On April 25, over 1000 New York-area Jewish extremists gathered in midtown Manhattan to rally against the Barack Obama administration’s call for a freeze on construction in occupied East Jerusalem and to demand unlimited rights to colonize the West Bank. With Obama and top White House officials engaged in a charm offensive to repair their relationship with mainstream American Jewish organizations, speakers at the rally lashed out at the Jewish groups and Democratic politicians, warning that cozying up to Obama would endanger Israel and imperil their cherished settlement enterprise.
Schumer and another major New York-area Jewish Democrat, Rep. Anthony Weiner, have scrambled to appease the extreme pro-settler elements railing against Obama. On the radio show of Nachum Segal, a right-wing Orthodox Jew popular among the demonstrators, Schumer called Obama’s demands to stop the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem “counter-productive” and boasted about warning White House aides that he would “publicly blast” them if the President did not relent.
But Schumer’s pandering appeared to be futile. At the rally, demonstrators waved placards reading, “Where’s Schumer?” and complained to me that the senator’s criticism of Obama was too little, too late.
The Tel Aviv University/Stephen Roth Institute’s newly released study on anti-Semitism in 2009 is getting loads of media attention. Among the many outlets that have reported its findings are the AP, CNN, and Haaretz.
“Anti-Semitic incidents Doubled Last Year,” blared the AP headline.
Sponsored by the European Jewish Congress and produced with help from researchers around the world, including the Anti-Defamation League’s Aryeh Tuchman, the report’s release was timed to coincide with Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Roth Institute’s director, Dinah Porat, who also sits on the board at the Israeli Holocaust research center, Yad Vashem, declared at a recent press conference that anti-Semitism is directly linked to anti-Zionism. This is also the conclusion of her group’s report, which focuses on the alleged connection between anti-Semitic acts and Israel’s assault on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009.
The Roth Institute identifies the UK and France as centers of anti-Semitism, but also centers in on American targets, including the widely praised Palestinian author Ali Abunimah and the Muslim students at UC-Irvine who heckled Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.
Judge Richard Goldstone, a Jewish self-proclaimed Zionist, is also named among the Institute’s gallery of dangerous anti-Semites. “In November, extensive criticism of Israel in the media following the release of the Goldstone Report probably served as a trigger for another spike in hate crimes against Jews,” the report states. Since there is no evidence to back their claim up, the authors slipped in the word, “probably.”
Mainstream Muslim groups in the US like the Islamic Circle of North America could not escape being tagged as Jew haters either, though the report once again provides no concrete evidence to support its characterization. Thus readers must accept on faith — or the basis of their preconceptions about Muslims — that members of the ICNA like to “rail against Jews.”
Imagine that the US military ordered the arrest of the person who leaked the now-notorious video depicting US soldiers mowing down two Reuters journalists and a crowd of innocent Iraqis. Then imagine that a court then imposed a gag order forbidding all American reporters and bloggers from even mentioning the arrest of the leaker. What would the media blackout say about the state of American democracy?
Of course this hypothetical scenario would be unthinkable in a country like the US, which boasts a grand tradition of whisteblowing, and which has shield laws in 36 states. The reason I raised it was to dramatize the outrageous nature of a gag order in Israel that has forbidden journalists and bloggers from reporting on the so-called Anat Kam affair. Who is Kam and why is speaking her name a crime in the Israeli media?
To make a long story shorter, Kam is a 23-year-old Israeli journalist who allegedly procured confidential documents while she worked in an Israeli Army general’s office during her mandatory military service. The documents revealed that in 2007, Israeli Army forces assassinated a Palestinian Islamic Jihad member in direct contravention of a Supreme Court order that banned the killing of wanted militants if there was a reasonable chance to arrest them first. Two top Israeli military officials, former Central Command Chief Major General Yair Naveh, Operations Directorate Head Major General Tal Russo, and Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, who oversaw the Gaza assault of 2008 and 09, are said to have been incriminatedin the documents.
Kam is believed to have photocopied the documents and passed them on to Uri Blau, a top national security reporter for the Israeli daily, Haaretz (Haaretz’s editor in chief has called any link between Kam and Blau “absurd,” however). Blau proceeded to publish an article detailing the contents of the documents, provoking the ire of the Israeli military, which since 1988 has demanded that journalists submit all “material relevant to the security of the state” to the military censor for review, and which compels all journalists seeking an official Israeli press card (GPO card) to sign on to the censorship policy. By all accounts, Blau submitted his article for review to the censor and was cleared for publication.