Norway, Denmark, UN, push back after PA pays over $1bn to terrorists (& “Love is Great. Britain”)

June 01, 2017

“Wonder Woman” – banned in Lebanon because she is played by an Israeli actress, but the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman say they will show the new film.

 

CONTENTS

1. Norway, Denmark, the UN, push back against Palestinian praise of terrorism
2. Lebanon bans Wonder Woman
3. “Love is Great. Britain.”
4. To sign or not to sign?
5. “Denmark reexamining donations to Palestinian NGOs” (By Barak Ravid, Haaretz, May 31, 2017)
6. Open letter to Danish Foreign minister (NGO Monitor)
7. “Wondering about Lebanon’s Ban on Wonder Woman?” (By Colby Cyrus, Arab American, May 31, 2017)
8. “Wave of cancellations hits Tel Aviv LGBT Film Festival due to BDS pressure” (By Itay Stern, Haaretz, May 30, 2017)
9. “Britain’s first gay envoy to Israel to host family float at Tel Aviv Pride Parade” (By Danna Harman, Haaretz, May 29, 2017)
10. “What Trump not signing a Jerusalem embassy waiver would really mean” (By Eugene Kontorovich, Washington Post, May 30, 2017)
11. “Campus muzzling leaves a mark” (By Richard Cohen, Washington Post, May 30, 2017)
12. “Manchester bombing highlights UN hypocrisy on terror” (By Michael Rubin, Washington Examiner, May 23, 2017)

 

NORWAY, DENMARK, THE UN, PUSH BACK AGAINST PALESTINIAN PRAISE OF TERRORISM

[Notes by Tom Gross]

I attach several articles below on a variety of subjects.

The first, from Haaretz, reports that Denmark looks set to follow Norway’s decision last week, and suspend its substantial funding for Palestinian Authority-controlled NGOs. (Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority has paid over one billions dollars to Palestinian terrorists and their families as rewards over the past four years through its NGOs and other means, much of it using diverted international aid money.)

Since Donald Trump became U.S. president and Antonio Guterres became secretary-general of the United Nations, the West has shown significantly less tolerance for the Palestinian Authority’s glorification of and funding for terrorism.

On Sunday, the UN joined Norway in denouncing the naming of a Palestinian women’s center in the West Bank (fully paid for with Norwegian government funds) after Dalal Mughrabi, a female PLO terrorist who led the 1978 “Coastal Road massacre” that killed 38 Israelis (including 13 children) and tourists and wounded many others.

On Friday, Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende asked the PA to repay money Norway provided for the center.

And the UN has now asked for the UN Women logo to be removed from the Dalal Mughrabi center.

“The glorification of terrorism or the perpetrators of heinous terrorist acts is unacceptable under any circumstances,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement. “The UN has repeatedly called for an end to incitement to violence and hatred as they present one of the obstacles to peace.”

President Trump made similar remarks standing alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem last week. The language and forceful diplomacy by both Trump and Guterres brings a marked change to their predecessors who took much more anti-Israel positions and who effectively turned a blind eye to the Palestinian Authority encouragement of terrorism against Israelis.

In the article below, Haaretz, which often exhibits a left-wing spin it its news reports, suggests that Denmark’s decision is based on the Palestinian NGOs support for BDS, but in fact it is because Danish funds (and that of many other European countries) are being used by the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Authority-controlled NGOs to advocate the murder of Israelis, including suicide bombing.

After Haaretz’s report from yesterday I attach a letter to the Danish Foreign Minister from Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor from ten days earlier.

 

LEBANON BANS WONDER WOMAN

The new worldwide hit feature film Wonder Woman, has been withdrawn from movie theatres in Lebanon just two hours before 15 Lebanese theatres were due to air it, because the leading role is played by an Israeli actress, Gal Gadot.

The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman say they will screen Wonder Woman. Gadot’s most recent picture, last year’s film Batman v. Superman, and two other recent films Gadot was in, were shown in Lebanon, though Gadot was not the lead actress in them.

I attach a commentary about this from “Arab America” a “national website founded with the purpose of promoting an accurate image about the four million strong Arab American community and the Arab world” to non-Arab Americans.

 

“LOVE IS GREAT. BRITAIN.”

Next there are two articles below concerning Tel Aviv’s upcoming gay pride week, one of the biggest events on the world wide gay calendar.

It is reported that “a wave of cancellations” has hit the Tel Aviv LGBT Film Festival (which starts today) due to pressure from the BDS movement that advocates boycotting, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel.

It is ironic that just about the only sphere in which BDS seems to be getting any traction is against the country’s LGBT community, when Israel has in many respects the most progressive environment for LGBT people in the world, whereas Israel’s detractors elsewhere in the Middle East discriminate against gays and sometimes murder them.

Many of the Israeli films the Western anti-Israel activists will be boycotting advocate exactly the kind of left wing and progressive positions and viewpoints they support.

In a separate article below, British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey and his husband Aldo Oliver Henrique have announced on the British Embassy Facebook page that “on June 9 this year we will be celebrating diversity and inclusion,” by appearing on and helping to sponsor the family-friendly float at the Tel Aviv gay pride parade.

Among the slogans that will reportedly be used on the float is “Love is Great. Britain.”

Quarrey, who is a subscriber to this Middle East dispatch list, will host an event for speakers in the LGBT high-tech community at his residence during pride week, in collaboration with LGBTech and Lesbians Who Tech.

***

Among related dispatches:

* Tel Aviv voted world’s best gay city (January 12, 2012)

* Omar Sharif Jr. comes out -- twice: “I’m gay and I’m Jewish” (March 27, 2012)

* Gay grandson of Hamas founder granted political asylum in U.S. (June 8, 2016)

* “My ten months with Isis” (& thrown from the rooftops) (March 1, 2015)

 

TO SIGN OR NOT TO SIGN?

Then I attach a commentary from the Washington Post explaining the political and legal ramifications of President Donald Trump signing or not signing a Jerusalem embassy waiver, when the waiver signed last year by President Barack Obama pursuant to the Jerusalem Embassy Act, expires today. (Update: Trump has now signed the waiver today meaning the US embassy in Israel will remain in Tel Aviv for at least another six months. Congress in 1995 mandated the embassy be moved to Jerusalem. But Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama all signed repeated six-month waivers postponing the move, citing national security reasons.)

After that, a piece by Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen about the issue of campus free speech in America and how his friend Allison Stanger remains in poor health after she was assaulted by “progressive” students at Middlebury College.

Finally there is an important piece by Michael Rubin (also a subscriber to this list) in The Washington Examiner on how last week’s Manchester suicide bombing highlights UN hypocrisy on terrorism.

When children were attacked by suicide bombers with vests packed with bolts and nails in Israel 15 years ago, the UN Human Rights Commission, under the leadership of former Irish President Mary Robinson and with the support of dozens of European diplomats and academics, not only excused such attacks but effectively encouraged them, by voting that Palestinians could engage “all available means, including armed struggle” against Israel.

(As I pointed out in this article , when in 2001, UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson was shot at as she toured Hebron, practically the entire world rushed to blame Israel even though she had been shot at by gunmen for Fatah, the armed wing of the Palestinian Authority.)


ARTICLES

DENMARK REEXAMINING DONATIONS TO PALESTINIAN NGOS

Denmark reexamining donations to Palestinian NGOs
Netanyahu had asked visiting Danish foreign minister to look into funding of NGOs involved with BDS
By Barak Ravid
Haaretz
May 31, 2017

The Danish Foreign Ministry has begun a comprehensive examination of its donations to non-governmental organizations in the Palestinian Authority, according to a statement from the office of Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen.

The decision was taken, among other reasons, due to pressure from Israel, and according to the statement, was ordered by the foreign minister last week.

On May 15, Samuelsen visited Jerusalem and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Danish and Israeli diplomats noted that during their meeting Netanyahu asked Samuelsen to cut Danish funding for Palestinian organizations and NGOs involved in inciting against Israel and promoting boycott, divestment and sanction measures against it.

Netanyahu even forwarded a list of Palestinian and Israeli organizations receiving Danish funding to the foreign minister and which Israel claims are involved with BDS efforts.

“We must be sure that Danish aid helps to advance human rights in the Palestinian territories in a positive manner,” the statement said.

“It is possible that in wake of the examination we will be forced to stop our support of a number of Palestinian organizations. Until this examination is complete we won’t sign any new grants for Palestinian organizations.”

 

OPEN LETTER TO DANISH FOREIGN MINISTER

Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg
President, NGO Monitor
The Kingdom of Denmark
May 21, 2017

http://www.ngo-monitor.org/nm/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Open_Letter_Danish_FM_May2017.pdf

Mr. Anders Samuelsen
Foreign Minister
The Kingdom of Denmark
May 21, 2017

Jerusalem, Israel

Open letter: Danish funding to organizations that incite to violence, justify terror and have alleged ties to terror organizations

Dear Mr. Samuelsen, During your official visit to Israel (Wednesday, May 17), Channel 10 journalist Nadav Eyal raised in an interview the issue of Danish funding to Palestinian NGOs. You responded: “…But if any of these organizations crossed a line... if a leader of one of these organizations for example publicly announced that they want to get rid of all Jews, or kill all Jews, anything like that, of course we will immediately close down the support… If you end up in a way where you have an aggressive rhetoric, wanting to kill people or do illegal things, then of course we will immediately close down the support…”

In light of your remarks, we would like to draw your attention to current Danish funding (through the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat [IHL Secretariat]) to the Palestinian organization Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC – core funding, $710,000). WCLAC fieldworker Manal Tamimi tweeted (August 1, 2015), “I do hate Israel ,i (sic) wish a thrid Intefada (sic) coming soon and people rais (sic) up and kills all these zionist settlers everywhere.” In September 2015, on Yom Kippur (a fast day and the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar), Tamimi tweeted: “Vampire zionist celebrating their Kebore day by drinking Palestinian bloods, yes our blood is pure & delicious but it will kill u at the end.”

Far from condemning her actions, WCLAC filed a complaint to the United Nations over the “Frequent targeting of Palestinian human rights defender: Mrs. Manal Tamimi.” This is not the only instance of Danish funding to organizations that promote violent and aggressive rhetoric. Palestinian NGO Addameer, which received $325,000 in IHL Secretariat core funding, is an official “affiliate” of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), designated a terrorist organization by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. The PFLP is involved in suicide bombings, hijackings, and assassinations, among other terrorist activities targeting civilians. Chairperson and co-founder of Addameer, Abdul-latif Ghaith, was banned by Israel from travelling internationally due to his alleged membership in the PFLP. During your visit in Ramallah last week you signed on behalf of the Danish government on a new funding cycle to the IHL Secretariat. In light of the above, will these organizations be amongst grantees in the new funding cycle? We look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,
Prof. Gerald M Steinberg President

Olga Deutsch Europe Desk Director

CC: H.E. Jesper Vahr, Danish Ambassador to Israel.

NGO Monitor
Jerusalem

 

WONDERING ABOUT LEBANON’S BAN ON “WONDER WOMAN”?

Wondering about Lebanon’s Ban on “Wonder Woman”?
By Colby Cyrus
Arab American
May 31, 2017

http://www.arabamerica.com/wondering-lebanons-ban-wonder-woman/

The current feature film Wonder Woman, a recent addition to most theaters across the world, has been almost unanimously praised. The key word is “almost”, due to Lebanon’s rather particular opinion on the new blockbuster.

Citing the Israeli background of lead actress Gal Gadot, Lebanon seeks to ban the major motion picture from receiving showtime in its cinemas, a number of international news outlets report. According to the Washington Post, the official process of a ban would require a formal action by the Lebanese Ministry of Economy, which has not yet begun to officially consider the matter.

Gadot, the lead actress, is an Israeli army veteran and a well-known supporter of Israel’s policies towards the Gaza Strip. Lebanon and Israel share a great deal of animosity, making her lead role more and more controversial.

The two nations are officially at war, Al Jazeera notes, which includes a Lebanese boycott of Israeli products and a restriction on Lebanese citizens traveling to Israel or having contact with its people.

Despite Lebanon’s skepticism, other local powers have not seemed to take issue with the movie. It will soon reach the big screen in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman. Gadot’s most recent picture, Batman v. Superman, was permitted across Lebanon, although the 2016 rendition did not feature Gadot in a lead role.

The film has also raised eyebrows in the Middle East very recently. Last year, Wonder Woman was chosen as an honorary United Nations Ambassador for gender equality. The designation did not last long, as the United Nations ultimately revoked the honor two months after granting it to the renowned heroine.

In regards to the ban, the United Kingdom news outlet Independent reports that the Ministry of Economy is looking to take “all necessary measures” to ensure that the film does not reach Lebanese theaters, yet posters and other forms of advertising have already made their way to the streets of Beirut. Tens of thousands of people have signed the online petition opposing the screening.

Antipathy between the two nations is nothing new: they have been engaged in war for decades, stemming from a variety of political, military, and cultural diversions. Interestingly, the film in question has nothing to do with Israel or any inherent political issues. Yet the simple affiliation between the lead actress and the state of Israel proves enough to cause apprehension.

The Washington Post points out that Lebanon, while enjoying some of the freest speech in the region, still has a tendency to censor materials related to religion, homosexuality, and Israeli matters.

The issue as a whole begs the question of the relationship between cultural expression and political belief. Wonder Woman is not the first film to suffer this fate in Lebanon. Recently, the Egyptian picture Mawlana and the Lebanese film Beach House were turned down entirely, although both were permitted in Egypt.

Does the recent rejection of a major motion picture, acclaimed worldwide for its illustrious hero, illustrate more than just an ongoing dispute with Israel? Looking beyond the film, the controversy exemplifies an ongoing disruption of free speech in Lebanon, despite its advanced approach to the issue in comparison to its regional neighbors.

The mélange of politics and expression in Lebanon is nothing new, and is unlikely to change in the near future without any kind of accord with Israel. Until then, we can expect the recent past to repeat itself: that is to say, culture will continue on as an echo of regional politics.

 

WAVE OF CANCELLATIONS HITS TEL AVIV LGBT FILM FESTIVAL DUE TO BDS PRESSURE

Wave of cancellations hits Tel Aviv LGBT Film Festival Due to BDS Pressure
Following South African director John Trengove’s withdrawal over the weekend, other overseas guests have dropped out of the event running from June 1-10
By Itay Stern
Haaretz
May 30, 2017

Pressure from the BDS movement that advocates boycotting, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel has led at least four overseas guests to cancel their attendance at TLVFest, the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival. The festival is scheduled to open on Thursday and run through June 10.

Following the announcement over the weekend by South African director John Trengrove that he was pulling out in support of the cultural boycott of Israel, he has now been joined by others. They are Canadian-Pakistani screenwriter and actor Fawzia Mirza, whose film “Signature Move” will be shown at the festival; Nadia Ibrahim, a Palestinian living in Denmark who was to serve as a member of the festival jury and appear on a panel; and Swiss actor Jasna Fritzi Bauer.

In addition, the writer, director and actor Helene Hegemann said she would not be coming due to a scheduling conflict.

Pinkwatching Israel, which is an arm of the BDS movement, wants to promote a cultural boycott of Israel because of so-called “pinkwashing” – displaying openness toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community for the purpose of concealing more serious injustices. There are several posts on the movement’s Facebook page calling on guests to refrain from attending the festival, with the claim that their participation contributes to a continued normalization of Israel and the occupation.

Haaretz has received information to the effect that the festival has been significantly harmed by the wave of cancellations, since some of the guests were supposed to conduct closed artist workshops, for which the festival was granted sponsorships by commercial entities. Now these sponsors are also about to cancel their grants to the festival, which traditionally has to fight for its annual budget.

Festival Director Yair Hochner said this was not the first time he has confronted politically motivated cancellations, but added he has never seen a wave of such dimensions.

“It’s very harmful,” he said. “We work hard to promote messages that the government doesn’t promote, and then they come and tell you you’re part of the policy of oppression. We’re trying to do exactly the opposite. This decision was made by the guests, we’re continuing as usual.”

Hochner noted that Trengrove, whose film, “The Wound,” is scheduled to open the festival and who was the first to cancel, is in Israel after receiving funding from the festival for his stay.

“We paid a very generous sum for this film and his agency will never return it to us, so the screening can’t be canceled,” he said, adding that he is calling on the audience to come and see the film.

“I think that just as in Israel we don’t boycott films by Ken Loach or Emma Thompson, who openly support BDS, there’s no reason to boycott this important film, which tells a story with which we’re not familiar. In my opinion, that’s the significance of a film festival – to bridge gaps and different points of view.”

Hochner said he suggested to Trengrove that he attend the festival and speak at it. “We’re not in a dictatorship, yet. I wanted him to come and deliver some message that suits him, but he refused. He decided not to treat us like culture-loving people who are interested in dialogue,” said Hochner.

 

BRITAIN’S FIRST GAY ENVOY TO ISRAEL TO HOST FAMILY FLOAT AT TEL AVIV PRIDE PARADE

Britain’s first gay envoy to Israel to host family float at Tel Aviv Pride Parade
By Danna Harman
May 29, 2017
Haaretz

When this year’s Tel Aviv pride parade gets going two weekends from now, there will be a new sign-of -the-times addition: the family-friendly float, courtesy of the British Embassy in Israel.

With an ever-growing number of gay couples and singles in Israel – and in other countries around the world – starting families, it was only natural that the kiddos were finally and officially invited to the party. They will join the festivities 19 years after the gay community here held its first ever pride parade through Tel Aviv’s streets.

The force behind the float and the overall campaign calling on gay families to join in the fun is British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey, the first openly gay envoy to this country. Quarrey, along with his husband Aldo Oliver Henrique, is featured in a just-released video to introduce the family float and family theme to this year’s gay pride parade.

“This year on the 9th of June we will be celebrating diversity and inclusion,” says Quarrey in the upbeat video, which is filled with all stripes of gay couples and singles, bopping along to peppy music with cute kids or dogs or just alone in front of brightly colored backgrounds. “We are particularly focusing on LGBT families and would like you to march with us in our family-friendly float,” continues his husband Henrique. “We really hope we will see you there!” they conclude before the tag line – “Love is Great. Britain” – flashes on the screen.

The float is being sponsored by Dan Hotels chain in Israel.

According to designer Idan Ramon and parade organizers, the float, which is fashioned to look like a big ship, will be easy to mount, and the music it will boom out will be “family friendly.” It will also be the last float in the parade, presumably so it can keep a safe distance from the arguably less family-friendly celebrations being planned for out front.

In addition to initiating and riding on the float, Quarrey will host an event for speakers in the LGBT high-tech community at his residence during pride week, in collaboration with LGBTech and Lesbians Who Tech.

 

WHAT TRUMP NOT SIGNING A JERUSALEM EMBASSY WAIVER WOULD REALLY MEAN

What Trump not signing a Jerusalem embassy waiver would really mean
By Eugene Kontorovich
Washington Post
May 30, 2017

On Thursday, President Barack Obama’s last waiver pursuant to the Jerusalem Embassy Act will expire. Absent a new waiver by President Trump, the provisions of the law will go into full effect. Trump promised during his campaign to move the embassy, a policy embodied both in federal law and the Republican Party platform. But since he came into office, Trump’s promise seems to have lost some momentum.

This piece will examine the mechanics of the Embassy Act waiver – it is not actually a waiver on moving the embassy. The details of the law make it a particularly convenient way for Trump to defy now-lowered expectations and not issue a waiver on June 1.

First, some context. Many commentators have sought to cast a possible Trump waiver as proof that Obama’s Israeli policy is really the only possible game in town. But whether or not a waiver is issued, Trump has succeeded in fundamentally changing the discussion about the U.S.-Israel relationship. Waivers under the 1995 act come twice a year, and for the past two decades, they have hardly warranted a news item. Under the Bush and Obama administrations, they were entirely taken for granted.

Now everyone is holding his or her breath to see whether Trump will sign the waiver. If he does, it will certainly be a disappointment to his supporters. But if he does not, it is not the end of the show – he will have seven more waivers ahead, with mounting pressure as his term progresses. Under Obama, speculation focused on what actions he would take or allow against Israel (and even these waited until very late in his second term).

***

The waiver available to the president under the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 does not waive the obligation to move the embassy. That policy has been fully adopted by Congress in the Act (sec. 3(a)(3)) and is not waivable. Of course, Congress cannot simply order the president to implement such a move, especially given his core constitutional power over diplomatic relations.

But Congress, having total power over the spending of taxpayer dollars, does not have to pay for an embassy in Tel Aviv. The Act’s enforcement mechanism is to suspend half of the appropriated funds for the State Department’s “Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad” until the law’s terms are complied with. The waiver provision simply allows the president to waive the financial penalty.

What this means is that by not signing a waiver, Trump would not actually be requiring the embassy to move to Jerusalem, moving the embassy or recognizing Jerusalem. That could give him significant diplomatic flexibility or deniability if June 1 goes by with mere silence from the White House.

Moreover, the law says nothing about “moving” the embassy. Rather, the requirement is to “officially open” an embassy, which can be done with a mere declaration upgrading the status of one of the existing consular facilities in the city. It does not require the physical relocation of the facility in Tel Aviv.

Non-waiver would be a wise tactical move for Trump. If he signs a waiver, he is certain to face deep pushback from his base at a time he needs its support the most. The only grounds that the statute allows for waiver are “national security interests.” Trump can expect congressional hearings seeking to determine whether the waiver was in fact motivated by national security or, as many reports suggest, by the diplomatic pleas of King Hussein.

But if Trump simply does nothing, he gets a clear and easy win on a campaign plank at a time when his agenda seems to have gotten bogged down. Unlike ending Obamacare or restricting immigration, for example, non-waiver does not require (additional) congressional buy-in, staff work, judicial assent or anything.

On the other hand, Trump has faced deep opposition to many of his policies from State Department staffers. (They are particularly unhappy about planned budget cuts.) Foggy Bottom has apparently been pushing against Trump carrying out his campaign promise regarding the embassy.

But the moment June 2 comes without a waiver, the State Department will become Trump’s biggest ally in finding a way to “establish[]” an embassy as fast as possible to avoid the severe spending cuts. At the same time, Trump can insist to the world that his non-waiver does not signify any kind of diplomatic policy, but merely a determination that the waiver is no longer “necessary” to protect national security.

In short, Trump can use the mechanics of the law to tie the hands of a recalcitrant bureaucracy while claiming deniability on diplomatic matters (just as the Obama administration said its non-veto of Security Council Resolution 2334 against Israel does not mean it supports the resolution).

As I explained in the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages last week, the national security argument for the waiver “has been undermined by the massive changes in the region since 1995.”

I wrote there:

“While the Palestinian issue was once at the forefront of Arab politics, today Israel’s neighbors are preoccupied with a nuclear Iran and radical Islamic groups. For the Sunni Arab states, the Trump administration’s harder line against Iran is far more important than Jerusalem. To be sure, a decision to move the embassy could serve as a pretext for attacks by groups like al Qaeda. But they are already fully motivated against the U.S.”

Indeed, in a move largely ignored by the media, Russia recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital a few months ago. This is the first international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and no one saw it coming. And none of the dire consequences that such a recognition was supposed to bring have materialized. This despite the fact that it constitutes a drastic reversal of the Kremlin’s traditionally totally pro-Palestinian policy. Recall Mahmoud Abbas wrote his Holocaust-denying dissertation at Moscow’s Patrice Lumumba University, a higher educational institution for Third World revolutionaries and terrorists.

Whatever Trump decides to do – or not do – on Thursday, one thing is certain: The waiver debate is not going away.

 

“HE IS NOT AN EBOLA CARRIER”

Campus muzzling leaves a mark
By Richard Cohen
The Washington Post
May 30, 2017

From time to time, I email Allison Stanger. She answers always, but says she is not yet healthy enough to talk. On March 2, Stanger was escorting the social scientist Charles Murray, whose speech at Middlebury College where she teaches had just been shouted down, when the mob charged their car. “Someone pulled my hair,” she recounted, “while others were shoving me. I feared for my life.” The car was rocked. Stanger is still recovering from a concussion.

Last week, Middlebury disciplined 67 students for what happened that night. Some were put on probation and others were cited with the college equivalent of a demerit that will go in their “permanent record” -- all in all, a slap on the wrist for students who deserved something more severe. Their offenses were not incidental. They had trifled with freedom of speech, academic freedom and, not incidentally, the health of a professor who was merely trying to facilitate the implementation of those rights. Charles Murray is controversial. He is not an Ebola carrier.

Middlebury’s disgrace was one of several incidents this year in which controversial or studiously obnoxious speakers were either run off campuses or were intimidated from coming. These included Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos, in the first category, as well as Heather Mac Donald and Murray, conservative scholars with interesting, if provocative, things to say. Mac Donald, the author of “War on Cops,” is a critic of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Murray is best known for co-writing the book “The Bell Curve.” Suffice it to say it deals with the intellectual nitroglycerin of race and IQ. When it exploded upon publication in 1994, the New Republic devoted most of one issue to shredding it. Still, Murray survived to write other books, and while he is a conservative, he is redeemed by being vociferously anti-Trump. Maybe he will someday do a book on the link between real estate development and IQ.

Far more dangerous than what any of these speakers has to say is the reaction to it. The protesters -- some of them non-students -- are involved in what’s called, to invoke a trendy term, “cultural appropriation.” In this case, it is the culture of fascism. Benito Mussolini’s rise to power in Italy was facilitated by the steady use of violent protesters to break up meetings and silence opponents. The tactic proved successful, and in 1922 Mussolini became dictator of Italy. Hitler, on the other side of the Alps, took careful notes.

I won’t flatter the student protesters by asserting they are aware of their ideological antecedents. But I will say that those who chose not to hear Mac Donald or Murray missed something. Mac Donald, who writes often for The Wall Street Journal, knows her stuff. You may not agree with her, but she is reasonable and learned. As for Murray, his caricature as a white racist is a simplistic libel. I am not prepared to defend “The Bell Curve” -- it has been years since I’ve read it -- but that’s beside the point. It’s for Murray to defend. And if given the opportunity, I’m sure he can do it.

Maybe, as some have argued, campus intolerance is escalating in reaction to Donald Trump. He has a pugnacious affect that encourages a like reaction. He wants to silence the critical press. He dismissed his critics as “losers.” He always seems to be spoiling for a fight -- and not a fair one, either. But Trump’s simian behavior is no excuse for violence.

The Vietnam War engendered the same sort of fascistic response. In the name of a good cause -- ending the war -- the occasional protester set off the occasional bomb. One, ostensibly directed at the University of Wisconsin’s cooperation with the Defense Department, nearly demolished Sterling Hall on the Madison campus. It killed a physics researcher, whose work was entirely unconnected with the Pentagon, not that it matters any. The mad, arrogant virtue that animated the bombers is little different than what drove Manchester’s suicide bomber to wantonly kill kids at the Ariana Grande concert. Spare us the true believers.

I have known Stanger a bit over the years. To me, she personifies the scholarly life -- fluent in Russian, fluent in Czech, fluent in critical ideas. She has her politics, avowedly Democratic, but she agreed to moderate the discussion with Murray solely because she believes in the robust exchange of views. Now she suffers because some protesters thought they were entitled to silence Murray and injure Stanger. Middlebury got a black eye, Stanger got a concussion -- and we all got a warning.

 

MANCHESTER BOMBING HIGHLIGHTS UN HYPOCRISY ON TERROR

Manchester bombing highlights UN hypocrisy on terror
By Michael Rubin
Washington Examiner
May 23, 2017

As thousands of teens and young adults enjoyed an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena, Salman Abedi, a 23-year-old detonated a bomb he had strapped to his body. That he packed the bomb with nails made his goal clear: He not only wanted to kill as many innocents as possible, but maim many times more.

The Manchester attack is terrorism, plain and simple. There is no justification nor would any self-respecting politician nor diplomat even attempt to offer one.
But what if someone detonated a nail-packed bomb amidst a crowd of children and other civilians and both the human rights community and European diplomats said it was justified?

That’s exactly what happened 15 years ago when the United Nations Human Rights Commission, operating under the leadership of former Irish President Mary Robinson, did just that against the context of a wave of suicide bombings in Israel.

In an April 15, 2002 vote, 40 countries – including Austria, Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain and Sweden – argued that Palestinians could engage “all available means, including armed struggle” to establish a Palestinian state. That U.N. Human Rights Commission resolution enshrined the right to conduct suicide bombing in international humanitarian law. After all, many academics, diplomats, and human rights activists argue that the U.N. and its human rights wings set the precedent that becomes the foundation for international humanitarian and human rights law.

When the Human Rights Commission voted, Israel was weathering a months-long suicide bombing campaign that, at its height, saw multiple bombings of buses, cafes and other public buildings every week. Many European diplomats might have been frustrated with Israel’s counter-terrorism policies and unwillingness to accept the European view of the peace process, but to channel that frustration into a resolution that legitimized deliberate targeting and murder of civilians created a precedent which went far beyond the politics of the day.

European diplomats and many academics might hold their nose and sneer at Israel and attacks on its citizens. A German court recently even ruled that the firebombing of a local synagogue was not anti-Semitic but rather an expression of anti-Israel protest. But they should recognize that Israel is not a pariah to isolate and condemn but rather the canary in the coal mine for the civilized world. Violence that they legitimize inside Israel or against Jews will not be limited to Israel. Legitimacy is easy to grant, but once granted, it tends to bleed outward upon the skids of moral equivalence and is hard to take away.

Alas, Robinson’s 2002 legitimization of suicide bombing was not the only time human rights advocates excused terrorism. The American Friends Service Committee, the non-governmental organization of the Quakers, has done it. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch researchers and employees still do it. Some academics and activists have even proposed talking to Al Qaeda.

What happened Monday night in Manchester is a tragedy. It is terrorism. And it is evil. There can be neither moral justification of Abedi’s actions nor any mitigating factors for those who indoctrinated, trained, and equipped him; they are just as guilty.

But, on a broader level, it is essential that policymakers see terrorism as a black and white issue. To see it in shades of gray – as not only political activists but also many American diplomats are tempted to do when they counsel engagement with Hamas and Hezbollah and dialogue with state sponsors of terrorism – is to imply that some terrorism is more legitimate than others. To allow any terrorist group to reap reward from its violence, however, legitimizes murder.

It is neither sophisticated to erode moral clarity nor moral to allow a cause to legitimize murder. There is no difference between a nail bomb in Manchester and one in Baghdad, or a bus bomb in Tavistock Square and one in Tel Aviv. It is time to take a united front, even if it means dismissing those who squander humanity while confusing their own political axes with human rights law.

 

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