Tag: Thomas Friedman


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Rejecting Despair and Confronting the Challenges: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, July 21, 2015 — I will not add to the flow of articles that have more than adequately analyzed the horrendous long-term consequences of U.S. President Barack Obama’s capitulation to the Iranian ayatollah…

Friedman’s Fantasy: Michael Devolin, Jihad Watch, Apr. 2, 2015  — “A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.”

Suing to Profit From a Nazi’s Diaries: Roger Kimball, Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2015 — This spring marked the 70th anniversary of the effective end of the Nazi regime.

Nine Days in Av: Stewart Weiss, Jerusalem Post, July 16, 2015— Friday, July 17, begins the semi-mourning period popularly known as “The Nine Days.”


On Topic Links


J Street Launches Campaign Backing Iran Deal; AIPAC Calls for Rejection of Accord: JTA, July 16, 2015

Look Before Leaping: Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, Mar. 25, 2015

The New York Times vs. Israel: Jerold Auerbach, Algemeiner, June 10, 2015

Globe & Mail Presents Dubious Anti-Israel Organization’s Report as “Credible”: Honest Reporting, June 10, 2015

When Tisha B’Av Occurs On Shabbat Or Sunday: Raphael Grunfeld, Jewish Press, July 23, 2015



NINE DAYS IN AV                                                                                                     

Stewart Weiss                                                                                                                

Jerusalem Post, July 16, 2015


Friday, July 17, begins the semi-mourning period popularly known as “The Nine Days.” Culminating in Tisha Be’av – one of only two 25-hour fasts in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur being the other – this period calls for a lessening of festivities, a moratorium on weddings and a general mood of solemnity.


This is a calamitous chunk of our calendar, for it was during these dates that numerous catastrophes befell the Jewish people, the most devastating of which were the destruction of both Holy Temples in Jerusalem and the loss of our independence.


It is a tribute to our culture – not to mention an ongoing proof of our eternal history – that we are prepared to draw attention to our failings and foibles no less than to our successes and celebrations, in a constant struggle for self-improvement. As every athlete knows, you learn more from your losses than from your wins, and so each year we struggle to understand what went wrong, why and how the events of the “Black Fast” occurred, and what we can do to rectify those mistakes so they will not happen again.


The Rabbis of the Talmud make it crystal clear that the hurban, the Destruction, was a function of our own sinful actions, and not the result of some political or military decision imposed on us from the outside. As a preeminent people that continually defies the norms of history, it is we ourselves, and not those around us, who control our fate. If we so merit it, no force can dislodge us. But if we fail to live up to the high standard set for us, then “the Almighty has many messengers” at His disposal. As the Talmud succinctly puts it, the Romans were not responsible for our defeat; they were merely “grinding already-ground flour.”


It is therefore worthwhile to review the comments of our Sages regarding Tisha Be’av, to see if we have made any progress over the last 2,000 years. Tractate Shabbat lists several reasons for the tragedy, beginning, appropriately, with Abaye’s statement that Jerusalem was destroyed due to desecration of the Shabbat. In halachic terms, Shabbat is not only considered the most important holiday of the year – surpassing even Yom Kippur – but it is the primary yardstick by which we measure religious commitment. It is the one question we ask to qualify potential witnesses (e.g., to a wedding), and it was one of a very few ritual commandments whose violation could actually result in the death penalty being administered by a human court.


But the significance of Shabbat is not only a legal consideration; Shabbat is what gives the Jewish state its uniqueness, its soul, its spiritual core. It is the single most important ingredient in preventing Israel from falling into the trap of becoming a state like any other state. And it is remarkable how Shabbat in Israel has made such an amazing “comeback” in recent years, as we have seen some of even the most nonobservant kibbutzim building on-site synagogues, and study programs as well as batei knesset in Tel Aviv fill to capacity each Shabbat. Ra’anana, I’m proud to say, boasts 85 synagogues – and more on the way. “Seven days without Shabbat,” it’s been said, “makes one weak!” Rabbi Hamnuna comments, “Jerusalem was destroyed because we neglected the education of our young.” Israel struggles with its education system – overcrowded classrooms, changes in the matriculation requirements with each new education minister, overall lack of decorum – but on the whole, we turn out some pretty bright students.


We have one of the highest literacy rates in the world (97.8 percent) and we spend 7.5% of our GDP on education – more than Canada, Japan, America, England or Australia. Want to know just how “smart” we are? Go into any kindergarten, and talk to the children. They’ll make you want to go back to school! Ula remarks: “Jerusalem was destroyed because there was not enough shame between people.” We are a society that is often high on blame but short on shame. Blame deflects our problems onto others and impedes our self-improvement. But shame can actually be a virtue; it can keep our ego and our arrogance in check – if we get ashamed by the right things – and lead us back to more pristine behavior.


I am ashamed when our country shows leniency to terrorists; when drivers lose control and act rudely and belligerently on our highways; when MKs fail to act with dignity and decorum in the Knesset; when “rabbis” abuse their power (and their congregants); when I succumb to anger, disillusion or lack of faith. Shame is the emotional partner of humility, and humility is the doorway to enlightenment and respect for others…

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






Isi Leibler                                       

Candidly Speaking, July 21, 2015  


I will not add to the flow of articles that have more than adequately analyzed the horrendous long-term consequences of U.S. President Barack Obama’s capitulation to the Iranian ayatollah, who to this day explicitly identifies the destruction of Israel as a primary objective and endorses calls of death to America and Israel by his followers.


Iran is an Islamic global counterpart to Hitler’s dictatorship in its fiendish denial of human rights. Yet the U.S. is effectively rewarding and reinforcing the leading global promoter of terrorism for its ongoing commitment and fanatic determination to undermine the democratic world. Beyond transforming Iran into a threshold nuclear state, Obama has provided Tehran with $150 billion to intensify its global terrorist activities, in addition to the removal of embargoes of conventional arms and ballistic missiles, thus bringing European and North American cities into the range of Iranian missiles.


It has repeatedly been described as “the worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history” and will be recorded as an act of infamy that not merely threatens the survival of Israel and the moderate Arab regimes in the region but capitulates to a fanatic Islamic terrorist state, some of whose leaders would be willing to facilitate a premature paradise for its citizens by engaging in suicidal initiatives in order to bring forward the “end of days.” The U.S. has demeaned itself as a world power and lost the confidence of its traditional friends who have witnessed Obama’s lies, his repudiation of crucial assurances initially made in relation to Iran and his betrayal and abandonment of longstanding allies while groveling to rogue states and dictatorships…


We must now strategize a new approach. In the short-term, our efforts must be directed toward convincing Congress and the American people of the diabolical global consequences if this agreement is consummated. The prospects of reversing, or at least introducing additional control or supervisory mechanisms instead of blindly trusting the duplicitous Iranians, are not good. However, we must do all possible to persuade Congress to reject the deal, and if necessary achieve a two-thirds majority vote in the House of Representatives and the Senate in order to override the president’s veto. That would require a substantial number of Democrats to join the majority Republicans in opposing their president and places special pressure on the 28 Jewish legislators, especially Senator Chuck Schumer who represents a major Jewish constituency but also seeks to become the Senate Democratic leader.


Such action necessitates Israeli politicians to urgently set aside their narrow politics and speak out with one voice in order to neutralize claims that it is only right-wing elements in Israeli society that oppose the Iranian deal. To his credit, Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog has already fully endorsed Netanyahu’s efforts in opposing the current deal. He has bitterly condemned the agreement and stated that he would visit the U.S. and warn the Americans that, if consummated, it “will unleash a lion from the cage” and enable an “empire of hate and evil” to undermine Israel’s security as well as global stability. More than ever, the time is now opportune for Herzog to override the radicals is his own camp and join a unity government. Were he to assume the role of foreign minister, Israel would be speaking with one voice which would make an enormous impact on global public opinion. Rumors suggest that negotiations are taking place to bring this about, which would be welcomed by the overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens.


Israel’s challenge is to persuade congressional Democrats to stand up and if necessary repudiate their own president, not merely because he is endangering Israel but because he is undermining the standing and security of the United States and paving the way for the emergence of an evil global power that could unleash a blight on mankind for future generations. The relatively feeble response to date by the traditionally robust American Jewish leadership has been a significant factor in failing to inhibit Obama from implementing anti-Israeli policies — at total variance with the inclinations of the majority of Americans and their congressional leaders.


Belatedly, there is now some movement. Howard Kohr, executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has launched a major campaign to persuade Congress to reject the deal. Malcolm Hoenlein expressed his personal opposition when he recently visited Israel with the newly elected head of the President’s Conference. But that umbrella body, operating by consensus, has yet to make a clear-cut condemnatory statement.


To his credit, Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, in what was possibly his last major public statement prior to his retirement, outrightly condemned the Obama administration. Many smaller organizations led by the Zionist Organization of America have bitterly protested against Obama’s betrayal but most American groups responded in a tepid manner, even after Herzog forthrightly condemned the deal. The American Jewish Committee headed by David Harris expressed concern but avoided calling on members to lobby Congress to veto the deal.


To their shame, the leadership bodies of the Conservative and Reform movements responded with deafening silence, at best, but many of their “progressive” rabbis are actively supporting Obama. Needless to say, J Street, the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization, boasts that it is spending millions of dollars to lobby Congress to support the bill…                                                                                                            

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




FRIEDMAN’S FANTASY                                                                                           

Michael Devolin                                      

Jihad Watch, Apr. 2, 2015 


Writing of America’s relationship with Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s Iran, Efraim Karsh recounts that, “So entrenched had the idea of this Iranian-American symbiosis become that successive US administrations came to view Iranian interests as indistinguishable from their own.” It would seem that Thomas Friedman is still infected with this illusion. In his recent New York Times article, Look Before Leaping, a title falsely implying he is not suggesting a “leap of faith,” Mr. Friedman propounds that, “America’s interest lie not with either the Saudis or the Iranian ideologues winning, but rather with balancing the two against each other until they get exhausted enough to stop prosecuting their ancient Shiite-Sunni, Persian-Arab feud.”


I perceive the prediction “until they get exhausted” used in the same sentence as “their ancient Shiite-Sunni, Persian-Arab feud” to be utterly oxymoronic. For the same reason the State of Israel can promise political compromises to the so-called Palestinians “when they decide to recognize Israel as a Jewish state” simply because they can count on the fact that traditional Islamic hatred of all things Jewish will never allow the Arab Muslim to live in peace within or alongside a country of Jews. “Wisdom is also a defense.”


If this feud (more accurately defined as Shiites versus Sunnis) between the Saudis and the Iranians is by now ancient, I cannot foresee either side becoming exhausted in the near future. I see a pattern of Islamic intransigence here. GlobalSecurity.org reports that during the Iran-Iraq war, “…more than one and a half million war and war-related casualties — perhaps as many as a million people died, many more were wounded, and millions were made refugees. Iran acknowledged that nearly 300,000 people died in the war…Iran’s losses may have included more than 1 million people killed or maimed.”


Iran’s dictatorship is remembered by many, regarding that war, for its 1983 “human wave offensives” along the 40 kilometer stretch near Al Amarah where, in one day alone, 6000 Iranian soldiers were killed in action. I wonder how long Mr. Friedman believes it would take this regime, now so close to becoming nuclear-armed, and given its history of vending the lives of its soldiers and its citizens as mere holy fodder in time of war, to become “exhausted” with “prosecuting” that “ancient Shiite-Sunni, Persian-Arab feud”?


Friedman promises that, “Patching up the United States-Iran relationship could enable America to better manage and balance the Sunni Arab Taliban in Afghanistan and counterbalance the Sunni jihadists, like those in the Islamic State, or ISIS…” What “United States-Iran relationship” is Mr. Friedman referring to? Last time I looked, there was no “United States-Iran” relationship.” Scott Peterson of Christian Science Monitor remarked in 2010, regarding celebrations in Iran of the anniversary of the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran that, “Anti-US students chanted ‘death to America’ and predicted the fall of the ‘great Satan,’ the nation still officially most vilified by the Islamic Republic, during the annually staged event.


Anti-Americanism has remained a pillar of the Islamic revolution…” John Limbert, a former American hostage during the takeover and described in Peterson’s article as the “State Department’s top official at that time on Iran, confessed that, ““Past efforts to move the relationship to something more productive…have foundered on misunderstandings, mistrust, and the assumption that anything the other side agrees to must be bad for us.”


In the last paragraph of his dreamy ideation, Mr. Friedman challenges his readers: “So before you make up your mind on the Iran deal, ask how it affects Israel, the country most threatened by Iran. But also ask how it fits into a wider United States strategy aimed at quelling tensions in the Middle East with the least involvement necessary…” Well, first of all, a lot of pundits on Middle Eastern politics, especially pro-Arab pundits, would posit that American involvement anywhere in the world where Muslims and Islamic statehood are concerned is cause for more harm than good.


A lot of pundits of the pro-American side (of which I am one) would posit that American (or Canadian or British) involvement—in any measure—with peoples so inculcated with Islamic taught anti-American and anti-Western hatred inevitably becomes a waste of our time and the lives of our sons and daughters. What is the Christian proverb? “Don’t throw you pearls before the swine.” Or as Jesse Klein succinctly put it in the National Post recently, “At some point, we have to come to the realization that it’s not worth spilling our blood and wasting our treasure to intervene in a civil war in which both sides want to kill us.”


As for the State of Israel and the threat of Iran’s nuclear posturing, “how it affects Israel,” easy for Mr. Friedman, living, virtually, light years away from such a severe existence as that endured every day by Israeli Jews, to bet the lives of 6 million of them in selling the puerile fantasy to his readers that this Iranian regime will suddenly renounce a millennia-old hatred of the Jews and its imperial ambitions for a new-found love affair with America, the Great Satan. I’ll sooner have angels flying out of my ass.


Following Mr. Friedman’s career as a journalist in the last few years, after reading critiques of his work with much broader range than my own, I am constantly reminded of Nicholas Murray Butler’s famous quote, which reads, “An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.” It seems Mr. Friedman is become more a salesman and less and less an expert on the Muslim Middle East. But then again, untruths and fantasy are today common fare for the Western journalist. They dream at the expense of the democratic freedoms of others, for the sake of our enemies, regardless of the consequences for our friends, in this case the State of Israel and the Jewish people. It’s Western journalism, and of late such insouciant and imprudent dreams go with the territory.​              





SUING TO PROFIT FROM A NAZI’S DIARIES                                                                                  

Roger Kimball

Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2015


This spring marked the 70th anniversary of the effective end of the Nazi regime. On April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler shot himself in his bunker as the Soviet army bore down upon his lair. The next day Joseph Goebbels, his rodentine minister of propaganda, committed suicide with his wife, after having their six children injected with morphine and then crushing ampules of cyanide in their mouths to finish them off. You might think that after 70 years the rotten stench of the Nazi regime would have totally dissipated. But no. That mephitic swamp still produces the odd belch.


That criminals should not be allowed to profit from exploiting their criminal activity is about as close as we are likely to get to a universally agreed-upon moral principle. Yet last week an appeals court in Munich—by coincidence, the site of Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, the event that really got the Nazi ball rolling in 1923—upheld an earlier decision that the heirs of Joseph Goebbels were entitled to compensation because a recent biography quoted from his diaries without permission.


The lawsuit was brought last year against Random House Germany, whose imprint, Siedler, published Peter Longerich’s “Goebbels: A Biography” in 2010. (An English translation was published in the United States and Britain in May.) Mr. Longerich, now a professor of modern German history at Royal Holloway, a college of the University of London, draws heavily on Goebbels’s diaries, which run to some 30 volumes. Goebbels began his near-daily entries on his 26th birthday, in 1923, and stopped on April 10, 1945, a couple of weeks shy of his personal armageddon.


The sum in question is not large—about $7,000—but the moral offense is incalculable. Cordula Schacht, a lawyer who claims to hold the copyright to the diaries and to represent Goebbels’s heirs, filed the suit. Rainer Dresen, general counsel to Random House Germany, told London’s Guardian newspaper that he offered to pay the royalties if Ms. Schacht agreed to donate the proceeds to a Holocaust charity. He said she rejected the offer, insisting that the money go to Goebbels’s relatives, including the descendants of his siblings. Mr. Dresen speculates that other publishers have paid for the use of Goebbels’s diaries. “We’re the first publishing house who avoided that—and have been sued.”


Cordula Schacht is a daughter of Hjalmar Schacht, Hitler’s early minister of economics and president of the Reichsbank. Although he was instrumental in helping Hitler lay the economic foundation for the Third Reich, Hjalmar Schacht later turned against the regime (he was distantly connected with the July 1944 plot against Hitler) and was acquitted of war crimes at Nuremberg. Ms. Schacht’s involvement in the Goebbels diaries stems from a relationship she had as a legal adviser to François Genoud, a shadowy Swiss banker who might have stepped straight out of “The Odessa File.” Born in 1915, Genoud was an early and stalwart Hitler enthusiast. The carnage of the war and murder of six million Jews did nothing to dampen his ardor. “Hitler was a great leader,” Genoud said many years later, “and if he had won the war the world would be a better place today.”


Along the way, Genoud—who committed suicide in 1996—financed the legal defenses of Adolf Eichmann and Klaus Barbie, “the butcher of Lyons” who personally tortured French prisoners of the Gestapo. Genoud supported the Ayatollah Khomeini during his exile in Paris; he also was a friend and financial adviser of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem before the war. During the war, Haj Amin, a vicious anti-Semite who dreamed of murdering Jewish émigrés to Palestine, helped the Nazis recruit Bosnian Muslims for the Waffen-SS. He lived on until 1974. Genoud was the executor of Goebbels’s will and purchased rights to his diaries in 1955. According to the British historian Richard J. Evans, Genoud transferred his interest in Goebbels’s diaries to Cordula Schacht in 1996 shortly before his death. She has since claimed to be the copyright holder, though, as Mr. Evans notes, the Bavarian State also claims to own the copyright.


This Byzantine legal story should not obscure the very clear moral that David Cesarani, a historian at Royal Holloway, set forth. “If the owners of copyright want acknowledgment or token payment, that is fair enough. If they want fees that are then paid to a good cause, that is irksome but reasonable. However, if they want to profit personally from the writings of Nazi ancestors, criminals, and/or to control the extent of usage, that is unacceptable and verges on the obscene.” I’d say this episode crosses that threshold. Random House Germany intends to appeal the case to the German supreme court. I hope they prevail.                 




CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!


On Topic                                                                                        


J Street Launches Campaign Backing Iran Deal; AIPAC Calls for Rejection of Accord: JTA, July 16, 2015—AIPAC called on Congress to reject the Iran nuclear deal, saying it does not meet critical markers that the influential pro-Israel lobby outlined in recent weeks. But the liberal Jewish Middle East lobby J Street announced a multimillion-dollar campaign to support the agreement.

Look Before Leaping: Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, Mar. 25, 2015 —I can think of many good reasons to go ahead with the nuclear deal with Iran, and I can think of just as many reasons not to. So, if you’re confused, let me see if I can confuse you even more.

The New York Times vs. Israel: Jerold Auerbach, Algemeiner, June 10, 2015—A deep sigh of editorial relief was discernible at The New York Times following the Supreme Court decision in Zivotofsky v. Kerry, the Jerusalem passport case.

Globe & Mail Presents Dubious Anti-Israel Organization’s Report as “Credible”: Honest Reporting, June 10, 2015—On June 6, Globe and Mail reporter Patrick Martin published an article for online subscribers exclusively entitled: “Report on Gaza war raises questions about Israel’s ‘moral army’ claim” which presented the allegations of Breaking the Silence (BtS) – an anti-Israel NGO which produced a report it claimed detailed alleged abuses by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip last summer – as “credible,” despite that this organization has been discredited due to its agenda, flawed methodology, and foreign sources of funding.

When Tisha B’Av Occurs On Shabbat Or Sunday: Raphael Grunfeld, Jewish Press, July 23, 2015—Five tragedies occurred on Tisha B’Av. It was decreed that those who left Egypt would not enter the land of Israel, the first and second Temples were destroyed, the city of Betar was captured with thousands massacred, and Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the razed Temple. Consequently, Tisha B’Av was declared a day of national mourning and a fast day.









Bruce Bawer
Pajamas Media, December 8, 2011

I Sleep in Hitler’s Room: An American Jew Visits Germany. That’s the book’s title, and the text itself is every bit as compelling as the title leads one to expect. So, for that matter, is the book’s back story, as the author, Tuvia Tenenbom, relates it in his preface. Tenenbom spent several months traveling around Germany and recording his observations, and had a contract with the major German publisher Rowohlt, which accepted the completed manuscript and planned to bring the book out in April 2011. But then the head of Rowohlt demanded certain cuts and changes—mainly in Tenenbom’s no-holds-barred references to German anti-Semitism. Tenenbom flatly refused.

“Germans are a tribe, I was told,” explains Tenenbom, “and the tribe will protect itself. This is something I am not used to. Walk into any American bookstore and you will find quite a number of books that are fiercely anti-American.… But Germany…is not America.” An unpleasant struggle ensued, confirming for Tenenbom that German “hate for the Jew then, and the hate of the Jew today…is the same exact hate.”

So it is that the book has now appeared under the imprint of the Jewish Theater of New York, of which Tenenbom is the founder and artistic director. It’s a book in a category all its own—deeply sobering, depressing even, in its observations of the darker side of Germany, yet at the same time so chatty and engaging and laugh-out-loud funny that it’s hard to put down. Tenenbom is an acute observer of his fellowman, but also a born entertainer, a comedian, who approaches his interview subjects—of whom there are dozens, ranging from leading political and cultural figures to folks he runs into on the street—as a combination inquisitor and tumbler.

After he’s spent a while in the land of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, Tenenbom decides that Germans “are obsessed with Jews.” It’s impossible, he finds, to get through a day without hearing mention of Jews, Israel, and/or the Holocaust. He is constantly exposed to rote expressions of sympathy for the victims of Auschwitz—and rote expressions of rage over Israel’s supposedly deplorable treatment of the Palestinians. In a bookstore window in Düsseldorf, he sees three titles: “A book about Palestine, a book about the Holocaust, and another book written by an Israeli leftist who is a strong critic of the Israeli government.”

He keeps being told by Germans that there’s more anti-Semitism in the U.S. than in Germany. Why? Because there are more Jews in the U.S.—they simply take for granted that if there are more Jews, there must be more Jew-hate. He meets secondary-school students who complain that their teachers don’t tell them much about the Nazi era: “Just numbers and dates. They don’t go into depth. They don’t tell us what really happened. We want to know more.”

Insights that seem random at the outset gradually coalesce into a picture of a distinctive sensibility. Noting the excessive preoccupation of many Germans with things like recycling, Tenenbom points out that “righteous people can turn into animals in a second.… It wasn’t the bad economy that turned the country to Nazism; it was the Weimar people and their righteousness.” He meets Germans who are so politically correct, so perfect in their leftism, that they cheer for North Korea at a soccer game. And he interviews a young man who’s head of education at Buchenwald—and who’s also such a passionate pro-Palestinian that even after having lost an eye and his brother as the result of a bomb placed in their car by a Palestinian, he remains a fierce supporter of the cause. Tenenbom is brilliant, telling the young man that he has every right to his politics, but asking him how someone in his job cannot “feel the need to be a little more sensitive to Jewish feeling.… I ask him if his hate for the Jew is so deeply rooted that sense has simply failed him.” The young man listens silently, his hands shaking.

What’s going on here? All too many Germans, Tenenbom suggests, “want to erase the shame of being the Jew killers of yesterday by uniting with the Jew haters of today.… Peace and Love, they say, a thousand times a day, and it’s a thousand times empty. They flash two fingers, front and back, for Peace and for Love, but their hearts sing Sieg Heil.” The German media not only don’t expose the Jew-hate, moreover, they strive to hide it. “Eighty-two million Germans,” he notes wryly, and they “have nothing better to do than be obsessed with 106,000 Jews living among them.” Why? One of his interviewees, a businessman, has this to say: “There are basically no Jews in this country, just a very few. The relationship the people here have to the Jews is theoretical, not real.”

As for Tenenbom himself, he has these reflections to offer: “…Subconsciously the Germans think that if they occupy themselves with the Palestinians of Gaza they will erase from memory the Brown Bears of Buchenwald—and will look beautiful in the eyes of the world.”

Tenenbom’s conversation with the young man at Buchenwald is far from the only arresting exchange recorded in these pages. Visiting the concentration camp at Dachau, Tenenbom meets an “average” couple who live in the town and is invited to lunch at their home. He devotes four pages to a stunning account of his unrelenting questioning of them. He asks them about Dachau’s past. At first they profess indifference. But eventually he breaks them down. The man weeps and confesses that he doesn’t want to look into the past because it would be like looking into a mirror. He is the Nazis; the Nazis are him.…

More and more, his own understanding of the German people comes to revolve around the whole business of Germans being a tribe. He notes the ubiquity of the word Verein—which means group, association, fellowship. The Germans, he realizes, “are ‘group’ people.… Germans move together, walk together, act together, and think together.” Adenauer, the businessman, agrees with him that Germans are “tribal,” and that Hitler took advantage of this by “defining the tribe as ‘Aryan’.…”

I don’t know if I agree with this or not, but I’m sure that Tenenbom means what he says. He’s an honest broker—honest to a fault, honest about himself, honest about Jews, America, Islam, and every other topic he takes on. And he’s stubborn in demanding honesty of others. He is, in short, just the right kind of person to push past the often dense politically correct facades of the Germans he meets and discover what’s lurking behind them.…

It’s too bad this book wasn’t published by Rowohlt.… I can only hope that I Sleep in Hitler’s Bed finds its way before too long into the German language—and into as many of those Judaism- and Israel-obsessed bookstores as possible. It may just make a bit of a difference.

Barbara Kay

National Post, December 14, 2011

I love journalism. But keeping up with the news leaves little time for recreational reading. In my pre-columnizing days, I’d read a novel or two a week. But fiction, especially the detective and spy genres I adore, has become a guilty pleasure.

Last weekend, curious to see why the Gabriel Allon espionage series is so popular, I defied my superego and plunged into Daniel Silva’s latest book, Portrait of a Spy. The pleasure was worth the guilt. I’m officially smitten by the book’s protagonist, Gabriel Allon.

This middle-aged Israeli secret agent is a cosmopolitan polyglot haunted by Holocaust ghosts, with a brilliant record of eliminating latter-day Islamist Hitler wannabees. Allon isn’t just a secret agent, though. He’s a gifted artist with a specialty in the restoration of old masters. He is psychologically torn (de rigeur in this heroic breed) between duty and, as the novel opens, earned respite from it—a quiet, art-centred life in remote Cornwall, with breaks for soulful cliff walks and gourmet meals prepared by his beautiful young Italian wife (also a spy).

His idyll is interrupted. After visiting an art dealer in London, he anticipates, but fails to stop, a suicide bomber from blowing up a group of innocents. So duty prevails when Allon is called on by Shamron, his old, but still leonine Mossad mentor, to collaborate with the CIA in an operation to eliminate the terror network behind the London bombing Allon witnessed, and similar ones in other European cities.

Gathering his formidable team of seasoned Mossad operatives, all brilliant, single-minded, tech-savvy—and did I mention fluent in Arabic?—Allon launches a daring peripatetic scheme, financially and logistically mounted through American largesse, but executed by Israelis working their spyware.

At the plan’s centre is Nadia al-Bakari, the reclusive billionaire heiress of a Saudi terror funder. Nadia’s tragic coming of moral age when her father, felled by an assassin’s bullet, dies in her arms, opens the door to a strange, but persuasive intimacy with Allon. Pledged to roll back her father’s bloody legacy, Nadia is the only one with the resources and credibility to lead Allon to his elusive targets. Can he trust her? He must gamble that he can.

The racy plot unfolds in Washington and, with tension-packed stops along the way in Paris and Dubai, climaxes, in the desolate Saudi Arabian desert, with a riveting showdown between Allon and terror honcho Rashid al-Husseinu, (modelled on the recently assassinated, American-born jihadist, Anwar al-Awlaki).

Terse, entertaining dialogues between Israeli and American agents reveal their mutually dependent, but mutually wary coalition. The White House won’t authorize American covert action in the “quasi-friendly” Saudi Arabia because “it could embarrass the regime,” but, as Shamron wryly notes, “Israelis running amok in Dubai is another matter.”

Israeli and American strengths and weaknesses complement each other. The CIA director says to Allon: “Our ability to collect information is unrivalled, but we’re too big and far too redundant to be effective.… Sometimes, it’s better to be small and ruthless. Like you.”

Foreign-policy hawks will admire the author’s firm grasp of geopolitical realities. A former postgraduate student of international relations, Silva has worked on UPI’s foreign desk in Washington and served as their Middle East correspondent in Cairo and the Persian Gulf. He is an American who knows the Middle East well.

Like the hawks, Silva takes a hardheaded view of a patient, triumphalist Islamism that neither sleeps nor wavers in its obsessive jihad against Israel and the West. He seems to think Europe “might be dying,” and definitely thinks America and Israel are in the fight of their lives for the foreseeable future.

Even when his own hero expresses hope for peace in our time, the author demurs. In their desert confrontation, Gabriel says to Rashid, “The Arab world is changing. Your time has passed.” Rashid retorts, “Surely, Allon, a man such as yourself is not so naive as to think this great Arab Awakening is going to produce Western-style democracy in the Middle East. The revolt might have started with the students and the secularists, but the [Muslim] brothers will have the last word.”

Silva has been enormously popular since he began publishing in 1997. In my previous life, I would have twigged to him immediately. My late discovery doesn’t displease me, though: It means I still have nine more Allon adventures awaiting me.

Warren Kozak

Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2011

Three years ago, believers of two religions came face to face, with horrific results. It is remembered as the Mumbai Attacks. Over the course of four days, 10 terrorists from the Islamic group Lashkar-e-Taiba perpetrated coordinated attacks on 10 different locations across India’s financial capital. In addition to three hotels, a cinema, and a hospital for women and children, four of the terrorists traveled to the Nariman House, which served as the city’s Chabad Jewish community center.

In all, 164 people were killed in Mumbai and 308 were wounded. What stands out in the horror of those days is the particular viciousness of the attack on the defenseless people inside Nariman House. The Holtzbergs—a young couple, emissaries from the Chabad-Lubavitch movement—along with four other Jewish visitors were all killed. But Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his pregnant wife Rivka were first tortured, the details of which are too gruesome to recount. (Their 2-year-old son was rescued by his Indian nanny, who grabbed the blood-spattered child and ran outside when the attackers weren’t looking.)

Why did the attackers specifically target Chabad and why with such viciousness? Lashkar-e-Taiba, or the Army of the Pure, is South Asia’s largest and most militant terror network. It is based in Pakistan, where it reportedly received planning assistance for the Mumbai operation from Pakistan’s secret service agency. The group’s founding aim was to reclaim the disputed Kashmir region for Muslims, but in recent years Lashkar has expanded to global scope, with particular animus toward India and Israel, declaring Hindus and Jews to be enemies of Islam.  Hence the attack on Nariman House, one of 3,000-plus Chabad Houses around the world that provide assistance, religious services, food, lodging and Torah study to local and visiting Jews.

“Chabad,” an acronym for the Hebrew “wisdom, understanding, knowledge,” is another name for the Lubavitcher movement, named after the city in Russia where this particular movement of Orthodox Jewish Hasidism was founded in the 18th century.

Chabad would probably be unknown to the outside world had it not been for Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, its charismatic leader from 1951 until his death in 1994. Known as the “Rebbe” to his followers, he took a small group ravaged in the Holocaust and electrified it with a vision. Based in its new home of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the Jewish movement grew rapidly, and today there are Chabad Houses from Morocco to Cambodia to Santa Fe.

While the Rebbe was a great Talmudic scholar, he was also an electrical engineer who studied at the Sorbonne and did work for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Perhaps because of his varied background, the Rebbe infused the Lubavitchers with entrepreneurialism. “This was not a man who was interested in creating followers,” says Jonathan Sacks, the chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth. “This was a man who was passionate about creating leaders.”

Sending out emissaries was part of the program from the start, in 1951. “These extraordinary people could have achieved enormous personal gain in business or as professionals, but instead dedicated their lives to a higher purpose,” says Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, chairman of the movement’s educational and social services arms.…

Chabad couples are not sent out to proselytize. They are meant to act as role models for other Jews, in order to create a better world. Lubavitchers believe that every mitzvah (commandment) performed—whether it is helping someone in need or lighting the Sabbath candles—brings us all closer to the coming of the Messiah. “Love of God, of Torah and of every Jew—all three are really one and they cannot be separated,” said the Rebbe upon assuming leadership of the movement in 1951.

Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg were a typical Chabad couple—devout, devoted to the Rebbe’s principles, and with a strong sense for self-sacrifice for their fellow Jews.… In another community, the violent deaths of such a young and promising couple might have sent shivers through the leadership, prompting them to pull other emissaries from the field. But Chabad’s leadership did the opposite, immediately sending another couple to take their place.

“It was almost instantly reflexive for some, especially from knowing Gabi and Rivki,” observes Rabbi Chanoch Gechtman, who together with his wife Leah now runs the Chabad House in Mumbai. “Great darkness must be challenged with bright light.”


Jerusalem Post, December 15, 2011

For the past several years, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, that guru for American Jewish liberals, has shown that he doesn’t really understand Israel or the region. His misunderstanding of Israel is evident in his underlying assumption that appears in his columns repeatedly: that were Israel to just leave the settlements, peace would flow like a river.

Well, Israel uprooted all 21 settlements from Gaza in 2005, but instead of peace, received an unending barrage of missiles in return. The settlements are a consequence of the conflict, not its cause. The PLO, if anyone has forgotten, was established in 1964, three years before the Six Day War and any thought of a West Bank settlement.

As for Friedman’s failure to understand the region, readers need look no further than his breathless “Postcard from Cairo” columns at the outset of the Arab Spring last February. To have read Friedman then was to believe this was 1989 all over again, and that Hosni Mubarak would be deposed and replaced by the Egyptian version of Vaclav Havel. In one piece, he castigated Israel for not being more supportive of the protesters in Tahrir Square. “The children of Egypt were having their liberation moment,” he wrote, “and the children of Israel decided to side with Pharaoh—right to the very end.”

Wrong. Israel wasn’t supporting Pharaoh, but rather deeply concerned that following the Egyptian revolution, Sinai would turn into a terrorist base, the Egypt-Israel gas pipeline would be a constant target of attack, the Israeli Embassy in Cairo would be ransacked, and the Muslim Brotherhood—and Salafists to their right—would win the country’s parliamentary election.

Now, in his latest piece on Israel that appeared Wednesday entitled “Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir,” Friedman demonstrated that he also doesn’t know America. In a line that could have come straight from the pens of AIPAC-bashers Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, Friedman wrote that he hoped Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whom he loathes, understood that the standing ovation he got in Congress earlier this year was not for his politics, but rather one that was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”

That’s right—that wicked, despicable Israel lobby. According to Friedman, anybody who supports Israel must be on the nefarious Jewish lobby’s payroll. Otherwise, how could they dare? Maybe Friedman should consider the possibility that the ovation was the result of America’s elected officials—in tune with the feelings of their constituents—seeing in Israel a plucky little country that shares their own basic values and is trying to survive in an awfully bad neighborhood. Maybe Friedman should consider that the ovation was the result of politicians understanding that this conflict is not about one settlement, or one Jerusalem neighborhood, but rather over the Jewish people’s right to a homeland.…

And then came the kicker. Friedman’s proof that Israel is merrily heading down the path toward the abyss is that radical left-wing Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy says so. Dubbing Levy a “powerful liberal voice, writing in Haaretz,” Friedman quotes from a recent Levy column: “What we are witnessing is w-a-r. This fall a culture war, no less, broke out in Israel, and it is being waged on many more, and deeper, fronts than are apparent. It is not only the government, as important as that is, that hangs in the balance, but also the very character of the state.” Friedman’s use of an extremist such as Levy to prove his point is akin to taking the writings of America-bashing left-wing linguist Noam Chomsky as proof that America is bad.

The problem with Friedman and those sharing his sentiments about Israel is that they take an exception and make it the rule. This school of thought takes a sex-segregated bus in Mea She’arim and turns the whole country into Iran; takes rocks thrown by bad, misguided youth at an IDF base and turns Israel into a country on the brink of civil war; and takes the government’s refusal to bail out a failing commercial television station as putting Israel on the fast track to Soviet Russia.

What is needed is some proportion. The burning of mosques by Jewish hooligans is deplorable, but it is no more representative of the country—or the direction it is going—than Florida Pastor Terry Jones’ burning of a Koran in May was a reflection of America. Friedman should know this.

Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, December 12, 2011

Last Friday, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, did something revolutionary. He told the truth about the Palestinians. In an interview with The Jewish Channel, Gingrich said that the Palestinians are an “invented” people, “who are in fact Arabs.”

His statement about the Palestinians was entirely accurate. At the end of 1920, the “Palestinian people” was artificially carved out of the Arab population of “Greater Syria.” “Greater Syria” included present-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. That is, the Palestinian people were invented 91 years ago.… As Daniel Pipes chronicled in a 1989 article on the subject in The Middle East Quarterly [see On Topics below—Ed.], the local Arabs in what became Israel opted for a local nationalistic “Palestinian” identity in part due to their sense that their brethren in Syria were not sufficiently committed to the eradication of Zionism.

Since Gingrich spoke out, his factually accurate statement has been under assault from three directions. First, it has been attacked by Palestinian apologists in the postmodernist camp. Speaking to CNN, Hussein Ibish from the American Task Force on Palestine argued that Gingrich’s statement was an outrage because while he was right about the Palestinians being an artificial people, in Ibish’s view, Israelis were just as artificial. That is, he equated the Palestinians’ 91-year-old nationalism with the Jews’ 3,500-year-old nationalism. In his words, “To call the Palestinians ‘an invented people’ in an obvious effort to undermine their national identity is outrageous, especially since there was no such thing as an ‘Israeli’ before 1948.”

Ibish’s nonsense is easily dispatched by a simple reading of the Hebrew Bible. As anyone semi-literate in Hebrew recognizes, the Israelis were not created in 1948. Three thousand years ago, the Israelis were led by a king named David. The Israelis had an independent commonwealth in the Land of Israel, and their capital city was Jerusalem.…

The second line of attack against Gingrich denies the veracity of his claim. Palestinian luminaries like the PA’s unelected Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told CNN, “The Palestinian people inhabited the land since the dawn of history.” Fayyad’s historically unsubstantiated claim was further expounded on by Fatah Revolutionary Council member Dmitri Diliani in an interview with CNN. “The Palestinian people [are] descended from the Canaanite tribe of the Jebusites that inhabited the ancient site of Jerusalem as early as 3200 BCE,” Diliani asserted.

The Land of Israel has the greatest density of archeological sites in the world. Judea, Samaria, the Galilee, the Negev, the Golan Heights and other areas of the country are packed with archeological evidence of the Jewish commonwealths. As for Jerusalem, literally every inch of the city holds physical proof of the Jewish people’s historical claims to the city. To date, no archeological or other evidence has been found linking the Palestinians to the city or the Jebusites.

From a US domestic political perspective, the third line of attack against Gingrich’s factual statement has been the most significant. The attacks involve conservative Washington insiders, many of whom are outspoken supporters of Gingrich’s principal rival for the Republican presidential nomination, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.… These insiders argue that although Gingrich spoke the truth, it was irresponsible and unstatesmanlike for him to have done so.

As [Washington Post blogger Jennifer] Rubin put it, “Do conservatives really think it is a good idea for their nominee to reverse decades of US policy and deny there is a Palestinian national identity?” In their view, Gingrich is an irresponsible flamethrower because he is turning his back on a 30-year bipartisan consensus. That consensus is based on ignoring the fact that the Palestinians are an artificial people whose identity sprang not from any shared historical experience, but from opposition to Jewish nationalism.

The policy goal of the consensus is to establish an independent Palestinian state west of the Jordan River that will live at peace with Israel. This policy was obsessively advanced throughout the 1990s until it failed completely in 2000, when Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat rejected then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s and then-US president Bill Clinton’s offer of Palestinian statehood and began the Palestinian terror war against Israel.

But rather than acknowledge that the policy—and the embrace of Palestinian national identity at its heart—had failed, and consider other options, the US policy establishment in Washington clung to it for dear life.…

The consensus that Gingrich rejected by telling the truth about the artificial nature of Palestinian nationalism was based on an attempt to square popular support for Israel with the elite’s penchant for appeasement. On the one hand, due to overwhelming public support for a strong US alliance with Israel, most US policy-makers have not dared to abandon Israel as a US ally. On the other hand, American policy-makers have been historically uncomfortable having to champion Israel to their anti-Israel European colleagues and to their Arab interlocutors who share the Palestinians’ rejection of Israel’s right to exist.

The policy of seeking to meld an anti-Israel Arab appeasement policy with a pro-Israel anti-appeasement policy was embraced by successive US administrations until it was summarily discarded by President Barack Obama three years ago. Obama replaced the two-headed policy with one of pure Arab appeasement. Obama was able to justify his move because the two-pronged policy had failed. There was no peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The price of oil had skyrocketed, and US interests throughout the region were increasingly threatened.…

Unfortunately for both the US and Israel, Obama’s break with the consensus has destabilized the region, endangered Israel and imperiled US interests to a far greater degree than they had been under the failed dual-track policy of his predecessors. Throughout the Arab world, Islamist forces are on the rise. Iran is on the verge of becoming a nuclear power. The US is no longer seen as a credible regional power as it pulls its forces out of Iraq without victory, hamstrings its forces in Afghanistan, dooming them to attrition and defeat, and abandons its allies in country after country.…

Thirty years of pre-Obama American lying about the nature of the conflict in an attempt to balance support for Israel with appeasement of the Arabs did not make the US safer or the Middle East more peaceful. A return to that policy under a new Republican president will not be sufficient to restore stability and security to the region. And the need for such a restoration is acute. Under Obama, the last three years of US abandonment of the truth about Israel for Palestinian lies has made the region less stable, Israel more vulnerable, the US less respected and US interests more threatened.

Gingrich’s statement of truth was not an act of irresponsible flame throwing. It was the beginning of an antidote to Obama’s abandonment of truth and reason in favor of lies and appeasement. And as such, it was not a cause for anger. It was a cause for hope.