.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

CBS bans SodaStream ad from Super Bowl. Will BDS claim credit?

From Forbes:
CBS banned SodaStream’s Super Bowl spot because, apparently, it was too much of a direct hit to two of its biggest sponsors, Coke and Pepsi.

Please pause and read that sentence again.

I am shocked that CBS would ban a spot for being too competitive. But I’m even more shocked that the advertising world isn’t up in arms about it.

SodaStream has a product that could be wildly disruptive to the soda industry, if successful. As in, the “automobile” to the soda industry’s “buggy whip.” If SodaStream takes off, Coke and Pepsi would have a lot to worry about, for sure. But isn’t that what progress is all about?

CBS is protecting its relationship with Coke and Pepsi. Those two brands spend big bucks on the Super Bowl and on the network, in general. I get it. But all CBS would have to do, if Coke and Pepsi put the pressure on, is say, “Hey, we’re just the unbiased middle man here. It’s not up to us what competitors of yours say about you.” There’s no need for the medium to have a say in the message.

Competitive battles should be fought in the marketplace.

If the SodaStream product is a better “soda idea” than Coke and Pepsi, then shouldn’t it be given a fair shot within any medium it decides to risk its dollars? If it’s not a better idea, the market will decide its fate, not CBS. But even beyond that obvious argument, it’s in CBS’s, and all media’s, interest to encourage unbridled competition. The more threatened a Coke and Pepsi feel, in this case, the more likely they are to launch new campaigns specifically targeting the threat. And that’s more money pouring into the media, not less. But Coke and Pepsi won’t do that now (or are less likely to), because CBS intervened, took the pressure off, and effectively sided with Coke and Pepsi.
Advertising Age adds:
So what's the issue? The content of its planned commercial seemed to have concerned CBS because it was a direct hit at two other Super Bowl sponsors and heavy network TV advertisers: Coke and Pepsi.

SodaStream, which sells home soda-making machines, has already run afoul of authorities in the U.K. for a Bogusky-crafted spot indicating its product is more environmentally friendly than established sodas; the spot shows branded bottles and cans of soft drinks exploding into thin air. For the Super Bowl, it hoped to up the ante with a spot depicting truck drivers clad in clothing with Coca-Cola and Pepsi marks on them, according to Ilan Nacasch, SodaStream's chief marketing officer.

"We really tried to comply with the standards" set by CBS, he said. At the same time, he added, "We were taking it to a new level, and that's the level where they apparently judged to be going too far."

Interestingly enough, Pepsi has scored big points with viewers over the years by showing Super Bowl ads with Coke deliverymen abandoning their employer wholesale for a sip of a Pepsi drink.
Here's the ad, which has already gained over 2 million views since yesterday:



The BDS movement has been freaking out about the ad since it was announced, to no avail. (SodaStream is Israeli.) I'm sure they will attempt to claim credit here. The controversy will probably help SodaStream in the end, though, with more people watching the ad on YouTube than would have on CBS.

However, it seems likely that the earlier British Sodastream ad, that had been banned in the UK for even dumber reasons, is being retooled for the Super Bowl without mentioning the big guys:



If you really want to make the Israel-haters' heads explode like the plastic bottles in these ads, read this:
SodaStream International Ltd. (SODA) is poised for its biggest gain in seven months as the Israeli maker of home soda machines seeks to expand sales in the U.S. by airing its first Super Bowl commercial.

Shares have posted a 13 percent gain this month after dropping 0.3 percent to $50.53 in New York yesterday.

...SodaStream will probably say on Feb. 28 that sales rose 37 percent last year to $425 million, according to the mean estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The company last year expanded into U.S. retail outlets including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) The U.S. represents more than 90 percent of SodaStream’s Americas sales, which also include Canada and Brazil, Lloyd said.
There's one other aspect of this I enjoy: watching pseudo-liberals fight against a company that helps the environment and instead side with big soda makers. All because it was created by smart Jewish Israelis.

(h/t D)

EoZ lecture at YU: The video

Here is the video of my lecture at Yeshiva University on Tuesday night, without me. The topic is "How to answer the most popular anti-Israel arguments."



I couldn't upload it to YouTube, and while LiveLeak is slower it seemed to be the best alternative.

My voice recorder was right next to my cell phone so there is some interference at times. Irritating but nothing I can do about it. Besides that, the sound is quite clean.

 I also had to reduce the video quality in order to make this work.The slides are still readable.

I tend to say a lot of things off the cuff, so I sometimes worry if I'm being 100% accurate in these sorts of things when I'm pulling facts out of my brain in real-time without the Internet to act as my external storage. I think  I did OK, though.

I did not include the Hasby Awards or the Q&A. This was long enough already and I didn't repeat the questions for the recording.

I hope you enjoy it!


Thurslinks: Anti-semitism at Ma'an, Galloway slammed, Bklyn PoliSci BDS, HRW bias

From Ian:

Website Backed by EU, UNESCO Prints Anti-Semitic Article
“[The Jews] feel inferior to the nations and societies in which they live, because of the hostility and evil rising in their hearts towards others and for their plots and schemes against the nations who know with certainty that the Jews are the root of conflict in the world, wherever they reside.”
This sentence, as reported by Palestinian Media Watch, is taken from the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency, which is funded by Danish, Dutch and UK governments and the EU, UNDP, and UNESCO.”

Comedy Gold: Anti-Israel MP George Galloway Slapped Down by Prime Minister David Cameron
Without hesitation Cameron responded, “Some things come and go, but there is one thing that is certain: Wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world, he’ll have the support of the honorable gentleman.”

ADL Slams Brooklyn College for Allowing Political Science Department to Sponsor BDS Event
"The controversy surrounding Brooklyn College’s political science department, which is co-sponsoring an event aimed at building support for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel next month, has intensified in recent days and has prompted a response from the ADL and Alan Dershowitz, as well as a petition at the college which has been signed by hundreds of students."

Alan Dershowitz: Brooklyn College Political Science Department Denies Equal Free Speech and Academic Freedom to Pro-Israel Students and Faculty
"The international campaign to delegitimate Israel by subjecting the Jewish state—and the Jewish State alone—to boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) has now come to the most unlikely of places: Brooklyn College. The political science department of that college has voted to co-sponsor a campaign event at which only pro-BDS speakers will advocate a policy that is so extreme that even the Palestinian Authority rejects it."

Think Again: The Muslim Brotherhood
How did so many Western analysts get Egypt's Islamist movement so wrong?
"As the Brotherhood's first year in power has demonstrated, elections do not, by themselves, yield a democracy. Democratic values of inclusion are also vital. And the Muslim Brotherhood -- which has deployed violence against protesters, prosecuted its critics, and leveraged state resources for its own political gain -- clearly lacks these values."

UN denies Abbas claims on Palestinians fleeing Syria
Ban Ki-moon corroborates Israeli denial of agreement to let 150,000 refugees from civil war enter West Bank
"A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday denied that Israel had agreed to allow Palestinian refugees fleeing violence in Syria to enter the West Bank, directly contradicting claims made by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to that effect."

NGO Monitor: Far Beyond the Curve: HRW’s Bias and Lack of Credibility in 2012
"Human Rights Watch (HRW) epitomizes the ongoing crisis and moral failure of powerful non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that claim to promote the universal principles of human rights. The following review of HRW’s 2012 activities, particularly in the Middle East, demonstrates that little has changed compared to previous years, and that the same individuals continue to control the organization’s agenda and activities."

Honest Reporting: Misleading, Mismatched Photos Miss Mark
"While Israeli jets were on target hitting a Syrian arms convoy, The Scotsman and Daily Telegraph badly missed the mark with their choice of photos. The Irish Independent
also flunked.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d think those nasty Israelis killed the kids."

BBC R4 guest promotes Qaradawi as a source of “nuanced understanding”
"That decision by the programme’s editor turns a broadcast supposedly attempting to discuss and inform on the subject of antisemitism into one indirectly promoting it. It makes the BBC part of the problem rather than a contributing factor to any solution. Beyond belief indeed."

Clinton On Morsi's Views Of Jews: 'It's Not What Somebody Says; It's What They Do'

Egypt activist advocates for better ties with Israel
Emad el Dafrawi braves secret police and explosion to meet with ‘Post’ in Cairo and explain why Egyptian media fuel hatred of Israel.
“They already have a presumption that Israel is always an aggressor, that Israel is always an attacker, that they attack any person and any place without reason because they feel like it,” el Dafrawi said.
News media in Arabic reinforces these opinions by using explosive language to describe Israeli activity.
“They handpick words which play on peoples’ emotions,” el Dafrawi explained."

Report: Convoy Israel Struck Carried SA-17 Rockets
Russian-made anti-aircraft rockets were intended for Hizbullah, could "change balance of power."

IAF Commander: Syria is in a Process of Disintegration VIDEO

Islamic Jihadists Implemented Racist Sharia Law in Mali Targeting Blacks
"One of the most disturbing things I’ve learnt is that those condemned to these harsh punishments were all black Malians – Sonrai, Peul, Bamba, and Della, traditionally the slaves of the Tuareg. The jihadis were a mixture of Malian Arabs and Tuaregs as well as many foreign jihadis.
“They would never do this to one of their own,” said Issa."

US Law Enforcement Officials Train in Israel
A delegation of law enforcement executives from the United States is participating in a counter-terrorism training program in Israel.

The (successful) politics of West Bank water
Israel and the PA have been quietly cooperating to ensure a safe, clean, and water-ful environment west of the Jordan River
"Quietly, Israel and the PA have been cooperating extensively to preserve the environment of the entire land mass west of the Jordan River, according to a top water engineer from a large Palestinian-controlled city in the West Bank. The PA needs and wants Israel’s help in keeping water clean, expanding agricultural opportunities for farmers, and ensuring safe disposal of waste and trash, the engineer said."

Brazil honors diplomats who saved Jews from Nazis
Two officials who issued hundreds of visas to fleeing Holocaust survivors celebrated at Remembrance Day ceremony
"The Wednesday night ceremony paid tribute to Aracy Guimaraes Rosa, a staff member of the Brazilian consulate in Hamburg in the 1930s and 1940s and Luis Martins de Souza Dantas, Brazil’s ambassador to France during the same period. Both issued hundreds of visas to Jews."

Ziontastic Superheroes Save the Day! VIDEO
"The Creative Zionist Coalition and the World Zionist Organization called all superheroes to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, 2013. In Hollywood, these Zinomite and Ziontastic men and women were kryptonite to hate and spread sweet Israel truth and love!"

The UN insists that Jews must be ethnically cleansed from Judea and Samaria. Isn't that a crime?

The UN Human Rights Council came out with its report on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. To no one's surprise, it declared them illegal.

But what is interesting is what they demand be done:

Israel must, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all settlement activities without preconditions. In addition it must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers from the OPT.
Let's look at the Rome Statute:
Article 7: Crimes against humanity

1. For the purpose of this Statute, "crime against humanity" means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

(d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;
How is the forcible transfer of Jews away from Judea and Samaria not a crime against humanity?

Even if you say that the Israeli government is guilty of the heinous crime of allowing people to voluntarily move to the land of their forefathers, why are the residents being punished? Isn't this collective punishment? Did they do anything illegal? Geneva only prohibits the "occupying power" to transfer people, it doesn't prohibit the people from doing so voluntarily (more on this below.)

In fact, from a quick survey, it appears that the forcible transfer of an entire population against their will violates a slew of human rights principles if not outright humanitarian laws:
  • The right of a people to self-determination
  • The right to remain in one's homeland
  • The right to individually appeal an expulsion order
  • The prohibition against collective punishment
(The UNHRC has a long list of such potential violations [Annex 1], most of which are very tortured in my mind, but it goes to show how much they go out of their way to say that forcible transfers are heinous - unless those being transferred are Israeli Jews.)

Here is a relevant portion of an article in Opinio Juris by Eugene Kontorovich about some of these points:

Crucially, the Convention only bars action by the “occupying power” — in other words, the government and public authorities of the country. It does not apply to the movements and real estate decisions of private individuals. Various other parts of the Convention distinguish between “nationals of the occupying Power” and “the occupying power” itself; the prohibitions of Article 49 fall exclusively on the latter.

The birth of babies to civilians – we’re not talking Hitlerian birthing homes – is not a “transfer … of its own population” by any plausible definition. Indeed, the newborn is not even part of the previous population of the occupying power! So a significant proportion of settlers never “settled.”

Nothing in the text or history of Art. 49 suggests that it becomes illegal for nationals of the occupying power to reside in the occupied territory. People want to read Art. 49 as saying “the occupied territory shall be prohibited to nationals of the occupying power for residence.” This is a far cry from what it says. It goes against the GC’s humanitarian principles to read it as a restrictive covenant. The precise meaning of transfer – how much government action is required – is undefined by any source I know of, though the Rome Statute’s addition of an “indirect transfer” prohibition only underlines how absent such language is from Art. 49(6).The relevant Security Council resolutions only condemn “the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements” (S.C. 446). This seems to support my view.

Given the ambiguities about the scope of the transfer ban, one might look to other incidents of state practice to see how such situations were handled. If there is a general rule that an occupation makes not just the “transfers” by the government themselves, but the continued residence of the transferees and their descendants illegal forever, I am surprised we have not heard of it in other contexts. None of the proposals for ending the occupation of Northern Cyprus, Western Sahara, etc. contemplate removing a single Turk or Moroccan, as far as I know. And while there are not any proposals for ending Chinese occupation of Tibet and Russian occupation of Georgia, no one has suggested that the presence of occupying nationals in those countries is a continued violation of international law. Yes, China violates the GC by shipping Han en masse to Tibet to demographically overwhelm the native population. But has even a law professor suggested their deportation back?

When America occupied Iraq, would it have been illegal for Americans of Iraqi ancestry to move back? I believe some did and no one made an issue of it. Would it matter if they flew there on a U.S. plane? If they moved to a neighborhood that people had moved out of as a result of the war? No one was even asking such questions.

All of this means two things. First, there is nothing illegal about nationals of the occupying power residing in the occupied territory if they get there without being sent by the government, without being “transferred.” The scope of this category is unclear but must certainly include those born in the West Bank. Israel has no affirmative obligation to prevent migration, or to deny municipal services to migrants. Second, even those have been transferred are not themselves doing anything illegal.
He is more concise in this more recent article:
When one reads discussions of Israel and 49(6), the only precedents cited are various statements about 49(6) – in the context of Israel. One might conclude that Israel has been the only significant alleged violator in the post-War period. If there were no other arguable 49(6) cases, then this limitation would be natural.

Our project allows for a more dispassionate look at 49(6) by 1) using multiple independent data points; 2) not focussing on arguably the single most politically controversial situation in the world. Thus to be clear, the research project is NOT about Israel.

Indeed, instead of focusing exclusively on Israel [see Parts VI-IX of the ICRC state practice guide], we study global state practice. In particular, we examine civilian population movements into occupied territory from Morocco, Turkey, Indonesia, and several other cases, and the international legal response to these actions.

Our paper is not finished, as we hope to have a comprehensive survey. What we see so far, as described in my talk above, is that state practice in regards to these migrations fairly uniformly shows that the movement of civilians into occupied territory is not treated as “deportation or transfer” even when it is favored or generally supported by the government. Second, even for migrations directly organized by the government that may violate 49(6), international authorities have never regarded the removal of the “transferred” civilians as the appropriate remedy. On the contrary, U.N.-approved land-for-peace deals leave settlers in place, and often even let them vote on a referendum about the occupied area’s political future.

We see, yet again, that Israel is being treated uniquely by a faux "human rights" body. Of all the occupations or alleged occupations of the world, only one is considered so heinous that the [Jewish] residents - even those born there - must be forced to move.

The UN Human Rights Council has just officially said that Jews must be ethnically cleansed from Judea and Samaria (there are at least a few Israeli Arabs who live in the territories but they are not being told to leave.)

Again, I am not a lawyer, but it is clear that the demand to have a specific defined set of people be transferred from their own homes en masse  is something that has never been demanded by any human rights body in any remotely comparable circumstances. In virtually every case of forced transfer, human rights organizations would be the first ones to condemn it. 

Once again, the demands - and even the interpretation of laws - are different for Israel than for every other country.

The hypocrisy would be stunning if we weren't already so used to it.

To this "rabbi," pork is kosher and kosher is trayf

Off-topic, but....

From The Portland Phoenix:

Rabbi Jared Saks, of Maine's largest Jewish congregation, no longer subscribes to his religion's most well-known taboo. An erstwhile vegetarian, Saks kept strictly kosher in Israel for his first year of rabbinical school. Then, upon moving back to New York, he read Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, and everything changed. He could no longer stomach industrial (even if kosher) meat. At the time, Saks couldn't find any certified kosher, ethically raised beef.
"What really is at the core of kashrut is that G-d makes things holy by separating things," says Saks, of Congregation Bet Ha'am in South Portland. "So I don't say that I keep kosher, but for me there's still an essence of kashrut at play every time I sit down to a meal."

For Saks, and a growing number of progressive Jews, that means he only consumes meat from sustainable sources. This movement catalyzed after the 2008 immigration raid that revealed abhorrent labor practices at the largest US kosher meatpacking plant, in Postville, Iowa. Saks initially ate "kosher-style." But a locally sourced meat entrée became preferable to vegetables shipped in from overseas. Now, Saks will order that pork chop, if it's from a worthy source.

After all, pigs thrive here in Maine. They're more sustainable than cows, devouring all our scraps except coffee grinds and citrus peels. For many (including this reporter), kosher is more about whether the animal lived in a holy way than how it died. Our tribe takes our cues less from the Torah, and more from nature.
...
Maina Handmaker would agree with that view. She loved pork as a child in Hong Kong, then went vegetarian in high school in Kentucky and for most of her time at Bowdoin College. Apprenticing as a student on Milkweed Farm in Brunswick, she experienced the magic of bacon raised on-site.

"As a Jew and just as a person, I feel more connected to the ethical principles of sustainable agriculture than I ever did to the isolated, ancient rules of kashrut," says Handmaker, who works for Six River Farm in Bowdoinham.

Portland's Jewish leaders are holding a panel on "Different Ways to Observe Jewish Dietary Laws" at Temple Beth El, 400 Deering Ave, Portland, on Tuesday, April 9 @ 7 pm
I am not so sheltered that I don't know that most Jews don't keep kosher. Hey, it is not easy; I understand that,. I am not going to judge others - we each have our own challenges and all of us fall short in one way or another.

But I have a big problem with Jews - especially purported rabbis - redefining Judaism to justify their behavior.

It is one thing to say that it is hard for me to do something my religion asks of me but it is a worthy goal somewhere down the line.

It is another thing to say that the religious rules are outdated and were appropriate for their time. . Even that shows a level of respect for the faith.

But to my mind, it is unconscionable to twist the very definition of what it means to be Jewish to fit today's fashions.

Rabbi Saks could easily say that he disagrees with the practices at kosher slaughterhouses and therefore decides to be a vegetarian. But for a "rabbi" to say that pig is kosher if it is ethically raised is perverse. This isn't Judaism; it is a different religion altogether - environmentalism, liberalism, whateverism.

He is cheapening Judaism to become, literally, meaningless. If Judaism is whatever makes you feel good, it isn't a religion - it is a justification to do whatever you feel like.

I feel very, very sorry for his congregants to have a spiritual leader who changes the religion simply because he loves to eat bacon.

And how do we know that?

Because if pig meat tasted terrible, even though raising them were great for the environment, Rabbi Saks wouldn't be forcing them down his throat because of his ethics.

Muslims complain about a wedding site overlooking the Kotel

Muslims are condemning a new wedding site set up in the Old City of Jerusalem that overlooks the Kotel.

No, it is not on the Temple Mount. It is not even within the Kotel courtyard. It is a hundred meters away, apparently around the site of Aish HaTorah, overlooking the courtyard and the Kotel:




The Al Aqsa Heritage Foundation condemned this, saying it contributed to the "Judaization" of Jerusalem and is "affecting the basis of Islamic civilization and heritage."

Other Arab media reported this horrible crime. 

I think they would condemn photos of Jerusalem in Jewish homes if they thought about it. 

It does look like a great spot for a wedding though, doesn't it?

By the way, a group associated with this same Al Aqsa Heritage Foundation has been offering free Muslim weddings on the Temple Mount, something that was as far as I can tell never done historically, in order to forge another false bond between Islam and the site it usurped.

Morsi again says he was misunderstood. So here are more MB texts on Jews.

Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi keeps trying to "contextualize" his anti-semitic statements:
"As I have said before the quotes were taken out of context... I am not against the Jewish faith, I am not against Jews who practice their religion," Mursi told a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

"I was talking about the practices and behavior of believers of any religion who shed blood or who attack innocent people or civilians. That's behavior that I condemn."

"I am a Muslim. I'm a believer and my religion obliges me to believe in all prophets, to respect all religions and to respect the right of people to their own faith," he added.
I've already noted that the Muslim Brotherhood website is filled with the most outrageous anti-semitic vitriol - without mentioning Zionism at all.

Here's another example, from 2004.

Fagin as the archetypal Jew - to Muslims
It is a book review of "Literary Comparison of Jewish People." The author takes Jewish characters from English and Egyptian literature and analyzes them to see what characteristics they have in common over the centuries.

They include Jewish characters from Ivanhoe, The Unfortunate Traveller by Thomas Nashe, Oliver Twist, and Egyptian novel Ahmed Daoud.

The conclusion?
These are the traits and characteristics of the Jewish character: instinctive love of money, treachery, treason, hypocrisy, immorality, terrorism, fear, and cowardice; qualities that are consistent in the Jewish character on any land they lived. Perhaps these qualities are the real key to know how to deal with them.
I'm sure this is taken out of context, and they were really talking about the Zionists.

Just like this passage on the MB website:

When we read the Old Testament and the Talmud, and the resulting perceptions and ideas from studies such as "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and rabbinic religious rulings and other tributaries of Jewish thought, we find personal Jewish patterns of deviant behavior against mankind, they dictate intolerance against humans from non-Jews, and false arrogant vanity on God's creations. They also suggest to them that those sources of sacred intellectual thought - in their eyes - is one of hypocrisy and deceit, and even treachery, and they shed the blood of non-Jews and take their money, and even maintain personal Jewish hostility to other human beings, inspired by those Jewish sources that are considered sacred to them, [which cause] the deviation of the Jewish character.

So is Morsi lying? Not quite. He says that he is not against Jews "who practice their religion." But from his perspective, Islam defines what Judaism is - not Jews! Just like Islam decides that the Jewish Bible is a corrupted text from the original, and the Talmud has nothing to do with real Judaism, and that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are a sacred Jewish text, Islam decides which Jews are practicing their religion and which aren't.

The ones who practice Judaism properly, from the Muslim perspective, are the ones who acknowledge that Islam is the one true religion that they will happily pay their jizya tax to.

Fordow update - IAEA denial, ISIS cannot confirm, new enrichment at Natanz

After we saw what appeared to be three separate confirmations  of WND's detailed report that there was some sort of massive explosion at the Fordow nuclear enrichment facility in Iran, we are seeing counter-reports.

First, the White House denied the report, saying it did not believe it was credible. That could be explained away, though, if the US was involved.

Then the IAEA denied it as well, but their denial was a little curious:
The U.N. atomic watchdog made clear on Tuesday it had seen no sign of any explosion at one of Iran's most sensitive nuclear plants, backing up Tehran's denial of media reports that such an incident had taken place last week.

"We understand that Iran has denied that there has been an incident at Fordow. This is consistent with our observations," IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said in an emailed statement in response to a question.
That isn't phrased quite as definitively as a flat out denial, but it carries some weight in trying to figure out what happened.

Finally, ISIS, which monitors Iranian nuclear activities from satellite images, says it sees nothing that indicates a blast as massive as had been described:

ISIS obtained from Astrium commercial satellite imagery of the site taken the day after the explosion (figure 1). The imagery shows no exterior signs of an explosion or major damage. Although an underground explosion may not leave visible exterior signs of damage, ISIS observed no intensified activity in the form of emergency or cleanup vehicles that one would expect to see around the site in the wake of an incident of this magnitude (figure 1). The lack of clarity at very high magnification does leave some doubt on whether a set of three white marks near one of the entrances of the southernmost tunnel could indeed be three vehicles. However, an emergency response would be expected to have been prompt and to have involved many more vehicles, particularly given the national importance of the gas centrifuge site and especially of the personnel working underground.

A very cynical response, and I'm not sure I am that cynical, is that Iran knows that it is being monitored by satellite and chose to mute the emergency response.

Meanwhile, Iran told the IAEA it would upgrade the centrifuges being used at the Natanz site.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Aide to Egypt's president flatly denies the Holocaust

From Fox News:
A key figure in Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's government called the Holocaust a hoax cooked up by U.S. intelligence operatives and claimed the 6 million Jews who were killed by Nazis simply moved to the U.S.

The outrageous claims, by Fathi Shihab-Eddim, a senior figure close to President Morsi who is now responsible for appointing the editors of all state-run Egyptian newspapers, came as the world marked Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, and also as the U.S. continues to assess its relationship with the increasingly radical Arab state.

“The myth of the Holocaust is an industry that America invented,” Shihab-Eddim said, leaving no room for doubt that the Egyptian government -- like Iran's -- has at the very least significant elements that deny one of history's best documented genocides.

“U.S. intelligence agencies in cooperation with their counterparts in allied nations during World War II created it [the Holocaust] to destroy the image of their opponents in Germany, and to justify war and massive destruction against military and civilian facilities of the Axis powers, and especially to hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the atomic bomb,” Shihab-Eddim said.
See how moderate Egypt's leaders are? They blame America, not Jews, for the "myth" of the Holocaust!

Remember that next time someone calls Egypt or the Muslim Brotherhood anti-semitic.

Good thing Israel's other peace partner is just as reasonable.

Jordan's king: Hamas accepts 2-state solution. Hamas: No way!

As night follows day...

From YNet:
Hamas Politburo chief Khaled Mashaal has asked Jordan's King Abdullah II to inform US President Barack Obama that Hamas accepts the principle of a two-state solution, Saudi Arabia's al-Sharq newspaper reported.

According to the report, which quoted Jordanian sources, Mashaal expressed willingness to stand behind a solution that will see a Palestinian state being established on the 1967 borders during a meeting with the king on Monday.
Break out the champagne! Peace is at hand! Hamas is moderating! Strike up the band!

Just don't read any explicit Hamas statements:
Leader of the Hamas movement Yahya Moussa said, "Some international parties want to confuse the ranks of Hamas by spreading news of their agreement to the principle of accepting a two-state solution". Moussa asserted that his movement does not accept two-state solution in any case
The Saudi Arabia newspaper al-Sharq published a story on Wednesday saying Jordanian King Abdullah II received the authority of the President of the Political Bureau of Hamas Khaled Mashaal that the movement accepts the principle of a "two-state solution ", ahead of an initiative of U.S. President Barack Obama planned for February.
Moussa explained to "Palestine Online", that this solution is rejected categorically. "We do not accept the Israeli occupation on any atom of the soil of Palestine,", he said. Moussa  stressed that historical Palestine stretches from the river to the sea. he pointed out that to accept the state of Palestine in areas occupied in 1967 does not mean to ever recognize the legitimacy of the occupation of historic Palestine.
Their media office issued a statement likewise denying it.

A few days ago, when Abdullah floated the idea of a peaceful Hamas at Davos, Hamas again responded "the only law of our relationship with the enemy is resistance."

Hamas has been clear: it will accept any land Israel gives up but it will never accept Israel.

Why is this so difficult for Westerners to understand?

Well, we know why. So many are so emotionally invested in the concept of "peace," and they know peace is impossible with a genocidal terror group. Cognitive dissonance takes over and they pretend Hamas isn't really all that bad, and they grasp at straws so they can Believe again.

The truth that peace is impossible is simply too painful for them to accept. So they will happily misinterpret anything they hear so they can keep that all-important hope.

So we will see front-page headlines of the hope, and the explicit Arabic statements that would dash that hope go generally unreported.

Sorry, but peace with Hamas is impossible. 100%, absolutely impossible. It is easier to pole vault to Mars. It is more likely to win the lottery every day for the next 17 years. Hamas' position will change at roughly the same date that the value for pi falls below 3. A Hamas accepting Israel is exactly as impossible as a circle with four sides - because a Hamas that says it accepts Israel would no longer be Hamas by definition.

Get it?

(h/t CHA)

Wednesday linkdump

From Ian:

Bercovici: Palestinian leaders don’t care who wins in Israel
Many western governments hold onto a misguided fantasy: that the persistent obstacle to Mideast peace is Israel, not Palestinian leaders.
"Hamas, the PA and just about every government in the Middle East make no secret of their collective ideological commitment to the total destruction of the state of Israel, which they regard as a blasphemous blight on the Arab and Muslim worlds. The political charters of Hamas and the PA, the two main negotiating parties, unequivocally call for the repatriation of all of the historic land of Palestine. Despite commitments made by former chairman Yasser Arafat to amend its founding charter to explicitly recognize the right of Israel to exist within secure borders, the PA has yet to do so.
So in the end, it really doesn’t matter to them who wins and leads in Israel. There is no willing negotiator on the Palestinian side.
(from the Canadian, Toronto Star!)

Douglas Murray: Should Jews leave Britain?
"Much of the comment on these latter cases has focussed on the ‘inappropriateness’ of running an anti-Semitic cartoon or making an anti-Semitic comment so close to Holocaust Memorial Day. I cannot help thinking that this is missing the point. Ward and Scarfe should be excoriated not for their sense of timing but for the fact that they are wrong. Wholly, completely and outright wrong. There is absolutely no connection between, for instance, the liquidation of hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto and the treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank. There is absolutely no connection between the situation in Gaza and the herding of six million Jews into concentration camps. The wonder then is not over Scarfe or Ward’s sense of timing, but why at any point in any year they would be so keen to spread lies and to bait Jews by comparing the actions of the Jewish state with those of a genocidal doctrine of Nazism which sought to annihilate the Jews."

Melanie Phillips: Britain's infernal cocktail of hate
"When future historians come to record Britain’s tragic decline, they will surely place its sickening behaviour towards the Jewish people, first under its control in Palestine and then in the State of Israel, as both symptom and cause of its moral and civilisational collapse."

Outrage over a cartoon... and yet no one died
The blood libel cartoons and the Mohammed cartoons, even if equally offensive, show the difference in the reactions of two peoples at loggerheads

Jewish Riots Erupt Following Netanyahu Cartoon
Okay, not really
"In the wake of a controversial cartoon published in the Sunday Times of London, massive crowds of angry Jewish protestors gathered in Hyde Park yesterday and, whipped into a fervor by local rabbis, took to the streets of London."

CIF Watch: A place where Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell can find “real” anti-Semitism
"Of course, if Bell did decide to direct his righteous ire at those who engage in such “real” antisemitism – and perhaps even at arrogant, hypocritical media groups which have actually championed the cause of such crude and unrepentant racists – he’d be hitting just a wee bit too close to home.
A ‘Comment is Free’ essay by the extremist who evoked the “real” medieval blood libel cited above, Raed Salah, was published on April 19, 2012, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial day."

Sunday Times Editor Apologizes ‘Unreservedly’ for Timing of ‘Blood Libel’ Cartoon
"Ivens implied that his regret was specifically a product of the timing of the cartoon rather than for the content itself, saying, “The timing – on Holocaust Memorial Day – was inexcusable. The associations on this occasion were grotesque [...]”

British MEP Formally Censured Over Jewish Slur
A British MEP who compared Israel's treatment of Palestinians to Nazis' treatment of Jews has been formally censured for his remarks.

BBC still airbrushing David Ward’s remarks
"The BBC’s report on this latest development has been relegated from the UK Politics and Middle East pages of its BBC News website to the regional ‘Leeds & West Yorkshire’ page. However, the BBC is still trying to pretend that Ward’s remarks pertained to Israeli Jews – as it did in its two previous reports on the incident."

Kindergarten Attack and Other Incidents In and Around Jerusalem Spread Fears of Increasingly Violent Atmosphere
"Israeli security officials have noted a significant rise in the number of attacks in and around Jerusalem in which assailants use such weaponry, as opposed to the more traditional guns and knives."

French police arrest two in Toulouse killings probe
Police arrest accomplices of gunman who killed soldiers, rabbi, 3 Jewish children; French minister says Merah not a "lone wolf."

Clinton: 'Great Hope' To One Day Work With Terrorist Group Hamas
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told her "townterview" at the Newseum in Washington, DC on January 29 that she hopes Hamas will turn into a "political entity." She said it is her "great hope" that they will be "at the table" of negotiations in the future.

'Hamas leader Mashaal seeking presidency of PLO'
'Al-Quds Al-Arabi' quotes Palestinian sources as saying Jordan and Qatar are pushing for Mashaal to chair PLO.

The Times: Don’t mince words. Hezbollah are terrorists, by José María Aznar and David Trimble
“Jihadi terrorism is still alive and, as events in Mali and Algeria show us, poses a direct threat to us. The turmoil in North Africa reminds us that jihadism has no boundaries and that when confronting terrorism it is always better to prevent it rather than deal with its consequences. The EU, however, sometimes refuses to face the reality of terrorism. One strong case in point is Hezbollah."

German deputy: Hezbollah must feel the pressure
Missfelder criticizes EU counter-terrorism official for playing down need to list Hezbollah as terrorist entity.

Iran and Hezbollah learning from terror mistakes
A new report indicates that ‘amateurish’ Hezbollah or Quds Force attacks around the world are giving way to more polished operations

Iranian monkey launch ‘a publicity stunt,’ Israeli space expert says
Sending unguided rocket 120 kilometers into suborbit says nothing about Tehran’s ballistic missile capabilities, Tal Inbar contends

Defected translator sheds new light on Iran’s global reach
Tehran challenging US presence in East Africa and bypassing sanctions in the Indian subcontinent, says Ahmad Hashemi

China and North Korea Working to Modernize Egypt's Missile Systems
Reports indicate that China and North Korea are helping Egypt "modernize [its] short-range missile systems."

Egypt army chief warns state headed for ‘collapse’
‘Conflict between the different political forces,’ which has killed 60 in five days, is tearing the country apart, says minister

New York Congresswoman Leads Opposition to Release of Terrorist Who Killed Israeli Diplomat
"The letter, which was sent to France’s Ambassador to the United States, urges French officials to stop the release of George Ibrahim Abdallah, the former head of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Brigade who was convicted in 1987 of killing an Israeli diplomat and a U.S. military attaché. The U.S. State Department has also expressed its opposition to Abdallah’s release."

IDF Blog: 79 Football Fields Long: 1,138 Trucks Entered Gaza This Week
This week, 1,138 truckloads of supplies entered Gaza from Israel. An average pickup truck is 25 feet long. That means if you put all the trucks that entered Gaza this week in a straight line, you would need more than 79 football fields to fit them all in. Think Gaza is under siege? Think again.

Also:

The Volokh Conspiracy quotes my findings from legal expert Ian Kelson in 1952 and what it migh mean for Israel

Upon request, I wrote a press release for the Hasby Awards announced last night.

Who's afraid of the big bad ICC?

Today, in the New York Times, George Bisharat says that "Palestine" should take Israel to the International Criminal Court in the Hague:

LAST week, the Palestinian foreign minister, Riad Malki, declared that if Israel persisted in its plans to build settlements in the currently vacant area known as E-1, which lies between Palestinian East Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, “we will be going to the I.C.C.,” referring to the International Criminal Court. “We have no choice,” he added.

No doubt, Israel is most worried about the possibility of criminal prosecutions for its settlements policy. Israeli bluster notwithstanding, there is no doubt that Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal. Israeli officials have known this since 1967, when Theodor Meron, then legal counsel to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and later president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, wrote to one of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol’s aides: “My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Under the founding statute of the I.C.C., grave violations of the Geneva Conventions, including civilian settlements in occupied territories, are considered war crimes.
Bisharat doesn't know what he is talking about.

Eugene Kontorovich, the international legal expert I have mentioned in the past, makes these points:
1) The ICC can only act when the home state refuses to investigate crimes; that is not the case for any Israeli acts in Gaza or the territories.

2) ICC has never prosecuted a case referred by a country against nationals of a non-member state. Such an action would terrify US officials and permanently sour American relations with the Court, as it would expose U.S. military and civilian officials to liability for U.S. armed action anywhere in the world, and particularly for the controversial drone strikes program of President Obama.

3) The ICC has never even considered taking a case that does not involve killing and personal violence; a settlements suit would be far outside the kind of things they've dealt with in the past.

4) The relevant actions would have to be on the territory of Palestine, which is a problem since they do not have defined territory, and most of what the op-ed talks about precedes their nominal statehood, so that would be out of bounds.

5) The ICC would also have jurisdiction over all Palestinian war crimes.
Beyond that, the ICC only has jurisdiction on very specific categories of crimes: Genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and "the crime of aggression." The Rome Statute says that it will not prosecute the "aggression" category until it is defined; as far as the other categories are concerned, it only includes "grave breaches" of the Fourth Geneva Conventions, which does not include voluntary transfer of citizens who are not "protected persons" under Geneva.

Furthermore, the ICC has indicated that it does not subscribe the very loose definition of "war crimes" that so-called human rights activists apply to Israel. As Evelyn Gordon wrote last month in Commentary:

In a verdict ironically issued just as the world was obsessing over Palestinian civilians killed in the latest Hamas-Israel war, the court essentially upheld, in a Balkan context, all the arguments Israel routinely makes about the legitimacy of its own military operations. Consequently, the judges acquitted and freed two Croatian generals whom a trial court had convicted of war crimes and sentenced to 18 and 24 years, respectively.

The appellate court’s first important move was acknowledging the obvious fact that in wartime even the most careful army makes mistakes. The trial court had convicted the Croats of illegally shelling four towns they were trying to capture. The appeals court said the lower court’s criterion–“that any shell that landed more than 200 meters away from a military target must have been fired indiscriminately–was arbitrary and ‘devoid of any specific reasoning’,” to quote The Guardian’s apt summary. In short, it accepted the fact that soldiers are human beings who make mistakes, and errant shells don’t necessarily mean the soldiers fired indiscriminately.

Second, it acknowledged the obvious fact that even the most careful army can’t prevent civilian casualties. Some 150 civilians died in the generals’ four-day bombing campaign. But the appeals court said these deaths didn’t constitute war crimes, because the troops had aimed at legitimate military targets. In other words, it ruled that civilian casualties aren’t ipso facto illegal; they may be unavoidable consequences of legitimate military activity–especially when military targets are located in crowded urban areas.

Third, it acknowledged that even when genuine war crimes occur, they may be the acts of errant individuals rather than deliberate policy: It concluded that acts of looting and murder following the bombing campaign occurred not on the generals’ orders, but despite them.

Finally, it acknowledged the obvious fact that fleeing a war zone is normal, so a civilian exodus isn’t necessarily proof of a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

In short, the court recognized a simple truth that “human rights” activists try hard to obscure: War is always hell, but not every act of war is a war crime.
In other words, the ICC threat is more a bogeyman than something to be legitimately feared.

But the threat to go to the ICC does prove something - that the Palestinian Arab leaders are not interested in negotiations of any type. They are going to hitch their wagon, as always, on having the international community pressure Israel rather than open themselves up to the possibility of compromise.

Which shows how serious they are about really wanting a free, independent state.

Arabs freak over Danny Ayalon Jerusalem video (UPDATE)

Arab media is claiming that this latest video from Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon shows the destruction of the Dome of the Rock.



At one point in the video he opens a book where a magical spark trailing bubbles swirls around the Dome and goes back in time, as the Dome vanishes and is replaced by the earlier Temple.


Scrubbing Bubbles!




Other Arab media are saying this is just another set of Jewish myths that they have a historic connection  to Jerusalem, also calling the video "a provocation" and "incitement" and "distorted."

The video is very cute, and it plays more to emotions than to history. Which is why the Arabs hate it so much - they try to corner the market on their emotional attachment to place, especially other people's holy places.

UPDATE: YNet shows a portion of an earlier version that does make it look like the Dome is collapsing (taken off the blog since it auto-played)



I can see how Muslims might be upset at that!

But as YNet reported, the Foreign Ministry nixed that version because it could cause offense. YNet chose to release the clip that was edited out by the FM.

Whether that is news is arguable, but YNet must have known that pro-actively releasing a video like that is potentially inflammatory. Not necessarily a wise editorial decision.

(h/t Michael Pitkowsky)

Israeli jets strike apparent arms convoy on Syrian/Lebanese border. What's Iran up to?

From Naharnet:
Israel forces carried out a strike overnight on a weapons convoy coming from Syria in the Lebanon-Syria border area, security sources told AFP on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The Israeli air force blew up a convoy which had just crossed the border from Syria into Lebanon," one source said, without giving a precise location for the attack.

The source said the convoy was believed to be carrying weapons but did not specify what type.

A second security source, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, also confirmed to AFP that Israeli warplanes had hit a convoy allegedly carrying weapons to Lebanon but said the incident occurred just inside Syria.

"It was an armed convoy traveling towards Lebanon but it was hit on the Syrian side of the border at around 2330 GMT," the source said.
Ya Libnan/Reuters adds:
“There was definitely a hit in the border area,” one security source said. A Western diplomat in the region who asked about the strike said “something has happened”, without elaborating.

An activist in Syria who works with a network of opposition groups around the country said that she had heard of a strike in southern Syria from her colleagues but could not confirm it. A strike just inside Lebanon would appear a less diplomatically explosive option for Israel to avoid provoking Syrian ally Iran.

Whether the strike took place within Syrian territory, or over the border in Lebanon, could affect any escalation from the incident. Iran, Israel’s arch-foe and one of Damascus’s few allies, said on Saturday it would consider any attack on Syria as an attack on itself. During and since Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah, there have been unconfirmed reports of Israeli strikes on convoys just after they entered Lebanon from Syria.

Israel has long made clear it claims a right to act preemptively against enemy capabilities. Alluding to this, air force chief Major-General Amir Eshel on Tuesday said his corps was involved in a covert and far-flung “campaign between wars”.

“This campaign is 24/7, 365 days a year,” Eshel told an international conference. “We are taking action to reduce the immediate threats, to create better conditions in which we will be able to win the wars, when they happen.”

He did not elaborate on any operations, but did single out the threat Israel saw from Syria’s arsenal, calling it “huge, part of it state-of-the-art, part of it unconventional”.
Earlier this week Israel moved some Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to the northern border, eliciting much speculation as to why. This might be the answer.

Lebanon's Daily Star has photos of some of the increased IAF flights over Lebanon:


Plus this photo. I'm sure the minaret in the photo is sheer coincidence, and not in the least meant to incite any excitable people to violence:


So what was in the convoy? Given that Hezbollah already has tens of thousands of medium range missiles that can hit nearly all of Israel's population, one must guess that this convoy had something even worse - either a much more powerful conventional rocket, or something a bit more, let's say, unconventional.

Iran essentially has a laboratory between Syria and Lebanon, especially now that Syria is in such disarray. Iran can afford to dabble in increased arms smuggling between Syria and Hezbollah. If the weapons get through, they are happy; if Israel intercepts them; Iran now knows a bit more about Israeli intelligence capabilities. They are only risking the lives of Syrian and Hezbollah allies, but those lives are easily worth the intelligence about Israel that could be gathered - Iran can afford to sacrifice every last Syrian and Lebanese. Iran can also use these sorts of activities to identify Israel's "red lines."

Iran literally has no downside to keep sending these weapons, of varying types, over the border. And Israel knows that as well.

Amnesty upset Israel not participating in biased UNHRC UPR exercise

From Amnesty:
If the Israeli government is not careful, it will ruin an important global human rights process for everybody.

The Universal Periodic Review, a process to examine states’ human rights records, has until now been truly universal: all United Nation member states were reviewed by the end of 2011 and the second cycle of reviews has already started.

But now the government of Israel is not engaging with the process. Every indication is that the Israel will not be present this afternoon when it is scheduled to be examined under the Universal Periodic Review. As the only recalcitrant state among 193, Israel’s deliberate absence would sabotage the principle of universality. Consequently the Universal Periodic Review stands to lose the compelling legitimacy it derives from being applied even-handedly to all states. Why should states that would prefer to escape scrutiny of their human rights record, or are severely resource constrained, submit to this process if Israel’s non-compliance demonstrates that it is no longer universal?
UN Watch has the truth:
In reality, the UPR is — for the most part — a mutual praise society.
Though the New York Times today praised the UPR’s “universal and collaborative characteristics,” saying it provided “a platform to scrutinize and discuss the situation of human rights in even the most closed and repressive regimes,” it apparently forgot that earlier it had reported on how Qaddafi’s Libyan regime came out of its review with top marks:
Until Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s violent suppression of unrest in recent weeks, the United Nations Human Rights Council was kind in its judgment of Libya. In January, it produced a draft report on the country that reads like an international roll call of fulsome praise, when not delicately suggesting improvements. Evidently, within the 47-nation council, some pots are loath to call kettles black, at least until events force their hand.
Former Amnesty USA director Suzanne Nossel called the report “abhorrent.”
It’s not for nothing that despots walk into this court with confidence and ease. See our report on yesterday’s lavish UPR party put on by the United Arab Emirates.
What is more, those accusing Israel of desecrating the temple are the same who systematically turn a blind eye to the council’s persistent and pathological lynching of Israel: the special agenda item and special day against Israel at every session; the lopsided amount of resolutions against Israel, often amounting to more than the total adopted on the rest of the world combined; Israel’s exclusion from any of the council’s regional groups; and the completely biased mandate of the council’s permanent investigator on Palestine, Richard Falk, who endorses Hamas and the 9/11 conspiracy theory.
For a council that does such things on an ongoing basis to then accuse Israel of undermining principle is the height of audacity and hypocrisy; the complainants come with unclean hands — very unclean hands.
See also UN Watch's links.

A glance comparing the previous UPR reports on Israel and Syria show that the UPR is truly a joke.

While at first glance the number of recommendations given were about the same, the phrasing for Israel was consistently combative while Syria was praised. For example, here are typical recommendations for Israel in 2008:
- 35. Acknowledge/recognize, accept and fully implement the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the wall (Egypt, Maldives, Jordan, Palestine, Pakistan) that Israel immediately cease work on the construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and begin dismantling it (Maldives); end construction of, and dismantle the already built, illegal separation wall (Cuba); dismantle the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and refrain from expansion of settlements (Brazil); dismantle the separation wall (South Africa).

- 36. Take urgent and immediate steps to end its occupation of all Palestinian and Arab territories occupied since 1967; implement all Human Rights Council, General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on the Occupied Palestinian Territories and other Arab territories; introduce measures to respect the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and their right to return; accept its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law; cease action that would alter the demographic situation of Palestine; and grant access to safe drinking water to Syrian citizens living in the occupied Syrian Golan (South Africa);

But Syria's report includes numerous requests for it to continue to implement its wonderful existing system of human rights:

A - 100.11. Continue to implement measures to enhance national capacities for the promotion and protection of human rights (Belarus);

A - 100.12. Continue to confront attempts of foreign intervention into its domestic affairs and to exercise fully its people’s right to self-determination and the country’s sovereignty (Cuba);

A - 100.13. Continue the process of taking measures at the national level as well as the national dialogue under the guidance of its legitimate authorities as a means of a political solution to the situation in the country (Cuba);

A - 100.49. Continue the efforts to strengthen food security for all its people, particularly in rural areas (Bolivia);

A - 100.50. Continue to strengthen the achievements of health indicators, particularly related to child and maternal health, through the improvement of public health services (Bolivia);

A - 100.51. Continue policies and programs to improve the quality of basic social services provided to citizens, such as health care and education (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea);

A - 100.52. Continue to provide basic healthcare service for people living in rural areas and increase its focus on vulnerable groups such as women, children and minorities (Myanmar);

A - 100.53. Continue to strengthen free education for all its people, particularly in rural areas, through “mobile schools” (Bolivia);

A - 100.54. Continue improving the quality of public education with the aim of maintaining the
excellent level of education by which the different stages of education have been characterized
(Venezuela);

A - 100.55. Continue with its policy and its good practice to provide assistance and protect the rights of the many Palestinian refugees in the country (Ecuador);
Only one recommendation for Israel used the word "continue" and even that one was written in a combative tone; Syria was happily told to keep going with how wonderfully it was doing on 20 topics. Essentially no praise was given to Israel in its report for its health care or court system or really any achievement in any sphere, while seemingly every dictatorship's report was filled with praise as to how well they are implementing their human rights programs (and the regimes often claimed that they were implementing recommendations that they were clearly ignoring.)

While some countries, notably Canada, tried to hold brutal regimes accountable in the reports, for the most part like-minded abusers of human rights praised each other and blunted any possible usefulness that the UPR was meant to have.

The best that can be said is that the UPR is somewhat less of a joke than everything else the UNHRC does, but it is still a joke.  The UPR is essentially a continuation of the UNHRC's one-sided obsession with Israel with a superficial sheen of "universality,"  and Amnesty cannot even be bothered to point that out.

(h/t Gidon)

Aboriginal in Canada tells Palestinian Arabs to stop comparing themselves to his people

From The Metropolotain:
I am a Métis from Northern Alberta. My father, Mervin Bellerose, co-authored the Métis Settlements Act of 1989, which was passed by the Alberta legislature in 1990 and cemented our land rights. I founded Canadians For Accountability, a native rights advocacy group, and I am an organizer and participant in the Idle No More movement in Calgary. And I am a Zionist.

...My people, the Métis, came to Alberta after the American Revolution, at the government’s request, to prevent the settling of the Americans in western Canada. We settled the land and followed the white man’s rules. But we were eventually evicted, our homes given to white pioneers. No one wanted us. We were forced to live in hiding, on road allowances, in the bush. We had no rights, and we were killed out of hand, as "nuisances". Exile fractured our nation. Our people wandered with no hope and no home. Then, in the mid 1900's, our leaders managed to secure land for us, not the land we had wanted but land that would nonetheless allow us to build a better future. We took it, built our settlements and formed a government to improve the lives of our people. We still have many problems to solve, of course, but we also have more educated people than ever and are slowly becoming self-sufficient, as our leaders envisioned. In this, the Jewish people and the Métis have walked the same road.

The Jews also suffered genocide and were expelled from their homeland. They were also rejected by everyone and forced to wander. Like us, they rebelled against imperial injustice when necessary and, despite their grievances, strived for peace whenever possible. Like us they were given a tiny sliver of their land back after centuries of suffering and persecution, land that nobody else had wanted to call home until then. Like us, they took that land despite their misgivings and forged a nation from a fractured and wounded people. And like us, they consistently show a willingness to compromise for the good of their people.

...Many claim that we Natives have more in common with the Palestinians, that their struggle is our struggle. Beyond superficial similarities, nothing could be farther from the truth. Beyond the facile co-opting of our cause, the comparison with the Palestinians is absolutely untenable. It trivializes our suffering.

...For 65 years, the Palestinians have convinced the world that they are worse off than many other stateless nations, despite all evidence to the contrary. The Palestinians claim to have been colonized but it was their own leaders who refused to negotiate and who lost the land that they want by waging a needless war on Israel. They claim to have faced genocide but they suffered no such thing: their population has exploded from a few hundred thousand in 1948 to over 4 million today. They claim deprivation but their elites live in luxury while their people live in ramshackle poverty.

What’s more, the Palestinian leaders have never been interested in a peaceful solution for their people. They were given several opportunities to have their own state – for the first time in history -- and refused each time, choosing war over peace because the offers were never deemed sufficient. They have persistently used terrorism to bring attention to their cause and their leaders have celebrated the killing of civilians by naming parks and schools after murderers. And any Palestinian that questions the maximalist rhetoric or who suggests real compromise is immediately ostracized, branded a traitor, or killed.

The Palestinians are not like us. Their fight is not our fight. We natives believe in bringing about change peacefully, and we refuse to be affiliated with anyone who engages in violence targeting civilians. I cannot remain silent and allow the Palestinians to gain credibility at our expense by claiming commonality with us. I cannot stand by while they trivialize our plight by tying it to theirs, which is largely self-inflicted. Our population of over 65 million was violently reduced to a mere 10 million, a slaughter unprecedented in human history. To compare that in whatever way to the Palestinians’ story is deeply offensive to me. The Palestinians did lose the land they claim is theirs, but they were repeatedly given the opportunity to build their state on it and to partner with the Jews -- and they persistently refused peace overtures and chose war. We were never given that chance. We never made that choice.
Read the whole thing.

(h/t Bill)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2013 Hasby Award winners!

Right around now I should be announcing the 2013 winners of the Hasby Awards in a gala Manhattan ceremony.

And here they are, using a super-secret algorithm that involves very complex interactions of the synapses in my brain:


BEST PRO-ISRAEL TWEETER

Nominees:

  •  Avi Mayer
  •  David HaIvri
  •  Challah Hu Akbar
  •  Martin Kramer
  •  Arsen Ostrovsky


WINNER:
Avi Mayer


BEST PRO-ISRAEL MEDIA OUTLET NOT EXCLUSIVE TO ISRAEL

Nominees:

  •  Douglas Murray
  •  Melanie Phillips
  •  The Commentator
  •  Gatestone Institute
  •  Charles Krauthammer
  •  Evelyn Gordon


WINNER:
The Commentator


BEST PRO-ISRAEL COMMENTATOR

Nominees:

  •  Caroline Glick
  •  Martin Kramer
  •  Daniel Gordis
  •  Barry Rubin



WINNER:
Barry Rubin


BEST ENGLISH-LANGUAGE PRO-ISRAEL MEDIA OUTLET

Nominees:

  • Algemeiner
  • Times of Israel
  • Israel HaYom
  • Tablet
  • JPost
  • Jewish Press (forgot to include in my slides, sorry!)
WINNER:

BEST MAINSTREAM MEDIA WATCHDOG

Nominees:
  • CAMERA
  • Honest Reporting
  • BBC Watch
  • CiF Watch
  • David G Daily Mideast Media Sampler
  • Huffington Post monitor
WINNER:
Honest Reporting (very tough call)

BEST PRO-ISRAEL BLOG (PRESENT COMPANY EXCLUDED)

Nominees:
  • Israellycool
  • Israel Matzav
  • Missing Peace
  • Daphne Anson
  • Augean Stables
  • Sultan Knish
  • Daled Amos
  • This Ongoing War  
  • Size Doesn't Matter
WINNERS:

BEST PRO-ISRAEL VIDEO

Nominees:
  • Pat Condell, Israel and the United Nations
  • The Red Line (Shraga Simmons)
  • Zionism without Jerusalem (Im Tirtzu)
  • The Children are Ready (Temple Institute)
  • The Rhythm of Israel (AJC)
  • Real Apartheid in the Middle East (Stand With Us)
  • IDF aid missions around the world (IDF)
  • Israel vs. Palestine (cartoon)
WINNER:

The other suggested categories did not get enough nominations or second,, but all of them are good. Complete list of nominations and seconds is here.



Anti-Israel activist Anna Baltzer exposed as a fraud (updated x2)

See UPDATES below.

From Lee Kaplan at Gatestone Institute:
Anna Baltzer, a pretty lady who heads the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO) in Washington, DC., has developed a platform for herself going about the world lecturing as a Jew who once supported the State of Israel, but who had an epiphany and discovered that Israel and "Zionists" were exploiting and abusing the Palestinian people. The USCEIO is, in fact, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) renamed for the purpose of lobbying Congress in Washington. It was created by Huwaida Arraf, one of the co-founders of the ISM who also serves on the group's steering committee.

Placing Anna Baltzer as the titular head of the Campaign was intended to convince both Jews and non-Jews that opposition to Israel's existence is fine because even Jews such as her believe in the necessity of destroying the Jewish state, especially through boycotts and divestment. Anna Baltzer is a modern day Tokyo Rose for the ISM against Israel: she speaks at anti-Israel events and promotes boycott and divestment campaigns against Israel, in support of terrorist groups such as Hamas in its plans to destroy Israel any way it can. She has participated or helped at demonstations staged by Code Pink, Global Exchange, the Gaza Flotilla, Viva Palestina and other anti-Israel groups that make up the ISM.

USCEIO has been frantically sending out fundraising email blasts and announcing on its website that Ms. Baltzer will appear in a debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be presented by the distinguished Oxford Union in England on January 31st. According to the Oxford Union's website, "The Union is the world's most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. It has been established for 189 years, aiming to promote debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe."
...
In her Wikipedia entry and various speeches she has presented, mostly to Christian churches, Ms. Baltzer has claimed she comes from a Jewish family in which her grandparents were Holocaust survivors; that she was a Fulbright Scholar from Columbia University, and that at first she was pro-Israel. After touring with Fulbright in 2003 in Turkey, she alleges she visited "Palestine," Syria and Iran and met "friends" who "educated" her on the suffering of the Palestinians at Israeli hands, so that today she is a dedicated anti-Zionist. She included a cry at the end of an interview recorded in Ireland in 2010 on an anti-Israel radio station that it is her hope "Inshallah, to one day bring down Zionism" -- meaning to end the Jewish state.

More recently, Anna Baltzer, back in the United States, lent her name and prestige to an attempt by the Students for Justice in Palestine at UC San Diego to prompt the entire student body association there to boycott and divest from Israel. The appearance, presumably intended to be a springboard to spread the boycott and divestment to other campuses, failed. While the event was being debated at UC SAN Diego, Anna Baltzer made a video, which appeared on YouTube, in support of boycotts and divestments from Israel, and directed to the anti-Israel campaign at the UC Campus. In this video, she claimed that she went on a Birthright tour -- a program that provides free trips to Israel for Jewish college students and recent graduates -- in the year 2000 as an enthusiastic pro-Zionist Jewish girl. She claims that after finishing the tour, she researched the suffering of the Palestinians and became a supporter of the anti-Israel movement.

There is just one problem with this scenario: According to my research, Anna Baltzer never went on a Birthright tour of Israel in the year 2000 or any other time. Inquiries to the New York and Israel offices to ascertain if she went with Birthright, revealed absolutely no record of any Anna Baltzer attending the program ever, let alone in year 2000. In short, it seems that Anna Baltzer lied about her participation in Birthright to convey the false impression that she was once a loyal Jew who supported the Jewish homeland but had discovered the justification for Palestinians' goals to overthrow Israel.

Further, after researching Ms. Baltzer's claims of being a Fulbright Scholar from Columbia in 2003, it has been determined from both Columbia's and the Fulbright websites, as well as Fulbright officials, that Anna Baltzer was never a Fulbright scholar either. A list of Fulbright Scholars at the Fulbright website contains the names of all Fulbright scholars from the United States and abroad from the late 90's to the present. Ms. Baltzer's name is nowhere to be found.

...Baltzer claims she is the descendant of Holocaust survivors who instilled in her a need to support Palestinian aims against Israeli persecution. After researching her grandparents through the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Israel, as well as the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, to see if her family were actually in concentration camps, nothing could be found. This, too, appears to be a fabrication by Baltzer, or at best an embellishment...

The Oxford Union's President was distressed to learn these facts about Ms. Baltzer's academic fraud and said she would share such information with the faculty advisers with the possible outcome of her being removed from the debate.

An educational debate, especially at a university as august as Oxford, should feature academics or speakers who are genuine, not imposters or fakes planted to distort facts and slander and demonize a fellow democracy. Anna Baltzer seems to be neither a Fulbright scholar, not a descendant of Holocaust survivors nor an alumna of the Birthright program. She appears to be just a fraud and a fabulist. So why is Oxford having her speak?
You mean that people who are dedicated to destroying the Jewish state and who condone terrorism lie about their background?

I'm shocked. Shocked!

(h/t Ian)

UPDATE A&B: I am told that Baltzer changed her name; she did apparently receive the Fulbright grant under the name Anna J. Piller. See this article that says her real name is Baltzer and that a 2006 lecture of hers was under the name Piller.

However there is still no evidence she was a Fulbright scholar; only that she received a Fulbright grant, which is different.

One of my readers emailed me with this cogent point:
It is also true that inventing Fulbright scholarships and perhaps even survivor grandparents can have more legs as a news story and be more discrediting to her than the mere fact that she likes to invent IDF atrocities.

UPDATE 2: She also did go on a Birthright trip - here are the photos. This page ties the two together.

Apparently, Piller is her real name she uses in her personal life.

She is also virtually a 9/11 "truther."

The article is no longer at Gatestone; a modified version can be seen here.

UPDATE 3: Lee Kaplan responds in the comments.

Just to emphasize, I am in no way defending Baltzer/Piller, who at the very least is a proven liar about Israel and beneath contempt.

UPDATE 4: Lee discovered this:
In an interview afterward, she said that she had grandparents who “narrowly escaped” the Holocaust — though in response to an email she was not willing to say whether they were on her father’s or mother’s side.

She said these grandparents were born in Poland but grew up in Antwerp. When the German Nazis invaded Belgium, her grandparents fled and went “running from country to country” until they reached Portugal, from which they came to the United States, she said.