Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wall St Journal: On the Jewish Question

This is not a letter of mine, but rather an excellent article that I think is a clear representation of an issue that most people don't want to admit, and is unfortunately prophetic in terms of the meetings in Anapolis:


On the Jewish Question

November 26, 2007; Page A21

Herewith some thoughts about tomorrow's Annapolis peace conference, and the larger problem of how to approach the Israel-Palestine conflict. The first question (one might think it is obvious but apparently not) is, "What is the conflict about?" There are basically two possibilities: that it is about the size of Israel, or about its existence.

If the issue is about the size of Israel, then we have a straightforward border problem, like Alsace-Lorraine or Texas. That is to say, not easy, but possible to solve in the long run, and to live with in the meantime.

If, on the other hand, the issue is the existence of Israel, then clearly it is insoluble by negotiation. There is no compromise position between existing and not existing, and no conceivable government of Israel is going to negotiate on whether that country should or should not exist.

PLO and other Palestinian spokesmen have, from time to time, given formal indications of recognition of Israel in their diplomatic discourse in foreign languages. But that's not the message delivered at home in Arabic, in everything from primary school textbooks to political speeches and religious sermons. Here the terms used in Arabic denote, not the end of hostilities, but an armistice or truce, until such time that the war against Israel can be resumed with better prospects for success. Without genuine acceptance of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State, as the more than 20 members of the Arab League exist as Arab States, or the much larger number of members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference exist as Islamic states, peace cannot be negotiated.

A good example of how this problem affects negotiation is the much-discussed refugee question. During the fighting in 1947-1948, about three-fourths of a million Arabs fled or were driven (both are true in different places) from Israel and found refuge in the neighboring Arab countries. In the same period and after, a slightly greater number of Jews fled or were driven from Arab countries, first from the Arab-controlled part of mandatory Palestine (where not a single Jew was permitted to remain), then from the Arab countries where they and their ancestors had lived for centuries, or in some places for millennia. Most Jewish refugees found their way to Israel.

What happened was thus, in effect, an exchange of populations not unlike that which took place in the Indian subcontinent in the previous year, when British India was split into India and Pakistan. Millions of refugees fled or were driven both ways -- Hindus and others from Pakistan to India, Muslims from India to Pakistan. Another example was Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, when the Soviets annexed a large piece of eastern Poland and compensated the Poles with a slice of eastern Germany. This too led to a massive refugee movement -- Poles fled or were driven from the Soviet Union into Poland, Germans fled or were driven from Poland into Germany.

The Poles and the Germans, the Hindus and the Muslims, the Jewish refugees from Arab lands, all were resettled in their new homes and accorded the normal rights of citizenship. More remarkably, this was done without international aid. The one exception was the Palestinian Arabs in neighboring Arab countries.

The government of Jordan granted Palestinian Arabs a form of citizenship, but kept them in refugee camps. In the other Arab countries, they were and remained stateless aliens without rights or opportunities, maintained by U.N. funding. Paradoxically, if a Palestinian fled to Britain or America, he was eligible for naturalization after five years, and his locally-born children were citizens by birth. If he went to Syria, Lebanon or Iraq, he and his descendants remained stateless, now entering the fourth or fifth generation.

The reason for this has been stated by various Arab spokesmen. It is the need to preserve the Palestinians as a separate entity until the time when they will return and reclaim the whole of Palestine; that is to say, all of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel. The demand for the "return" of the refugees, in other words, means the destruction of Israel. This is highly unlikely to be approved by any Israeli government.

There are signs of change in some Arab circles, of a willingness to accept Israel and even to see the possibility of a positive Israeli contribution to the public life of the region. But such opinions are only furtively expressed. Sometimes, those who dare to express them are jailed or worse. These opinions have as yet little or no impact on the leadership.

Which brings us back to the Annapolis summit. If the issue is not the size of Israel, but its existence, negotiations are foredoomed. And in light of the past record, it is clear that is and will remain the issue, until the Arab leadership either achieves or renounces its purpose -- to destroy Israel. Both seem equally unlikely for the time being.

Mr. Lewis, professor emeritus at Princeton, is the author, most recently, of "From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East" (Oxford University Press, 2004).

Friday, November 09, 2007

NY Times letter about Middle East peace

The following letter was published in the New York Times on Nov 9, in regard to David Brooks' Nov 6 column titled "Present at the Creation."

So Much to Juggle in the Middle East
Published: November 9, 2007

To the Editor:

Re “Present at the Creation” (column, Nov. 6):

David Brooks probably reflects the thinking of political leaders and thinkers, but misses the pain felt by Israelis on the subject: We want peace desperately, and will do anything to move toward a life without rockets being shot at us. But such a path doesn’t appear to exist.

Two years ago, Israel did what should have been the first step on a definite path to peace: we withdrew from Gaza, without any promise of anything in return. Plans were put in place about subsequent withdrawals from West Bank areas. But instead of bringing peace, it brought thousands of rockets fired from Gaza into the nearby Israeli civilian town of Sderot.

Rockets are not peace. The Palestinians have made it clear that Israeli withdrawals bring rockets.

The Israeli government has a duty to its citizens not to invite more rockets. If America or anyone else can persuade the Palestinians to stop the rockets and commit to peace without violence, Israelis will be more than happy to take steps toward peace. But it must be true peace, not peace with rockets.

Bruce Dov Krulwich
Beit Shemesh, Israel, Nov. 6, 2007

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Jerusalem Post letter: Humanism and G-d (Sep 7, 2007)

Humanism & God

Sir, - I found it disturbing to read "Why serve God?" (Letters, August 31), whose writer felt that a religious worldview that focuses exclusively on serving the Creator is "utterly irreconcilable" with "our own" humanistic purposes.

I don't think it's hard to understand that a Creator's Will would include humanistic initiatives and interpersonal values. Just because some rabbis focus on ritual does not mean that Judaism does not value hesed, care for others, just as much. I suggest it's worth exploring religion broadly before dismissing it, and not stopping after the headlines.

Beit Shemesh

Friday, August 24, 2007

Letter to CNN from Israel Director of Christian Friends of Israeli Communities

This letter was not written by me, rather it was written by Sondra Oster Baras, who appeared in CNN's recent piece titled "G-d's Jewish Warriors." I'll let the letter speak for itself.

To: CNN producer Jen Christensen
From: Sondra Oster Baras
Director, Israel Office
Christian Friends of Israeli Communities

Dear Jen,

Well, I saw it last night. Your portrayal of me was fair. Myonly comment was that I never said I had a calling from G-d to dowhat I do. I don't have that kind of direct line, although manyof my Christian friends believe they do. What I said is that iswas my calling -- meant in a far more secular way. I also saidthat it is something I believe G-d wants me to be doing.

However, all that is minor compared to what I believe is theincredibly slanted presentation you made. There have beenexactly 4 Jewish terrorist incidents or attempted incidents andyou devoted half the program to them, discussing each one indetail. The people who support these are a fringe minority androundly condemned by 98% of the settlement movement. People likeChanan Porat and myself are the representative, and yet you gavefar more time to Yehuda Etzion and David HaIvri and the otherswho support this position. If you gave similar time to everysingle Arab terrorist attack, the show would go on for days ifnot years. Is that fair?

There is a great difference between believing that what you aredoing is right and just according to your faith and taking thatfaith to crusader proportions, which we absolutely won't do.

Also, the legality of the settlements issue was so incrediblybiased. Eugene Rostow, undersecretary of State wrote a seminalarticle defending their legality in the 80's, as did the IsraeliSupreme Court -- yet not a mention was made of that perspective.This is not just about the conflict between Torah law anddemocracy and international law. International law itself can beseen from two different perspectives and that is exactly howMenachem Begin saw it. And, as a former attorney myself, that isexactly how I see it. Why was that not discussed?

And since when is Gershon Gorenberg the international expert onall of this? He comes from a clearly biased position, and yet hewas placed in the position of the reasoned intellectual on theissue. As were the other "experts" and historians you quoted.Why did you not quote a single legal or historical expert on theother side? If you needed help finding some, I would have beenglad to help.

Jen, I am disappointed in you and the others. But I am notsurprised. Please pass this on to Andy and Jody and anyone elseinvolved. I just do not have their e-mail addresses with me -- Iam currently in LA. I plan on writing a detailed letterevaluating and analyzing the program when I get back to the USand will send it to you as well as to others. If you'd like todiscuss this in person, I am on my cellphone -- .

However, all that being said, I am glad I participated if only toensure that at least a small part of the program included sanecommentary. How said that this is how we need to see CNN.

Sondra Oster Baras
Director, Israel Office
Christian Friends of Israeli Communities

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Western fictions, Arab realities

Not a letter to the editor of mine, but rather an interesting Op/Ed piece from the LA Times:

Western fictions, Arab realities

We want a peaceful, democratic Mideast, but are we the only ones?

June 19, 2007

I HAVE BEEN scouring EBay for the last couple of days, hoping to snag a one-of-a-kind item. But, alas, it hasn't turned up yet. I'm looking for the late Yasser Arafat's Nobel Peace Prize. It was looted from Arafat's Gaza compound by the victorious forces of Hamas, a jihadist group backed by Iran and Syria that has routed the once-mighty forces of Fatah from power in Gaza. According to the Jerusalem Post, a Fatah spokesman said: "They stole all the widow's clothes and shoes."

The widow in question would be Suha Arafat, Arafat's photo-op wife. Who can blame the looters for wanting to grab as much of her swag as possible? First of all, she wasn't using it. Suha hasn't been to Gaza for years. And her favorite shoe designer is Christian Louboutin, whose wares can fetch about $1,000 a pair, which is more than many Palestinians make in a year.

But it's that peace prize, won by Arafat and Shimon Peres for agreeing to the 1993 Oslo accords, that really captures the lunacy of it all. It's the perfect reminder for everyone, myself included, of the Arabs' refusal to yield to idealism, hope or good intentions — and the West's refusal to recognize reality.

"The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make us wonder at the possibility that there may be something to them which we are missing," former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser once said. But from the U.S. point of view, the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Maybe they just don't want what we're selling?

For example, in 2005, Israel simply gave Gaza to the Palestinians. According to the "international community's" land-for-peace mantra, a peaceful society should have sprouted like a stalk from Jack's magic beans. Instead, nearly 49% of the Palestinian people voted for a band of Islamic fanatics — even the European Union calls them terrorists, not that it matters much — dedicated to the destruction of Israel. But the diplomacy-uber-alles crowd has long been immune to contrary evidence. Remember when Arafat fanned the second intifada in spite of a generous peace offer from the Israelis and brokered by President Clinton? Members of the Nobel committee openly talked of revoking the peace prize — from Peres.

And now, the editors of the New York Times, President Bush and the leaders of the EU all say that this is the moment for Israel to offer more concessions to Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas. So much for the fresh-from-Iraq cliche that it's pointless to choose sides in a civil war.

Margaret Beckett, the British foreign secretary, lamented, "Once again, extremists carrying guns have prevented progress against the wishes of the majority who seek a peaceful two-state solution." But how do you square this with the fact that Hamas, the party promising the destruction of Israel, won the Palestinian elections in 2005? Meanwhile, the leaders of Fatah — the "moderates" — had not long ago set the standard for Israel-hatred themselves.

The great irony is that Hamas now labels members of Fatah as Jewish "collaborators," a designation that apparently justifies even the execution of wounded Fatah prisoners in hospitals.

The German foreign ministry went so far as to suggest that the triumph of Hamas — and the hardships it will cause civilians — are clear grounds for increasing aid to Gaza. It seems that if you choose terrorism, either at the ballot box or in the streets, the Europeans, like the good hands at Allstate, will be there to pay for the mess.

But there's another, perhaps more important, lesson to be drawn from the Hamas ascendancy. The Bush administration pushed for democracy in the Palestinian territories, and it got what it wished for — in spades. The assumption behind the push for democracy in Gaza and in Iraq is that Arabs can be trusted to handle political freedom. The Democrats who demand an immediate pullout from Iraq also hope that with democracy, the Iraqis will be able to figure out their problems themselves via some euphemistic "political solution." That is unless the antiwar Democrats are really advocating turning all of Mesopotamia into one giant Gaza Strip, the far more likely result of U.S. withdrawal.

For many disciples of the "international peace process," it's a matter of faith that the Palestinians just have to want peace, because how else can you have a peace process? For many supporters of the Bush Doctrine, Iraqis have to want democracy, because if they don't, what's the point of having a freedom agenda? But what if these are just beloved Western fictions? We see a well-lighted path to the good life: democracy, tolerance, rule of law, markets. But what if the Arab world just isn't interested in our path? As a believer in the freedom agenda, that's what scares me most.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

New York Times letter: West Bank Settlers (April 26, 2007)

Printed in the New York Times, April 26, 2007:

West Bank Settlers (2 Letters)
Published: April 26, 2007

To the Editor:

Re “Settlers’ Defiance Reflects Postwar Israeli Changes” (front page, April 22):

Two years ago Israel decided to withdraw from Gaza in an attempt to take a step forward toward peace. The failure of that attempt, and the fact that the withdrawal has led to more than a thousand Palestinian rockets and countless resulting deaths, are not political issues but a historical reality.

If the Palestinians want peace, they need to respond peacefully to Israeli attempts to make peace. If they continue to shoot rockets out of areas from which Israel withdraws, they will be proving that disengagement cannot succeed in bringing peace.
It’s their choice, and the consequences are their fault.

Bruce Dov Krulwich
Beit Shemesh, Israel, April 22, 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Passover and modern day Israel

I admit to some concern about posting this, because I'm very nervous about long-term Jewish alliance with highly-conservative American politicians and leaders. That said, at the current point in time it does appear that conservative thinkers have a more accurate grasp of what's happening in Israel.

With that introduction, here's an excerpt from an article in The Conservative Voice:


"Progressives" Against the Exodus
March 23, 2007 01:34 PM EST

Why did Moses have to stop and take notice of that burning bush? Couldn't he have simply walked past it and not have engaged in conversation?

In a progressive view, Moses became a radical Egyptophobe who publicly denounced the terrible conduct of the Egyptian taskmasters, slave owners and, worse, he discredited the words of Pharaoh. Moses exposed Pharaoh and embarrassingly demonstrated that he was not a "moderate". But in spite of a mountain of evidence, the progressive view insisted that Pharaoh's political leadership was just fine. Moses’ view was marginalized and seen as alarmist and extremist.

The “progressive” slaves hated Moses' freedom campaign because they saw it as disruptive to Egypt, and a justification for anti-Jewish protests. The progressive intellectual slaves proclaimed Moses to be a stupid stutterer who couldn't even pronounce basic words. Although all the documents of Egypt consistently pressed for the annihilation of the Jews, the progressives argued that Pharaoh was really benign and had recognized the existence and rights of the Nation of Israel -- it was only for political reasons that Pharaoh couldn't publicly state his recognition.

Two professors from the prestigious Nile University published research which indicated suspicion that the Israelite nation was not politically supportive of Egyptian attitudes and was organizing to achieve its own goals. Progressive slaves quickly argued in favor of continued Jewish enslavement.


Pharaoh preached that he wasn't anti Semitic -- after all, he was a Semite; so how could he be called anti-Semitic? Pharaoh was just “anti-Israel”. He just didn't want the Jews to go off and become their own people in their own land. The fact that he made it legal to kill, murder, and abuse the Israelites was just a minor detail which human rights groups would choose to ignore.


How different are things today? The official progressive position is that Israel must work at becoming loved. They are to accept Hamas and its non-recognition of Israel's existence Palestinian Unity Government. Israel is expected to make more high risk concessions and accept more security restrictions. As Pharaoh of old, the new "PA Unity Government pharaoh" wants the same: to make the lives of the Jews more vulnerable with very few rights to self protection, fewer rights to self-preservation, and basically a renewed enslavement.

Progressive, which means "to progress", needs to be renamed, perhaps more accurately, "recessive". For all who consider what the Jews have brought to this world to be of great value, had the so-called "progressive" ideology prevailed, the whole world would have all remained in a plague of darkness.

Friday, March 23, 2007

LA Times letter: Palestinians OK coalition

Dear Editor,

Re "Palestinians OK coalition," March 18:

If the head of the new Palestinian coalition government affirms its continuing use of terrorism against Israeli civilians, then this new government is inherently not interested in peace. If the Western world gives economic aid to the new Palestinian government, it will be complicit in the subsequent terrorism.

If, however, the Western world continues to insist on the Palestinians disavowing terror, it will have a chance of bringing true peace to the region.

Beit Shemesh, Israel

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Washington Times: Islamicization of Antwerp

Not written by me, but well worth reading...

Islamicization of Antwerp

By Paul Belien
March 14, 2007

The decisive battle against Islamic extremists will not be fought in Iraq, but in Europe. It is not in Baghdad but in cities like Antwerp, Belgium, where the future of the West will be decided.

I recently met Marij Uijt den Bogaard, a 49-year-old woman who deserves America's support at least as much as Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Ms. Uijt den Bogaard was an Antwerp civil servant in the 1990s, who spent many years working in the immigrant neighborhoods of Antwerp. There she noticed how radical Islamists began to take over. "They work according to a well-defined plan," she says.

Click here to


Thursday, March 08, 2007

From UK Times: Is it racist to condemn fanaticism?

Not written by me, but I'm posting it here anyway, it's an important read...

How my eyes were opened to the barbarity of Islam
Is it racist to condemn fanaticism?

March 07, 2007
Phyllis Chesler

Once I was held captive in Kabul. I was the bride of a charming, seductive and Westernised Afghan Muslim whom I met at an American college. The purdah I experienced was relatively posh but the sequestered all-female life was not my cup of chai — nor was the male hostility to veiled, partly veiled and unveiled women in public.

When we landed in Kabul, an airport official smoothly confiscated my US passport. “Don’t worry, it’s just a formality,” my husband assured me. I never saw that passport again. I later learnt that this was routinely done to foreign wives — perhaps to make it impossible for them to leave. Overnight, my husband became a stranger. The man with whom I had discussed Camus, Dostoevsky, Tennessee Williams and the Italian cinema became a stranger. He treated me the same way his father and elder brother treated their wives: distantly, with a hint of disdain and embarrassment.

In our two years together, my future husband had never once mentioned that his father had three wives and 21 children. Nor did he tell me that I would be expected to live as if I had been reared as an Afghan woman. I was supposed to lead a largely indoor life among women, to go out only with a male escort and to spend my days waiting for my husband to return or visiting female relatives, or having new (and very fashionable) clothes made.

In America, my husband was proud that I was a natural-born rebel and free thinker. In Afghanistan, my criticism of the treatment of women and of the poor rendered him suspect, vulnerable. He mocked my horrified reactions. But I knew what my eyes and ears told me. I saw how poor women in chadaris were forced to sit at the back of the bus and had to keep yielding their place on line in the bazaar to any man.

I saw how polygamous, arranged marriages and child brides led to chronic female suffering and to rivalry between co-wives and half-brothers; how the subordination and sequestration of women led to a profound estrangement between the sexes — one that led to wife-beating, marital rape and to a rampant but hotly denied male “prison”-like homosexuality and pederasty; how frustrated, neglected and uneducated women tormented their daughter-in-laws and female servants; how women were not allowed to pray in mosques or visit male doctors (their husbands described the symptoms in their absence).

Individual Afghans were enchantingly courteous — but the Afghanistan I knew was a bastion of illiteracy, poverty, treachery and preventable diseases. It was also a police state, a feudal monarchy and a theocracy, rank with fear and paranoia. Afghanistan had never been colonised. My relatives said: “Not even the British could occupy us.” Thus I was forced to conclude that Afghan barbarism was of their own making and could not be attributed to Western imperialism.

Long before the rise of the Taleban, I learnt not to romanticise Third World countries or to confuse their hideous tyrants with liberators. I also learnt that sexual and religious apartheid in Muslim countries is indigenous and not the result of Western crimes — and that such “colourful tribal customs” are absolutely, not relatively, evil. Long before al-Qaeda beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan and Nicholas Berg in Iraq, I understood that it was dangerous for a Westerner, especially a woman, to live in a Muslim country. In retrospect, I believe my so-called Western feminism was forged in that most beautiful and treacherous of Eastern countries.

Nevertheless, Western intellectual-ideologues, including feminists, have demonised me as a reactionary and racist “Islamophobe” for arguing that Islam, not Israel, is the largest practitioner of both sexual and religious apartheid in the world and that if Westerners do not stand up to this apartheid, morally, economically and militarily, we will not only have the blood of innocents on our hands; we will also be overrun by Sharia in the West. I have been heckled, menaced, never-invited, or disinvited for such heretical ideas — and for denouncing the epidemic of Muslim-on-Muslim violence for which tiny Israel is routinely, unbelievably scapegoated.

However, my views have found favour with the bravest and most enlightened people alive. Leading secular Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents — from Egypt, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria and exiles from Europe and North America — assembled for the landmark Islamic Summit Conference in Florida and invited me to chair the opening panel on Monday.

According to the chair of the meeting, Ibn Warraq: “What we need now is an age of enlightenment in the Islamic world. Without critical examination of Islam, it will remain dogmatic, fanatical and intolerant and will continue to stifle thought, human rights, individuality, originality and truth.” The conference issued a declaration calling for such a new “Enlightenment”. The declaration views “Islamophobia” as a false allegation, sees a “noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine” and “demands the release of Islam from its captivity to the ambitions of power-hungry men”.

Now is the time for Western intellectuals who claim to be antiracists and committed to human rights to stand with these dissidents. To do so requires that we adopt a universal standard of human rights and abandon our loyalty to multicultural relativism, which justifies, even romanticises, indigenous Islamist barbarism, totalitarian terrorism and the persecution of women, religious minorities, homosexuals and intellectuals. Our abject refusal to judge between civilisation and barbarism, and between enlightened rationalism and theocratic fundamentalism, endangers and condemns the victims of Islamic tyranny.

Ibn Warraq has written a devastating work that will be out by the summer. It is entitled Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism. Will Western intellectuals also dare to defend the West?

Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the City University of New York

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Unprinted letter on Palestinian truce agreement

The following letter was submitted but not printed:

Dear Editor,

Regarding your article on the Palestinian truce agreement:

The Palestinian treaty's refusal to foreswear violence, honor previous peace agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist is not a "political snare," it's a reflection of an Arab committment to violence that should scare the heck out of the Western world.

The civility of the modern world relies on committment to agreements and a determination to reach agreements through negotiation rather than violence. The Western world so relies on this perspective that it assumes that the rest of the world shares it. The agreement at Mecca demonstrates loud and clear that the Arab world does not share this attitude, and remains in the pre-modern worldview of politics through violence and the destruction of enemies.

If we want peace in the Middle East, and if we want to maintain worldwide civility, the Arab world must disavvow violence and embrace civil discourse.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Article about Neturei Karta

Not a letter, and not something I wrote, but worth spreading...

Jewish Sect Ostracized Over Iran Meeting

Ultra-Orthodox Sect Ostracized After Attending Iran Holocaust Conference

The Associated Press

JERUSALEM - For decades, the Jewish community just barely tolerated a small, fiercely anti-Zionist sect as its members traveled the world, denouncing Israel's existence and embracing its enemies.

But when a delegation from Neturei Karta hugged Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a conference questioning the Holocaust last month, that was too much.

Now, the ultra-Orthodox group is being ostracized on three continents, denounced by rabbis, banned from synagogues and harassed in the streets.

"They brought shame on the Jewish people," said Rabbi Shimon Weiss, a leader of the Eida Haredit, an umbrella group of anti-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox Jews based in Israel. "If they come to a synagogue, they will be kicked out. They disgust us."

In telephone interviews from their home cities in England, the U.S., and Israel, members of the group say they were misunderstood, never denied the Holocaust and were simply trying to protect Jews from Iranian attack if war breaks out in the Middle East.

"We know what we have done, we know the value of what we have done, and we think that in the course of time that will come out clearly," said Rabbi Ahron Cohen, a Neturei Karta member from Manchester, England.

When Cohen returned from Iran, he needed police protection. His house was barraged by hundreds of eggs, his window smashed by a brick and a billiard ball and he continues to be pelted with pebbles, eggs and insults in the street, he said.

Last week, two tires on his Volvo were slashed, he said, and his synagogue has closed its doors to him.

Neturei Karta (Aramaic for "Guardians of the City") was founded nearly 70 years ago in Jerusalem by Jews who opposed the drive to establish the state of Israel, believing only the Messiah could do that. Estimates of the group's size range from a few hundred to a few thousand.

In recent decades its members have shown up to protest at international conferences and pro-Israel rallies, capitalizing on the guaranteed publicity of religious Jews in black hats and beards denouncing Israel.

One acted as Yasser Arafat's adviser on Jewish affairs, and a delegation traveled to Paris in 2004 to pray for the Palestinian leader's health as he lay dying in a hospital. Months later, a group participated in a conference in Lebanon with Hamas and Hezbollah militants.

For years, mainstream Jewish groups, religious and other, tended to dismiss Neturei Karta as eccentrics. Then came the Holocaust conference, where five members of the group rubbed shoulders with delegates who deny the Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews.

In photos published around the world, they were shown hugging Ahmadinejad, who has described the Holocaust as a "myth" and called for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Neturei Karta say they never denied the Holocaust or its proportions. They believe Ahmadinejad has been unfairly vilified and that they should be praised for persuading him that his anger should be directed at Israel, not the Jewish people.

"We feel that we have to do what we have to do to save Jewish lives, to protect the Jewish people from, God forbid, catastrophe ... so we have to ignore the unfortunate side effects that happened here," said Yisroel Dovid Weiss, a Neturei Karta rabbi from the New York area who was part of the delegation.

Jewish communities around the world were furious.

An Israeli chief rabbi called for banning Neturei Karta from synagogues. In New York, where several members of the delegation live, hundreds protested against them and they were repeatedly harassed with prank phone calls.

The Satmars, a Hasidic, anti-Zionist group seen by some as their spiritual cousins, lamented in a statement that "the unavenged blood of the millions of Jewish victims cries out in pain and abhorrence, to these reckless outcasts, 'How can you sink so low?'"

The Jewish community in Vienna expelled Moishe Arye Friedman, who traveled with the Tehran delegation but does not belong to Neturei Karta.

"Most Orthodox Jews in the world lost relatives in the Holocaust," said Jonathan Rosenblum, a Jerusalem-based analyst of the religious community. Neturei Karta's action "touches a really, really raw nerve."

Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel of America, said Neturei Karta's trip to Tehran was the last straw.

"They have overstayed their welcome in the community. No one has patience for them," he said. "Their actions are beyond the pale."

AP Correspondent Veronika Oleksyn contributed to this report from Vienna.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures

Sunday, January 14, 2007

CNN: Carter Board of Councilors resignations over biased analysis of Israeli actions

Carter Center advisers resign over book

POSTED: 4:56 a.m. EST, January 12, 2007

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Former President Jimmy Carter's controversial book and subsequent remarks about the Israel-Palestinian conflict have prompted the resignations of 14 people from an advisory board of the Carter Center, the 25-year-old Atlanta-based humanitarian organization.

The 14 explained their concerns, which reflect an uproar in the U.S. Jewish community over Carter's Mideast stance, in letters sent Thursday to fellow Board of Councilors members and Carter.

"We can no longer endorse your strident and uncompromising position," the letter to Carter said. "This is not the Carter Center or the Jimmy Carter we came to respect and support."
The letter to the fellow Board of Councilors, with more than 200 members, was brief and less detailed but expressed concern about Carter's book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid."

"We are deeply troubled by the president's comments and writings and are submitting the following letter of resignation to the Carter Center," the letter said.


The letter to Carter accused him of abandoning his "historic role of broker in favor of becoming an advocate for one side." Carter's book confused "opinion with fact, subjectivity with objectivity and force for change with partisan advocacy," the letter said.

"Israelis, through deed and public comment, have consistently spoken of a desire to live in peace and make territorial compromise to achieve this status. The Palestinian side has consistently resorted to acts of terror as a national expression and elected parties endorsing the use of terror, the rejection of territorial compromise and of Israel's right to exist. Palestinian leaders have had chances since 1947 to have their own state, including during your own presidency when they snubbed your efforts."