progressiveisrael:

Obama’s man in Belgium faces calls for his firing after factual remarks on Israel and anti-Semitism

The U.S. ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, is facing an intense campaign by hard-line pro-Israel voices in the U.S. who want him fired over remarks he made about anti-Semitism late last month.

Obama’s man in Belgium faces calls for his firing after factual remarks on Israel and anti-Semitism

The U.S. ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, is facing an intense campaign by hard-line pro-Israel voices in the U.S. who want him fired over remarks he made about anti-Semitism late last month.

Gutman, an Obama fundraiser turned ambassador, as well as a Jew and child of a Holocaust survivor, was addressing a Brussels conference devoted to combating anti-Semitism in Europe last month when he launched into a discussion of the relationship between the Israel-Palestine conflict and tensions between Muslims and Jews.

The first thing to note about the Gutman affair – which has now prompted Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, as well as pundits at Commentary and elsewhere to call for his firing – is that the initial reaction was based on a woefully inaccurate account of his remarks.

Gutman was paraphrased by the Israeli news outlet Ynet as saying, “A distinction should be made between traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned, and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” The clear suggestion is that Gutman was engaging in apologetics for certain forms of Jew hatred.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz then put that line in quotation marks even though no such words had passed Gutman’s lips. In fact, a reading of his real remarks shows that he explicitly repudiated the idea that any anti-Semitism should be tolerated, rather than condemned.

It’s worth quoting Gutman at length. He did make a distinction between anti-Semitisms, referring to the risk of “oversimplifying and of lumping together diverse phenomena.”

He then described what might be called classical anti-Semitism:

There is and has long been some amount of anti-Semitism, of hatred and violence against Jews, from a small sector of the population who hate others who may be different or perceived to be different, largely for the sake of hating. Those anti-Semites are people who hate not only Jews, but Muslims, gays, gypsies, and likely any who can be described as minorities or different. That hatred is of course pernicious and it must be combated. We can never take our eye off it or just dismiss it as fringe elements or the work of crazy people, because we have seen in the past how it can foment and grow.

This type of anti-Semitism, he said, rears its head from time to time, but does not appear to be growing.

But there is another phenomenon, Gutman argued, that is on the rise.

It is the problem within Europe of tension, hatred and sometimes even violence between some members of Muslim communities or Arab immigrant groups and Jews. It is a tension and perhaps hatred largely born of and reflecting the tension between Israel, the Palestinian Territories and neighboring Arab states in the Middle East over the continuing Israeli-Palestinian problem.

Then – contrary to the right-wing portrayals of his remarks, such as Romney’s description of them as “rationalizing and downplaying anti-Semitism” – Gutman explicitly called this phenomenon unacceptable:

It too is a serious problem. It too must be discussed and solutions explored. No Jewish student – and no Muslim student or student of any heritage or religion – should ever feel intimidated on a University campus for their heritage or religion leading to academic leaders quitting in protest. No high school or grammar school Jewish student – and no Muslim high school or grammar school student or student of any heritage or religion – should be beaten up over their heritage or religion.

But this second problem is in my opinion different in many respects than the classic bigotry – hatred against those who are different and against minorities generally — the type of anti-Semitism that I discussed above. It is more complex and requiring much more thought and analysis. This second form of what is labeled “growing anti-Semitism” produces strange phenomena and results.

He then goes on to explore how this problem might be addressed, including by a resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The core point that has so many pundits on the right upset is the link between the Israel-Palestine conflict and anti-Semitism. On this, Adam Serwer at Mother Jones makes the crucial point: “Gutman’s suggestion that anti-Semitism would subside if a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be reached isn’t the same as saying Israelis or Jews are ‘responsible’ for anti-Semitism.”

As it turns out, there is rigorous research that backs up Gutman’s point — that of, in his words, “tension, hatred and sometimes even violence between some members of Muslim communities or Arab immigrant groups and Jews … largely born of and reflecting the tension between Israel, the Palestinian Territories and neighboring Arab states in the Middle East over the continuing Israeli-Palestinian problem.”

The Community Service Trust is a thoroughly mainstream British organization that specializes in the study of anti-Semitism and providing security for Jews. The group publishes an annual survey on anti-Semitic incidents in the U.K., and its most recent study (.pdf) would seem to vindicate Gutman.

It notes what happened after the IDF killed nine pro-Palestinian activists on a flotilla to break the Gaza blockade in May 2010:

The only significant trigger event in 2010 occurred when Israeli forces boarded a flotilla of ships bearing pro-Palestinian activists who were trying to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza; nine activists were killed during the subsequent on-board clashes. Reactions to this episode led to a monthly total of 81 antisemitic incidents in the UK in June 2010, compared to 49 in June 2009, when there was no comparable trigger event.

And it also discusses the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2009, the year of the Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza:

The record total [of anti-Semitic incidents] in 2009 was triggered by reactions to the Gaza conflict in January of that year, which led to record numbers of incidents in January and February 2009.

Those two points show a correlation between flare-ups in the Middle East and anti-Semitism. But what about causation?

The report explores this complicated question:

Clearly, it would not be acceptable to define all anti-Israel activity as antisemitic; but it cannot be ignored that much contemporary antisemitism takes place in the context of, or is motivated by, extreme feelings over the Israel/Palestine issue. Drawing out these distinctions, and deciding on where the dividing lines lie, is one of the most difficult areas of CST’s work in recording and analysing hate crime.

This point by Community Service Trust echoes Gutman’s sentiments almost exactly. And it shows the Gutman affair is more about driving a particular narrative about tensions between the Obama administration and Israel than it is about any supposedly controversial remarks.

(via progressiveisrael)

youngcontrarian:

by Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, December 6, 2011

The Obama administration seems to be arguing lately that the blame for stalled peace talks rests almost entirely with Israel. This clearly isn’t true. The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas seems uninterested in even sharing its ideas for compromise with Israel. Yet this doesn’t excuse the Netanyahu government’s inability to curtail the settlements or the settlers, some of whom behave despicably toward their Palestinian neighbors. The occupation will come to an end only through direct negotiation. The West Bank settlers should, if nothing else, be brought under the rule of law, and be encouraged to come home.

Israelis, and their American supporters, often argue that Israel’s problem is one of public relations. It is, to some degree. The world holds Israel to a higher standard than any other country. But here’s a secret: American Jews hold Israel to a very high standard as well, and if Israel ceases to be a free and open country governed by the rule of law, American Jewish support for Israel will dissipate, with dramatic and unpleasant consequences.

American voters.”The real movement for change does not need lazy, voting-is-everything Democrats who imagine that the exchange of power between Democrats and Republicans is more than the see-saw, baton-passing game that it is. Instead, it needs people willing to move beyond politics of the black box, to open the black box itself and to shatter the illusion that the selection of rulers amounts to anything but issuing a stamp of approval on one’s own subjection. Democrats who warn us that voting for a third party or refusing to vote for Obama is a vote for Republicans are advising us to follow them in voting for an incrementalism that continually improves BACKWARDS. We’ve had enough!" ~Michael Rectenwald. 

American voters
.
The real movement for change does not need lazy, voting-is-everything Democrats who imagine that the exchange of power between Democrats and Republicans is more than the see-saw, baton-passing game that it is. Instead, it needs people willing to move beyond politics of the black box, to open the black box itself and to shatter the illusion that the selection of rulers amounts to anything but issuing a stamp of approval on one’s own subjection.

Democrats who warn us that voting for a third party or refusing to vote for Obama is a vote for Republicans are advising us to follow them in voting for an incrementalism that continually improves BACKWARDS. We’ve had enough!
"

~Michael Rectenwald

.
 

CSM: Guantánamo for US citizens? Senate bill raises questions

@'Great' hypocrisy/democracy

The National Defense Authorization Act passed by the Senate this week could allow the US military to detain American citizens indefinitely. Civil libertarians are alarmed, and President Obama says he might veto it.

Legislation passed by the Senate this week and headed for the House – and a possible presidential veto – could allow the US military to detain American citizens indefinitely.

The National Defense Authorization Act covering $662 billion in defense spending for the next fiscal year includes a provision requiring military custody of a terror suspect believed to be a member of Al Qaeda or its affiliates and involved in attacks on the United States.  

israelfacts:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently provided representatives of the Middle East Quartet with a new proposal on borders for a Palestinian state and security arrangements that Israel would be provided in a peace agreement. The Quartet, which is comprised of the United States, the…

(via fajrarmy)

israelfacts:

A spokesman for Israel’s prime minister is blaming the Palestinian leadership for the deadlock in peace talks, a day after the U.S. defense secretary said that Israel was not doing enough to renew negotiations.

ethnocracy/hypocrisy/atrocity

anonymissexpress

by Jonathan Cook, Global Research, December 1, 2011

As protests raged again across the Middle East, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, offered his assessment of the Arab Spring last week. It was, he said, an “Islamic, anti-western, anti-liberal, anti-Israeli, undemocratic wave”, adding that Israel’s Arab neighbours were “moving not forwards, but backwards”.
 
It takes some chutzpah – or, at least, epic self-delusion – for Israel’s prime minister to be lecturing the Arab world on liberalism and democracy at this moment.
 
In recent weeks, a spate of anti-democratic measures have won support from Netanyahu’s rightwing government, justified by a new security doctrine: see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil of Israel. If the legislative proposals pass, the Israeli courts, Israel’s human rights groups and media, and the international community will be transformed into the proverbial three monkeys.
 
Israel’s vigilant human rights community has been the chief target of this assault. Yesterday Netanyahu’s Likud faction and the Yisrael Beiteinu party of his far-right foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, proposed a new law that would snuff out much of the human rights community in Israel.
 
The bill effectively divides non-governmental organisations (NGOs) into two kinds: those defined by the right as pro-Israel and those seen as “political”, or anti-Israel. The favoured ones, such as ambulance services and universities, will continue to be lavishly funded from foreign sources, chiefly wealthy private Jewish donors from the United States and Europe.
 
The “political” ones – meaning those that criticise government policies, especially relating to the occupation – will be banned from receiving funds from foreign governments, their main source of income. Donations from private sources, whether Israeli or foreign, will be subject to a crippling 45% tax.
 
The grounds for being defined as a “political” NGO are suitably vague: denying Israel’s right to exist or its Jewish and democratic character; inciting racism; supporting violence against Israel; supporting politicians or soldiers being put on trial in international courts; or backing boycotts of the state.

israelfacts:

NETANYAHU GOVERNMENT SUGGESTS ISRAELIS AVOID MARRYING AMERICAN JEWS

BY JEFFREY GOLDBERG

The Netanyahu government’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption is sponsoring advertisements in at least five American communities that warn Israeli expatriates that they will lose their identities if they don’t return home.

The Ministry is also featuring on its website a series of short videos that, in an almost comically heavy-handed way, caution Israelis against raising their children in America — one scare-ad shows a pair of Israeli grandparents seated before a menorah and Skypeing with their granddaughter, who lives in America. When they ask the child to name the holiday they’re celebrating, she says “Christmas.” In another ad, an actor playing a slightly-adenoidal, goateed young man (who, to my expert Semitic eye, is meant to represent a typical young American Jew) is shown to be oblivious to the fact that his Israeli girlfriend is in mourning on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s memorial day. The Jewish Channel, which broke the story of what it calls a “semi-covert national campaign,” suggests that the Ministry does not differentiate between the “dangers” of marrying American Jews, and American non-Jews, and I have to agree. But let’s lay that aside for a minute and watch the video (above).

The narrator says, in essence, “they will never understand what it means to be Israeli.” The narration leaves no room for the possibility that “Dafna,” the Israeli girlfriend, could explain to the Josh-character (my name for him, though it could be Jeremy as well) why she’s sad on Memorial Day. And here’s the in-your-face Christmas ad:

I don’t think I have ever seen a demonstration of Israeli contempt for American Jews as obvious as these ads. I understand the impulse behind them: Israel wants as many of its citizens as possible to live in Israel. This is not an abnormal desire. But the way it is expressed, in wholly negative terms, is somewhat appalling. How about, “Hey, come back to Israel, because our unemployment rate is half that of the U.S.’s”? Or, “It’s always sunny in Israel”? Or, “Hey, Shmulik, your mother misses you”?

These government-sponsored ads suggest that it is impossible for Jews to remain Jewish in America. How else are we supposed to understand the “Christmas” ad? Obviously, assimilation and intermarriage are issues in America in ways they aren’t in Israel. Israel has other problems of course, such as the fact that many of its rabbis act like Iranian mullahs. (I’m not even going to try to unpack my complicated beliefs about intermarriage and assimilation and life in the Diaspora here; that’s for a book. But let me just say that intermarriage can also be understood as an opportunity.)

The idea, communicated in these ads, that America is no place for a proper Jew, and that a Jew who is concerned about the Jewish future should live in Israel, is archaic, and also chutzpadik (if you don’t mind me resorting to the vernacular). The message is: Dear American Jews, thank you for lobbying for American defense aid (and what a great show you put on at the AIPAC convention every year!) but, please, stay away from our sons and daughters.

UPDATE: The Jewish Federations of North America apparently agree with my analysis.

See also:  

A dad doesn’t wake up when is son says Daddy over and over again, then he does wake up when the kid says “Abba.” The Israeli gov’t’s message: “They will always remain Israelis. Their children will not. Help them to return to Israel.” [Mondoweiss]

(via fajrarmy)