Finally, A Voice Of Sanity

At a time when the most egregious lies about Israel are being devoured eagerly by most of the world, here is a voice of reason. Former Spanish Prime Minister   José María Aznar, writing in The Times this week, said:


If Israel goes down, we all go down


By José María Aznar



For far too long now it has been unfashionable in Europe to speak up for Israel. In the wake of the recent incident on board a ship full of anti-Israeli activists in the Mediterranean, it is hard to think of a more unpopular cause to champion.

In an ideal world, the assault by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara would not have ended up with nine dead and a score wounded. In an ideal world, the soldiers would have been peacefully welcomed on to the ship.

In an ideal world, no state, let alone a recent ally of Israel such as Turkey, would have sponsored and organised a flotilla whose sole purpose was to create an impossible situation for Israel: making it choose between giving up its security policy and the naval blockade, or risking the wrath of the world.


In our dealings with Israel, we must blow away the red mists of anger that too often cloud our judgment. A reasonable and balanced approach should encapsulate the following realities: first, the state of Israel was created by a decision of the UN.

Its legitimacy, therefore, should not be in question. Israel is a nation with deeply rooted democratic institutions. It is a dynamic and open society that has repeatedly excelled in culture, science and technology.


Second, owing to its roots, history, and values, Israel is a fully fledged Western nation. Indeed, it is a normal Western nation, but one confronted by abnormal circumstances.


Uniquely in the West, it is the only democracy whose very existence has been questioned since its inception. In the first instance, it was attacked by its neighbours using the conventional weapons of war. Then it faced terrorism culminating in wave after wave of suicide attacks. Now, at the behest of radical Islamists and their sympathisers, it faces a campaign of delegitimisation through international law and diplomacy.


Sixty-two years after its creation, Israel is still fighting for its very survival. Punished with missiles raining from north and south, threatened with destruction by an Iran aiming to acquire nuclear weapons and pressed upon by friend and foe, Israel, it seems, is never to have a moment’s peace.


For years, the focus of Western attention has understandably been on the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. But if Israel is in danger today and the whole region is slipping towards a worryingly problematic future, it is not due to the lack of understanding between the parties on how to solve this conflict. The parameters of any prospective peace agreement are clear, however difficult it may seem for the two sides to make the final push for a settlement.


The real threats to regional stability, however, are to be found in the rise of a radical Islamism which sees Israel’s destruction as the fulfilment of its religious destiny and, simultaneously in the case of Iran, as an expression of its ambitions for regional hegemony. Both phenomena are threats that affect not only Israel, but also the wider West and the world at large.


The core of the problem lies in the ambiguous and often erroneous manner in which too many Western countries are now reacting to this situation. It is easy to blame Israel for all the evils in the Middle East.

Some even act and talk as if a new understanding with the Muslim world could be achieved if only we were prepared to sacrifice the Jewish state on the altar. This would be folly.


Israel is our first line of defence in a turbulent region that is constantly at risk of descending into chaos; a region vital to our energy security owing to our overdependence on Middle Eastern oil; a region that forms the front line in the fight against extremism. If Israel goes down, we all go down.

To defend Israel’s right to exist in peace, within secure borders, requires a degree of moral and strategic clarity that too often seems to have disappeared in Europe. The United States shows worrying signs of heading in the same direction.


The West is going through a period of confusion over the shape of the world’s future. To a great extent, this confusion is caused by a kind of masochistic self-doubt over our own identity; by the rule of political correctness; by a multiculturalism that forces us to our knees before others; and by a secularism which, irony of ironies, blinds us even when we are confronted by jihadis promoting the most fanatical incarnation of their faith.

To abandon Israel to its fate, at this moment of all moments, would merely serve to illustrate how far we have sunk and how inexorable our decline now appears.


This cannot be allowed to happen. Motivated by the need to rebuild our own Western values, expressing deep concern about the wave of aggression against Israel, and mindful that Israel’s strength is our strength and Israel’s weakness is our weakness, I have decided to promote a new Friends of Israel initiative with the help of some prominent people, including David Trimble, Andrew Roberts, John Bolton, Alejandro Toledo (the former President of Peru), Marcello Pera (philosopher and former President of the Italian Senate), Fiamma Nirenstein (the Italian author and politician), the financier Robert Agostinelli and the Catholic intellectual George Weigel.


It is not our intention to defend any specific policy or any particular Israeli government. The sponsors of this initiative are certain to disagree at times with decisions taken by Jerusalem. We are democrats, and we believe in diversity.


What binds us, however, is our unyielding support for Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. For Western countries to side with those who question Israel’s legitimacy, for them to play games in international bodies with Israel’s vital security issues, for them to appease those who oppose Western values rather than robustly to stand up in defence of those values, is not only a grave moral mistake, but a strategic error of the first magnitude.


Israel is a fundamental part of the West. The West is what it is thanks to its Judeo-Christian roots. If the Jewish element of those roots is upturned and Israel is lost, then we are lost too. Whether we like it or not, our fate is inextricably intertwined.


José María Aznar was prime minister of Spain between 1996 and 2004.

Prime Example Of Media Lies About Israel


Is it any wonder that so many people dislike Israel, when they are bombarded with false information about the Jewish state?

The story below, courtesy of Honest Reporting Canada, is a prime example of the strange…let’s call it carelessness which seems to permeate so much of the new coverage about Israel.

More often than not, the errors and lies are allowed to stand – below is a rare instance of one such ‘mistake’ being corrected:


CBC National Corrects Gaza Infant Mortality Rate Error
June 16, 2010

By: Mike Fegelman, Executive Director


Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscriber,

Did CBC falsely imply that Israel was responsible for the death of Gaza babies?

Respected Mideast professor and director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center (GLORIA) asked this very question regarding a June 1 CBC National report which saw Chief Correspondent, Peter Mansbridge, erroneously refer to the Gaza Strip as having “an infant mortality rate among the highest in the world.”


Writing on his blog “Rubin Reports,” Professor Rubin expounded on this misstatement:

“Here’s an example of the insanity and profound anti-Israel bias currently gripping mass media.

On June 1, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) anchorman Peter Mansbridge stated that the Gaza Strip “has one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates” The obvious implication: it is Israel’s fault because of its sanctions.

In fact, the Gaza Strip has a lower infant mortality rate than Turkey, which has been a modern republic with full independence for about 80 years, and Iran, which enjoys the “benefits” of the kind of Islamist government which Hamas and the current Turkish government applaud.


According to the CIA World Factbook, regarded as a definitive source, the Infant Mortality Rate in the Gaza Strip is 17.71 deaths per 1000 births, about the same as Mexico and below that of Brazil, Romania, and many other countries. In neighboring Egypt, the number is 26.2, in Turkey, 24.8, and Iran, 34.7.


The kind of coverage given to living standards in the Gaza Strip seems an example of what sometimes seems a principle of Western journalism: Third World suffering is only of interest if it can be blamed on the West. Third World suffering is the world’s lead news story only if it can be blamed on Israel.”


HonestReporting Canada (HRC) communicated our concerns to senior editors at the CBC requesting that a review be conducted and that an on-air correction be issued promptly to remedy this error.


In a written response that was sent to HRC by the CBC, a senior editor said that the mistake was more than just problematic: “In an effort to give viewers a clearer picture of the Gaza Strip, the introduction to the report that night from Washington included statistics about Gaza’s area, population, unemployment and infant mortality rates. However, in one instance, we inadvertently included inaccurate information. In fact – and as Mr. Rubin pointed out – according to the CIA World Factbook, a highly regarded source for such information, Gaza is about half way in a ranking of over 200 countries or regions, (109 out of 224) with an infant mortality rate of almost 18 per thousand live births, a little over four times Israel’s. We regret the error. The Friday night (June 11) editions of The National included an on-air note offering viewers correct information.”



Ms. Hiscox stated the following: “Earlier this month we reported the Gaza Strip has an infant mortality rate among the highest in the world, but according to the CIA World Factbook, Gaza ranks 109 out of 224 regions in the world, with an infant mortality rate of almost 18 deaths per thousand live births.”


While we appreciate and commend the fact that the CBC was quick to investigate this matter and to take the appropriate action in correcting this mistake, with that said, there was no indication given about how this error had occurred and how it had gotten past the trained eyes of the CBC’s most veteran editors. Many questions still remain unanswered such as: What was the source of this original erroneous information? It certainly wasn’t the CIA World Factbook, was it Amnesty International’s (AI) error, as this CBC report attributed various statistics as being derived from AI?

Was this just gross incompetence or intentional subterfuge? And finally, since when did the Palestinians achieve statehood? Why is it that this CBC report included a graphic which referred to the West Bank and Gaza as “Palestine” instead of the Palestinian territories?


We trust that this intervention will serve as a teachable moment for the CBC’s reporters and editors who are keenly aware that their Mideast reporting is being vigilantly watched and scrutinized.

Jewish Blood Doesn’t Sell Newspapers

Let’s say it like it is: Jewish blood doesn’t make good headlines.


Nobody gives a damn when young Israeli soldiers are attacked and all but killed by ‘aid workers’ and ‘peace activists’. The only story that sells is when Jews fight – or to be accurate, fight back.


Thus the world media is revelling in the latest clash between Israel and Hamas – and yes, it is between these two factions. Every single person present on that flotilla supported Hamas and its openly stated aim of destroying Israel.


For more detailed and accurate reporting than you’ll get anywhere else, here’s a briefing from the excellent  Honest Reporting:


Connected to Terror: Who is Behind the Flotilla?


The organizations and passengers behind the Gaza flotilla have been variously described as “peace activists” and “humanitarian organizations”. This could not be further from the truth. The primary objective of this flotilla was not to deliver aid packages to Gaza but to spread anti-Israel propaganda in cooperation with Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Playing a central role in the flotilla is the Turkish IHH organization, which besides its legitimate philanthropic activities is also, according to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, a supporter of radical Islamic networks, including Hamas, and at least in the past, even global jihad elements.

See here and here for detailed information on the IHH.

Amongst the other organizations involved in the flotilla is the International Solidarity Movement. The ISM has a shameful record of placing foreign nationals in danger through encouraging ‘direct action’, which resulted in the death of American citizen Rachel Corrie. In 2003, ISM’s extreme ideology was underscored when terrorists, originating from the UK, used ISM as a cover to attack Mike’s Place, while an ISM activist has been jailed in the US, charged with “giving about $20,000 to a group he knew supported Hamas.”

An Al-Jazeera report from May 28, translated below by PMW, shows activists on board before departing for Gaza, chanting Intifada songs aimed at Jews and praising martyrdom. Chants include “Intifada, intifada, intifada! Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews! The army of Mohammed will return!” relating to a seventh century massacre of Jews in Khaybar by early Muslims.


“Peace” Activists Used Deadly Violence


Despite claims that the activists on board were only prepared to resist the IDF peacefully, the reality was quite the opposite. Upon boarding the Marmara, owned and operated by the extremist IHH, Israeli naval personnel were attacked by activists who had prepared themselves with weapons including knives and clubs. This, despite the following statement from a Free Gaza spokesperson:

We were not going to pose any violent resistance. The only resistance that there might be would be passive resistance such as physically blocking the steering room, or blocking the engine room downstairs, so that they couldn’t get taken over. But that was just symbolic resistance.

Is the clip below showing an IDF soldier being attacked with a crowbar “symbolic resistance”?

In addition,  IDF forces apprehended two activists holding pistols. The activists took these pistols from IDF forces and apparently opened fire on the soldiers as evident by the empty pistol magazines. This goes  some way to explaining the number of casualties as live fire was exchanged as IDF forces found themselves under severe threat as evidenced by the number of injured Israeli soldiers and the types of injuries.

One soldier suffered a serious head injury, two others were injured by gunshots and one more was stabbed. A total of seven soldiers were wounded – four soldiers were moderately wounded, of which two were initially in critical condition, as well as an additional three soldiers who were lightly wounded.

A First-Hand Account

Israeli journalist Ron Ben-Yishai gives a first-hand account of the incident:

Navy commandoes slid down to the vessel one by one, yet then the unexpected occurred: The passengers that awaited them on the deck pulled out bats, clubs, and slingshots with glass marbles, assaulting each soldier as he disembarked. The fighters were nabbed one by one and were beaten up badly, yet they attempted to fight back.

However, to their misfortune, they were only equipped with paintball rifles used to disperse minor protests, such as the ones held in Bilin. The paintballs obviously made no impression on the activists, who kept on beating the troops up and even attempted to wrest away their weapons.

One soldier who came to the aid of a comrade was captured by the rioters and sustained severe blows. The commandoes were equipped with handguns but were told they should only use them in the face of life-threatening situations. When they came down from the chopper, they kept on shouting to each other “don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” even though they sustained numerous blows….

During the commotion, another commando was stabbed with a knife. In a later search aboard the Marmara, soldiers found caches of bats, clubs, knives, and slingshots used by the rioters ahead of the IDF takeover. It appeared the activists were well prepared for a fight.

Read the full account here.

See the IDF video footage taken from above the boarded vessel, showing Israeli soldiers under attack by clicking on the image below.

See more at the IDF’s YouTube channel.

Propaganda Not Humanitarianism

If there was any doubt that these organizations were unconcerned with universal human rights, this was confirmed by the rejection of a request from the family of Gilad Shalit for activists to pressure Hamas to allow international organizations to bring letters and food packages to the kidnapped soldier in exchange for the family’s support for the international expedition’s attempt to dock in Gaza.

In fact, Israel offered to transfer the supplies on the flotilla to Gaza from Ashdod port through official channels, an offer that was rejected in favor of confrontation on the part of the anti-Israel activists. As flotilla organizer Greta Berlin stated: “this mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it’s about breaking Israel’s siege.”

The flotilla was clearly warned by the Israeli Navy in advance of the boarding and the offer repeated by the IDF.

A Legitimate and Legal Operation

IMRA asked Hebrew University international law expert Dr. Robbie Sabel about the legality of the IDF action in international waters.

Dr. Sabel explained that a state, in a time of conflict, can impose an embargo, and while it cannot carry out embargo activities in the territorial waters of a third party, it can carry out embargo activities in international waters.

Within this framework it is legal to detain a civilian vessel trying to break an embargo and if in the course of detaining the vessel, force is used against the forces carrying out the detention then that force has every right to act in self defense.

Dr. Sabel noted that there is a long history of embargo activities in international waters.

Indeed, according to the San Remo Manual that governs international humanitarian law, it is permissible under rule 67(a) to attack neutral vessels on the high seas when the vessels “are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture.”

Breaking News! Barack Obama To Receive Psychiatric Help

 

 

White House sources have this morning confirmed that Barack Obama is receiving psychiatric care. The problems apparently started a week ago, after the President’s closest aides observed his behaviour becoming increasingly erratic. 

 

But it was after Obama became delusional that alarm grew among his staff. Specifically, one aide has confirmed: ‘It’s all rather embarrassing, actually. The President clearly believed himself to be in charge of, well, planning permission –  in Jerusalem.’

 

It was then that White House staff had to face the fact that Obama was seriously ill.

 

‘At first I thought he was just stressed,’ states one source who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, ‘But then he got on to the phone to the Israeli Ambassador to America and began issuing bizarre instructions’.

Specifically, confirms the aide, Obama ordered the Israeli government to halt work on an apartment building near Sheikh Jarrah.

 

‘It was embarrassing, to say the least’, confides another aide, ‘There we are with people being killed on the streets of Iran, and there’s Obama marching around the Oval office, screaming down the phone to Tel Aviv about this new block of flats and demanding that it not go ahead!

 

And the aide continues: ‘It was apparent to everyone there that Obama was delusional. We had no choice but to organise the appropriate help for him.’

 

Rumours suggest that Obama has been assessed by a consultant psychiatrist, at the White House, and that a medication regime is being set up. Although details of the diagnosis remain under wraps, it’s rumoured that Obama is experiencing some form of  obsessive-compulsive disorder.

 

Specifically, his staff are hoping that the treatment will help to reduce the American President’s apparent fixation on Israel. 

 

 ‘His behaviour is troubling, no doubt about it, ‘ stated a member of the secret service, ‘Sometimes,  in the early hours of the morning, our boys will come across the President wandering around, muttering and mumbling about ‘that bloody Bibi’. We sure hope he gets better soon.’

 

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, has conveyed his ‘heartfelt wishes for Obama’s speedy recovery’ during a phone call with the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.

He is reported to have said: ‘I am truly sorry to hear of Obama’s difficulties. We will of course disregard his irrational demands over what Israelis can and can’t do in the Israeli capital, Jerusalem. As far as I am concerned, it never happened and I won’t mention it ever again.  Our thoughts are with Obama and his family at this time.’

 

We will update this news story as soon as we get more details – watch this space!

 

 ***********************************************************************************************************************

 Jeff Jacoby, writing in the Boston Globe, offers some historical context:

 

Late last week, the Obama Administration demanded that the Israeli government pull the plug on a planned housing development near the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem.

 

The project, a 20-unit apartment complex, is indisputably legal. The property to be developed – a defunct hotel – was purchased in 1985 and the developer has obtained all the necessary municipal permits.

 

Why, then, does the administration want the development killed? Because Sheikh Jarrah is in a largely Arab section of Jerusalem and the developers of the planned apartments are Jews. Think about that for a moment. Six months after Barack Obama became the first Black man to move into the previously all-White residential facility at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, he is fighting to prevent integration in Jerusalem.

 

It is impossible to imagine the opposite scenario. The administration would never demand that Israel prevent Arabs from moving into a Jewish neighborhood. And the Obama Justice Department would unleash seven kinds of hell on anyone who tried to impose racial, ethnic or religious redlining in an American city. In the 21st century, segregation is unthinkable – except, it seems, when it comes to housing Jews in Jerusalem.

 

It is not easy for Israel’s government to refuse any demand from the United States, which is the Jewish State’s foremost ally. To their credit, Israeli leaders spoke truth to power, and said “no”.

 

“Jerusalem residents can purchase apartments anywhere in the city,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. “This has been the policy of all Israeli governments. There is no ban on Arabs buying apartments in the west of the city, and there is no ban on Jews building or buying in the city’s east. This is the policy of an open city.”

 

There was a time not so long ago when Jerusalem was anything but an open city. During Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, the Jordanian Arab Legion invaded eastern Jerusalem, occupied the Old City, and expelled all its Jews – many from families that had lived in the city for centuries.

 

“As they left,” the acclaimed historian Sir Martin Gilbert later wrote in his 1998 book, Jerusalem in the Twentieth Century, “they could see columns of smoke rising from the quarter behind them. The Hadassah welfare station had been set on fire and… the looting and burning of Jewish property was in full swing.”

 

For the next 19 years, eastern Jerusalem was barred to Jews, brutally divided from the western part of the city with barbed wire and military fortifications. Dozens of Jewish holy places, including synagogues hundreds of years old, were desecrated or destroyed. Gravestones from the ancient Mount of Olives cemetery were uprooted by the Jordanian army and used to pave latrines. Jerusalem’s most sacred Jewish shrine, the Western Wall, became a slum.

 

It wasn’t until 1967, after Jordan was routed in the Six-Day War, that Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli sovereignty and religious freedom restored to all. Israelis have vowed ever since that Jerusalem would never again be divided.

 

And not only Israelis. US policy, laid out in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, recognizes Jerusalem as “a united city administered by Israel” and formally declares that “Jerusalem must remain an undivided city.” 
 
US presidents, Republican and Democratic alike, have agreed.
In former President Bill Clinton’s words, “Jerusalem should be an open and undivided city, with assured freedom of access and worship for all.”

 

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama said much the same thing. To a 2008 candidate questionnaire that asked about “the likely final status Jerusalem,” Obama replied: “The United States cannot dictate the terms of a final status agreement…. Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital, and no one should want or expect it to be re-divided.”

 

In a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Council, he repeated the point: “Let me be clear… Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”

 

Palestinian irredentists claim that eastern Jerusalem is historically Arab territory and should be the capital of a future Palestinian state. In reality, Jews have always lived in eastern Jerusalem – it is the location of the Old City and its famous Jewish Quarter, after all, not to mention Hebrew University, which was founded in 1918.

 

The apartment complex that Obama opposes is going up in what was once Shimon Hatzadik, a Jewish neighborhood established in 1891. Only from 1948 to 1967 – during the Jordanian occupation – was the eastern part of Israel’s capital “Arab territory”. Palestinians have no more claim to sovereignty there than Russia does in formerly occupied eastern Berlin.

 

The great obstacle to Middle East peace is not that Jews insist on living among Arabs. It is that Arabs insist that Jews not live among them. If Obama doesn’t yet grasp that, then he has a lot to learn.

This article first appeared in the Boston Globe on July 22, 2009.

Fatah: We Will Never Recognise Israel

Fatah leaders have declared that the group will never agree to recognise Israel’s right to exist – and that it will continue to wage war against the Jewish homeland.

 “Fatah does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, nor have we ever asked others to do so,” said senior Fatah member Rafik Natsheh, a close associate of Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

In an interview with the pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Natsheh scorned reports that Fatah had called on Hamas to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist:  “It’s all media nonsense. We don’t ask other factions to recognize Israel; we ourselves do not recognize Israel.”

Fatah runs the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria. The Palestinian Authority does recognise Israel; if it didn’t it would be ‘unable to serve the Palestinian people,” Natsheh explained. However, Fatah does not have such constraints.

Fatah will never stop attacking Israel. Natsheh stated:  “Let those who are deluding themselves hear: this will never happen.”

A second senior Fatah member, Azzam el-Ahmed, agreed that Fatah would not drop its call to wage war on Israel.

Natsheh and Ahmed gave interviews in advance of the Fatah general assembly in early August, in which the organization will meet to discuss its goals and to hold elections. The meeting will be the first in approximately 20 years.

Bangladeshi Journalist Charged With ‘Insulting’ Islam – Because He Suggested Peace With Israel

A Bangladeshi journalist and peace activist is being punished for refusing to condemn Israel. Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was charged with sedition, treason and insulting Islam in 2003.


Choudhury, 44, has worked hard to oppose Islamic extremism through his articles, in particular those for the Weekly Blitz which he started in 2003. He has also called for interfaith dialogue and for normalizing relations between Muslim countries and Israel.


Yet this week will see Choudhary back in court, charged with ‘insulting Islam’.  It is possible he will be sentenced to death for this ‘sedition’.


In a letter which was made public at the weekend, Choudhary says:


“According to my lawyers in Bangladesh, the government is determined to conclude the trial as soon as possible.No one knows what will be the verdict. But, of course, seeing the past track record, we cannot hold any hope for a good result because the court is not applying its judicial mind, but trying to appease the Islamists.”


Choudhary has already suffered violence for his views. In 2006, his newspaper offices were bombed, after he publicly expressed sympathy for the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam.

And in October of that year, he was attacked in his office by a mob that included prominent members of the then-ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which historically has aligned itself with Islamist parties in the country.


In March 2007,  US House Resolution 64 referred to Choudhury and protested his ongoing  “harassment and intimidation” as well as his incarceration in 2004 for 17 months without legal recourse, during which he was placed in solitary confinement and “suffered harsh interrogation techniques and received no treatment for a debilitating case of glaucoma.”


The House resolution called for the Bangladeshi government to “immediately drop all pending charges against Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury… and take steps to protect Mr. Choudhury.”

A Message For ‘Reader X’ aka It’s My Blog And I’ll Ban Who I Want To!

.

 

Is freedom of speech absolute?


Here’s a candid answer: not for readers of my blog.


I make no apologies for this stance. Only one person has total free speech in this particular arena – and that’s me!

 

I’ve been pondering  ‘freedom of speech’ because I stand accused of ‘blocking opinions differing from your own’. My accuser? A regular poster on Jew With A View that I’ve now had to, reluctantly, bar from posting full stop.

 
Of course, most bloggers ban those who submit abusive or racist comments. 
 
 
It’s just common sense. But what about banning someone who is usually polite..?
  
 
Is it ‘wrong’?  Does it ‘prove’ that I ban dissent, especially when it comes to the topic of Israel…?   I can’t respond privately to this person, hence this post.
 
  
Truth is, I welcome dissenting opinions. Genuinely. Blogging would be mighty dull if everyone who posted here was just echoing my views!


Nor do I claim to be ‘right’ in all I say. Indeed, if I make factual errors, I hope someone will correct me and I am most grateful when they do! Hell, I’m appreciative when anyone takes the time to post a comment, and I hope regulars especially, know this


Let’s call the person I’ve banned Reader X. He knows who he is. He’s posted many long comments on this blog and that was fine, though I passionately disagree with him. But as he seems a reasonably decent soul, and as he’s taken the trouble to express his views, I’ve welcomed his thoughts.

 

But here’s the thing. Everyone has the right to their own opinions.  But nobody has the right to their own facts. That’s where a line exists, and it can’t be crossed if one still wants any form of rational discourse.


The discrepancy between these two was illustrated vividly back in 2007 when Oxford University decided to allow known Holocaust Denier David Irving, and his fellow weasel BNP head Nick Griffin, to speak at the Union debate.

 

The move was publicly condemned by Jewish and Muslim students alike, along with anti facism activists and numerous politicians – several of whom cancelled membership of the Oxford Union as a result.

 

But Oxford Union was unrepentant. These two racist twits had, it declared, the right to ‘freedom of speech’.

 

Wrong.
 
  
What they had was  freedom of opinion. But that doesn’t mean any institution, let alone Oxford, should offer them a platform to spread their malice.
 

If Irving and Griffin wish to go around peddling their mad and subjective belief that six million Jews did not perish, that is their right to do so – within the confines of their homes and in hushed conversations with their fellow neo Nazis.

 

But once they start publicly twisting and misrepresenting objective facts in their bid to deny history, then no. A thousand times, no.  They don’t have any unconditional, inalienable ‘right’ to do that.  Nor did Oxford Union have any ‘duty’ to help them.

 

I have the right to declare a disbelief in gravity. Does Oxford Union have any obligation to provide a platform for me to unveil my copious notes and ideas in ‘support’ of this idea…?

 

No, of course not – and nor would  Oxford dream of doing so!  Yet when it suits, countless individuals and institutions play the ‘freedom of speech’ card in order to promote all manner of absurd, irrational and sometimes dangerous beliefs.


Which brings us to Reader X. He has repeatedly stated: ‘I insist that Hamas is not a terrorist organisation’.

 
Well, dear Reader X, you may continue to insist this, and deny reality, as much as you like. Go on – knock yourself out!
  
But not on my blog.
  
 
Any group which attacks and kills unarmed, innocent civilians, is a terrorist group. Yep – it’s as black and white as that. Thus when Hamas sent suicide bombers onto two Israeli buses, killing sixteen people, including a 3 year old child,  that was terrorism. End of.
 
I’m not remotely interested in Reader X’s apologetics for Hamas. Nor will I feel bad for denying his ‘right’ to publicly condone them. He can seek to justify and rationalise and apologise for Hamas terrorism all he likes.
  
But not on my blog.

 

Nor do I accept that Reader X has any ‘right’ to use my blog to condone bigotry.

Last week I posted a story about how a top Obama aide cheerfully shared a platform with a man who then claimed that Hurricane Katrina was G-d’s ‘punishment’ towards Gay people, and that Jews are seeking to ‘control the world’.

 

Most sane people recognise this bigotry towards Gays and Jews for what it is: appalling. Likewise, they understand that it is not OK for a top Obama aide to share a platform with and thus legitimise someone expressing such spite.

But what did Reader X think? ‘It’s good that Obama is prepared to talk to lots of people.’

Er, right…

 Again, if Reader X wants to support anti Gay and Anti Jewish bigotry, he’s free to do so.
  
 But not on my blog.

 

In particular, Reader X has condemned my apparent unwillingness to allow dissenting opinions on Israel. So let’s clarify.

 

If someone wants to criticise Israeli policies, they are free to do so. If someone wants to post condemnation of specific decisions made by Israel or particular Israeli politicians, they are free to do this too.  If their posts are based on facts and – this is key – an accurate understanding of the situation.

 

But when someone makes it clear that they don’t even know the term ‘palestinian’ always referred to Palestinian Jews, and when they then try and ‘prove’ their case by anecdotal evidence, and when all they do is regurgitate weary old Arab propaganda that has been disproven time and again – then no, I don’t have any obligation to publish this person’s misconceptions.

  
There are countless sites out there where Reader X can share his inaccurate ideas on Israel.
My blog is not one of them.

 

And finally, Reader X,  I reserve the right to reject your blatant hypocrisy. For example, you have often stated that you trust the UN. Thus if the UN condemns Israel for something, it is  ‘good enough‘ for you – note, I’m using your own words here.

Yet at the same time, you ignore that the UN also stated in a resolution that Hezbollah should have disarmed.   But you don’t care what the UN says about this. Indeed,  only recently you tried to submit a post claiming that Hezbollah has nothing to do with terrorism!

This is rank  hypocrisy. When the UN condemns Israel, it’s acceptable. But when the UN condemns Palestinian and Islamic terrorism, it gets ignored. Again Reader X, you’re free to practise this hypocrisy.
  
But not on my blog.


 

Finally, and most egregiously, Reader X, you showed how little value you attache to Jewish life, any Jewish life, by your response to the recent update on murdered and tortured French Jew Ilan Halimi.

Responding to this post, what did you say?  You spoke of Palestinians in prison in Israel – and did not say a single word about the way that this young French man was abducted, tortured, set alight and killed by French Muslims. Muslims who admitted to being obsessed with killing Jews and who actually phoned the victim’s parents and quoted to them from the Quran.

Now of course, you’re not obliged to respond to the Ilan Halimi post at all. But to submit a response to it  that totally ignores his death? That is in poor taste and again, just reveals your hypocrisy. You care so much for Palestinian Arabs – yet don’t give a damn when Jewish blood is spilled.

 
And so, Reader X, if you are indeed looking at this post: don’t tell me that you’re ‘objective‘ and ‘fair‘ when it comes to any topic connected to either Israel or anti Jewish sentiment. You’re not. At least have the integrity to acknowledge your own bias and blatant double standards.

 

And if at any time you decide to adopt a fairer approach, then you are most welcome to post here again.

But, until and unless that time arrives, you’ll have to take your right to condone terrorism and bigotry and exercise it on other blogs –  ’cause you ‘aint doing it on this one!