Palestinians can have human rights when they start winning Nobel Prizes — Bret Stephens

Bret Stephens at the University of Chicago's alumni weekend, June 7, 2014.
Bret Stephens at the University of Chicago’s alumni weekend, June 7, 2014. (photo: Jason Smith / JTA)
The New York Times opinion columnist has sparked controversy and outrage over his latest op-ed.

By Philip Weiss | Mondoweiss | Dec 29, 2019

Stephens’s argument is that Jews are not just smarter by IQ data, but they think differently.

There is a big controversy unfolding over Bret Stephens’s latest column, in which he says that the secret of Jewish genius is that Jews are more imaginative moral thinkers than anyone else. Even Fox News is saying that it is racist, and quoting Sen. Brian Shatz saying that the column crossed a line.

Stephens’s argument is that Jews are not just smarter by IQ data, but they think differently. Jewish intelligence is “so often matched by such bracing originality and high-minded purpose.”

One can apply a prodigious intellect in the service of prosaic things — formulating a war plan, for instance, or constructing a ship. One can also apply brilliance in the service of a mistake or a crime, like managing a planned economy or robbing a bank.

But… Jewish genius operates differently. It is prone to question the premise and rethink the concept; to ask why (or why not?) as often as how; to see the absurd in the mundane and the sublime in the absurd. Ashkenazi Jews might have a marginal advantage over their gentile peers when it comes to thinking better. Where their advantage more often lies is in thinking different.

Continue reading “Palestinians can have human rights when they start winning Nobel Prizes — Bret Stephens”

Why I’m not a Christian Zionist

Israeli flag (photo: Flickr / James Emery)
A theologian and scholar examines Christian Zionism as a theological question.

By Gary M. Burge | Banner  | Dec 16, 2019

They (Reformed theologians) worry Christian Zionists have let their zeal for prophecy and history’s end drown out other, more primary Christian values.

I have had the dubious privilege of standing in the crosshairs of one of the most divisive issues of our day: Israel and Zionism. Thanks to my many trips to the Middle East and my friendships in the Palestinian church, I have been drawn into conversations that are not casually shared, but vehemently debated. You can lose friends over this one.

Christian Zionism is a political theology with 19th-century roots. It took on its full form following the birth of modern Israel in 1948. It is a political theology because modern Israel, in this view, is not like other countries: it is the outworking of God’s plan foretold in the Scriptures, and therefore modern Israel’s political fortunes have profound theological and spiritual consequences.

Continue reading “Why I’m not a Christian Zionist”

‘The Last Generation’: How occupation is driving Christians out of Palestine


Worshipers in Bethlehem
Christian pilgrims pray in the Church of the Nativity, the site where Christians believe Jesus was born, in the West Bank holy city of Bethlehem. (photo: AFP)
Many are leaving to escape the discrimination at the hands of Israel which is the common fate of all Palestinians, Christian and Muslims.

By Peter Oborne  |  Middle East Eye |  Dec 24, 2019

‘Behind the lights and celebrations, we feel that Bethlehem is a big prison, surrounded by settlements and divided by a wall.’
— Pastor Munther Isaac

One week before Christmas. I’m in Manger Square and watching pilgrims descend from buses and make their way to the Church of the Nativity, first built in the fourth century, on the spot where, according to Christian tradition, the infant Jesus was born.

Inside the church I join a party of Spanish pilgrims. We pause to sing carols by Jesus’s crib. There’s no doubting the sincerity or the devotion of those who make the pilgrimage to Bethlehem every year. For me, an Anglican Christian, it is a profoundly moving experience.

But how much do most of these pilgrims know about the small and embattled Palestinian Christian community which survives almost 2,000 years since the death of Jesus?

Continue reading “‘The Last Generation’: How occupation is driving Christians out of Palestine”

Vying for seats at World Zionist Congress, liberal newcomers like Peter Beinart hope to block Israeli settlements funding

Jewish Israelis seen in the West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron, Nov. 19, 2019. (photo: Amir Levy / Getty Images)
In upcoming election new candidates hope to nudge efforts toward addressing the Israeli occupation of the West Bank more directly.

By Ron Kampeas  |  Jewish Telegraphic Agency  |  Dec 24, 2019

The candidates hope to steer funding away from Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and toward causes like expanding rights for women and minorities.

The list includes names like Peter Beinart, the liberal writer; Jeremy Ben-Ami, th president of the liberal Middle East policy group J Street; and Sheila Katz, the CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women.

No, it’s not an ad for a symposium on the Upper East Side, but a slate of first-time candidates seeking seats in the 38th World Zionist Congress, the legislative authority of a 120-year-old Zionist organization that helps determine the fate of $1 billion in spending on Jewish causes.

Elections, which are open to Jews 18 and over anywhere in the world, are held every five years. The next ones will be held between Jan. 21 and March 11.

Continue reading “Vying for seats at World Zionist Congress, liberal newcomers like Peter Beinart hope to block Israeli settlements funding”

International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Palestine

Demonstrators outside the International Criminal Court call for the Israeli army to be prosecuted for war crimes, The Hague, Nov 2019. (photo: Peter de Jong / AP)
There is sufficient evidence to investigate alleged Israeli and Palestinian war crimes committed in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, the court has announced.

By Peter Beaumont | The Guardian | Dec 20, 2019

‘In brief, I am satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.’
— Fatou Bensouda, ICC Chief Prosecutor

In a landmark decision, the ICC said it saw “no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice.”

The announcement ended years of preliminary investigations into alleged crimes by both Israeli forces and Palestinians, and signaled that the court was preparing to open a formal investigation.

A statement published by the court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, on the court’s website on Friday said her office “has concluded with the determination that all the statutory criteria under the Rome statute for the opening of an investigation have been met.”
Continue reading “International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Palestine”

Cyber bullies at Canary Mission muzzle free speech

Cyberstalkers from the Canary Mission target Palestinian rights advocates. (photo: Keith Beaty / Toronto Star / Getty Images)
How an under the radar, organized multimillion dollar influence campaign is seeking to impact public opinion and elections, hijacking public polls, directing social media messages with trolls that engage in well-organized digital astroturfing.

By Dr. Alice Rothchild | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs  |  Jan/Feb 2020

The Canary Mission is an anonymous site that identifies and compiles a dossier on Palestinian rights advocates in academia, and harasses them through web and Twitter postings, tagging students, administrators, employers, and alerting the FBI to baseless, unvetted accusations.

In an era of malicious social media campaigns, the Canary Mission stands out as a little known but highly effective organization that is a threat to free speech and political organizing in the U.S. Targeting graduate and undergraduate students, and professors, the website is designed to inhibit political speech regarding Israel on campuses, ruin reputations, and destroy professional careers through publishing malicious lies and unrelenting attacks.

The McCarthyite blacklist has become especially frightening because it’s being used by law enforcement in Israel and the U.S. Palestinian rights advocates have been interrogated and deported from Israel because of their Canary Mission profiles. Others have been grilled by the FBI or denied employment.

Recently, a graduate student with stellar qualifications contacted me when his/her education and future career were severely derailed by this shadowy website. (That graduate student asked to be absolutely anonymous since he/she is so traumatized and frightened by the experience.) As I researched his/her concerns, I discovered that I too was listed, portrayed as an anti-Israel conspiracy theorist and provocateur.

Continue reading “Cyber bullies at Canary Mission muzzle free speech”

Court dismissed case based on theory behind Trump’s executive order on antisemitism


(photo:  Palestine Legal)
Making the case that a dismissed case seeking to censure UMass for hosting an event on Palestinian rights is linked to Trump’s new EO on antisemitism.

By Mitchell Plitnick | Responsible Statecraft  | Dec 17, 2019

While foreign policy in general remains relatively low on the U.S. electoral agenda, there is a growing awareness that the approach to our foreign policy in the post-Cold War era has been gravely misguided

As President Trump made waves with an executive order meant to stifle speech, action, and education that highlights Palestinian rights, a case that might have been affected by that very order was resolved in Massachusetts. The suit, brought by several anonymous students against the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, attempted to censure the university for hosting a panel that supported the movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and to establish that such events were inherently discriminatory and must be forbidden on campus.

The panel, which took place as scheduled on May 4, 2019, featured some of the country’s most outspoken supporters of Palestinian rights and progressive causes, including former Women’s March Co-Chair Linda Sarsour, Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill, musician Roger Waters, and Sports Editor for The Nation Magazine, Dave Zirin. All these people are fierce critics of Israeli policies from a progressive viewpoint.

Continue reading “Court dismissed case based on theory behind Trump’s executive order on antisemitism”

How to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to psychology research

Palestinians and Israelis clash during demonstrations on Jerusalem Day, 2018. (photo: Olivier Fitoussi)
Both Israelis and Palestinians are in competition over the victim role. A new study may have the key to breaking the impasse.

By Netta Ahituv | Haaretz |  Dec 14, 2019

‘The suffering we have undergone remains with us longer than the suffering we caused.’
— Prof. Nurit Shnabel, Tel Aviv University psychology department

To be the victim in a conflict is no less significant in terms of impact than being the victor, according to a recent study conducted at Tel Aviv University. Indeed, for many people it is the main goal – whether the conflict is an argument between two private individuals or a national dispute.

“It’s a human trait,” explains Prof. Nurit Shnabel of the university’s psychology department, who led the study. “The suffering we have undergone remains with us longer than the suffering we caused. Even if I understand at the rational level that my side can be perceived as victim and aggressor at the same time – emotionally it’s different. I can’t feel them both simultaneously. And it’s easier to be the victim.”

Continue reading “How to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to psychology research”

Trump’s new executive order promotes white supremacy

US President Donald Trump after he signed an executive order on anti-Semitism during a Hanukkah reception at the White House in Washington on December 11, 2019 [Reuters/Tom Brenne]
US President Donald Trump after he signed an executive order on anti-Semitism during a Hanukkah reception at the White House in Washington on December 11, 2019. (photo: Reuters / Tom Brenne)
Trump seeks to divide the liberal opposition to his presidency by leading an ‘anti-Semitism crusade’.

By Yoav Litvin  |  Al Jazeera  |  Dec 12, 2019

This construction of Jews as a nationality or race with an inherent right to eliminate an indigenous population serves to model an American revisionist formulation of a victimized ‘white race’ with ‘Christian values’ and inherent, exclusive rights to land and resources.

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order which he says is meant to fight anti-Semitism on college campuses. The document extends Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color and national origin in programs and organizations receiving federal funding, to include anti-Semitism.

The executive order uses the definition of anti-Semitism put forward by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which is opposed by its own author and includes in its examples:

“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

Continue reading “Trump’s new executive order promotes white supremacy”

Gaza 2020: How easy it is for the world to delete Palestinian pain

A man holds the hand of Maria al-Gazali, a 14-month old Palestinian baby, as her body lies on a stretcher at a hospital in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza on 5 May 2019. She died during an Israeli air strike. (photo: AFP)
The UN said in 2012 that Gaza would be unlivable by 2020. Israel has contributed to this deliberately.

By David Hearst | Middle East Eye | Dec 13, 2019

This is Gaza now: a brutal siege of a forgotten people subsisting in conditions predicted to be unlivable by the UN in 2020, a year that is just a few weeks away.

I would like you to try an exercise. Google the words “family of eight killed” and you will be given several options – one in Sonora, Mexico, another in Pike, Ohio, yet another in Mendocino County, California.

But Google’s massive memory seems to have suffered amnesia over what took place just one month ago in Deir al-Baba, Gaza.

To recap, because you, too, may have forgotten: on 14 November, an Israeli pilot dropped a one-tonne JDAM bomb on a building where eight members of one family were sleeping. Five of them were children. Two of them were infants.

Continue reading “Gaza 2020: How easy it is for the world to delete Palestinian pain”