Monday, April 30, 2007

Winograd Report

171 pages in Hebrew.


A Bit Odd

Shalem Center has published a new book, New Essays on Zionism.

After almost 20 years of non-stop academic and pseudo-intellectual post-Zionist attacks, the Center laudably has counter-attacked. I am not complaining here that this was a collection mainly of former Azure essays, making the editor's work quite simple. But I do have a complaint nevertherless.

What irks me is that out of over 400 pages, Ze'ev Jabotinsky is mentioned on three of them. Twice in one article by...Amnon Rubinstein - not quite the Jabotinsky fan even if he is quite fair about Zionist history - and once more in Ze'ev Mahgen's essay. None of Shalem's "new" thinkers seem to consider Jabotinsky worthy of deliberation.

Now, you might say that I am a bit unobjective when it comes to Jabotinsky. Maybe. However, in the past few years, there has been a new, two-volume 1300 + page biography of him, Lone Wolf; his novel, The Five, was published in English translation for the first time; an analysis of his nationalism was recently published, in English; another book, The Trumph of Military Zionism, is out; not to mention his letters, eight volumes so far and a few other books [1] [2] [3] [4]

For example, here's one appreciation:

Often slighted as a marginal or eccentric figure, Jabotinsky emerges from this account as a thinker with a coherent view of nationalism and as an extraordinarily sensitive observer who often correctly foresaw the course of political developments. His fundamental principle of mutual respect nations provides a sound basis for the development of relations among Ukrainians and Jews.

Jabotinsky was a journalist, poet, novelist as well as a politician and a statesman. He worked in the cultural as well as political field. You would think that Shalem could have found some writer who could present the potential impact that Jabotinsky's thought has for today's battles against the post- and anti-Zionists. For these were exactly the battles he fought then 70-90 years ago, with passion, logic and philosophical ethics.

Too bad.

New Book on Holocaust Diplomacy


Defying Orders, Saving Lives: Heroic Diplomats of the Holocaust
By Richard Holbrooke

Diplomat Heroes of the Holocaust. Mordecai Paldiel. : KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 2007, ? pp.$29.50

Imagine that you are a consular officer in the middle of a diplomatic career that you hope will lead to an ambassadorship. There are two rubber stamps on your desk. Using the one that says "APPROVED" would allow the desperate person sitting in front of you to travel to your country legally. Using the other stamp, which says "REJECTED," could mean consigning that person to prison or even death.

It sounds like a simple choice, but there is a catch -- a very big one. The person in front of you is Jewish, and your boss has told you to devise ways not to use the "APPROVED" stamp. Your government does not want these people -- these people waiting outside your office, milling around in the street, hiding in their houses -- in your country. Approve too many visas and your career will be in danger. Follow your instructions and people will probably die.

What would you have done if you had been faced with this situation in 1940? Or if you faced a version of the same situation today featuring, say, refugees from Iraq?

In a movie, the hero would stare out the window, the music would swell, and he would do the right thing (like Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, with the famous "letters of transit"). But in the real world, there are few heroes in such situations. Government service is based on the well-founded principle that career officials must follow instructions, lest anarchy prevail. But what happens if those instructions have horrible, or even fatal, consequences -- and not heeding them means jeopardizing your career?

We mocked the defense of many Germans after World War II when they said that they were just following orders or did not know about the death camps. But a similar rationale was used by an overwhelming majority of non-German diplomats in Europe during the 1930s to deny Jews entry into their countries. For every diplomatic hero, there were hundreds of consular officials who played it safe by following orders to restrict Jewish immigration. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Jews whose lives could have been saved were left to fend for themselves; most later died in concentration camps. And this was not just a case of officials passively following instructions. Some were enthusiastic in their rejection of Jewish visa applications. Take, for example, the Brazilian consul in Lyon, France, in 1940, who proudly wrote to his foreign minister that the people swarming around his office were "almost all Jewish or of Semitic origin, and only a few of them may be of interest to us. I therefore believe that by my categorical refusal to grant the visas they request, I will have done Brazil a great service."

Yet a handful of Brazilian, Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swiss, Turkish, Vatican, Yugoslav, and even Japanese and German diplomats risked their careers, their reputations, and sometimes even their lives to save those who were endangered, mostly Jews whom they did not know, because they believed that their instructions were immoral. Tens of thousands of lives were saved by these heroes. Were it not for the careful investigations carried out by the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, in Jerusalem), we would probably not even know most of their names...


The co-author of the 'Strunk and White' of e-style talks email, via email, with Murray Whyte

Apr 29, 2007 04:30 AM
Murray Whyte

From: Whyte, Murray
To: Schwalbe, Will
Sent: Mon Apr 23 23:06:39 2007
Subject: Send

Dear Mr. Schwalbe --

Murray Whyte here at the Toronto Star. I've been steered your way -- and handed your email address -- by the helpful folks at Knopf Canada (which I hope isn't an impropriety; I appreciate the ground upon which I tread).

In any event, I (and doubtless many other prospective interviewers) thought it might be appropriate to conduct the interview over email. A tad obvious, perhaps, but at the same time, I'm curious to see what idiosyncrasies you deem permissible in your own missives.

Nick Paumgarten in The New Yorker called Send the "Strunk and White" of email; was the goal so earnest, or was it meant with some humour as well?

I'll await your first reply and we'll take it from there.

All best, MW

P.S. I tend to include the original message in replies, for easy reference to the context being discussed; is that allowed?)


from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld
From: Schwalbe, Will
Sent: Wed 4/25/2007 10:22 AM
To: Whyte, Murray
Subject: SEND Star Interview

Dear Mr. Whyte:

First, please do call me Will.

Thank you so much for yours. I am a big fan of Toronto. I'm delighted to be interviewed via email for the Toronto Star.

I am still on tour so my schedule isn't quite my own. And this reply is reprentative of an on-the-go thumb-typed handheld email -- you will notice that I have kept the "sent from Blackberry" message so that people, including yourself, I hope, will be more inclined to forgive terseness and typos.

As for your kind question: We wanted to write a book people would enjoy reading, but also one that a business owner or manager could give to her or his staff. We are all emailing so much that it's amazing the effect it has on your life if you can just do it a bit better. And it's amazing the effect it has on your business, too. When done well, email is a great timesaver. But in most offices, it becomes the hugest time-waster.

As for The New Yorker's very kind Strunk and White comment -- we were thrilled with that comparison as that book is one of our favorites. We wouldn't dare compare what we wrote to it, but Strunk and White's classic was definitely an inspiration.

And with regard to your p.s. -- including the whole thread with each reply is definitely allowed. But it's also fine to trim it back when the exchange gets long or the topic starts to change. It's an important courtesy not to keep sending the same large attachment back and forth.

All best!



Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

From: Whyte, Murray
To: Schwalbe, Will
Sent: Mon Apr 25 12:14:39 2007

Hi Will --

First off, thanks for the quick reply, and from whichever far-flung place (Ohio? Arkansas?) you might find yourself.

And please feel free to drop the "Mr. Whyte," as well; Murray is fine.

I notice in your reply that you've broken down my various points and addressed them individually, but without quoting my original queries; and then doing so in the original order it appeared.

Most of us, I think, are much less meticulous in our email habits -- owing, perhaps, to the immediacy of the medium, and its (sometimes unfortunate) ability to capture (and expedite) thoughts the moment they occur to us. In other words, I suppose it can be as organic as conversation; is this a bad thing?

And your thumbs must be well practiced and nimble on that Blackberry keyboard; nary a typo (or a note of terseness) to be found. Looking forward to your reply, MW


From: Schwalbe, Will
Sent: Wed 4/25/2007 10:22 AM
To: Whyte, Murray
Subject: SEND Star Interview -- Addressing Multiple Points

Dear Murray:

I'm in Nashville, TN. I'm incredibly excited about an upcoming visit to the Pancake Pantry. I'm trying to decide what kind of pancake to have. I'm thinking blueberry. But that could change.

As for how to answer an email with many questions. . . there's no right or wrong way. We think it's more a matter of style. And a matter of just making sure you are doing it clearly and cordially.

I prefer to paraphrase quickly and take the questions in order. When you quote extensively, it just needlessly lengthens the email. And when you interlace, it can be tough for the recipient or someone to whom the email is forwarded to discern whose words are whose. If you use color or font to differentiate your answers, it might not come out as you intend. When emails go from one format to another -- or are read on a handheld -- they can go a bit wonky.

And sometimes people use All Caps for their interstitial commentary, but that still looks like shouting.

Interstitial commentary can get very abrupt -- so you start by addressing points politely but wind up inserting phrases like, "No," or, "I think not," and any cheeriness left from your cordial opening evaporates.

Our point about meticulousness is this: the more careful emails you send, the better and fewer you receive. The responsibility really lies with the sender. One good trick with multiple questions is to number them so that the recipient can reply by number. You often get a shorter and clearer response.

And, most important, there's less chance that one of your questions will go unanswered. That saves you the follow-up email and saves your recipient the reply to your follow-up and saves you the thank you for the reply to your follow-up, and, well, you get the picture. It saves you a lot of email!

One of the dangers of email is that we think it's a conversation, but it really isn't. It's permanent and searchable.

Even IM'ing, which is much more conversational, can be permanent. It's often (as you suggest!) when committing those spur of the moment thoughts to the keyboard that we get in the most trouble.

Oh, and thanks for the nice words on the thumb typing. A future Olympic event perhaps? I do see I messed up the word "representative," which would cause the judges to dock me a full point, I fear.

All best!



From: William Schwalbe
Sent: Wed 4/25/2007 12:43 PM
To: Whyte, Murray
Subject: SEND Star Interview

Dear Murray:

One quick question I should have asked at the start:

I'm hoping that if you reproduce the emails you can blur or leave out my actual email addresses -- one is my job; the other my personal. I have a "book" email address I'm delighted to give out, which is -- and I answer that very promptly. Thanks!



From: Whyte, Murray
To: Schwalbe, Will
Sent: Mon Apr 25 12:58:39 2007
Subject: RE: SEND Star Interview

By all means -- we'd never publish your email address. But would your home phone number be all right?

That was a joke. Email doesn't convey such things very well, does it?

Back to your previous missive. . . actually, on to this one: I just did what I usually do when I'm not doing "business" communication.

i tend not to capitalize, or use punctuation beyond ellipses. . . i'm not sure how i developed this habit. . . but it always struck me as an expression of this loose, informal realm . . .

Has that changed? Are different modes of emailing appropriate for different types of conversations? Or is it a degradation of the written word -- which, of course, this is?

Speaking of degradation, what do you do about the legions of pre-teens who no longer use actual words? "r u thr? lol -- i c u!!!!" That sort of thing. Should -- or can -- a standard even be set, or is it simply to evolve via usage -- like language itself. I shudder to think... Thanks for the continued replies, will look forward to the next. MW


From: William Schwalbe
Sent: Wed 4/25/2007 2:43 PM
To: Whyte, Murray
Subject: SEND Star Interview

Excellent. Just as long as you put my social security number on there too!

As for jokes on email -- they can indeed be dangerous. If you hadn't said you were joking I would have guessed you were, but then if you went ahead and actually put my home number in the piece -- well, the joke would have been on me and I would have had no one to blame but myself!

We are totally fine with informal capitalization and punctuation, so long as the meaning is still clear and so long as you are writing an informal email. Obviously, one of the great things about punctuation is it helps your reader figure out what you mean and make sense of what you write. As we say in the book, there's a world of difference between "No thanks to you!" and "No. Thanks to you!"

You can tell if your style is appropriate based on the response you get. If you write someone all in lower case and people email back similarly, it means they are happy writing that way. But if they write back with proper spelling and punctuation, you might want to mirror that.

Also, we've discovered that this business of pre-teens and abbreviations may be something of a myth. Kids are writing far more today than they ever used to. (When I was growing up, we barely wrote each other at all.) So they may even be writing better. And LOL isn't inherently any worse than FYI or any of the abbreviations adults use. I can't lay my hands on it right now -- but I saw an interesting study that showed that IM's among young people are far more grammatical that most people think or than the media portrays. Of course, text messages are usually abbreviations -- but that's just good sense and economy. When we've talked to young people, they seem to care about good grammar and spelling and proper address every bit as much as older people. No age group has a monopoly on good or bad emailing, and lots of people hunger for a return to some basic standards. If occasionally young people are oddly casual in their form of address (Hey, Yo, Hi Will), that may just be about a culture where young people are more encouraged than they used to be to call parents of friends (and even teachers) by first name. It's not necessarily a sign of disrespect and doesn't, we think, have drastic cultural consequences.

When I was in high school, I didn't know how to write a memo. I had to learn in the workplace. Similarly, just because people know how to write social emails doesn't mean they know how to write ones for work. But that's something that can and should be easily taught -- and most people get it quickly, again regardless of age.

Does that make sense?

I'm about to go incommunicado until Friday as I have to get a speech ready for tonight and then I'm traveling all tomorrow. Hope that's okay.




From: Whyte, Murray
To: Schwalbe, Will
Sent: Mon Apr 25 3:18:39 2007
Subject: RE: SEND Star Interview

Many thanks for your time, Will; I'll try to catch you with a final query before you vanish:

Email has obviously become a prevalent form of communication. As you point out, it's done many good things: It can save time; it can help keep people in various locations "in the loop;" and as an everyday medium, it has more of us writing than perhaps ever before.

But is there anything email can't -- or shouldn't -- do? Thanks again for all your time, and best wishes. MW


From: William Schwalbe
Sent: Wed 4/25/2007 4:30 PM
To: Whyte, Murray
Subject: What email is good for

My pleasure! You got me just before I go silent for a while.

We think email is great for informing, commenting, and confirming. But it's not good for emotional content, especially negative emotion. It's not good for reaching agreement among a group of people. And so much more. We spoke to Robin Mamlet, who was dean of admission at Stanford and is now an executive recruiter. She doesn't use email for checking references, for example, because she finds that when she checks on the phone, the slight catch in someone's voice or hesitation before an answer can be the signal she needs to explore deeper. You don't get this on email.

Thankfully, no form of communication has replaced showing up in person for certain things, or calling when that isn't possible. The other really important point to make is that sometimes the alternative to email isn't face-to-face communication -- it's silence.

Email makes it easy to always try to score the last point -- but sometimes it's better to give things a rest. Thanks for all the great questions!

All best,


Media Ethic Matter

Here's a sentence from the NYTimes today:-

On Sunday, a well-informed senior official said Mr. Olmert did not intend to resign. But the official said that could change if the report stated that he bore “personal responsibility” for failures in the war.

Exactly who is this "senior official"?

I don't mean his name. That is covered by journalistic immunity (and even Uzbekistan assures that - see Article 8).

I mean is he a government official? A Member of Knesset? A member of the coalition? Of Kadima? Of the Opposition?

Why not give a bit of identifiable information to assure us that this is not a sworn enemy of Olmert and therefore, his opinion might be suspect.

Into Organic Food?

If you read Hebrew, here's the site for organic products grown and produced in Yesha.

We Don't Hang Failed Leaders in Israel

The Official Winograd Committee site is here.

Yes, Shimon, you don't have to worry that you're next:-

Haveil Havalim #114 is Here


Anti-Israel ads in Washington

Subway system in US capital to host 20 poster ads filled with anti-Israel rhetoric

Commuters travelling on Washington DC's subway will be inundated with posters placed by an anti-Israel organization, the Canadian Jewish News (CJN) reported.

The 'US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation' placed 20 poster ads showing "an imposing tank pointing its main firing turret at a child with a schoolbag walking along a dirt road," the CJN said.

"'Imagine if this were your child's path to school. Palestinians don't have to imagine,' the poster states, before continuing to call for an end to US aid for 'Israel's brutal military occupation… paid for by US taxpayers like you,'" the report added.

It said that "CBS Outdoor, the New York-based firm that places in-station advertising for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), at first refused to consider the poster, but eventually relented to pressure from WMATA and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)."

You want to see the ad, right?


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Is It Not Stoppable?

My friend, Judean Eve, and I attended a meeting at Israel's Foreign Ministry (sometmes I think that the use of 'foreign' is meant to indicate just how foreign the officials and their policies are to Zionism and Israel's true needs) where we were introduced to the idea of 'branding' Israel (as if it wasn't being negatively branded wasn't enough we have to make it worse and just you wait to see how worse).

They had adopted this tool of the PR and commerical world and were to apply it to Israel. "The latest thing" we were told. We figured it was all about making money, well, spending the taxpayers' money.

Well, about a year later, it seems to be hatching:-

Babes and Bikinis: Israel Plans to Revamp Its Image

Israeli Officials Have Approached a Men's Magazine to Promote a More Positive Image of Their Country

All countries carry a certain stereotype: Some associate pasta and emotion with Italy, the queen and bad weather with Britain, flashing lights and high-speed trains with Japan, and conflict and religion with Israel.

Israeli officials at the consulate in New York have decided to try to rebrand the negative image associated with their country and have approached Maxim, dubbed America's most-popular men's magazine, to launch a public relations campaign to help them.

The aim of the project is to change Israel's image from a country associated with constant conflict to a different, sexy, fun and vibrant place.

The project began six months ago when Israeli officials in the United States discovered (through market research) that men between the ages of 18 and 35 were uninterested in Israel, and considered the country "irrelevant."

Maxim is going to run a special Israel edition this July that will promote the country to its 2.5 million readership, and the magazine hopes it will revamp Israel's image in the eyes of young American men...

..."The aim of the campaign is to show the different faces of Israel," David Saranga, from the media and public affairs department at the Israeli consulate in New York, told ABC News. "The international media tends to concentrate on one dimension alone -- the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict. We hope we can broaden people's view." [a double-entendre, wink, wink]...

Other Israelis were not sure whether Israeli models posing provocatively in their bikinis for a men's magazine is the best way to sell their country, but they were willing to give it a chance.

Lindsay Citerman, an Israeli who studies Judaism in Jerusalem, said, "Tel Aviv is a sexy city, but I am not sure if this is the best way to sell Israel to Americans."

But she conceded, ''In our world, maybe that is the way that you have to do it."

Citerman believes that it is the political reality that should be changed first -- not the image...She doubts Maxim's PR campaign will change people's political views, but it might increase their interest in coming to Israel on holiday.

While it "can be very hard to measure success in a PR campaign" as Saranga put it, Israeli officials seem to be determined to create new ways of promoting their country's image abroad. And everyone knows girls in bikinis sell.

Now, I am all for bikinis as much as the next man, in theory anyway, but this is downright ridiculous. And a tremendous waste of money. And in any case, Ber Rafaeli is enough for two countries.

Hillary in Blackface

The Democratic contest is heating up.

Hillary in blackface.

The Pictures of How Israeli Arabs "Celebrate" Independence day

The following three pictures are from a set that were taken on Israel's Independence Day in a national park south of Meggido and near the main Meggido-Hedera highway.

The other citizens who see "celebrating" are Arabs marking the day of Nakba, calamity, with PLO flags, et al. Jews were threatened, intimidated and the property damaged.

And they say that Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East.


And in Jaffa:-

A group of five Jews was attacked in Jaffa (Yafo) on Saturday night near an ice cream shop. The five, four women and one man, are all IDF soldiers, but they were not wearing their uniforms or carrying weapons. They stopped for ice cream after a day at the beach, they said, and were set upon by ten Arab youths with sticks.

The Arabs began hitting the front windshield of their car and attempted to forcibly drag one person from the car. The Jewish victims managed to drive away, but not before their vehicle sustained damage from the attack.

Best Double-Entendre Today

Mouse brain simulated on computer

Hooray! Not 'Militants'; 'Fighters'

We're making progress.

The BBC has a slight alteration in semantics. Progress. Well, almost. Headline has "fighters" and story has "militants" and "members".

Israel troops kill Hamas fighters

Militants ended a truce and launched rockets on Tuesday

Israeli troops have shot dead at least three members of Hamas' armed wing in a clash on the Gaza-Israel border, Hamas and the Israeli army have said. The incident took place at about 0830 (0530 GMT), north-west of Gaza City.

The Israeli military said four Hamas members were caught trying to plant a bomb on the security barrier between Gaza and Israel and were fired on.

Weird Media Story with Olmert


So, what did Olmert say?

Reporter Amir Taheri told the prime minister's spokeswoman that an interview with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert published under his name on German magazine Focus' website Saturday had not been written by him.

Taheri said that the material published was not what he had passed to the magazine, and that he had asked the editors to remove the story from the site. "I apologize to you," he told the spokeswoman, Miri Eisin.

Earlier, the magazine quoted Olmert as saying that Iran's disputed nuclear program could be severely hit by firing 1,000 cruise missiles in a 10-day attack. The magazine later changed the story's aggressive headline, "Israel threaten Iran," to "Israel toughens its tone against Iran."

An examination of the transcript of Olmert's conversation with the reporter revealed that the PM's perceived aggressiveness in the interview resulted from the fact that fine nuances of his English statements were "lost in translation." [i.e., he can't speak English?]

In the original version of the interview in English, Olmert did mention – albeit in passing - the option of striking Iran, claiming that "no one has ever ruled it out." However, he stressed that the international community should focus on sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The prime minister also referred to the dangers of an attack on Iran, and stated that he would not want to turn the whole Iranian people into Israel's enemy.

The Prime Minister's Office said Saturday that the interview with Focus never took place. "The statements published are an utter lie and were never said… This cynical abuse of an invitation for a background conversation, which led to the publication of a false report," the office stated.

However, sources at the magazine insisted that their reporter had met with Olmert for an hour and-a-half last Wednesday.

Ah, The Ignorance of It

William Safire asks:

[I] reported the most common meaning of the slang phrase — “scapegoat” — but then cast a line into the mainstream of native users of the American language with this fishhook on it: “What was the original fall? A prizefighter ‘taking a fall’? Lucifer’s ‘fall’ from paradise? A lover ‘falling for’ a mate? In other words, who was the original guy?”

First, one point of view from Jeffrey Gross in e-mail land: “A scapegoat is entirely innocent and used as a proxy for those who are really responsible. A fall guy is somewhat complicit but takes the blame for others.”

Now to the speculations. From a guy in England: “A penny for the Guy? Guy Fawkes, perhaps?” From Randall Speer of Reston, Va.: “the fall guy was the wrestler or boxer designated to ‘take the fall’ since ‘the fix was in.’ ” From Jernej Sekolec in Vienna: “Derived from the Latin locution for ‘falling on the sword,’ which in turn started with the Roman tradition that military commanders in the face of a bad defeat were expected to fall on their sword.”


Doesn't anyone read the Bible anymore?

"The battle raged around Saul, and some of the archers hit him, and he was severely wounded by the archers. Saul said to his arms-bearer, 'Draw your sword and run me through, so that the uncircumcised may not run me through and make sport of me.' But his arms bearer ... refused; whereupon Saul grasped the sword and fell upon it"

I Sam. 31:3-4

Deja Vu?

A description of England, or better, London, on the ve of World War Two, from the new book by Lynne Winston, "'Troublesome Young Men,': Friends of Winston":-

It had been a brilliant summer. On that point everyone agreed.

Children floated toy boats on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, while young lovers lay on deck chairs nearby and basked in the sunshine. At the Ritz, middle-aged women in flowered hats lunched on salmon and strawberries. In the evenings, crowds gathered outside stately mansions in Knightsbridge and Belgravia, as debutantes in satin and silk and young men in white tie and tails emerged from taxis and rushed, laughing, into the houses' brightly lit interiors. In those brief seconds before the butler shut the door, spectators could hear the faint strains of "Love Walked In" or "Cheek to Cheek" and imagine, just for a moment, that they were young, titled, and rich, and whirling around on the dance floor.

There was racing at Goodwood and Ascot, cricket at Lord's, tennis at Wimbledon, the regatta at Henley. There were dances and dinners, nightclub outings, and house parties in the country. But the highlight of the 1939 London season, in the opinion of those fortunate enough to have been invited, was the gala coming-out ball at Blenheim Palace for the seventeen-year-old Lady Sarah Spencer-Churchill, daughter of the Duke of Marlborough. The palace's massive stone facade had been floodlit for the occasion, its baroque beauty visible for miles. Tiny colored lights twinkled in the trees and shrubs of Blenheim's twenty acres of gardens; its lake, also floodlit, seemed bathed in gold. A band played in a pavilion on the vast lawn, as footmen in powdered wigs and yellow and blue Marlborough livery handed out champagne to more than seven hundred guests, including Winston Churchill, who had been born at Blenheim and was a first cousin of the honored debutante's late grandfather Sunny Marlborough. Most of those present danced until dawn. The scene, said one dazzled guest, was "gay, young, brilliant, in short, perfection."

In that magical setting it was easy to forget that half a continent away, hundreds of thousands of German troops were massing on the borders of Poland, that in Warsaw residents were digging zigzag trenches in their parks while loudspeakers boomed out practice air-raid warnings. Europe stood on the brink of war. If Hitler invaded Poland, as seemed likely now, Britain had pledged to take up arms in defense of the Poles.

Yet as the summer wound down, there was little sense of crisis in that sea-girted country. Foreign visitors marveled at the calm of the British, their seeming insouciance in the face of peril. "Taxi-cab drivers, waiters and porters went about their work as though they were oblivious to the fact that soon they would be caught up in one of the greatest storms the world had ever known," recalled Virginia Cowles, a young Boston socialite who had just begun work as a reporter for The Sunday Times, London. "The most you could get out of anyone was a short comment such as 'Things aren't too bright, are they?' and you suddenly felt guilty of bad taste for having referred to it."

...Helen Kirkpatrick...a correspondent for the Chicago Daily News, wrote, "We knew it was coming-there it was ahead. Nothing could stop it. But life went on just the same as usual."

Even with war looming, there would be no disruption of the social routine. The final days of July marked the end of the glittering season. By August 2 the annual late-summer exodus from London was well under way. Brighton and the other English seaside resorts were already jammed. Members of the upper class were en route to their country estates for a bit of grouse shooting or to the beaches and casinos of southern France...

Neville Chamberlain prepared to follow his countrymen's example. Bone-weary, the seventy-year-old British prime minister was looking forward to a few weeks of salmon fishing in the Scottish Highlands. But before he could make his escape, he had one last duty on his schedule: to preside over the formal adjournment of Parliament for its traditional two-month summer break.

A number of members of Parliament, however, were appalled at the idea of a long vacation. This was not, after all, a typical desultory August. War could break out at any moment. What on earth was the prime minister thinking? Was he trying to get Parliament out of the way so he could renege on Britain's promises to the Poles? Chamberlain had seemed unequivocal in March, when he pledged to defend Poland against German aggression. Yet disquieting reports were circulating of intense British pressure on the Poles to make concessions to Germany, of secret talks with German officials about a possible deal. According to The New York Times, London and Paris were now privately warning Poland not to antagonize Hitler. And earlier in the summer, when Polish officials sought credits from Britain for arms, they were told by the Treasury that the matter was not considered "of great urgency."

To some MPs, such reports were unpleasantly reminiscent of Chamberlain's appeasement of Germany a year earlier. Was he now preparing to betray the Poles as he had betrayed the Czechs at the Munich Conference the year before? The prime minister's decision to embark on his personal diplomatic missions to Hitler in September 1938 had violated all precedent, having been made without consulting his own cabinet, much less the House of Commons. Indeed, when Chamberlain began his pilgrimages to Germany, Parliament was in its two-month summer recess, a fact that anti-appeasement MPs remembered only too well in August 1939. The House of Commons, representing the British people, was supposed to guide and control the executive. Instead, complained the Conservative MP Harold Macmillan, "we are being treated more and more like a Reichstag, to meet only to hear the orations and to register the decrees of the government of the day."

The forty-four-year-old Macmillan was one of a small group of Tory MPs who had been scathingly critical of the Munich agreement and who had banded together, under the ostensible leadership of former foreign secretary Anthony Eden, to resist any further appeasement. At a meeting in late July the dissidents, whom Chamberlain and his men dismissively referred to as the "glamour boys," decided to oppose the long summer recess. Separately, Winston Churchill, the best-known Tory foe of Chamberlain's foreign policy, made the same decision. Over lunch at Chartwell, his country house in Kent, Churchill told Edward Spears, an old friend and a member of the Eden group, that the prime minister's adjournment plans would simply encourage Hitler in the belief that Britain would not go to war if Germany invaded Poland.

Chamberlain brushed off Churchill's opposition-indeed, the opposition of all those who had resisted appeasement-as casually as he would flick away an ant at a picnic. What did he have to fear from Winston, a controversial and divisive figure, with no bedrock of support in Parliament or the Conservative Party? Even Eden shied away from cooperating with him. As for Eden's "glamour boys," how could they make problems for him when their own leader was doing his best to reinstate himself in Chamberlain's good graces and get back into the cabinet? At their meeting in July, Eden had told the others that "if there were ever an issue upon which our group should affirm our identity and vote against the Government, it is this issue." Within days, however, he was having second thoughts.

Chamberlain had no intention of taking Eden back into his government-once a rebel, always a rebel-but he was not averse to keeping him dangling. And even if the handsome ex-foreign secretary suddenly developed a backbone, it would accomplish nothing. Chamberlain was sure he had the Tory insurgents firmly under control. They had been attacked as disloyal by the prime minister's many supporters in the press and government. Their phones had been tapped, their meetings spied on, their constituencies pressured to withdraw support from them at the next election.

No, Chamberlain was convinced, he had nothing to worry about at all.

In midafternoon on August 2 the House of Commons was set to begin its debate on the government's adjournment motion. The House chamber, beneath its vaulted, timbered ceiling, was filling up fast, with the noise level rising as MPs streamed in from the lobbies and smoking room. Once the debate was under way, the dimly lit chamber would be stuffy and jammed, as it always was when an important issue was being discussed. The Commons lacked enough seating for its more than six hundred members; in their first days in the House, new MPs invariably expressed amazement at how small this cradle of democracy really was. On occasions like this, some MPs were forced to stand or sit in the gangways or cluster around the Speaker's canopied chair. Those who were seated were packed close together on the tiered dark green leather benches.

The cramped, spare quarters were no accident. When the Palace of Westminster, which contains the Houses of Parliament, was rebuilt after a disastrous fire in 1834, its architect and interior designer viewed it more as a setting for royal ceremonial occasions than as the center of a democratic government. While the scarlet and gold House of Lords chamber was outfitted with stained glass windows, a magnificent throne, opulent furnishings, and frescoes depicting medieval sovereigns, the Commons chamber was small and austere, with terrible acoustics and tiny galleries for visitors and the press. Unlike the Lords' quarters, it was not intended as a theater of state. Yet the anger, passion, and drama displayed in the little oak-paneled hall over the past century had at times bordered on the operatic. In the view of David Lloyd George, one of the Commons' most accomplished showmen, nothing could compete with the excitement and electricity of the House. When the young son of a parliamentary colleague told the former prime minister that he planned to go into the Royal Navy, Lloyd George frowned and shook his white-maned head. "There are much greater storms in politics," he declared. "If it's piracy you want, with broadsides, boarding parties, walking the plank, and blood on the deck, this is the place." The two thin red lines on the floor in front of each of the front benches underscored that sense of confrontation and combat. According to Commons tradition, no member was allowed to step over the lines during a debate; the distance between the two was supposed to be the exact distance between two outstretched arms brandishing swords.

The August 2 debate held the promise of considerable confrontation, and MPs took their seats with the eagerness of a first-night audience at the Old Vic. The day was sultry and hot, but as usual, Neville Chamberlain made no concessions to the weather. Wearing his usual black waistcoat, tailcoat, striped pants, and starched high white collar, the prime minister rose from his seat on the government's front bench at precisely 2:45 p.m., and, in his reedy voice, proposed that the Commons adjourn until October 3. On the opposite side of the House, just a few feet away, Arthur Greenwood, the lanky deputy Labour leader, stood to face Chamberlain. Greenwood immediately made clear that he and other Labour members suspected Chamberlain of having another Munich in mind. "Last September the House reassembled to witness a funeral pyre," Greenwood said. "A great people had their independence taken from them. I believe that an overwhelming majority of the public in this country would wish Parliament to be on alert at this critical time." With that, he introduced an amendment limiting the House's summer recess to less than three weeks. Members, he declared, should be called back no later than August 21.

When Winston Churchill stood to be recognized, the air was alive with the expectation of verbal fireworks. Churchill did not disappoint. His shoulders hunched, his head thrust forward, Churchill talked of the crush of German troops on Poland's borders, of German arms and supplies steadily moving east. "At this moment in its long history," he thundered, "it would be disastrous, it would be pathetic, it would be shameful for the House of Commons to write itself off as an effective and potent factor ... It is a very hard thing ... for the Government to say to the House, 'Begone! Run off and play. Take your [gas] masks with you. Do not worry about public affairs. Leave them to the gifted and experienced Ministers.'"

Churchill supported Greenwood's amendment, as did Macmillan and several other Tories. (Despite his fiery words less than a week earlier, Anthony Eden did not speak in the debate.) Just before Chamberlain was set to respond, Leo Amery, an old friend of the prime minister's, appealed to him to take the lead in uniting the Commons and the nation behind him in this time of national emergency.

Compromise, however, was far from Neville Chamberlain's mind. He was furious at Churchill and the other Tory renegades, at Amery for joining them. The prime minister had always been a man of great determination and obstinacy, but in the past year, after being acclaimed throughout the world as the savior of peace following Munich, he had become increasingly intolerant of any criticism or disagreement. He "suffers from a curious vanity and self-esteem which were born at Munich and have flourished ever since," John Colville, one of his private secretaries, noted in his diary. Now the savior of peace would make clear how very personally he took these attacks on the government, how he regarded them as intolerable slurs against himself.

Chamberlain stood, his jaw clenched, his face flushed. Removing his pince-nez from his nose, he rested one arm on the Treasury dispatch box on the table in front of him and stared at Labour MPs across the chamber. Then he turned halfway around to face his party's back-benchers. Very well, he announced, if "you distrust the Government and show it by your vote," he would treat such opposition as "a vote of no confidence in the Government, and no confidence in the Prime Minister in particular." Murmurs of surprise rippled through the chamber. In making the vote one of confidence in himself, Chamberlain was in effect demanding total party loyalty from the Conservative MPs, issuing an implicit order to refrain from criticizing further the adjournment proposal. It was clear, Chamberlain added acidly, that his critics were "very badly in need of a holiday ... their reasoning faculties wanted a little freshening up at the seaside."

Sitting a few yards away from the prime minister, on the second bench below the gangway, thirty-two-year-old Ronald Cartland was seething. Cartland had been in Parliament less than four years, representing King's Norton, a constituency in Birmingham adjacent to Chamberlain's own district. Indeed, the Chamberlain family's powerful party machine in Birmingham had approved his selection as a Conservative candidate and helped him win his seat. But that had not stopped him from becoming one of the most outspoken Tory critics of the prime minister's appeasement policy.

The Anti-Aaron Barak Piece

In The New Republic here:-

Enlightened Despot by Richard A. Posner

AHARON BARAK, A long-serving justice (eventually the chief justice) of the Supreme Court of Israel, who recently reached mandatory retirement age, is a prolific writer, and this is his most recent book. It is an important document, less for its intrinsic merits than for its aptness to be considered Exhibit A for why American judges should be extremely wary about citing foreign judicial decisions. Barak is a world-famous judge who dominated his court as completely as John Marshall dominated our Supreme Court. If there were a Nobel Prize for law, Barak would probably be an early recipient. But although he is familiar with the American legal system and supposes himself to be in some sort of sync with liberal American judges, he actually inhabits a completely different -- and, to an American, a weirdly different -- juristic universe. I have my differences with Robert Bork, but when he remarked [here ], in a review of The Judge in a Democracy, that Barak "establishes a world record for judicial hubris," he came very near the truth.

Barak is John Marshall without a constitution to expound -- or to "expand," as Barak once revealingly misquoted a famous phrase of Marshall's ("we must never forget it is a constitution that we are expounding"). Israel does not have a constitution. It has "Basic Laws" passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament, which Barak has equated to a constitution by holding that the Knesset cannot repeal them. That is an amazing idea: could our Congress pass a law authorizing every American to carry a concealed weapon, and the Supreme Court declare that the law could never be repealed? And only one-quarter of the Knesset's members voted for those laws!

What Barak created out of whole cloth was a degree of judicial power undreamed of even by our most aggressive Supreme Court justices. He puts Marshall, who did less with more, in the shade. (He borrowed from Marshall the trick of first announcing a novel rule in a case in which he concludes that the rule does not apply, so that people get accustomed to the rule before it begins to bite them.) Among the rules of law that Barak's judicial opinions have been instrumental in creating that have no counterpart in American law are that judges cannot be removed by the legislature, but only by other judges; that any citizen can ask a court to block illegal action by a government official, even if the citizen is not personally affected by it (or lacks "standing" to sue, in the American sense); that any government action that is "unreasonable" is illegal ("put simply, the executive must act reasonably, for an unreasonable act is an unlawful act"); that a court can forbid the government to appoint an official who had committed a crime (even though he had been pardoned) or is otherwise ethically challenged, and can order the dismissal of a cabinet minister because he faces criminal proceedings; that in the name of "human dignity" a court can compel the government to alleviate homelessness and poverty; and that a court can countermand military orders, decide "whether to prevent the release of a terrorist within the framework of a political package deal,'" and direct the government to move the security wall that keeps suicide bombers from entering Israel from the West Bank.

These are powers that a nation could grant its judges. For example, many European nations and even some states in the United States authorize "abstract" constitutional review -- that is, judicial determination of a statute's constitutionality without waiting for a suit by someone actually harmed by the statute. But only in Israel (as far as I know) do judges confer the power of abstract review on themselves, without benefit of a constitutional or legislative provision. One is reminded of Napoleon's taking the crown out of the pope's hands and putting it on his own head.

Barak does not attempt to defend his judicial practice by reference to orthodox legal materials; even the "Basic Laws" are mentioned only in passing. His method, lacking as it does any but incidental references to enacted provisions, may seem the method of the common law (the judge-made law that continues to dominate many areas of Anglo-American law, such as contracts and torts), except that common-law rules are subject to legislative override, and his rules are not. The significance of this point seems to elude him. He takes for granted that judges have inherent authority to override statutes. Such an approach can accurately be described as usurpative.

BARAK BASES HIS conception of judicial authority on abstract principles that in his hands are plays on words. The leading abstraction is "democracy." Political democracy in the modern sense means a system of government in which the key officials stand for election at relatively short intervals and thus are accountable to the citizenry. A judiciary that is free to override the decisions of those officials curtails democracy. For Barak, however, democracy has a "substantive" component, namely a set of rights ("human rights" not limited to political rights, such as the right to criticize public officials, that support democracy), enforced by the judiciary, that clips the wings of the elected officials. That is not a justification for a hyperactive judiciary, it is merely a redefinition of it.

Another portmanteau word [Webster's: a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (as smog from smoke and fog)] that Barak abuses is "interpretation," which for him is remote from a search for the meaning intended by the authors of legislation. He says that the task of a legislature in passing statutes is "to bridge the gap between law and society," and that the task of the judge in interpreting a statute is to "ensure that the law in fact bridges the gap between law and society." This is very odd -- isn't the statute the law, rather than the intermediary between the law and the society? What he seems to mean, as further suggested by his statement that "whoever enforces a statute enforces the whole legal system," is that a statute should be interpreted so that it is harmonious with the spirit or values of the legal system as a whole, which as a practical matter means with the judge's ideal system, since no real legal system has a unitary spirit or common set of values.

This understanding of Barak's approach is further suggested by his statement that a judge, in addition to considering the language and background and apparent purpose of a statute, should consider its "objective purpose ... to realize the fundamental values of democracy." This opens up a vast realm for discretionary judgment (the antithesis of "objective"); and when a judge has discretion in interpreting a statute, Barak's "advice is that ... the judge should aspire to achieve justice." So a regulation that authorizes military censorship of publications that the censor "deems likely to harm state security, public security, or the public peace" was interpreted by Barak's court to mean "would create a near certainty of grave harm to state security, public security, or public peace." It is thus the court that makes Israel's statutory law, using the statutes themselves as first drafts that the court is free to rewrite.

Barak invokes the "separation of powers" as further support for his aggressive conception of the judicial role. What he means by separation of powers is that the executive and legislative branches are to have no degree of control over the judicial branch. What we mean by separation of powers, so far as judicial authority is concerned, is that something called the judicial power of the United States has been consigned to the judicial branch. That doesn't mean the branch is independent of the other branches. If each of the powers (executive, legislative, and judicial) were administered by a branch that was wholly independent and thus could ignore the others, the result would be chaos. The branches have to be mutually dependent, in order to force cooperation. So "separation of powers" implies "checks and balances," and the judicial branch has to be checked by the other branches, and not just do the checking. And so rather than our judiciary being a self-perpetuating oligarchy, the president nominates and the Senate confirms (or rejects) federal judges, and Congress fixes their salaries, regulates the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction, decides whether to create other federal courts, determines the federal judiciary's budget, and can remove judges by means of the impeachment process. Moreover, the judicial power of the United States can be exercised only in suits brought by persons who have standing to sue in the sense of having a tangible grievance that can be remedied by the court. And because the judicial power is not the only federal power -- there are executive and legislative powers of constitutional dignity as well -- the judiciary cannot tell the president whom to appoint to his cabinet.

In Barak's conception of the separation of powers, the judicial power is unlimited and the legislature cannot remove judges. (And in Israel, judges participate in the selection of judges.) Outfitted with such abstractions as "democracy," "interpretation," "separation of powers," "objectivity," "reasonableness" (it is "the concept of reasonableness" that Barak would have used to adjudicate the "package deal" for the release of the terrorist), and of course "justice" ("I try to be guided by my North Star, which is justice. I try to make law and justice converge, so that the Justice will do justice"), a judge is a law unto himself.

BARAK'S JURISPRUDENCE MAY seem to hold no interest for Americans other than as an illustration of the world's diversity. But in fact it has important implications for the controversial issue of whether American judges should cite foreign cases as authority. I must explain what I mean by "as authority." There is no objection to citing a foreign judicial opinion because it contains an insight that bears on the case at hand, just as one might cite a book or an article. But that is different from treating the foreign decision as a "precedent," in the legal sense of a decision that has weight irrespective of the cogency of its reasoning. Some American judges think that just the fact that a foreign court has decided a case in a certain way is entitled to some weight in deciding a similar American case. So if a foreign supreme court has held that executing juvenile murderers is unconstitutional, its decision, even if not impressively reasoned, is one more twig to place in one of the pans of the scales of justice.

But what we learn from Barak's book is that some foreign legal systems, even the legal system of a democratic nation that is a close ally of the United States, are so alien to our own system that their decisions ought to be given no weight by our courts. American judges distinguish between how they might vote on a statute if they were legislators and whether the statute is unconstitutional; they might think it a bad statute yet uphold its constitutionality. But in a Barak-dominated court, it would be very difficult to tell whether a judgment of unconstitutionality was anything more than the judges' opinion that it was a dumb statute, something they would not have voted for if they were legislators. And such an opinion would have no significance at all for the question of constitutionality.

When Robert Bork attributes "judicial hubris" to Barak [here ], he is using as his benchmark the American system. Many Israelis think Barak hubristic, but whether he is or is not in the Israeli setting is irrelevant to Bork's judgment. All Bork means is that a judge who thinks like Barak is playing outside the boundaries within which American judges operate. Not that there are no hubristic American decisions, of course; but their authors make some effort to tether them to orthodox legal materials, such as the constitutional text. The tether is long and frayed when, for example, a judge decides that criminalizing abortion, or refusing to grant a marriage license to a homosexual couple, is a deprivation of liberty without due process of law. Such decisions could be thought lawless in the sense that the judge is making a discretionary judgment that owes nothing to an authoritative text and everything to the judge's personal values. So there is a sense in which Barak merely carries to its logical extreme a tendency discernible in our courts. It is a matter of degree, but at some point a difference in degree can rightly be called a difference in kind.

BARAK'S BOOK IS not introspective. He purports to derive his judicial approach from the abstractions that I mentioned, but they cannot be the real source of his jurisprudence, because they are as empty as they are lofty. In places the book is naive, as when Barak writes that "other branches [of government] seek to attain efficiency; the courts seek to attain legality." Or when, in defending a ruling made during the Gulf war in 1991 requiring the Israeli army to distribute more gas masks to residents of the West Bank, Barak says that "we did not intervene in military considerations, for which the expertise and responsibility lie with the executive. Rather, we intervened in considerations of equality, for which the expertise and responsibility rest with the judiciary." Yet the book strongly commends the balancing of competing interests as a technique of judicial decision-making, implying that in the gas-mask case the court should have balanced against considerations of equality whatever military reasons the army gave for distributing fewer gas masks on the West Bank than in Israel proper, such as that Iraq was more likely to aim its missiles at Jews than at Arabs. A few pages after the gas masks Barak writes inconsistently that when deciding whether to invalidate a security measure, "the court asks if a reasonable person responsible for security would be prudent to adopt the security measures that were adopted."

The book is, in fact, rather unsophisticated, as if written for a nonprofessional audience. (It is also riddled with minor errors, such as renaming me "Robert Posner.") But it has some good points, such as its discussion of the things besides justice that judges should consider in interpreting a statute, bridging that mysterious gap between law and society, and objective purpose "at the highest level of abstraction" (the level at which the objective purpose is to realize the ideals of democracy). And the chapter on terrorism that I have just been criticizing rightly observes that judicial decisions restricting civil liberties in wartime may serve as precedents for restricting such liberties in peacetime, which to some extent has happened in the United States since September 11, and also that we do not need two systems of balancing security and liberty, one for wartime and one for peacetime -- we can use one system, while recognizing, as Barak to his credit does, that security does have more weight in time of war. Nor do I mean to suggest that Barak's judicial oeuvre as a whole is hubristic. The "Basic Laws" may not be a constitution, but they provide an adequate textual basis, even in American terms, for decisions that Barak has written forbidding discrimination against homosexuals and against Israel's Arab citizens.

And whatever the weaknesses of the book, Barak himself is by all accounts brilliant, as well as austere and high-minded -- Israel's Cato. Israel is an immature democracy, poorly governed; its political class is mediocre and corrupt; it floats precariously in a lethally hostile Muslim sea; and it really could use a constitution. Barak stepped into a political and legal vacuum, and with dash and ingenuity orchestrated a series of (in Laurence Tribe's words on the dust jacket) "surprisingly agreeable outcomes." He was a legal buccaneer, and maybe that was what Israel needed. But there is not a hint of an acknowledgment of this in the book. Barak writes not only without self-doubt, but also without a sense that his jurisprudence may reflect local, as well as personal, conditions. (He survived the Holocaust as a child in Lithuania, and this may help us to understand a position of his that would be thought unacceptably illiberal in the United States: that no member of an anti-democratic party can be permitted to stand for election to the Knesset, since the Nazi Party came to power in Germany democratically.) He pities our Supreme Court justices their timidity. No wonder he frightens Robert Bork.

What Happened to the Jewish Artifacts?

Gaza's ancient treasures revealed

A new exhibition showing off the archaeological riches of the Gaza Strip has just opened in the Swiss city of Geneva. The exhibition, called "Gaza at the Crossroads of Civilisations", contains more than 500 artefacts dating back more than 5,000 years.

They reflect the diverse civilisations which at one time or another all spent time in Gaza.

"Gaza was built up by many civilisations," explained curator Marc-Andre Haldimann. "Starting from Egypt, then Mesopotamia, then Greek and Roman civilisations, Persian and Arabic, all overlapping and mixing together."

The exhibits on show in Geneva come from private collections and from the Palestinian department of antiquities.

Many have never been seen in public before; they include delicate alabaster vases, a graceful and completely undamaged Roman statue of Aphrodite, and a stunning Byzantine mosaic from the 6th Century AD.

A tour of the exhibition reveals that Gaza survived, and indeed prospered from its many civilisations. In the 5th Century AD the region had become a major trading centre, wine from Gaza was exported right across Europe, including to Geneva itself.

So, what about the jewish aspect?

Read on here:-

swissinfo: Are the Geneva exhibition and the Gaza museum project the first of their kind for the Palestinians?

Pascal de Crousaz: Ever since the Palestinian Authority was created in 1994, people have been trying to promote an archaeology that can properly be called Palestinian. But as far as I know, there haven't yet been any large international exhibitions on Gaza.

Abbas' presence shows there is a political dimension to this cultural event. The Palestinians are currently cut off from the world. The exhibition is a way of seeking support from the outside.

This is not just for the archaeological museum in Gaza, but also for Palestinian aspirations in Gaza and the West Bank.

swissinfo: Have the Israelis shown the way through their archaeological research which served as a historical basis for Israel?

P.d.C.: For the Israelis it was all about providing legitimacy for their policy - the taking of land by Jewish settlers against the wishes of most of the local population.

The aim was to show the exclusive historical links between the Jewish people and Palestinian land. Archaeology was mobilised to show that Palestine was originally Jewish, that it was not Jewish in a certain period and that those who populated it during this time were foreigners on this soil.

Archaeology was meant to justify this debate by excavating every synagogue or ancient Jewish tomb as proof of land ownership, particularly in the Golan Heights and the West Bank.

There was a kind of silence over Palestine's non-Jewish history, which is nevertheless a lot larger in terms of number of objects and goes much further back in time.

swissinfo: How have the Palestinians reacted to this?

P.d.C.: Arabs and Palestinians in particular had to produce a counter-argument. A Lebanese archaeologist in the 1980s maintained that the Promised Land mentioned in Biblical texts was north of the present Saudi Arabia.

Another radical position maintained that if prior presence meant privileged rights, Palestinians would benefit because they were the descendents of the Philistines, who were in Palestine before the Jews.

In the Geneva exhibition the political line – if it is conscious – is a lot less controversial. It shows the non-Jewish heritage of a Palestine that has been Philistine, Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Mamluk [from the Sultanate of Egypt] and Ottoman. It is a region that is open to the world, a receiver of great civilisations.

That is relatively easy for Gaza because there are practically no traces of Jewish presence in antiquity. It would be more complicated in the West Bank where it is difficult to ignore the many traces of Jewish presence.

swissinfo: By showing the continuous population mix, are the Palestinians being less nationalistic than the Israelis?

P.d.C.: This is certainly the case for Mahmoud Abbas, but he is not alone. Some fundamentalists deny the importance of non-Muslim peoples in this region and consider that Palestine is a land that should be re-conquered and made Muslim again.

Among non-fundamentalist Palestinians you still have nationalists who deny any important position or presence of Jews in Palestine's history.

swissinfo, based on a French interview by Frédéric Burnand in Geneva

This Would Be A Nice Jerusalem Day Gift


1st Session

H. CON. RES. 131

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.


April 25, 2007

Mr. WILSON of South Carolina (for himself and Mr. PENCE of Indiana) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs


Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.

Whereas for 3,000 years Jerusalem has been the focal point of Jewish religious devotion;

Whereas there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem for three millennia and a Jewish majority in the city since the 1840s;

Whereas the once thriving Jewish majority of the historic Old City of Jerusalem was driven out by force during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War;

Whereas, from 1948 to 1967, Jerusalem was a divided city, and Israeli citizens of all faiths, as well as Jewish citizens of all states, were denied access to holy sites in the area controlled by Jordan;

Whereas, in 1967, Jerusalem was reunited by Israel during the conflict known as the Six Day War;

Whereas, since 1967, Jerusalem has been a united city, and persons of all religious faiths have been guaranteed full access to holy sites within the city;

Whereas this year marks the 40th year that Jerusalem has been administered as a unified city, in which the rights of all faiths have been respected and protected;

Whereas each sovereign country, under international law and custom, has the right to designate its own capital;

Whereas this year marks the 59th anniversary of Israel's independence;

Whereas Jerusalem is the seat of the Government of Israel, including the President, Parliament, and the Supreme Court;

Whereas the United States maintains its embassy in the functioning capital of every country except in the case of Israel, a friend and strategic ally of the United States;

Whereas the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-45), which became law on November 8, 1995, states as a matter of United States policy that Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel; and

Whereas the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107-228) directs that the Secretary of State shall, upon the request of a citizen or a citizen's legal guardian, record the place of birth of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem as Israel: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress--

(1) congratulates the residents of Jerusalem and the people of Israel on the 40th anniversary of the reunification of that historic city;

(2) congratulates the people of Israel on the 59th anniversary of their independence;

(3) strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected as they have been by Israel during the past 40 years;

(4) calls upon the President and the Secretary of State to repeatedly affirm publicly, as a matter of United States policy, that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of the State of Israel;

(5) strongly urges the President to discontinue the waiver contained in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-45), immediately implement the provisions of that Act, and begin the process of relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem;

(6) further urges United States officials to refrain from any actions that contradict United States law on this subject; and

(7) reaffirms Israel's right to take necessary steps to prevent any future division of Jerusalem.

Take a Look at the Other Side


Oh, He'll Be Called to Resign

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, exercised “misguided and rash judgment” in launching Israel’s war in Lebanon last summer, a commission of inquiry has found.

But the Winograd Commission report stops short of calling on the Prime Minister to resign, according to a leaked copy of its preliminary findings, obtained by Channel Ten television in Israel last night. The report will be published on Monday.

The conclusions would seem to reduce pressure on the embattled Prime Minister, who has been plagued by low approval ratings stemming from a widespread public perception that the war was a failure.

Some observers had predicted that the panel would ask Mr Olmert to step down, finding him at fault and forcing an early end to his political career.

Lost Case - BBC Hides From the Public

The BBC has won a high court battle to prevent the publication of an internal report into allegations of bias in its news coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Today a judge overturned an earlier ruling under the Freedom of Information Act that it should publish the report, written by its Middle East news coverage "tsar", Malcolm Balen.

Mr Justice Davis, sitting at the high court in London, said today that the decision taken by the Information Tribunal in August last year was flawed.

"I conclude that the BBC's submissions are well founded," the judge said. "The tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain any appeal."

London solicitor Steven Sugar, who brought the case to court, described today's ruling as "a technical win by the BBC ... weighting the Freedom of Information Act in its favour".

The BBC welcomed today's ruling, arguing that because the Balen report was conducted for purposes of journalism [???], it fell outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act.

"We believe that programme makers must have the space to be able to freely discuss and reflect on editorial issues in support of independent journalism," the corporation said in a statement...

...Last year, an independent review commissioned by the corporation's board of governors found that BBC coverage of the conflict was "incomplete" and "misleading", but not biased one way or the other.

Chaired by the British Board of Film Classification president, Sir Quentin Thomas, the governors' review said BBC output failed to consistently "constitute a full and fair account of the conflict but rather, in important respects, presents an incomplete and, in that sense, misleading picture"...

Anti-Israel "Art"

Found this here

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Medad Jewish Agriculture Success

Do you kbnow what you are looking at?

Yes, that's a strawberry. The first in our garden after a few years.

We had strawberries every summer for a few years and then I ended up, according to what I was told (although I am not sure about this), that I did not water the plants sufficiently and that patch died on us.

My wife and son did not give up and eventually, another site was selected and now we are beginning to see the fruits of our labor.

Yiddish, Alaska, Detective Novel


And the author's admission (with which I identify completely):-

I don’t like having my ignorance pointed out to me. I was embarrassed and shamed. I had the nice Jewish boy impulse that I disrespected my elders and caused pain and embarrassment.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Europe's "Palestinization"


"Palestinianism" which is at the root of Europe's decadence. It is an ideology based on a replacement theology whereby Palestine replaces Israel. As it has been conceived and instigated together by European and Arab intellectuals and politicians, it combines the worst of both cultures. For the Arab and Muslim world, Palestinianism embodies the ideology and aims of jihad against a rebellious dhimmi people. It is therefore based on a Muslim culture and theology that deny territorial independence and sovereignty to any non-Muslim people.

Palestinianism opposes Israel on two main points: 1) Jews being a dhimmi people cannot rule Muslims ¨C even less liberate and govern their country, especially if it has been formerly conquered and colonized by jihad -- such as Israel, Spain, the Balkans, Hungary and parts of Europe. Jews must be brought under the yoke of Islam. And this, of course, applies to Christians as well; both must be reduced to submission and dhimmitude. 2) Muslim doctrine rejects the Bible, it does not accept that it is the history of the people of Israel and the source of Christianity. Muslims believe that the biblical narrative, as it is transcribed in the Koran, is the story of the Muslim people and of Muslim prophets. For this reason, they deny the historical patrimony and ancestry of Jews and Christians in the Holy Land. For them, both Testaments have an Islamic source and describe an Islamic history since the people in the Bible and Jesus himself (Isa) were Muslims. Judaism and Christianity are seen as falsification of Islam. This is the inner core of the ideology -- even a doctrine -- of Palestinianism and of its war against Israel.

The European trend has added to it traditional Christian antisemitism which condemns the Jews to perpetual exile till they convert. The Palestinian war against Israel, strongly encouraged by many in Europe, came as a magnificent opportunity to continue and maintain the culture of hate and denigration against the Jews -- now the state of Israel -- and by lending a moral and political support to a second Holocaust. Europe has been the biggest supporter and subsidizer for the Palestinians as well as their ideological teachers.

More here.

(Kippah tip: Pamela at Atlas Shrugged)

Jennifer Does It Again


Yes another fair, objective and insightful article on Israel in the...New York Times. The first was on Hebron.

Sderot Journal
Give Them Shelter: Where Rockets, and Drums, Go Boom

SDEROT, Israel — The underground Israeli pop-rock music scene seems to start here, in a bomb shelter set in the center of town.

It does not matter how loudly the teenagers hammer at their drums or pluck at the guitars; the green tin that is meant to protect residents from incoming rockets also works as a sound barrier for the funky music.

It is not unusual for Israeli towns to turn shelters into community centers of some sort. But Sderot, barely a mile from the Gaza Strip, is one of the few cities where such shelters are still used frequently.

And in Sderock, as the shelter-turned-music studio is called, the teenagers grapple with the dueling realities that have made the city famous: the music that comes out of it and the rockets that come into it.

“This is the safest fun place in the city,” said Nir Oliel, 21, who has played guitar for several years. “It is also where everyone great came from.”

Read the rest here.

Remind Me, What Day is it Today?

Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said Friday [April 6] that settlers occupying a vacant Palestinian building in Hebron will be removed from the structure by April 19, one month after they entered the site.

How the Media Twists the News and Thwarts Democracy

Would you participate in an act of overthrowing Israel's government?


Netanyahu: Anglos should help overthrow government

Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu called upon English-speaking Israelis on Thursday to take action to overthrow Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government.

Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Likud's new Anglo division at the party's Tel Aviv headquarters, Netanyahu said that immigrants from English-speaking countries brought new ideas, dynamism and dedication to Israel.

"There's a tradition of activism in the English-speaking countries that's deeply embedded in you," Netanyahu told a packed audience. "If you are activists, what you need to do now is to act to bring about new elections to replace this government."

Well, first of all, it misquoted him according to the story itself. Bibi said "replace" by "bringing about new elections". That's not overthrowing.

What is overthrowing, as any dictionary search will inform you is:

To bring about the downfall or destruction of, especially by force or concerted action: a plot to overthrow the government. or the termination of a ruler or institution (especially by force) or a change in government, often achieved by force or through a coup.

More than that, Bibi was asking people to get involved in a political process by joining a party, not an underground.

Does Gil Hoffman have something personal or ideological against Bibi? Does David Horowitz? Does the Jerusalem Post?

Fifty-nine Years Ago - Michael Sherbourne's Story

Michael Sherbourne is one of my heroes.

He was very deeply involved in the Soviet Jewry campaign in the late 1960s and 1970s and when I was in London, he briefed me before my mission to Natan Scharansky in November 1976.

Michael has his own personal history with the founding of the state of Israel and I thought I'd share it with my readers:-

...I was 90 in February this year (I was born in London on 22.02.1917) and I went as a volunteer to join what was then simply "The Haganah" in December, 1947, very shortly after the famous United Nations' Declaration of 29 November 1947 for Partition of Palestne.

I went with my wife and two small children, via Marseilles. Arriving in Haifa in January, 1948, we were greeted with the sight of black smoke onshore from explosions. There I joined what became the organisation called "Machal" (Mitnadvei Hutz La'Aretz). On the road from Haifa to Tel-Aviv we travelled in an armoured bus, that was more like a large tank than a civilian bus (!) and it was fired on several times, particularly heavily as we went past Atlit, where the Arabs were entrenched strongly on the hills above.

When we got to Tel-Aviv we found it impossible to get to Jerusalem, which had been my destination, (where I had arranged to meet an acquaintance, Teddy Kollek), as the road was completely blocked. So my family were esconced in an immigrant hostel while I joined the force that was later formed as Hativah Sheva, or Seventh Brigade. The organization was so haphazard [t]hat we (other volunteers and I) called it Havita Zayin (Havita, being as you will know "Omelette" while Zayin, as well as being the Seventh letter, was also rather crude and obscene slang for penis...

However, by April (1948) things were getting a little more organized and once the British finally left on May 16, (and incidentally I watched from Mount Carmel as the Royal Navy warships in Haifa Harbour were loaded with Arabs who were fleeing and were taken up the coast to Beirut) our Brigade was given the task of re-taking Latrun. It had been in our hands but Ben-Gurion had ordered the troops out as they were needed elsewhere, and the Monastery was occupied by the Arab Legion, officered by British Army personnel, and commanded by Brigadier-General Glubb (Glubb Pasha).

We were told how important it was to re-take it, as it was blocking the road to Jerusalem but we were given an impossible task, as the Arabs were strongly entrenched and had 25-pounder artillery and a clear field in front of the monastery on a steep slope down (from their point of view, but UP from where we were based at Kibbutz Hulda. While we had no artillery at all, and we were only equipped with home made Sten guns, which were more dangerous to us than to the enemy. Many of our so-called "troops" were but boys straight off the immigrant ships, from the Concentration Camps, with no training in the use of arms, and our losses were very heavy. Eventually it was realized that we just could not do it and we had to withdraw and re-group, and Latrun was not taken by Isael until 1967, nineteen years later.

My family also suffered badly as my wife became very ill from lack of nutrition and when we returned to England in 1949 she was diagnosed as having Tuberculosis (T.B.) in both lungs and I was told that she had no more than two years to live, but she lived through it and died many years later from Breast Cancer in 1995.

There were less than 400,000 Jews in Palestine in early 1948, and when I look at the situation today, I view it with a mixture of pride and astonishment at what has been achieved in these last 59 years. My older daughter and her husband have lived in Israel since 1968, and I have three Israeli grandchildren, and three great-grandchilden. My son-in-law served in Tzahal as did my grandson. And today there are some six million Jews in the country, which is here to stay, in spite of everything.

All I can say is "Hizku ve-imtzu" - "Be strong and of good courage.

Former MK Azmi Bishara in his Hizbollah Disguise

Courtesy of Maariv.

Okay, this was just a photoshop prank.

Here's his real spy disguise:-

Courtesy of HaAretz.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Oiy Vey

Winograd Commission Interim Report next week.

Suggested criminal investigation into Bank Leumi shares.

Suggested criminal investigation into a house purchase.

Suggested criminal investigation into Small Firms Investment Center.

Possible criminal investigation into receiving expensive pens as bribes.

Possible criminal investigation into manipulating the purchase of his wife's paintings as bribes.

It's a tough job being an unpopular Prime Minister.

JIB Stats

Even if I combine the five most largest vote counts in any category (which means that I am assuming that when a person votes, he does so for several categories), we are talking about less than 2000 people involved.

Is this the 'great, big world of JBlogging' out there?

Any ideas?

Anton Shamas Was the Pioneer

The NYTimes notes that

Mr. Bishara, an outspoken and controversial figure in Israel, pioneered the notion that Israel’s definition of itself as a “Jewish and democratic state” is a contradiction in terms. He has called for Israel to become a “state of all its citizens” instead. Much of the political and intellectual leadership of Israel’s Arab minority, which is largely Muslim and makes up 20 percent of the total population, now subscribes to the idea.

That's not quite true about being the "pioneer". Besides Matti Peled and Mohammed Miari, from the Progressive List for Peace, the author Anton Shamas was in the vanguard of the "state of all its citizens" concept.

Tommy Lapid once took him to task back in 1995. Here are some excerpts from

THE Independence Day edition of Tel Aviv's local Ha'ir weekly ran an article by the Palestinian-Israeli writer Anton Shamas, penned with his usual fluency.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he wrote, "the time has come, on this festive day, to admit with complete candor, without shame or downcast eyes, that the whole business has turned out badly. The Zionist adventure has been a total failure."

It's a good thing Shamas came out and said it. Because an article like this, by an authoritative Arab intellectual, is a fine opportunity to express a few truths one hesitates to voice without a suitable pretext.

Shamas, my friend: Zionism is the greatest success story of the 20th century. Fifty years after the defeat of Hitler and the mufti of Jerusalem, Zionism is thriving in the heart of the Middle East, in a state of 4.5 million Jews - Jews whose survival was, for a moment, in doubt...

...Shamas might be able to forgive us for all this, perhaps. But what he cannot bear is the fact that, held up in the light of Zionism's achievements, the Arabs' failure appears so humiliating and depressing.

HOW MANY Palestinians are there, my friend? One million - two, three? And how many Arab states are there around you? Twenty? Twenty countries of kings and dictators, of terror and bloodshed. There isn't a single Arab democracy, one with freedom of expression and civil rights.

...How many Arabs live between the Atlantic Ocean and the Persian Gulf?...All of them pray to the same Allah, in the name of the same prophet, Mohammed. And all of them together can't solve Gaza's sewage problem.

For 47 years you've been preparing for Palestinian independence, and yet you're still not collecting the garbage in Jericho.

...You know all this, Anton Shamas, and that's what's eating you. Envy has led you into irrationality. Thus the time has come, with complete candor, without shame or downcast eyes, to conclude: It hasn't worked out, this whole business: The Palestinian adventure has been a total failure.

This article, "Post-Zionism in the Oslo era and the implications for the diaspora" contains a reference to Shamas and expands on the threat his ideology, carried on by Azmi Bashara, presents to the existence of the state.

The Other Israel, Uri Avnery's groupuscle, has this to say about Shamas, confiorming my point, in a backwards sort of fashion:

And when Arab writer Anton Shamas wrote in the 1980's a series of (Hebrew language) articles expressing his deep wish to become part of The Israeli People, he was met with derision and some crude insults in the counter-articles of the supposedly dovish writer A.B. Yehoshua. (Shamas is now living in the United States.)

Noam Chomsky quotes his piece, which is the one that I recall, from Kol Hair, Aug. 12, 1983.

Here's a recent exposition of the theory:

Israel should be a state of all its citizens, not a state that belongs to one part of its population. Israel defines itself as a Jewish state. So, it’s not our state. It’s not just a question of definition or nature. It’s a question of substance, structure, aims, goals, policies, laws. Israel is not only a Jewish state. It is the state of many people who are not its citizens, because Israel claims to be the state of all Jews all over the world, including people who are living happily, with full citizenship and rights, in other countries.

Israel was built on the destruction of Palestinian people in 1948. It is responsible for the refugees. Since 1967 Israel has been occupying all of Palestine. The Israeli regime governs the majority of Palestinians directly and by its policies, refusing the right of return, also defines the destiny of all Palestinian refugees. You cannot speak of the state of Israel as separate from occupation. Many times when you speak about Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank, you hear the reply – this is not Israel, this is occupation, it’s temporary. But this “temporary” has lasted 40 years. Israel only existed for 19 years before this occupation – from 1948-1967.

We can summarize our problem in one sentence: Palestinians were the victims of the obsession to establish a Jewish state over those who were a majority in their own country. This could not be implemented without transfer or apartheid. Israel managed to do both.

In principle in 1948 the Zionist movement could have let Palestinians stay in their homeland, in their villages and towns, and establish a Jewish state excluding the majority from political decisions, separating them from citizenship. That would have been apartheid. But the Zionist movement wanted not only a Jewish state but a democratic state, and so to have both they needed to produce a Jewish majority. Because they did not succeed in producing the Jewish majority by immigration, transfer was the necessary result of the effort to build a Jewish and democratic state.

The Jewish intellectual Hannah Arendt wrote, after the Zionist conference in the early 1940s, that Zionists were proposing to Palestinians either that they leave their country or to agree to second-degree citizenship. This was the way to build a Jewish state. The demographic obsession is one of the main obsessions of Zionism and the Israeli elite. This has recently become demographic phobia. This is the main reason Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza – to get rid of Palestinians. All the Israeli political parties agree that in any solution, Israel should take as much land from the West Bank and Jerusalem area and that this land should include as few Arabs as possible. This is the rule that shapes Israel’s attitude towards the Palestinians: demography and geography. Geography is good, Arabs are bad. We want the good, and exclude the bad.

And a P.S.

Neveh Gordon wrote just last week:

But what, one might ask, are Bishara's new offenses? It is, after all, highly unlikely that he is a spy on the payroll of a foreign entity.