UN “Human Rights Council”? Really? Wow….

OK, can we be honest here?

I  read the article at the following link this morning, and the more I thought about it, the more outraged I became at the absurdity of it all.

http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=263179

From the article:

“In a statement released by US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, the US said that the UNHRC had “helped spur action on a series of important human rights situations around the world, in part due to vigorous US engagement.” The statement praised UNHRC action in Syria, Sri Lanka, Iran, North Korea, Burma, Libya and Yemen.”

Is this woman (Nuland) on drugs?  What “actions” have been taken by the UNHRC or the UN to alleviate human rights abuses in Syria, Sri Lanka, Iran, North Korea, Burma, Libya and Yemen?  Those places are among the worst hellholes on Earth in terms of human rights.  Syria is killing its own citizens by the thousands, and the rest are not much better.

“Until today, the council has made 91 decisions, 39 of which dealt with Israel, three with Syria and one with Iran,”.     So, 43% of the council’s decisions are directed at Israel, a true democracy.  I don’t claim that Israel is perfect, but certainly, 43% of the world’s human rights abuses are not happening in Israel.  I’d be shocked if it amounted to as much as 1/4 of 1%, frankly.  Yet, this malicious, ridiculous, officially sanctioned UN body continues to be allowed to function, and we pay for it, financially and with the heavy weight of knowing that it is, in all senses of the word, wrong.

What on Earth is the purpose of this organization?  How does it forward the cause of human rights?  Why on Earth would ANY western country support it in its current configuration.

THREE DECISIONS about Syria????  Seriously?  ONE DECISION about Iran?

Give me a break.

Based on their decisions, the UNHRC has concluded that Israel is the world’s biggest abuser of Human Rights, by a mile, and now, while Syria burns, Libya and Egypt are suppressing human rights a mile a minute, Iran is killing and torturing dissidents, Venezuela’s Chavez is systematically destroying the rights of anyone dumb enough to oppose him, the Taliban continues to cut ears and noses off women who dare to go to school, conflicting Muslim sects blow up their opposition on a regular basis, and the list goes on and on and on and on.

I would support, in a heartbeat, the withdrawal of the US from the UNHRC AND cessation of payments of any kind to it.  If the abusers of the world want to use it as a forum for legitimization of their clear abuses, we should not be paying for it or providing it with any semblance of legitimacy.

And, based on Nuland’s (the State Dept spokeswoman, remember?) remarks, our State Department has its collective head FIRMLY cranially rectally inverted…..

It’s time to write your congressmen and senators, and demand that we withdraw from this ridiculous caricature of an organization, and that we encourage our allies to do the same.

Letter from Tammi Benjamin to Chancellor Wu of UC Hastings College of Law regarding anti-Semitic event planned for campus

Tammi Benjamin sent me a copy of the following letter, which she wrote to Chancellor Wu to protest an upcoming event entitled “Litigating Palestine:  Can Courts Secure Palestinian Rights.”

I am copying the letter in its entirety, and hope you will forward it to as many people as you can, and that you will voice your concerns about this event to Chancellor Wu.

Dear Chancellor Wu:

On March 25 and March 26, 2011, University of California Hastings College of the Law is officially co-sponsoring and funding a  conference entitled “Litigating Palestine: Can Courts Secure Palestinian Rights.” The conference is listed on Hastings’ official website, and you, in fact, are opening the conference by welcoming the participants.

It is, of course, completely within the purview of Hastings College of the Law to examine lawfare as it pertains to the Israeli-Arab conflict.  However, the authorized description of this event makes it clear that conference participants will be advocating for one side of the conflict, the Arab side, and seeking to exploit Western courts in order to agitate against Jews and the Jewish state through anti-Israel lawfare.  This is not only a misuse of the name and resources of the University of California for political and partisan purposes, it is also ethically and morally reprehensible.

Moreover, we believe that this event fits within the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism issued by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), endorsed by the U.S. State Department in its Reports on Global Anti-Semitism, and used as well by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in its examination of campus anti-Semitism.  As the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has observed, “Anti-Semitic bigotry is no less morally deplorable when camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism.”

The EUMC Working Definition identifies the following practices as anti-Semitic and distinguishes them from acceptable forms of criticism of a sovereign nation’s policies:

  • Denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination

  • Applying double standards by requiring of Israel behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

The Trans-Arab Research Institute, which is the sponsoring organization, has stated that part of its mission is the elimination of the Jewish state.  Several of its board members are affiliated with the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and serve as some of its leaders.  In addition, more than half of the speakers at the event are also affiliated with the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns, and at least one  talk will be devoted to finding legal strategies for defending these campaigns.

This leaves no doubt that the conference was organized for the purpose of harming the Jewish State. Your law school has provided funding and is therefore complicit in this effort.

The heads of sixty Jewish organizations — including the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations,  Bnai Brith, Hillel, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox movements,  both Democratic and Republican supporters, as well as organizations from Mexico, Australia, Belgium and the United Kingdom — have recently signed a statement identifying Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaigns against Israel as “part of a greater effort to undermine the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their homeland, Israel.”  They condemn such campaigns and assert that its “proponents have provoked deep divisions among students and have created an atmosphere of intolerance and hatred.”  We are copying this letter to the heads of many of those organizations.

Finally, we believe that this event may be in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Right Act.  As you probably know, there has been a recent change in the interpretation of Title VI by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.  Now, under Federal law, anti-Semitic animus on campus is comparable to other forms of bias and must be aggressively combated by the university administration.   The Office of Civil Rights has already opened two investigations of possible Title VI violations at the University of California.  One of the complaints, submitted by one of us, argues that university funded/sponsored events that are virulently anti-Israel have created a hostile environment for Jewish students at the University of California Santa Cruz, in violation of federal law.

For the reasons we have outlined above, we urge you to publicly announce that you are withdrawing all Hastings College of the Law funding and sponsorship of this event, as well as your own participation in it.

Sincerely,

Leila Beckwith, Professor Emeritus, University of California at Los Angeles

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, Lecturer, University of California at Santa Cruz

CC: Hastings College of the Law Board of Directors

Governor Jerry Brown

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom

State Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg

Assembly Speaker John A. Perez

Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma

Heads of the following organizations, who are signatory to a statement condemning Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns against Israel:

Aish HaTorah

Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity

American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE)

The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)

American Jewish Committee (AJC)

Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA)

B’nai B’rith International

The Board of Deputies of British Jews

Boycott Watch

Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations

The Fellowship for Campus Safety and Integrity

Hadassah

Hagshama – The Department for Diaspora Activities of the World Zionist

Organization

Hasbara Fellowships

Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life

The International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists

Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC)

The Israel Project (TIP)

Conrad Giles, Rabbi Steve Gutow

Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA)

The Jewish Federations of North America

Jewish National Fund (JNF)

Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI)

Masa Israel Journey

MERCAZ USA

National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ)

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC)

Orthodox Union (OU)

Rabbinical Assembly

Republican Jewish Committee (RJC)

Simon Weisenthal Center

StandWithUs

Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and campus division KOACH

Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

World Jewish Congress, North America

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)

Let’s Talk About Principles and Foreign Policy

Yesterday, I read a column by Isi Leibler, titled “Candidly Speaking: Obama and Jewish leadership”.  You can read it at this link:  http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=211477.

In the column, which discusses a recent meeting between President Obama and American Jewish leaders, one passage caught my eye and really made me think.

He said “But in response to expressions of regret at the harsh anti-Israeli statements made by US representatives before and after the vote, Obama stated that White House officials consider it imperative for the US “to do something to show balance” in view of the delicacy of Arab public opinion during these “sensitive” times.”

To me, this implies that Obama (whose views and philosophy regarding foreign policy are not unique in our government and the rest of the “politically correct” crowd) is more interested in displaying “balance” than in promoting what he believes is RIGHT.

What happened to the concept of having a position based on principles and supporting it?

Why is “balance” more important than having a philosophy based on a national, collective, moral belief system and standing up for what we believe in as a nation?   Why must we support all sides of a dispute, whether we really agree with them or not?  Do we not have any obligations whatsoever to our “allies”?

Is Israel our ally or not?

If so, why do we need to show “balance” toward the enemies of our ally?

If Israel is our ally, why do we need to prop up countries that overtly threaten Israel?  Why do we not tell the Palestinians that their demands are unreasonable, and that we will not give them money or support their views in any way until they actually sit down to negotiate with our ally?

Why is it so bad for us, as a nation, to pick a side?

We have already scared the crap out of our allies in the last two years with Obama’s clear need for the US to be friends with everyone.

Of course, that’s not realistic, the world doesn’t work that way.

Until we figure out what are the characteristics of those with whom we should be friends, we will muddle along offending true friends and allies at the expense of those who truly hate us.

The damage to our standing in the world from this lack of policy will be devastating to us in the long term.

We (Obama) have already proven to our allies that our word means nothing, driving countries like Turkey into the arms of Iran, who continues to thumb their noses at us.

We can either declare a set of principles to live by, and ally ourselves with other countries who share those principles, or we can continue to drift as we are doing now, leaving countries like Israel to suffer the consequences.

You may not have liked President Bush, but there was very little ambiguity about where we stood while he was president.  He picked a position, stuck to it, and made it clear to our friends and enemies that you should mess with it at your peril.

I miss that clarity of purpose.

Olympia Food Co-op Boycott of Israeli Products

Someone sent me the following, from the Olympia, WA Food Co-op.  They apparently are boycotting Israeli products.

I have copied the terms of their boycott just below, and then below that, my letter to them.

I urge you to write to them and make your opinion known, and for those of you in the Olympia area, please do more – let them know in person of your opinion.

Olympia Food Contact Info Protest Boycott:

board@olympiafood.coop

or call business office at 357-1106 ext 12

Olympia Food Co-Op Boycott

From the Olympia Food Co-Op website Conditions to End Boycott

1. Israel end its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantles the Wall;

2. Israel recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality;

3. Israel respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

======================================================

It is important for all fair-minded people who support the state of Israel to call or write Olympia food Co-op to protest this unreasonable, one-sided, and anti-Israel boycott. Based on the terms of the Co-op Israeli products will not be sold until Palestinian refugees were allowed to return to their homes and properties which in essence destroy the country of Israel as a Jewish state. It is ironic that the above conditions are even more radical against Israel than terms demanded by the PA authority in their negotiations with Israel.  Below is the contact information to protest the boycott of Israeli goods.

Olympia Food Contact Info Protest Boycott board@olympiafood.coop or by calling business office at 357-1106 ext 12

My letter to them:

Dear Olympia Food Co-Op Board,

I received an email telling me about your boycott of Israeli products and companies.

I certainly hope that you are going to boycott ALL countries in which oppression occurs.  I suggest you start with all the Arab countries (so no oil, dates, or whatever they provide), Venezuela, Argentina, most of Africa, France (since they’ve now outlawed the Burqa, oppressing the poor Muslims), and the US, since we clearly oppress minorities.

I also suggest that you not use ANY products developed in Israel, so throw away your cell phones, computers, Instant Messenging technology, many medical procedures and equipment, drip irrigation, and a host of other things that come from Israel and benefit you every day as you go about your life.  It’s not right that you should benefit from anything that comes from Israel, since you obviously hate it.

Singling out Israel (only) is ridiculous.

Arab citizens of Israel DO enjoy equal rights under the law, and have several political parties with their own members in the Knesset (parliament).  The only “right” they do not share is that of serving in the military.

Yes, Israel occupies part of the West Bank and is working to get out of most of the West Bank.  It is not a simple process, especially given that there is no single leadership on the Palestinian side who can actually make commitments to peace without being killed.  The struggle between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas (and several other fundamentalist Islamic groups) is well documented and not hidden.  The PA leadership cannot even enter Gaza for fear of their lives, yet, you would have Israel negotiate with them assuming that they can actually make peace.

Israel DID give up Gaza (and the Sinai to Egypt), although the cost to them has been enormous in subsequent terror attacks from Gaza against Israel’s Southern residents (thousands of rockets hardly shows a desire for peace and harmony).

I suspect that your promotion of the “right” of Arab refugees to return to their homes is a noble one, but based on fantasy.  It simply cannot happen without the destruction of the state of Israel.

So, what you are saying is that you simply don’t want to buy products from Jews, since there is no way a Jewish state can fulfill your demands.  That, to me, is anti-Semitism.  Racism.  Discrimination.  All the things you apparently are opposed to, yet promulgate.

By the way, what is your reaction to the approximately 800,000 Jews who left (either voluntarily or forced out from) the Arab countries between 1947 and 1952?  Most were absorbed into Israel, most left their homes with nothing but the clothing on their backs, while their belongings were confiscated.

I also suppose you’re going to agitate for the return of THEIR property and belongings.  How about the Indians and Pakistanis who effectively (and quite literally) executed a massive population exchange when Pakistan was created?  Are you going to boycott both those countries until the Hindus and Muslims get their rights back?

How about the treatment of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, where they cannot work in a LONG list of professions, cannot obtain citizenship, cannot live outside the camps, and are severely restricted in travel?  Are you protesting their treatment, which is orders of magnitude worse than anything they endure by Israel?  Or do you only care about discrimination by Jews?

I am sure that your rationale is well intentioned, but it is also totally naïve and based on a thorough lack of education and knowledge of the history of the Middle East.

I urge you to acquire that knowledge – not going back 10 years, 20 years, or 30 years, but going back much farther in history, learning about the demographics of “Palestine” over the centuries, learning exactly who are the “Palestinians”, what did they actually own (not much, in truth), etc.  You fuss over East Jerusalem, I’m sure, but until 1948, Jews were the MAJORITY in Jerusalem, including East Jerusalem.  When Jordan conquered Jerusalem in 1948, they drove the Jewish residents out and then restricted all access to the holy sites.

But, as knee-jerk liberals rallying to a cause, I’m sure none of that matters to you.

Obviously, my perspective is that you should end your boycott.  Certainly, if I lived in your area, I would be boycotting YOU.  Unfortunately, though, I don’t live nearby, so I have to make do with an email.

I hope it at least makes you think about the ramifications of what you’re doing, but I suspect that it won’t.

John Poris

Ground Zero Mosque

What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t weigh in on the latest controversy?

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the controversy surrounding the possible building of a huge Islamic Cultural Center and Mosque close to Ground Zero, where about 3,000 people lost their lives in a terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslims.

There is a huge uproar over the insensitivity of the Islamic community, wanting to put a mosque so close to the site.

Some attribute dark motives, others attribute it to simple insensitivity, others claim that it’s simply a good location and building.

There is great speculation over how, exactly, this is all being paid for, with much public demand for clarity over the funding.

What is clear, is that an Islamic group, whose Imam probably has ties to terror groups, wants to make this a huge deal.

My personal view is that it’s at minimum in very poor taste, and extremely insensitive on the part of the Imam and his followers.  My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims, who must certainly view this as someone stomping on the graves of their loved ones.

My American, liberty-revering side says that we must grant the Muslims the permissions to build wherever they like and can afford to build, ensuring that they will be “good neighbors”, just like anyone else.

Our country was founded on the tenets of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the principles that we are all equal, at least in the eyes of the law, and it is wrong to discriminate against a religious group wanting a place to worship.

On the other hand (come on, you knew there was another hand, didn’t you?), this is not the usual conflict over having a house of worship built in someone’s neighborhood.

In truth, I am conflicted.

My Freedom loving side says “let them build it wherever they want.  It’s a free country, and people are free to exhibit poor taste and judgment.”.

My Cautious and Suspicious side says “don’t let them do it.  It’s just another beachhead in the invasion of our country and the push by Islamic fundamentalists to destroy our freedoms and way of life, and to tear down the very principles on which our country was founded.”

Honestly, I’m glad I don’t live in New York and that I don’t have to make the decision about this mosque.  I suspect that I would probably find a way to prevent it from being built if I were in charge, but I also suspect that I might not like myself very much for doing so.

So, what do YOU think?

A new “Pet Peeve”

I recently took a road trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (beautiful drive, by the way – Northern Michigan is stunning).

We spent about 4 hours driving up I-75 the first day, then drove around, all over Northern Michigan, then spent 4 hours driving home, mostly on I-75 again.

I can’t even begin to figure out how many times some driver would decide to just loll along in the left (fast) lane, going the same speed as the cars in the right lane, as a line of traffic built up behind him or her.

It was a bit scary to watch as drivers began taking extraordinary risks to get around these road hogs by squeezing too closely between cars, cutting the road hog off because they were pissed off, or in general driving much faster than they should just to get around them.

People – if you aren’t passing, leave the left (fast, passing) lane open.  If someone comes up behind you in the left lane, move over and let them go by.

By deliberately blocking them, or by being so obtuse and unaware that there are cars waiting to pass you, YOU are creating a danger.

“But wait”, you say, “I’m driving the speed limit or just above it”.

So what?  Some people are willing to take the risk of going faster and maybe being in an accident or getting a ticket.  That is not your concern or responsibility, it is the responsibility of the police.

If YOU act like a turtle, YOU may be causing an accident.

Just get out of the way!

Foreign “Policy”?

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the foreign “policy” of our current president, Barack Obama.

While reading an article this morning (see below), my vague feelings (ok, not so vague) coalesced.

Here’s the article, if you’d like to read it.http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37523915/ns/world_news-washington_post

Our current government’s “foreign policy” appears to be that it is our duty to treat everyone (friend, foe, ally, neutral)  in the world equally, and to behave in accordance with what the majority of nations decree is “right”.

This is a wonderfully naive perspective, since clearly, many of the nations of the world don’t have our best interests, or those of our closest allies, at heart.

Sometimes, the majority opinion does NOT reflect what is morally or ethically (per OUR morals and ethics) “right”.

The treatment of Israel by a large majority of the countries in the world is a prime example.

Our ethics tell us that everyone should be treated fairly.  We are not doing that to Israel – we and the rest of the world have singled them out and are holding them to a higher standard.  Turn the other cheek, then turn it again, then again, then again, etc.

We (the world) demand self-flagellating behaviors from Israel that we wouldn’t consider demanding from ANY other country in the world.

But, even worse is our (America’s) current self-flagellation at the expense of the worst the world has to offer.

Of course, let’s put their interests first!  Of course we’ve hurt other countries!  Of course we’ve offended others!  We must apologize and propitiate ourselves in order to make them like us.

But, what if these actions strengthen those who wish to hurt or destroy us?

Not everyone in the world has such a “Pollyanna-ish” perspective.

There are plenty of countries rejoicing that we are not standing by our friends and that we are putting the interests of the world community before our own.

Maslow, in his famous hierarchy,    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maslow%27s_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svg describes how needs are determined and typically addressed.

First are physiological needs – food, water, air, etc.  The absolute basics required to survive.

Next are needs related to safety – security of employment, resources, employment, family, body, health, etc.

After that comes love and belonging between friends and family, and only after that come achievement, belonging, self-esteem, respect of others, and respect by others.

It seems to me that Obama, in his policies, is ignoring that the basic needs of the collective American “I” must be met first before worrying about the collective “wants” of the rest of the world.

It is his job to secure OUR survival first, THEN worry about what the rest of the world thinks of him.

Throwing friends to the wolves reduces our security, and provides a false sense of belonging to the worldwide community.

Many of the nations of the world wish us harm.  Of this, there can be no doubt.

Not everyone who tells us they’re our friend has our best interests at heart.

There is a very long list of countries who would like nothing better than to see the United States fail.  Many have tremendous jealousy of our way of life at the same time they profess to abhor it.  Then, there are those who truly despise our way of life and what we stand for.

Appeasement of these nations in no way serves our best interests, nor does it make us safer.  The opposite, in fact.

Appeasement as policy does not work.  Just ask Neville Chamberlain.  Had the United States stood by and let OUR ALLIES be conquered, getting along in Europe today would involve knowing only one language – German – instead of the joys of myriad different cultures.

We, as a Republic (which is NOT the same as a Democracy!!!), stand for the rights of individuals, for self-determination, and for freedom.

Most of the countries which Mr. Obama is trying to appease have absolutely no desire to embrace ANY of our principles, are not and never will truly be our “friends”, and on a more basic level, wish we would just go away, along with Israel.

I think Mr. Obama is doing us, as a nation, a severe disservice by making us appear weak in the eyes of the world, and by not standing firm by Israel’s side, he is signaling to the rest of the world that our guarantees of the security of our friends means absolutely nothing.  That it is safe to attack and isolate our friends because clearly, we won’t lift a finger to help them, since that might make other countries not like us.

What a sad time for us…..