Monthly Archives: July 2008

Anarcho-Vandals Vs. Stalinist Shills

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I was going to post something about the anarcho-vandal attack on the International Brigade memorial in San Francisco but Roland and Bob beat me to it. Plenty of comments by yours truly in Roland’s comment thread.

Here is Roland:

This is surely going to make for some interesting fights amongst the various leftist communities in the Bay Area. You have those who deem the Brigade a true expression of international solidarity in the face of totalitarianism, and others who see them as an extension of the Soviet Union that would betray the anarchists in Spain.

I don’t support vandalism, and this case is no exception. I do however think that the ALB has been lionized by some on the left without considering exactly what they fought for and why, and it looks like these “activists” may very well get an exchange on that subject. But who am I kidding! We will have a week long shouting match between the two sides, and then return to the state they have been for the last 100 years.

Bob adds:

My grandparents were CPUSA members. My grandmother was a nurse, and wanted to volunteer to go to Spain. My grandfather ultimately did not want to fight in a war, and they did not go. Many of their friends went; many did not return. Partly because they always felt they should have gone, they continued to idolise the ALB until their deaths.

They left the Party, I am pretty sure, when the Non-Aggression Pact was signed. Like many Jewish CP members, for whom the Party’s absolute “anti-fascism” was its core feature, they just couldn’t stomach it. As Anon says, I am sure some actual vets of the ALB likewise left at this point.

Now that would be an interesting research project, ALB vets who left the CPUSA for its flippant anti-fascism.

Honest Reporting: The New York Times and Israel

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[H/t Grand Muffti. This goes in the “tell me what I don’t already know” department. HonestReporting has an important analysis of anti-Israel bias in the NYT. Post links to the report on anti-Zionist blogs which claim the newspaper is part of “The Lobby.” Have fun...]

The last HonestReporting long-term analysis of the New York Times was released in November of 2007. At the time, we found that there were several disturbing patterns in how the Times reported events in the Middle East. Our conclusion was that the treatment of Israeli and Palestinian actions was so different, that there could be no question that the reporting was favoring the Palestinians rather than remaining impartial. We highlighted specific cases where headlines dealing with Israeli or Palestinian actions were written in different styles. We also noted that the vast majority of images used by the Times appears reflectively sympathetic to the Palestinians while virtually ignoring the greater context surrounding the conflict.

We have now concluded a broader survey of the Times. Specifically, we looked at 205 articles between July of 2007 and June of 2008. Using this much larger time frame, we found that our original thesis has only been strengthened. Specifically, when reviewing headlines and photographs, it is clear that there is an inherent bias in New York Times reporting about the conflict that favors the Palestinians.

THE NEW YORK TIMES: JULY 2007-JUNE 2008- SUMMARY OF FINDINGS:

  • 82 percent of headlines that introduced articles describing Israeli military operations were written in a direct style in which the words “Israel” or “Israeli Forces” (or a similar phrase) were the subject. In the majority of these cases, no details were given as to whether the casualties were combatants or civilians. An example of this type of headline ran in the Times on January 4, 2008: “Israeli Forces Kill 9 in Gaza.”
  • Only 20 percent of headlines that introduced articles describing Palestinian attacks named the group responsible. Most of these headlines were written in a passive, less direct style that removes responsibility of the attack from those who caused it. An example of this type of headline ran on May 13, 2008: “Rocket Fired from Gaza Kills Woman in Southern Israel.”
  • 75 percent of the photographs that could be objectively determined as drawing sympathy for one side or the other in the conflict favored the Palestinians. Palestinian casualties of Israeli military operations and pictures of civilians dealing with shortages in Gaza dominated Times coverage during the time period studied.

[read it all]

University of Michigan Cuts Ties with Crackpot Press

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[H/t Solomonia]

This is a bit dated (last month) from Inside HigherEd:

In September, the University of Michigan Press faced intense criticism from pro-Israel groups — and questions from some regents — over its distribution of a book called Overcoming Zionism, which argues that the creation of Israel was a mistake and urges adoption of the “one state” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which Israelis and Palestinians would form a new country, without a Jewish character. Michigan wasn’t the publisher, but it distributed the book under a deal with Pluto Press, a leftist British publisher with extensive lists on the Middle East and international affairs.

Some critics of the book demanded that Michigan stop distributing the book, which it briefly did, and cut ties to Pluto immediately. The university declined to do so, and resumed distributing the book, citing both contractual obligations to Pluto and concerns that halting distribution because of content would raise issues of academic freedom. By the end of this year, however, Michigan will no longer be distributing the book or have any ties to Pluto Press.

[read it all]

In the comments below one finds the following:

“Shame on zionists for seeking to suppress views they disagrees with. What next: book burnings? Shame on the University of Michigan Press for caving into this pressure.”

“This is a good example of how much muscle the Israeli Lobby has in the US. The U of Michigan should be ashamed to cave in to the unjustified bantering of the Israeli groups who seek to control American thought and policy.”

“What conspiracy? The right wing Zionist lobby targeted the University of Michigan and applied enough pressure to force them to sever ties to Pluto. No conspiracy — it’s a transparent fact, and a chilling one. Attention all university presses: if you publish or even distribute anything critical of Israel, you will be treated the same way.”

This was my favorite:

“No one should demand that outside groups meet the same academic standards as the university.”

Ivanhoe nails it:

“You guys are pathetic, just pathetic. If the U. Michigan had been discovered to be distributing, exclusively and without review, thirty or so right wing books that bashed the Palestinians, denied their claims to a state, attacked and mischaracterized Islam and talked about the great worldwide conspiracy of terrorists, every single one of you so called “free speech” advocates would have been marching in the street to kill it.

And what would your argument have been? That the books are political, non-academic and polemical, and occasionally racist. Or, put another way, exactly what Pluto Press books are.”

Other titles published by Pluto include:

Jewish History, Jewish Religion by Israel Shahak. Forewords by Gore Vidal, Edward Said, Norton Mezvinsky and Ilan Pappe.

Israel’s Vicious Circle by Uri Avnery

Israel and the Clash of Civilizations by Jeff Halper

You get the picture…

David Castle, Commissioning Editor, Pluto Press has this to say:

The reason that Kovel’s argument is so controversial is not for any scholarly reason – the reason is purely political. The pro-Israel lobby is an extremely powerful force in US politics – highly organised, very well funded, with influence in the heart of government – and through persuasion, chastisement and not a little bullying, the lobby has managed to establish in many people’s minds that criticism of Israel and Zionism is no less than anti-Semitism – that is to say, that criticism of the actions of a state and a political ideology is equivalent to an attack and denigration of a whole people…

In the face of the controversy surrounding Overcoming Zionism, a group of scholars, campaigners and lawyers have established the Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism, which aims to defend the principle of free speech on debate over Israel. The Committee asks for your support – you can find them at www.codz.org.

You can email him at: davidc@plutobooks.com

Terror Attack in Ahmedabad (India) Kills at Least 45

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At least 45 people have been killed in the latest terror bombings to hit India. This time the target was Ahmedabad in the northwestern state of Gujarat. Hospitals, markets and busy intersections were targeted. Car bombs were used against hospitals but the majority were much smaller, simpler devices (bags of ammonium nitrate packed with ball bearings), placed in tiffins on bicycles. Seventeen separate blasts have been recorded and police continue to defuse bombs across the city.

A group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility and sent emails to television channels minutes before the blasts. The Times of India reports:

The targets were selectively chosen, with the focus of attack being chief minister Narendra Modi’s Maninagar assembly constituency. Four blasts took place in this area. Also targeted was VHP leader Pravin Togadia’s cancer hospital in the Bapunagar area as a bombs went off on either side of his hospital. There were two blasts near assembly speaker Ashok Bhatt’s house in Khadia.

The Hindu notes:

The reports pieced together by the police indicated 17 blasts in 10 different areas and all, except the minority-dominated Sarkhej and Juhapura, were in the labour-dominated eastern parts of the old city. Most of the blasts occurred in crowded and congested areas during peak evening hour traffic. About 40 minutes after the first round of blasts, bombs went off near the trauma centre of the civil hospital and the main portico of the L.G. General Hospital in Maninagar, even as the injured were being rushed to the hospitals.

Abdul Halim, an activist of the banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), wanted in the 2002 Gujarat riots, was arrested for his alleged connections to the Ahmedabad blasts. Ahmedabad Joint Commissioner of Police Ashish Bhatia claimed Halim was part of network sending potential terrorists across the border into Pakistan for training.

Regarding SIMI, South Asian Terror Portal describes the organization as:

[A]n Islamist fundamentalist organization, which advocates the ‘liberation of India’ by converting it to an Islamic land. The SIMI, an organisation of young extremist students has declared Jihad against India, the aim of which is to establish Dar-ul-Islam (land of Islam) by either forcefully converting everyone to Islam or by violence.

More on SIMI from The Hindu:

Gujarat has been a high-priority target for SIMI jihadists and affiliate organisations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba ever since the 2002 communal pogrom in the State. Most SIMI cadre involved in these operations could never be arrested, raising the prospect that some, or all, are involved in Saturday’s bombings in Ahmedabad.

Maharashtra-based SIMI bomb maker Zulfikar Fayyaz Kagzi, for example, is thought to have built a sophisticated suitcase-bomb planted on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad express train in February 2006. However, an error in the timer circuit resulted in the bomb exploding only 12 hours after the scheduled detonation time, by which time train cleaning staff had deposited the suitcase in an empty corner of the Ahmedabad station.

Fayyaz is known to have caught an Iran Air flight to Tehran on May 9, 2006, and is thought to have escaped across the Zahedan border into Pakistan.

Visual Media via Times of India broadband.

Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Szyk

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[H/t Mom]

I received a copy of Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Szyk in the mail yesterday. Most readers are probably familiar with Szyk’s art. I posted the “Four Sons” image from his illuminated Haggadah earlier this year.

As I mentioned in that post, a problem common to much political art is the political content takes precedent over the quality of the drawing, painting, sculpture, etc. Szyk, by contrast, is a political artist who is truly a master. His biography is incredibly interesting as well. Born in Lodz, Poland (1894) and expelled from high school for producing anti-Czarist, pro-Zionist sketches, Szyk went on to study art in Paris, Krakow and Palestine. He fought in the Russian Army during World War I (1914) and as an anti-Bolshevik guerilla during the Polish-Bolshevik War (1921). He also served as Artistic Director of the Department of Propaganda for the Polish Army from 1919-1920. For Szyk, the ideal type of modern Jew is a warrior who fights for his dignity and for that of others.

Szyk was an early anti-fascist and his caricatures of Axis leaders in Collier’s, Coronet, and other magazines are perhaps his best known work besides the Haggadah. Eleanor Roosevelt termed him “ a one-man army” against fascism. Examples below:

Szyk believed in the promise of the American Dream and celebrated America’s gift of Liberty to the world writing, “In America, I have found the home I always searched for. Here I can speak of what my soul feels. There is no other place on earth that gives the freedom, liberty and justice that America does.”

At the same time, he recognized this country’s faults (racism, injustice) and supported the civil-rights movement and the labor movement.

Szyk was a dedicated Zionist. Gad Nahshon (Jewish Post) writes, “Szyk and his wife, Julia, served the Irgun with love and dedication. He fought for justice with Peter Bergson, Ben-Hecht, Shmuel Merlin, Yitshag Ben Ami, Harry Selden, Stella Adler and Eri Jabotinsky, to name a few.” Despite his obvious dedication to the Jewish people and state, the revisionist strain of Zionism which motivated Szyk and his strong advocacy of the Irgun may explain why his work has never been exhibited in Israel.

In another sad irony, Szyk, a life-long anti-communist, was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) for his supposed relations with a group affiliated with the Communist Party. Friends and close associates feel the disillusionment he experienced from this event led to his death by heart-failure in 1951.

The image below compares the ships bringing Jewish refugees to Israel to the Mayflower.

If you have never seen his work, it is fantastic. These digital images do not capture the vibrancy of his color palette but you can at least get an idea. This last image is Hillel:

Good News from Basra

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[This is from the Times Online (UK)]

Barney White-Spunner writes:

There is an interesting piece of graffiti on a bridge near Basra. A fleeing militiaman has scrawled “We’ll be back”; underneath an Iraqi soldier has scribbled in reply “And we’ll be waiting for you”.

The Shia militias, the Jaish al- Mahdi, who controlled large parts of Basra until March this year, has now gone and instead the city is firmly under the grip of Iraq’s new security forces, in whom the coalition has invested so much training. They re-established control in April, in an operation romantically named “The Charge of the Knights”, systematically clearing the city with British and American support, confiscating illegal weapons and arresting the violent gangs whose combination of criminality and vicious extremism was making life a misery for so many of Basra’s people.

Around the city the posters of religious leaders are being replaced with billboards advertising cars and mobile phones and photographs of Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, who is rightly credited with being the driving force behind the army’s crackdown. You see the symbol of The Charge of the Knights everywhere, a black horse carrying the flag of Iraq trampling the gangsters underfoot.

This improvement in security has made Basrawis more confident of their future than at any time since 2003. A recent poll showed that only 8 per cent now regard security as their main concern; 80 per cent have confidence in the Iraqi security forces to protect them. Women are free to walk the streets uncovered and to wear Western dress should they so choose.

Yet what also makes people here so confident is that they know that they live in what is potentially one of the richest cities in the Middle East…

[read it all]

James K. Glassman: Winning the War of Ideas

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[H/t NY Sun]

My subscription to the NY Sun lapsed some weeks ago. I intend to resub but have not managed to send in my check yet. I used to look forward to reading the paper on the subway during my commute. I’m really starting to miss it. My wife subscribes to the NYT weekend addition and her good friend has been dumping her old copies of the Nation and New Yorker on the weekends (per my wife’s request). Needless to say the household is in need of some balance. Commentary once a month is not enough.

So I went to the Sun’s website to see what I’ve been missing. This op-ed penned by under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs James K. Glassman was encouraging.

Winning the War of Ideas

During my confirmation hearings, Senator Lieberman called me “the supreme allied commander in the war of ideas.” I like the ring of that — even though I haven’t asked our allies if they agree. While the under secretary of state for public diplomacy has a big portfolio, the war of ideas will be my focus.

Unless we get the war of ideas right, we will never succeed in meeting the most significant threat of our time. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates put it well in a speech on July 16: “Over the long term, we cannot kill or capture our way to victory. Non-military efforts — these tools of persuasion and inspiration — were indispensable to the outcome of the defining ideological struggle of the 20th century. They are just as indispensable in the 21st century — and perhaps even more so.”

During the Cold War, after a slow start, we became good at public diplomacy, with such institutions as the Congress of Cultural Freedom and Radio Free Europe. But starting in the early 1990s, America, in bipartisan fashion, began to dismantle this arsenal of influence. In its 2003 report, the Djerejian Group, a commission of which I was a member, would call, in desperation, for “a new strategic direction — informed by a seriousness and commitment that matches the gravity of our approach to national defense and traditional state-to-state diplomacy.”

Today, the environment has changed. Budgets have risen. Backing is bipartisan. There’s a lot of talk — as usual in Washington — about restructuring public diplomacy. Structure is important, but two things are far more important: will and strategy.

[read it all]

Under secretary Glassman’s perspective is definitely a step in the right direction. The U.S. needs to do much more in this arena. However, when the author writes:

Our priority is not to promote our brand but to help destroy theirs. We do that by showing foreign populations that the ideology and actions of the violent extremists are not in the best interests of those populations.

I wonder if this is possible for outsiders to accomplish. I suspect it is not. The people living in these places are going to have to do that vital political work. Unfortunately, in many places, the majority does support violence against the “infidel.” Even in the United Kingdom, close to 25% of the Muslim population felt the terrorist attacks of June 7, 2005 were justified.

Bernhard Goetz in the Holy Land: Settler Kills Bulldozer Terrorist

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Well, not really. But Sultan Knish and Shawarma Mayor report on another bulldozer terrorist attack in Jerusalem. The driver, related to a high-level Hamas official, rammed cars and a bus, injuring four. He was not stopped by the police but by an armed settler. As in the previous attack, the driver was a Palestinian from east Jerusalem with an Israeli residence permit.

Here is the Mayor:

If you are not bothered by the wild west atmosphere in Jerusalem you should be. Don’t misunderstand me – I do not blame the citizens who stopped the horror on today’s tractor mass murder attempt nor the last one. I do remember how the Israeli left was all up in arms when security officials murdered the 300 bus line terrorists in the 80-s. How the self-righteous have gone so silent.

I have a feeling that this situation resembles a westerner more than a modern society governed by laws. This is what happens when law enforcement, security agencies and the judicial systems fail to act in the face of the mounting surge of Arab murderous violence. This is what happens when citizens view terrorists who have murdered and will murder again go free in exchange for bodies.

It is sickening to listen to political jabber with no teeth. How about instead of “threatening to level homes” of dead terrorists – you do something. How about instead of threatening to stop paying salaries to escaped former MP spy Bishara – you do something. How about instead of warning of the strengthening terror regime in Gaza and the serious danger posing the communities around Gaza – you do something?

The result of inaction is vigilant action.

[read it all]

The Sultan adds:

The man who took him down before he managed to kill anyone was once again a settler. Yaki Asael, 58, farmer, resident of Susia, father of 8, Tank Reserve, former company commander, Veteran of several wars, owns a vineyard, teaches Torah at Yeshiva Kiryat Arba.

The media and the authorities will once again try to ignore who really took down the terrorist and attempt to give credit to the border policeman, just as they did each time. But as in the previous bulldozer attack where an off-duty soldier who had been arrested for protesting Disengagement took down the terrorist, it was a “politically incorrect” and a wholly Zionist figure who in his life embodies the Jewish and Israel ideal, right down to the vineyard.

Asael represents the embodiment of everything that the far left is trying to tear down in Israel, while the Arab attacker represents everything they are trying to promote. Today’s attack is another painfully literal demonstration that it is only the “politically incorrect”, the so-called radical extremists, the settlers and religious Zionists, who stand between the state and its destruction.

[read it all]

As previously noted, when the state abdicates its proper role and does not provide an adequate system of criminal justice and security, the political and moral obligations to defer to the state are no longer operative.

Raymond Ibrahim: In Their Own Words, Understanding Al-Qaeda

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I first became familiar with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) after reading George Nash’s excellent The Conservative Movement in America: Since 1945 which they published. In addition to publishing they have posted a wide variety of lectures online (in audio and video format).

Here is Raymond Ibrahim, “In Their Own Words: Understanding Al-Qaeda.” (audio)