THE WEEK THAT WAS: ISRAEL IS NOT ALONE IN OPPOSING IRAN DEAL; RETRACING POLAND’S JEWISH HISTORY, REFLECTED IN BDS ANTISEMITISM & UN MORAL RELATIVISM

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Does Israel Stand Alone?: William Kristol, Weekly Standard, Aug. 24, 2015— Let’s for the moment ignore the fact that many other countries, especially those with the most at stake, are in fact privately appalled by the Iran deal. Let’s stipulate that Israel stands publicly alone.

That Anti-Israel Reggae Beat: Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2015 — Rototom Sunsplash is an annual arts-and-music festival going on this week near Valencia, Spain.

The UN Human Rights Council and its Moral Relativism: Manfred Gerstenfeld & Jamie Berk, CIJR, Aug. 20, 2015 — Moral relativism is a key tool used to undermine human values.

In Poland, Searching for Jewish Heritage: Joseph Berger, New York Times, July 30, 2015— When I was growing up, my mother filled me with visions of her hometown, Otwock in Poland, describing it as a kind of Brigadoon without actually using that American word.

 

On Topic Links

 

Keep the Sanctions — Stop the Deal! (Petition): Mozuud

Spanish Reggae Festival Re-Invites Matisyahu: Herb Keinon, Sam Sokol & Michelle Malka Grossman, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 19, 2015

It’s Official: Thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel Boycott, Anti-Semitism is No More: Howard Jacobson, Independent, May 17, 2015

Condemnation and Condolence by the UN Secretary General — Genuine or Politically Biased?: Amb. Alan Baker, New JCPA, Aug. 6, 2015

                                               

DOES ISRAEL STAND ALONE?                                                                                        

William Kristol

Weekly Standard, Aug. 24, 2015

 

“Because this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support. The United Nations Security Council has unanimously supported it. The majority of arms control and nonproliferation experts support it. Over 100 former ambassadors who served under Republican and Democratic presidents support it.” — President Barack Obama, August 5, 2015.

 

Let’s for the moment ignore the fact that many other countries, especially those with the most at stake, are in fact privately appalled by the Iran deal. Let’s stipulate that Israel stands publicly alone.

 

So what? If the United Nations Security Council had existed in October 1938, it would have rushed to support the Munich agreement signed with Germany by the P2+1 of the day, Great Britain and France plus Italy. The majority of arms control and foreign policy experts would have supported it. Former ambassadors who had served under Republican and Democratic presidents would have supported it. In fact, while the United States was not a party to the agreement, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made it publicly known that he had cabled British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, “Good man.”

 

Little Czechoslovakia—not invited to be a party to the negotiations and of course not a party to the agreement—stood alone. And as Churchill put it the next week: “All is over. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, Czechoslovakia recedes into the darkness. She has suffered in every respect by her association with the Western democracies and with the League of Nations.”

 

Today, according to President Obama, Israel stands alone. She has suffered from the fecklessness of the Western democracies and the hostility of the United Nations. But all is not over. Israel is not broken and has no intention of receding into the darkness. As Benjamin Netanyahu said in his speech to Congress in March: “Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.” So it does. Writing in the New York Sun, Seth Lipsky commented: “President Obama may have mocked the Jewish state for being the only country in the world to oppose the pact of appeasement he’s just inked with Iran. All the greater Israel’s glory, we say.”

 

But the key point, Lipsky notes, is this: In its opposition to the Iran deal, Israel does not stand alone. America stands with Israel—even if the Obama administration does not. The majority of the U.S. Congress stands against the deal. And so does Army Staff Sergeant (ret.) Robert Bartlett, who was grievously wounded on May 3, 2005, in Baghdad by an improvised explosive device made far more devastating by sophisticated Iranian expertise dedicated to the task of killing and maiming as many American soldiers as possible.

 

The destruction of Sergeant Bartlett’s Humvee was a feather in the cap of the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassem Suleimani. A retired American general officer who served in Iraq commented recently that special forces and drone operatives had Suleimani in their sights several times during those years. They were told by their civilian superiors to refrain from killing him. The general deeply regrets that he and his colleagues were constrained by those orders. Now the Iran deal removes international sanctions from Suleimani personally and from his Revolutionary Guard. In an ad aired by the group Veterans Against the Deal, Sergeant Bartlett has spoken out. You can watch the ad at vetsagainstdeal.com. You might consider asking your senators and representatives to do so as well.

 

On August 12, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who negotiated the deal with John Kerry, met in Beirut with Hassan Nasrallah, chief of the Iran-funded terror group Hezbollah. Zarif told Nasrallah the deal “created a historic opportunity to .  .  . face threats posed by the Zionist entity.” Hezbollah has killed Israelis and Jews. It has killed Muslims and Christians. It has also killed Americans. The group took gleeful credit for the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, which killed 241 Americans who were in Lebanon to serve as peacekeepers at the request of Arab nations and for that matter the U.N. Security Council.

 

Members of Congress should be proud to stand against a deal that empowers Iran and Hezbollah, that leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in place and increases the chances of nuclear proliferation, that funds Iranian terror and increases the chances of regional wars. As Sergeant Bartlett said when he first heard about the deal, “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. The very country that killed so many Americans over in Iraq—I just couldn’t believe it.” Sergeant Bartlett couldn’t believe it. He’s chosen to fight the deal and try to defeat it. He has the support of the American public. No, Israel does not stand alone.

 

                                                                       

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THAT ANTI-ISRAEL REGGAE BEAT                                                                                             

Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2015

 

Rototom Sunsplash is an annual arts-and-music festival going on this week near Valencia, Spain. Showcasing “the cream of reggae’s crop,” Rototom Sunplash according to its organizers also aims to promote a culture of “peace, equality, human rights and social justice.” Unless you’re Jewish, that is.

 

This year Rototom Sunsplash disinvited Matthew Miller, a Jewish-American reggae star who performs under the name Matisyahu, because he wouldn’t publicly endorse a Palestinian state. The organizers said they cancelled Mr. Miller’s appearance after having “repeatedly sought dialogue in the face of the artist’s unavailability to give a clear statement against war and on the right of the Palestinian people to their own state.”

 

Mr. Miller was the only participant asked to engage in such political “dialogue.” Micah Shemaiah, Andrae Jay Sutherland and other Jamaican artists weren’t asked to disavow antigay violence in their country. Sudanese journalist and festival presenter Sami al-Hajj, a former Guantanamo detainee, wasn’t required to publicly denounce the Khartoum regime’s human-rights abuses. “It was appalling and offensive,” Mr. Miller wrote of the incident, “that as the one publicly Jewish-American artist scheduled for the festival they were trying to coerce me into political statements.” Even the virulently anti-Israel Spanish press has denounced the move.

 

Many European cultural and intellectual elites still don’t see the connection between singling out the world’s sole Jewish state for opprobrium and the explosion of anti-Semitic sentiment on the Continent. Remember the Matisyahu affair the next time proponents of the anti-Israel boycott, divest and sanction movement insist their aim is to promote Palestinian rights, not anti-Jewish bigotry.

 

[The Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival has apologized and re-invited Matisyahu to perform at this year’s festival. In a Facebook post, the festival’s organizers wrote that it had been a “mistake” to drop the reggae-rapper from the schedule. They blamed the initial decision to drop Matisyahu on a “campaign of pressure, coercion and threats” against the festival by the local Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in Valencia, Spain—Ed.]

                                                         

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THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL AND ITS MORAL RELATIVISM                                                        

Manfred Gerstenfeld & Jamie Berk                                                                                       

CIJR, Aug. 20, 2015

 

Moral relativism is a key tool used to undermine human values. This destructive approach may be defined as “moral judgments are true or false only relative to some particular standpoint – -for instance, that of a culture or a historical period — and that no standpoint is uniquely privileged over all others…. It relies the insistence that we should refrain from passing moral judgments on beliefs and practices characteristic of cultures other than our own.”

 

Many use moral relativism to accuse Israel of alleged “crimes”. Nations often do so while whitewashing their own behavior which is often similar in nature to their accusations against Israel, or even far worse. They frequently also ignore or justify elements of the huge criminality inherent in large parts of the Muslim world. This may include racial and other discrimination, extreme abuse of women, including honor killings, as well as slavery, incitement and major other violence, including mass murders.

 

Once one accepts the principle of moral relativism as legitimate, one is on the road to structurally undermining democracy and core human values. The application of double standards is a broader notion than that of moral relativism. The latter has a strong focus on values, which double standards do not necessarily have.

 

Moral relativists justify immoral practices. Such justifications can lead to extreme implementations of moral relativism, such as equating the values of the Nazis with those of the Allies, indirectly justifying the Holocaust. The centerpiece within international law which was established to counter moral relativism is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted in December 1948. The primary impetus for drafting the UDHR was to provide universal legal norms that did not exist during the horrors of Nazi rule. The UDHR was also intended to prevent a second Holocaust from occurring by declaring extreme abuses of values, such as those perpetrated by the Nazis, globally unacceptable.

 

An overwhelming majority of the UN member nations voted in favor of adopting the UDHR. Eight nations abstained and none voted against it. The first article of the UDHR proclaims, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” This is equal to saying that all individuals are equally responsible for their acts. The UDHR was made into binding international law in 1976 and agreeing to uphold its statutes serves as a prerequisite for nations to enter into the UN.

 

Despite this the United Nations and its various affiliated agencies provide major examples of moral relativism. This is in particular true as far as UN positions regarding Israel are concerned. UN delegates and agencies often choose to blatantly ignore the values of equality proclaimed by the UDHR in their stance on Israel. One of several UN agencies where one can easily see the regular abuse of moral relativism is the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). In 2006, this body succeeded the UN Commission on Human Rights. The extreme perversion of values taking place in such international bodies, for the most part, often results from the stances taken by various Muslim states, which are then also supported by others. In view of the multitude of examples from the UNHRC which are readily available, an essay is required to do justice to this subject. In this context, however, one recent example may serve to illustrate the issue.

 

In the summer of 2014, the UNHRC held a debate on the “Occupied Arab Territories.” This session included a heartfelt plea by Rachel Frankel, the mother of Eyal, one of the Israeli boys who was kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian terrorists. The session was largely used, however, to blame Israel for “occupying” Palestine. The representatives of other nations that hold, have held, are at war or have warred over disputed territory were in attendance and criticized Israel. Ethiopia declared that Israel was guilty of occupation. Yet after this statement, no UNHRC members mentioned the 1998-2000 Ethiopian-Eritrean war, where an estimated 70,000-120,000 civilians and soldiers were killed. This war was started because of Ethiopia’s occupation of the Eritrean Badame region.

 

Russia also spoke of the “indivisibility” of Palestinian territory, yet it is currently involved in numerous territorial disputes, including with UN member states Japan, Ukraine, and Georgia. Morocco and Algeria, who have both occupied the disputed Western Sahara region for the last forty-five years, gave statements condemning Israel for its occupation of the Palestinian territories.

 

Although there has been a far larger death count from the territorial disputes and occupations maintained by these nations, Israel’s actions were deemed intolerable according to these moral relativists. During rebuttals, there was no mention of the territorial disputes of these nations who hypocritically attacked Israel, except for an argument between the Moroccan and Algerian representatives over who really had claim to Western Sahara. To these and other UNHRC member nations, Israel is morally corrupt in its mistakenly called “occupation of Palestine,” – which are disputed and not occupied areas — whereas their own illegal occupations of territory can be overlooked for the sake of condemning Israel.

 

Overall, the sheer volume of resolutions against Israel in the UNHRC is a major indicator of its extreme moral relativism. There have been more UNHRC resolutions against Israel than against all other 191 countries in the world combined. Although the UN charter claims that it advocates for “the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity, and non-selectivity,” much like the United Nations General Assembly, this Muslim-dominated body does little to stop the worst abuses within the Muslim world. Principles of universality were challenged by the UNHRC in 2008 when the mandate of freedom of expression, one of the tenants of the UDHR, was overturned by the Muslim-dominated Council. Now, anyone who “abuses” this freedom, or “dare say something deemed offensive to Islamic sensitivities” must be reported to the Council.

 

Many more examples of extreme moral relativism can be brought, not only from the UNHRC, but from other UN agencies such as UNESCO and the UNRWA as well as the United Nations itself…

[To Read the Full Article with Footnotes Click the Following Link—Ed.]  

 

                                                           

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IN POLAND, SEARCHING FOR JEWISH HERITAGE                                                                       

Joseph Berger                                                                                                                               

New York Times, July 30, 2015

 

When I was growing up, my mother filled me with visions of her hometown, Otwock in Poland, describing it as a kind of Brigadoon without actually using that American word. It seemed like an enchanted spot graced by tall pine trees, lush lilac bushes and bracing air. In an era when anti-Semitic discrimination seemed laced into the national fabric, the Jews of Otwock managed to squeeze much sweetness out of their hardscrabble lives through timeless religious habits and the pleasures of a resort that attracted bourgeois vacationers and Hasidim.

 

My sister and I recently visited the town for the first time. It was lilac season and the pine trees were still tall, the air as bracing. But we found with palpable certainty that the Jews are all gone — there were 10,000 of them — and only a few traces are left of the touchstones of my mother’s girlhood. All four synagogues, including those where her father was a cantor on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, were destroyed by the Germans. The wooden “villa” where her family had a cramped apartment had been replaced by a retirement home for priests. Even the cemetery where her mother was buried when our mother was only 6 was an overgrown shambles of crooked, broken headstones.

 

In our father’s hometown, Borynya, across the border in Ukraine, we learned firsthand that we come from poor hill people — Berger means “mountain person” — who subsisted on farming and lumber from Carpathian spruces. We spoke to an 86-year-old woman who remembered when the sprawling village had 300 Jews; she even vaguely recalled the Bergers. But we understood more firmly how painful recounting the past must have been for our father, who lost his parents and six sisters to the Nazis. He not only did not speak about those sisters, he couldn’t even tell us how beautiful the Carpathian countryside was.

 

Our parents’ hometowns had receded into a dim past. Nevertheless, we, like many others now making this particular kind of roots journey, were enriched by the trip because we discovered a new Poland. Jews, some of them impassioned American expatriates, have planted the seeds of a reviving community in Warsaw and Krakow, and an astonishing corps of Polish gentiles have made it their mission to rediscover a people that had been so entwined with their own. We met a dozen such trailblazers who enlightened us about Jewish remnants and helped us locate cemeteries and repurposed synagogues.

 

I had seldom thought about actually visiting Poland, but after my mother’s death in 2009 my curiosity seemed aroused and so did that of my sister, Dr. Evelyn Hartman (my wife’s need for a family visit to Australia made the timing ideal). We started our trip in Warsaw, most of which was leveled in the September 1939 blitzkrieg and in the retaliations for 1943 and 1944 uprisings. The Poles have recreated, brick by brick, the picturesque Old Town, where we had lunch with Maria Bukowska, a Polish Mary Poppins who cared with such tenderness for my Alzheimer’s-ridden mother. At the elegant Literatka Cafe I confirmed that what I thought was Jewish food — an earthy mushroom soup and meat-filled ears of dough that I call kreplach and Poles call pirogi — is actually Polish food.

 

My mother, Rachel Golant Berger, lived in Warsaw from age 14, when her father sent her there to help put food on the table, until she was 20, when the Germans invaded in September 1939. In a memoir she hand-wrote in old age, she described the pleasures of shopping for shoes on chic Marszalkowska Street, attending Yiddish plays at the 2,000-seat Nowosci Theater, catching American movies, and savoring the cerebral hubbub at clubs for writers, socialists and Zionists. Marszalkowska Street has been rebuilt and is still a modish boulevard. But the clubs and theaters were destroyed.

 

When the bombing began, my mother’s half-brother Simcha advised her to avoid basement shelters — they might collapse — and dodge with him through the city’s parks. My sister and I visited the two parks she named, Krasinski and Saxon Gardens, both throwbacks to a stately Warsaw past. Lilacs were in bloom, ducks paddled in a pond, lovers kissed on benches. It was hard to imagine the human corpses and horse carcasses my mother saw.

 

We looked for the market at Zelaznej Bramy (the Iron Gate), where her brother stumbled across an abandoned sack of prunes that fed them during the monthlong bombing. The market has been shifted, but it was bustling with stalls of fresh strawberries, sausages and flowers, a far cry from wartime and Communist-era austerity. At the shelling’s tail end, my mother retreated to an aunt’s home at 26 Franciszkanska, closer to the Vistula River, on her brother’s theory that they would be nearer a source of water they could drink. My mother described the building’s terrified tenants huddled in a courtyard.

 

My sister and I saw a pleasant street where all the prewar buildings had been replaced by ascetic apartment blocks. There was no Number 26. What was left of the addresses we searched for was a four-story plain gray building at 16 Krasinaskiego where my parents and I, their infant son, lived in 1946 after returning to Poland from their wartime refuge in the Soviet Union. They stayed a few months, fleeing when news broke of the Kielce pogrom that left 42 Jews dead and making their way to the Allied displaced persons camps. Like tens of thousands of other Jews, they gave up on Poland.

 

So my mother’s Warsaw is no longer there, but we took time to enjoy contemporary Warsaw, which is a cosmopolitan city that can rival other European capitals in charm, intriguing shops and fine restaurants like Dawne Smaki on Nowe Swiat, where we ate pierogi while a woman played Chopin. As important to us, it is a city that has made an effort to underscore its tragic Jewish past and rebuild. A New Yorker, Michael J. Schudrich, 60, is officially Poland’s chief rabbi and has reignited Sabbath services at the Nozyk Synagogue, a surviving classic, with financing by the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture.

 

Helise Lieberman, another New Yorker, started a Jewish school 20 years ago with financing from the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. It has 240 students, half of them non-Jewish. A modest community center has been set up by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Ms. Lieberman, now director of Taube’s Warsaw office, pointed out bricks inlaid in sidewalks demarcating the Warsaw Ghetto’s wall and a monument to the Umschlagplatz (German for collection point), the square from which 300,000 Jews were shipped by freight cars to Treblinka. With muffled sorrow, we read the Yiddish names on an otherwise blank wall.

 

The new Polin Museum, too, with its inventively illuminating survey of the thousand-year history of Poland’s Jews, seems a monument of atonement. As we entered, Jewish students from several countries stood outside singing “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

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On Topic

                                                                                                        

Keep the Sanctions — Stop the Deal! (Petition): Mozudd—Obama’s deal with Iran is an unforgiveable betrayal of America’s interests and Israel’s interests.  What has gone largely unsaid, however, it is also an unforgiveable betrayal of the interests of the Iranian people. 

Spanish Reggae Festival Re-Invites Matisyahu: Herb Keinon, Sam Sokol & Michelle Malka Grossman, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 19, 2015 —The Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival in Spain wants Matisyahu after all. Apparently it hopes that by apologizing and re-inviting the Jewish-American singer to the show, “every little thing gonna be alright,” in the words of reggae icon Bob Marley.

It’s Official: Thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel Boycott, Anti-Semitism is No More: Howard Jacobson, Independent, May 17, 2015—Gather round, everybody. I bear important news. Anti-Semitism no longer exists! Ring out, ye bells, the longest hatred has ceased to be. It’s kaput, kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. It’s a stiff, ladies and gentlemen. An EX-PREJUDICE!

Condemnation and Condolence by the UN Secretary General — Genuine or Politically Biased?: Amb. Alan Baker, New JCPA, Aug. 6, 2015 —The recent tragic act of terrorism and hatred that caused the murder of a Palestinian child Ali Dawabsha in the West Bank and the serious wounding of the child’s family, cannot, and should not, in any way be minimized.