Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sheldon Adelson doesn’t know much about the Middle East

From The Forward, Josh Nathan-Kazis’ report on “Will Jews Exist?”, a forum at which Sheldon Adelson spewed forth on a variety of subjects. Of Adelson’s opinions, better read to be believed, I think:

  • On the Palestinians: “If they truly want peace, it’s very simple to say to all their henchman, lay off the terrorism for five years.”
  • Whether Netanyahu will bomb Iran without U.S. permission: “[Former Israeli prime minister Ehud] Olmert is a political person. His wind blows in the direction of the polls. [Netanyahu] is not a political person. [His] wind blows in the direction of his ideology, and his deep and unwavering support and love for the Jewish people and the state of Israel. I am absolutely convinced that Bibi says what he means, means what he says, and if he says that Iran is an existential threat, he would not live…without taking some kind of action.”
  • A preemptive U.S. nuclear strike on unpopulated areas of Iran as a negotiating tactic: “Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business.’”
  • Muslims: “I don’t know the difference between the Shia and the Sunnis.”
  • More on the Palestinians: “There’s no such thing as a Palestinian. Do you know what they are? They call themselves southern Syrians.”
  • His opposition to a two-state solution: “To go and allow a Palestinian state is to play Russian roulette.”
Monday, October 21, 2013

In which George Galloway says he is “very proud” of Iran for its support of the Assad regime in Syria.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Nigel Farage courts Jewish voters, talks Israel, Iran, and shechita

It was ever-so-slightly distressing to see an august community institution like London’s Jewish Chronicle granting a platform to Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), on Wednesday evening. As someone who dedicates a good deal of his days to fostering an unwelcome climate for the most vulnerable in society — tarting up narrow-mindedness with libertarian lipstick — Farage’s politics aren’t exactly aligned with consensus Jewish values.

In particular, Farage tramples on the mitzvah to never oppress the stranger. For him, the stranger is the immigrant.

UKIP was founded as an anti-EU concern but of all its policies the one with which attracts voters, opinion polling suggests, is its pledge to put an end “to the age of mass, uncontrolled immigration”. This will be achieved by “a five year freeze on immigration for permanent settlement” and a complete and total end to unregulated internal European migration by leaving the European Union.

When it was put to Farage that he was in fact addressing a room full of the descendants of immigrants and refugees from one time or another, he seemed oddly unfazed. “I’m a refugee, just like you,” he said, pointing out his ancestors were Huguenots who fled to the United Kingdom from France. “They were going to burn us at the stake before we sought refuge here, so there is some commonality there.” Later, Farage conducted a crude show-of-hands which appeared to prove that, in fact, a good number of the 350 in attendance supported the notion that the present level of immigration was unsustainable.

Farage was perhaps less clear or honest about the issues surroundings shechita and brit mila. He asserted that his party held a liberal, nuanced position on these practices, that “whatever our dislikes, we are fundamentally a strong libertarian party that says you may pursue what you wish to pursue, providing that it doesn’t hurt or affect me”. Which would be fine, if polling conducted by YouGov and the Jewish Chronicle didn’t conclude that 71 percent of UKIP supporters favour an outright ban on the religious slaughter of animals for kosher meat and 51 percent a proscription on male circumcision.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

George Galloway hates Israelis (and his other greatest hits)

Never let it be said that Gorgeous George doesn’t make his prejudices clear: 

As reported in Cherwell, published by the students of Oxford University:

Mr Galloway “stormed out” of a debate at Christ Church on Wednesday evening, upon finding out that his opponent, Eylon Aslan-Levy, a third-year PPEist at Brasenose, was an Israeli citizen.

Mr Galloway had spoken for ten minutes in favour of the motion ‘Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank’, before giving way to Aslan-Levy.

Less than three minutes into Aslan-Levy’s speech against the motion, Galloway was made aware that his opponent was an Israeli citizen.

“I have been misled,” were Galloway’s words — “I don’t debate with Israelis. I don’t recognize Israel.” Later that day, Galloway added on twitter:

I wonder whether that includes Arab Israelis or only the six million Jewish Israelis and those in the Diaspora that hold Israeli citizenship. Only Galloway can answer that, though I think I can make a fairly decent guess. (And I’m afraid I could not embed George Galloway’s actual tweet, for he has previously blocked me for asking too many question about dead children in Syria.)

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012 Tuesday, November 27, 2012 Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Debate Night in America: When a Foreign Policy Debate Just Isn’t

Canada. Mexico. Cuba. Brazil. Tunisia. Jordan. Lebanon. Turkey. The Palestinians. The European Union. Kosovo. India. Burma. Japan. Vietnam. Indonesia.

These are the names of various nations (or supranational organisations) critical to the foreign policy interests of the United States that those tuning into last night’s debate did not hear about. Or, at least not in any substantive way.

The reasons for this were essentially two-fold. First, the illusion of a free exchange of ideas pertaining to international affairs lasted around ten minutes, when after a fumbling exchange on Libya, both candidates retreated to zingers and talking points. President Obama started it off, in fact, with this:

Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that al-Qaida’s a threat because a few months ago when you were asked, what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia — not al-Qaida, you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.

But, Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s. You say that you’re not interested in duplicating what happened in Iraq, but just a few weeks ago you said you think we should have more troops in Iraq right now.

Romney, later in the debate, cracked open the following canned attack:

Our Navy is smaller now than any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We’re now down to 285. We’re headed down to the — to the low 200s if we go through with sequestration. That’s unacceptable to me. I want to make sure that we have the ships that are required by our Navy.

Our Air Force is older and smaller than any time since it was founded in 1947. We’ve changed for the first time since FDR. We — since FDR we had the — we’ve always had the strategy of saying we could fight in two conflicts at once. Now we’re changing to one conflict.

To which, Obama said this:

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Bibi Goes to the UN: His Speech and That Picture

Try as he might, Benjamin Netanyahu address to the United Nations General Assembly will not be remembered his its content, positively or negatively, but rather for this image, which served only to undermine what I assume he intended to be a serious speech:

I’m slightly surprised that given Israel is one the most technologically-advanced nations on Earth, Netanyahu couldn’t find anything better to illustrate his point than a doodle from ClipArt, jazzed up by lines etched on with the Word drawing tool and a couple of text boxes. Couldn’t he have called the guys at Intel or something? They practically have a whole town to themselves in Kiryat Gat they’re so massive. Microsoft have campuses in Haifa and Herzliya. I’m sure they would have made time for the Prime Minister of Israel.

Twitter as usual agrees:

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Israel Hate Spells Trouble in Tehran

Quds Day in Iran is always marked by speeches noted for their anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric. This year was no exception. In a speech already condemned by Baroness Ashton – lead negotiator in the P5+1 talks on Iranian nuclear proliferation – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad labelled Israel a “malignant cancer” and the state’s endurance “an insult to all humanity”, adding that “the fake Zionist regime would soon fade away from geography and every inch of the occupied territories be returned to Palestinians”.

Ahmadinejad’s particularly vociferous and violent address in Tehran, however, signifies deeper problems on the home front. His aggressive language can be taken as a sign that the sanctions imposed by segments of the international community are working and the regime’s popularity is waning as a consequence.

When their grip on power loosens, leaders both democratic and autocratic often turn towards jingoism to rally the populace against another as a form of distraction. It is not coincidental, for example, that Argentinian leaders from General Galtieri to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner have suddenly remembered their need to regain the Falklands at times when economic conditions are taking a turn for the worse. The same can be said of Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to round up and deport thousands of Romany gypsies in the summer of 2010, when the unemployment rate in France was climbing and his approval rating slipping.

The exploitation of the Palestinian cause has always been a go-to point for Iranian leaders; that Ahmadinejad felt the need to be even more strident and transparent in his remarks this year is a sign that he feels he needs Israel as an enemy more than ever. Given the tenor of his address, never let it be said that his feelings on the existence of the Jewish state are not absolute.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012