* Outrage across the Israeli political spectrum over the stinging criticism by Obama of plans to build new homes in south-west Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo
* Virtually the entire world media have misreported this story, stating that Israel plans new Jewish homes for “Arab East Jerusalem”. It is amazing that Obama and his advisors seem to actually believe what they read in the papers and don’t check the facts before criticizing Israel
* Moreover the media didn’t report that at the same time that the Jerusalem authorities granted approval to build some 900 new apartments in Gilo, it granted permits for 5000 new apartments to be built for Palestinians in the east of the city
* The New Israel Fund defends sponsorship of Arab groups’ poster suggesting IDF soldiers sexually violate Arab women
* A few days after 9/11, Peter Oborne wrote: “The thought of the West taking reprisals against bin Laden without demanding major concessions from Israel makes the blood run cold”
(This dispatch contains follow-up items to those in last week’s dispatch on the prominent British TV documentary that many have accused of deliberately stirring up anti-Semitism; and some items on the way the media cover and miscover American politics, and how Israelis are dismayed by Barack Obama’s latest mishandled criticism of Israel.)
1. “Oh I forgot, the Jews have all the oil”
2. In past writings, Oborne called Israel “barbaric” and “detestable”
3. New Israel Fund on defense for “rape” poster demonizing Israel
4. Obama takes friendly fire over human rights
5. ADL blasts J Street over Palin
6. Israelis in shock at Obama’s criticism of Gilo housing
7. The dismay cuts both ways
8. White House halves numbers invited to Chanukah reception
9. Obama’s home teleprompter malfunctions during family dinner (video)
10. AP devotes 52 times as much manpower to looking for Sarah Palin faults as to healthcare
11. What Bush inherited, and what he left behind (By Victor Davis Hanson)
12. “Oborne’s obsession with Israel” (By Chas Newkey-Burden)
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
“OH I FORGOT, THE JEWS HAVE ALL THE OIL”
(The item below was first published on Tuesday on the website of The National Review.)
“Oh I forgot, the Jews have all the oil”
By Tom Gross
November 17, 2009
Following up my post on Sunday (There is no effective pro-Israel lobby in Britain), and having now watched the program in question, I wonder whether the directors of Britain’s well-regarded Channel 4 television, or the program-makers, have read – or even care about – the European Union’s working definition of anti-Semitism, part of which reads:
“Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective – such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.”
The program – which may leave many viewers with the impression that Britain’s 290,000 Jews somehow control the rest of the British population of 62,000,000 – has been widely plugged by neo-Nazi and left-wing anti-Semitic groups.
Do the program-makers care?
The hour-long documentary didn’t even mention (apart from one minor and insignificant reference in passing) the numerous pro-Arab and pro-Palestinian organizations in the U.K., the activities of which help explain why hostility to Israel among Britain’s media and political elites is so much stronger than in many other countries. These organizations are, of course, an integral part of the story.
Among those omitted were the CAABU (Council for Arab-British Understanding), the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Arab Media Watch, the Muslim Council of Britain, Hizb ut-Tahrir, the International Solidarity Campaign, the Stop the War Coalition, to say nothing of numerous other anti-Israel campaigners among parliamentary groups, trades unions, and student movements. And then there are the twenty-odd Arab embassies (including the Palestinian Authority’s) in London churning out stuff.
To paraphrase a quip by Melanie Phillips today, “Oh, I forgot, the Jews have all the oil.”
The item above, and my previous writings on the Channel 4 documentary, have been picked up on many other websites around the world, for example, here and here by Melanie Phillips on the website of the British political magazine The Spectator.
IN PAST WRITINGS, OBORNE CALLED ISRAEL “BARBARIC” AND “DETESTABLE”
Chas Newkey-Burden has tracked down some of the Channel 4 program-maker Peter Oborne’s previous statements on Israel.
“The visceral hatred Peter Oborne demonstrated in his shoddy documentary Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby did not, unsurprisingly, come out of nowhere,” he notes. Among them:
A few days after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Oborne wrote in The Observer (the Sunday sister paper of The Guardian): “The thought of the West taking reprisals against bin Laden without demanding major concessions from Israel makes the blood run cold.”
In 2004, he wrote about “U.S. support for state terrorism in Israel” in The Evening Standard (London’s main citywide newspaper).
In 2005, Oborne interviewed British government minister John Denham for The Spectator magazine. It was a wide-ranging interview, but it was headlined “Israel’s actions affect our security” despite Israel being only mentioned very briefly in passing in the article.
Then in 2006, he wrote of “Israeli barbarism” and said he was among “those who find Israeli actions detestable”.
(Newkey-Burden’s full item is below in the full articles section.)
UPDATE: Chas has posted some very nice comments about these dispatches.
NEW ISRAEL FUND ON DEFENSE FOR “RAPE” POSTER DEMONIZING ISRAEL
The New Israel Fund (NIF) is defending its sponsorship of three Arab groups behind a poster suggesting that IDF soldiers rape and sexually violate Arab women. (Both accusations are, needless to say, utterly false).
The poster, in which an Israeli soldier is seen with his hand groping the breast of a Palestinian woman, says, “Her husband needs a permit to touch her. The occupation penetrates her life everyday.” It is part of a campaign launched on November 9, titled “My Land, Space, Body and Sexuality,” organized by the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies.
(Naturally the campaign makes no mention of the treatment of women in Arab countries.)
The three groups behind the campaign reportedly received some $340,000 from the NIF last year. Women Against Violence got $217,000, Mada Al-Carmel got $100,000 and the Arab Forum for Sexuality got $23,000.
The chairman of the British branch of the NIF, Nicholas Saphir, defended support given to the campaign in the London Jewish Chronicle, provoking outrage among many British Jews. “NIF supports free expression of the various views of our broad spectrum of grantees – whether we agree with all their positions or not,” he said. “As long as the work is within the framework of Israel’s charity law and other Israeli laws, NIF will continue to support them in the interests of sustaining its vibrant democracy.”
NIF receives huge funds from gullible liberal Jews in Manhattan and elsewhere, who are under the false impression that NIF only uses their donations to promote peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. In fact the NIF has often been accused of giving money to groups that seek to damage or effectively even to destroy Israel.
Some of those who aid and abet such groups are extremist leftist Israeli Jews. One graduate student at the Hebrew University even produced a “study” claiming that the absence of any history of rape of Palestinian women by Israeli Jewish soldiers proves that the Jews are “such extreme racists that they do not regard Arab women as sexually desirable.” The graduate student then received an awarded from Hebrew University for her impressive “discoveries”, provoking further outrage from the Israeli mainstream.
OBAMA TAKES FRIENDLY FIRE OVER HUMAN RIGHTS
(The item below was published on Wednesday on the websites of The National Review and National Post.)
Obama takes friendly fire over human rights
The National Post
By Tom Gross
November 18, 2009
It seems that the liberal press really are – finally – beginning to take note that Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama cares much less about human rights and press freedoms than George W. Bush did as president.
* The New York Times begins its news report today on the president’s trip to China:
“Whether by White House design or Chinese insistence, President Obama has steered clear of public meetings with Chinese liberals, free press advocates and even average Chinese during his first visit to China, showing a deference to the Chinese leadership’s aversions to such interactions that is unusual for a visiting American president.
“Mr. Obama held a “town hall” meeting with students on Monday. But the students were carefully vetted and prepped for the event by the government, participants said. And the Chinese authorities, wielding a practiced mix of censorship and diplomatic pressure, succeeded in limiting Mr. Obama’s exposure to a point where a third of some 40 Beijing university students interviewed Tuesday were unaware that he had just met in Shanghai with their peers.
“Some students who were aware cast him in terms rarely applied to American leaders, like “rather humble” and “bland.”
* And on the other side of the Atlantic, the left-liberal Independent (of London) begins its news report this morning:
“America used to take pride in speaking softly and carrying a big stick, but in China Barack Obama has had to speak softly and keep any stick he might feel like flourishing well out of sight.
“Boxed in by ceremony, with any hint of controversy airbrushed out of his remarks by the regime’s censors, with press conference questions banned and his interlocutors ruthlessly screened, he has struggled to get his message across.”
* And yesterday the British paper The Financial Times, which has been as strongly supportive of Obama in recent years as it has been hostile to President Bush, also criticized Obama:
“It is right and proper that the US acknowledge the rising significance of China. Mr Obama’s assurances that China’s rise need not be a threat were spot on. But by the same token, US accommodation can be taken too far. Contrary to common perception, China’s huge holdings of US treasuries are not a sign of great strength. They are evidence of how dependent Chinese growth has been on the US consumer.
“Equally, any idea that China, with an economy less than a third the size of the US and a GDP per capita roughly the same as Angola’s, can somehow save the world is ludicrous. Mr Obama is right to show respect to China. He need not – and must not – kowtow.”
* Among my past writings on Obama and human rights, please see last month’s dispatch: Does Obama believe in human rights? (and what that might mean for Israel)
* Please also note the short item attached below by Victor Davis Hanson, one of the few commentators who agrees with me that the George W. Bush years will be remembered much more kindly by historians in future than they are by journalists today. As Hanson writes: “The fact that in the Bush years we were increasingly disliked by Ahmadinejad, Assad, Castro, Chávez, Kim Jong Il, Morales, Ortega, and Putin, may in retrospect seem logical, just as their current warming to the U.S. may prove to be cause for alarm, given the repugnant nature of these strongmen.”
ADL BLASTS J STREET OVER PALIN
The Anti-Defamation League has criticized the Jewish-led, partly Arab-funded Israel-hostile lobby group J Street, for its attack on Sarah Palin’s statement in an interview with Barbara Walters last week, in which Palin opposed President Obama’s admonition of Israel for planning to build new apartments in the south-west Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo.
ADL director Abe Foxman (who is a subscriber to this email list) said J Street’s statement was “over the line” and wondered whether the group should be calling itself “pro-Israel.”
ISRAELIS IN SHOCK AT OBAMA’S CRITICISM OF GILO HOUSING
Meanwhile, in Israel itself there has been outrage across the political spectrum over the swingeing criticism by Obama of plans to build new homes in Gilo.
(Moreover, Obama chose to make this latest clumsy criticism of Israel on a visit to China, during which he went out of his way not to criticize the multitude of Chinese human rights abuses.)
Israeli President Shimon Peres strongly criticized Obama’s demand to stop construction in Gilo, as did Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who for the first time sided with Netanyahu over Obama.
Virtually the entire world media have misreported this story, stating that Israel plans the new homes for “Arab East Jerusalem”. (BBC radio devoted 18 minutes of their world news to it!) It is amazing that Obama and his advisors seem to actually believe what they read in The New York Times and hear on NPR and don’t check the facts before criticizing Israel.
THE DISMAY CUTS BOTH WAYS
Gilo is in south-west Jerusalem, down from Katamon and the German Colony, and west of Talpiot. It is not in eastern Jerusalem. It is on land that was legally held by Jews before 1948, and even CNN (after a policy review) defined it as a Jerusalem neighborhood and not as a settlement. It is very misleading to compare it to a West Bank settlement. Gilo, which is one of Jerusalem’s biggest areas with 40,000 people, was never inhabited by Palestinians; and unlike West Bank settlements is not the subject of any disputed land-claims – even Saeb Erekat acknowledges it will be in Israel once a two-state solution is in place.
If you look carefully at what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is doing, he is actually trying to avoid building in territory that is clearly earmarked for a possible future Palestinian state.
The building permits announced for Gilo will only be ready after Barack Obama’s second term in office (if he gets one) and are next to a state-of-the-art home for the handicapped (for Jews and Arabs) and another large building for autistic children, close by.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Tuesday expressed “dismay” at the decision to build. The EU, clearly following Gibbs’s lead, released a statement on Wednesday saying, “The European Union is dismayed by the recent decision on the expansion of the settlement of Gilo. The dismay, however, cuts both ways, with many Israelis clearly dismayed at Obama and the EU.
The Jerusalem Post noted: “U.S. President Barack Obama is an extremely intelligent man surrounded by equally intelligent advisers, so his continued misreading and misunderstanding of the Israeli public is, therefore, somewhat baffling.”
Moreover the media didn’t report that at the same time that the Jerusalem Municipal Planning Committee granted approval of a plan to build some 900 new apartments in Gilo, it granted permits for 5000 new apartments to be built for Palestinians in the east of the city.
Several Israeli leaders denounced Obama as a “racist for objecting to allowing Jews to live in Jerusalem while not objecting to Arabs living in Jerusalem.”
As the Obama administration continues to criticize Israel even on issues that left-wing Israelis support, rather than rallying around Obama (as J Street and Obama’s advisors might have hoped), center-left Israelis have – according to polls – rallied around Netanyahu.
OBAMA HALVES NUMBERS INVITED TO CHANUKAH RECEPTION
The leading American political website, Politico, reports that while the Obama White House is increasing the size of other receptions (for example, the forthcoming state dinner with the Indian Prime Minister) it has decided to make this year’s White House’s Chanukah party much smaller than those of his predecessor, George W. Bush. The guest list is expected to be halved. “Several Jewish leaders said it would likely help feed feelings in some quarters of the American Jewish community that the White House is giving them the cold shoulder,” reports Politico.
The move comes on the heels of Obama’s cancellation last week of an appearance before the General Assembly of North American Jewish Federations.
Meanwhile, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports that:
“The British government has moved its official Chanukah reception to the prime minister’s residence in a bid to make amends with the country’s Jewish community. Prime Minister Gordon Brown decided to relocate the gathering to 10 Downing St. from its Foreign Office venue as a gesture to the community. The community attacked his Labour government last week for abstaining during a United Nations vote on a resolution supporting the Goldstone report.”
OBAMA’S HOME TELEPROMPTER MALFUNCTIONS DURING FAMILY DINNER
I occasionally place pieces of political humor in these dispatches as a counterbalance to some of the more serious items.
Here is some video humor from The Onion:
(Also posted here in case the above video is slow.)
TRASHING PALIN GETS HIGHER PRIORITY THAN EXPLAINING HEALTH CARE
AP devotes 52 times as much manpower to looking for Sarah Palin faults as to healthcare
By Tom Gross
The National Post
November 20, 2009
Now this is what they call “accountability journalism”.
An Associated Press dispatch, written by Erica Werner and Richard Alonso-Zaldivar, compares the House and Senate Obama health-care bills. James Taranto compares this to the AP’s dispatch earlier this week that “fact checked” Sarah Palin’s new book:
Number of AP reporters assigned to story:
• ObamaCare bills: 2
• Palin book: 11
Number of pages in document being covered:
• ObamaCare bills: 4,064
• Palin book: 432
Number of pages per AP reporter:
• ObamaCare bill: 2,032
• Palin book: 39.3
So on a per-page basis, the AP devoted 52 times as much manpower to the memoir of a former Republican governor as to a piece of legislation that will cost trillions of dollars and affect tens or hundreds of millions of lives.
(The Associated Press, of course, wouldn’t dream of assigning a crack team of investigative journalists to sift through every word looking for muck in either of President Barack Obama’s two self-aggrandizing memoirs. Or Al Gore’s latest book on global warming.)
(The item above was published yesterday on the websites of The National Review and The National Post, where comments can be left.) Among my previous articles on Sarah Palin, please see: How Dare She Be a Working-Class Woman!)
I attach two short pieces below, by California-based historian Victor Davis Hanson and by British based journalist and author Chas Newkey-Burden, both of whom are long-time subscribers to this list.
[All notes above by Tom Gross]
WHAT BUSH INHERITED, AND WHAT HE LEFT BEHIND
What Bush inherited, and what he left behind
By Victor Davis Hanson
The Corner (National Review Online)
November 13, 2009
George W. Bush inherited a recession. He also inherited the Iraq no-fly zones, a Middle East boiling after the failed last-minute Clintonian rush for an imposed peace, an intelligence community wedded to the notion of Saddam’s WMD proliferation, a Congress on record supporting “regime change” in Iraq, a WMD program in Libya, a Syrian occupation of Lebanon, Osama bin Laden enjoying free rein in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, a renegade Pakistan that had gone nuclear on Clinton’s watch with Dr. Khan in full export mode, and a pattern of appeasing radical Islam after its serial attacks (on the World Trade Center, the Khobar Towers, U.S. embassies, and the U.S.S. Cole).
In other words, Bush inherited the regular “stuff” that confronts most presidents when they take office. What is strange is that Obama has established a narrative that he, supposedly unlike any other president, inherited a mess.
At some point, Team Obama might have at least acknowledged that, by January 2009, Iraq was largely quiet; Libya was free of WMD; Syria was out of Lebanon; most of the al-Qaeda leadership had been attrited or was in hiding; a homeland-security protocol was in place to deal with domestic terror plots; European governments were mostly friendly to the U.S. (unlike during the Chirac-Schröder years); and the U.S. enjoyed good relations with one-third of the planet in China and India.
The fact that in the Bush years we were increasingly disliked by Ahmadinejad, Assad, Castro, Chávez, Kim Jong Il, Morales, Ortega, and Putin, may in retrospect seem logical, just as their current warming to the U.S. may prove to be cause for alarm, given the repugnant nature of these strongmen.
Bottom line: Obama’s second year as president is coming up, and it is long past time to move on and let historians judge the Bush years.
“MAKING OBORNE’S BLOOD RUN COLD”
Oborne’s obsession with Israel
By Chas Newkey-Burden
November 18, 2009
The visceral hatred Peter Oborne demonstrated in his shoddy documentary Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby did not, unsurprisingly, come out of nowhere. What is surprising is just how obsessive he is in his demonisation of the Jewish state. To cover all he has written on the subject down the years would therefore be an onerous task. Here is a selection.
On September 23, 2001 as the dead of the 9/11 attacks were still being buried he drew an analogy between Al-Qaeda’s genocidal terrorism and the government of Israel. “The thought of the West taking reprisals against bin Laden without demanding major concessions from Israel makes the blood run cold,” he wrote in The Observer.
This was no isolated incident. On May 10, 2004, he wrote about “US support for state terrorism in Israel” in the Evening Standard. In November of the same year, writing in The Spectator, he called for President Bush to put “renewed pressure on Israel to press forward for a settlement with Palestine”, as if it was Israeli intransigence – rather than the complete opposite – that has prevented a conclusion to the conflict.
To his credit, in February 2005 he said Ken Livingstone was “unfit to be Mayor of London” following his controversial “concentration camp” jibe to a Jewish reporter. Perhaps controversially he added: “I simply cannot understand how Nicky Gavron [who is Jewish] can remain Ken Livingstone’s deputy following his astonishing failure to withdraw his disgusting remarks.” One can see Oborne’s point, but were there not others more suitably placed to make it?
The following year Oborne interviewed government minister John Denham for The Spectator. It was a wide-ranging interview, but it was headlined ‘Israel’s actions affect our security’ despite Israel being only mentioned very briefly in passing in the article.
Then in 2006, as Israel defended itself against the rockets of Hezbollah, Oborne sank even lower. On July 24 he wrote of “Israeli barbarism over the weekend” and placed himself firmly in the camp of “those of us who find Israeli actions detestable”. The following week he wrote of an “atrocity” at Qana, describing it as part of a “murderous campaign” by Israel. I can find no sign of him retracting his description of the Qana incident, despite the subsequent evidence that contradicts what he wrote.
As Israel defended itself from eight years of Hamas rockets with Operation Cast Lead, Oborne – by now of the Daily Mail – described Hamas not as terrorists but “militants” and concluded: “Israel has a great deal to learn from the honourable way Britain dealt with Irish terrorism.” There is clearly no parallel between the threats posed by IRA and Hamas.
Seven days after that Oborne wrote about the expenses scandal, but managed to work Israel into the story: “Our indolent MPs have not yet debated either the domestic crisis caused by the recession, or — and this is equally shameful — the world crisis that has followed the Israeli invasion of Gaza.”
The following week he again wrote about Cast Lead, describing Israel as “bloodthirsty”, instead of recognising Israel’s enormous restraint in not responding years earlier to the continuous launching of thousands of rockets upon civilians over the course of several years.
Perhaps the most ludicrous statement of the lot came in July this year. Having drawn a parallel between Al-Qaeda and Israel eight year earlier, he now tried to do the same with the Iranian regime. “[David] Cameron cannot in good faith criticise the autocratic government in Iran for killing pro-democracy demonstrators in Tehran at the same time as turning a blind eye to Israeli conduct in Gaza,” he wrote. What a strange world he must live in.
A final thought: in December 2007 The Spectator asked several prominent people whether they believed in the virgin birth. Oborne’s response began: “This is a complex issue but luckily I have been able to draw on a formidable body of knowledge.” Oh that he could say the same of his conclusions on Israel.