In recent weeks, ADL has repeatedly been asked for information on a rumor circulated by e-mail and word of mouth that claims the Sri Lankan government has refused to accept Tsunami relief from Israel, ostensibly to "boycott" the Jewish State. This rumor, which has origins in the confused aftermath of the disaster, is completely false.
Israel has provided, and continues to send large amounts of financial aid, relief supplies and emergency teams to Sri Lanka and other nations affected by the disaster, which have been accepted without objection. Sri Lankan government officials have publicly praised Israel's response and have thanked Israeli and Jewish leaders for the much-needed help.
Every so often letters appear in the Open Forum which attempt to evoke revulsion in readers by making reference to the Holocaust, and then somehow proceed to suggesting an association between that revulsion and our present government (see for example, Marsha Budz, January 30). It’s the old Bush=Hitler trick. I don’t know why one would want to further incite hatred, nor do I know if this tactic is successful in doing so.
The one thing I do know is that these comparisons, meant to demonize the Administration, risk accomplishing something far worse: demeaning the scope and significance of the Holocaust instead.
There is of course no rational, factual resemblance between the policies of the present American government and those of Nazi Germany. The Nazis, after all, turned Jews into lampshades and soap, and when the death camp at Auschwitz was operating at its peak in 1943, they were murdering 12,000 people PER DAY at that one location.
Surely everyone understands that the number killed in Iraq over the last two years is not even in the same universe. Or do they?
To assert that we are experiencing fascism in America today anything like the fascism of Nazi Germany is so completely insane as to remove all perspective and proportion. If you try and equate -or replace- Hitler with Bush as the pinnacle of evil, then the entire spectrum becomes meaningless. If Bush is a Hitler, then there is no Hitler.
We live in a world that already has forgotten so much. A recent poll in the UK showed that 45% of Britons had never even heard of Auschwitz. To forget that history is tragic, but not irreversible. To distort it may be irredeemable.
I was listening to the news about the Iraqi election, and I must say that even though the good citizens of Iraq not that long ago were thronging the streets in death- to- Israel demonstrations, I felt a very human tear come to my eye as I saw the jubilation of an oppressed and terrorized people experience
freedom and democracy for the first time. And as an Israeli, I can certainly appreciate the courage it took for them to go to the polls, despite all the bullying threats. It's a remarkable achievement.
But when a Fox News reporter lumped this election with the Palestinian election I had to say, uh oh, wrong. While Iraqis voted to free themselves from a regime that robbed them of their resources, killed their children, and educated them to ignorance and fear, Palestinians did the opposite, choosing to vote in their oppressors once again. Mr. Abbas, Arafat's right hand man, was part of the most corrupt regimes that pocketed millions and left their own people living in refugee camps, while he built himself a million and half dollar villa in Gaza. He is part of the problem, not the solution.
And what am I to say of my own government? After four years of non-stop terror that cost Israelis thousands of dead and injured; after incontrovertible evidence (i.e. Karin A arms ship) that the PLO is a terrorist organization, my government is now ready to sleepwalk back in time and hand over the West Bank and Gaza to the same people who turned them into bomb factories and who only a little over a week ago killed a young girl on her way to teach bible class?
These tactics and ideas of the discredited Left, i.e. that the PLO is a peace partner who is willing to settle for a little piece of land instead of the entire state of Israel; who will let us then live in peace, instead of
continuting to drive us into the sea if only we are nice to them and let all their murderers out of jail, were voted on in democratic Israel. They were roundly defeated. And so how is it, in our much touted democracy, that the Labor Party and its suicidal policies have been able to sneak in through the back door to threaten our lives once again?
The only difference is, this time, unlike Oslo, we are not cowed and will not go quietly. I stand on the side of those who demonstrated against holding security talks with Muhammad Dahlan (who planned and help execute the murder of Nachshon Wachsman only ten years ago; whose place, in any normal country, would be on death row, not in the boardroom, negotiating the security of Israel). I am not alone. [See this] description of the largest public demonstration in the history of Israel.
DEBKA: Some 130,000 anti-disengagement protesters start 24-hour demonstration outside government center in Jerusalem. They call for Sharon’s plan to withdraw Jewish settlements to be put to referendum or national vote.
Protestors hold signs and national flags during a demonstration in front of Israel's parliament building in Jerusalem, Sunday Jan. 30, 2005. According to police estimates more than 100,000 demonstrators, settlers and supporters of the settlement movement, gathered to protest Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to evacuate all 21 Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip and four from the West Bank, demanding it be put to a national referendum. The sign at center shows Sharon and reads in Hebrew 'The dictator: I couldn't care less about any of you.' (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Only in Israel:
A protestor reads a prayer book as he attends a demonstration in front of Israel's parliament building in Jerusalem, Sunday Jan. 30, 2005.
All around the country, Iraqis defied threats of violence and cast their votes. Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission initially estimated that 72 percent of the country's eligible voters had turned out to cast their ballots but an official later said an estimated eight million Iraqis — or 60 percent of eligible voters — turned out to vote.
But the day was not without bloodshed. A series of homicide bombings and mortar strikes at polling stations killed at least 44 people, including nine bombers.
"You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs."
--President George W. Bush, Inaugural Address, January 20, 2005
UPDATE - Read the Iraqi blog by Mohammed and Omar, IRAQ THE MODEL: "The people have won."
Maybe I'm seeing bias where there is none, but given the unusual early blooming of anemones in Israel, the international wire services offer only one photo, of a monkey, while front pages in Israel show real-life Israeli people -children- among the flowers. I wish the world were more interested in them, or were interested in them in a more positive way, or perhaps, were simply less interested in dehumanizing and villifying them.
At any rate, we can enjoy this, eh? Something cheery for you.
A Samiri Sciureus monkey eats a piece of banana next to a Anemone flower in a monkey park at the Ben Shemen forest near Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2005. Due to a heatwave the Anemones are blooming prematurely. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israel said it was ready to hand over control of several West Bank towns to the Palestinians within days, further fuelling optimism of a genuine breakthrough in the Middle East peace process.
"The transfer of control of some towns in the West Bank should take place in the next few days," Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz told Israeli radio after meeting with former Palestinian security minister Mohammad Dahlan on the issue. The towns involved in the transfer agreement are said to be Ramallah, Qalqiliya, Tulkarem, Jericho and possibly Bethlehem in the south.
The announcement came ahead of a breakthrough summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and new Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas which Israel's public radio said had been lined up for February 8.
.... Abbas has already secured an unofficial agreement with armed factions such as Hamas for a "cooling down" period
.... Abbas has already received an invitation to the White House from US President George W. Bush
Cabinet Minister for the Palestianian Authority Yasser Abed Rabbo, right, gestures while speaking during the plenary session 'Is The Peace Process Poised for a Resurrection' at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Friday Jan. 28, 2005. Seated left is Israel's Vice-Prime Minister Shimon Peres. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Amid a flurry of high-level Palestinian-Israeli meetings and reports of a summit meeting between Mahmoud Abbas and Ariel Sharon during the second week of February, PLO executive member and co-author of the unofficial Geneva Initiative Yaser Abed Rabbo warned that Palestinians “cannot be sub-contractors for unilateral Israeli moves.”
Rashid Abu Shabak, second-in-command of the PA Preventive Security Services in Gaza, is one of two senior PA officials wanted for their involvement in terror attacks whom PM Sharon has reportedly agreed to remove from Israel’s list of wanted terrorists. The other terrorist leader to be pardoned will be Tawfiq Tirawi. This will be a “good-will gesture” toward Abu Mazen and the PA.
The two terrorists to be pardoned have far-ranging terrorist experience. Israel possesses a tape of Abu Shabak discussing plans for the bombing of the school bus with the mastermind of the attack, Preventative Security Service chief Mohammad Dahlan. Abu Shabak also oversaw and coordinated the preparation of the bomb used in the attack.
The attack on the school bus killed two Israeli teachers and seriously wounded three young children from the Cohen family of nearby Kfar Darom; all three children lost part of their legs.
AS THE Middle East conflict burns on, more Europeans are turning against Israel. A growing number subscribe to the belief that the impasse between the Israelis and the Palestinians is the wellspring of much of the world's ills today , and that the blame for all this lies squarely with Israel - and by extension, with its staunchest ally, the United States.
Go to a dinner party in Paris, London or any other European capital and watch how things develop. The topic of conversation may be Iraq, it may be George Bush, it may be Islam, terrorism or weapons of mass destruction. However it starts out, you can be sure of where it will inevitably end - with a dissection of the Middle East situation and a condemnation of Israeli actions in the occupied territories. I can't count how many times I've seen it. European sympathy for the Palestinians runs high, while hostility toward Israel is often palpable.
And the anger is reaching new levels: A poll of 3,000 people published last month by Germany's University of Bielefeld showed more than 50 percent of respondents equating Israel's policies toward the Palestinians with Nazi treatment of the Jews.
Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed specifically believed that Israel is waging a war of extermination against the Palestinian people.
Germany is not alone in these sentiments. They have been expressed elsewhere, and often by prominent figures. In 2002, the Portuguese Nobel Prize-winning writer Jose Saramago declared,
"What is happening in Palestine is a crime which we can put on the same plane as what happened at Auschwitz."
In Israel just last month, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, the Irish winner of the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize, compared the country's suspected nuclear weapons to Auschwitz, calling them "gas chambers perfected".
.... Over dinner in Berlin not long ago, a French-woman told me emphatically that Israel was "America's policeman in the Middle East". Her companion, nodding in furious agreement, insisted that the two countries are partners in a "new imperialism", leading the world inexorably into war. Israel is at once America's servant and the tail that wags the dog - doing America's bidding while forcing it into madcap adventures such as Iraq.
As that sentiment grows, American support for the Jewish state will continue to scratch raw nerves in the Old World. -Dawn/The LAT-WP News Service (c) The Washington Post
Phillips explains how the Shoah is a "unique atrocity ... a crime against the Jewish people without parallel in its nature and scale" -
The Holocaust was principally a crime against the Jews. It was only the Jewish people who were specifically singled out for the extermination of an entire race. Gypsies, homosexuals, mentally handicapped people, and others were murdered too, and we should remember that. But the Nazis did not try to chart every last great-aunt by marriage who might have been a Gypsy, homosexual, or mentally handicapped person in order to remove all those groups from the face of the earth; that terrible fate was reserved for the Jews alone. It was not merely people who were being exterminated, but a people.
And she takes to task the Muslim Council of Britain for boycotting the Auschwitz commemoration in Westminster Hall "because, according to its Secretary-General Iqbal Sacranie, the event excluded 'ongoing genocide and human rights abuses around the world and in the occupied territories of Palestine.' "
Phillips: "If Sacranie really thinks that Jewish and Palestinian suffering should always be commemorated together, then why doesn’t he mention the victims of the Holocaust every time he protests about the Palestinian conflict?"
I would say Phillips stands alone in the UK, but for Carol Gould.
I am being told tonight in a social setting that "there is no anti-Semitism in Britain" by a Jewish friend. "Britain is one of the kindest countries in the world for Jews," say these people.
.... Why is it that for many years now I have seen the British anti-Semite from an entirely different perspective? I am, after all, British myself and in mixed company am not identified as either Jewish or Christian. However, comments made at dinner parties and in work situations in which I have found myself have made me speechless with astonishment. ("Oh, I see it is a Jewish holiday -- another excuse for them to flaunt their fur coats and stuff their faces." etc etc)
What is so alarming about the coverage of Israeli history in the British media is its emphasis on the ‘terror gangs’ that ‘created Israel’ and the ‘genocide’ of 1948. Most young Britons know nothing about the Shoah and the systematic state extermination of European Jewry. The remnant of that great and numerous community who made its way to Palestine is characterised in many British programmes and newspapers as ‘a gang of terrorists.’ I have had this thrown at me countless times in the private homes of otherwise gracious hosts.
An offer of immunity for 300 wanted Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip and West Bank will be put by Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz before Mahmud Abbas’s informal representative Mohammed Dahlan Saturday night, January 29 – according to DEBKAfile’s exclusive counter-terror sources.
The beneficiaries, members of Hamas, al Aqsa Brigdes, Tanzim, Jihad Islami and the Palestinian Fronts, include also wanted murderers. Israel’s provisos are that the men withdraw from active orchestration and execution of terrorist attacks and refrain from crossing into Israel. If caught outside Palestinian territory, they will be put on trial.
To show the offer- which is still secret - is serious, on Thursday, Israeli authorities freed Said Massaini of Nablus, described by DEBKAfile’s military sources as a senior al Aqsa Brigades operative who holds the rank of colonel in the Palestinian security service. He was captured a day earlier in his hideout and released by order of Mofaz.
The expected immunity is the most sweeping allowed in the 12 years since Israel signed the 1993 Oslo peace framework accords.
Oh, and get this:
Young members of the Palestinian security forces take part in an exercise session at the Muqataa in the West Bank city of Ramallah.(AFP/Abbas Momani)