Kamala Harris’s reaction to a college student’s anti-Israel calumny is of a piece with recent worrying developments within the Democratic Party. (VP Harris ‘strongly disagrees’ with student who slandered Israel,” December 3) Lest we forget:
• House Speaker Nancy Pelosi excused Representative Ilhan Omar’s intolerable pattern of antisemitic pronouncements by asserting absurdly that, “[Omar] has a different experience in use of words. [She] doesn’t realize that some of them are fraught with meaning that she didn’t realize.”
• There has been scant criticism of Rep. Rashida Tlaib for her close ties to unrepentant antisemite Louis Farrakhan. Nor have the Democrats censured her for anti-Israel libels such as, “Israel is a racist state and they [the Jews] would deny Palestinians, like my grandmother, access to a vaccine.”
• Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has repeatedly defended Omar and Tlaib, and has compared migrant facilities at the US-Mexico border to “concentration camps”– a form of Holocaust trivialization/denial.
• Most recently, these three were joined by six other Representatives in temporarily blocking Iron Dome funding because they “oppose war crimes against Palestinians,” implying that this purely defensive system was responsible for Palestinian deaths. In reality, they seem offended that more Jews aren’t being murdered. The fact that Congress overwhelmingly restored the funding a few days later was a welcome if temporary respite from the progressives’ attacks.
• Many Democrats support the BDS movement and enthusiastically support Black Lives Matter founders with a record of antisemitism and close ties to terrorist Linda Sarsour.
• And now Harris nods in apparent agreement as a college student accuses Israel of “ethnic genocide.” She then responded, “Your voice, your perspective… your truth should not be suppressed.” It took Harris two full days to backtrack on her silence in the face of this slander, and then only by means of a statement from her office rather than by a personal mea culpa.
While some American Jewish organizations, especially those on the Left, gladly accepted Harris’s apology, it was too little too late. A person’s true feelings often are most evident in their immediate reactions. Here, Harris’s instinct was to nod in agreement. Perhaps in that moment she decided to avoid offending the Democratic Party’s far-left supporters, confident that the majority of Jews would continue to vote for her party as they have in the past. If that was her calculation, it is fair to wonder what future anti-Israel or antisemitic statements and policies she might be willing to champion for political gain.
Vice President Kamala Harris was not the first US public figure to offer no rebuke when Israel was the victim of vicious slander.
In 1999, Hillary Clinton, then First Lady and presumed NY senatorial candidate, listened silently as Palestinian health care officials accused Israel of contaminating Palestinian water and air. The venom continued as Suha Arafat, wife of former PA head Yasser Arafat, argued that the Israeli military regularly used carcinogenic crowd-control gases in Gaza and the West Bank, leading to an increase in cancer cases among women and children. Clinton said nothing and even kissed Ms. Arafat on the cheek as she concluded her lies and baseless charges.
Only later did Clinton engage in damage control and denounce the accusations that were targeted at Israel. Considering the fact that she had a reasonably successful career – US Senator, secretary of state, presidential candidate – she was not in any way penalized for a response that was too little and too late. And, I suspect, neither will Harris.
While Kamala Harris’s spin control staff works overtime to somehow paint the VP’s unwillingness or inability to respond to a student’s off-topic and utterly false slander of Israel in a positive light, one might note that Harris has become a star on Iranian state media.
Press TV, an Iran-affiliated international outlet, prominently featured the “ethnic genocide” exchange. No editing was needed. How inept must a US vice president be to become a darling of Iranian propaganda?
For obvious reasons, US President Joe Biden’s staff prevents him from answering unscreened questions at events; perhaps Harris’s staff should consider taking that same unfortunate approach.
Yet another prominent Democrat goes on record gratuitously attacking Israel.
Regarding “Former Vermont governor calls Israel an apartheid state” (October 3), Howard Dean is wrong. Israel is not an “apartheid state.” Not even close.
South African “apartheid” was all-encompassing systemic societal segregation. Many who experienced it and later visited Israel have scoffed at such a ridiculous comparison. Dean’s false assertions, that “Palestinian property is being confiscated in East Jerusalem” and “unarmed Palestinians are being killed in the West Bank by the IDF and settlers,” even if true, would not even begin to make the cut.
Dean, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is a particularly outrageous example of the anti-Israel agitation now sweeping America. He ignorantly tosses out words indiscriminately, without ever considering what they imply, or how slanderous they are. No matter how much he screams, as when he collapsed his forlorn presidential campaign, he only demonstrates just what a fool he is.
For the record, those Jerusalem properties he refers to are Jewish owned and decades-long eviction proceedings are still ongoing. Even more so than in America, “unarmed” assailant claims are the constant, tendentious, claims of activists. Surely, Dean can make better use of his time than acting as a conduit for Palestinian propaganda.
RICHARD D. WILKINS
Syracuse, New York
In ”Sarah Silverman denounces Squad over Iron Dome stance” (October 4), it is reported that after declaring “the occupation is not right,” Susan Silverman implored the progressive US congresswomen known as the Squad not to oppose funding for the Iron Dome defense system. Her reasoning was “you know my family lives there.” The implication is that if she did not have immediate family members here, it would be okay to deny Israel a vitally needed defense system.
This statement discloses one of the fundamental problems of Jewish progressives in the United States. They deny or don’t understand that all Jews are one family without being personally related. That is why Israel, among other less prominent activities, used its national resources to support the movement to free Soviet Jewry in the 1970s and 1980s, and to bring tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews here in the 1990s. And this is only a partial list of Israeli efforts to assist fellow Jews around the world.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that progressive politics is replacing Judaism as the faith of a significant number of American Jews.
The release of the Pandora Papers (“Massive leak reveals Abdullah hiding millions” October 4) bodes ill for the citizens of Israel involved and certainly brings into disrepute the Members of the Knesset – so called “lawmakers” who ignore the rules. Since the Ethics Committee rule requiring new MKs to sell or lease their holdings to a person who is not a relative, how can a former mayor of our capital and largest city, MK Nir Barkat, disregard these mandatory requirements at will?
We expect those in the political echelons to set an example and not make feeble excuses. If an average citizen of Israel made such excuses for not upholding the law he would be laughed out of court and subjected to a serve financial penalty. We must not tolerate such excuses from our politicians who consider themselves above the law!.
Dealing with the Iran deal
In “How to stop Iran from achieving a nuclear bomb “ (September 30), former defense minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon blames US president Donald Trump and the warnings by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the US withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal with Iran.
In a nutshell, the JCPOA deal reached with Iran in 2015 was designed to place restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program for only a limited period of time. If Iran agreed to the deal then sanctions would be removed.
Between $100 and $150 billion in Iranian assets held in Western financial institutions was transferred to Iran. The deal bolstered Iran’s ability to destabilize the Middle East. Clearly the deal itself was the problem.
If anyone has primary responsibility for the present situation regarding Iran, that person is ex-president Barack Obama. His promotion of the Iran deal was precisely in line with his thinking toward Islam as a peace-loving religion. Nothing could be further from the truth in regard to Iran. The fact that President Joe Biden has so far not repudiated anything promoted by Obama is further cause for concern. The onus for the Iran deal and its consequences should not be obfuscated.
Has hasbara been humdrum?
Regarding “To deny the Big Lie” (Letters, October 4), our grassroots umbrella organization Coalition of Hasbara Volunteers (CoHaV) has contact with 140 organizations worldwide challenging Israel’s negative publicity with facts.
Discussions on messaging have taken place many times over the years, some with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Some years ago there was an agreement to utilize the term “The Land of Creative Energy” which many have adopted. However this alone was an insufficient answer for the hasbara community.
Inadequate monitoring of the activities of the many grassroots organizations by the MFA, results in each organization developing its own messaging tailored to suit their target population.
With reference to the message suggested by the letter writer, do we really want to refer to “Palestine” in our message? Using accurate terms is a key weapon in countering the propaganda and lies used against Israel. Terms such as “Palestine,” “occupation,” “settlements,” “West Bank,” “East Jerusalem,” “right of return” and “security barrier” are all damaging content for our message.
I would submit that the core need of hasbara is to challenge the constant messages by many Arabs and their supporters for a land “From the river to the sea” free of Jews.
Shoresh, Director of CoHaV (Cohav.org)
Time to fight crime
Your coverage of the government decision (“IDF, Shin Bet to help curb crime among Arab-Israelis,” October 4) to use Shin Bet and IDF to root out crime in the Arab sector, listed all of our security leadership, but no Arab leadership, unless they were included in the “others” category. Why? Isn’t this their problem? How can we get cooperation from the mayors and religious leaders in these towns and cities if they are left out of the planning process? Or am I missing something?
Where to park an ark
Regarding “Has the location of Noah’s Ark finally been proven using 3D scans?” (October 3), I remember reading many years ago that during World War II, the American bomber pilots would report that at certain times of the year they would see what looked like a large “boat” on one part of Mt. Ararat, hanging off a cliff.
Turkey, after the war, stopped anyone from looking for that “boat.” I have heard it said the reason why they did so was because of their Muslim religion. If the Ark were found that would prove that the Hebrew religion was true because the story told in the Book of Genesis was true. So the Ark remains unseen.
Watering down the message
Regarding “UN calls for water equity between Israelis, Palestinians” (October 3), once again, the UN is abetting Palestinian leaders in shirking their responsibilities. According to the UN, it doesn’t matter if the poorly maintained pipes in Gaza and Areas A and B are leaking; Israel must continue to supply water that will be wasted.
Palestinian leaders can’t be expected to create agencies that will maintain infrastructure and create jobs for the people living under their administration. The leaders are too busy growing their bank accounts with monies donated for their people’s benefit, building missiles to be fired at Israeli population centers, suing Israel in international courts, and screaming about genocide (even as their people’s numbers are growing).
And, of course, the PA can’t be investing in developing the economy in Areas A and B while it is busy moving its people into Area C (designated by Oslo to be fully under Israeli control).
The Palestinian leaders make no bones about it. They don’t want to share; they want all the land (“From the river to the sea!”) and it is Israel’s responsibility to ensure that the Palestinians have everything they need to destroy the nation-state of the Jews.
What a travesty the UN has become.
TOBY F. BLOCK
Agrees with Abbas
It’s not often that I agree with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, but I certainly agree with his call for confidence-building measures (“Abbas calls for confidence-building measures with Israel in meeting with Meretz delegation,” October 5.) Indeed, I have a few suggestions for him:
1. End his pay-to-slay program.
2. Publicly repudiate his foreign minister’s announcement more than five years ago that the Palestinian Authority would never again negotiate directly with Israel and instead agree to direct negotiations without preconditions.
3. Stop slandering Israel with his false accusations of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and war crimes and apologize to the International Court of Justice for wasting its time with investigations of his phony allegations.
4. Acknowledge his demand for a so-called “right-of-return” is nonsensical and has merely been one more item in his peace-avoidance toolbox.
5. Acknowledge the deep, historical connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, far surpassing the politically motivated connections of Arabs and Muslims, and agree that Jerusalem must remain unified under Israeli sovereignty.
Over the last few decades, Israel has taken countless unreciprocated measures to build the confidence of the Palestinian Arabs in its desire to live in peace; some reciprocity is long overdue. Talk is cheap; let’s see Abbas back up his call for confidence-building measures with some meaningful action.
Abbas has called for confidence-building measures with Israel. An appropriate start would be for the PA to acknowledge that the Jews are an ancient people who have returned to their Biblical homeland where they have lived for almost 3,300 years
I, like billions of other junkies of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, was shocked, outraged, helpless and near-suicidal at the catastrophic outage (“Social media apps hit by global outage,” October 5).
Among the suggested reasons for the social media apocalypse: a problem with the Domain Name System; a configuration error; possibly even insider sabotage.
But what are the underlying root causes? It is obvious to anybody with a smartphone that climate warming is the main factor. These hyper-complicated electronic systems are highly susceptible to temperature changes. Who doesn’t put a cooling fan under his laptop? Even insider sabotage could be caused by climate warming since it is also a medical true fact (published in peer-reviewed journals) that even slightly higher temperatures can fry your brain and lead to aggressive dementia.
The silver lining to this deadly black cloud is that the authorities – civil, military, governmental, social media oligarchs, UN functionaries – will now diligently come together to stop global warming. It may be that this forced international cooperation will bring us all together and lead to a friendlier and cooler world.
Otherwise, all is lost. People cannot live without their social media outlets.
It’s a (wo)man’s job
In “Michaeli demands two female Supreme Court judges” (October 5) Transportation Minister Michaeli insists that two of the new appointees to the Court be women.
As a retired professional woman, I vehemently want to disagree with her. Throughout my working life, I fought for equal pay for equal work. However, in no way would I want to countenance a situation where a woman would be selected for gender. In that respect, women and men should be equal, and the best-qualified individuals should be selected – either male or female.