Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What American Jews Believe

As do many fringe groups, Jewish Voice for Peace sometimes tries to cast itself as representing the mainstream, while painting the moderate majority on the left-of-center, center, and right-of-center as extremists.

Just to reground ourselves: what do American Jews really think about the Middle East conflict? The results of a recent poll answering that question can be found here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pass the Bourbon, Pass on the Bowmore

This blog post is not strictly about MuzzleWatch and its parent organization Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). It is, however, about the bitter fruits of their efforts.

As I've explained here, JVP, despite its name, is not  peace group. It is an anti-Israel group.

JVP is a proponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel for its presence in the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem (which includes the Jewish Quarter). In other words, it promotes boycotting the Jewish state because Palestinian leaders have said no each time Israel offered almost all of the West Bank and Gaza in exchange for a secure peace agreement. Meanwhile, it is not a proponent of boycotting the Palestinians for rejecting those offers, for targeting Israeli civilians with rockets from Gaza, for repeatedly honoring terrorists thus teaching Palestinian children that the murder of Jewish children is a noble deed.

What does this all have to do with bourbon? Well, read on. Below is an unauthorized cross-post from the Muqata blog. I hope he forgives me.

To The Fine Whisky Distillers of West Dunbartonshire;

Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd.
Auchentoshan Distillery, Dalmuir, Clydebank, Dunbartonshire G81 4SJ
Distillers of Auchintoshan, Bowmore, Glen Garioch, McClelland’s

Loch Lomond Distillery Co. Ltd
Lomond Industrial Estate, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire G83 0TL
Distillers of Loch Lomond, Scots Earl, Distillery Select, Glen Scotia,
Littlemill, Croftengea, Craigslodge, Inchmurrin, Glen Douglas, Inchfad

Chivas Brothers
Kilmalid, Stirling Road, Dumbarton, Lanarkshire, G82 2SS
Distillers of Ballantine’s, Chivas, Royal Salute, Clan Campbell,
Something Special, Passport, 100 Pipers, Imperial, Long John
Aberlour, The Glenlivet, Glendronach, Strathisla, Longmorn, Scapa
Tormore, Jameson, Paddy, Powers
Walker Special Old, Wisers


I would like to preface this letter, in that I have enjoyed your fine whisky products for many years, and believe they are truly world-class. Unfortunately, due to the actions of your esteemed West Dunbartonshire council members, I will not be able to enjoy your whisky in the foreseeable future.

It has come to my attention that the West Dunbartonshire Council claims to have voted unanimously to boycott Israeli products.

The West Dunbartonshire Council clearly states their point on their website, updated on the 30th of May, 2011.


The actual boycott resolution is as follows:

‘This Council deplores the loss of life in Palestine which now numbers well over 1,000. This Council also recognises the disproportionate force used by the IDF in Palestine and agrees to boycott all Israeli goods as a consequence. Officers should immediately cease the purchase of any goods we currently source, which were made or grown in Israel. Officers should also ensure we procure no new goods or produce from Israel until this boycott is formally lifted by WDC.’

I find it disturbing that the esteemed council found no reason to mention the reason for the IDF’s operation in Gaza. There was no mention of the intentional targeting of civilian infants, children, women and men by Gaza’s Hamas government, the thousands of rockets they launched at Israel’s civilian population, and the restraint that Israel employed over the previous years when attacked on a daily basis.

The IDF does not target civilians. The vast majority of Palestinians that Israel killed have been terrorists. Go check the facts. I have. Palestinians terrorists routinely use hospitals, mosques, and schools to launch their rocket attacks on Israel. Try defending your population from terrorists and see if you can guarantee zero collateral damage. Does your council not condemn the barbarism of the Arab terrorist because in the back of their minds they are concerned terrorists might hunt them down and terrorize THEIR families?

Why was there an IDF operation in Gaza in the first place? To oppress poor Palestinian Arabs? How would you deal with Gazas’ Arabs’ targeting Scotland’s babies, other children, and other civilians. Have you not seen the pictures of atrocities the Arabs have visited on innocent children, or does your council not care? We are not talking about isolated attacks on Israel, but about thousands of rockets they have launched at Israel’s civilian population.

The restraint of Israel under attack is astounding. Colonel Richard Kemp, previous Commander of British Armed Forces in Afghanistan said when presenting his report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in October 2009: “During its operation in Gaza, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.” (source)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to the US Congress last week: "Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel's Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights. I want you to stop for a second and think about that. Of those 300 million Arabs, less than one half of 1% are truly free, and they're all citizens of Israel! This startling fact reveals a basic truth: Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East; Israel is what is right about the Middle East!" (source)

Lastly, the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas stated this past Saturday that the future state of Palestine will be “free of Jews.” (source)

The State of Israel offers equal freedom for all its citizens, Jew, Arab, and Christian alike, including full parliamentary and judiciary representation. The State of Israel is the unchallenged leader of democracy in the Middle East, and the West Dunbartonshire Council boycott unfortunately attempts to undermine the very success of Israel as a democracy.

Therefore, it saddens me to have to inform you that the global counter-boycott of Scottish whisky products, distilled in the West Durbanshire Council region, is beginning. I don’t know anyone who bears malice toward these fine distilleries. When, however, your local council representatives boycott my country, under the most unethical and immoral of pretext, you cannot expect your market to sit idly and pretend you are not perverting justice.

• The counter-boycott is on the purchase of Scottish Whisky, distilled in the West Durbanshire council region.
• The counter-boycott is not retroactive and applies only to purchases made from June 2011 onwards.
• The counter-boycott will not prevented global residents from purchasing whisky products, distilled outside of West Dunbartonshire.
• Attempts to depict this counter-boycott as racist are also entirely inaccurate. The counter-boycott is instigated in response to conduct and boycott initiated by the West Durbanshire Council and applies to no specific ethnic or religious group. This is in direct opposition to the West Durbanshire Council which refuses to condemn the actions of Palestinian terrorists targeting Israeli civilians and the anti-Semitic, racist declarations of the Palestinian Authority, which calls for a “Jew-free” apartheid, State of Palestine.

The counter-boycott is publicizing the list of West Durbanshire distilled whisky by internet and distributing press releases to news agencies and others around the globe.


Jameel Rashid
The Muqata Blog

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Heckling, Intimidation and Violence Silences Israeli Law Lecturer

MuzzleWatch and Jewish Voice for Peace insult the public's intelligence when they shamelessly promote themselves as being dedicated to free speech and peace, when in fact, just below the flimsy facade, they are nothing more than anti-Israel propaganda organizations.

Especially insulting, too, is their favorite talking point — that anti-Israel activists are "muzzled" by the Jewish establishment. This is offensive because the evidence, some of which I try to highlight on this blog, shows that if anyone is in danger of being systematically muzzled, it is those who defend Israel. I'm not aware of any incident in which crowds of pro-Israel activists violently acted to intimidate pro-Palestinian speakers. Yet from Concordia to York to Queen's University in Belfast, Israel's defenders have been harassed and intimidated in appalling ways.

From the UK's Jewish Chronicle:

An Israeli law lecturer had to be rescued by security officers when a seminar was abandoned after being disrupted by pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

Solon Solomon, a former legal adviser to the Knesset Foreign Affairs committee, had been invited to speak to law school students at Queen's University in Belfast.

But he was heckled by members of the university's Palestine Solidarity Society (PSS) and the youth wing of Sinn Féin shortly after starting his lecture about the legality of Israel's security wall on Wednesday last week.
Sally Wheeler, the law school acting head, abandoned the lunchtime session after less than 10 minutes, and a security team bundled Mr Solomon out of the lecture theatre.

Protesters then surrounded the room where Mr Solomon and other panel members were sheltering.
When the security team eventually moved him out of the university building, protesters attacked the car he was travelling in, punching the vehicle and attempting to smash its windows. One person's foot was run over in the melee.Mr Solomon declined to comment on the incident this week.

A spokeswoman for Queen's University said an investigation had been launched. She added: "We are disappointed that the event could not take place."

Supporters of the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel group were in the audience for the lecture but said that they had been forced to hide on the building's top floor until the protest ended, as they felt intimidated.

The protest was organised by Gary Spedding, president of the university's Palestine Solidarity Society. Mr Spedding works for the Holy Land Trust charity, which seeks to empower Palestinians in the West Bank.
When not studying in Belfast, he lives in Bethlehem.

Mr Spedding, who led the disruption in the lecture theatre by shouting at Mr Solomon, said the attack on the Israeli's car was not perpetrated by PPS supporters and said he did not condone violence.

Stephen Jaffe, of Northern Ireland Friends of Israel, said: "The situation on campus is extremely menacing for any speaker or student who is brave enough to be supportive of Israel."

MuzzleWatch and its parent organization Jewish Voice for Peace, of course, don't have anything to say about this incident; they don't care about when pro-Israel voices are gagged. On the contrary, as readers of this blog know, they celebrate the stifling of those who disagree with their radical politics.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Raheem Kassam on silencing of Israeli Bedouin diplomat: "Gagging is contrary to freedom of speech"

Raheem Kassam, director of Student Rights, a London-based organization which fights extremism on campus, is appalled. MuzzleWatch surely is not. And we are left with another example of speech actually being muzzled. An excerpt:

Described as a scene “reminiscent of tyrants silencing their opposition,” a student organization has condemned a group of protesters who disrupted a talk at a Scottish university by an Israeli- Arab diplomat accusing them of shutting down debate and free speech.

On Wednesday evening, a group of anti-Israel activists, mainly nonstudents, descended on an event at Edinburgh University where Ishmael Khaldi, an Israeli Beduin diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was scheduled to address students.

The protesters surrounded the senior Muslim diplomat and hurled abuse at him. Security officers had to be brought in to contain the situation and the event was eventually canceled.

“This isn’t free speech; it is hatred, it is vandalism,” Khaldi told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.

“These activists abuse the values of freedom and democracy of the UK, they put the seeds of hatred in Europe and they betray the cause of moderate Palestinians who, despite everything, are ready to do everything to reach reconciliation and peace with Israel, toward establishing an independent Palestinian state.”

Israel’s ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor said he was not surprised to see this at a British university.

“Ishmael Khaldi reflects the tolerant and open Israel of 2011,” said the ambassador. “These attempts to suppress his freedom of speech come as no surprise.

Once more a British university views this intimidating, mob-rule as acceptable.”

Raheem Kassam, director of Student Rights, a London-based organization which fights extremism on campus, was appalled by the crowd’s behavior.

“It’s a shame these protesters, many of whom weren’t even students, didn’t feel confident enough to quiz Mr. Khaldi in a rational and academic manner,” he said.

Kassam highlighted that an event with the editor of an Arabic newspaper, Abdel Bari Atwan, at the London School of Economics in December was not disrupted despite radical views that people disagree with.

“Atwan is on record as claiming he would dance in Trafalgar Square if Iranian missiles hit Israel. However, his event was not subject to the disruption that took place at Edinburgh. It flies in the face of those who defend controversial speakers on campuses, if they attempt to silence people they don’t agree with.

“This gagging is contrary to the freedom of speech student groups work hard to defend,” Kassam said.

MuzzleWatch Discovers "Legitimate Expression"

Jewish Voice for Peace, again taking issue with the punishment of students who repeatedly disrupted a speech at UC Irvine by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, seems to have discovered the concept of "legitimate expression in an open and democratic society." A press release by the organization, quoted in the Los Angeles Times, uses this phrase to describe the planned interruption of a speech by members of the Muslim Student Union.

Looking back through this blog's postings, it seems pretty clear that to JVP (and its subsidiary MuzzleWatch) "legitimate expression" means anything said or done in order to criticize Israel. Meanwhile, the organization continues to regard anything said or done in order to defend Israel against unfair attacks as "muzzling."

Speaking of this LA Times piece, the reporter describes Jewish Voice for Peace as "a liberal group that advocates for peace between Israelis and Palestinians and against Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories." This, I believe, is an inadequately vague description that serves to mislead readers. Because that phase could be used to describe groups like Peace Now and B'tselem, which , faults and falsehoods notwithstanding, belong in a wholly different category than Jewish Voice for Peace. A "liberal group that advocates for peace between Israelis and Palestinians and against Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories" could also describe those who call themselves "liberal Zionists," or even members of Israel's mainstream Labor party.

Again, JVP does not fit in with these groups, and so should not share a description with them. It is, at best, a radical anti-Israel group.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Iranian Embassy Pressure, Anonymous Threats, Forced Cancellation of Film

Now this is an example of stifling free speech. The Ottawa Citizen reported yesterday that

Threatening e-mails and phone calls resulted in the cancellation Tuesday evening of a film that exposes Iran’s efforts to build nuclear weapons and promote terrorism.

The threats followed a formal complaint last weekend from the Iranian Embassy, seeking to stop the showing of the film Iranium at Library and Archives Canada.

It should come as no surprise to readers of this blog that MuzzleWatch, which pretends to care about free speech, had nothing at all to say about this straightforward attempt to muzzle the open exchange of ideas.