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How Peace Negotiator Martin Indyk Cashed a Big, Fat $14.8 Million Check From Qatar: Lee Smith, Tablet, Sept. 17, 2014 — The New York Times recently published a long investigative report by Eric Lipton, Brooke Williams, and Nicholas Confessore on how foreign countries buy political influence through Washington think tanks.
Summer in Sweden: Ida Eriksson, Jeruasalem Post, Aug. 27, 2014— Summer is ending. The rain has washed summer away and the air is crisp and cool.
What’s Behind Germany’s New Anti-Semitism: Jochen Bittner, New York Times, Sept. 16, 2014 — Europe is living through a new wave of anti-Semitism.
The Secret Yiddish History of Scotland: Philologos, Forward, Sept. 16, 2014— Recently, as Scotland’s independence vote began to loom large in the media, someone asked me if I had ever heard of Scots Yiddish.
Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks: Eric Lipton, Brooke Williams & Nicholas Confessore
, New York Times, Sept. 6, 2014
Anti-Semitism, Old and New: Ian Tuttle, National Review, Aug. 25, 2014
Meet the New Jews, Same as the Old Jews: James Kirchick, Tablet, Aug. 28, 2014
Klinghoffer: Pretending Art Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry: Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Jewish Press, Sept. 15, 2014
Merkel Confronts Anti-Semitism: Wall Street Journal, Sept. 15, 2014
Tablet, Sept. 17, 2014
The New York Times recently published a long investigative report by Eric Lipton, Brooke Williams, and Nicholas Confessore on how foreign countries buy political influence through Washington think tanks. Judging from Twitter and other leading journalistic indicators, the paper’s original reporting appears to have gone almost entirely unread by human beings anywhere on the planet. In part, that’s because the Times’ editors decided to gift their big investigative scoop with the dry-as-dust title “Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks,” which sounds like the headline for an article in a D.C. version of The Onion. There is also the fact that the first 10 paragraphs of the Times piece are devoted to that highly controversial global actor, Norway, and its attempts to purchase the favors of The Center for Global Development, which I confess I’d never heard of before, although I live in Washington and attend think-tank events once or twice a week.
Except, buried deep in the Times’ epic snoozer was a world-class scoop related to one of the world’s biggest and most controversial stories—something so startling, and frankly so grotesque, that I have to bring it up again here: Martin Indyk, the man who ran John Kerry’s Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, whose failure in turn set off this summer’s bloody Gaza War, cashed a $14.8 million check from Qatar. Yes, you heard that right: In his capacity as vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at the prestigious Brookings Institution, Martin Indyk took an enormous sum of money from a foreign government that, in addition to its well-documented role as a funder of Sunni terror outfits throughout the Middle East, is the main patron of Hamas—which happens to be the mortal enemy of both the State of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party.
But far from trumpeting its big scoop, the Times seems to have missed it entirely, even allowing Indyk to opine that the best way for foreign governments to shape policy is “scholarly, independent research, based on objective criteria.” Really? It is pretty hard to imagine what the words “independent” and “objective” mean coming from a man who while going from Brookings to public service and back to Brookings again pocketed $14.8 million in Qatari cash. At least the Times might have asked Indyk a few follow-up questions, like: Did he cash the check from Qatar before signing on to lead the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians? Did the check clear while he was in Jerusalem, or Ramallah? Or did the Qatari money land in the Brookings account only after Indyk gave interviews and speeches blaming the Israelis for his failure? We’ll never know now. But whichever way it happened looks pretty awful. Or maybe the editors decided that it was all on the level, and the money influenced neither Indyk’s government work on the peace process nor Brookings’ analysis of the Middle East. Or maybe journalists just don’t think it’s worth making a big fuss out of obvious conflicts of interest that may affect American foreign policy. Maybe Qatar’s $14.8 million doesn’t affect Brookings’ research projects or what the think tank’s scholars tell the media, including the New York Times, about subjects like Qatar, Hamas, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other related areas in which Qatar has key interests at stake. Maybe the think tank’s vaunted objectivity, and Indyk’s personal integrity and his pride in his career as a public servant, trump the large piles of vulgar Qatari natural gas money that keep the lights on and furnish the offices of Brookings scholars and pay their cell-phone bills and foreign travel.
But people in the Middle East may be a little less blasé about this kind of behavior than we are. Officials in the Netanyahu government, likely including the prime minister himself, say they’ll never trust Indyk again, in part due to the article by Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea in which an unnamed U.S. official with intimate knowledge of the talks, believed to be Indyk, blamed Israel for the failure of the peace talks. Certainly Jerusalem has good reason to be wary of an American diplomat who is also, or intermittently, a highly paid employee of Qatar’s ruling family. Among other things, Qatar hosts Hamas’ political chief Khaled Meshaal, the man calling the shots in Hamas’ war against the Jewish state. Moreover, Doha is currently Hamas’ chief financial backer—which means that while Qatar isn’t itself launching missiles on Israeli towns, Hamas wouldn’t be able to do so without Qatari cash. Of course, Hamas, which Qatar proudly sponsors, is a problem not just for Israel but also the Palestinian Authority. Which means that both sides in the negotiations that Indyk was supposed to oversee had good reason to distrust an American envoy who worked for the sponsor of their mutual enemy. In retrospect, it’s pretty hard to see how either side could have trusted Indyk at all—or why the administration imagined he would make a good go-between in the first place. Indeed, the notion that Indyk himself was personally responsible for the failure of peace talks is hardly far-fetched in a Middle East wilderness of conspiracy theories. After all, who benefits with an Israeli-PA stalemate? Why, the Islamist movement funded by the Arab emirate whose name starts with the letter “Q” and, according to the New York Times, is Brookings’ biggest donor.
There are lots of other questions that also seem worth asking, in light of this smelly revelation—like why in the midst of Operation Protective Edge this summer did Kerry seek to broker a Qatari- (and Turkish-) sponsored truce that would necessarily come at the expense of U.S. allies, Israel, and the PA, as well as Egypt, while benefiting Hamas, Qatar, and Turkey? Maybe it was just Kerry looking to stay active. Or maybe Indyk whispered something in his former boss’ ear—from his office at Brookings, which is paid for by Qatar.
It’s not clear why Indyk and Brookings seem to be getting a free pass from journalists—or why Qatar does. Yes, as host of the 2022 World Cup and owner of two famous European soccer teams (Barcelona and Paris St. Germain), Doha projects a fair amount of soft power—in Europe, but not America. Sure, Doha hosts U.S. Central Command at Al Udeid air base, but it also hosts Al Jazeera, the world’s most famous anti-American satellite news network. The Saudis hate Doha, as does Egypt and virtually all of America’s Sunni Arab allies. That’s in part because Qataris back not only Hamas, but other Muslim Brotherhood chapters around the region and Islamist movements that threaten the rule of the U.S.’s traditional partners and pride themselves on vehement anti-Americanism. Which is why, of course, Qatar wisely chose to go over the heads of the American public and appeal to the policy elite—a strategy that began in 2007, when Qatar and Brookings struck a deal to open a branch of the Washington-based organization in Doha. Since then, the relationship has obviously progressed, to the point where it can appear, to suspicious-minded people, like Qatar actually bought and paid for John Kerry’s point man in the Middle East, the same way they paid for the plane that flew U.N. Sec. Gen. Ban Ki-Moon around the region during this summer’s Gaza war…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Jerusalem Post, Aug. 27, 2014
Summer is ending. The rain has washed summer away and the air is crisp and cool. You can almost feel the autumn sweeping in. You are walking to the local grocery store as you do every other day and suddenly everything is changed. The beautiful surroundings you find yourself in don’t match the hateful commentaries you get both from Jews and non-Jews on social media and elsewhere. They certainly doesn’t match the story of a Jew being attacked because of wearing a Magen David necklace some 500 meters outside your house. Who could imagine this could happen in the middle of Sweden? In a quarter that is heavily patrolled by police officers day and night? Once you were a Jew, now you are a baby-killer. Once you were a Swede, now you’ve become an Israeli. A long time ago you were accepted, part of society, now you are an outsider, once again. When you once came here you couldn’t reconcile the beautiful, perfectly-cut grass lanes and the tidiness of the street and the hard-working, marginalized people who surrounded you.
In the summer they used to burn cars, or even throw stones at bus drivers just for the sake of it, forgetting that these very bus drivers actually lived the same hard lives they did. All were striving through the Swedish societal maze of language, customs and behavioral codes. Once upon a time, when Jewish people in Europe were accused of baby-killing, or of housing Zionist nationalistic sentiments – they were persecuted and eventually murdered for it. Today, Jewish people in Europe are once more persecuted for their nationalistic sentiments and perceived as outsiders for their religious choices. Being a Jew in Sweden started as a privilege given to a single man, Aaron Isaac, at the end of the 18th century, and might end as a privilege accorded only to those Jews that don’t dare to be Jews. Such Jews apparently don’t realize they are acting exactly like their Spanish predecessors did at the end of the 15th century. They, too, were prevented – by law, as opposed to custom as is the case now – not to practice their religion in the open, and eventually had to flee for their lives. Hiding behind the Swedish custom of keeping religion a private matter, or trying to blend in, even going so far as letting go of some basic practices like circumcision or kosher slaughter are just a few examples. The Jewish practice of circumcision is compared in Sweden to female genital mutilation. Kosher slaughter is forbidden for hygienic reasons even though there are many research papers about Jewish customs and how they are intended to improve hygiene. A ban on circumcision has made it to the headlines a few times, resulting in a feeling of threat, though to date no legislation has been forthcoming. Kosher slaughter is forbidden by law.
Swedish Jews need to rise to the challenge; the challenge of protecting their life, lifestyle and right to choose freely, as can any Muslim or Christian in this country. If you feel you “stand with Israel” or “together we will win,” then you should know it’s all right and you shouldn’t fear for your life, your well-being or the consequences it will have on your family members. That is the meaning of freedom. Being free, in Israel or in Sweden, is hard work. You need to earn your freedom. You need to work hard in order to blend in, you need to be “lagom” (a Swedish word meaning “not too little and not too much”). In Israel the matter is protecting your life, and the little piece of sanity you have in order to go on functioning in society. In Sweden it’s about protecting your spiritual life and your mere existence as a Swedish Jew. Some would say these are actually the same. When autumn begins, you usually feel it is a fresh start. The new school year is coming, a new year commences at work after the long summer vacation. If you are Jewish then it is actually a new calendar year. In Sweden one can literally feel it in the air. This autumn, however, doesn’t feel refreshing. This autumn feels like history is just repeating itself. Living in Sweden today, having been born almost 40 years after Second World War and the Holocaust ended, makes it no better. The general feeling is “I don’t have a place in this world.”
New York Times, Sept. 16, 2014
Europe is living through a new wave of anti-Semitism. The president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews calls it the worst the Continent has seen since World War II. He may well be right. Attacks on synagogues are an almost weekly occurrence, and openly anti-Semitic chants are commonplace on well-attended marches from London to Rome. And yet it is here, in Germany, where the rise in anti-Semitism is most historically painful. On Sunday, thousands of people marched through Berlin in response, and heard both Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck denounce the resurgence in anti-Jewish hatred.
We’ve seen this before, of course. But there’s an important difference this time. The new anti-Semitism does not originate solely with the typical white-supremacist neo-Nazi; instead, the ugly truth that many in Europe don’t want to confront is that much of the anti-Jewish animus originates with European people of Muslim background. Until recently, Germany has been unwilling to discuss this trend. Germans have always seen Muslim anti-Semitism as a less problematic version of the “original” version, and therefore a distraction from the well-known problem of anti-Jewish sentiment within a majority of society. And yet the German police have noted a disturbing rise in the number of people of Arabic and Turkish descent arrested on suspicion of anti-Semitic acts in recent years, especially over the last several months. After noticing an alarming uptick in anti-Semitic sentiment among immigrant students, the German government is considering a special fund for Holocaust education.
Of course, anti-Semitism didn’t originate with Europe’s Muslims, nor are they its only proponents today. The traditional anti-Semitism of Europe’s far right persists. So, too, does that of the far left, as a negative byproduct of sympathy for the Palestinian liberation struggle. There’s also an anti-Semitism of the center, a subcategory of the sort of casual anti-Americanism and anticapitalism that many otherwise moderate Europeans espouse. But the rise of Muslim anti-Semitism is responsible for the recent change in the tone of hate in Germany. Until recently, the country’s anti-Semitism has been largely coded and anonymous. Messages might be spray-painted on walls at night; during the day, though, it would be rare to hear someone shout, as protesters did in Berlin in July, “Jews to the gas!” Another popular slogan at this and other rallies was “Jew, coward pig, come out and fight alone!” — shouted just yards from Berlin’s main Holocaust memorial. And this is the difference today: An anti-Semitism that is not only passionate, but also unaware of, or indifferent to, Germany’s special history.
Talking to Muslim friends, I can’t help but believe that the audacity of today’s anti-Semitism is in part a result of the exploitation of a “victim status,” an underdog sentiment that too many European Muslims have embraced enthusiastically. This is not just the sort of social-science explanation we often hear for hatred, as racism from people who are themselves the victims of racism and discrimination. Yes, there is discrimination against and exclusion of Muslims in Europe, and many of them certainly have reason to be frustrated. But this sentiment is more complex, born not only from how someone feels about himself and his neighbors, but about himself and his country. It is twofold: Germany’s history is not my history. And: I’ll never fully belong to your nation anyway, so why should I take on its burdens as you do? One friend, whose parents are from Turkey, told me that when she learned about the Holocaust at her German school, she wondered what all that had to do with her biography. As someone born in 1973, though with blond hair, I could ask the same question. The point is, it’s not about personal involvement; it is not in our blood, but it is in our history, in the timeline of a place that migrants have become part of. For Germans, accepting responsibility for the Holocaust has to mean feeling ultimately and more than any other nations’ citizens responsible for keeping the memory of its horrors alive — simply because those crimes were ordered from our soil.
Nothing more, but also nothing less has to be expected from every citizen of this country, no matter where her or his parents are from. What has become obvious this summer is that the “old” Germans have not yet managed to properly deliver this message to all the “new” Germans. Emotionally, this may have been understandable, given how many “bio-Germans,” as we call ethnic Germans, actually had Nazi family members that they still got to know, which may have made them wary of telling others what to think. But the lesson of the Holocaust is a lesson for mankind. And it’s every German’s job to make that clear at all times and to everyone, regardless of where you think you come from.
Recently, as Scotland’s independence vote began to loom large in the media, someone asked me if I had ever heard of Scots Yiddish. “I canna say that I have,” I answered, only to be told that there was an entire chapter on the subject in David Daiches’s autobiographical “Two Worlds: An Edinburgh Jewish Childhood.” Scots Yiddish? I decided to have a look. Daiches, a well-known English literary critic and historian who grew up in Edinburgh and later taught for years in the United States, was the son of a prominent rabbi, the de facto head of Edinburgh’s small Jewish community; his book is a fond memoir of a 1920s childhood and adolescence in both a strictly Orthodox home and a friendly, tolerant city in which Jewishness was casually accepted. Edinburgh, Daiches writes, had some 400 Jewish families in those days, many composed of Yiddish-speaking immigrants from Eastern Europe. Yet although he indeed refers to their speech as “Scots Yiddish” and even calls it “one of the most remarkable dialects ever spoken by man,” one comes away from his discussion of it with a sense of something linguistically less momentous. What he describes, far from being a distinctive language or dialect, is little more than what he terms “the debased Scots of the Edinburgh streets,” spoken with a Yiddish accent and a smattering of Yiddish words. It is merely a Scottish version, one might say, of the English that Eastern European Jewish immigrants were speaking on the streets of New York in the same period.
Still, such “Scots Yiddish” has a charm that the English of Orchard or Delancey Street never had. “Vot time’s yer barmitzvie, laddie?” Daiches recalls being asked by a fellow synagogue-goer shortly before his 13th birthday. “Ye’ll hae a drap o’bramfen. Ye ken: Nem a schmeck fun Dzon Beck.” Bronfn is Yiddish for liquor (in Eastern Europe it generally meant vodka, but Edinburgh is whisky land), while “Nem a shmek,” Yiddish for “Have a taste,” is, as Daiches points out, a clever translation that preserves the rhyme of the first half of the advertising slogan “Take a peg of John Begg.” And when Daiches once asked someone in the same synagogue why he scolded a visitor for talking during services when he was wont to talk during them himself, the reply was: “Two men vent into a poob and ordered a glass beer. Dey hadna been in dat poob more dan vonce or twice before. Vell, day sip deir beer un’ dey sit talking un’ schmoosing. Dey sit un’ talk un’ talk. At last de barman leans over de counter and he says to dem: ‘Oot!’ Nu, dat’s how it is mit a shul. I come here every veek and Hakodosh Borukh Hu [the Holy One Blessed Be He — that is God] kens me vell, un’ he don’t mind if I take it easy. But dese bleggages dat come vonce or twice a year — no! Dey daven or dey shot op!”
“’Bleggage,’ meaning scoundrel — one of two such words that Daiches mentions as exclusive to Scots Yiddish — is taken by him to be a corruption of “blackguard,” which seems a reasonable guess. The second word, for which he gives no origin, is “trebblers,” defined by him as “those Edinburgh Jews who made a precarious living as itinerant salesmen, peddling anything from sewing needles to ready-made dresses.” The derivation is almost certainly from Yiddish traybn, a cognate of English “drive” that occurs in the expression traybn a gesheft, “to run a business.” (The word may have assumed this meaning because many peddlers drove carts or wagons with their goods from village to village.) Daiches writes affectionately about the trebblers who filled the trains every morning on their way to their various destinations and said their morning prayers en route. They “had perfected a technique for getting compartments to themselves, and even if they had not, it would have taken a hardy outsider to enter a compartment where a swaying, bearded figure stood chanting at the window.”
Daiches thinks that Yiddish may have sounded less outlandish to Scots than to ordinary Englishmen because the Scots language shares some of Yiddish’s Germanic vocabulary and sounds that English lacks. Words like Scots “to hoast,” to cough, which is close to Yiddish hustn, or “lift,” sky, which is akin to Yiddish luft, “air,” exist in considerable numbers. Sometimes the two languages coincide. “More light” in Scots is “mair licht,” which sounds exactly the same as Yiddish mer likht. In fact, Daiches writes, he once conversed with a stationmaster along one of the lines the trebblers traveled and was told by him that his father would speak to them in broad Scots and be answered in Yiddish “with perfectly adequate mutual intelligibility.” It’s a nice story, but I have my doubts about it. English shares a huge vocabulary with both German and French, but that doesn’t make either of these two languages intelligible to English speakers or vice versa. In any case, whatever the future of Scots (which has been steadily losing ground to standard English for decades) in an independent Scotland, “Scots Yiddish” will not be around to try out on its speakers. Dos iz alts geven in days o’lang syne.
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends and Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks: Eric Lipton, Brooke Williams & Nicholas Confessore, New York Times, Sept. 6, 2014—The agreement signed last year by the Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs was explicit: For $5 million, Norway’s partner in Washington would push top officials at the White House, at the Treasury Department and in Congress to double spending on a United States foreign aid program.
Klinghoffer: Pretending Art Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry: Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Jewish Press, Sept. 15, 2014 —The most important thing to know about the Metropolitan Opera’s staging of the provocation piece “The Death of Klinghoffer,” is that the first of what should be many protests against it will be on Monday, Sept 22, starting at 4:30 p.m., at the Metropolitan Opera, which is nestled in the Lincoln Center Complex, at Broadway and West 65th Street in New York City.
Anti-Semitism, Old and New: Ian Tuttle, National Review, Aug. 25, 2014—Across Europe’s borders in recent years have flooded millions upon millions of immigrants, the overwhelming majority from North Africa and the Middle East.
Merkel Confronts Anti-Semitism: Wall Street Journal, Sept. 15, 2014—Angela Merkel spoke out Sunday against the spread of anti-Semitism in Germany. After a summer when protesters at rallies against Israel were heard chanting "Jews to the gas," the Chancellor's speech was a welcome affirmation of the country's best liberal traditions.
Meet the New Jews, Same as the Old Jews: James Kirchick, Tablet, Aug. 28, 2014 — With violent attacks against Jewish communities on the rise across Europe, it’s worth revisiting one of the sillier memes to have infested public discussion over the past decade: that Muslims are the “new Jews.”
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