+972 Magazine » Larry Derfner http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Sun, 23 Nov 2014 22:05:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 ‘Pallywood’: A particularly ugly ethnic slur http://972mag.com/a-particularly-ugly-ethnic-slur-pallywood/98824/ http://972mag.com/a-particularly-ugly-ethnic-slur-pallywood/98824/#comments Sat, 15 Nov 2014 09:40:55 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=98824 And a very popular one among right-wing Israelis and Diaspora Jews.

I’ve been writing for years against the “Pallywood” theory – the right-wing notion that videos showing Palestinians getting killed by Israelis are really elaborate fakes meant to blacken Israel’s name. Yet it’s only this morning I realized that the term “Pallywood,” which was coined by Boston University Prof. Richard Landes, is an ethnic slur, and a particularly ugly one.

It not only mangles the name of an entire people, it does so in the most contemptuous context – it links the name Palestinian with the telling of lies, and not just any lies, but lies about Palestinian deaths at the hands of their conquerors.

Pallywood. Compared to that, referring to New York as “Hymietown” is mild stuff.

What a bigoted term Landes invented, and what a popular one it is in the Israeli/right-wing Jewish political lexicon. A Google search for “Pallywood” this morning turned up 406,000 entries. There’s a Wikipedia page for it, too.

And I didn’t even notice how vicious an insult it was until now, which says a lot about how living in Israel makes you numb to abuses of Palestinian, or Arab, or Muslim dignity: In Israel, we Jews say things about them that they could never get away with saying about us.

Day of catastrophe for ‘Pallywood’ conspiracy theorists
Beitunia killings and the media’s incredibly high bar for Palestinian stories
Truth, tapes and two dead Palestinians

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Day of catastrophe for ‘Pallywood’ conspiracy theorists http://972mag.com/nakba-day-indeed-for-pallywood-conspiracy-freaks/98735/ http://972mag.com/nakba-day-indeed-for-pallywood-conspiracy-freaks/98735/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 13:19:18 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=98735 Naming and shaming.

Following Wednesday’s arrest of a Border Policeman on suspicion of murdering a Palestinian teenager in a May 15 Nakba Day protest, here is a partial list of Israeli and pro-Israel figures who insinuated that the video of the shooting (which also showed the killing of another teenage protester) had been fabricated:

Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon: “I’ve seen lots of films that were edited [to distort what had happened]. This film I’ve not yet seen, but I know the system.”

IDF spokesman Maj. Arye Shalicar: “That film was edited and does not reflect the reality of the day in question, the violence.”

Roni Daniel, Channel 2’s military correspondent and media warmonger supreme: Times of Israel: “Daniel suggested that the film may have been staged and faked. … His queries were not about whether two Palestinians had been shot that day, Daniel said, but rather about whether the NGO footage being disseminated indeed actually showed such shootings or was fabricated.”

Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren: On CNN: “The many, many inconsistencies, you see two young people who were supposedly shot, one to the chest, one through the back but they both fall in the same way. They fall forward which is inconsistent with what we know about combat deaths. We see a picture of Israel forces shooting. But if you zero in on that picture, you will see that those rifles indeed have the sleeve on the barrel, which is used for rubber bullets, not for live ammunition.”

Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon:  ”The organization for the “protection of Palestinian children” stands behind this latest video, as they were behind the Muhammad al-Durrah video. … When it is revealed that this video is fabricated, we must hit these organizations where it hurts them the most: the tax-exempt fundraising.”

Media “watchdog” CAMERA, reprinting a story from right-wing Jewish newspaper Algemeiner: “The usual suspects are pushing the story and video of the alleged killings has gotten a huge number of hits on YouTube, but it’s pretty clear that something is amiss with the story the Palestinians have told the world about what happened at Betunia.”

Jonathan S. Tobin, editor of Commentary magazine online: “Those who cry bloody murder at the Israelis today will owe them an apology if, as may well be the case, the film is a fraud and the Nakba killings are a new version of the al-Dura blood libel. “

Yisrael Medad, co-founder of Israel’s Media Watch (another “watchdog”): “In concert, this is clear evidence of a Pallywood production. Showing the edited videos, then the fuller ones (showing the set-up) in succession — with appropriate narration would make this case with crystal clarity.”


These and countless other right-wingers have popularized the idea that whenever a video shows Israelis battering or killing Arabs without cause, the video is a fake, either staged or doctored. They come up with all sorts of seeming “discrepancies” to make their case, just like conspiracy freaks do to “prove” that the CIA killed Kennedy, or that Israel was behind 9/11, or that no one ever walked on the moon.

WATCH: Video shows Israeli army killing of two Palestinian teens

None of them have ever come close to demonstrating the inauthenticity of a single one of the many, many videos that show Israeli soldiers, police, settlers or ordinary hotheads abusing or killing Palestinians. Yet their claims are naturally accepted as truth by anti-Arab Jewish nationalists, who happen to run the present Israeli government and much of the Diaspora Jewish establishment. And so this campaign – which argues that the Palestinian victims in these videos were either never killed, or killed by other Palestinians – has become enormously influential in Israel and the Diaspora. It neutralizes, and to a great extent even reverses, the effect of each of these videos as they come to light: instead of being clear evidence of Israeli brutality against Palestinians, the video may not be that at all – in fact, it may be evidence of Palestinian deceitfulness, or even of Palestinian willingness to kill their own so they can blame it on Israel.

Ultimately, the message of these right-wing Zionist truthers is that every allegation of Israeli wrongdoing against Palestinians, videotaped or not, is bullshit – none of it should be believed. This is not a fringe notion; it is the reigning view in Israel and the Diaspora establishment.

The campaign began after the infamous killing of 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura while he was cowering behind his father in Gaza on September 30, 2000. Film of the incident taken by France 2 television was used by Palestinians and their supporters to whip up support for the Second Intifada. (In fact, the al-Duras were caught in a crossfire between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen; no can say for sure whose bullets struck them.) Boston University history Prof. Richard Landes, French “media analyst” Philippe Karsenty and others began publicizing “evidence” that the France 2 film was faked, with Landes coining the term “Pallywood” to describe it and others like it. They maintained that the the al-Duras had either never been shot, or been shot by Palestinians out to blame Israel, and that the truth had been covered up since. Their “evidence” is a mountain of lurid garbage, which includes the claim that the blood seen in the video spreading across the boy’s midsection is actually a red cloth he was holding to look like blood on camera! The source of much of the al-Dura campaign’s “findings” come from by Nahum Shahaf, an Israeli physicist who cut his teeth as a conspiracy theorist on the Rabin assassination.

In May of last year, the Pallywood theory of the al-Dura killing was adopted in full by the Israeli government in a report commissioned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and written by the Kuperwasser Committee, whose members were drawn from the Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, IDF Spokesman’s Office and Israel Police. Netanyahu declared the findings to be “the truth.”

In May of this year, this same theory was applied by Moshe Ya’alon, Roni Daniel, Michael Oren and many others to the video of the Nakba Day killings of Nadim Nuwara, 17, and Muhammad Salameh, also 17. The video was taken by a private security camera at the site of the protest. It was distributed by Defense for Children International – Palestine. The protest had included stone and Molotov cocktail-throwing, but the video shows Nuwara and Salameh being shot while walking along harmlessly, long after the violence of the protest had ended.

The unnamed Border Policeman was arrested on suspicion of murdering Nuwara – and his commander arrested for covering it up – based on the fatal bullet provided by Nuwara’s family. There’s a chance, of course, that they won’t be charged, and if charged there’s a chance, of course, they won’t be convicted. But the arrests by themselves should deeply discredit all those whose reaction to the video of the alleged murder of two Palestinian teenagers (no arrests have been made in Salameh’s killing) was to cry “hoax.” And for all those who are not anti-Arab Jewish nationalists, the arrests by themselves should be enough to debunk the Pallywood theory of the Nakba Day killings, and cast extreme skepticism, at the very least, on the theory in its entirety.

Going forward, or backward, there will be more videos like this one, appearing to show Palestinians getting killed without cause by Israelis. When they surface, people should remember what a certain anti-Arab Jewish nationalist declared in a different context, and say: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, let’s not immediately cross off the possibility that it’s a duck.

More on the Beitunia killings:
Border cop arrested for Nakba Day killing, debunking IDF tales
Beitunia killings and the media’s incredibly high bar for Palestinian stories
Truth, tapes and two dead Palestinians
Details of Palestinian deaths jeopardize a system of denial

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The hard fact is that Israeli repression works http://972mag.com/the-fact-is-that-israeli-repression-works/98703/ http://972mag.com/the-fact-is-that-israeli-repression-works/98703/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:17:29 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=98703 Iron fist tactics have kept Palestinians down for the last decade, and there’s a strong chance that the harsh measures Netanyahu just outlined will succeed in putting them down again.

Those who oppose Israel’s iron fist tactics against violent Palestinian resistance argue, as a rule, that it’s impractical, it won’t work, you can’t repress a nation forever, and the only solution is to end the injustice that provokes the violence. But this is a sentimental view that comes, I think, from a need to believe that justice always wins in the end. The fact is that Israeli iron fist tactics have worked pretty damn well in keeping the Palestinians down over the last decade, and there’s a very strong chance that the tactics Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out Tuesday night – overwhelming armed force, house demolitions, draconian punishments for rioters and their parents, and more – will work again this time.

The iron fist put down the Second Intifada in 2004/5, and Israel has enjoyed remarkable quiet from the West Bank since then, also from East Jerusalem until this summer. A crucial difference between the first two intifadas and the current violence is that those earlier upheavals were organized; this one isn’t, which makes it much easier for Israel to overcome.

The iron fist has also worked in Gaza since Operation Cast Lead nearly six years ago. Israel has had to “mow the lawn” twice more since then, most recently over the summer, but otherwise the Palestinians in the Strip have been largely harmless in their cage.

What are the chances that this time around, Palestinian resistance will force Israel to begin reversing course, with an eye toward ending the occupation? I think they’re extremely slim. Even though it’s true that the First Intifada led to the Oslo Accords and the Second Intifada led to the disengagement from Gaza, those were different times in a different Israel.

Read also: What Palestinian media is saying about the J’lem violence

Before Oslo, Israel had never tried negotiating peace with the Palestinians, so Israelis were ready to take a chance. Before disengagement, Israel had never tried unilateral withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory, so Israelis were ready to give that a try, at least behind the broad back of Ariel Sharon.

But the bus bombings of the early 2000s ended Israelis’ belief in negotiations, then the rocketing from Gaza in the middle-late 2000s ended their belief in unilateral withdrawal. For many years now, Israelis have been stuck in the (incorrect) conviction that they’ve tried all the peaceful ways and they’ve all failed, so all that’s left is brute force. They realize it doesn’t work completely or permanently, they know they’ll have to suffer occasional deaths and fight like hell every now and then – but that’s all they expect anymore. They’re resigned to a future of more of the same.

This is why Israel keeps getting more and more right-wing, this is why the Left is dead, and this is why the current Palestinian violence is not going to make Israel change its ways – even if the riots and killings continue like this, or get worse, for months to come.

One thing that would force Israel to change is if the world stepped in and told Netanyahu to start taking down the occupation on pain of severe sanctions. But that hasn’t happened, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon, if ever.

Read also: No one left for Bibi to blame – except, of course, Abbas

The only possible immediate development that could jar Israeli thinking, that could cause such a deterioration in the status quo that the Israeli body politic might be forced to change the country’s direction, would be if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas finally “gave back the keys” – if the PA dissolved itself and handed responsibility for the West Bank back to Israel. If Israeli soldiers had to go back into the Palestinian villages, cities and refugee camps 24/7, if Israel had to keep Palestinian society afloat again, just like it did before Oslo – and without the billions in aid that the world gives the PA – that might shake things loose.

But Abbas has threatened to pull the plug so many times, and never has. Haaretz’s Amira Hass has written a couple of excellent articles (here and here) in recent days about the West Bank’s disinclination to cut the rope. She writes:

In recent years, the middle class that is dependent on the PA, its security agencies and the private sector, which is motivated by profit, has expanded. The main interest of this class — represented by fairly strong professional associations, unlike the workers and the farmers, who are not organized properly — is not to rock the boat, not to break the status quo.

The irony is that while Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett blame the violence on Abbas (with Bennett calling him “a terrorist in a suit who should be treated as such,” in other words calling for his arrest or assassination), it’s Abbas who’s keeping things together in the West Bank. In a Yedioth Ahronoth article on Wednesday in which Netanyahu is quoted accusing Abbas of “educating [Palestinians] for terror,” the following paragraph reads:

At the same time, it was stressed last night in Israel that cooperation is good with the security apparatuses of the Palestinian Authority. “Their interest is for things to be calm in Judea and Samaria,” security sources said. “The Palestinian public is generally passive, you don’t see huge demonstrations like we saw in the first and second intifadas.”

I understand that many Palestinians, in Israel and the occupied territories, see their only choice as violence or humiliation. I can’t say Israel is offering them any other choice. But just as non-violence hasn’t worked, violence hasn’t worked either, and I don’t see an end to this political gridlock on the horizon.

(Full disclosure: As an Israeli, I don’t want to see Israelis get hurt. As a hater of the occupation, I don’t want to see it defeat the Palestinians. This causes conflicting feelings in me, and not just me.)

Read also:
What Palestinian media is saying about the Jerusalem violence
No one left for Bibi to blame – except, of course, Abbas
The only way to stop stone throwing is to end the occupation

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The difference between Israel’s violent, racist cops and America’s http://972mag.com/the-difference-between-israels-violent-racist-cops-and-americas/98617/ http://972mag.com/the-difference-between-israels-violent-racist-cops-and-americas/98617/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 13:13:44 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=98617 It’s in how Israel and America, especially their respective leaders, react to these cops’ most outrageous crimes.

Israeli police are not the only ones with a habit of getting trigger happy when they come up against members of a feared and hated ethnic minority. While many Israeli cops (and soldiers) have a tendency toward overkill with Arabs, many American cops have the same tendency with blacks. But there’s a crucial difference – not necessarily between American and Israeli police, but between the way American and Israeli society, especially their leaders, react to such killings.

After police in Ferguson, Missouri killed teenager Michael Brown in August following a struggle, and “Ferguson” became a watchword for American police brutality and racism, Attorney General Eric Holder went to Brown’s family’s home to pay his condolences.

After a private security guard killed Trayvon Martin in July after a struggle, President Barack Obama said, “I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation.  I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.” He went on to say, “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son.”

When video showed Los Angeles police in 1991 beating Rodney King at length and without mercy after a high-speed chase, President George H.W. Bush said, “What you saw, what I saw on the TV videotape was revolting. I felt anger, I felt pain. I thought, ‘How can I explain this to my grandchildren?’”

Compare that to the reactions of Israel’s leaders after video showed Israeli police shooting Kheir Hamdan while he was running away, his back turned to them, after he stabbed at the windows of their police car, and how they dragged his body on the ground and threw it into the back seat, after which he died in the hospital.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rubbed in the insult by threatening Israeli Arabs: “We will not tolerate disturbances and rioting. We will act against those who throw stones, block roads and call for the establishment of a Palestinian state in place of the State of Israel. Whoever does not honor Israeli law will be punished with utmost severity. …

“I have instructed the interior minister to use all means, including evaluating the possibility of revoking the citizenship of those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel.”

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, the rising power in Israeli politics: “A crazed Arab terrorist attacked our policemen’s vehicle with a knife in an attempt to murder them.  A policeman shot him. That is what is expected from our security forces.”

Yesterday on TLV1 radio I interviewed Ze’ev Nir, the attorney for the policeman who killed Hamdan. I mentioned to him that his client was getting plenty of backing from the government, starting at the top. “We are very happy for that,” said Nir. I bet they are.

Meanwhile, the “liberals” said nothing about what they and everyone else saw in the video.  Not a word was heard from Isaac Herzog, leader of the Labor Party and the opposition. Not a word was heard from Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

Mr. Nice Guy Yair Lapid said, “A man was killed and the police are in trouble.” Noncommital, timid, a far cry from the truth, like Lapid always plays it, but compared to the reactions of others in the government and the Labor Party, this was a regular “J’Accuse.”

The only leader of a Zionist party who showed honesty and courage was, once again, Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On. “Not only should there be an investigation into the killing of the youth from Kafr Kanna at point-blank range by police,” she said, “but there should also be a probe into the responsibility borne by the public security minister [Yitzhak Aharonovitch], who just this week said that ‘a terrorist who harms civilians is worthy of death’ and who gave license to murder with an order that is patently illegal.”

The most conspicuous silence was that of President Reuven Rivlin, who is being lauded as the voice of Jewish-Arab equality and tolerance. He has not been heard from on the Kafr Kanna killing, and I have no doubt that the most he’ll do is urge calm. He will not dare raise the slightest doubt about the behavior of the cops in the video, even though the video is damning in the extreme, because Jewish Israel won’t stand for it. The president of Israel, no matter what he might like to say, cannot speak about Kheir Hamdan like presidents of the United States spoke about Travyon Martin and Rodney King, and a U.S. attorney general spoke about Michael Brown in person to the boy’s family.

America has plenty of racist, violent cops, but America has learned that racist violence is not acceptable. Israel hasn’t learned that at all, and is a long, long way from learning it.

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‘New York Times’ on Jerusalem violence: What occupation? http://972mag.com/new-york-times-on-jerusalem-violence-what-occupation/98483/ http://972mag.com/new-york-times-on-jerusalem-violence-what-occupation/98483/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 09:58:07 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=98483 Bureau chief Jodi Rudoren’s new article doesn’t even rise to the level of false moral equivalence.

I don’t like to pile on in the left-wing criticism of the New York Times’ coverage of Israel/Palestine; as a rule I find it irritatingly “even-handed,” equating the violence of the subjugator with that of the subjugated, but this, after all, is a big step up compared to the coverage by so many other American media, which simply see the Palestinians as the aggressors and Israel as fighting back in self-defense. But yesterday’s article by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren about the violence in Jerusalem doesn’t even rise to the level of false moral equivalence; it frames the story completely as one of Palestinians attacking Israelis, now and before, without any provocation from Israel whatsoever.

The story, “In Jerusalem Unrest, Signs of a ‘Run-Over Intifada’ for the 21st Century,” is a long one, but except for one fleeting reference to the “Israeli occupation,” it makes no allusion to Israel’s rule over the Palestinians. It takes the trouble to define the word “intifada” (“shaking off”), but doesn’t say what the Palestinians might want to shake off, except the “status quo,” about which nothing is said.

It asserts that the burning of Mohammed Abu Khdeir was a “revenge attack” for the kidnap-murder of three Israeli teenagers, but doesn’t suggest that the kidnap-murders might have come in revenge for anything.

Rudoren writes that Arafat “directed” the violence of the second intifada, but doesn’t say who was directing the violence of the occupation at the time, because in her article there is effectively no occupation, nor any Israeli violence at all.

The story focuses on the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary, but makes only a passing mention that Israeli police are stationed on it – without making it clear that Israel is in control of the holy site, that Palestinians consider this to be a problem, and that Israeli control of the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary may have something to do with the current violence in Jerusalem.

The story ends, however, on an even-handed note with a quote about the extra-political problems faced by both Jews and Palestinians in Jerusalem, what Rudoren calls the city’s “deep challenges” – poverty, ultra-Orthodox Jews who don’t work or serve in the Israeli army, Palestinians who don’t vote in municipal elections.

Bravo. Finally, some “context.”

How Likud became the Almighty’s contractor at the Temple Mount
The fraud that is the Temple Mount movement
There are no good guys in Jerusalem

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No one left for Bibi to blame – except, of course, Abbas http://972mag.com/no-one-left-for-bibi-to-blame-except-of-course-abbas/98456/ http://972mag.com/no-one-left-for-bibi-to-blame-except-of-course-abbas/98456/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 13:21:25 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=98456 Israel is in a crisis – the heaviest Palestinian street violence in a decade, the threat of a full-blown third intifada – and here’s how Netanyahu is managing it: by seizing on the last available scapegoat.

Outside of the Netanyahu government and its supporters, does anyone believe that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is inciting the rioting and terror in East Jerusalem? Does anyone think the gunmen and killer drivers and adolescent stone-throwers are taking their cues from Ramallah’s 79-year-old bureaucrat-in-chief? Conversely, does anyone think that if Abbas were to call publicly and repeatedly for an end to Palestinian violence in the capital, it would stop?

This is a ridiculous notion. Yet this is the message that Israel’s big four, Prime Minister  Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, keep flogging after every terror attack in East Jerusalem, and in between as well. Blaming Abbas is the beginning and end of this government’s diplomatic strategy for dealing with the current crisis – the heaviest Palestinian street violence in a decade, the threat of a full-blown third intifada.

After a suspected Hamasnik drove into a crowd on the “seam line” between East and West Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing a Border Police officer and wounding over a dozen other people, Netanyahu said, “the vehicle attack in Jerusalem is a direct result of Abu Mazen’s incitement.” Ya’alon upped the ante, saying, “Abu Mazen’s rhetorical incitement, in which he disseminates lies and hatred against Israel, while praising Palestinian terrorists who harm Jews, are responsible for the bloodshed in Jerusalem.” Bennett decided to outdo everyone, saying Abbas was “the driver of the death car and the terrorists his emissaries.” But he had competition from Liberman, who said, “a leadership such as the Palestinian Authority, which glorifies and encourages terror, creates a ‘terrorcratic’ entity that only leads to more bloodshed.”

First of all, they’re exaggerating about Abbas’ rhetoric. True, he hasn’t helped calm the situation by saying that “settlers … desecrate” the Noble Sanctuary (the Temple Mount to Jews) with their visits; accusing Israel of “declaring war” on the Palestinians by closing the holy site for a few hours for (genuine) security purposes; and heaping blame on the “murderous, terrorist gangs in the Israeli occupation army” for killing Muataz Hijazi, the apparent Islamic Jihad member who tried to assassinate Yehuda Glick, a leading Temple Mount activist. (However, in his condolence letter to Hijazi’s family, Abbas did not praise Hijazi for the shooting or otherwise endorse it, despite what Netanyahu and Co. would have people believe.)

Abbas is pissed off; he’s departed from his usual role as the voice of non-violence and patience. But whatever he says or doesn’t say, his words count for exactly nothing with the young rebels and Islamic radicals in East Jerusalem.

And if we judge Abbas by his deeds, not only isn’t he stoking the violence in East Jerusalem, he’s doing what he’s been doing for the last 10 years – keeping the West Bank amazingly quiet even when Palestinians are at war with Israel elsewhere, usually in Gaza. (On Wednesday night a Palestinian drove his van into three Israeli soldiers standing near a West Bank refugee camp, injuring one of them seriously — in what may have been an accident. But at any rate it’s still clear that Abbas’ Palestinian Authority is doing a much better job controlling violence in the West Bank’s cities, villages and refugee camps than the Israel Police is doing in East Jerusalem, where the PA isn’t allowed.)

Last week Orit Perlov, a social media analyst at Israel’s leading strategic think tank, the Institute for National Security Studies, wrote in Haaretz why she didn’t think a third intifada was in the offing. Here was one of her reasons:

Since Operation Brother’s Keeper in the summer, the security forces of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been engaging in a wide-scale operation to “cleanse” the West Bank and East Jerusalem of Hamas and Islamic Jihad infrastructures. This operation has been met with a wave of protests against the Palestinian Authority and its head, Mahmoud Abbas.

At the same time, the Shin Bet security service and the PA’s intelligence agencies have been tightening their surveillance of the social networks and the shapers of Palestinian public opinion on the Internet. The Internet is supposedly an open place where people can express opinions freely, but actually, every young Palestinian who tries to organize a public protest to put pressure on the authorities or start an escalation is arrested or called in for questioning.

It’s Abbas who stands between Israel and a third intifada. If not for Abbas and his troops, Israel would be back where it was before the Oslo Accords, its soldiers deployed in every West Bank alley in place of the PA forces who’ve been doing the job all these years. This is a nightmare scenario for Israelis.

So why are Netanyahu and the others dumping on Abbas? They sure as hell don’t want to get rid of him. They don’t want his security men to move into East Jerusalem, either. And this isn’t about gaining a diplomatic advantage; there’s no diplomacy to speak of on the Israeli-Palestinian front. All Israel cares about right now is putting down the violence in East Jerusalem. So do Israel’s leaders really want Abbas to publicly denounce the stone-throwing and killing, even though it would do no good and only lower his standing further on the Palestinian “street,” where he is widely seen as a collaborator (and which is probably one of the reasons Abbas has been toughening up his rhetoric)?

Netanyahu and his crew may indeed be that blind. But I think the reason they’re blaming Abbas for the upheaval in East Jerusalem is actually very simple: He’s all they’ve got left. Who are they going to blame, Hamas? They already did that over the summer, they already bombed Gaza to bits, what are they going to do, bomb Gaza again? Meanwhile, Qatar has become irrelevant; so has Turkey. ISIS isn’t in East Jerusalem; neither is Iran. And they can’t blame Kerry anymore – he’s gone. The only scapegoat who’s still available, who’s still vulnerable, who they can still get some mileage out of beating up, is Abbas, so he’s it.

This whole story reminds me of ‘50s movies like “A Face in the Crowd” and “Born Yesterday,” in which the tyrant becomes steadily more megalomaniacal as reality becomes harder to control, until he’s driven everyone away with his ranting and raving except for one last loyal servant, on whom he takes out all his frustrations. The Netanyahu government has been bashing the Palestinians with steadily more fury while defending itself ever more shrilly, until nobody can bear to listen to them anymore, except Abbas, who has no choice. And now even he seems to be turning away.

Israel is in a crisis, and this is how Bibi and the boys are managing it – by whaling away at a  punching bag. By screaming accusations at a ghost. What else are they going to do, accuse themselves? They should, of course, but if they did, they wouldn’t be the tyrants they are.

Minister: Demolish homes in response to deadly J’lem attack
How Likud became the Almighty’s contractor at the Temple Mount
The fraud that is the Temple Mount movement

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The fraud that is the Temple Mount movement http://972mag.com/the-fraud-that-is-the-temple-mount-movement/98250/ http://972mag.com/the-fraud-that-is-the-temple-mount-movement/98250/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:15:53 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=98250 Following the murder attempt on Yehuda Glick, the claim is being made – and getting a more sympathetic hearing than usual – that he and his colleagues have been leading a civil rights movement for Jews. Don’t believe it.

Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s old city on the first day of Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) marking the end of the hajj and commemorating Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail on God's command, on October 4, 2014. Israel is in security lockdown for the Jewish fast of Yom Kippur, which is coinciding with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha for the first time in three decades. The concurrence of the holy days has not occurred for 33 years because the two faiths use different lunar calendars. (Activestills.org)

Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s old city on the first day of Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) marking the end of the hajj and commemorating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail on God’s command, on October 4, 2014. (Activestills.org)

Ten years ago I interviewed Likud Knesset member Moshe Feiglin in his office in the West Bank settlement Karnei Shomron. On his wall was a framed aerial photograph of the Temple Mount – but the Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock didn’t appear. In their place stood an illustrated, rebuilt Jewish Temple. I’ve heard that this photo and others like it are big sellers in Jerusalem.

Feiglin was at the Wednesday night conference in Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center where Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick was shot and critically wounded by a Palestinian. Also present was Yehuda Etzion, who was imprisoned in the early 1980s for leading a plot within the “Jewish Terror Underground” to blow up the Dome of the Rock. Feiglin wasn’t the only extreme anti-Arab Likud MK at the gathering; Miri Regev and others were there too. The conference was titled “Israel Returns to the Temple Mount.”

Following the murder attempt on Glick, the claim is being made – and getting a more sympathetic hearing than usual (here and here) – that he and his colleagues have been leading a “civil rights” movement for Jews, one whose aim is simply to gain for Jews the same right Muslims have to pray on the Temple Mount, which Muslims worship as the Noble Sanctuary (Haram al-Sharif in Arabic). I heard Housing Minister Uri Ariel fuming on the radio about the injustice of the Israeli-enforced status quo on the Mount (which allows Jews to visit with police permission, but bars them from praying so as not to incite Muslim fears of a Jewish takeover, and in line with rabbinical rulings). The radio interviewer was at a loss to challenge him; no doubt Ariel convinced many listeners that he and the other Temple Mount activists are a bunch of Martin Luther Kings.

Right-wing activist Yehuda Glick holding a book depicting the Jewish Temple while standing in front of the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, May 21, 2009. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Right-wing activist Yehuda Glick holding a book depicting the Jewish Temple while standing in front of the Dome of the Rock in the Aqsa Mosque compound/Temple Mount in Jerusalem, May 21, 2009. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

This is a great fraud. I’m sure there are some Jews who really only want to be allowed to pray on the Mount without having any intention of bothering the Muslims and their holy places, who genuinely want religious coexistence up there. But they are incidental to the movement. The Temple Mount movement is and always has been a movement not for religious equality, but for Jewish religious domination and contempt for Muslims and Islam. That’s what Feiglin’s about, that’s what Etzion is obviously all about, and anybody who thinks Miri Regev and Yariv Levin and these other nonstop Arab-bashers in the Knesset who want to let Jews pray freely on the Temple Mount are looking for peaceful coexistence, dream on.

The best known of the Temple Mount NGOs, the Temple Mount Faithful, headed by Gershon Salomon, makes no bones about its intentions. On its website, the first of the group’s “Long Term Objectives” is: 

Liberating the Temple Mount from Arab (Islamic) occupation. The Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque were placed on this Jewish or biblical holy site as a specific sign of Islamic conquest and domination. The Temple Mount can never be consecrated to the Name of G‑d without removing these pagan shrines. It has been suggested that they be removed, transferred to, and rebuilt at Mecca.

Glick appears to be a somewhat different story. Despite many media reports, he is not an activist in the Temple Mount Faithful, or at any rate not mainly in the Temple Mount Faithful; he heads an organization called the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, and formerly led the Temple Mount Institute. Both of these groups express the hope of rebuilding the Temple alongside the Muslim holy sites, not in their place. But here is a brief video Glick made for the Temple Institute in which he makes what sounds like a veiled threat of what will happen to the Dome of the Rock if Muslim religious leaders do not cooperate peacefully with this project:

The decision of what will happen to that building, which today represents the Muslim religion – if the Muslim religious leadership decides to choose a path of peace, that building can remain and be part of the house of prayer for all nations, and it can be used as a center of monotheistic religions. If, unfortunately, the Muslim leadership continues the path they are leading today – [Islamic Movement leader] Ra’ed Salah and other Muslim leaders today – it will bring to a very dangerous … [here Glick pauses, searching for words, then continues in a barely audible voice] to a great threat to the world and to the peace of the world.

I’m calling upon the leadership of the Muslim religion: join, cooperate with those who want peace. Join with those who believe that the Temple Mount belongs to all those who believe in God, and then the Dome of the Rock, built by Abdel Malek, will be part of the house of prayer of all nations, the holy temple.

Glick did not deserve to be shot. From all reports, he is not a man of violence at all; he could be described as the friendly face of the Temple Mount movement. But he works alongside men of the most violent possible intent. He is the window-dressing of a movement with a psychotic, apocalyptic goal, one that goes back to the Six Day War conquest of the Mount when IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, later to become Israel’s chief rabbi, implored Moshe Dayan to destroy the Dome of the Rock.

Again, I’m sure there are Jews who honestly just want to be allowed to pray on the Mount, nothing more, and who see this as an issue of religious equality. I would ask them if they favor introducing the same sort of religious equality for Muslims at the Western Wall, which Muslims worship as the Buraq Wall, the site where Mohammed mounted his winged horse Buraq and ascended to heaven:

Should Muslims, accompanied by Muslim police, be allowed to conduct Muslim prayer in the Western Wall plaza?

With a police escort, right-wing Jews visit the Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City at the end of a ‘Jerusalem Day’ demonstration calling to rebuild the Jewish temple, May 21, 2009. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

With a police escort, right-wing Jews visit the Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City at the end of a ‘Jerusalem Day’ demonstration calling to rebuild the Jewish temple, May 21, 2009. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

For that matter, should the police of a Muslim country be allowed to station themselves in the Western Wall plaza as the enforcer of law and order? Should the police of a Muslim country be allowed to decide which Jews can come pray at the Western Wall and which cannot?

That would be the mirror image of the current, Israeli-enforced status quo for Muslims on the Noble Sanctuary, which Jews worship as the Temple Mount. That status quo is not a violation of Jews’ civil rights, but a violation of Muslims’ religious rights and Palestinians’ national rights. That status quo is bad enough as it is; Glick, Feiglin, Etzion, Ariel, Regev and the movement they represent would make it out-and-out catastrophic.

There are no good guys in Jerusalem
Why the status quo on the Temple Mount isn’t sustainable
Disturbing the ‘peace’ in Jerusalem’s holiest site
Judenrein or Judaized? A false choice for the Temple Mount

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‘Klinghoffer’: New York’s Jewish right goes to the opera http://972mag.com/klinghoffer-new-yorks-jewish-right-goes-to-the-opera/97929/ http://972mag.com/klinghoffer-new-yorks-jewish-right-goes-to-the-opera/97929/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:36:02 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97929 Now that ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ has opened and people are learning what the opera is actually about, the outraged claims made against it are being exposed as hot air.    

Until Monday night, when the “The Death of Klinghoffer” opened at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, people knew it was being attacked by many Jews for supposedly being anti-Semitic and for defending terrorists, and they didn’t know if the accusations were true or false. But now that the opera has opened, and it’s been widely reviewed, and audience members have been interviewed, it’s becoming clear to the mainstream public that pays attention to such issues – and this controversy has attracted a lot of attention – that these claims are total bullshit.

And what should be clear, though it probably isn’t, is that the protest against the opera, the raging campaign to prevent it from being staged at the Met, was not made by “American Jews” or even “New York Jews,” but by the anti-Muslim, anti-liberal, pro-war American Jewish right based in New York – the same people whose word should never be taken for anything.

As the right-wing Orthodox Jewish Press noted helpfully in an article titled “For Grass Roots Klinghoffer Protest, Jewish Establishment MIA”:

Not one mainstream Jewish organization has lent its name or its resources to this effort. …

The mostly small, and some quite tiny pro-Israel organizations which have been working tirelessly to fight the Met’s decision to stage “Klinghoffer” are (this is all of them): Advocates for Israel, AMCHA, Americans for a Safe Israel, the Bridge Project, Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art, Catholic League, Christians’ Israel Public Action Campaign, Congregation Oheb Zedek, Congregaton Or Zarua, Endowment for Middle East Truth, Hasbara Fellowship, Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam, International Committee for the Land of Israel, Israel Forever Foundation, Israel’s Voice, JCCWatch.org, Jewish Action Alliance, Jewish Political Education Foundation, MERCL, Mothers Against Terrorism, One Israel Fund, Rambam Mesivta High School, Shalhevet High School for Girls, Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs, Strength to Strength, Westchester Hebrew High School, Zionist Organization of America.

This is not to say, though, that it was entirely a fringe effort; a former New York governor and a few local politicians lent their names to the protest. Ronald Lauder, one of the biggest right-wing machers in the world, was on the podium at the rally across from Lincoln Center. Rudolph Giuliani, possibly this crowd’s single favorite gentile, was the guest of honor, and while he argued against forcing “Klinghoffer” to shut down and didn’t accuse it of anti-Semitism, he complained that it was guilty of “historical inaccuracy and historical damage.” In an article in the Daily Beast, he lamented that the opera, first staged in 1991, was partly responsible for the Oslo Accords.

But the giveaway that the attacks on “The Death of Klinghoffer” were the product of the most closed-minded, ultra-nationalistic, bigoted reaches of organized New York Jewry was that the emcee at Monday night’s protest rally was Jeffrey Weisenfeld. Weisenfeld came to fame a few years ago when he blocked a New York college from giving playwright Tony Kushner an honorary doctorate because Kushner wrote (correctly) that Israel carried out ethnic cleansing in the War of Independence. At the time Weisenfeld said, “My mother would call Tony Kushner a kapo.” He also said Palestinians were “not human” because they “worship death for their children.” A couple of years ago he told me in an interview that it wasn’t enough for Israel to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons, it had to destroy all its enemies’ conventional missiles, too. ”Israel can’t go on living with 200,000 missiles pointing at it,” he said.

Another star of the protest was, inevitably, “America’s rabbi,” Shmuley Boteach, scourge of Israel’s critics and sycophant to the rich and famous.

In retrospect, it should have been obvious from the names associated with the protest that the claims against the opera were nonsense. Furthermore, even Anti-Defamation League head Abraham Foxman said the opera “is not anti-Semitic” (though he did harrumph that it is “highly problematic and has a strong anti-Israel bias …”) One just has to ask himself: Would New York’s Metropolitan Opera put on an anti-Semitic production? Would it glorify terrorism? And if anybody were going to glorify terrorism, would they do it by showing terrorists on a hijacked cruise ship shooting an old man in a wheelchair and throwing him overboard?

But again, nobody had seen the opera. People were not aware that this wasn’t American Jewry making accusations, this was hysterical right-wing American Jewry making accusations. And finally, the protest was given legitimacy by the moral leadership provided by Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters, Lisa and Ilsa. In a letter included in the playbill given to members of the audience, they wrote that the opera “presents false moral equivalencies without context, and offers no real insight into the historical reality and the senseless murder of an American Jew. It rationalizes, romanticizes and legitimizes the terrorist murder of our father.”

Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer’s motives are pure; they’re acting out of personal anguish and whatever they say or do with regard to the opera is understandable and irreproachable. Not so at all for the protest’s rank and file, though, and unfortunately the Klinghoffer daughters’ immunity from criticism was transferred, to a large degree, to the protest itself. Whether or not the Klinghoffer daughters or the protesters intended it, the effect on the public watching the controversy play out was a kind of emotional blackmail: If the victim’s daughters say the opera glorifies terrorism, who am I to say it doesn’t, especially when I haven’t seen it?

But again, this changed after Monday night when the reviews came in, and when audience members who’d actually seen the play (unlike the protesters) began talking about it. Here’s Jordan Hoffman’s review in the Times of Israel, a centrist website:

The [protesters’] problem with the work … seemed to stem from the fact that the opera does not portray the hijackers as mindless bloodthirsty monsters, but dares to give the men and their cause a degree of backstory.

That it also shows these men shooting an innocent elderly man in cold blood and concludes with a heartbreaking aria from his widow didn’t seem to carry much weight with this bunch, nor did any discussion of whether representation in a work of fiction automatically means endorsement.

Here’s Adam Langer in The Forward, a liberal Zionist publication, after seeing a dress rehearsal:

Does the opera, as some protesters have contended, idealize terrorism or condone murder? Of course not. If anything, it seems to be an impassioned and perhaps naive plea for dialogue and mutual understanding.

That’s from the Times of Israel and the Forward, there’s no need to quote New York Times reviewer Anthony Tommasini’s dismissal of the protesters’ claims. But what the hell:

In the libretto, the murder takes place offstage. Here, it is depicted explicitly, which should silence detractors who charge that “Klinghoffer” explains away a vicious murder.

For the reactions of audience members, see here and here. The opening-night performance got “tremendous” ovations at the end, according to the Times. A lot of the people cheering – maybe even most of them – were New York Jews, which is important to remember.

Myself, I didn’t see the opera but I did read the libretto (the words), and I have to say that from that alone, I didn’t understand the opera’s message; the lines are written in lyric poetry, and most of it I couldn’t make heads or tails of. But there were some parts literal enough for me to understand, such as the “heartbreaking aria from [Klinghoffer’s] widow” that ends the opera, and the crudely anti-Semitic remarks spoken by a killer named “Rambo.” Plus, of course, I knew that the opera shows Palestinian terrorists murdering an old Jewish man in a wheelchair. So while I still don’t know what the opera’s message is, I damn sure know what it isn’t.

Anti-Semitism has no place in Palestine advocacy
A distorted portrait of Palestinian ‘anti-Semitism’

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World’s delayed reaction to Gaza war kicks in http://972mag.com/worlds-delayed-reaction-to-gaza-war-kicks-in/97678/ http://972mag.com/worlds-delayed-reaction-to-gaza-war-kicks-in/97678/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 13:23:59 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97678 A week of encouraging signs augurs revival of anti-occupation cause.

My view of the chances that the occupation will end someday fluctuates between pessimistic and despairing. Since the war in Gaza, I’ve felt the cause was effectively lost; I figured that if the monstrous devastation that Israel visited on the Strip and its people did not light a fire under the world’s ass, then the anti-occupation movement was on a slow boat to nowhere. But just in the last week there have been a number of delayed international reactions (and even one from Israel) to the Gaza war, and they add up to what I see as a critical mass of encouraging signs that is weighty enough, at least, to argue against despair.

The clearest one was the international donors’ pledge in Cairo of $5.4 billion for the reconstruction of Gaza. The Palestinian Authority had only asked for $4 billion; expectations had been for $1.5 billion. This is a serious investment by the world, and a strong demand for change.

It was backed up by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s speech at the conference, in which he blamed the war on the occupation. “We must not lose sight of the root causes of the recent hostilities: a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations,” Ban said. He followed it up the next day in Jerusalem by slamming Netanyahu’s diplomatic stonewalling and settlement-building in a joint news conference with the prime minister, who was not amused.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks to the press alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, October 13, 2014. (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks to the press alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, October 13, 2014. (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

There was also the speech at the donors’ conference by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi calling on Israel to accept the Arab Peace Initiative. Sissi is a brutal autocrat, he doesn’t yearn for justice for anyone, but his speech was a sign that he is not in Israel’s pocket as Israelis like to think, and that he may be thinking that championing the Palestinian cause will enhance his prestige and power in the Arab world, which would not be good for the Netanyahu government.

Then there was the vote by the British parliament to recognize a Palestinian state immediately. Prime Minister David Cameron opposed the motion and said it would not change his government’s policy, but again, it sent a message and, coming a week after the new Swedish prime minister, Stefan Lofven, announced that Sweden would recognize Palestine as a state, it was part of what appears to be a gathering momentum.

There were some powerful statements in the British parliament debate. From Tuesday’s New York Times:

Richard Ottaway, a Conservative lawmaker and chairman of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, said that he had “stood by Israel through thick and thin, through the good years and the bad,” but now realized “in truth, looking back over the past 20 years, that Israel has been slowly drifting away from world public opinion.”

“Under normal circumstances,” he said, “I would oppose the motion tonight; but such is my anger over Israel’s behavior in recent months that I will not oppose the motion. I have to say to the government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.”

The Times story also noted the new international atmosphere in which the British vote was held, and had some interesting quotes to illustrate it:

Romain Nadal, the French Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Monday that France “will have to recognize Palestine,” but he did not specify when the official recognition would take place.

The last conflict in Gaza “has been a triggering factor,” Mr. Nadal said. “It made us realize that we had to change methods.”

The Times also quoted Avi Primor, a former Israeli ambassador to the European Union and now head of the Israeli Council on Foreign Relations, who had told the Times of Israel early in the Gaza war that he was “not particularly worried” about the world’s reaction to it. He explained to ToI in July that “nobody likes Hamas,” that everyone saw that Israel had shown restraint, and that European governments were put off by angry pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Yet here is the Times’ quote of Primor speaking after the vote in the British parliament:

“The problem is that we are drastically losing public opinion,” Avi Primor, the director of European studies at Tel Aviv University and a former Israeli ambassador to the European Union, told Israel Radio on Monday. “This has been going on for many years, and became particularly serious after the talks failed between us and the Palestinians after nine months of negotiations under Kerry, and even more so after Operation Protective Edge.”

And in Israel, a long list of prominent liberal Zionists urged the British parliament to pass the resolution to recognize Palestine, which meant these Israelis were siding with a foreign political entity against their country’s government, which is not the sort of thing Israeli liberals ordinarily do. To borrow from the French spokesman, the Gaza war had evidently been a “triggering factor” for these two-staters, making them “realize that [they] had to change methods.’”

So the shock of the Gaza war seems to be wearing off, and the anti-occupation movement may be escalating. There is reason again for guarded hope. But finally, it’s up to the Palestinians – and here, too, things seem to be moving. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has committed himself so deeply to pursuing statehood at the UN Security Council, and if that fails – which the U.S. will guarantee with a veto – to challenging the occupation at The Hague, that it seems impossible he will pull his punches again.

This is no time for optimism, God forbid. But it’s no time for despair, either.

Labour MPs: Vote yes on Palestinian statehood
Seven years later, Israel decides Gaza blockade is ineffective
A siege of inertia: Israel’s non-policy on Gaza

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The Kurds must not be abandoned again, this time to ISIS http://972mag.com/the-kurds-must-not-be-abandoned-again-this-time-to-isis/97499/ http://972mag.com/the-kurds-must-not-be-abandoned-again-this-time-to-isis/97499/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 14:39:45 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97499 If there are any people on earth who deserve the world’s protection from slaughter, it is the Kurds.

Despite the stereotype of Mizrahi Jews in Israel resenting Arabs because of the way they were treated in the old country, there are plenty of Mizrahim who have good memories of their relations with their former Muslim neighbors. However, there is no Mizrahi community in Israel that feels a kinship with their Muslim former countrymen like the Kurdish Jews do.

A fighter from the Islamic State. (photo: Islamic State)

A fighter from the Islamic State. (photo: Islamic State)

Today ISIS appears to be on the verge of slaughtering the people in the town of Kobani, the heart of a Syrian Kurdish area with a population of hundreds of thousands. Kurds are getting killed in riots in Turkey and protesting across Europe to try to prevent a catastrophe. So I’d like to recall what the head of the Association of Kurdish Jews in Israel, Yehuda Ben Yosef, told me in a radio interview on TLV1 on September 21, when the news of the day was that ISIS had taken over some 60 Kurdish villages near Kobani.

What’s happened to the Kurds in the last 100 years is terrible. The Kurds don’t have a minute of silence. What happened today – our heart is with them, and if we can help, medications or food or blankets, we do it. We do everything to help the Kurds in Turkey who ran away from Syria.

We have a good relationship all over the years. People from Kurdistan come to Israel these years and they are our guests and we keep in touch with the people there by telephone, Internet, Facebook. Today some Kurds from Norway are coming to be our guests, Muslims from Norway, coming to the Jewish community in Israel. In Syria we don’t have contact, but what we can do for people in [Iraqi Kurdistan], we do our best to help them.

In August, Ben Yosef led a demonstration of Kurdish Jews outside the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. I asked him what the message had been. The same as it is now, he said, only now it’s more urgent.

We think the U.S. must do more to help the Kurds. Give them guns, tanks, airplanes because I think [Iraqi Kurdistan] is the only country that can make fight with ISIS, it’s the only democratic place in this whole area. Iraq is not strong enough, the army is very weak, Syria has problem itself, we can only put our trust in the Kurds.

I don’t want to try to go into the geopolitical considerations of Turkey, Syria and the United States, but I do want to say that if there are any people on earth who deserve the world’s protection from slaughter, it is the Kurds. “What’s happened to the Kurds in the last 100 years” includes oppression by Syria, massacre by Turkey and genocide by Saddam Hussein. They are the bravest fighters, and in Iraqi Kurdistan they’ve created the best thing, if not the only dependably good thing, to come out of President Bush’s “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Their relationship to this day with Kurdish Jews in Israel says a great deal – and at the same time they have strong ties with the Palestinians. “You [Kurds] have been with us since the time of Salahaddin. And you have stood for the just cause of Palestine,” said Nadhmi Khudhouri, Palestinian Authority ambassador to Iraqi Kurdistan, when the PA opened its diplomatic office in Erbil in December 2011.

The fighting in Iraq and Syria is very confusing; the only thing everyone really understands is that ISIS is an army of monsters and the world cannot just let them rampage on unimpeded. At the same time there’s a very understandable reluctance to send in ground troops. But even the Americans admit now that the airstrikes are not going to save Kobani from ISIS.

Aside from the threat of ISIS, there should be one other thing, and this should be the main thing, that people understand about the fighting in Iraq and Syria: that the brave and good Kurdish people must not be abandoned to be murdered en masse again. The fight to destroy ISIS is an important one, but the fight to save the Kurds – to give them the chance to defend themselves, in which case they will chop ISIS to pieces – is the most urgent struggle on earth. It must be won by any means necessary.

Why Israel must help the Kurds in Iraq
No, Hamas isn’t ISIS, ISIS isn’t Hamas
PHOTOS: Protesters compare High Court to ISIS at anti-refugee rally

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