Jewish Diaspora Museum to honor rightwing site responsible for Obama-hating clips

Posted: September 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Caroline Glick’s “Latma” site will receive special honor from the museum on its yearly board of governors meeting next week

The Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv is about to honor the people behind the rightwing satire and media site Latma for the “we con the world” video they produced in the aftermath of the IDF raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla. The evening will be hosted by the celebrated Liberal writer and TV pundit, Yaron London.

I must admit that when I saw this item for the first time on Richard Silverstine’s Tikkun Olam blog, I found it hard to believe. What does “Beit Hatfutsot” (the Hebrew name on the Diaspora Museum), a respectable establishment that sits at the heart of Tel Aviv University, has to do with a vulgar and extreme satire group like Latma?

As it turned, the honoring is being made by the Nadav fund, established by Israeli-Russian oligarch Leonid Nevzlin. A few years ago, the Diaspora Museum ran into financial difficulties, and Nevzlin had promised to donate to the museum, through the Nadav fund, a sum of 6 million dollars. Could it be that in return, the museum adopted a right-wing political line to better suit Nevzlin, who now sits at the head of its International Board of Governors? How else can we explain the museum’s decision to honor Latma during the annual Board of Governors’ meeting?

Latma’s favorite targets are left wing NGOs and Palestinian politician, who are often treated in the site’s satirical video’s in a way that borders racism. But more than anything, Latma loves to portray the US president as an anti-Israeli, anti-Semite Muslim. Take a look at this satirical video, in which Obama “admits” to hating Jews, and explains how he plans to join Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinajad in his quest to destroy Israel:

In another video a fake Obama in a black-face makeup sings lines like “dirty Jews won’t be missed by me.” and “I hate them, it so excites me” (h/t Richard Silverstein).

The editor in Chief of Latma is the Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick, known for her radical right-wing views. Here is what Glick wrote about the Israeli Left and Haaretz newspaper when the Kamm-Blau affair was made public (and this is just one example out of many):

By collaborating with Kamm first by publishing her stolen documents and hiring her as a reporter, and finally by covering up her crimes while suborning Blau’s perjury, Haaretz has demonstrated that leftist traitors have a powerful sponsor capable of exacting painful revenge on the State of Israel for daring to prosecute them.

In facilitating and supporting treason, Haaretz itself can depend on a massive network of supporters in Israel and internationally. Reporters, self-proclaimed human rights groups, and the leftist blogosphere in Israel and throughout the world as well as foreign governments happily swallow whole Haaretz’s manufactured stories about Israel’s purported venality.

This lefty blogger would like to know what do the members of the International Board of Governors of Beit Hatfutsot – among them former head of Tel Aviv university Prof.  Itamar Rabinovich, notable businessman Dov Lautman and also the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg – think of the museum’s decision to honor Glick and Latma. What message will this event send to the Jewish community, who for most part is supportive of President Obama, and certainly opposes to portraying him as a Jew-hater?

It should be made clear that I believe Latma is a perfectly legitimate site and their internet TV show is and should be well within the limits of the political discourse in Israel. But I certainly don’t think that Latma’s xenophobic, vulgar and extreme face is the one an institution like the Diaspora Museum – which is all about the connection between Israel and the Jewish communities around the world – would like to show. Or is it?

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You can write Beit Hatfutson regarding their plan honor “Latma” on this link.


Israeli tabloids urging NIF to ditch Palestinian and Lefty NGOs

Posted: September 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Israeli Tabloids Maariv and Israel Hayom, which led the attack on the New Israel Fund in recent months, celebrated yesterday what they believe is a change in the NIF policy regarding its support for leftwing organizations.

A page 4 story in Maariv, written by the paper’s reporter in New York, Tzah Yoked, has declared that “from now on, organizations that reject the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in Israel will no longer be eligible to receive money from the New Israel Fund.”

The story repeated some of the misleading information Maariv published in the past, claiming that NIF-backed organizations “served as the legal basis for the Goldstone report.” It concluded that:

The change [in NIF guidelines], it should be underscored, is more than merely cosmetic. This is a change that will oblige the New Israel Fund to reassess longstanding relationships it has had with organizations that until now had enjoyed its financial support, despite the fact that they explicitly advocated the establishment of a bi-national state and rejected the Jewish nature of the State of Israel.

Ben Dror Yemini, a conservative writer for Maariv and one of the leaders of the campaign against the NIF wrote that:

If the New Israel Fund truly does change the criteria for funding—it will be deserving of all praise. Rumors about that have been circulating for a long time.

Yemini also called the NIF to immediately stop supporting Adalah and the Women Coalition for Peace in order to show that it did change its ways.

In the tabloid Israel Hayom, senior columnist Dan Margalit accused NIF of flip-flopping, claiming that by clarifying that it would continue supporting left wing organizations, the NIF “ruined the correction” [of its wrongful policy], after “yesterday it seemed that the New Israel Fund had turned an attentive ear [to the criticism against it].”

It seems that the confusion over the NIF’s intentions got the progressive left worried as well. Blogger Richard Silverstein wrote that:

This is my lowest moment in an ambivalent relationship with NIF.  I cannot in good conscience support its work when it turns it back on its Palestinian grantees and an entire Palestinian NGO community.  I would urge these grantees to unite and protest this terrible formulation of the guidelines.  I can’t help but think if most of the Palestinian and even perhaps a few Jewish grantees refuse to apply for funding that this will send a shock through the system.

Silverstein also urged his readers to withdraw their support from the NIF until it changed its guidelines.

I don’t agree with Richard on this one. The NIF never backed from its support of Palestinians NGOs. In fact, it actually re-affirmed its commitment to them. As I wrote in an answer for Richard’s comment on my blog, I think we should give the NIF people more credit, and judge them according to their actions, not (only) their words.

I cannot overstate the importance of the NIF for those who still believe that the work of civil society organizations matters. The battle here is much larger than the argument over the new guidelines or the misquotation of someone. This is the front line of a war on the future of democracy in Israel. The NIF is under tremendous pressure these days, and so far they have dealt with it honorably. So though I have my own issues with some of the NIF’s statements and actions, I would wait a bit before I join those casting stones at it (even when it’s done for the best intentions).

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Didi Remez has contributed for this post.


Netanyahu: Clinton administration was “extremely pro-Palestinian”, I stopped Oslo agreement

Posted: July 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

A couple of months ago I discussed here the debate between Peter Beinart and Jeffrey Goldberg regarding Bibi and Oslo. As some readers might remember, Goldberg accused Beinart of fabricating facts in claiming that Netanyahu rejected the peace agreement.

Last Friday, channel 10 broadcast a homemade video of a visit by Netanyahu to a settler family in 2001, two years after his defeat to Ehud Barak. Netanyahu is seen answering the family’s questions, referring to the Clinton administration as “extremely pro-Palestinian” and boosting how he managed to stop the Oslo agreement – while publicly endorsing it – well before the second intifada broke.

This is from Richard Silverstein’s transcript of the video:

Woman:  The Oslo Accords are a disaster.

Netanyahu: Yes. You know that and I knew that…The people [nation] has to know…

What were the Oslo Accords? The Oslo Accords, which the Knesset signed, I was asked, before the elections: “Will you act according to them?” and I answered: “yes, subject to mutuality and limiting the retreats.” “But how do you intend to limit the retreats?” “I’ll give such interpretation to the Accords that will make it possible for me to stop this galloping to the ’67 [armistice] lines. How did we do it?

Narrator: The Oslo Accords stated at the time that Israel would gradually hand over territories to the Palestinians in three different pulses, unless the territories in question had settlements or military sites. This is where Netanyahu found a loophole.

Netanyahu: No one said what defined military sites. Defined military sites, I said, were security zones. As far as I’m concerned, the Jordan Valley is a defined military site.

Woman: Right [laughs]…The Beit She’an Valley.

Netanyahu: How can you tell. How can you tell? But then the question came up of just who would define what Defined Military Sites were. I received a letter – to my and to Arafat, at the same time – which said that Israel, and only Israel, would be the one to define what those are, the location of those military sites and their size. Now, they did not want to give me that letter, so I did not give the Hebron Agreement. I stopped the government meeting, I said: “I’m not signing.” Only when the letter came, in the course of the meeting, to my and to Arafat, only then did I sign the Hebron Agreement. Or rather, ratify it, it had already been signed. Why does this matter? Because at that moment I actually stopped the Oslo Accord.

I agree with Gidon Levy: this item should have gotten much more attention. One could only imagine how history could have looked if Netanyahu carried out Israel’s part in the peace agreement.


Gag order partly lifted: Makhoul and Said suspected of espionage, contact with Hezbollah agent

Posted: May 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Petah Tikva district court had partly lifted the gag order on the arrest of two Arab activists, Ameer Makhoul from Haifa and Omar Said of Kfar Kanna. The two are suspected in espionage, contact with Hezbollah agent

Yedioth Ahronoth’s site, which filed the appeal to lift the gag order, reports:

Fifty-two-year-old Ameer Makhoul from Haifa, a well-known figure in the Arab community in Israel, and 50-year-old Omar Said of Kfar Kanna, were arrested on suspicion of committing serious security offences, including espionage and contact with a foreign agent from Hezbollah. A gag order on the matter was partially lifted at Ynet’s request on Monday, meaning some of the affair’s details are still confidential.

Makhoul was arrested in his home in Haifa last week in front of his wife and children. He is suspected of being in contact with a Lebanese element of the Hezbollah terror group, espionage and contact with a foreign agent. Several computers were confiscated from his home.

Said was arrested in April. The affair is under investigation by the Shin Bet and the Israel Police’s international crimes investigation unit. The probe is being carried out with the attorney general and state prosecutor’s knowledge.

Note that the actual offenses were not revealed, and only the charges were made public. Without knowing much on the affair, I estimated here yesterday that the charge against the two will be “contact with a foreign agent”, since it is the textbook offense used to criminalize public figures in Israel. This specific law has such a broad definition, that you can basically charge anyone who ever met an Iranian or a Libyan government official or a proxy to someone in the political arm of the Hizbollah with this offense, and throw in espionage while you are at it.

Such charges make very good headlines in the tabloids, but in most cases, the offenses turn out to be extremely trivial, sometimes absurd. As long as we don’t know what is it exactly that Makhoul and Said supposedly did, it’s hard to rule whether the arrest was justified, or is it another chapter in the persecution of political activists in Israel.


Regarding “The Affair”

Posted: April 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

Most of the readers of this blog should know by now about the gag order regarding a certain investigation of an Israeli journalist, and about Haaretz’s correspondent hiding in London. If you don’t, do as Yedioth Ahronoth daily advised its readers a few days ago, and type on google news the words “Israeli journalist” and “gag order”.

There will be much to talk about when the gag order is lifted. This, I imagine, will happen soon, as the flow of information on the internet makes the entire effort to hide the case look more like a political issue than a real security concern. If readers in The Emirates know about the story, why can’t Israelis?

I just hope that when the order is lifted, people will remember what started the entire affair. The heart of this case is not the media or the allegations against a certain reporter. It’s about a cover-up attempt for the fact that senior officers in the Israeli Army, including Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, knowingly violated the Supreme Court orders as well as international laws by ordering the assassination of Palestinians even when it was possible to capture the suspects alive. If this was indeed the liberal democracy some people believe Israel to be, these officers would have been forced to resign and prosecuted. There is no chance of this happening.

Having said that, I do have something to say regarding the role journalists played in this affair so far.

Israeli journalists knew of the arrest for several months now, but were forbidden by court order to write or say anything about it (the central figure in the affair also asked them personally not to write anything, having been told by authorities that keeping quiet is in her best interest). Media organizations tried, and still do, to appeal this decision, but until the gag order is lifted, it will be impossible to publish anything on the mainstream media here.

This order applies to foreign press in Israel as well, but for reporters from other countries it would have been much easier to get the story out. After all, no one thinks that Israel will shut down the NYT or CNN office here if they were to brake the story outside Israel (obviously, not under the local reporters’ names). For their own reasons, top correspondent, including some from the US, who knew of the story for a long time now, decided to keep it for themselves. It is very easy to talk about the way Israeli journalists are biased or how they are fed by government and army sources, but what about international reporters? Wasn’t it time they start turning stones?

To the best of my knowledge, the first to write on the story was Americen blogger Richard Silverstein, followed by JTA‘s Ron Kampeas. Silverstein, who is a vocal critic of Israel, is a favorite target of many pro-Israeli and Jewish bloggers. He has been wrong on some issues in the past (who wasn’t?), and I myself don’t always agree with everything he says or the way he says it, but in this case alone, Silverstein did Israeli democracy a better service than all his loudmouth critics, combined.