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Hillel Neuer on Trump and the UN Human Rights Council

Coming in the midst of appalling reports of children being separated from their parents and detained in distressing conditions, the announcement that Trump now plans to quit the UN Human Rights Council has elicited sharply hostile responses.  Amnesty International posted the following tweet.

Hillel Neuer of UN Watch responded by supplying ten good reasons for doing just this.  (You can read them here.)  He also spoke very eloquently about the problems with the UN Human Rights Council on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland earlier today (from about 47 minutes in).  He pointed out not just the glaring problems with some countries on the Council but also the way they are supported or indulged even by countries with comparatively good records. You don’t have to think Trump’s decision was the right one (Neuer doesn’t) or in any way approve his own record on human rights to think that some of the blanket, kneejerk condemnation of the move is misplaced.



Palestine – The Progressive Cause?

This is what happens to peaceful demonstrations in Gaza:

This is what happens to peaceful demonstrations in Ramallah:

According to a pew survey 94% of Palestinians think homosexuality is immoral

Yet Palestine is the progressive cause?


Fathom 20 | Israel70 ‘Young Voices’: Reading Herzl’s Altneuland in 2018

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Asaf Yusufov is one of seven new generation voices featured in Fathom Journal this week. Asaf is a former counsellor and manager at Tel Aviv’s Barnoar (an LGBTQ Youth Club) and is currently media coordinator and video editor for Darkenu, a non-parliamentary political movement of ‘the moderate majority’.

I grew up in a patriotic Israeli family. My mother is a teacher and my father was seriously injured while serving in the Israeli Paratroopers. He is immensely proud of the country he loves, even though that love came at a cost.

I served as a commander in a special combat unit. My service took me to the northern parts of the country, to the desert in the south and to the West Bank. After that chapter of my life ended I went to college so study politics, my passion, and that meant that I was confronted with new and critical perspectives on Zionism, politics, and gender — basically of just about every aspect of my life. I found my old self was on a collision course with the reality of Israel; a reality I had not properly confronted, at least not with adequate knowledge and conceptual framework.

There are more than a few reasons to lose hope in Israel. Our politics have become more divisive and our politicians more corrupt. The hate that exists between segments of our population — especially between Jews and Arabs — is so tragic because it is so unnecessary. Most alarming of all is the effort underway by a small group of politicians who wish to undermine Israel’s liberal democracy and replace it with a conservative oligarchy that maintains its control over the Palestinians. And yet, as this storm rages in my mind, and as my heart shrinks in fear of where we are heading, I know that I must pick myself back up, and focus on breathing new life into my visions and my dreams for my homeland. READ MORE.


SPLC STATEMENT REGARDING MAAJID NAWAZ AND THE QUILLIAM FOUNDATION

This is a cross-post from the Southern Poverty Law Center

June 18, 2018

Today, we entered into a settlement with and offered our sincerest apology to Mr. Maajid Nawaz and his organization, the Quilliam Foundation, for including them in our publication A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists. Given our understanding of the views of Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam, it was our opinion at the time that the Field Guide was published that their inclusion was warranted. But after getting a deeper understanding of their views and after hearing from others for whom we have great respect, we realize that we were simply wrong to have included Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam in the Field Guide in the first place.

Among those who contacted us were human rights advocates affiliated with the United Nations who emphasized that Mr. Nawaz’s work combatting extremism “is actually analogous to that of the SPLC over the years in the South.” Indeed, one of the reasons Mr. Nawaz has said that he was so troubled by our listing was the fact that he had respected our work for many years. Although we may have our differences with some of the positions that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have taken, we recognize that they have made important contributions to efforts to promote pluralism and that they are most certainly not anti-Muslim extremists.

As part of our settlement, we have paid $3.375 million to Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam to fund their work to fight anti-Muslim bigotry and extremism. It was the right thing to do in light of our mistake and the right thing to do in light of the growing prejudice against the Muslim community on both sides of the Atlantic. We will look to our insurance carrier to cover the cost of the settlement.

In addition to apologizing to Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam, we offer our sincerest apology to our supporters and all those who depend on our work. We pride ourselves on the accuracy of our reports and, although we know we are not perfect, it pains us greatly whenever we make a mistake. As we move forward, we are committed to redoubling our efforts to ensure that our work is always carried out with the utmost care and integrity. The stakes in the battle against hate and extremism are simply too great to be satisfied with anything less.


PSC Bankrupt?

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) lose to government in court of appeal, now face “substantial additional legal costs”.

On June 12th the court of appeal overturned a ruling enabling local councils to discriminate against Israeli companies on so-called “ethical grounds” regarding the investment of pension funds under their control.

A year ago the Palestine Solidarity Campaign took aim at local councils to prevent them from investing pension funds under their control in certain Israeli companies on the basis that they were “companies that support Israel’s illegal occupation”.

The British government stepped in and issued guidance to local councils to prevent this kind of discrimination but were taken to court by the PSC and beaten.

The government then took their case to the court of appeal and won!

PSC emailed their members in outrage and put it up on their website.

BDS FAIL.


“I want my people to do the same”

I realize that Donald Trump’s unique diplomatic style involves heaping flattery on murderous dictatorial adversaries while dumping insults on long-time democratic allies.

And I’m not going to make a big deal about Trump returning the salute of a North Korean general. Like Obama’s bow to the Saudi king, it was both cringe-worthy and relatively insignificant.

But Geez– I can’t wait to see how Trump’s acolytes explain this:

BREAKING: President Trump on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un: “He speaks and his people sit up in attention. I want my people to do the same.”

(My guess: “He was joking.”)

I wonder how long before Trump insists that his lackeys follow him around with notepads recording every word of wisdom from him.

Update: The Washington Post reports:

Later, when pressed by a CNN reporter about the comment, Trump claimed it had been a joke.

“I’m kidding,” he said. Admonishing the journalist, the president added, “You don’t understand sarcasm.”

I guess not. What’s clear, however, is that Trump has no heartfelt commitment to American-style democracy and looks longingly at authoritarian regimes.


Post-Singapore mental exercise

Imagine if President Bill Clinton had spoken about the absolute ruler of the world’s most repressive and criminal regime– a regime which outlaws all dissent, starves people as a means of control, incarcerates tens of thousands of people in brutal slave labor camps, earns hard currency through counterfeiting and illegal drug manufacturing and smuggling– in the most effusively flattering terms.

It was an “honor” to meet Kim, Trump said. What surprised the American most about his counterpart? “Great personality and very smart—good combination,” he said. “I learned that he’s a very talented man. I also learned that he loves his country very much.” He added that Kim was “a worthy negotiator … a very worthy, very smart negotiator.” The president continued to gush during a press conference and in interviews.
…..
“His country does love him,” he said. “His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor. They’re gonna put it together, and I think they’re going to end up with a very strong country, and a country which has people—that they’re so hard working, so industrious.”

Imagine if President Barack Obama had surprised the Pentagon by ordering an end to joint US-South Korean military exercises (calling them “very provocative” and “inappropriate”) in exchange for a vague “agreement” that, as someone observed, makes the Iran nuclear deal look like the Louisiana Purchase.

Do we need to guess how Republicans, including Donald Trump, would react?

Bernie Sanders is wrong to call the summit between Donald Trump and King Jong Un a “positive step.” And so are any Trump supporters who believe the same.

On the bright side, we have a president who (at last!) is standing up to Canada.

Update: And what are we to make of this hot mess?

Further update: As a left-of-center blog, an original and ongoing aim of Harry’s Place is to call out hypocrisy and double standards about human rights on the Left. We would certainly call out anyone on the Left who talked remotely like this. We have often done so. It’s unfortunate that anyone, Left or Right, would be willing to excuse it.


The Metaphoric Kite

This is a Guest Post by Noah Phillips

Hamas’ riling up the masses and ‘populist warfare’ tactics are a concerted effort to provoke Israeli retaliation.  These tactics are not novel by any means, nor are their espousal of terrorism and advocacy for the destruction of Israel by way of bombings, rockets, and lethal Intifadas. However, the recent use of incendiary kites deployed from Gaza by the thousands into Israel is especially disconcerting for its symbolic and violent outcomes.

What are kites but symbols of youth and innocence, emblems of playfulness and wonder for children? But leave it to Hamas to pervert a toy and joyful experience for youth.  As the kites are transformed from toys to tools of chaos, so too are the children of Gaza ideologically weaponized from birth. Gazan youth learn unconditional hate for Jews and Israel and are raised under the thumb of a militarized and an internationally-recognized terror group.

Hamas methodically perpetuates hate from one generation to the next by indoctrinating children with deplorable idioms and sanctioning violence as honorable. They’ve bred the next generation of civilian shields and terrorists instead of preparing a skilled and educated population of future leaders.

Of course, not all Gazans and certainly not all children follow Hamas’ path.  But Hamas is so hell-bent on Israel’s extinction that it deprives children of innocent play and weaponizes what should be their toys to serve further destruction.

The kites are dually symbolic not solely of Hamas’ imparted ideology on their kids, but of Hamas’ irresponsible handling and appropriation of international aid to Gaza. Donated by Japan specifically for the impoverished children of Gaza,  Hamas and Hamas-followers weaponized the toys to launch a barrage of flying incendiary devices against Israel.

While the kites were a relatively mundane gift from Japan, they are indicative of the much larger and more substantial trend of misappropriation of funds by Hamas.

“Hamas allocates 55% of its budget to fund its military needs and its share in the rehabilitation of Gaza is less than 5% of the total investment. In addition to its disproportionately large military budget, Hamas also diverts aid money to fund its military ventures,” per the IDF. This is in spite of “80% (of the Gaza population) are dependent on international aid.”

According to Major General Yoav Mordechai, “The egotistical Hamas terror organization has robbed funds that are meant for the needy of Gaza from international organizations. Hamas prospers at the expense of the residents of the Strip and uses donations meant for them to finance terror. How long will the world and the Gazan people ignore this?”

And his posed question is certainly valid, considering the perpetual allocation of funds by Hamas towards arms accumulation and expanding their frightening military capabilities.

So the metaphoric kite represents Hamas’ operations:  Like a kite looms above, Hamas persists as an ongoing threat to the State of Israel and the state of Western democracy in the Middle East. The kite will inevitably fall, to be sure, but when that kite is outfitted with incendiaries, it menaces Israeli civilians and distances further any promise or hope of peace.


Fathom 20 | Amos Oz’s Israel

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While Amos Oz’s novels are often read reductively as political allegories, Liam Hoare suggests that Oz’s special subject is really a particular people, the Israelis, and their experience in a particular place. ‘All the stuff of Israel’ is in his books, writes Hoare, and we should count ourselves fortunate to have such a guide.

INTERPRETING AMOS OZ

It is the fate of the Israeli novelist to be misread. So many, from David Grossman to Nir Baram, write with two pens — one for the novel and another for the essay — and thus there can be, Amos Oz has noted, an unwillingness on the part of readers to draw a line between politics and literature. Many outside Israel ‘tend to read our literature as political allegory,’ he observed in a 1992 speech:

You think you have written a piece of chamber music, a tale of one family but your readers and critics say, ‘Aha! Surely the mother represents the old values; the father is the government; and the daughter must be the symbol of the shattered economy.’

Since the beginning of his career, when he was writing opinion pieces for Davarwhile working on Where the Jackals Howl (1965) and Elsewhere, Perhaps (1966),Oz has kept two sets of books. His best works of journalism, The Seventh Day(1967, with Avraham Shapira) and In the Land of Israel (1983), still have a marked contemporary resonance. Oz’s relationship with both forms continues unto the present: his last novel, the melodious, crystalline Judas (2014), has been followed by Dear Zealots, a compact collection of three worthy essays on fanaticism, Judaism, and political delusion. They are important contributions to public debate and develop conversations that Oz has been holding his entire life.

Oz’s frustration at being misread or misinterpreted is understandable. Of course, the barrier between the novel and the essay is not watertight. Politics does permeate its way into Oz’s novels in one way or another, but then again, in a highly politicised society like Israel, that much is inevitable. Some of the letters in the epistolary novel Black Box are a microcosm of the larger conversation in mid-1980s Israel between the secular and religious, coastal and hill-dwelling, sides of the society. And in his early short stories, the image of the isolated kibbutz surrounded and hemmed-in by the cries of wild jackals does serve as a metaphor for a community under siege in a changing society. READ MORE.


Al Quds Day in London – Hatred Takes Wing

A Call For Annihilation
Here is one of the ugly scenes from Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day, the Khomeinist hatred march held on June 10 in London. Flanked by Hezbollah flags and an image of Ayatollah Khomeini, Mohammed Saeed Bahmanpour takes the stage and calls for the annihilation of Israel.

Praise to God who eradicates the tyrants, praise to God who destroys the oppressors. Praise to God who hears the voice of the oppressed. I have a couple of messages today. One message for the Jewish people who are living in Palestine, the other message for the Zionist bunch who are occupying the Palestine, and the other messages is for the Saudis – we are standing in front of their embassy – and the people who are standing on the wrong side. My message to the Jewish people of Palestine is that the British governments, several decades ago, and then America used you to wipe Palestine off the map and you can make sure that the resistance will come and free Palestine and wipe Israel off the map.

This call for annihilation is greeted with joyful applause. Next, Bahmanpour hails Hezbollah “military” operations, making the ridiculous claim that they only target soldiers. Then he returns to threats:

We tell you, you haven’t seen in the Al Quds Day yet. The Al Quds Day, when we march into Al Quds (cheers) with all the conscientious people, with people who have human hearts, with Muslims, and Jews and Christians, we will come, we will free Palestine and we will free the world of this Zionist bunch who is supported by all corrupt powers in the world. My message to the Zionist bunch who are occupying Palestine: “Your days are numbered, either you go yourself, or we will drive you away, we will kick you out of Palestine, that’s a promise.” (more applause)

Sunni Muslims get a kicking as well. On current form, they too are destined for “damnation”:

And my message to the Sunnis: you are just an apprentice in politics, you don’t know what you are doing. You are on the wrong side and if you join the wrong side, you will be doomed to the damnation of the wrong side which is going to be wiped out soon.

By the way, Mr Bahmanpour is another old friend of this blog. In this profile, you can see him dismissing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an assault on God, whitewashing human rights violations in Iran, supporting “resistance” against Western forces in Iraq, making it clear that “we are all Hamas, we are all Hezbollah”, and happily discussing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion with the Holocaust denier Michèle Renouf.

Helping The Police
Bahmanpour’s speech alone makes a mockery of the UK’s absurd distinction between the “military” and “political” wings of Hezbollah. The former is a proscribed terrorist group while the latter is not. Hezbollah itself makes no such distinction and nor do its supporters really believe in any separation, including the Al Quds speakers and marchers assembled by the self-styled Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC).

The police do, though. Here’s the Met in the run-up to Al Quds Day:

A letter sent to MP Louise Ellman, the vice-chair of the Labour Friends of Israel, said that police would allow the controversial flag to be raised once again at the June 10 parade because parliament had “consciously chosen” to proscribe only the military wing of Hezbollah – but the group’s flag is “shared across all elements of that organisation.”

Metropolitan Police Commander Jane Conners says in the letter that both she and Commissioner Cressida Dick “share concerns” that the raising of the Hezbollah flag on London’s streets “may be construed as belonging to a terrorist organisation.”

But Conners adds: “Purely holding a flag does not necessarily incite religious or racial hatred.

“It is the words or actions of the person holding the flag that can cause incitement.”

Well, here’s a helpful suggestion for Scotland Yard. If a call for the annihilation of an entire country is not incitement, what is?

Massoud Shadjareh is the head of the IHRC. Perhaps the police might find his words helpful too? Here he is on the Iranian propaganda channel Press TV saying “resistance seems to be the only way forward” and agreeing that the “message of the Al Quds march is resistance”. In the context of the whole broadcast, it is abundantly clear that “resistance” refers to violence by Hamas and Hezbollah.

For more on the IHRC’s record, including support for terrorists in the UK and the USA, see this profile.

Charity Funded Hatred
Remarkably, while the Tories let all this happen, some Labour figures have been very outspoken. On June 11 Joan Ryan MP penned a rather brisk letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid:

I am writing to express my concern and anger over the events which unfolded in central London yesterday at the Al Quds Day march.

As you will be aware, the flags of Hezbollah, an antisemitic terror group, were openly flown, and speakers at the event called for Israel to be “wiped from the map”.

None of this was unexpected. Last year, a large Hezbollah flag was flown at the front of the march, while hundreds of smaller paper flags bearing the machine gun logo of the Hezbollah movement were carried by participants. Supporters held up banners stating “Zionism is Racism” and “We are all Hezbollah” and members of the crowd chanted slogans such as “From the river to the sea – Palestine will be free.” Speakers called for the annihilation of Israel and blamed the Grenfell fire on “Zionists”.

Alongside my colleague, Louise Ellman MP, and the Mayor of London, I have been campaigning over the past year for an end to this sick spectacle, which, as Sadiq Khan has rightly argued, causes huge offence to the Jewish community here in Britain.

I am appalled that the government should once again have allowed this Iranian-inspired hate fest to take place on the streets of London and I fail to understand why the Home Office has not heeded the repeated warnings raised over the past year.

The Home Office should indeed be taken to task, but so should the Charity Commission.

The IHRC has two legal entities – a limited company registered at Companies House, which is controlled by Massoud Shadjareh, and a registered charity.

The charity’s official “activities” are “to promote human rights and equality and diversity (in particular good race relations) throughout the world for the benefit of the public”.

The charity passes funds to the company. Last year it paid the company £244,600, or 82% of the charity’s total income, “for various charitable projects undertaken on behalf of the Charity”.

How the Al Quds hatred march – the biggest event of the year for the IHRC – can be considered legitimate “charitable activity” is beyond me.

There’s more. The IHRC raises money for the charity with a “shop”. These are not your average charity collectors, oh no. How about a print of Leila Khaled, an infamous pioneer of terrorist hijacking, carrying a rifle?

Khaled still supports violence in our times, as you will see here, for example.

Maybe this print is more to your taste? “I’m a stone thrower. Are you?”

This book boosts Hezbollah. Its author “hopes the articles dispel myths surrounding conflicts in the Middle East with a focus on what is perhaps one of the most ’successful non-governmental military, social and political organisations, whose achievements and support-bases, both local and global, are phenomenal.” The book includes speeches by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

From the Taliban, poetry.

An account of the extremists of Hizb ut-Tahrir, by a Hizbi.

How about some rather old-fashioned antisemitism, described by the CST as “particularly inflammatory and offensive”?

The Charity Commission let it be known a year ago that it was investigating the IHRC. It said:

The Commission expects the trustees to carefully consider, and take action to mitigate, the potential reputational risks to their charity which could arise from links and associations with other organisations.

The IHRC “considers” Hezbollah as its beloved cause, not a “risk”. This has been very plain and widely known for years on end. The march on June 10 was but superfluous proof.

One year on, the Commission has nothing to report.

Unfortunately, Commission inquiries can make Labour antisemitism investigations look like models of speed and efficiency. When it eventually does pronounce on Islamist extremists abusing charity, its words are normally underwhelming and its actions are weak. On past form, one simply cannot expect the Commission to take any meaningful action in the case of the IHRC.

Note how this fits into the bigger picture. The UK’s new counter-terrorism strategy is all about joined up thinking, moving faster, and hitting harder. Good. Now show us.

By the way, if you are a British taxpayer, you are helping to fund all this insanity. Last year the IHRC claimed £50,647 in “Gift Aid” from HMRC.