Friday, July 18, 2014

Letter to the pro-Gaza protesters

This is an open letter to those who are out in the streets in support of the Gazans, condemning Israel. I would like to ask you a few questions.

Where were your over the years while the rockets kept flying into Israel?  Since the beginning of this year alone already over 1300 rockets were launched from Gaza.  Oh, but the Israelis have that Iron Dome thingy that can shoot down most of those rockets.  Is that a good reason for you to demand that Israel sit with their hands in their laps and just take the beating?

Each anti-missile device costs $15,000 dollars.  Israel is not the richest country in the Middle East.  Yet, do you think that if the Emirates or Qatar got under attack for some reason, they would just purchase a bunch of those Iron Dome devices from Israel and with a peaceful nod ignore the attackers?  Think about it!  What about if your own country, your city suddenly was bombarded by rockets and you had to scurry to bomb shelters two, three or more times a day?  And some of you when you came out would find your house in ruins because the shield missed a rocket.  Sure, nobody actually would have died.  But would you sit still good naturedly? 

Alright, let us go beyond this particular conflict.  Where were you during Black September in Jordan?  Where were you when the Lebanese army attacked the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in 2007, killing some 450 people?  Where were you this past year when Palestinians got killed in the thousands in Syria? Less than four months ago close to 130 people were reported to have starved to death in the Yarmuk refugee camp in Damascus.  Where were you then?

Where are you now when reports are coming in about the newly proclaimed caliphate in Iraq that hundreds of people have been and are methodically executed there? Or the slaughtering of Muslims by Buddhists in Burma, or the situation in South Sudan where entire villages are eradicated now, as we speak?  Or Pakistan, where Jihadists are killing people by the hundreds in terrorist attacks weekly, if not daily? Now!

So what is so different about this Gaza conflict?  Please, stop and ask yourself why is it that you are so easily incensed by a cat that had enough of having its tail being pulled and it decided to scratch back?

Gazans, the Underdogs

This is a quote from a Comment submitted to a Canadian newspaper regarding the Jewish-Palestinian issue:
"Not that long ago, political leaders in Canada and the Western world rallied to eventually force an end to apartheid in South Africa. That nation had become a pariah state due to the insidious form of governance that saw descendants of European settlers having every advantage, while indigenous citizens with different skin colours, cultural and religious beliefs had very few rights or privileges, and were forced out of their historical homelands.

South Africa has long since abandoned apartheid, but the same cannot be said of Israel. What else could you really call a regime where descendants of European Jews have every advantage, while indigenous people who are darker skinned and have different cultural and religious beliefs have very few rights or privileges, and were forced out of their historical homelands.

There is no move by Western leaders to force an end to this version of apartheid, even when the oppressed erupt in anguish and desperation from time to time. That’s happening right now, with plenty of blame to go around on all sides, but Canada’s Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister have pledged to support Israel in everything it does to further tighten its stranglehold on the Palestinian population. Let’s hope the rest of the world will realize that only a quarter of our eligible electorate actually voted for the Tories, and many of us are thoroughly disgusted by the degree of punishment being meted out on the Palestinians.
Bernie Smith, Parksville, B.C."

Unfortunately this is very much the view shared by most pro-Palestinian Canadians.  But let us have a look at the problems of this view, point by point:
The first two paragraphs parallel Israel with the old apartheid system in South Africa. Yet in this case
a. Israelis are not "white settlers" in a foreign land.  The area, in particular Jerusalem proper, was considered their Holy Land for thousands of years, not only by them, this was considered an accepted fact internationally.  During the two millenia of foreign occupation they kept returning from exile, there was always "Jewish presence" in the land they always considered their homeland.
b. Israelis are not "white Europeans".  More than half of today's Israeli population are refugees from Muslim lands, some of them, like those from Iraq, were Iraquis for over three thousand years before they had to flee for their lives and find refuge in the Jewish homeland.  And what about the Ethiopian Jews, or the Yemenites?  White Europeans indeed...  But even if we take the European Jews, DNA tests prove that most of them are of direct Middle Eastern descent.  Ironically, during Nazi persecution it was constantly pointed out how their skin colour was different, how much darker they were than true Europeans.
c.  I would even go as far as to say that the truly indigenous(!) Palestinians are descendents of the Jews who did not go into exile but were converted either to Christianity or Islam over the ages.  
d. Palestinians were not "forced out of their homeland", at least not the majority of them. A lot of the refugees fled because of the wars that followed the establishment of the Jewish state, some villages being truly cleared out, but most of the Arabs stayed put.  Israel proper has a large number of citizens of Palestinian descent, some christian, some Muslim. They have all the rights accorded to any other Israeli citizen. Please, check the statistics in Wikipedia. Surely there is a lot of animosity between them and some segments of Israeli society due to the ongoing situation, but before the law they are accorded full equality.  No apartheid!!!

The third paragraph voices the largely held belief that all the warring between Israel and the Palestinians is caused by the Israeli opression in the West Bank and Gaza, "when the oppressed erupt in anguish and desperation from time to time".  The writer of this comment obviously does not follow the situation close enough.  First of all the "eruptions" do not occur "from time to time".  Terrorist activities were waged against Israelis from day one of its existence.  The PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) was created way before The Six Day War.  Rockets have been launched from Gaza NON-STOP, day after day, ever since the Israelis withdrew from there and Hamas grabbed hold of the area.  The official mandate of Hamas is the complete annihilation of Israel, and they swear not to stop until they achive this goal. 

Make no mistake, the rockets sent into Israel with the openly admitted goal to harm civilians, are not the home made puny mini-rockets of the early days.  We are talking about expensive, sophisticated, far reaching rockets nowadays.  These rockets were brought into Gaza during the the time of the "freely elected" Islamist government. Why do you think the Egyptian military saw it fit to take over and tighten the grip around Gaza on their side of Gaza's borders?  Do you think it is out of brotherly love towards the Jews?  Hardly!  They understand that the blockade of Gaza is absolutely necessary, otherwise Al-Qaida, Hezbollah, and all the other such organization would use Gaza as their "playground".  And that is exactly what the bleeding-heart peace activist ships would have achieved, had they been successful in their quest to end the blockade.

No!  The population of Gaza is held hostage by Hamas, the organization bent on using them for their political goals and purposes. Of course they do not, can not see it because they have been indoctrinated from birth.  Don't tell me you never saw videos of children being taught to say that "Jews are dogs and pigs", or the para-military summer camps where they are taught to become "great warriors". That you did not see the mothers expressing their delight when their sons, sometimes daughters, became shahids in the process of attacking and killing Israelis.  Don't tell me that you are not aware of the fact that the Gaza rocket launchers are deliberately positioned in civilian areas, that the Hamas government spent most of the international aid, the highest per capita anywhere in the world, on weaponry rather than building protective infrastructures, shelters, since they do expect to continue waging war with Israel.  Don't tell me that you did not see the parading of the dead through the streets with the express purpose of whipping up emotions, including those of the Western TV audiences, yours! 

I had enough of the righteus indignation of the self proclaimed pro-Palestinians.  I have not posted much for a long time now because it often seems futile.  People do not do their home-work, do not check actual facts, they just like to make themselves feel good for "siding with the underdog".  And this time, for quite a while now, it is the poor innocent Gazan Palestinian who is perceived as the underdog against the mighty, blood-thirsty Jewish nation. Well, think again, and this time do take a good look!!!  Yes, they are victims but who is their true victimizer?

Read what Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, who chooses to weather out the Israeli operation from sunny Doha in Qatar, said today when asked about the unprovoked barrage of rockets sent into Israel which was the trigger for what is happening today: "“It’s the Palestinian’s right to resist against Israeli, be it soldier or settler, as long as he lives on occupied land.” Fact is, there is not a single Israeli living in Gaza, civilian or soldier.  When he talks about "occupied land" he means all of present day Israel.  They do not even try to hide this fact.  It is in their emblem, it is in their constitution.  It is time to open your eyes, it is time to take a really good look!!!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

In memory of Leonard Garment (1924 - 2013)

   This summer saw the passing of a great American attorney and public servant.  He was a colourful figure, a professional jazz musician, a Democrat who became a consultant to Richard Nixon.  It was due to his advice that the infamous tapes survived and the truth of Watergate came to light.

Later Garment became a member of the staff of Patrick Moynihan, US ambassador to the United Nation.  It was during that period of the mid 1970s that an alliance of Muslim and sub-Saharan Africa nations, under the tutelage of the Russians, proposed a resolution that would have declared Zionism to be a form of racism.  Although the resolution was never passed, the idea took roots and to this day people, without actually checking out facts, keep parroting it.  This unfortunately is enforced by statesmen like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, not to mention the likes of leaders of the Hammas and Hezbollah.

It is worth reproducing here Leonard Garment's statement on this issue presented to the United Nations General Assembly on October 17, 1975.

My delegation has read the new proposal before us. It is unusually straightforward. It asks to determine "that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination."

As simple as this language is, we are concerned that what may not be fully understood is that this resolution asks us to commit one of the most grievous errors in the 30-year life of this organization.

This committee is preparing itself, with deliberation and foreknowledge, to perform a supreme act of deceit, to make a massive attack on the moral realities of the world.

Under the guise of a program to eliminate racism the United Nations is at the point of officially endorsing anti-semitism, one of the oldest and most virulent forms of racism known to human history. This draft explicitly encourages the racism known as anti-semitism even as it would have us believe that its words will lead to the elimination of racism.

I choose my words carefully when I say that this is an obscene act. The United States protests this act. But protest alone is not enough. In fairness to ourselves we must also issue a warning.
This resolution places the work of the United Nations in jeopardy.

The language of this resolution distorts and perverts. It changes words with precise meanings into purveyors of confusion. It destroys the moral force of the concept of racism, making it nothing more than an epithet to be flung arbitrarily at one’s adversary. It blinds us to areas of agreement and disagreement, and deprives us of the clarity of vision we desperately need to understand and resolve the differences among us. And we are here to overcome our differences, not to deepen them.

Zionism is a movement which has as its contemporary thrust the preservation of the small remnant of the Jewish people that survived the horrors of a racial holocaust. By equating Zionism with racism, this resolution discredits the good faith of our joint efforts to fight actual racism. It discredits these efforts morally and it cripples them politically.

The language of this resolution has already disrupted our efforts here to work together on the elimination of racism and it will continue to do so. Encouraging anti-semitism and group hostility, its adoption would bring to an end our ability to cooperate on eliminating racism and racial discrimination as part of the official work of the Decade.

Once again our failure to reason together has encouraged some delegations to exploit our collective shortcomings and individual vulnerabilities and impede our attempts to further the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The United Nations, throughout its 30-year history, has not lived by the force of majorities; it has not lived by the force of arms. It has lived only—I repeat, only—because it has been thought that the nations of the world, assembled together, would give voice to the most decent and humane instincts of mankind. From this thought has come the moral authority of the United Nations, and from this thought its influence upon human affairs.

Actions like this do not go unnoticed. They do not succeed without consequences, many of which while only imperfectly perceived at the time soon become an ineradicable part of a new and regrettable reality. Let us make no mistake: at risk today is the moral authority which is the United Nations’ only ultimate claim for the support of our peoples.

This risk is as reckless as it is unnecessary. But it is still avoidable.

Accordingly the United States will support resolutions A and B. We support, without reservation, the work of the United Nations to combat racism and racial discrimination. We have taken part in these vitally important activities in the past and want to be able to do so without obstruction in the future. We will vote against the third resolution. We call upon other delegations to do likewise.

On its adoption the third resolution becomes inseparably linked to the first two. Therefore, if all three are sent to Plenary the United States will vote against all three at that time.


It is a pity Leonard Garment is not here with us any more to voice his most probable concerns about present day goings-on at The United Nations, a body that very rapidly looses its credibility in the eyes of the world.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Terrorists of London are actually victims

We have witnessed the latest terror attack in London, we saw the terrorists and the bloody results of their actions in Boston. They all eventually get shot by police, as true Jihadists are supposed to in order to reach Heaven to get their rewards from Allah. But, pray, think about it! Who are really the true criminals behind these acts?

In both cases the perpetrators were “home grown”. In the London case they were recent converts. So I ask everyone to ponder, where did they get those skewed ideas? How did these last two get so convinced that British soldiers go around chopping up poor innocent Muslims around the world that their righteous indignation forced them to do what they did? All the time believing that their action was rightful revenge. To quote : “We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

They were ready to die and they got shot. Hopefully, though, they do not die before they will be fully questioned. Because the ones who truly deserve to die are those who go on “converting” people like these two, and filling their heads with propaganda of hatred so poinonous that the new converts become ticking time bombs, ready to sacrifice themselves at an opportune moment. How come we never hear of any of those mosque activists so busy with their conversions and teachings ever participating in these terror attacks themselves?

If you are someone who has been listening to an imam or activist lately who was encouraging people to become shahids, please, stop and think. How come he is urging you, yet deep in your heart you know that he would never do it himself? Aren’t you then a victim of the one who eggs you on? What if that imam is wrong and thus your action will be wrong in the eyes of Allah? Then what?

I call upon all those who still have their ability to reason. When you sit in that mosque or community centre and listen to a rousing speech about the evil West or the evil Jews, describing in gruesome detail how these are all enemies of your Muslim Ummah, think a moment – what IF this is not really all true? What IF it is not Allah’s wish for you to act the way the imam or that community activist urges you to act? What if the actual meaning of Jihad in the Qur’an is not the way these people want you to understand it? WHAT IF…. ?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013



Another ray of hope for the Middle East. A website (blog?) with contributors from fourteen countries from around the area, including Israel! I would have been even happier if the board of directors, which includes three eminent Arab members among the ten, would also include at least one with Jewish background in order to create a proper balance. In spite of that omission, the blog is one of the most balanced I have seen yet. Although articles still contain the occasional snipets of rhetoric, something that is extremely hard to get rid of given people's backgrounds, one can feel the efforts in them, trying to be as neutral and fair as possible. Worth following it and see how it will evolve.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Not much help in BC for children with mental health problems.

The Bradley family from Victoria, BC, Canada, are pleading to the public asking for help. They wish to apply pressure on the BC health system to change their approach regarding emergency in-patient cases when children have serious mental health crises. The Bradleys' 11 year old daughter, J., suffers from bipolar disorder which often manifests in extreme depression and sometimes violence towards other family members. After such episodes the children's feeling of remorse makes them hurt themselves, some even attempting suicide.

In the case of the Bradleys the family saught help from Victoria General Hospital three times this January. They were sent away all three times. After their case became known, countless other families came forward expressing their frustration and feelings of abandonment when their own children were refused hospitalization. The stress caused by such mental health crises is enormous. For parents to witness their child's anguish, for the whole family to put up with the physical aspects of the disorder that manifests in severe depression, often violence towards others or self-mutilation, can mean a life of living hell. Their daily lives revolve around the problem child, often to the point of needing constant nighttime vigils to protect the safety of the child or other members of the family. They are also often stigmatized by society for the problems, giving them no chance to have a social life or leisure time to relax.

Health officials admit that something needs to be done in the system. They themselves complain that the ratio of patients per health workers is not very healthy, sometimes up to eight children or adolescents per worker, with those that come into emergency on top of these numbers. Hospitals do not have specialized mental health units or simply enough mental-health staff to properly deal with emergency situations. As a result suicides are today the second leading cause of death for young people.

We cannot blame the government, they do try. There are programs offered by the Ministry of Health delivers, and more by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. But they are not properly co-ordinated. The action these affected families are taking, and I am referring to the petition they started, is to draw attention to the need for better organization, for a more efficient system that can improve the development of children and youth who suffer of mental illness, to improve their ability to live a productive life. And not the least, to provide the necessary support to the families so they can cope, so their situation will not affect their productivity at work, thereby helping society at large. If you feel that these issues are important, you can show your support by signing the petition I mentioned above here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

EU should show the door to some of its members...

It is time for the EU to consider the expulsion of Hungary from the union. The country is run by the FIDESZ party, by now an extreme right governing body.

FIDESZ was founded in 1988, originally as a liberal youth movement with stars in their eyes, aiming at political power. They had a shaky start, defeated in several elections and, after taking the pulse of the country, they decided that it is more advantageous for them to become a conservative movement. In 1995 they officially became right wing. Their first success came in 1998, when they managed to become the governing party by entering into a coalition with two smaller parties. Then they lost again in 2002. After this loss the party decided to tap into the ultra nationalist sentiments that were rekindled after the passing of the Communist era. These ideologies, remnants of pre-WWII times, were kept under the lid during Communism but they never died. When Communism fell, these ideas resurfaced as fresh as if decades have never passed in-between.

In the summer of 2007 the German magazine Spiegel called the newly formed Magyar Garda, "Hungary's shame". Unfortunately FIDESZ rose to power by winning the with a 54% vote in 2010 thanks to the support of these groups. Then again, 54% is clearly a majority, and it is rather fitting when people say "a country deserves their government".

As it was the second time around for the party, they did not waste time in implementing their agendas. Within the first year they raised concerns in the rest of Europe, calling Hungary a "Fuhrerstaat". The media law is enforced by a national media authority that wields unprecedented power over radio, TV, newsprint, even online material. But the real heavyweight is the new constitution, adopted in April last year. According to this New York Times article, it's clear that Hungary is slipping into authoritarianism.

During this time Hungary happened to have its turn for the EU presidency. During that time, Orban showed a different face to the international community than to his supporters at home. He feigned allegiance to principles in Brussels which he repeatedly denounced at home, both before and since. Orban is very good though to at playing one side against the other while he appears to emerge from all that stronger and victorious.

2012 started with growing opposition among Hungary's extreme right to the membership in the EU. Today's March 15 celebrations were the final icing on the cake. During his speech, Viktor Orban declared that he will not allow foreign powers to turn Hungary into a colony. Since the European Union is a body which all member states joined voluntarily, it is just natural that if they wanted to leave they should. For the sake of European dignity it would be beneficial to politely ask Hungary to go in the direction of the back door.

But it does not stop there. Hundreds of Polish guests were treated to a free holiday in Budapest for the March 15 celebrations. They belong to the Polish right and they consider Orban an example whom their leader, Jaroslaw Kaczinsky should follow. They were asked to participate in the demonstrations so the international media could report their enthusiastic support of the Hungarian government.

There is a great article in Telos that points out the reasons for the anti-liberal populist movements in East Europe, and it also explains that "all is not lost", things could still turn out all right. Maybe...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Geneva Summit for Human Rights

Unfortunately I became aware of this live webcast only today. I will post it in other places also but if you chance on my blog in time I encourage you to watch it tomorrow, March 13. It will be going on from 9:00 to 17:39 Geneva time. A link to the webcast will appear on the Summit homepage just before the start.