Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

Uprising against Hamas continues in Gaza, ignored by western media (& He’s just a kid)

March 18, 2019

 

HE’S JUST A KID…

[Notes by Tom Gross]

The Israeli murdered in today’s Palestinian terror attack has been named as Gal Keidan, age 19 (pictured above), from the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. He is not a settler, as wrongly implied in those few western media outlets who bothered to report on the terror attack

Two other Israelis were severely wounded in the attack, including the rabbi of a yeshiva in an impoverished district of south Tel Aviv.

In a statement to media, Beersheba Mayor Ruvik Danielovich* mourned the lost member of his city, who he described as a gifted science and technology student as well as a gifted musician.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin tweeted: “My thoughts are with the families who are coming to terms with the news of the horrific terrorist attack, and with the security forces who are right now in pursuit of the terrorists. The State of Israel will seek out, find and defeat all those who attack us.”

The western-funded Palestinian Authority this afternoon handed out candy and chocolate to children in the West Bank to celebrate Gal Keidan’s murder.

US envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt wrote on Twitter, “Disgustingly, but not surprisingly, Hamas & Palestinian Islamic Jihad welcomed the attack & no doubt the Palestinian Authority will reward the terrorist under its pay for slay policy.”

(* Incidentally the Beersheba mayor is a distant relative of American film legend Kirk Douglas, who was born Issur Danielovich, and of Michael Douglas.)

 

BBC NEWS WAITS 15 HOURS TO REPORT ON ROCKET ATTACK ON TEL AVIV

The BBC News website – which takes every opportunity to highlight and sometimes invent Israeli misdeeds – waited 15 hours to report on Thursday evening’s rocket attacks from Gaza on Tel Aviv.

Only after Israel hit back (at carefully selected targets to avoid killing anyone) did BBC online report: “Israel strikes militant sites in Gaza after rockets fired at Tel Aviv”.

“Israel has carried out dozens of air strikes on Palestinian militant sites in Gaza in retaliation for the firing of two rockets towards Tel Aviv.”

 

NETANYAHU CRITICIZED FOR WEAK RESPONSE

Israel’s Iron Dome reportedly intercepted one rocket over the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan and the other fell into an empty space. No Israelis were injured though several were treated for shock. Two Palestinians were lightly injured in the Israeli response. No Palestinian civilian building was damaged in the Israeli response, only Hamas and Islamic Jihad military facilities.

There has been widespread criticism in Israel of the Netanyahu government from both the Israeli center and right wing parties for Israel’s weak response to the rockets fired at Tel Aviv and nine other rockets fired on Thursday night at Jewish communities in southern Israel.

 

THE GUARDIAN CAN’T EVEN WRITE “ROCKET ATTACK”

The Guardian online described the missiles and rockets fired from Gaza to try and kill civilians in Tel Aviv on Thursday as “projectiles”.

A projectile is the term the British media usually use to describe toilet rolls and coins thrown by football fans at the pitch.

The Fajr-5 which was fired at Tel Aviv is no little rocket, as a much earlier Guardian article made clear in describing its capabilities:

Iran supplied Hamas with Fajr-5 missile technology
By Saeed Kamali Dehghan
Nov 21, 2012
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/nov/21/iran-supplied-hamas-missile-technology

 

UPRISING AGAINST HAMAS RULE CONTINUES IN GAZA, LARGELY IGNORED BY WESTERN MEDIA

The rocket attacks on Tel Aviv on Thursday night were likely an attempt by Hamas to distract from the ongoing uprising in Gaza by thousands of unarmed Palestinians against Hamas’ brutal rule – protests which are now in their fourth day but are being all but ignored by the vary same Western media, human rights groups and politicians (such as Ilhan Omar and Jeremy Corbyn) who profess to care about Palestinian lives and rights.

Israeli and independent Palestinian media report that the Hamas terror group continues to beat and shoot at Palestinian protesters. A reporter for Agence France-Presse (AFP) said that Hamas has been preventing journalists from photographing the protests.

There are reports of shootings and beatings by Hamas security forces in Khan Younis, Deir al-Balah, Bureij, Rafah, Jabalyia and other locations throughout Gaza.

 

VIDEOS: HAMAS OPEN FIRE ON PALESTINIAN DEMONSTRATORS

Hamas can be heard opening fire on Palestinians in these videos from Gaza on Friday:

https://youtu.be/DkkFMwd1YWQ

https://twitter.com/i/status/1106278632874487810

And here are photos from one of the few western news outlets reporting on the uprising against Hamas:

https://btnews.online/gaza-riots-day-3-hamas-shoots-beats-demonstrators-against-its-corruption-and-oppressive-rule/

An aide to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his approval for the uprising against Hamas. Hussein al-Sheikh wrote on twitter, in reference to Hamas, “Gaza is rising up in the face of oppressors.”

 

HAMAS DEATH THREATS TO PALESTINIAN AND FOREIGN JOURNALISTS

Palestinian Journalists in Gaza report receiving death threats delivered from Hamas by text to their cell phones to deter them from covering the protests. The Director General of Palestine TV, Raafah al Qudra has been arrested as a part of a crackdown on media outlets covering the protests.

Unconfirmed reports say that Hamas is holding 600 protesters, including women and minors at the Rantisi detention site in Jabaliya, as protests continue into the night.

 

“PRO-PALESTINIAN”? NO, JUST ANTI-ISRAEL / ANTI-SEMITIC

The pro-Palestinian activists who dominate the European and American Left and take to the streets to protest Israel and “Free Palestine” at every opportunity are suddenly silent at this Hamas violence against innocent civilians in Gaza.

 

BBC ANCHOR: ANTI-SEMITISM “NOT THAT BAD”

Justin Webb, a host of the BBC flagship Radio Four “Today” program, has apologized after he suggested on air last Tuesday that anti-Semitism isn’t as bad as other forms of racism. (In fact, Justin Webb is better than some of the other BBC news hosts who can barely disguise their outright disdain and contempt for anything to do with Israel.)

***

The BBC World Service news which I listened to this evening mentioned neither the terror attack against Israelis today nor the violent Hamas crackdown in Gaza in its entire hour-long news broadcast, but its second “World news headline” was a minor story about the banning of a fringe extreme right-wing candidate in next month’s Israeli election. This was ahead or reports on all kinds of major news developments around the world.

 

* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

Ilhan Omar: Obama’s a ‘pretty face’ who got ‘away with murder’

March 08, 2019

Ilhan Omar said in a new interview today that may further irritate (or be seen as a challenge to) the Democratic Party establishment that Obama and Trump are two of the same. Obama was just more polished, she told Politico

 

ILHAN OMAR: OBAMA’S A ‘PRETTY FACE’ WHO GOT ‘AWAY WITH MURDER’

* “Earlier Omar, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized Israel for – well, she didn’t say what – while traveling in the Horn of Africa. ‘Proud to see peace prosper here,’ she wrote from Eritrea.

“Eritrea is ranked just behind North Korea as the world’s most oppressive country. But if you’re a young Muslim woman of color, smearing democratic Israel while praising much more abhorrent regimes can sound really, really cool.”

***

This is a follow-up to the dispatch earlier today about how the Democratic Party establishment is feeling increasingly intimated by the young progressives such as Ilhan Omar: “American Jews like to say America is different. We’re about see if that is true”

I attach two further pieces below -- Tom Gross

 

ILHAN TAKES AIM AT OBAMA IN POLITICO INTERVIEW

Ilhan Omar: Obama’s a ‘pretty face’ who got ‘away with murder’
By Bob Fredericks
New York Post
March 8, 2019

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar ripped former President Barack Obama in an interview published Friday, belittling his “pretty face” and saying his agenda of hope and change was an illusion.

[Tom Gross: the full interview is here].

She cited the “caging of kids” at the Mexican border and the “droning of countries around the world” on Obama’s watch – and argued that he wasn’t much different from President Trump

“We can’t be only upset with Trump,” the freshman firebrand told Politico Magazine.

“His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was,” Omar said.

“And that’s not what we should be looking for anymore. We don’t want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.”

The explosive comments about a man lionized by Democrats were only the latest in a series of incendiary statements that have put the national spotlight on Omar, a Somali-American Muslim who spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya after her family fled the violence in their homeland.

In February, her second month in office, Omar responded to a tweet about House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s threats to punish her and another congresswoman for criticizing Israel.

“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” she tweeted, a line from a Puff Daddy song about $100 bills.

Critics said Omar was perpetuating a hateful trope about Jewish Americans and money.

She recently got into another hot mess after another tweet was slammed by some as anti-Semitic.

The ensuing firestorm rattled the Democratic House majority and spurred days of recriminations and tense negotiations that led to the compromise package condemning bigotry that sailed through the House on Thursday, with only 23 Republicans voting against it.

The party’s leftist wing, led by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said Omar was being singled out when others at the highest levels of government had said things that were worse and escaped censure.

More moderate Dems, including Jewish lawmakers such as New York’s Eliot Engle, wanted the resolution to focus only on anti-Semitism as a direct response to Omar’s comment, which questioned the loyalty of politicians who accept donations from pro-Israel PACs and organizations.

Ultimately, after days of chaos and acrimony, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was able to unite her caucus – and box in a big majority of Republicans – to back the compromise.

And Omar – along with Rashida Tlaib of Michigan the first Muslim women in Congress – said she’s willing to keep speaking out and be a Republican punching bag if it helps advance her agenda, a prospect that likely makes many of her fellow Democrats cringe.

 

HOW CAN THE ANTI-ZIONISTS PRETEND THE WORLD WOULD BE BETTER OFF WITHOUT ISRAEL?

How can the anti-Zionists pretend the world would be better off without Israel?
By Benny Avni
New York Post
March 8, 2019

Anti-Zionism manifests itself in many forms – and it isn’t any better than its older cousin, anti-Semitism.

Britain’s opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has elevated it to an art form, describing terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends” and causing Labour members to bolt. In France, persistent attacks on Jews and deadly rioting by self-declared anti-Zionists forced President Emmanuel Macron to ­denounce their cause as a “reinvented form of anti-Semitism.”

Now a new crop of American politicians want in, too. Oh, sure, our anti-Zionists claim to champion the right to criticize Israel. Or its policies. Or Likud. Or the occupation, apartheid, racism, whatever. It’s just an accident that the new anti-Zionists are obsessed with the world’s one Jewish state.

On Monday, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who’s become Corbyn’s BFF) took to Twitter to defend the right of her colleague Ilhan Omar to hate – oops, “criticize” – Israel. So did Rep. Rashida Tlaib and, soon after, three leading Democratic presidential contenders.

Earlier Omar, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized Israel for – well, she didn’t say what – while traveling in the Horn of Africa. “Proud to see peace prosper here,” she wrote from Eritrea.

Eritrea is ranked just behind North Korea as the world’s most oppressive country. But if you’re a young Muslim woman of color, smearing democratic Israel while praising much more abhorrent regimes can sound really, really cool.

On the left, “Zionism is racism” is back in vogue. Never mind that the far right’s racists are all-in, too: David Duke is now a full-fledged “anti-Zionist” and celebrates Omar.

What drives today’s anti-Zionists? Is it principled opposition to Theodore Herzl’s vision, born in the late 19th century, of Jews ­returning to their ancestral land?

Herzl famously said: “If you will it, it is no dream.” And just like Kevin Costner’s baseball diamond in a cornfield, the early Zionists built the dream, and the Jewish people came.

Today Israel is a global power with a rambunctious democratic culture, a free press and a booming, innovative economy.

The Zionists ended the image of Jews as perpetual victims. In an age when victimhood is fetishized, Israel’s triumph is frowned upon.

But anti-Zionism isn’t so new or hip. It was first perfected by Josef Stalin, who drew on Russian anti-Semitism by renaming it – with deadly results to any Soviet comrade suspected of Zionism.

The Soviet doctrine persisted after Stalin and was eventually embedded in a United Nations resolution that still echoes in Turtle Bay’s halls and beyond decades after its smear was rescinded: Zionism is racism. The Soviet Union collapsed; the Jewish state survived.

Do today’s anti-Zionists truly envision a better world if Israel ceased to exist? And what happens to the Israelis in that scenario?

“Go back to where you came from” is nonsense, as most Israeli Jews were born there. Instead, ­sophisticated anti-Zionists advocate a “one-state solution” that would turn the country into a multinational state with no established religion.

But that “religion” thing is nonsense too. True, Israel celebrates Jewish holidays, and things slow down on Saturdays. But Israel is a nation, not an open-air synagogue. Roughly half of Israelis are secularists, worshipping the art of living well rather than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

And whether religious or secular, Israelis look around in their neighborhood, and they prefer an open, Jewish-majority society to the Mideast’s other oppressive ­regimes. A binational state would threaten their vibrant democracy – and likely exacerbate Arab-Jew enmity, rather than end it.

But sure, want to criticize Israel? Go for it. But if you appear obsessed with one state and one state only, while ignoring China’s oppression of Muslims, cheering on the thuggish Venezuelan regime or praising Eritrea, your critique will be idiotic – and also bigoted.

By the way: Israel’s election campaign is in full gear, and everything – policy, politics, personal life, police investigations – is out in the open. Just listen to vicious but fact-based attacks that are made by, well, true Blue and White Zionists against each other. They’re better at it than Omar & Co.

 

* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

“American Jews like to say America is different. We’re about see if that is true”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (left), has issued a fund raiser to her 4.3 million twitter followers to “defend” her fellow radical member of Congress, “brave” Ilhan Omar (right), following Omar’s latest anti-Semitic outburst

 

CHOOSING TO STOKE ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE WAKE OF THE PITTSBURGH MASSACRE

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach five articles (including one by Barack Obama’s former chief of staff) condemning the Democratic Party leadership for failing to unambiguously rebuke their own radical members for their anti-Semitism. (There are extracts first for those who don’t have time to read the pieces in full.)

The text of a congressional resolution that was initially intended as a condemnation of anti-Semitism, but was then so watered down as to become meaningless and finally passed last night, is being dismissed this morning as “a joke.”

Jonathan Tobin writes in one of the pieces below: “It not only avoided mentioning Omar, but was also turned into a laundry list of every conceivable sort of hatred (with the sole exception of bias against Catholics and evangelical Christians that has been demonstrated by many liberal Democrats in recent years). It was the moral equivalent of the response to the Black Lives Matter movement by some, who spoke instead of all lives mattering – a stand that most Democrats condemned.”

Although this story has been covered in the US press in recent days, about half the readers of these dispatches live outside the US, and the coverage in Europe and elsewhere has often been very misleading.

For example, in Britain, the flagship BBC “Today” program this morning deliberately avoided telling its audience about any of congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s repeated anti-Semitic utterances (for example, “Israel has hypnotized the world. May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel”). Instead the BBC made it sound like Omar was the victim because Jews and others had dared to point out that she was again deliberately choosing to stoke anti-Semitism in the wake of the Pittsburgh massacre.

 

KU KLUX KLAN RACIST PRAISES OMAR

It is not just left wing Democrat Party hopefuls Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who have leapt to Omar’s defense.

Among Omar’s biggest cheerleaders in the US yesterday were prominent racists such as former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.

 

“ILHAN OMAR IS HURTING THE PALESTINIAN CAUSE”

Unlike Bernie Sanders, some Muslims have unambiguously condemned Omar.

For example, Hussein Ibish, a scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington writes:

Omar's rhetoric is a disaster that reinforces divisive stereotypes about supposed Muslim hostility to Jews. As someone who has spent more than 20 years in Washington working on Arab and Muslim-American problems and championing the Palestinian cause, I implore Omar to learn more about the issues at stake. In the meantime, I have one thing to say to her: Please, just stop it!

See also devout Muslim Qanta Ahmed criticizing Omar’s anti-Semitism.

Max Boot writes in The Washington Post:

No one ever accuses supporters of the U.S.-Britain “special relationship” of owing allegiance to a foreign country. Nor do supporters of the U.S. alliances with Canada, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Poland or any other country face such accusations. Only supporters of Israel. This is an old and ugly anti-Semitic canard. It should be a no-brainer for Democrats to condemn what Omar said.

 

TONY BLAIR WARNS

British Jews are now being hounded out of the British Labor Party in droves.

The Democratic Party leadership (and Jewish members of the party) may wish to heed the warning of former British Labour Party leader and Prime Minister Tony Blair about how the anti-Semitic radical far left can take over a moderate liberal party.

Here, for example, is a radio interview with Blair on Wednesday.

-- Tom Gross

 

ARTICLE EXTRACTS

“THE METAPHYSICAL, CONSPIRATORIAL HATRED OF JEWS IS A SYMPTOM OF CIVILIZATION IN DECLINE”

Dominic Green writes in The Spectator (American edition):

When Ilhan Omar says that there’s too much money in American politics, she’s stating the obvious. That’s why I support her brave campaign against the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Realtors, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, General Electric, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Business Roundtable, the AARP, and Boeing.

These are America’s top 10 lobby groups, ranked by total spending over the last 20 years. In 2018, the US Chamber of Commerce spent $94.8 million on lobbying. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, spent $21.7 million and surged to Number Eight on the charts. [Tom Gross adds: Not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars the Gulf Arab states have poured into American universities and non-profits] The America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) ranked Number 157, and spent $3.5 million. Who knew you could buy America so cheaply?

Ilhan, that’s who…

The 19th-century British prime minister Viscount Palmerston said that great powers have interests, not friends. Omar’s notion that the greatest power in history is somehow beholden to a faraway state the size of New Jersey is a delusion. So is her notion that Israel, a state which has taken to best part of seven decades to set up a railroad network, possesses diabolical powers to ‘hypnotize’ the world. So is her idea that Israel’s supporters, Jewish and not, operate by making congressmen and senators ‘pledge allegiance’, like a militia in a failed state. This last might be Omar’s biggest delusion of all…

She denounces Israel and Saudi Arabia, who oppose the Muslim Brotherhood, but not Turkey or Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood’s sponsors. She may be ignorant, but she knows exactly what she is doing. She is furtive and duplicitous, and she is successfully importing the language and ideas of racism into a susceptible Democratic party…

The Democratic leadership tried to co-opt the energy of the post-2008 grassroots, to give its exhausted rainbow coalition an infusion of 21st-century identity politics. The failure to issue the promised condemnation of Omar shows that a European-style ‘red-green’ alliance of hard leftists and Islamists is co-opting the party. This, like the pro-Democratic media’s extended PR work for Rashida Tlaib and that other left-Islamist pinup Linda Sarsour, reflects a turning point in American history.

The metaphysical, conspiratorial hatred of Jews is a symptom of civilization in decline. … American Jews like to say America is different. We’re about see if those ideas are true.

 

“IT’S A SCANDAL SHE WAS ELECTED TO CONGRESS IN THE FIRST PLACE”

John Podhoretz writes in The New York Post:

It’s really not hard to get to the bottom of this: When you say that Jews have magical hypnotic powers to control other people, you’re an anti-Semite. When you say Jews control other people through money, you’re an anti-Semite. When you say Jews have conspired to force you to apologize for saying anti-Semitic things, you’re an anti-Semite. Ilhan Omar is an anti-Semite…

It is also true that Jews constitute 2 percent of the population of the United States. In 1950, we were 4 percent. Jews are shrinking in size, not growing. We are smaller, not larger, in number.

So what we have here in Omar is a member of a larger minority group bullying a smaller minority group. It shouldn’t be hard condemning such a thing…

Pelosi and Hoyer aren’t idiots, they know perfectly well what Omar is. The thing is, it matters less to them than being on the right side of their party’s young vanguard in the House…

If Omar were guilty of Islamophobia, as well, that too should be included in a resolution condemning her. Doing whatever you can to dilute a resolution against real acts of anti-Semitism in this fashion is called whitewashing.

No one started this conversation about Ilhan Omar save Ilhan Omar and her fanatical and obsessional expressions of the most destructive form of hate in the modern era. It’s a scandal she was elected to Congress in the first place, but that’s the fault of the voters of her district, and they should suffer for their choice by seeing her sidelined and their interests ill-represented…

 

“IT’S HOW SELF-DECLARED ANTI-FASCISTS DEVELOP THEIR OWN FORMS OF FASCISM”

Bret Stephens writes in The New York Times:

… Like many self-described progressives, Omar does not like Israel. That’s a shame, not least because Israel is the only country in its region that embraces the sorts of values the Democratic Party claims to champion. When was the last time there was a gay-pride parade in Ramallah, a women’s rights march in Gaza, or an opposition press in Tehran? In what Middle Eastern country other than Israel can an attorney general indict a popular and powerful prime minister on corruption charges?

But America is a free country, and Omar is within her rights to think what she will about Israel or any other state. Contrary to a self-serving myth among Israel’s detractors, there’s rarely a social or reputational penalty for publicly criticizing Israeli policies today. It’s ubiquitous on college campuses and commonplace in editorial pages. And contrary to some recent comments from Senator Elizabeth Warren, no serious person claims criticism of Israel is ipso facto anti-Semitic. My last column called on Benjamin Netanyahu to resign. Last I checked, the Anti-Defamation League has not denounced me.

Omar, however, isn’t just a critic of Israel…. [Hers] is also a case study in the insidious cunning and latent power of anti-Jewish bigotry – proof that anti-Semitism is not, after all, merely the socialism of fools. Omar, I suspect, knows exactly what she is doing. She pleads ignorance when it suits her, saying she was unaware that her references to hypnosis and “Benjamins” might be considered offensive. Or she wraps herself in the flag, sounding almost like Pat Buchanan when he called Congress “Israeli-occupied” territory. Or she invokes free speech, telling Lowey “our democracy is built on debate” – as if the debate she wants to force is as innocuous as a dispute over a spending bill…

The goal is not to win the argument… Ideas once thought of as intellectually uncouth and morally repulsive have suddenly become merely controversial. It’s how anti-Zionism has abruptly become an acceptable point of view in reputable circles. It’s why anti-Semitism is just outside the frame, bidding to get in…

In the Senate, the presidential hopefuls Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have weighed in with statements that painted Omar as a victim of Islamophobia – which she is – without mentioning that she’s also a purveyor of anti-Semitic bigotry – which she surely is as well.

It says something about the progressive movement today that it has no trouble denouncing Republican racism, real and alleged, every day of the week but has so much trouble calling out naked anti-Semite in its own ranks. This is how progressivism becomes Corbynism. It’s how the left finds its own path toward legitimizing hate. It’s how self-declared anti-fascists develop their own forms of fascism…

 

“OMAR IS ASSOCIATING HERSELF WITH CALAMITIES FROM THE SPANISH INQUISITION TO THE RUSSIAN POGROMS TO THE HOLOCAUST. THAT’S NOT HISTORICAL COMPANY THAT ANY AMERICAN SHOULD WANT TO KEEP”

Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama’s former chief of staff and currently the mayor of Chicago, writes in The Atlantic:

I’m all for new voices in the U.S. Congress. But lately, some of those new voices have been voicing some very old canards…

No one is questioning the right of members of Congress and others to criticize Israeli policies. But Omar is crossing a line that should not be crossed in political discourse. Her remarks are not anti-Israel; they are anti-Semitic…

Representative Omar is repeating some of the ugliest stereotypes about Jews… that calls our devotion to America into question.

In 2002, well before Donald Trump and other “birthers” questioned Barack Obama’s citizenship, I had to produce my U.S. birth certificate in my first run for Congress to disprove false assertions about my background and loyalties.

But it’s not just me who’s been subject to questions of dual loyalty. For centuries, this trope has been aimed at Jews in countries around the world. In embracing it, Omar is associating herself with calamities from the Spanish Inquisition to the Russian pogroms to the Holocaust. That’s not historical company that any American should want to keep.

Question my allegiance to this country [is] … just as wrong as suggesting that all Muslims are potential terrorists and should be banned from entering this country… It’s time for Omar to learn that lesson.

 

THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY JUST TOOK ANOTHER STEP TOWARDS BEING CORBYNIZED

Jonathan Tobin writes in JNS:

… But while the Democrats are not yet the moral equivalent of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the British Labour Party, there can no longer be any doubt that AOC, Omar and Tlaib are far from powerless. Indeed, they have not only intimidated the Democratic leadership, but also demonstrated their ability to rally much of the party, including leading presidential candidates, around the cause of defending Omar from facing any consequences for her anti-Semitic hate. This feat calls into question not only the future of a bipartisan consensus on behalf of Israel, but also the future of the Democratic Party as a political home for centrist Americans.

But above and beyond the political implications of Omar’s evading consequences for her spreading of hate, this should shock American Jews out of any remaining complacency they might have had about the willingness of the Democrats to stand with them against anti-Jewish bias…

Three of the leading Democratic candidates for president – Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren – supported these claims when, while condemning anti-Semitism out of one side of their mouths, they also defended Omar and opposed any specific condemnation of her hate…

Equally disingenuous is the claim that the right is as guilty of anti-Semitism as the left. The claims that U.S. President Donald Trump and Republican members of Congress are also guilty anti-Semitism are bogus. There is simply no comparison to what the Democrats are enabling and even supporting from Omar and anything that GOP officeholders have done or said with respect to anti-Semitism.

The resolution that did pass was a joke. It not only avoided mentioning Omar, but was also turned into a laundry list of every conceivable sort of hatred (with the sole exception of bias against Catholics and evangelical Christians that has been demonstrated by many liberal Democrats in recent years). It was the moral equivalent of the response to the Black Lives Matter movement by some, who spoke instead of all lives mattering – a stand that most Democrats had condemned.

AOC and her leftist pals are setting the agenda for Democrats. This will have a genuine impact on the 2020 presidential race, which has already appeared to show that Democrats have been shifting to the left, and make it easier for attacks on Israel and Jews to become part of the campaign.

This ought to horrify the majority of American Jews who remain loyal supporters of the Democrats. But don’t expect many of them to take action or do anything to hold their party accountable. In this hyper-partisan era, most liberal Jews are more interested in defeating Trump than in confronting anti-Semitism…


ARTICLES

THE DEMOCRATS ARE BECOMING THE PARTY OF THE JEW-HATERS

The Democrats are becoming the party of the Jew-haters
A party and a civilization in moral decline
By Dominic Green
The Spectator USA
March 7, 2019

When Ilhan Omar says that there’s too much money in American politics, she’s stating the obvious. That’s why I support her brave campaign against the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Realtors, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, General Electric, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Business Roundtable, the AARP, and Boeing.

These are America’s top 10 lobby groups, ranked by total spending over the last 20 years. In 2018, the US Chamber of Commerce spent $94.8 million on lobbying. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, spent $21.7 million and surged to Number Eight on the charts. The America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) ranked Number 157, and spent $3.5 million. Who knew you could buy America so cheaply?

Ilhan, that’s who. In 2012, only Ilhan was wise enough to see that ‘Israel has hypnotized the world’. Now, only Ilhan is bold enough to say that American support for Israel is ‘all about the Benjamins’, rather than a mass of reasons religious, strategic, cultural, and sentimental. And only Ilhan has the integrity to double down, and say, ‘I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country.’

The 19th-century British prime minister Viscount Palmerston said that great powers have interests, not friends. Omar’s notion that the greatest power in history is somehow beholden to a faraway state the size of New Jersey is a delusion. So is her notion that Israel, a state which has taken to best part of seven decades to set up a railroad network, possesses diabolical powers to ‘hypnotize’ the world. So is her idea that Israel’s supporters, Jewish and not, operate by making congressmen and senators ‘pledge allegiance’, like a militia in a failed state. This last might be Omar’s biggest delusion of all. She actually believes that promises mean something in politics.

Omar’s private thoughts are nobody else’s business. It’s not as if the doctors, Jewish ones probably, have ever dissected a brain and noted hypertrophy of the Jew-hating lobe. Words and deeds are what matters, especially in public life. In which case, anyone who claims that Omar isn’t, to use Nancy Pelosi’s formulation, an ‘intentional’ Jew-hater isn’t listening. Omar has herself apologized for what she admitted was the ‘ugly sentiment’ of her ‘hypnotized’ imagery. It took seven years, but shortly after entering Congress, she disavowed that ‘anti-Semitic trope’ as ‘unfortunate and offensive’. She also apologized ‘unequivocally’ in February after the ‘Benjamins’ episode. Her defense was that she was ignorant of the ‘painful history of anti-Semitic tropes’. She intended it; she just didn’t know what it meant.

Omar didn’t know that the language in which she expressed her malignant delusions was in the lineage of Jew-hatred in its Christian and European forms. Until she entered the national stage, she’d had no need to know. Omar’s malignant delusions are commonplace in the Arab and Muslim world from which she comes. They are commonplace among the leadership of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Hamas-friendly front organization for the Muslim Brotherhood which supported her Congressional campaign. And they have become commonplace on the left of the Democratic party.

Democrats now protest that the whites and the right have their racists too. In other words, they’re saying that two wrongs make a right. This is playground logic, and it ignores the imbalance between the two kinds of anti-Jewish racism. Firstly, no Republican leader ever posed for the cover of any other national outlet with Steve King, or Omar’s new Twitter chum David Duke. Secondly, the Republican leadership, no doubt hypnotized by the Benjamins tucked in Ivanka Trump’s suspender belt, is hostile to the white racist fringe, and the white racist fringe detests the Republican leadership. Thirdly, the white racists are nothing if not candid about their beliefs and their intentions towards the Jewish people. Ilhan Omar isn’t even honest.

Omar said she was against BDS when running for the House and then revised her position as soon as she won her set. She denounces Israel and Saudi Arabia, who oppose the Muslim Brotherhood, but not Turkey or Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood’s sponsors. She may be ignorant, but she knows exactly what she is doing. She is furtive and duplicitous, and she is successfully importing the language and ideas of racism into a susceptible Democratic party.

The buffoons who lead the Democrats are allowing Omar to mainstream anti-Jewish racism. The Democratic leadership tried to co-opt the energy of the post-2008 grassroots, to give its exhausted rainbow coalition an infusion of 21st-century identity politics. The failure to issue the promised condemnation of Omar shows that a European-style ‘red-green’ alliance of hard leftists and Islamists is co-opting the party. This, like the pro-Democratic media’s extended PR work for Rashida Tlaib and that other left-Islamist pinup Linda Sarsour, reflects a turning point in American history.

The metaphysical, conspiratorial hatred of Jews is a symptom of civilization in decline. So the inability of the Democratic leadership to call Omar a racist reflects more than the moral and ideological decay of a political party. Americans like to believe in their exceptionalism, and American Jews like to say America is different. We’re about see if those ideas are true.

 

DEMOCRATS’ REFUSAL TO CALL OUT ILHAN OMAR’S ANTI-SEMITISM IS JUST APPALLING

Democrats’ refusal to call out Ilhan Omar’s anti-semitism is just appalling
By John Podhoretz
New York Post
March 7, 2019

It’s really not hard to get to the bottom of this: When you say that Jews have magical hypnotic powers to control other people, you’re an anti-Semite. When you say Jews control other people through money, you’re an anti-Semite. When you say Jews have conspired to force you to apologize for saying anti-Semitic things, you’re an anti-Semite. Ilhan Omar is an anti-Semite.

Now what? Well, now nothing.

For a while this week there was a thought that the House of Representatives, where Omar serves as a freshman from Minnesota, might vote on a resolution condemning her anti-Semitism.

Then it was thought that maybe said resolution would come up for a vote but wouldn’t mention her name and instead condemn anti-Semitism generally.

Then it was thought that there would be a resolution that would condemn both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Now there’s no timetable for voting on anything.

What’s hard is bringing a resolution to the House floor condemning a representative’s bigotry when you don’t want to and you’re afraid of making people mad, even though what we’re talking about here is Jew-hatred. We’re talking about a member of Congress attacking a small minority group.

Yeah, I know. Jews don’t feel small, right? Jews are prosperous. Many Jews hold positions of power and authority in the United States. This is true. It is also true that Jews constitute 2 percent of the population of the United States. In 1950, we were 4 percent. Jews are shrinking in size, not growing. We are smaller, not larger, in number.

So what we have here in Omar is a member of a larger minority group bullying a smaller minority group. It shouldn’t be hard condemning such a thing.

Nope. What’s hard, or at the very least far harder than it should be: saying she’s an anti-Semite when you’re a Democratic member of the House. Or the Democratic leaders of the House.

Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, said she believed Omar’s remarks “were not intentionally anti-Semitic.” Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader, said Wednesday that he didn’t believe Omar was an anti-Semite.

Pelosi and Hoyer aren’t idiots, and they weren’t born yesterday. I’d bet a million dollars – yeah, I know, we Jews and money; it’s always money – they know perfectly well what Omar is. The thing is, it matters less to them than being on the right side of their party’s young vanguard in the House.

Here’s another: Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, who told Politico she doesn’t think Omar is an anti-Semite. Politico makes much of the fact that Schakowsky is a Jew, and she is. She also happens to be a supporter and devotee of J Street, the Democratic organization that exists to criticize Israel and the pro-Israel community in the United States.

The very fact of J Street’s existence, and that Schakowsky herself survives and thrives as an anti-Israel Jew, gives the lie to Omar’s repugnant contention about Jewish control of the conversation on Israel and the Palestinians in America. That’s about the only good thing I can say about the views of J Street and Schakowsky.

About Schakowsky running interference for Omar the anti-Semite there is nothing good that can be said, other than that Yom Kippur comes up in seven months, and on that Day of Atonement she should beat her chest blue for her sins against her own people.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, another leftist freshman in the new Congress, spoke these words about the idea of a resolution against anti-Semitism: “We need to have an ­equity in our outrage. Islamophobia needs to be included in this. We need to denounce all forms of hate. There is not hierarchy of hurt.”

No, but there’s a hierarchy of the hate Omar expresses, and that hierarchy features Jews at the top, Jews in the middle and Jews all the way down. If Omar were guilty of Islamophobia, as well, that too should be included in a resolution condemning her. Doing whatever you can to dilute a resolution against real acts of anti-Semitism in this fashion is called whitewashing.

No one started this conversation about Ilhan Omar save Ilhan Omar and her fanatical and obsessional expressions of the most destructive form of hate in the modern era. It’s a scandal she was elected to Congress in the first place, but that’s the fault of the voters of her district, and they should suffer for their choice by seeing her sidelined and their interests ill-represented.

But how her fellow Democrats in Congress choose to conduct themselves with her in their midst is one of the ways they will be judged when the time comes for them to be judged – by voters and Higher Forces.

 

THE MINNESOTA DEMOCRAT IS BRINGING CORBYNISM TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

Ilhan Omar Knows Exactly What She Is Doing
The Minnesota Democrat is bringing Corbynism to the Democratic Party.
By Bret Stephens
New York Times
March 7, 2019

There’s an old joke about upper-class British anti-Semitism: It means someone who hates Jews more than is strictly necessary. Ilhan Omar, the freshman representative from Minnesota, more than meets the progressive American version of that standard.

Like many self-described progressives, Omar does not like Israel. That’s a shame, not least because Israel is the only country in its region that embraces the sorts of values the Democratic Party claims to champion. When was the last time there was a gay-pride parade in Ramallah, a women’s rights march in Gaza, or an opposition press in Tehran? In what Middle Eastern country other than Israel can an attorney general indict a popular and powerful prime minister on corruption charges?

But America is a free country, and Omar is within her rights to think what she will about Israel or any other state. Contrary to a self-serving myth among Israel’s detractors, there’s rarely a social or reputational penalty for publicly criticizing Israeli policies today. It’s ubiquitous on college campuses and commonplace in editorial pages. And contrary to some recent comments from Senator Elizabeth Warren, no serious person claims criticism of Israel is ipso facto anti-Semitic. My last column called on Benjamin Netanyahu to resign. Last I checked, the Anti-Defamation League has not denounced me.

Omar, however, isn’t just a critic of Israel. As the joke has it, her objections to the Jewish state go well beyond what’s strictly necessary.

“Israel has hypnotized the world,” she tweeted in 2012. “May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Last month, she wrote that U.S. support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby.” A few weeks after that, she told an audience in D.C. that “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Confronted with criticism about the remark from her fellow Democrat Nita Lowey, she replied: “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”

Under intense pressure, Omar recanted those first two tweets. But she’s standing her ground on her more recent comments. It’s a case study in the ease with which strident criticism of Israel shades into anti-Semitism.

For those who don’t get it, claims that Israel “hypnotizes” the world, or that it uses money to bend others to its will, or that its American supporters “push for allegiance to a foreign country,” repackage falsehoods commonly used against Jews for centuries. People can debate the case for Israel on the merits, but people who supports the state should have to face allegations that their sympathies have been purchased, or their brain hijacked, or their loyalties divided.

It’s also a case study in the insidious cunning and latent power of anti-Jewish bigotry – proof that anti-Semitism is not, after all, merely the socialism of fools. Omar, I suspect, knows exactly what she is doing. She pleads ignorance when it suits her, saying she was unaware that her references to hypnosis and “Benjamins” might be considered offensive. Or she wraps herself in the flag, sounding almost like Pat Buchanan when he called Congress “Israeli-occupied” territory. Or she invokes free speech, telling Lowey “our democracy is built on debate” – as if the debate she wants to force is as innocuous as a dispute over a spending bill.

As the criticism of Omar mounts, it becomes that much easier for her to seem like the victim of a smear campaign, rather than the instigator of a smear. The secret of anti-Semitism has always rested, in part, on creating the perception that the anti-Semite is, in fact, the victim of the Jews and their allies. Just which powers-that-be are orchestrating that campaign? Why are they afraid of open debate? And what about all the bigotry on their side?

The goal is not to win the argument, at least not anytime soon. Yet merely by refusing to fold, Omar stands to shift the range of acceptable discussion – the so-called Overton window – sharply in her direction. Ideas once thought of as intellectually uncouth and morally repulsive have suddenly become merely controversial. It’s how anti-Zionism has abruptly become an acceptable point of view in reputable circles. It’s why anti-Semitism is just outside the frame, bidding to get in.

House Democrats are now wrangling over the text of a resolution that was initially intended as a condemnation of anti-Semitism, with Omar as its implicit target. At this writing it is mired in predictable controversy, as members of the party’s progressive wing and black caucus rally to Omar’s side in the first open challenge to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership. In the Senate, the presidential hopefuls Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Warren have weighed in with statements that painted Omar as a victim of Islamophobia – which she is – without mentioning that she’s also a purveyor of anti-Semitic bigotry – which she surely is as well.

It says something about the progressive movement today that it has no trouble denouncing Republican racism, real and alleged, every day of the week but has so much trouble calling out naked anti-Semite in its own ranks. This is how progressivism becomes Corbynism. It’s how the left finds its own path toward legitimizing hate. It’s how self-declared anti-fascists develop their own forms of fascism.

If Pelosi can’t muster a powerful and unequivocal resolution condemning anti-Semitism, then Omar will have secured her political future and won a critical battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. At that point, the days when American Jews can live comfortably within the Democratic fold will be numbered.

 

“IT WAS ANTI-SEMITIC THEN, AND IT’S ANTI-SEMITIC NOW”

I’ve Faced the Charge of Dual Loyalty
It was anti-Semitic then, and it’s anti-Semitic now.
By Rahm Emanuel
44th mayor of Chicago
March 7, 2019

I’m all for new voices in the U.S. Congress. But lately, some of those new voices have been voicing some very old canards.

I’m talking about Representative Ilhan Omar, one of the newly elected Democrats who populate the 116th Congress. Omar has attracted much news coverage, and the condemnation of most of her fellow Democrats, for promoting some ugly tropes about Jews.

First, when questioning long-standing congressional support for Israel, she blamed the campaign money provided by pro-Israel supporters. “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” she tweeted.

After apologizing for that comment and acknowledging her need to be “educated,” she followed with another tweet, questioning the “allegiance” of supporters of Israel, intimating that we place the concerns of Israel above those of the country that we call home.

No one is questioning the right of members of Congress and others to criticize Israeli policies. But Omar is crossing a line that should not be crossed in political discourse. Her remarks are not anti-Israel; they are anti-Semitic.

Whether consciously or not, Representative Omar is repeating some of the ugliest stereotypes about Jews – tropes that have been unleashed by anti-Semites throughout history. She is casting Jewish Americans as the other, suggesting a dual loyalty that calls our devotion to America into question.

Maybe I’m sensitive to this charge of dual allegiance because it’s been wielded against me in some of my political campaigns. I’ve been accused of actually being a citizen of Israel. (That’s not true, although my father was an Israeli immigrant to the United States.) In 2002, well before Donald Trump and other “birthers” questioned Barack Obama’s citizenship, I had to produce my U.S. birth certificate in my first run for Congress to disprove false assertions about my background and loyalties.

But it’s not just me who’s been subject to questions of dual loyalty. For centuries, this trope has been aimed at Jews in countries around the world. In embracing it, Omar is associating herself with calamities from the Spanish Inquisition to the Russian pogroms to the Holocaust. That’s not historical company that any American should want to keep.

One doesn’t have to be Jewish to recognize the deep and abiding relationship between the United States and Israel. Yes, there might be serious problems with Israel’s democracy – just as we’re currently experiencing our own. But Israel shares fundamental values with the United States that most of its neighbors have never embraced.

In Israel, women can vote and serve in the armed forces. So can members of the LGBTQ community. Its Arab citizens can vote, form political parties, and serve in the Israeli Parliament. And Israeli women can drive – just as badly as the rest of the population.

As for Jewish Americans who support Israel as a friend and ally of the United States, we do so because we recognize the commonality of our values and national interests. And many of us don’t hesitate to criticize Israel when its policies are wrong – or to champion American interests when they come into tension with Israeli goals.

On my very first day after leaving Bill Clinton’s administration as his senior adviser in October 1998, I received a call at 5 a.m. from the president. He was at the Wye Plantation in Maryland, where he was hosting a summit meeting between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The president was frantic that the summit would collapse if he didn’t release Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. intelligence analyst who had delivered sensitive state secrets to Israel, as Benjamin Netanyahu was demanding.

Clinton was getting conflicting advice from his political and national-security teams. Some members of the political team thought Pollard’s release was a small price to pay for a successful agreement. But members of his national-security team were strongly opposed because of the serious level of the security breach that Pollard had orchestrated.

I told Clinton not to give in on Pollard’s release, believing that Netanyahu needed the agreement more than he did. The president followed that advice, and Netanyahu ultimately signed the Wye River Memorandum.

Later, during my service as White House chief of staff in the Obama administration, I spoke out strongly against Netanyahu’s policy of expanding Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories. For my troubles, Netanyahu labeled me (along with the presidential adviser David Axelrod) a “self-hating Jew.”

My allegiance to this country wasn’t in question then. And it shouldn’t be now – nor should that of other American Jews. That would be just as wrong as suggesting that all Muslims are potential terrorists and should be banned from entering this country. What president would possibly embrace such an un-American position – until the current one?

As mayor of Chicago, I denounced Trump for his anti-Muslim policies. I worked to make Chicago a welcoming city to Americans of all backgrounds, creating the Office of New Americans to help immigrants and refugees in my city, which has been a gateway for immigrants to the United States for generations. I appointed Seemi Choudry, herself the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, to lead that effort.

I often say that only in America could the son and grandson of immigrants become the chief of staff to the president and the mayor of one of its largest cities. I fully expect Muslim Americans to follow this well-trod path, as we’re witnessing already with the election of candidates like Ilhan Omar to Congress.

No doubt, such candidates will have to overcome allegations of dual loyalty and of taking campaign contributions from fellow Muslims with nefarious goals in mind. And when they face such claims, Jewish Americans like me will come to their defense – because we know the pain and potential damage of these bigoted stereotypes. It’s time for Omar to learn that lesson.

 

THE DEMOCRATS FAILED ON ANTI-SEMITISM AND ILHAN OMAR. DO MOST JEWS CARE?

The Democrats failed on anti-Semitism and Ilhan Omar. Do most Jews care?

Her party’s failure to condemn her was appalling. But partisanship will likely prevent most Jews from drawing conclusions about what has happened.

By Jonathan S. Tobin
JNS
March 7, 2019

Back in November, I wrote that the election of radicals like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) wouldn’t have much impact on the U.S.-Israel relationship. I reasoned that the trio of newly elected radicals would be backbenchers without power or influence, while the Democratic leadership of the House remained solidly pro-Israel and friends of the Jewish community.

But as the events of the last week have shown, I was wrong about that, especially in thinking that Democrats would speak out specifically against anti-Semitism if a member of their caucus acted as Omar has done.

Yet now that it has happened, I wouldn’t be surprised if their faithful Jewish Democratic supporters simply shrug it off.

The Democratic Party as a whole is shifting to the left. But with the bulk of Democrats, especially officeholders, still reliably pro-Israel, there could be no comparison between it and Britain’s Labour Party, which under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn has been captured by anti-Semitic radicals.

But while the Democrats are not yet the moral equivalent of Labour, there can no longer be any doubt that AOC, Omar and Tlaib are far from powerless. Indeed, they have not only intimidated the Democratic leadership, but also demonstrated their ability to rally much of the party, including leading presidential candidates, around the cause of defending Omar from facing any consequences for her anti-Semitic hate. This feat calls into question not only the future of a bipartisan consensus on behalf of Israel, but also the future of the Democratic Party as a political home for centrist Americans.

But above and beyond the political implications of Omar’s evading consequences for her spreading of hate, this should shock American Jews out of any remaining complacency they might have had about the willingness of the Democrats to stand with them against anti-Jewish bias.

What may be even more depressing is that most of American Jewry won’t take any of this seriously or draw any conclusions about it. That’s because history has taught us that liberal Jews will do nothing to hold the Democrats accountable for their shocking failure.

Omar had twice before issued anti-Semitic statements, one of which she had been forced to apologize for by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership. But her apology and disingenuous claim that she was unaware of the meaning of the anti-Semitic tropes about Jews controlling the world or attempting to buy off members of Congress were meaningless. Last week, she doubled down on her hate by spouting off about supporters of Israel being guilty of dual loyalty, another classic anti-Semitic trope.

Yet when some demanded action, what the Democrats did was worse than inaction. Much of the House Democratic caucus revolted at the idea of a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, even if it didn’t name Omar. They embraced Omar’s claim that she was the victim in this drama. Omar had singled out “Jewish colleagues” as being guilty of targeting her and Tlaib – another serial purveyor of anti-Semitism – for discrimination because they were Muslims. Three of the leading Democratic candidates for president – Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren – supported these claims when, while condemning anti-Semitism out of one side of their mouths, they also defended Omar and opposed any specific condemnation of her hate.

House Democrats backed down in the face of support for Omar from much of the party. Pelosi, who knew very well how insincere Omar’s previous apology had been, exonerated her of any intentional anti-Semitism. Democrats ignored the fact that as supporters of an anti-Semitic BDS movement, there was no doubt that the hate espoused by Omar and Tlaib was intentional and purposeful. The claim that their goal was to start a conversation about U.S. foreign policy or to speak up for Palestinian human rights is a blatant lie. As BDS supporters, their goal is Israel’s destruction and to delegitimize its Jewish supporters, not to merely initiate a debate about the peace process. The claim that supporters of Israel are guilty of Islamophobia is another brazen falsehood.

Equally disingenuous is the claim that the right is as guilty of anti-Semitism as the left. The claims that U.S. President Donald Trump and Republican members of Congress are also guilty anti-Semitism are bogus. There is simply no comparison to what the Democrats are enabling and even supporting from Omar and anything that GOP officeholders have done or said with respect to anti-Semitism.

The resolution that did pass was a joke. It not only avoided mentioning Omar, but was also turned into a laundry list of every conceivable sort of hatred (with the sole exception of bias against Catholics and evangelical Christians that has been demonstrated by many liberal Democrats in recent years). It was the moral equivalent of the response to the Black Lives Matter movement by some, who spoke instead of all lives mattering – a stand that most Democrats had condemned.

AOC and her leftist pals are setting the agenda for Democrats. This will have a genuine impact on the 2020 presidential race, which has already appeared to show that Democrats have been shifting to the left, and make it easier for attacks on Israel and Jews to become part of the campaign.

This ought to horrify the majority of American Jews who remain loyal supporters of the Democrats. But don’t expect many of them to take action or do anything to hold their party accountable. In this hyper-partisan era, most liberal Jews are more interested in defeating Trump than in confronting anti-Semitism.

Facing the truth about the state of the Democratic Party would force them to choose between their partisan interests and defense of the Jewish community. And that is not a choice that most American Jews are prepared to make, even if means supporting a party that treats anti-Semites and their enablers as rock stars. Along with the direction of a Democratic Party that just took another step towards being Corbynized, that is the sorriest aspect of this dismal chapter of American Jewish history.

 

* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

The complexity of Israeli-Polish relations, Ukrainian fascists on the march (& Cesare Sacerdoti RIP)

March 04, 2019

Above: Fascistic marches by Ukrainian ultranationalists are becoming increasing common. Ukrainian Member of Parliament Andriy Biletsky said that Ukraine’s mission is to “lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade… against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”

 

POPE JOHN PAUL II, AND JAN KARSKI, AS WELL AS POLISH ANTI-SEMITES

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach three pieces about anti-Semitism.

The first is a discussion of the recent flare-up in diplomatic relations between the governments of Poland and Israel, after Poland tried to engage in Holocaust revisionism to deny the role of Polish anti-Semites in the deaths of 200,000 Jews during the Holocaust.

But, as Israeli writer (and subscriber to this list) Isi Leibler points out in the piece below, there were also heroic Poles who risked a mandatory death sentence for their help in hiding and saving Jews. These include Karol Wojtyla (who later became Pope John Paul II), who protected many individual Jews, and Jan Karski, who tried, without success, to convince Western leaders to act and prevent the deportations to the death camps.

Leibler writes: “As long as leaders of the new generation publicly repudiate the crimes of their antecedents and practice what they preach, Israel would be making a major long-term blunder to spurn their support and continue accusing them collectively of being anti-Semitic. But that is what our [Israeli] foolish foreign minister did regarding Poland, with whom a strategic alliance would be of considerable benefit. If we continue to attack those seeking friendship and offering support, we shoot ourselves in the foot by deterring them from trying to make amends for the crimes and prejudices of their predecessors.”

Tom Gross adds: perhaps to be fair to Israeli foreign minister Yisrael Katz, who made the disparaging remark about Polish anti-Semitism that set off the crisis last month, in criticizing Katz so harshly media such as Haaretz and the New York Times might have also noted that Katz’s mother Malka survived seven Nazi concentration and death camps. Malka Katz died on Saturday and was buried yesterday at Kfar Ahim in southern Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu, who knew her, led a moment’s silence in her memory at yesterday’s Israeli cabinet meeting.

 

A STATE-SANCTIONED NEO-NAZI BATTALION IN UKRAINE

After the piece about Poland, I attach a piece in The Nation by Kiev-born Ukrainian-American writer Lev Golinkin, about the state sanctioned Holocaust denial and worship of Nazi allied war criminals in Ukraine today. “Five years after the Maidan uprising, anti-Semitism and fascist-inflected ultranationalism are rampant,” he says.

He writes: “Five years ago, Ukraine’s Maidan uprising ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, to the cheers and support of the West. Politicians and analysts in the United States and Europe not only celebrated the uprising as a triumph of democracy, but denied reports of Maidan’s ultranationalism, smearing those who warned about the dark side of the uprising as Moscow puppets and useful idiots. Freedom was on the march in Ukraine.

“Today, increasing reports of far-right violence, ultranationalism, and erosion of basic freedoms are giving the lie to the West’s initial euphoria. There are neo-Nazi pogroms against the Roma, rampant attacks on feminists and LGBT groups, book bans, and state-sponsored glorification of Nazi collaborators.

“These stories of Ukraine’s dark nationalism aren’t coming out of Moscow; they’re being filed by Western media, including US-funded Radio Free Europe (RFE); Jewish organizations such as the World Jewish Congress and the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and watchdogs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Freedom House, which issued a joint report warning that Kiev is losing the monopoly on the use of force in the country as far-right gangs operate with impunity…”

“Unsurprisingly, government-led glorification of Holocaust perpetrators has been a green light for other forms of anti-Semitism. The past three years have seen an explosion of swastikas and SS runes on city streets, death threats, and vandalism of Holocaust memorials, Jewish centers, cemeteries, tombs, and places of worship, all of which led Israel to take the unusual step of publicly urging Kiev to address the epidemic.”

(There are links to the above mentioned western media pieces within his article.)

***

See also this dispatch from January:

Israeli PM criticized for wooing Holocaust-distorting allies

 

(ADDITIONAL NOTE)

CESARE SACERDOTI

I would like to note the passing yesterday in London of Cesare Sacerdoti, a long-standing subscriber to this Mideast email list.

Son of a rabbi in Florence (who was later chief rabbi of Ferrara), at the age of five Cesare was hidden by nuns in a convent to escape the Nazi round-ups of Florence’s Jews to Auschwitz. Then, after the Nazis and their Italian allies started raiding convents looking for Jewish children to deport and kill, Cesare was hidden in a Catholic orphanage in the small Tuscan town of Montecatini and at this very young age he bravely had to care for his three-year-old brother Vittorio who was in hiding with him.

Cesare went on to establish a successful specialist publishing company in London, as well as engaging in various charitable activities and archaeological digs at Ein Gedi in Israel’s Negev Desert. Despite the bitter experiences of his early childhood, he maintained his dignity, modesty and faith in human nature throughout his life.

His son, Jonathan, is a journalist who has also campaigned against anti-Semitism in Britain. In addition, Cesare leaves behind three other children, nine grandchildren and a widow, Judith.

-- Tom Gross


ARTICLES

EMOTIONS AND REALPOLITIK DO NOT ALWAYS MIX

Broad lessons to be learned from the Polish imbroglio
By Isi Leibler
Jerusalem Post (also published in Israel Hayom)
February 25, 2019

Emotions and realpolitik do not mix.

Jews with any connection to the Holocaust tend to harbor prejudice against Poles. Despite their 1,000-year sojourn in Poland, Jews were often discriminated against. In the Middle Ages, they were prohibited from engaging in agriculture or industry and were restricted to basing their livelihoods on moneylending or working as merchants, tax collectors or innkeepers. They were often perceived as alien extortionists and subjected to pogroms instigated by the ruling classes to divert attention from the prevailing poverty and abysmal social conditions.

In the 19th century, the majority of Jews lived in abject poverty in their shtetls but with Emancipation, some Jews emerged as leaders of trade and industry. Nevertheless, prejudice against Jews remained intenseand by the 20th century, anti-Semitism was rampant throughout Europe.

The Polish people were considered racially inferior by the Nazis whose occupation was brutal and who murdered millions of Poles. Unlike the French Vichy government, which collaborated with the Nazis, the London-based Polish government in exile encouraged resistance. And unlike local non-Jews in the Baltic countries, Poles did not serve as guards in the concentration camps.

The extermination of the 3 million Jews concentrated in Poland was the prime Nazi objective. Jews were herded into ghettoes and then dispatched to death camps to be gassed. Auschwitz, the largest industrial complex for mass murder, was deliberately located in Poland so that Germans would not be directly exposed to the horrors perpetrated.

Even while suffering from the brutal Nazi oppression, many Poles continued to harbor prejudice against Jews. Some collaborated by acting as informants and others were rewarded by being permitted to take possession of homes and goods left by deported Jews.

But there were also heroic Poles who risked a mandatory death sentence for their help in hiding and saving Jews. We must also pay tribute to Poles such as Karol Wojtyła (who would become Pope John Paul ll), who protected many individual Jews, and Jan Karski, who tried, without success, to convince Western leaders to act and prevent the mass murders.

Unfortunately, those righteous gentiles who sought to save Jews and were executed rarely made headlines but the media excelled in highlighting the collaborators. A particular case was the exposure of murderous behavior of a number of Poles in Jedwabme who instigated a pogrom against Jews in 1941, burning over 300 alive in a barn. Unfortunately, most of the Polish authorities remained in denial over this mass atrocity until Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski bravely called this action not a pogrom but a genocide.

Anti-Semitism prevailed as evidenced by the 1946 Kielce pogrom in which 42 Holocaust survivors returning to their homes were massacred. But when the communists took over Poland in 1945, they suppressed exposure of the genocide. In 1968, the Polish government conducted an anti-Semitic purge and 30,000 Jews, the bulk of whom were Holocaust survivors, were expelled from the country.

After the collapse of communism in the early 1990s, the newly independent Polish government sought to create a fresh Polish image based upon nationalism and democracy. It sought to cleanse the record and set aside the ugly past episodes in its history. In this context, the Polish government passed a law last year that effectively criminalized anyone “besmirching” the Polish people by associating them with the Nazi genocidal industry applied against Jews.

This led to confrontational exchanges with Israel and in June 2018 a compromise law was finally passed by the Polish government, which many Jews and Poles still resented. It effectively emphasized the fact that the Holocaust was a Nazi objective in which some Poles collaborated and others endangered their lives by trying to save Jews. The highlight was that Polish people as such were not collaborators.

This law was regrettable but had to be viewed in the perspective of a right-wing nationalist government that condemned anti-Semitism and sought to create a new image by expunging or at least downplaying the role of Poles who collaborated. The government even invested in an impressive museum in the heart of Warsaw focusing on the Jewish contribution to Poland. In addition, together with Hungary and Slovakia, Poland has emerged as one of the most influential European supporters of Israel and acted as a restraint against anti-Israel forces within the EU.

But sensitivities and emotions remained fragile and when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in response to a question in Poland, was misquoted as saying “the Poles” engaged in anti-Jewish activity during the Nazi era even though in the same response he stated that many Poles saved Jews, there was an uproar. This was laid to rest when he clarified that he had referred to Poles but not “the Poles” or “the Polish people” or Poland. Nevertheless, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was distressed.

The following day, Israel’s newly appointed acting foreign minister, Yisrael Katz, on his first day in office, blundered into the debate, stating that “one cannot sugarcoat this history,” reiterating that “Poles collaborated with the Nazis, definitely” and quoting former Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir, who allegedly said that Poles “suckled anti- Semitism with their mother’s milk.”

The diplomatic upheaval caused by Katz led to the Polish prime minister accusing him of engaging in racist defamation of the Polish people and promptly canceling Poland’s participation in the Visegrád group summit of Central European countries in Jerusalem. The summit would have presented a united front against Iran.

There surely is a lesson to be learned from this self-inflicted fiasco. Other states and countries can act as important allies to Israel though their antecedents also included Nazi collaborators. The Polish case stands out because of the extent of the genocide; 3 million Jews were murdered in one country. But every single country under Nazi occupation included citizens who collaborated with the Nazis or benefited materially from the deportation of their Jewish neighbors. The clear majority simply stood by. A smaller number heroically saved Jews, often at the expense of their own lives.

Unfortunately, we can assume that most European societies would not behave differently were they facing similar circumstances today.

We must neither forget nor forgive those who betrayed us. But politicians should never generalize. The details should be left for our historians to compile and for our children to learn and understand.

We are living in a dynamic environment and remain the only state that faces an existential threat from its neighbors. We benefit from building new alliances.

Populist and nationalist parties are emerging as powerful political forces. They are likely to profoundly influence domestic and foreign policies in virtually every European country.

The main source of support for these populists derives from those who consider the flood of Muslim migrants to be detrimental to the quality of their lives, due to a massive increase in crime and social chaos that threatens their entire social order. In addition, there is the increased threat of both imported and homebred terrorists, from which no European city is immune.

Many of the voters for these nationalist parties support Israel as a bastion of the free world.

Until recently, some of these parties and states included fascists and Holocaust revisionists. Any Jewish cooperation with such groups would have been an unthinkable desecration of the memory of Holocaust victims. However, over the past decade, most of them began purging their ranks of anti-Semites and publicly undertook to eradicate all anti-Jewish elements and thus today the situation is dramatically changed.

There are those who say that by accepting the support of and allying with countries like Poland and Hungary, Israel is providing a fig leaf to fascists. This is nonsense. The reason for this relationship is that these governments support Israel and have pledged to combat anti-Semitism and purge Jew-baiters from their midst. There is less anti-Jewish violence in Poland and Hungary than there is in France. Besides, other than these Central and Eastern European states, Israel has no allies in the EU, which is now notorious for its shameless bias and double standards against the Jewish state.

Needless to say, their support of Israel does not preclude some fascists voting for them. Likewise, the fact that racists and fascists may support U.S. President Donald Trump does not mean that his administration is fascist. Nor have far-left anti-Semites or communists taken control of the U.S. Democratic Party by voting for it.

We do not boycott left-wing governments that appease Muslim extremists, most of whom lead the anti-Semitic packs. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other countries have not disavowed and purged their ranks of anti-Semites, but nobody suggests that we cannot cooperate with them on mutual objectives and confront common enemies. Limited cooperation on specific common interests does not mean that Israel necessarily endorses the other policies of its allies.

Many cynically describe this as realpolitik. In truth, it is acting in our self-interest.

As long as leaders of the new generation publicly repudiate the crimes of their antecedents and practice what they preach, Israel would be making a major long-term blunder to spurn their support and continue accusing them collectively of being anti-Semitic. But that is what our foolish foreign minister did regarding Poland, with whom a strategic alliance would be of considerable benefit. Besides, if we continue to attack those seeking friendship and offering support, we shoot ourselves in the foot by deterring them from trying to make amends for the crimes and prejudices of their predecessors.

 

POLISH HOLOCAUST RESEARCHERS FIGHTING AGAINST COUNTRY’S REVISIONISM, CALLED “DIRTY JEWS”, GIVEN DEATH THREATS

Polish Holocaust researchers verbally attacked at Paris Shoah research conference
By Katarzyna Markusz
February 24, 2019

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – Polish researchers of the Holocaust were verbally attacked after a conference in Paris.

Professor Jacek Leociak from the Polish Academy of Sciences was insulted after leaving the School for Advanced Research in Social Sciences, or EHESS, where the conference was held, and he received death threats in online commentaries. A similar situation happened to Professor Jan Grabowski, who works at the University of Ottawa, when after leaving EHESS, a group of Poles called him a “a dirty Jew.”

Polish groups protested against organizing in Paris the conference, titled “The New Polish School of Historical Research on the Shoah,” because – according to the protesters – the activity of the speakers at the conference “bears a clear xenophobic and anti-Polish character.” Polish organizations do not accept the results of research carried out by historians, which indicate participation of some Poles in murdering Jews during the Holocaust.

Leociak at the conference spoke about the beginnings of Polish research on the Holocaust. During his speech some of the audience reacted with shouts and patter. “During the whole two days of the meeting we were accompanied by a large group of Poles under the spiritual protection of a Catholic priest,” said Leociak.

“Two or three years ago, these people would not have dared to enter and to disrupt university lectures. Today, however, emboldened by the support of the Polish state, they are ready to show their faces and to confront scholars on their own ground,” wrote Grabowski on his Facebook page. When he left the EHESS building, a group of Poles shouted: “Shame on you, Grabowski”, “shame on you, you dirty Jew!”

Grabowski has sued the Polish League Against Defamation after it accused him publicly of ruining Poland’s good name and charging that his research falsifies the nation’s history.

 

A STATE-SANCTIONED NEO-NAZI BATTALION IN UKRAINE

Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are On the March in Ukraine
Five years after the Maidan uprising, anti-Semitism and fascist-inflected ultranationalism are rampant.
By Lev Golinkin
The Nation
February 22, 2019

(There are many links in this article to other articles Golinkin cites about growing anti-Semitism in Ukraine here: https://www.thenation.com/article/neo-nazis-far-right-ukraine/ )

Five years ago, Ukraine’s Maidan uprising ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, to the cheers and support of the West. Politicians and analysts in the United States and Europe not only celebrated the uprising as a triumph of democracy, but denied reports of Maidan’s ultranationalism, smearing those who warned about the dark side of the uprising as Moscow puppets and useful idiots. Freedom was on the march in Ukraine.

Today, increasing reports of far-right violence, ultranationalism, and erosion of basic freedoms are giving the lie to the West’s initial euphoria. There are neo-Nazi pogroms against the Roma, rampant attacks on feminists and LGBT groups, book bans, and state-sponsored glorification of Nazi collaborators.

These stories of Ukraine’s dark nationalism aren’t coming out of Moscow; they’re being filed by Western media, including US-funded Radio Free Europe (RFE); Jewish organizations such as the World Jewish Congress and the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and watchdogs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Freedom House, which issued a joint report warning that Kiev is losing the monopoly on the use of force in the country as far-right gangs operate with impunity.

Five years after Maidan, the beacon of democracy is looking more like a torchlight march.

A NEO-NAZI BATTALION IN THE HEART OF EUROPE

“Volunteer Ukrainian Unit Includes Nazis.” – USA Today, March 10, 2015

The DC establishment’s standard defense of Kiev is to point out that Ukraine’s far right has a smaller percentage of seats in the parliament than their counterparts in places like France. That’s a spurious argument: What Ukraine’s far right lacks in polls numbers, it makes up for with things Marine Le Pen could only dream of – paramilitary units and free rein on the streets.

Post-Maidan Ukraine is the world’s only nation to have a neo-Nazi formation in its armed forces. The Azov Battalion was initially formed out of the neo-Nazi gang Patriot of Ukraine. Andriy Biletsky, the gang’s leader who became Azov’s commander, once wrote that Ukraine’s mission is to “lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade…against the Semite-led Untermenschen.” Biletsky is now a deputy in Ukraine’s parliament.

In the fall of 2014, Azov – which is accused of human-rights abuses, including torture, by Human Rights Watch and the United Nations – was incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard.

While the group officially denies any neo-Nazi connections, Azov’s nature has been confirmed by multiple Western outlets: The New York Times called the battalion “openly neo-Nazi,” while USA Today, The Daily Beast, The Telegraph, and Haaretz documented group members’ proclivity for swastikas, salutes, and other Nazi symbols, and individual fighters have also acknowledged being neo-Nazis.

In January 2018, Azov rolled out its National Druzhina street patrol unit whose members swore personal fealty to Biletsky and pledged to “restore Ukrainian order” to the streets. The Druzhina quickly distinguished itself by carrying out pogroms against the Roma and LGBT organizations and storming a municipal council. Earlier this year, Kiev announced the neo-Nazi unit will be monitoring polls in next month’s presidential election.

In 2017, Congressman Ro Khanna led the effort to ban Azov from receiving U.S. arms and training. But the damage has already been done: The research group Bellingcat proved that Azov had already received access to American grenade launchers, while a Daily Beast investigation showed that US trainers are unable to prevent aid from reaching white supremacists. And Azov itself had proudly posted a video of the unit welcoming NATO representatives.

(Azov isn’t the only far-right formation to get Western affirmation. In December 2014, Amnesty International accused the Dnipro-1 battalion of potential war crimes, including “using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.” Six months later, Senator John McCain visited and praised the battalion.)

Particularly concerning is Azov’s campaign to transform Ukraine into a hub for transnational white supremacy. The unit has recruited neo-Nazis from Germany, the UK, Brazil, Sweden, and America; last October, the FBI arrested four California white supremacists who had allegedly received training from Azov. This is a classic example of blowback: US support of radicals abroad ricocheting to hit America.

FAR RIGHT TIES TO GOVERNMENT

“Ukrainian police declare admiration for Nazi collaborators” – RFE, February 13, 2019

Speaker of Parliament Andriy Parubiy cofounded and led two neo-Nazi organizations: the Social-National Party of Ukraine (later renamed Svoboda), and Patriot of Ukraine, whose members would eventually form the core of Azov.

Although Parubiy left the far right in the early 2000’s, he hasn’t rejected his past. When asked about it in a 2016 interview, Parubiy replied that his “values” haven’t changed. Parubiy, whose autobiography shows him marching with the neo-Nazi wolfsangel symbol used by Aryan Nations, regularly meets with Washington think tanks and politicians; his neo-Nazi background is ignored or outright denied.

Even more disturbing is the far right’s penetration of law enforcement. Shortly after Maidan, the US equipped and trained the newly founded National Police, in what was intended to be a hallmark program buttressing Ukrainian democracy.

The deputy minister of the Interior – which controls the National Police – is Vadim Troyan, a veteran of Azov and Patriot of Ukraine. In 2014, when Troyan was being considered for police chief of Kiev, Ukrainian Jewish leaders were appalled by his neo-Nazi background. Today, he’s deputy of the department running US-trained law enforcement in the entire nation.

Earlier this month, RFE reported on National Police leadership admiring Stepan Bandera – a Nazi collaborator and Fascist whose troops participated in the Holocaust – on social media.

The fact that Ukraine’s police is peppered with far-right supporters explains why neo-Nazis operate with impunity on the streets.

STATE-SPONSORED GLORIFICATION OF NAZI COLLABORATORS

“Ukrainian extremists celebrate Ukrainian Nazi SS divisions…in the middle of a major Ukrainian city” – Anti-Defamation League Director of European Affairs, April 28, 2018

It’s not just the military and street gangs: Ukraine’s far right has successfully hijacked the post-Maidan government to impose an intolerant and ultranationalist culture over the land.

In 2015, the Ukrainian parliament passed legislation making two WWII paramilitaries – the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) – heroes of Ukraine, and made it a criminal offense to deny their heroism. The OUN had collaborated with the Nazis and participated in the Holocaust, while the UPA slaughtered thousands of Jews and 70,000-100,000 Poles on their own volition.

The government-funded Ukrainian Institute of National Memory is institutionalizing the whitewashing of Nazi collaborators. Last summer, the Ukrainian parliament featured an exhibit commemorating the OUN’s 1941 proclamation of cooperation with the Third Reich (imagine the French government installing an exhibit celebrating the Vichy state!).

Torchlight marches in honor of OUN/UPA leaders like Roman Shukhevych (a commander in a Third Reich auxiliary battalion) are a regular feature of the new Ukraine. The recuperation even extends to SS Galichina, a Ukrainian division of the Waffen-SS; the director of the Institute of National Memory proclaimed that the SS fighters were “war victims.” The government’s embrace of Bandera is not only deplorable, but also extremely divisive, considering the OUN/UPA are reviled in eastern Ukraine.

Predictably, the celebration of Nazi collaborators has accompanied a rise in outright anti-Semitism.

“Jews Out!” chanted thousands during a January 2017 march honoring OUN leader Bandera. (The next day the police denied hearing anything anti-Semitic.) That summer, a three-day festival celebrating the Nazi collaborator Shukhevych capped off with the firebombing of a synagogue. In November 2017, RFE reported Nazi salutes as 20,000 marched in honor of the UPA. And last April, hundreds marched in L’viv with coordinated Nazi salutes honoring SS Galichina; the march was promoted by the L’viv regional government.

The Holocaust revisionism is a multi-pronged effort, ranging from government-funded seminars, brochures, and board games, to the proliferation of plaques, statues, and streets renamed after butchers of Jews, to far-right children camps, where youth are inculcated with ultranationalist ideology.

Within several years, an entire generation will be indoctrinated to worship Holocaust perpetrators as national heroes.

BOOK BANS

“No state should be allowed to interfere in the writing of history.” – British historian Antony Beevor, after his award-winning book was banned in Ukraine, The Telegraph, January 23, 2018

Ukraine’s State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting is enforcing the glorification of Ukraine’s new heroes by banning “anti-Ukrainian” literature that goes against the government narrative. This ideological censorship includes acclaimed books by Western authors.

In January 2018, Ukraine made international headlines by banning Stalingrad by award-winning British historian Antony Beevor because of a single paragraph about a Ukrainian unit massacring 90 Jewish children during World War II. In December, Kiev banned The Book Thieves by Swedish author Anders Rydell (which, ironically, is about the Nazis’ suppression of literature) because he mentioned troops loyal to Symon Petliura (an early 20th-century nationalist leader) had slaughtered Jews.

This month, the Ukrainian embassy in Washington exported this intolerance to America by brazenly demanding the United States ban a Russian movie from American theaters. Apparently, the billions Washington invested in promoting democracy in Ukraine have failed to teach Kiev basic concepts of free speech.

ANTI-SEMITISM

“I’m telling you one more time – go to hell, kikes [Jews]. The Ukrainian people have had it to here with you.” – Security services reserve general Vasily Vovk, May 11, 2017

Unsurprisingly, government-led glorification of Holocaust perpetrators was a green light for other forms of anti-Semitism. The past three years saw an explosion of swastikas and SS runes on city streets, death threats, and vandalism of Holocaust memorials, Jewish centers, cemeteries, tombs, and places of worship, all of which led Israel to take the unusual step of publicly urging Kiev to address the epidemic.

Public officials make anti-Semitic threats with no repercussions. These include: a security services general promising to eliminate the zhidi (a slur equivalent to ‘kikes’); a parliament deputy going off on an anti-Semitic rant on television; a far-right politician lamenting Hitler didn’t finish off the Jews; and an ultranationalist leader vowing to cleanse Odessa of zhidi.

For the first few years after Maidan, Jewish organizations largely refrained from criticizing Ukraine, perhaps in the hope Kiev would address the issue on its own. But by 2018, the increasing frequency of anti-Semitic incidents led Jewish groups to break their silence.

Last year, the Israeli government’s annual report on anti-Semitism heavily featured Ukraine, which had more incidents than all post-Soviet states combined. The World Jewish Congress, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and 57 members of the US Congress all vociferously condemned Kiev’s Nazi glorification and the concomitant anti-Semitism.

Ukrainian Jewish leaders are also speaking out. In 2017, the director of one of Ukraine’s largest Jewish organizations published a New York Times op-ed urging the West to address Kiev’s whitewashing. Last year, 41 Ukrainian Jewish leaders denounced the growth of anti-Semitism. That’s especially telling, given that many Ukrainian Jewish leaders supported the Maidan uprising.

None of these concerns have been addressed in any meaningful way.

ROMA POGROMS

“‘They wanted to kill us’: masked neo-fascists strike fear into Ukraine’s Roma.” – The Guardian, August 27, 2018

Ukraine’s far right has resisted carrying out outright attacks on Jews; other vulnerable groups haven’t been so lucky.

Last spring, a lethal wave of anti-Roma pogroms swept through Ukraine, with at least six attacks in two months. Footage from the pogroms evokes the 1930s: Armed thugs attack women and children while razing their camps. At least one man was killed, while others, including a child, were stabbed.

Two gangs behind the attacks – C14 and the National Druzhina – felt comfortable enough to proudly post pogrom videos on social media. That’s not surprising, considering that the National Druzhina is part of Azov, while the neo-Nazi C14 receives government funding for “educational” programs. Last October, C14 leader Serhiy Bondar was welcomed at America House Kyiv, a center run by the US government.

Appeals from international organizations and the US embassy fell on deaf ears: Months after the United Nations demanded Kiev end “systematic persecution” of the Roma, a human-rights group reported C14 were allegedly intimidating Roma in a joint patrol with the Kiev police.

LGBT AND WOMEN’S-RIGHTS GROUPS

“‘It’s even worse than before’: How the ‘Revolution of Dignity’ Failed LGBT Ukrainians.” – RFE, November 21, 2018

In 2016, after pressure from the US Congress, the Kiev government began providing security for the annual Kiev Pride parade. However, this increasingly looks like a Potemkin affair: two hours of protection, with widespread attacks on LGBT individuals and gatherings during the rest of the year. Nationalist groups have targeted LGBT meetings with impunity, going so far as to shut down an event hosted by Amnesty International as well as assault a Western journalist at a transgender rights rally. Women’s-rights marches have also been targeted, including brazen attacks in March.

ATTACKS ON PRESS

“The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a Ukrainian law enforcement raid at the Kiev offices of Media Holding Vesti…more than a dozen masked officers ripped open doors with crowbars, seized property, and fired tear gas in the offices.” – The Committee to Protect Journalists, February 9, 2018

In May 2016, Myrotvorets, an ultranationalist website with links to the government, published the personal data of thousands of journalists who had obtained accreditation from Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine. Myrotvorets labeled the journalists “terrorist collaborators.”

A government-tied website declaring open season on journalists would be dangerous anywhere, but it is especially so in Ukraine, which has a disturbing track record of journalist assassinations. This includes Oles Buzina, gunned down in 2015, and Pavel Sheremet, assassinated by car bomb a year later.

The Myrotvorets doxing was denounced by Western reporters, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and ambassadors from the G7 nations. In response, Kiev officials, including Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, praised the site: “This is your choice to cooperate with occupying forces,” Avakov told journalists, while posting “I Support Myrotvorets” on Facebook. Myrotvorets remains operational today.

Last fall brought another attack on the media, this time using the courts. The Prosecutor General’s office was granted a warrant to seize records of RFE anti-corruption reporter Natalie Sedletska. An RFE spokeswoman warned that Kiev’s actions created “a chilling atmosphere for journalists,” while parliament deputy Mustafa Nayyem called it “an example of creeping dictatorship.”

LANGUAGE LAWS

“[Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk] also made a personal appeal to Russian-speaking Ukrainians, pledging to support…a special status to the Russian language.” – US Secretary of State John Kerry, April 24, 2014

Ukraine is extraordinarily multilingual: In addition to the millions of Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainians, there are areas where Hungarian, Romanian, and other tongues are prevalent. These languages were protected by a 2012 regional-language law.

The post-Maidan government alarmed Russian-speaking Ukrainians by attempting to annul that law. The US State Department and Secretary of State John Kerry sought to assuage fears in 2014 by pledging that Kiev would protect the status of Russian. Those promises came to naught.

A 2017 law mandated that secondary education be conducted strictly in Ukrainian, which infuriated Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece. Several regions passed legislation banning the use of Russian in public life. Quotas enforce Ukrainian usage on TV and radio. (This would be akin to Washington forcing Spanish-language media to broadcast mostly in English.)

And in February 2018, Ukraine’s supreme court struck down the 2012 regional language law – the one Kerry promised eastern Ukrainians would stay in effect.

Currently, Kiev is preparing to pass a draconian law that would mandate the use of Ukrainian in most aspects of public life. It’s another example of Kiev alienating millions of its own citizens, while claiming to embrace Western values.

THE PRICE OF WILLFUL BLINDNESS

These examples are only a tiny fraction of Ukraine’s slide toward intolerance, but they should be enough to point out the obvious: Washington’s decision to ignore the proliferation of armed neo-Nazi groups in a highly unstable nation only led to them gaining more power.

This easily predictable outcome is in marked contrast to Washington’s enthusiasm over the “Revolution of Dignity.” “Nationalism is exactly what Ukraine needs,” proclaimed a New Republic article by historian Anne Applebaum, whose celebration of nationalism came out right around the time that Ukraine green-lighted the formation of white-supremacist paramilitaries. A mere four months after Applebaum’s essay, Newsweek ran an article titled “Ukrainian nationalist volunteers committing ‘ISIS-style’ war crimes.”

In essay after essay, DC foreign-policy heads have denied or celebrated the influence of Ukraine’s far right. (Curiously, the same analysts vociferously denounce rising nationalism in Hungary, Poland, and Italy as highly dangerous.) Perhaps think-tankers deluded themselves into thinking Kiev’s far-right phase would tucker itself out. More likely, they simply embraced DC’s go-to strategy of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” Either way, the ramifications stretch far beyond Ukraine.

America’s backing of the Maidan uprising, along with the billions DC sinks into post-Maidan Kiev, make it clear: Starting February 2014, Ukraine became Washington’s latest democracy-spreading project. What we permit in Ukraine sends a green light to others.

By tolerating neo-Nazi gangs and battalions, state-led Holocaust distortion, and attacks on LGBT and the Roma, the United States is telling the rest of Europe: “We’re fine with this.” The implications – especially at a time of a global far-right revival – are profoundly disturbing.

***

See also: Ukrainian mall displays enormous Nazi swastika on staircase (February 2019)

 

* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

“The charges against Netanyahu would never have been brought in an American court”

March 01, 2019

Netanyahu with the leaders of several African states, and with the sultan of Oman: among several diplomatic breakthroughs he has achieved in his current term in office

 

* Jonathan Tobin (JNS):

“The corruption allegations against Netanyahu are highly questionable… None would ever have been brought in an American [or British or French or German] court. The latter two charges amount to criminalizing a politician’s attempts to gain better coverage in a news media that is well-known to be overwhelmingly biased against him. That’s a shameful interference in the political process…

“The three cases for which he will be indicted are not the terrible crimes Netanyahu’s foes make them out to be... The first (called Case 1000) claims that Netanyahu is guilty of fraud and breach of trust because of his acceptance of expensive gifts. While the gifts were egregious, it’s not clear what law he broke when he pocketed the champagne and cigars. Nor is there any proof of a quid pro quo that would make the gifts a bribe. All the prime minister is guilty of is having wealthy friends and a rich man’s tastes.

“The second charge (Case 2000) is even more flimsy. It alleges that he committed a breach of trust by discussing a possible bargain with the head of a critical newspaper in which the publisher would give Netanyahu favorable coverage … Here again, Netanyahu broke no law, and since nothing came of the conversation, it’s hard to see how he breached the public trust.

“The third charge (Case 4000) sounds more substantial since it alleges that Netanyahu traded regulatory decisions that favored the Bezeq Company in exchange for favorable coverage on its Walla news site. But since Walla remained critical of the prime minister, it’s hard to see how that constitutes actual bribery. Even if Walla had flipped to favor the Likud, there is no law that says favorable coverage is bribery…

“But whether or not you agree that these charges should never have resulted in indictments, the process that led to their announcement on the eve of the election is outrageous. Throwing them out now – a week after the deadline for the parties to file their lists for the election – is as much of an unconscionable intervention in the democratic process as former FBI director James Comey’s last-minute revival of the charges against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified emails in the days before the 2016 U.S. presidential election....

“Still, Netanyahu’s not beaten yet. Gantz’s views remain a mystery, and the next several weeks will provide him with a tougher test of his political mettle than he’s ever experienced. And as unfair as the timing of the indictments may be, it actually reinforces the view of most center-right voters that Netanyahu is being treated unfairly. Though Gantz is a plausible alternative because his stand on the conflict with the Palestinians doesn’t seem to differ much from that of the prime minister, the center-right consensus may still feel more comfortable with Netanyahu in charge. Nor would I put it past Netanyahu to mount a comeback once he’s acquitted on all charges – something even his foes concede is more likely than not.”

 

* David Horovitz (Times of Israel):

“For the first time in the history of Israel, a serving prime minister was informed by the state legal hierarchy on Thursday that he is to be indicted for criminal offenses…

“Netanyahu essentially argues that Attorney General Mandelblit, in the very act of announcing the intention to indict, has now already denied him the political presumption of innocence, and in so doing has skewed the elections. The attorney general has had his say, runs Netanyahu’s assertion, but since the hearing process cannot possibly be completed by the time Israel votes on April 9, the prime minister’s side of the argument will not be comparably known…

“Netanyahu now finds himself with a legal mountain to climb. Initially, the prime minister must seek to marshal a defense so credible as to convince Mandelblit that there is no case to answer… If Netanyahu fails to deter Mandelblit, the battle will then move to the courts, and a years-long legal process will ensue.

“But the protracted legal battle at the heart of this affair is not the prime minister’s urgent priority. First, there is the political battle – to see off opposition calls for his resignation and to persuade his colleagues, many of them potential rivals, that he remains an asset, a vote-winner, the leader who will secure their political good fortune.

“His political challenge in the next few weeks will be to retain his popularity including, crucially, by convincing voters that he is entirely capable of running the country and simultaneously mounting his legal defense.”

 

* Visiting Harvard Law School Professor Avi Bell (Tablet magazine):

“Attorney General Mandelblit’s announcement inserts law enforcement officials into the political arena in an unprecedented way, and on a very shaky legal foundation. If the legal theories that the attorney general is introducing against Netanyahu become general law, a considerable part of the democratic life of Israel will have to pass through police interrogation rooms. If they remain restricted to Netanyahu, the partisanship will permanently damage public trust in the Israeli legal system.”

 

* Former Jerusalem Post columnist (and now Knesset candidate) Caroline Glick:

“… Netanyahu [has been charged] relating to a conversation he had with Yediot Ahronot’s owner, Arnon Mozes. In it, the two men discussed the possibility of Netanyahu asking Israel Hayom’s owner, Sheldon Adelson, to cut back circulation and in exchange to receive positive coverage from Yediot Ahronot. In the event, Netanyahu took no such action, and Yediot’s coverage of Netanyahu is implacably hostile.

“As for Mozes, in recent weeks, it was reported that during the period in question, then-finance minister Yair Lapid met privately and secretly with Mozes dozens of times. Lapid claims he was asking Mozes for better coverage. Lapid is the head of the center-left Yesh Atid Party, which was a partner in Netanyahu’s coalition following the 2013 elections. At the time, his party controlled the education, social affairs, and science ministries, along with the finance ministry. And the Yesh Atid ministers in those ministries transferred millions of shekels to Yediot in the form of government advertisements.

“Lapid has not been questioned by police about his behavior.

“In truth, the police are right not to investigate the other politicians for their apparent quid-pro-quo arrangements with Mozes. After all, every politician seeks better and more expansive media coverage of his or her work. That is how they get elected. And every media company [all over the world] in turn trades its ability to provide positive coverage for advantages of one sort or another.”

 

SELECTIVE PROSECUTION?

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow up to yesterday’s dispatch (Dershowitz: The selective targeting of Netanyahu “endangers Israeli democracy”) which was posted and sent before the decision by Israel’s Attorney General to indict Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

I now attach three articles published last night after the Attorney General announced his decision.

They are by David Horovitz, editor of the Times of Israel (Horovitz has been very critical of Netanyahu in other pieces recently), Jonathan Tobin, editor of JNS (Jewish News Syndicate) and Professor Avi Bell in Tablet magazine. (For space reasons, and because it was published in December, I won’t include Caroline Glick’s full article)

Horovitz, Tobin, Bell and Glick are all friends of mine and subscribers to this list:

The Times of Israel and Tablet are centrist / center-left publications. JNS is center-right.

I attach these articles as a counterweight to the often one-sided reporting maligning Netanyahu elsewhere in the media today.

 

Tom Gross adds:

A reminder of what I wrote in yesterday’s dispatch:

Netanyahu is expected to be charged later today in what many believe is a part of a political witch-hunt by his opponents, who fear they can’t defeat him through the popular vote at the ballot box and wish to drive him from office instead over exaggerated and out of context charges for ‘crimes’ (including meetings with media owners to try and get more favorable coverage, or gifts of cigars when meeting business leaders) of the kind that that barely cause a murmur when politicians of all parties undertake similar activities in the UK, France, Germany and the US.

Perhaps Netanyahu has been in office too long. But the way to defeat him is for the opposition to put up a strong (and ideally, experienced) candidate and positive policies that will attract voters.


ARTICLES

THE NETANYAHU INDICTMENTS: UNFAIR AND INEVITABLE

The Netanyahu indictments: unfair and inevitable

The charges against the prime minister set an unfortunate precedent in more ways than one. Here are four takeaways from the charges against him.

By Jonathan Tobin
JNS
February 28, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foes are cheering. The prime minister’s critics weren’t able to defeat him at the ballot box over the course of his current 10-year run in power. But regardless of the merits of the accusations or the appropriateness of the announcement just weeks before the next national elections, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s announcement that he will charge Netanyahu with wrongdoing in three separate cases may well put an end to the prime minister’s long political career.

The formation of a new centrist coalition – the Blue and White Party, under the leadership of former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz – had already called into question whether Netanyahu’s Likud Party would win on April 9. But with three indictments hanging over his head and the likelihood that if Netanyahu wins, a sitting premier would be put on trial sometime during the term of the next Knesset, the case for change just got that much stronger.

There are four main takeaways from the announcement.

The first is that Netanyahu must take some responsibility for putting Israel in such an unfortunate situation through his arrogance and sense of entitlement.

The second is that the corruption allegations are, in fact, highly questionable, and it’s hard to believe they can be sustained in a fair court of law.

The third is that the process that led to indictments on the eve of an election after years of discussion and investigation was deeply flawed.

The fourth is that while Netanyahu is certainly down, he’s by no means out.

The first point to be considered is that while the prime minister and many of his supporters may consider him to be irreplaceable, after a decade leading the country, he has clearly overstayed his welcome.

The case for term limits for leaders of nations is persuasive. The charges against the prime minister, even if they should never have been pursued as a criminal matter, speak to a certain arrogance and sense of entitlement that is inevitable when the occupant, as well as their families and underlings, start thinking they are untouchable.

That is certainly the case with Netanyahu. He’s served four terms as prime minister, including the last three in a row, and for all of his brilliance, masterminding and achievements, his act long ago starting wearing thin. The era in which Israel was run by ascetic leaders who lived and acted in a modest manner appropriate to a nation built on pioneering values – David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin wouldn’t have been caught dead accepting cigars and champagne by the caseload from wealthy admirers, as Netanyahu has done – has long been over, but that doesn’t excuse the Netanyahu clan’s often inappropriate behavior.

The alleged corruption cases all speak to Netanyahu’s high-handed manner and willingness to use his power in ways that leave him open to suggestions of wrongdoing, even if it can be argued that he did nothing illegal.

It’s also true that the “indispensable man” argument for keeping him in office is a function of Netanyahu’s unwillingness to promote allies or countenance the idea of a successor. Greater men than Netanyahu have done the same thing – Winston Churchill kept his designated successor waiting for him to retire for nearly a decade after World War II. The roster of talented people he (and reportedly, his wife Sara) has chased out of the Likud is impressive, including leaders of some of the parties that are the Likud’s coalition allies. If there is no one of stature waiting to take over the party that has ruled the country for the last decade, it’s because that’s the way the prime minister wanted it. And that’s why he has persuaded his supporters that fighting the indictments, rather than sparing the country this ordeal is necessary.

But the three cases for which he will be indicted are not the terrible crimes Netanyahu’s foes make them out to be.

The first (called Case 1000) claims that Netanyahu is guilty of fraud and breach of trust because of his acceptance of expensive gifts. While the gifts were egregious, it’s not clear what law he broke when he pocketed the champagne and cigars. Nor is there any proof of a quid pro quo that would make the gifts a bribe. All the prime minister is guilty of is having wealthy friends and a rich man’s tastes.

The second charge (Case 2000) is even more flimsy. It alleges that he committed a breach of trust by discussing a possible bargain with the head of a critical newspaper in which the publisher would give Netanyahu favorable coverage in exchange with the prime minister supporting legislation that would hurt Israel Hayom, the pro-Likud newspaper owned by casino magnate and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson. Here again, Netanyahu broke no law, and since nothing came of the conversation, it’s hard to see how he breached the public trust. The charge is also a joke because the effort to strangle Israel Hayom by the left-wing opposition parties and rival papers was itself an anti-democratic plot against freedom of the press that Netanyahu ultimately foiled.

The third charge (Case 4000) sounds more substantial since it alleges that Netanyahu traded regulatory decisions that favored the Bezeq Company in exchange for favorable coverage on its Walla news site. But since Walla remained critical of the prime minister, it’s hard to see how that constitutes actual bribery. Even if Walla had flipped to favor the Likud, there is no law that says favorable coverage is bribery.

I find it hard to believe that Netanyahu will be convicted of any of these charges, none of which would ever have been brought in an American court. The latter two charges amount to criminalizing a politician’s attempts to gain better coverage in a news media that is well-known to be overwhelmingly biased against him. That’s a shameful interference in the political process.

But whether or not you agree that these charges should never have resulted in indictments, the process that led to their announcement on the eve of the election is outrageous.

The police and the attorney general’s office have been investigating these charges for years. The police made their recommendations many months ago after a probe that lasted far longer than it should have. And Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit sat on his decisions, too. If indictments were in the offing, then they should have been announced months ago or held until after the election. Throwing them out now – a week after the deadline for the parties to file their lists for the election – is as much of an unconscionable intervention in the democratic process as former FBI director James Comey’s last-minute revival of the charges against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified emails in the days before the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

But fair or not, the indictments and the emergence of Gantz and his new party make it seem as if Netanyahu is finally down for the count. Polls were already trending against the prime minister, and that trend may only accelerate now.

Still, he’s not beaten yet. Gantz’s views remain a mystery, and the next several weeks will provide him with a tougher test of his political mettle than he’s ever experienced. And as unfair as the timing of the indictments may be, it actually reinforces the view of most center-right voters that Netanyahu is being treated unfairly. Though Gantz is a plausible alternative because his stand on the conflict with the Palestinians doesn’t seem to differ much from that of the prime minister, the center-right consensus may still feel more comfortable with Netanyahu in charge. Nor would I put it past Netanyahu to mount a comeback once he’s acquitted on all charges – something even his foes concede is more likely than not.

There’s no escaping the fact that Netanyahu’s time as prime minister may be about to end. If so, he may regret its tawdry finish, but it has still been a career filled with enormous achievements in terms of Israel’s economy and in safeguarding its security. Throwing a prime minister out of office who is widely acknowledged as having great success in this manner on such flimsy grounds sets an unfortunate precedent. As much as his enemies damned Netanyahu for standing strong against suicidal concessions on the peace process, as well as for alleged corruption, Gantz will be hard-pressed to match Netanyahu’s record. Even if the outcome of the story was inevitable, Israel will still be the poorer for losing such an able leader in this manner.

 

NETANYAHU’S LEGAL WAR WILL WAIT; IT’S HIS POLITICAL LIFE HE’S FIGHTING FOR NOW

Netanyahu’s legal war will wait; it’s his political life he’s fighting for now

The PM’s urgent priority, now that the AG has announced the intention to indict him, is to persuade enough of the public that he still should – and still can – run the country

By David Horovitz
The Times of Israel
28 February 2019

https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahus-legal-war-will-wait-its-his-political-life-hes-fighting-for-now/

For the first time in the history of Israel, a serving prime minister was informed by the state legal hierarchy on Thursday that he is to be indicted for criminal offenses.

To look at the glass half full, the case indicates that Israel has a robust and independent law enforcement and legal hierarchy, capable of investigating even the prime minister to ensure that all are subject to the law and equal before the law. To look at the glass half empty, the case means that after a former prime minister and a former president went to jail for criminal activities, a serving prime minister will now be put on trial unless he is able, in the course of the hearing process to which he is entitled, to persuade the attorney general to reconsider.

Benjamin Netanyahu insists that he has committed no crime. He claims to be the victim of a political witch hunt led by the left-wing opposition, left-wing media and a biased police force – all relentlessly pressuring Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, a man he appointed to the role but now describes as “weak.”

But Netanyahu essentially argues that Mandelblit, in the very act of announcing the intention to indict, has now already denied him the political presumption of innocence, and in so doing has skewed the elections. The attorney general has had his say, runs Netanyahu’s assertion, but since the hearing process cannot possibly be completed by the time Israel votes on April 9, the prime minister’s side of the argument will not be comparably known.

This is a tendentious claim: For one thing, Netanyahu has taken great pains, including via live TV broadcast, to present central aspects of his defense to the public. For another, it was he who chose to bring elections forward from their scheduled date in November.

But it is not a claim to be casually dismissed. A darker shadow does indeed now hang over Netanyahu. Until Thursday, it was widely reported that he would face charges of bribery and breach of trust in the investigations against him. But now, the reported allegations have become allegations formally advanced, after two years of investigation and evaluation, by the guardians of Israeli law enforcement. Coming so soon before the public goes to the polls to elect its next government, the official announcement patently impacts the elections. Whether it unfairly skews them is quite another matter. A counter argument can be advanced that not making the announcement, that not informing the public of allegations sufficiently well-founded as to merit an indictment, would have been a far graver abuse of democracy.

Mandelblit has elected to move toward charges with every awareness of the inherent shattering political consequence

Netanyahu now finds himself with a legal mountain to climb. Initially, the prime minister must seek to marshal a defense so credible as to convince Mandelblit – who has overseen the entire investigation, and has elected to move toward charges with every awareness of the inherent shattering political consequence – that he is wrong. That he has misunderstood. That there is no case to answer.

Suspects have achieved turnarounds in the hearing process. But it seems wildly improbable in this case, given Mandelblit’s central familiarity with the evidence, and given the concern and caution with which he must have weighed that evidence in deciding to proceed.

If Netanyahu fails to deter Mandelblit, the battle will then move to the courts, and a years-long legal process will ensue.

But the protracted legal battle at the heart of this affair is not the prime minister’s urgent priority. First, there is the political battle – to see off opposition calls for his resignation and to persuade his colleagues, many of them potential rivals, that he remains an asset, a vote-winner, the leader who will secure their political good fortune. To persuade them, in short, that despite the announcement or even because of it, he will secure re-election. Ehud Olmert, it should be recalled, was forced to step down as prime minister in 2008 before an indictment had been served against him – because he had become a political liability. Olmert only went to jail, at the end of an exhaustive legal process, a full eight years later.

Opinion polls indicate that Netanyahu has retained significant personal political popularity throughout the investigation. The Times of Israel’s own latest election poll, carried out this week in the run-up to Mandelblit’s announcement, still found him neck-and-neck with his new rival Benny Gantz as Israelis’ preferred prime minister.

His political challenge in the next few weeks will be to retain that popularity including, crucially, by convincing voters that he is entirely capable of running the country and simultaneously mounting his legal defense.

If support for Likud begins to ebb away, as the ToI poll suggested it will, Netanyahu the politician will be in deep trouble. And then, however improbable this may sound in a country where the words “Benjamin Netanyahu” and “prime minister” have become synonymous, Netanyahu the legal defendant could become a matter for an Israel that has moved on.

 

TROUBLE FOR THE FUTURE OF ISRAELI DEMOCRACY?

What Bibi’s Indictment Means

The Attorney General’s misguided decision to charge the Prime Minister with bribery and breach of trust may spell trouble for the future of Israeli democracy

By Avi Bell
Tablet
February 28, 2019

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s announcement to the media, 40 days before general elections, that he intends to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of bribery and breach of trust in three different cases was political drama of the highest order. There’s no gainsaying the importance to Israel’s politics and the election. But more importantly, Mandelblit’s announcement heralds a crisis for Israel’s democracy and the public image of its legal system.

Mandelblit’s announcement inserts law enforcement officials into the political arena in an unprecedented way, and on a very shaky legal foundation. If the legal theories that the attorney general is introducing against Netanyahu become general law, a considerable part of the democratic life of Israel will have to pass through police interrogation rooms. If they remain restricted to Netanyahu, the partisanship will permanently damage public trust in the Israeli legal system.

To be sure, Mandelblit’s announcement is only an interim step in the legal drama. Any actual indictment will have to wait for hearings in the attorney general’s office in which Netanyahu’s lawyers will be afforded the opportunity to attempt to dissuade Mandelblit from his chosen course. The hearings will take place after the election, and only in a year or so will Mandelblit be in a position to request that the Knesset lift Netanyahu’s immunity or formally file an indictment. And the political fallout will not end with the opinion polls now being conducted. It is likely that Mandelblit’s announcement will influence not only the number of votes received by the parties on April 9, but the coalition negotiations to follow.

Yet, while the ultimate political fallout remains unclear, the danger in the novel legal theories introduced by Mandelblit is stark. The criminal charges against the prime minister lack legal substance, and they threaten both the rule of law in Israel and the health of its democracy. Professor Alan Dershowitz said as much in several op-eds and an open letter to Mandelblit in recent months, and he is absolutely right.

A closer look at the three cases – known in Israel by their file numbers 1000, 2000 and 4000 – in which Mandelblit hopes to file charges illustrates the point.

Case 1000 involves repeated small gifts to the prime minister – primarily cigars and champagne – from Arnon Milchan and other affluent supporters of Israel over more than a decade, and the provision by Netanyahu of assistance on the level of constituent service. The police had sought a bribery charge, but Mandelblit seeks to charge Netanyahu with “breach of trust,” a notoriously vaguely defined crime.

As Dershowitz wrote, “Everyone acknowledges that friends are permitted to give wine and cigars to friends, even if the recipient is the prime minister. The accusation is that Netanyahu took too many such gifts and made too many favors in return. But how many are too many? The law doesn’t say. It’s a matter of degree. But matters of degree should not be the basis for criminal prosecutions …. No one should be charged with a crime unless he has willfully crossed a bright line and plainly violated a serious criminal statute. To bring down a duly elected prime minister on the basis of an expansive and unprecedented application of a broad and expandable criminal statute endangers democracy.”

It does not help Mandelblit’s case that Milchan and the others have befriended and asked favors of many Israeli politicians over the years. In an interview in 2013, Milchan proudly counted among his friends former Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon, and Shimon Peres, and senior Israeli politicians Tzipi Livni, Avigdor Lieberman, and Silvan Shalom, as well as Netanyahu’s rival Yair Lapid (who would become prime minister in a rotation agreement, were his Blue and White party to win the coming elections), as well as, of course, Netanyahu. The main favor Milchan requested – an extension of an existing tax break for new immigrants and returning Israelis – is one that Milchan discussed with Lapid and which Lapid initially supported. No charges have been or will be filed against Lapid or Milchan.

Cases 2000 and 4000 are even more troubling, as both depend on the idea that positive media coverage of public officials is a currency, like coin, that can turn into bribery when in exchange for policies or decisions. In both cases, Netanyahu is charged with crimes for seeking more favorable coverage from traditionally hostile media outlets in exchange for lawful regulatory action.

Case 2000 involves discussions between Netanyahu and Noni Mozes, the publisher of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper. Mozes, who makes no secret of the heavy hand he uses in his newspaper and publishing empire to support favored causes and politicians, sought a law that would cripple a rival newspaper – Sheldon Adelson’s Yisrael Hayom – and he was willing to reduce his traditional hostility to Netanyahu if the prime minister would help. Netanyahu agreed to explore the possibility, though Mozes ultimately had to work without the prime minister. Mozes’ proposed law, which would have outlawed Yisrael Hayom, was opposed by Netanyahu, but supported by f43 members of Knesset. Mandelblit seeks to charge Mozes with bribery and Netanyahu with breach of trust. No charges have been or will be filed against the 43 members of Knesset who actually gave Mozes what he asked for.

Case 4000 revolves around discussions between Netanyahu and senior management of Bezeq, a telephone company that owns Walla, the internet news site. Netanyahu pressed Bezeq management to dial down Walla’s hostility at the same time as Bezeq was being scrutinized by civil servants for a merger with the cable company Yes that was ultimately approved. Mandelblit claims that accepting the better coverage from Walla constitutes the acceptance of bribes.

Dershowitz correctly observes, “The relationship between politics and the media – and between politicians and publishers – is too nuanced, subtle and complex to be subject to the heavy hand of criminal law. Many votes by politicians are designed, in part – whether consciously or unconsciously – to garner favorable coverage from the media and to achieve other self-serving results. In many cases, a piece published by a reporter, editor or publisher is also calculated to some degree to promote self-interest – whether economic, political or career-related. To empower prosecutors to probe these mixed motivations is to empower them to exercise undemocratic control over crucial institutions of democracy.”

Indeed, the clearest recent case of quid pro quo coverage in recent Israeli political history involved not Netanyahu but one of his predecessors. Israeli journalist Amnon Abramovich famously called on his fellow journalists to treat Ariel Sharon “like an etrog” – i.e., to give him kid glove treatment – so long as Sharon moved forward with his plan to withdraw unilaterally from the Gaza Strip. The etrog treatment has been widely invoked since, and, indeed, some journalists have publicly mulled granting Netanyahu etrog treatment in exchange for more dovish policies toward the PLO. Until the police and Mandelblit announced their approach to cases 2000 and 4000, no one suspected that etrog treatment was felonious.

The dispiriting truth is that there have always been two ways to understand the investigations against Netanyahu, and the implications for Israeli democracy are alarming.

One way to look at the investigation is as a neutral application of a new understanding of the traditional crimes of bribery and breach of public trust. Under this interpretation, Mandelblit’s capacious understanding of the crimes of breach of trust and bribery may be unprecedented, but will now be applied across the board to all public officials and politicians. The horrifying result will be police oversight of nearly all interactions between media and public officials. When the evening news devotes 15 minutes of generally positive coverage to Benny Gantz or to Mandelblit himself, producers and reporters may have to expect a summons to a police interrogation where they will be asked to demonstrate the purity of their motives. Politicians and public officials in constant touch with the media – that is, everyone in public life – will always find themselves on the verge of conviction of the felony of taking bribes, or, at least, “breach of public trust.” The center of Israeli political life will move to interrogation rooms in police stations.

The other interpretation is that the investigations should be seen as Netanyahu and his supporters paint them: special rules that are meant to apply only to Netanyahu. Israeli political life will not move to the police station, but will face the constant threat that law enforcement authorities may suddenly decide to apply “Bibi rules.” The harm to Israeli democracy of double standards in the criminal law based on prosecutor’s will would be incalculable. And law enforcement officials could never be seen as nonpartisan again.

There’s ample evidence for both interpretations of the prosecution – neutral and partisan – but it doesn’t really matter which is right: Both indicate a severe crisis in Israel’s democratic governance.

We can only hope that the attorney general’s office reconsiders its course. But I fear that much of the damage has already been done, and it will take many years for Israel’s democracy to recover.

 

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