Friday, March 24, 2017

An open letter to David Friedman

Sar Shalom

Congratulations on being confirmed as president Trump's ambassador to Israel. I have no doubt that you will be a good friend of Israel. There are no limits to the extent of which I believe you will be a good friend of Israel. However, can you be a great friend of Israel. Allow me to explain the difference between a good friend and a great friend. A good friend is someone who adopts policies that help Israel. A great friend is someone who induces others to adopt policies that help Israel. This is particularly important because your time in office will be limited and your long-term impact will be based on the effect you have setting the framework for how your successors view the region.

The narrative. As a new report from the BESA Center demonstrates, western support for the Palestinians is based on false narratives. Convincing someone to support Israel thus requires a narrative in which, under that individual's value system, Israel is the good side. In contrast, the currently prevailing narrative is that the conflict is one of Israeli Goliath against Palestinian David. This narrative would explain Obama's obsession with the settlements, even if it can't be proved that it was the motive.

The David and Goliath narrative has two components. One is the Palestinians as innocent victims. The other is of Israelis as capricious victimisers. Both components will have to be confronted explicitly as just providing the litany of Israel's contributions to society will leave adherents of the narrative saying that it does not excuse Israel's victimization of the "innocent" Palestinians.

Overall theme. The main thrust of the following sections is that the essence of the conflict is, as Einat Wilf describes it, is the inability of the Arabs and Muslims to accept the fact that those whom they have historically treated as inferiors are now claiming equality and exercising power in their midst.

The way forward. Many in the West believe that the way to move forward on peace and to help the Palestinian people is to put pressure on Israel. On the latter issue, even many supporters of Israel concur, with the response being only to limit the help given to the Palestinian people if the cost to Israel is too high. Call attention to facts that complicate this narrative. For instance, visit Israeli Arabs like Ali Salam and Gabriel Nadaf who can show what genuine cooperation with Israel can yield. Visit one of get-togethers of Palestinian leaders like Sheik Jabari with the settlers to show that the settlements are not an unambiguous hindrance to Palestinian aspirations.

Media coverage. Bring in Mattie Friedman and Mark Lavie to identify what issues are systematically buried by the media's code of omertà and devise strategies to create scenes that would force those issues onto the media radar screen.

Finally, avoid simply asserting that their narrative is wrong. Simple assertions that the narrative is wrong will be dismissed. Instead, call attention to uncontrovertable facts that challenge the narrative and force them to bob and weave to reconcile the narrative with those facts.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Alt-Whatever

Michael Lumish

I am convinced that the words "alt-right" and "alt-left" - and, my favorite, "CTRL-L Delete" - are essentially alt-meaningless.

Hillary basically conjured the New Fear out of thin air on the campaign trail in order to paint Trump as a racist. Most people never even heard of Breitbart - which, from what I can tell, is not a racist outlet, anyway - until the Clinton campaign sought to shore-up their victory. The Klan is irrelevant in the US, as are Neo-Nazis, and there is no sudden vast re-emergence of white nationalism happening anywhere in the US.

In other words, they have the country on a very dangerous witch-hunt and its mainly the well-educated and sophisticated among us who tend to buy into this politically convenient myth.

I did not advocate for Trump, nor did I vote for him. Nonetheless, I have lost friends for being insufficiently hateful toward the man, as if my lack of hatred toward Trump is partly responsible for the rise of the New American Nazism, which does not exist.

That, for me, represents this political moment.

It is my guess that future historians will note this as a period of near mass-hysteria, something akin to the Red Scares of the 20s and 50s, but this time coming out of the American Left.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Facebook Note: the Left versus Liberalism

Michael Lumish

In a comment under a post for the Rational Zionists Facebook page, Jason Paluch drew an important distinction between liberalism and the Left. I would link to that specific comment, but it is a closed group so I cannot.

Nonetheless, Jason wrote, "Just like how all conservatives are not racist members of the Ku Klux Klan, or whatever the local equivalent of that is, not all of those left of center are naive dupes and useful / useless idiots for Islamists. I'll remind you that it was classical liberals who won both world wars, and created Western civilization itself."

This is my comment in response:
The distinction between Left and liberal is crucial.

A liberal is someone who draws his political philosophy from western Enlightenment notions of social justice and thus believes in democracy, individual freedom, and equality of opportunity.

On economic matters, liberals favor western-style capitalism, although usually with a significant social safety net. For this reason socialists, democratic or otherwise, are not considered liberal.

On racial matters, liberals believe that individuals should be judged according to their individual characteristics as human beings, rather than as representatives of particular ethnic groups docketed within a hierarchy of victimhood. For this reason, identity politics is not liberal, either. Thus organizations like Black Lives Matter are Left, but not liberal.

Finally, and most crucially, liberals believe in the open interrogation of ideas and, thus, freedom of speech. The Left, on the other hand, believes in politically-correct speech codes that have a chilling effect on the free expression of ideas through tactics that run from social shunning to litigation.
It seems to me that the Left is in the process of driving out its liberals.

Am I wrong?

This Week on Nothing Left

Michael Lumish

Nothing Left
This week the first half of the program is dedicated to discussing J Street - we hear from Daniel Greenfield (aka Sultan Knish) and speak with Daniel Mandel of the Zionist Organisation of America.

We then hear from journalist Sol Stern on the disgrace that is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and hear from Italian journalist Giulio Meotti on the Islamisation of Europe.

Alan Dershowitz and Isi Leibler in Jerusalem  shares their thoughts on J Street and American Jewry.


3 min Editorial: Alan on J Street

10 min Daniel   Greenfield (aka Sultan Knish) on J Street

23 min     Daniel Mandel, ZOA on J Street

29 min     excerpt from a J Street supporter [ Israel should be destroyed]

43 Min     Alan Dershowitz on J Street

48 Min Alan Dershowitz comment on J Street from one of our previous interviews with him

49 min Sol Stern, journalist on UNRWA

1: 8 min Giulio Meotti, Italian journalist on Islamisation of Europe

1: 31 min Isi Leibler, Jerusalem on J Street and American Jewry


The podcast can also be found on the J-Air website:

Or at our Facebook page: 

NOTHING LEFT can be heard live each Tuesday 9-11am on FM 87.8 in the Caulfield area, or via the J-Air website www.j-air.com.au

Contact us at Nothing Left:

michael@nothingleft.com.au

alan@nothingleft.com.au

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Ha'aretz Spits at the "Mensches"

Michael Lumish

{Also published at the Elder of ZiyonJews Down Under and The Jewish Press.}

Lavarnway, Freiman, and Zeid (Seoul, 2017)
Japan beat Team Israel last Wednesday to eliminate the "Mensches" from the World Baseball Classic (WBC).

Nonetheless, Israel did far better than anyone thought possible. Manager Jerry Weinstein and the guys were not expected to even qualify for the tournament and the oddsmakers pegged them at a 200 to 1 longshot to win the whole kaboodle.

Israel defied expectations by not only qualifying for the series, but making it into Round 2 until the Netherlands and Japan blocked their run in the Tokyo Dome. Still, the guys did phenomenal and my poker-money says that they will do so again in 2021.

The primary question for those of us covering Team Israel, however, is just what to make of their terrific effort? Is there some larger meaning that can be culled? Does the Mensche on the Bench, as conjured by outfielder Cody Decker, really have Kabbalistic powers?

I suspect not, but what is clear is that Ha'aretz - Israel's version of the "paper of record" - is not a big fan of Team Israel.

One thing that I will always remember about this series, aside from the Mensche, himself, is the contempt of Ha'aretz for their own national ballclub. It's a bit sad, but I never much liked Ha'aretz, anyway, because I am not "post-Zionist." 

While it is obviously true that not all Jews are citizens of the sovereign state of Israel, we are part of the nation of Israel because we are part of the Jewish people. The very word "Israel" - whether Ha'aretz likes it or not - refers to both the Jewish State as well as to the Jewish people as a whole. The general policy of the State of Israel since 1948 - and of the yishuv in the British mandate - was to hold Jewish people close as brothers and sisters as those of us in diaspora do likewise.

I am not convinced that Ha'aretz is quite on-board with this old-fashioned notion, however.

"This Spit" (Sweden, 2016)
Once it became clear that Team Israel was doing well in the tournament - after their surprise upsets in the preliminaries in Brooklyn, New York, and then the amazing sweep at Gocheok Skydome in Seoul, South Korea - it was just too much for Ha'aretz.

In two articles attached to their rather flat description of Israel's victory over Team Cuba in the first game of Round 2, Ha'aretz spat at their American bat-wielding brothers.

On March 9, Simon Spungin portrayed Team Israel as comprised of foreign usurpers and on March 12, Chemi Shalev did the same.

In At World Baseball Classic, I'm Rooting for 'Team Nice Jewish Boys' Spungin wrote this:
Sure, they're Jewish and, by Israeli law, they could become Israeli if they wanted to. But they're not. They are Americans and they have been brought in as ringers, plain and simple.
This is unjust, malicious, and the title oozes condescension.

The point of the World Baseball Classic is to promote baseball to an international audience. This is why any player eligible for citizenship in any country may play for that country and that is why we see Major Leaguers from the United States playing for teams all throughout the world. In fact, Team Israel does not have a single player currently in the bigs, but this is not true for other countries who have non-national big league stars playing for their country.

In a September 28 ESPN article, How Israel made major progress at World Baseball Classic qualifyingThomas Neumann explains:
We know what you're thinking. Why is a de facto Jewish-American all-star team representing Israel?

WBC eligibility rules are more flexible than those which govern most federated international competitions, including the Olympics. By WBC rules, a player is essentially allowed to compete for a nation if he fulfills the criteria whereby he would be eligible to become a citizen of that country. Israel isn't the only country that benefits from this rule, but its religious status makes for a unique situation among WBC teams. The nation's Law of Return allows anyone with a Jewish parent, grandparent or spouse to become a citizen.

MLB established this policy with the idea of growing the game globally. After all, a tournament where a handful of established teams crush inexperienced competition would serve as an insincere invitation to nations where MLB has growth interest.
Notice how much more kindly ESPN is to Team Israel than is Ha'aretz. 

Is there any other newspaper in the world that represents itself before an international audience as the voice of that country that so fiercely attacks its own sports teams during international competitions?

I sincerely doubt it.

The WBC did not devise this rule out of some nefarious Zionist plot to rob more virtuous people from their proper baseball glory to the benefit of the Jews. Someone needs to inform Ha'aretz that the WBC created this rule because they want to promote the game and hope to see it permanently reinstated as an Olympic sport which is why the best players from anywhere in the world can play for any team so long as they are eligible for citizenship in that country.

I have never seen this before.

Why would Ha'aretz go after Team Israel if not to niggle at political divides between Jewish Israelis and their brothers and sisters in the diaspora?

In order to further delegitimize the Israeli presence at the WBC, on March 12 Ha'aretz published this gem by Chemi Shalev entitled, Why Stop at Baseball? Israel Should Also Recruit Scarlett Johansson, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bernie Sanders:
We may view it as a natural expression of the eternal link between Jews and their Promised Land, but one can hardly blame others if they take a more cynical view of a baseball team that uses God’s Covenant with Abraham as a pretext for manning their pitching roster.
Tell me, does this just not drip with arrogance and condescension?

None of this, obviously, has anything whatsoever to do with "God's Covenant" because the game - Billy Crystal's cosmic baseball dreams aside - has nothing to do with theology. I am no one's idea of a rabbi, for chrissake, but I am pretty sure that baseball does not figure highly in Torah learning.

Cody Decker hugs the "Mensche"
The pitching roster reflects the team and the team reflects Israel and Israel reflects the Jewish people.

And that is precisely what Ha'aretz cannot swallow.

We all know that Ha'aretz pays money for anti-Semitic anti-Zionists like Amira Hass and Gideon Levy to retch hatred at Jewish people who do not toe their political line. For example, Hass actually believes that stoning Jews in Israel is "the birthright and duty" of Palestinian-Arabs.

So, while many of us have long understood that Ha'aretz is the toxic little Israeli brother of the New York Times, I never figured that they would actually hurl poison at Jewish ballplayers in order to get a kitzel behind the ear from New York.

As far as I am concerned Ha'aretz can go straight to hell. 

It speaks neither for the Jews in Israel, nor for those of us in diaspora.

It speaks only for the Democratic Party which, itself, is neither a friend to the Jewish people, nor the Jewish state.

It might as well bring on anti-Semitic anti-Zionist and Democratic Party activist Linda Sarsour to decide its editorial policies.

Friday, March 17, 2017