Thursday, December 31, 2015

A first-hand account of current events in Israel

The media tell only half of it

By Paul Driessen and Glenn Taubman

When we planned our recent trip to Israel with 50 other Northern Virginians, we didn’t expect that it would coincide with the latest spasm of Palestinian violence against Israelis. We didn’t anticipate that this new war would be more insidious than past “intifadas,” with almost daily violence coming out of nowhere, with no warning, rhyme or reason.

No one is exempt. Old people have been stabbed and brutalized on city streets; so have young mothers with toddlers, rabbis in study halls, students in cars, people praying. Soldiers have been attacked at checkpoints. Children have been forced to watch their parents murdered in front of them. People waiting for buses have been rammed by cars and split open by meat cleavers.

A rocket hit Sderot, where a menorah atop a yeshivah was crafted from rockets that had previously rained down on this beautiful city, and where a colorful playground caterpillar doubles as a bomb shelter during frequent attacks. The Iron Dome defense system took out another flying bomb over Ashkelon.

Our group never wavered in its countrywide visit, but we were always looking around warily for signs of trouble. In some places an armed security guard accompanied us.

A suburban Jerusalem shopkeeper told us he and his six-year-old twins experience constant rocks and Molotov cocktails thrown at their house. He asked plaintively, “How do I explain that to my children?” Many nearby neighborhoods endure similar threats.

We thought back to October 2002, when the Beltway sniper and his young accomplice paralyzed the DC region for weeks, sowing fear and keeping people from pumping gas, buying groceries, holding soccer practices, or venturing from their homes. We ponder what happened in Paris and Mali, Chattanooga and San Bernardino, Boston and Fort Hood, Belgium and other countries.

Americans might try to imagine 50 or 100 copycats doing the same thing for weeks, months or years on end, and exhorting others to join them. Would they send their kids to school or engage in normal activities under such terrorism? Might they want the National Guard deployed? How would they respond if snipers return, or Paris and San Bernardino become more commonplace?

While many of these attacks occur in what the news media likes to call “Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory,” many have actually occurred in pre-1967 Israel, including downtown Jerusalem and Tel Aviv suburbs like Netanya and Ra’anana. As tourists, we saw firsthand how such random attacks sow fear, changes in daily life and calls for retaliation.

Markets had fewer people, restaurants were less crowded, businesses suffered. Mothers refused to send their children to school for almost a week, until more troops patrolled the streets. Life in cities gradually began returning to “normal” as our trip ended, but the stabbings and shootings continue.

News stories and anti-Israel activists often say more Palestinians than Israelis have died in these attacks – and repeat the vicious canard that “alleged perpetrators” have been “victims” of “extra-judicial summary executions.” In reality, the assailants were shot and killed while attempting to murder as many Israelis as possible; they were killed in the act by Israelis who are increasingly arming themselves for protection.

Israelis recognize that police and soldiers cannot be everywhere, and too often arrive only in time to count bodies and prevent additional murders. Self-protection under these circumstances is a citizen’s duty, and those attacking Israelis do so knowing the response is likely to be swift and uncompromising.

In fact, the response by Israelis exactly reflects Washington, DC Chief of Police Cathy Lanier’s recent advice: Citizens should do more than run or hide. They should “take the gunman down, take the gunman out. It’s the best option for saving lives before the police can get there.”

What do the Palestinian Arabs gain from their murderous mayhem, inspired by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, the Arab media and many imams? Absolutely nothing, because the vicious attacks destroy any notion within Israel that it has a true partner for peace.

They destroy any hope or belief that West Bank and Gaza Strip Arabs will ever govern themselves peaceably, in close proximity to Israel’s major cities, sole international airport and neighborhoods teeming with children – even if their “two-state solution,” settlement removal and other demands are met.

The media, United Nations, State Department and boycott-divestment groups frequently claim the Palestinian side merely wants a state of its own next to Israel. However, the blatant refusal of attackers and their supporters to accept even pre-1967 Israel – or even depict Israel on maps – shows they are intent on keeping this 90-year war boiling for their own nationalistic or religious supremacy purposes.

Abba Eban famously said “the Arabs never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity” for peace. They seem determined to continue that dismal record, and many want Israel obliterated.

With our own eyes, we saw that Israel is a place of marvelous vitality, creativity and diversity: amazing food, archaeology, culture, science (cell phone apps, desalination plants, miracle cancer treatments and much more), agriculture, beaches, secularism and profound spirituality. Its racial and ethnic tolerance, its human rights record – while not perfect – are worlds better than anything found in its neighboring countries, where ethnic and religious minorities are routinely repressed, tortured and massacred.

Under horribly adverse conditions, dating back decades before its founding almost 68 years ago, Israelis have built a thriving and energetic society, a marvel on the ruins of their ancient past and recent Jewish history. They are not going anywhere, nor should they be expected to – anymore than the English should leave England or Americans the United States.

Indeed, Israel has integrated some 600,000 Jews who were driven penniless from Arab lands after its 1948 independence, plus millions of other Jews and non-Jews from around the world over later decades. Its Christian population has risen from 34,000 in 1949 to 170,000 today. As they built new lives in their adopted land, Israel prospered with them.

By contrast, virtually no Arab countries have accepted or integrated any Palestinian Arabs, many of whom still claim “refugee” status generations after this long war began. They treat refugees from the current Iraq-Syria conflagration the same way, while driving out or murdering non-Muslims. How many Syrians are in Saudi Arabia or Qatar today, instead of Germany or France?

Israel’s Jews live the Jewish people’s dream of a sovereign state reborn in its ancient homeland, and they are there to stay, along with Circassian, Christian, Druze, B’hai, Arab and other Israelis we met. In sad parallel, the Palestinian Arabs have built a society based on death, perpetual grievance, medieval attitudes and beliefs, and murder-suicides they mistakenly call martyrdom.

The sooner they sheath their knives, step out of the Middle Ages, and accept the fact that their Jewish neighbors will be in Israel for another 3,000 years, the sooner they too will have a chance to thrive in a country of their own. The first genuine steps would be a wonderful way to begin 2016.

Via email

Leftist academics think the Jihadis are good guys

Bloodshed has never bothered Leftists.  Comments below from an Australian academic

Academic theoreticians are to blame for Australia being in a position where ASIO head Duncan Lewis, “an unelected securocrat”, tells democratically elected MPs that “silence is the price they have to pay for an uneasy civil peace”.

David Martin Jones, a former associate professor at Queensland University who is visiting professor at the War Studies department at London University’s King’s College, told The Australian that, from a widespread academic perspective, “the market and the West perpetuate the real global ­violence, not terrorists, who merely resist the capitalist behemoth”.

He said that “in asking MPs and, by extension, the wider political community to refrain from commenting on the connection between Islam and political violence, Duncan Lewis merely reflected a widespread view that criticism of Islam by a non-Muslim will only provoke Muslim rage and provide more recruits to Islamic State”.

Since the terror attacks on the US in 2001, “liberal political elites, academe and state broadcasters have consistently denied any connection between religion, in its Islamist form, and religiously inspired violence”.

He said that after the London bombings on July 7, 2005, and the more recent Paris attacks, “a predictable chorus of academic ­experts have appeared in the media to claim the latest outrage has nothing to do with religion”.

“Well might they,” he said. “For the past decade, grants and chairs in terror or peace and conflict studies have been dedicated to showing modern terrorism has no Islamic association.” Even if some Islamic connection was conceded, he said, this was viewed as part of a wider, anti-capitalist “resistance” by the rest to the West.

The past decade, said Professor Jones, had witnessed a ­proliferation of peer-reviewed academic journals that reinforced this “resistance” message. These included, he said, Critical Studies on Terrorism and Critical Security Studies. “Tracing this critical posture reveals how deeply imbued contemporary academe has become with anti-western self loathing”. Such journals explained, for example, that “the rhetoric of freedom and the democratic way of life it upholds inflames the Muslim community”.

Professor Jones said that “the antidote they suggest is not to condemn, but to enter into ‘force-free dialogue’ with the forces of resistance”. Thus, he said, this academically fashionable critical theory shared an elective affinity with “the resistance”.

Reading Islamism as a form of revolutionary Marxism with a relig­ious facade, he said, “enables the Western theorist to present the Islamist in more attractive academic garb as a fellow critic ‘representing a distinctive combination of Islamic and enlightenment thought’ ”.

Not surprisingly, he said, Islam­ism’s most effective online journals embraced this unmasking of the “true” sources of terrorism. “They also consider the war on terror ‘a narrative’ and a distorted Western ‘construct’ that Islamism ‘deconstructs’, and accept that orientalism and colonialism are the real causes of their ‘radical’ reaction,” he said.

Professor Jones said that “ultimately, to empathise with Islamism and provide it with a justification for its hyper-megalomaniacal violence was delusional”.

“Such a delusion, ironically, depends on the liberal pluralist tolerance that both Islamic State and critical theory otherwise abhor,” he said. The result was “a curious disjuncture between what Islamists say and have said for a while, and what the critical theorist and now ASIO say they mean — and what Islamists actually do.”


Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin Upheld Religious Freedom in Issuing Marriage Licenses

Acting to resolve a conflict between personal conscience and political duty on the subject of same-sex marriage, Kentucky’s new governor decided that marriage licenses don’t have to bear the name of the county clerk whose office issues the license.

Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, announced his executive order last week along with four others.

“To ensure that the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians are honored, Executive Order 2015-048 directs the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives to issue a revised marriage license form to the offices of all Kentucky county clerks,” a statement from the governor’s office reads. “The name of the county clerk is no longer required to appear on the form.”

During his campaign for governor, Bevin came out in support of Kim Davis, the Democratic clerk of Rowan County,  who drew national attention when she went to jail for five days for refusing to issue any marriage licenses to avoid issuing them to same-sex couples. Davis cited her religious belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

“As we move into the New Year and upcoming session,” Bevin said in a statement, “I look forward to working with legislators and stakeholders to build consensus and drive policy that makes a meaningful impact on the lives of all Kentuckians.”

Bevin and Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton were sworn into office earlier this month. He succeeds Steve Beshear, a Democrat, as governor.

Whether or not she personally issued a marriage license, Davis had said, her name on the document signaled her consent.

“The controversy over Kim Davis and marriage licenses was a creation of a governor who was unwilling to do anything to help accommodate people with reasonable religious beliefs,” Roger Severino, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal.

Anticipating the Supreme Court decision that would redefine marriage, Davis petitioned the Kentucky Legislature in January to accommodate the religious beliefs of clerks, Severino said. The legislature did not act.

Republican lawmakers in the state had requested that Beshear issue an executive order to accommodate Davis and other objecting clerks, USA Today reported.

“Regardless of whatever their personal feelings might be, the overwhelming majority of county clerks are following the law and carrying out their duty to issue marriage licenses regardless of gender, and the courts will deal appropriately with the two or three clerks who are acting otherwise,” Beshear said in July.

“Kim Davis didn’t want to attach her name and title to forms recognizing a marriage she does not believe exists,” Severino said. “So she asked for accommodation. She was ignored.”

With Bevin’s new executive order, Severino said, “nobody is denied anything.” Clerks who are willing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples may do so, he said:

The Supreme Court has had its say and is requiring that states issue licenses to same-sex couples. That does not mean that a same-sex couple has a right to a license delivered by a particular clerk. Nobody has a right to have a license delivered by a particular clerk or have their wedding solemnized by a particular magistrate when others are willing to do it just as well.


A Leftist sleazebag and an attempted feminist coverup

Earlier this month, Nona Willis Aronowitz wrote a piece for Matter titled “(Not) All Men: Why women want to believe Our Dudes are the exception.” It was about how women—even very feminist women—can rationalize or deny sexism perpetrated by the men in their lives. One of the “major obstacles in the Fight Against Patriarchy,” she wrote, “is that a sexist guy will always seem like an outsider—a bad-news ex-boyfriend, perhaps, but not your male feminist friend, your super chill brother, your gentle dad.”

I thought of Willis Aronowitz’s piece when I learned about the sudden dissolution of the progressive public relations firm FitzGibbon Media amid accusations of sexual predation by its founder, Trevor FitzGibbon. According to the Huffington Post, which broke the story, FitzGibbon’s former employees say their boss committed at least a half-dozen incidents of sexual harassment, as well as two sexual assaults. He reportedly propositioned a woman who sought a job at the firm, and later asked her for sexy photos. HuffPo’s Amanda Terkel tweeted that several of FitzGibbon’s clients also say they were assaulted. For many in the progressive media world, where FitzGibbon was well-known, the idea that he was a serial sexual abuser is deeply shocking.

Outwardly, the Washington, D.C.–based FitzGibbon Media appeared committed to feminist ideals: In addition to clients like Amnesty International and WikiLeaks, it represented NARAL Pro-Choice America and the women’s rights organization UltraViolet. But despite the ostensibly progressive environment, the alleged victims evidently didn’t feel as though they could speak out, and until recently, by all accounts, they didn’t speak to each other. Assuming the multiple and still-proliferating charges are true, it begs the question: How did FitzGibbon get away with it for so long?

According to HuffPo, FitzGibbon’s alleged misdeeds came to light at an Austin staff retreat a few weeks ago. A friend of a FitzGibbon employee, Sierra Pedraja, had met with FitzGibbon during the day in a hotel lobby about possible employment opportunities; he invited her to spend some time with him and his staff that evening. That night, he reportedly told her she was beautiful and, according to HuffPo, “asked her if she was open to having any fun while he was in town.” The next day, he asked her to meet alone at the hotel. She declined. “I was very eager to get a job, and he used that to his advantage,” she was quoted saying.

Soon, the news of FitzGibbons’ alleged behavior with Pedraja spread through FitzGibbon Media. Female employees began telling each other their own stories: some similar to Pedraja’s, some much worse. It was as if Pedraja had kicked over a rock, revealing all the vermin beneath. “When I heard them say this was sexual harassment—no, it’s so much bigger than that!” one former FitzGibbon employee told me. She says that FitzGibbon sexually assaulted her, though she asked me not to print the details lest he recognize her and try to make contact. Until Pedraja spoke out, she thought she was alone—that what happened to her was a “happenstance freak incident.” (I reached out to FitzGibbon for this piece, but he declined to comment.)

As the internal crisis mounted, FitzGibbon decided to close his company. Now his nearly 30 employees are out of a job just before Christmas.

Like a lot of people in progressive media circles, I was friendly with FitzGibbon, and I understand why it took time for some his alleged victims to see him as an abuser. He and my husband had been colleagues at another progressive PR firm, Fenton Communications, during the last years of the Bush administration. Once FitzGibbon founded his own firm, I frequently worked with his team to set up interviews, and would see him at lefty political events and in MSNBC greenrooms. Occasionally he’d call me out of the blue just to talk, and we communicated regularly on social media.

Hyperearnest, enthusiastic, and confiding, FitzGibbon comes across like an eager puppy. He’s a hugger, but that never set off red flags for me. (His former employee says the same thing: “I didn’t think he would be capable of crossing a line like that.”) A few years ago, we met for drinks when he was in New York. I suggested SoHo’s Temple Bar, which is great for conversation but, being dark and intimate, not a place I’d go with someone who seemed potentially creepy.

Certainly, some of FitzGibbon’s alleged victims kept quiet because they feared for their jobs or their professional reputations, but others found themselves making excuses for him. A lawyer whom he reportedly groped at the Bowery Hotel told the Guardian, “I brushed it off as I thought he was having a needy moment.” It never occurred to her, she said, “that this was dangerous serial behaviour that he was probably doing to other women, or that he was keeping us silent by giving us a guilt trip.” The former employee I spoke to was worried about how FitzGibbon’s wife would feel if she ever found out what had happened. “I had this irrational fear that she would show up on my doorstep one day crying with her twins in her arms,” she says. FitzGibbon had apologized to her profusely, she said, as he did to many of his alleged victims. Even as she worried about her career, she remembers also feeling a sort of pity for him.

In theory, most of us know that men who commit sexist aggressions appear to be perfectly ordinary; they are not some special breed of leering monster. Still, when someone we know as a nice guy turns out to be sleazy, we’re thrown. These situations force us to choose between a number of unpleasant possibilities. We can regard the man as a sort of double agent from the land of misogyny, and treat everything we know about him as a lie. We can accept that some men, including men with admirable qualities who we know and like, don’t see women as fully human, which can leave us wondering about all the men in our lives. Or we can think that since the guy was nice, maybe what happened didn’t actually happen, or wasn’t so bad, or won’t happen again.

Yet word didn’t get out. The media critic Jennifer Pozner tweeted that two women had warned her about FitzGibbon and that his behavior was an “open secret”—but if it was, it was only open within a small circle. I reached out to several of my husband’s former colleagues, three of them women. None knew about his sexual harassment history. The employee who told me about her assault says she never heard a single rumor about FitzGibbon. And yet more women are now coming forward: “Women keep reaching out to us with more creepy allegations about Trevor FitzGibbon. People who didn’t work at the firm,” tweeted HuffPo’s Terkel on Friday. Many women, it seems, kept quiet about what happened to them, some because they were scared, some because the dissonance between his persona and his behavior knocked them off balance.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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