31 January 2016

Marrakesh Declaration on the Rights of Religious Minorities in Predominantly Muslim Majority Communities

The declaration sounds like a breath of fresh air in the current atmosphere of strife and terror. If only all Muslim (and other religious groups) were able to follow what it says.

For those who don't have time to read the whole:


Call upon Muslim scholars and intellectuals around the world to develop a jurisprudence of the concept of "citizenship" which is inclusive of diverse groups. Such jurisprudence shall be rooted in Islamic tradition and principles and mindful of global changes.

Urge Muslim educational institutions and authorities to conduct a courageous review of educational curricula that addesses honestly and effectively any material that instigates aggression and extremism, leads to war and chaos, and results in the destruction of our shared societies;

Call upon politicians and decision makers to take the political and legal steps necessary to establish a constitutional contractual relationship among its citizens, and to support all formulations and initiatives that aim to fortify relations and understanding among the various religious groups in the Muslim World;

Call upon the educated, artistic, and creative members of our societies, as well as organizations of civil society, to establish a broad movement for the just treatment of religious minorites in Muslim countries and to raise awareness as to their rights, and to work together to ensure the success of these efforts.

Call upon the various religious groups bound by the same national fabric to address their mutual state of selective amnesia that blocks memories of centuries of joint and shared living on the same land; we call upon them to rebuild the past by reviving this tradition of conviviality, and restoring our shared trust that has been eroded by extremists using acts of terror and aggression;

Call upon representatives of the various religions, sects and denominations to confront all forms of religious bigotry, villification, and denegration of what people hold sacred, as well as all speech that promote hatred and bigotry; AND FINALLY,

AFFIRM that it is unconscionable to employ religion for the purpose of aggressing upon the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries.

January 2016 ,27th

Hat tip: Nervana Mahmoud.

30 January 2016

France to Palestinians: sabotage negotiations - get yourself a country

The headline doesn't say it all:

France to recognise Palestinian state if deadlock with Israel not broken

Neither does the rest of the article that starts with:

France will recognise a Palestinian state if its efforts in coming weeks to try to break the deadlock between Israelis and Palestinians fail, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Friday.
There isn't a single person who doesn't see what was going on with so called negotiations during too many years to count. On one side, the Palestinian Authority - a rather small bunch of corrupt autocrats - busy stuffing their pockets with the foreign aid money and raising new preconditions every time a possibility of negotiations looms.

On the other hand there is our government (well, Bibi, to be precise), quite happy with the status quo and, with the so far unending turmoil in the Arab world, steadily pursuing its unfailing recipe of "do nothing and wait" policy. Which stance is kind of hard to blame, seeing as Fatah chieftains, whose differences with Hamas are mostly in the speeches in English aimed at the gullible Western public, say quite openly that "a Palestinian state alongside Israel is only “a phase” and that Palestine should eventually stretch from the Jordan River to the sea".

Thankfully, there are several other factors that play in favor of the status quo. First of all, the mere idea of signing any kind of peace treaty with Israel frightens the Ramallah bosses to no end. Their own brethren are busily sharpening their knives just for such an occasion. Then, a prospect of a country to manage and an economy to lead forward is totally foreign to the gang that so far succeeded only in nationalistic demagoguery and in filling their own pockets, as mentioned above. And, of course, a mere thought of a possibility of democratic elections (delayed for too many years already) and of a possible takeover of the West Bank by Hamas - not because Hamas' ideology is so different, but because Hamas is perceived as less corrupt by the general population - freezes the Fatah chieftains' blood.

The status quo, what with being propped by IDF guns on one side (against Hamas) and playing the eternal victim (against the cruel Zionists) on the other, which play promises more donations from the adoring EU, US and the oil rich Arab countries, is just what the doctor ordered for Mr Abbas and his cronies. Any change in this balancing act will be disastrous for that bunch.

All in all: good luck, Mr Fabius.

28 January 2016

Italy’s shambolic appeasement of Islamism

A very good summary of the shameful decision by Italian hosts to cover the statues during the visit of Iranian President Rouhani, by Nervana Mahmoud, a Doctor and Commentator on Middle East issues.

The post ends with a prophetic warning:
After all, if the birthplace of the Roman Empire is hiding its statues, as if they are shameful or improper, why should others respect them or take notice? Empowering medieval ideologies is Europe’s latest error of judgment and there will be a hefty price to pay down the road.
But read the whole article, by all means.

26 January 2016

Professor Jeff Halper or Anthropologist, study thyself

From Wiki: Jeff Halper (Hebrew: ג'ף הלפר‎; born 1946) is an American-born anthropologist, author, lecturer, and political activist who has lived in Israel since 1973. He is co-founder and Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

It is not that the name of the learned professor or the mildly notorious organization he leads was unknown to me, I just wasn't interested that much before. Yesterday I have stumbled on a mention of his latest book, War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification. Naturally, the recent successes of the said "global pacification" and the link of these successes to Israel and Palestinians caused me to do some googling, and as a result I found a clip that the publisher of that book, Pluto Press, calls "Book trailer part 1".

I have managed to survive a bit more than half of that remarkable marketing effort (and there is also part 2 somewhere, I guess, maybe even more). These three and a half minutes, approximately, were enough to boggle my mind and to make me look anew at the noble art (sorry, science) of anthropology*. The man has definitely made inroads in the mire of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and results of his research are so novel and bold that it will take years for his learned colleagues to digest.

The questions prof Halper raises in that part of his "book trailer" are:
  • Why does Israel enjoy all that support from the US, EU, NATO (?) etc.?
  • Why doesn't Israel give up West Bank and Gaza** and immediately start enjoying the peace that will undoubtedly descend on us all?
The (combined) answer to these two questions is (sit down now): the nefarious Zionist Entity uses the Palestinian territories as a testing base for its new weaponry and some undefined security thingamajigs. Which weaponry and thingamajigs are to be marketed worldwide through the ever helpful old boys network, based on retired generals and similar brass hats. Apparently, according to some (yet to be published) research by prof Halper, any retired general automatically enters that (pro-Israeli, of course) OBN, willingly or not is unclear. And, of course, such general becomes forever ready and willing to market new Zionist-made tools of mass murder and mayhem... speak about the new peaks of anthropological science.

OK, I hope you have recovered sufficiently now and digested the message, with its distinct nutty aftertaste. Just remember - only in Israel...

I would suggest that the so called "professor" might become a rich object of scientific studies - anthropology, of course, among others, but some adjacent sciences that deal with peculiarities in human behavior as well. And I am not going to list these sciences - the field of potential discoveries is wide open, methinks.

And good luck to all.

(*) There is an interesting article by Werner Cohn, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of British Columbia that, besides other issues related to prof Halper's various activities, raises an interesting question of prof Halper's scientific credentials: "ICAHD materials invariably refer to Halper as "professor," or, as in the Matrix article I cited, as an "anthropologist." But as far as I can tell, Halper has been neither "professor" nor "anthropologist" for at least a decade.[written in 2006!]" Indeed, if you look at the list of prof Halper's books and articles, you would be hard put to find anything scientific there.

(**) Please somebody pass the notice to the learned professor: Israel gave up Gaza in 2005. We all (possibly with the exception of Mr Halper and similar nutcases) know how it turned out.

19 January 2016

Left, right, left, right: two tails that wag the dog

Warning: this is a long post about our extreme left and right and about the two tearing the nation, troubled as it is, apart. While the said nation's leaders diligently pursue the policy of doing nothing in either direction, preferring the grim status quo to any risk taking. Thus providing fertile ground for the extremists to do what they do best: provoke and incite.

Thankfully, due to circumstances out of my control, I didn't post earlier anything on the subject of BtS (Breaking the Silence). Thankfully, because during the last month or so more input came in and I had some time to digest it.

But first things first and let's start with a disclaimer: I've always resented the curious mix of matters military and human morality standards. The whole business of IDF or any other army contending for the title of "the most moral army in the world" smells false to me, being a clumsy attempt to apply a dress that is simply meant for somebody (something) else. Army is not about morality or justice, and while its goal - to defend - could be considered moral, the means used don't have much to do with morality, the opposite is true. Killing and subjugating people could be regulated by rules created by the people for their army, but "moral army" is still an oxymoron. With all due respect to professor Asa Kasher.

And the second disclaimer: as an ex-soldier, part of my military service was (unhappily) spent in various activities in the Judea and Samaria. Just as a citizen who happens to observe reprehensible behavior of a small part of his brethren, I happened to observe such behavior on part of (very few) IDF soldiers toward the Palestinians. IDF is just a representative part of population, no better and no worse than the latter. As any other army, I gather, with an added strain of being forced to do the work police would be much better suited to perform in the occupied territories. Any soldier who denies that cases like these occur is either deaf and blind or exceptionally lucky - if you believe in luck.


Some years ago, with the inception of BtS as a Hebrew-speaking initiative, aimed at reducing the unruly and/or unlawful behavior of IDF soldiers, I was rather pleased with the idea. Working hand in hand with the military police, military AG and the commanders in the field, such outfit could have brought if not a stop, at least a proper treatment and reduction of such behavior. Or so it seemed at the time. Unfortunately, with time the expectations were not exactly matched by reality. First of all, BtS folks got a taste for publicity, adding English to their site, thus securing more exposure... just a second, exposure to what? Justice? Morality? Hardly, mostly publicity. Surprisingly or not (Israelis speak almost all languages), articles in Dutch* appear as well. One naturally asks oneself: why a group whose declared purpose is to improve IDF's behavior, would want the international fame and glory? Especially since anyone could predict the negative impact of that fame on the relationship with IDF, the government and, indeed, with the general population... The trend of "internationalization" doesn't stop with the Internet site, BtS is taking the show on the road quite successfully as well:

BtS has been part of at least 50 events in Europe, the U.S., Canada, Australia, and South Africa” in the past three years and the group’s work is, either directly or via third parties, “almost entirely funded by European governments.
But, publicity hungry or not, BtS continued to provide raw material, and whether you like them or not, you have to keep your ears open even to messages you don't like. As long as you believe the messenger. And here is precisely where I (like a lot of others, I guess) got an unpleasant shock.

A short introduction to the following clip: Amit Deri, a reservist officer, was incensed by some of the stories told by BtS and, as part of his private initiative, recorded a few episodes where one Avner Gvaryahu (the Director of Public Outreach for BtS in the past) leads a group of foreign tourists via various sites in in the Judea and Samaria, providing some fascinating stories, allegedly from his own military past. Exaggerated hearsay spiced by lies and/or pure inventions all of that. You can skip the Hebrew parts of the clip, watch only the recordings of the "tours", where English is used by Avner Gvaryahu.

The ex-comrades from Mr Gvaryahu's unit responded to his amazing performance as one in this (unfortunately Hebrew only) recording. I am proud to notice that not a single one used incendiary or simply unparliamentary expressions toward their subject. A brief of their response could be read here.

I was told that BtS distanced itself from the above performance of Avner Gvaryahu, however I couldn't find a trace of it in a public forum. Moreover, Gvaryahu's name proudly appears on various pages of BtS' site even today, after his travesty of "guided tours" became public. And when one of the leading members of BtS behaves as he does, what attitude could be expected from Israeli public opinion of the whole BtS business? "Business" is the fitting term now... More on BtS in an excellent review by Petra Marquardt-Bigman.

And recently the nation got another unpleasant shock from the extreme left, when the ugly case of an ugly man, Ezra Nawi, has clearly demonstrated that the extreme fringe of the anti-Zionist left has lost the last vestiges of morality in the pursuit of its ideological objectives. However, this fringe hasn't lost its support from the usual crowd of Haaretz irregulars and opinion makers.


And, while we here in Israel are being consoled by some rare rays of light, such as this publicly displayed favorable opinion of the leading military experts, the other (opposite?) side of the political map is not sitting still.

And I don't mean the wretched NGO transparency bill, nor do I care whether it is modeled on existing US law or on its Russian counterpart. Our Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, while a worthy subject for the issue of unbridled lawmaking activism, hardly burdened by too much thinking, is not on the agenda of this post.

I have in mind other dangerous ideological/criminal groups that, by their mere existence, not to mention activities, are busily digging under the democratic foundation of this nation. What started as a series of small acts of vandalism by "Price Tag", initially ignored by our security branches and treated too lightly by the police and the courts, became a well organized, well spread organization, ready to turn a page from petty vandalism to hateful acts of arson and murder, as in Duma arson. Where the left, as in case of Ezra Nawi, prefers to leave the killing to the other party, the brainwashed and fanatic followers of a few rabbis are ready to destroy and kill, believing in the celestial mandate.

This new wave of Jewish extremists is very well organized, their clandestine branch, based on small cells of fanatics, is a very tough nut to crack for our security organs. Their ideological leadership, the one responsible for brainwashing of easily flammable youth, is well protected by the laws and regulations of democracy they despise so much. Ironically or not, like everywhere else in the world, the anti-democratic extremists' groups learn perfectly well how to use the soft belly of democracy they aim to overthrow.

Thus the ideologists don't bother to hide their hateful views, knowing that there is not much the government could do about it, no matter how racist or anti-democratic their propaganda became.

Meir Ettinger, seen escorted by two cops in the picture above, is a specimen of the ideological branch. I doubt that the state will find enough evidence to link him to the Duma crime, he is more of a "thinker", inspiring the murderous actions of his followers. In one, quite important aspect, Ettinger and his likes might be even more dangerous to the well being of the state than his illustrious grandfather, Meir Kahane: where the latter considered himself a Zionist, Ettinger is as anti-Israeli as they come, openly promoting destruction of the Zionist state as his goal:
"The idea of the revolt is very simple," Ettinger wrote in his blog. "The State of Israel has many 'weak points', subjects people tiptoe around so as not to cause riots. What we will do is simply 'spark' all these powder kegs, all the questions and contradictions between Judaism and democracy. Between the Jewish character and the secular character, without fearing the consequences. Disrupting the ability to govern the country. That's the main part of the revolt's 'vort' (word) to break the rules and the entire status quo.
And more... whether he was directly involved in the Duma arson or not, the arsonists have done his bidding. Just like Hamas, the new generation of Sicarii thrives on blood and violence, sowing terror and unrest to reach their goals.

The infamous celebration of the Duma murders during a wedding, recorded and published some time ago, shows how widespread and shameless the right-wing extremism has become.

And while the "Price Tag" and related extremist gangs act on the fringe of the society, right wing outfits similar to Im Tirzu, while ostensibly deploring violence and claiming to be Zionist, use incendiary language as a matter of course. Their recent response to the (indeed deplorable) lies of described above BtS was nothing if not baying for blood. And, seeing how the extremist fringe is actively seeking targets for their own kind of righteousness, this call for blood might be answered quite soon.

The discourse of hatred

And of course, once incendiary language was mentioned, one should award points to both sides. But this is already done by Ben-Dror Yemini in his piece The discourse of hatred: A victory for marginal groups.
This is a warning call: Something bad is happening to us. The margins are taking over the public discourse, turning it into a discourse of hatred. The Israeli public is not there, but it's being dragged there. Israel has a sane majority, a huge majority, but instead of the Knesset presenting a model for a practical discussion, instead of keeping its distance from the violent discourse - it has moved closer to it.
Something bad is happening to us indeed.

But who is taking the challenge up?

(*) Not too surprising: Dutch folks appear in the list of the donating outfits. According to this source, "One Dutch organization demanded Breaking the Silence provide at least 90 testimonies of IDF soldiers and to publish what was described as 'The Occupation Encyclopedia'."

14 January 2016

Science news you should study

Just because you can't make sense out of heavy science-infested volumes, it doesn't mean you shouldn't know what the eggheads are up to in their ivory towers (that cost you a pretty penny, I have to add).

So here comes Akaky Akakievich, whose mere keyboard I am not worthy of polishing, and offers you an accessible interpretation of quantum mechanics you wouldn't find anywhere else. Do not miss the chance to educate yourself.

The best burn of XXI century (so far)

Some naive people call on the members of the public on social media, asking them for help with processing their pictures. The results are often hilarious, and frequently the favor seekers get badly burned by the results.

Here is an epic burn, and as far as my attitude to selfies is concerned, richly deserved:

13 January 2016

Margot Wallström and Hanin Zoabi: find the differences

Both ladies appeared in the news (at least in ToI) on the same day. One is a fine product of north European (somewhat rotting) political system and the other a supremely developed result of Middle Eastern demagoguery school. Otherwise, I leave it to you, dear reader, to look at the pictures and the texts below and judge for yourself. The correct answer at the bottom of this post.

And the text:
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom on Tuesday called for an investigation to determine whether Israel has been conducting extrajudicial executions of Palestinian attackers throughout the current wave of violence and terrorism.
And for this one:
Joint (Arab) List MK Hanin Zoabi on Monday called for the prosecution of the Israeli security forces personnel who killed the terrorist Nashat Milhem last weekend, after he opened fire on troops who came to arrest him.

As you can easily see, their hate of Israel makes both practically indistinguishable. So, are you still having trouble finding the answer? Here it is:

One is a blonde (possibly artificial, but the results are undeniably the same) and the second a natural brunette.

And that's it.

11 January 2016

Amira Hass and the impunity of the righteous

Frankly, I am guilty of disbelief in this case. When I was referred to the article Haaretz outs IDF hero who infiltrated B'tselem, Ta'ayush, I was sceptical, knowing that the source, Arutz 7, is frequently way over the top.

But first about the case that started the chain of events leading up to the exceptional intervention by Ms Hass. Channel 2's news magazine 'Uvda' ('Fact') did an expose on a Jewish Israeli citizen, one Ezra Nawi, who was recorded saying that he helps Palestinian authorities find and kill Palestinians who sell land to Jews.
In the Palestinian Authority, the penal code reserves capital punishment for anyone convicted of selling land to Jews. This law, which Palestinian officials defended as designed to prevent takeovers by settlers, has not been implemented in Palestinian courts, where sellers of land to Jews are usually sentenced to several years in prison. However, in recent years several Palestinians have been murdered for selling land. Their murders have remained unsolved.
Now we can go to the article I doubted:
The man, who was planted in the leftist groups by a group called Ad Kan, recorded the most damning documentary materials aired on the show, by use of a hidden camera. His identity was kept secret on the show, and the IDF, too, refrained from making it public when he was awarded the Chief of Staff's citation for his courage in Operation Protective Edge.
And then, Amira Hass, the intrepid fighter for human rights (only where Palestinian human rights are concerned, and only if the said Palestinians are of anti-Israeli bend) goes and publishes the real name of the man, according to the article I was sceptical about.

The English version of Haaretz was missing the said article by Hass, but the Hebrew one - lo and behold - is where I hit the paydirt. Unbelievable as it may seem, Amira Hass just did the dirty deed. Not only has she disclosed the name of the man, who is an IDF hero indeed, she tried her best to insult him (calling him a Shin Bet "irregular") and - against all evidence - challenge the facts. The article is extremely poisonous, as is much of Ms Hass' body of work, but it is beside the point, which is her disclosure of confidential information - as an act of vengeance.

Believe it or not, she also justifies what the revolting vermin Ezra Nawi is doing by claiming that Palestinian Authority doesn't use the death penalty (but see the above emphasized quote re murders of Palestinian land sellers - why should PA do it officially, when there are enough volunteers?). Of course, torture and imprisonment for selling land to Jews is fine, according to Hass - but let's leave it for another time.

Just to add some color to the story: Gideon Levy, the baron of deceit industry, added his voice, strengthened by the recently added Olaf Palme prize (for what, I wonder - incessant lying?), penning an article with a curious headline A Flagship of Israeli Journalism Joins the Ranks of False Propaganda and an even more curious lede: "The investigative TV program ‘Uvda’ should be ashamed of the report it aired which depicted human rights activists as dangerous, while ignoring the occupation." So, reporting facts (which he cannot address and disprove) is "false propaganda" these days?

Garbage, Ms Hass and Mr Levy - is where both of you belong.

10 January 2016

And the third sin is...

And oldie but still goodie.

Rabbi to his congregation:
  • Remember, Jews, there are only three grave sins. The first one is Schadenfreude. If, for instance, your neighbor's cow has died, you shouldn't gloat but sympathize with him.
  • The second grave sin is despair. If you have only one cow, which is old and barely gives any milk - do not complain, be glad that you have it, while somebody may not have even one.
A voice from the congregation: - But rabbi, you just said that to be happy when someone doesn't have a cow is Schadenfreude, which is a mortal sin, so how...
  • And the third grave sin is tediousness!