoner from the first day of his arrest. By contrast, Pollard was not a political prisoner during the first few years of his incarceration.
However, now that he is serving well beyond the time served by others who have committed comparable offenses, now that he remains incarcerated because of prejudice, , he has become a political prisoner. If Dreyfus made Theodor Herzl into a Zionist, Pollard has been abandoned and betrayed by most Jewish intellectuals.
A few years ago only Ida Nudel and other former Soviet “Prisoners of Zion,” in a letter delivered to then-Israeli defense minister Moshe Arens, declared that there remained yet another political prisoner: Jonathan Pollard. Yosef Mendelevich, who spent 11 years in the gulag, called on “all the friends who fought for the Prisoners of Zion to organize again for Jonathan Pollard..”
Pollard’s release is today an integral part only of the right-wing camp in Israel (Gush Katif made Pollard an honorary resident, and most of his supporters wear the knitted kippot that identify national religious Jews). But the question is not about the Jewish Right that adopted Pollard, but why the Jewish Left has abandoned him. Pollard has been in prison longer than anyone ever sentenced in the US for passing classified materials to a friendly foreign power. Israel has never underestimated Pollard’s offense. But his case constitutes a great miscarriage of justice.
In the United States the median sentence for a person convicted of spying for the Soviet Union was 10 years. The median sentence for someone spying for a non-Soviet power has been less than three years. Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz said the Pollard case is “an American injustice,” calling his life sentence “outrageously disproportionate.” Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Ronald Montaperto was just sentenced to a three-month prison term for passing US intelligence secrets to communist China. Meanwhile, Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison for passing US secrets to Israel, is now in his 27th year in jail, held in a subterranean cell in solitary confinement for seven years.…
Jonathan Pollard warned Israel of Iraq’s bellicose intentions, and that Syria’s Assad was amassing vast quantities of chemical and other unconventional weapons. By its own agreement with Israel, the US administration should have given this information to Jerusalem. But it was deliberately blocked by then-secretary of state Caspar Weinberger.
Among all the doubts, Pollard emerges as a Jewish hero.
He passed on information to try and save Israel from its enemies. But now reports on his health are marginalized to the back pages of Israeli newspapers, and claims by his supporters are treated as crank calls. The famous writer Amos Oz just got in touch with Marwan Barghouti, the Palestinian terrorist convicted of murdering many Israelis. The Israel Prize recipient sent the Palestinian prisoner one of his books with a personal inscription wishing him a speedy release from prison: “This story is our story. I hope you read it and understand us better, as we attempt to understand you. Hoping to meet soon in peace and freedom.”
Pollard’s espionage is no way comparable to Barghouti’s murders of Jews, but Oz and the other Israeli intellectuals never sent a letter to the prison where Pollard is serving life without parole.… For most of the influential Jewish intellectuals in the US, Pollard is still “a traitor,” “a fanatic” (Robert Friedman of The Washington Post), “an aberration” (Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg), “a viper” (Marty Peretz of the New Republic).
Natan Sharansky, Yosef Mendelovich, Josef Begun and other Jewish prisoners in the Soviet Union were freed because the Jewish world exerted all the pressure and influence at its disposal to free them. Pollard deserves the same tenacity. He has served more than sufficient jail time for his crime. And to return to the first question: Is Pollard like Dreyfus? No. After 27 years in prison, Pollard is still waiting for his Emile Zola. After the case of Dreyfus, the French essayist Julien Benda published his famous attack on the intellectual corruption of the age, La Trahison des clercs. We are now living through the new treason of the intellectuals, who are silent and indifferent in the face of anti-Semitism. And it’s an intellectual collapse that goes way beyond the case of Jonathan Pollard.
(The writer is an Italian journalist and writer, and the author
of A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism.)
SHOULD ISRAEL WELCOME GLENN BECK’S SUPPORT?
Alan M. Dershowitz
Jerusalem Magazine, August 23, 2011
All decent people, whether on the left or the right, should support Israel’s right to exist as the democratic nation state of the Jewish people. All decent people should support Israel’s right to defend its civilians from terrorist attacks. All reasonable people should favor a just peace that assures Israel’s ability to thrive in a dangerous neighborhood and to defend its borders.
These issues should not divide decent people along ideological or political lines. Israel’s existence and right to defend itself should be bipartisan issues, not only in the United States, but in all democratic countries of the world.
The reality, however, is very different. The Jewish state is demonized by the hard left in America, by virtually the entire left in much of Europe, and by most of the left and right in Ireland, Norway and Sweden. Its right to exist is denied by a high proportion of Arabs and Muslims, and most of the Arab and Muslim nations do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
In many circles, anti-Zionism easily morphs into anti-Semitism, and in some countries Jews are afraid to walk the streets wearing any clothing or symbols that identify them as Jewish.
The general assembly of the United Nations has become the world’s new Der Sturmer, whose podium hosts, and many of whose audience members cheer, virulent anti-Semites such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Defenders of Israel, even those critical of some of Israel’s policies, are banned from speaking at universities, are attacked personally by the hard left media and are treated as pariahs by their academic colleagues.
It is against this sad and increasingly dangerous background that one must evaluate Glenn Beck’s visit to Israel. I disagree with much of Beck’s politics and with virtually all of his conspiracy theorizing. Yet I admire his courage in putting his body in the line of fire. I believe him when he says:
If the world goes down the road of dehumanizing Jews again, “then count me a Jew and come for me first.…”
I certainly admire Beck’s decision to go to Israel far more than the decision of so many so-called artists and intellectuals who call for a boycott against the Jewish state without even bothering to go there and see for themselves. I welcome the support of religious Christians who love Israel for religious reasons. I abhor the ignorant and misguided efforts of other Christians, such as former US president Jimmy Carter and Bishop Desmond Tutu, who misuse their faith against the Jewish state.
I hope that more Christians will follow in Beck’s footsteps and take the time to visit Israel. They will see Christianity thriving in Israel while at the same time being dismantled and destroyed in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Egypt, and in other areas in which Islamic fundamentalists have taken over. Christian religious sites are preserved in Jerusalem and other areas under Israeli control. When the Jordanian government controlled parts of Jerusalem, it destroyed many historic religious sites sacred to both Jews and Christians.…
Many Israelis will welcome Glenn Beck’s support. Some will oppose it. Others will wish his views were more consistent with their own. This is as it should be in a democracy. The fact is that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that would allow Glenn Beck to express his views, without censoring them or even knowing in advance what he was going to say. This too is as it should be in a democracy.
BECK GETS IT RIGHT WHEN IT COMES TO THE BIG PICTURE ISSUES
Jerusalem Post, August 23, 2011
Having studied the Middle East professionally for 35 years, and with a PhD in Middle East history, let me make it perfectly clear: Glenn Beck, who is holding several rallies in Israel this week, has a better grasp of Middle East politics than most Western experts, as well as some Western leaders.
Certainly, Beck makes silly mistakes on factual details. Yet he comprehends the big picture. I don’t say this based on a superficial view or on his support for Israel. As part of the GLORIA Center’s project on understanding current American politics and debates, I have monitored virtually every television and radio show Beck has done over the past two years. When people voice absurd and slanderous stereotypes about Beck, it turns out they haven’t actually listened to what he’s been saying.
Why has Beck gotten things right that so many others have missed or distorted? There are five key reasons: Common sense; courage; knowing the difference between right and wrong, a willingness to learn, and a readiness to admit when one has been wrong. These are virtues often lacking among those with more elegant reputations.
What has he gotten right?
1. The main threat in the Middle East is revolutionary Islamism, and the United States must combat it.…
It is an ideology innately hostile to the West, the United States and Israel. It cannot be bought off or moderated. Revolutionary Islamists will either take over the Middle East or be defeated.
2. The problem is not Islam as a religion but revolutionary Islamism as a political ideology that draws on normative Islam to produce its own plausible interpretation.
While falsely accused of “Islamophobia,” Beck has correctly drawn the distinction between Islam and revolutionary Islamism. Those claiming Islam is “a religion of peace” miss the radicalism easily drawn from its texts.… Those claiming Islam is inherently extremist miss most of its actual history and the tremendous battle going on among Muslims.
3. The revolutionary Islamist side is winning.
In the past year, revolutionary Islamism has advanced in Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Turkey, and potentially Syria, Libya, and Tunisia.
4. The “Arab Spring” contains many dangers.
The unqualified Western enthusiasm for the “Arab Spring” ignores the threat of growing Islamist power.… [In Egypt], the regime that emerges might not be Islamist but will be radical, anti-American, and dangerously hostile toward Israel.
5. Israel just happens to be largely right and deserves support.
Israel has been in a “Twilight Zone” situation. Eighteen years ago, Israel took a tremendous risk for peace by signing an agreement with the PLO, agreeing to establish an armed Palestinian Authority, and negotiating toward the creation of a Palestinian state, Not to mention later offering the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for peace, withdrawing from south Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and much of the West Bank.
Yet the more risks Israel took, the more concessions it made, the more restraint it showed, the more it was said not to want peace. The more Israel sought a two-state solution, the more people in the West advocated a “no-Israel” solution. Beck has cut through this nonsense to point out a simple fact: Israel wants a negotiated compromise based on a two-state solution; the Palestinian Authority–not to mention Hamas–doesn’t.
6. One Man’s Terrorist… Is Still a Terrorist.…
Bad ends hardly justify bad means.
7. The Obama Administration has messed up the Middle East to a phenomenal extent.
For details, you can read what I’ve written about this since January 2009.
8. One should be fearless in facing intimidation and politically motivated ridicule.
Yes, it gets tiring to be slandered and misquoted, but a lot is at stake here. Popularity among current Western elites and career advancement cannot be the main priority. We live at a time when governments and intellectuals surrender at the merest hint of being called names or faced with threats of violence.
9. We must reevaluate friends and enemies in this new era of revolutionary Islamism and post-Marxist leftism.
In the past, Jews often saw conservatives and religious Christians as threats. But we’re no longer in the nineteenth or even the twentieth centuries. Conservatives and Christians aren’t drooling to convert, kill, or use Jews to bring on the apocalypse. While doing everything possible to work with liberals and social democrats, we must understand–whatever our personal political views–that Israel and the Jewish people have a new set of allies.…
10. Whatever mistakes the United States has made, it is a good country and the hope of the world.
Many people everywhere are yearning for America to revive itself, change the current administration’s policies, properly define friends and enemies, and take leadership internationally once again.
Any criticism one can make of Beck pales in comparison to all of the above points, on which he is quite correct. But then, as Jews, and Israelis most of all, should know, to be falsely reviled is not proof of being wrong or evil.
(Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs [GLORIA] Center.)
FACEBOOK’S HOLOCAUST PROBLEM
Daily Beast, August 18, 2011
Is Facebook in denial about Holocaust denial?
For years, international organizations opposing anti-Semitism have been urging the planet’s preeminent social-networking platform to delete any content that asserts the Nazi-orchestrated extermination of 6 million Jews never took place.
And for years, officials of Facebook, boasting more than 750 million active users, have refused, insisting that mere denial of the Holocaust, however “repugnant and ignorant,” doesn’t constitute “hate speech” as defined by Facebook’s Terms of Service policy prohibiting “content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” (Which gave a huge opening to TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, who noted that while Facebook was meticulously removing photos of breast-feeding women, it was allowing the proliferation of Holocaust-denial pages. His mordant headline: “Jew Haters Welcome At Facebook, As Long As They Aren’t Lactating.”)
Facebook’s critics–including such groups as the Anti-Defamation League and the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, which describes itself as an Israeli-led “alliance of statesmen, parliamentarians, diplomats, journalists, legal experts, NGOs and scholars”–argue that Holocaust denial is, by definition, an expression of hatred for the Jewish people.
“Holocaust denial is basically a form of classic anti-Semitism,” said Deborah Lauter, ADL’s director of civil rights and its cyber-hate response team. “It’s anti-Semitism per se because it serves as a powerful conspiracy theory that basically says the Jews have manipulated history to advance their own worldview, whether to create sympathy or world domination. In other words, we have fabricated this monstrous event in history in order to further our own hidden agenda.”
Facebook spokesman Simon Axten doesn’t see it that way.
“We find Holocaust denial to be repugnant and ignorant, just as we object to many of the other ideas expressed on Facebook,” Axten told me via email this week. “We’ve come to the conclusion that the mere statement of denying the Holocaust is not a violation of our policies. We recognize people’s right to be factually wrong about historical events.…”
The issue bubbled up anew last month when a group of survivors of the Nazi death camps wrote to Facebook asking that the company’s broad-minded policy be reversed. It came up again on Tuesday, when Australian computer scientist Andre Oboler and Canadian lawyer David Matas, co-chairmen of the Global Forum’s Online Anti-Semitism Working Group, released a letter they sent to Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg after they attended what Oboler calls a “frustrating” video conference with an executive of Facebook’s European operations. The Facebook exec politely listened to the group’s concerns, Oboler told me from Melbourne, then reiterated the company line.
“We call on Facebook to abandon its insistence on treating Holocaust denial in a context-free manner, in which it is considered nothing more than the rejection of a historical event,” Oboler and Matas wrote to Zuckerberg. “The context makes it clear that there is no meaningful distinction between Holocaust denial and incitement to hatred against Jews … We ask that Facebook recognize Holocaust denial as a form of hate speech, issue a statement to this effect, and do its utmost to remove Holocaust denial from the Facebook platform.…”
Oboler pointed out that Holocaust denial is codified as hate speech and thus against the law in 13 European countries, including Germany and Austria, and that Facebook manages not to violate local ordinances by blocking the various denial pages in the relevant jurisdictions. He said his colleagues, “who have been approaching Facebook with an open mind and in a spirit of cooperation to solve this problem, are becoming increasingly frustrated with Facebook’s irrational stubbornness on this issue and their attempts to blur the issue.…”
Facebook’s Axten acknowledged in his email: “Many of us at Facebook have direct personal connection to the Holocaust, through parents or grandparents who were forced to flee Europe or relatives who could not escape. We believe in Facebook’s mission that giving people tools to make the world more open is the best way to combat ignorance and deception, though we recognize that others may disagree.”