The Celebrities Who Get it Wrong – and Right – About Israel

Penelope-CruzOnce Israel’s military operation got underway in Gaza, celebrity actors, who desperately want to be taken seriously, predictably took to social media to express their very special concern. An article in The Hollywood Reporter (THR) examined the differences between American and European celebrities’ positions on the conflict, and concluded, unsurprisingly, that European celebs are much harsher and more vocal about their opposition to Israel.

As partial evidence, the article noted that husband-and-wife stars Javier Bardem (in No Country for Old Men, most famously) and Penelope Cruz (The Counselor, most recently) joined more than 100 other Spanish actors and directors to issue a statement urging the European Union to formally condemn Israel for waging “genocide” in Gaza. THR reports that the letter essentially lays the blame for the entire conflict on Israel, because it “humiliates, detains, and tramples on the rights of the Palestinian population in all of the West Bank every day, also causing many deaths.”

In response to that statement, European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor criticized its “gratuitous use of the term ‘genocide’” and pointedly suggested that

Rather than outrageously attacking a fellow democracy for defending itself against radical terrorists, the time of Spanish public figures would be better put to use fighting against the rapidly growing hatred of Jews in their country, which according to recent surveys is one of the highest in Europe.

Bravo. He concluded that the statement “demonstrates grave ignorance or extreme malice.” I suspect it’s a combination of the two. When Bardem, for example, writes, “This is a war of occupation and extermination against a whole people without means, confined to a miniscule territory without water and where hospitals, ambulances, and children are targeted and presumed to be terrorists,” there is so much grave ignorance there that one must assume extreme malice as well.

After taking some heat for their position, Penelope Cruz followed up with a statement trying to walk it back a bit: “I’m not an expert on the situation and I’m aware of the complexity of it.” Well, kudos to her for that admission – it has to be the first time in Hollywood history that a celebrity has acknowledged his or her own ignorance about an issue. She went on to plead that

My only wish and intention in signing that group letter is the hope that there will be peace in both Israel and Gaza. I am hopeful all parties can agree to a cease fire and there are no more innocent victims on either side of the border. I wish for unity, and peace… I believe in a civilization that can be capable of bringing the courage to have a world where humans can live side by side.

That sounds nice, but if Mrs. Bardem really wishes for unity and peace, if she truly yearns for no more innocent victims on either side, if she really believes in a civilization capable of rising above this conflict, then her only logical choice is to support the civilized Israel unequivocally, because it is there and nowhere else in the Middle East that her dream of Jews and Arabs living and working side by side as equals exists.

They aren’t the only European celebrities to jump on the anti-Israel bandwagon. In May, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Nick Mason sent an open letter to the Rolling Stones urging them not to perform in Israel:

Playing Israel now is the moral equivalent of playing Sun City at the height of South African apartheid; regardless of your intentions, crossing the picket line provides propaganda that the Israeli government will use in its attempts to whitewash the policies of its unjust and racist regime.

To their enormous credit, Jagger and the Stones ignored the boycott letter and went forward with their concert in Tel Aviv.

American celebs who have spoken out against Israel have been, as THR put it, “careful to note that their sympathy for the civilians should not be equated with anti-Jewish sentiment.” Thus former actress Mia Farrow tweeted: “We can passionately protest Israel’s assault upon Gaza without descending, even remotely, into the hideousness of anti-Semitism.” That would carry more weight if, among her dozens of tweets about the Gaza hostilities, Farrow ever tweeted about Hamas’ assaults on Israel. Later, she added: “To be clear I do not support Hamas. I care about children everywhere.”

If she and other celebrities care about children everywhere, why do they consistently reserve their condemnation for Israel and not tweet their outrage about Arab terrorists targeting Israeli children, the deaths of Syrian children, or the hundreds of poor Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram (not to mention the boys slaughtered by those savages) who merited only some temporary “hashtag diplomacy” and photos of posers with scribbled “Bring Back Our Girls” signs shared on Instagram?

Daily Show host Jon Stewart took a similar tack: “Just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.” Actually it is, if you’re not also condemning Hamas for brainwashing their children to become Jew-killers, for creating a culture of martyrdom, for purposefully incurring the deaths of their own civilians in order to smear Israel in the media war. If you’re not openly condemning them for that, if you’re condemning only Israel, then whatever your intentions, you are supporting Hamas.

Act0r Mark Ruffalo clung to the same excuse, tweeting a link to an article entitled, “Empathizing w/Gaza does NOT make me anti-Semitic, nor pro-Hamas or anti-Israel. It makes me human.” If you are an empathetic human, then your only rational choice is to support the Israelis, who love life, unlike the death cultists of Hamas.

It’s easy to dismiss celebrities who decide to weigh in on current events as uninformed and irrelevant, but unfortunately their opinions carry significant weight among their untold numbers of fans – not because those opinions are necessarily insightful or even correct, but because celebrities are cool, and fans don’t want to be uncool by having a different opinion.

And what about the celebs who do support Israel? Rosanne Barr, of all people, tweeted some stone cold truth about Hamas to her 250,000 followers: “They say they won’t stp fighting Israel til evry Jew there is dead. They say it everyday, repeatedly. If ur ignoring/excusing that-yr sick.” Bravo, Rosanne.

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The UN Continues to Blame Israel for Everything

The-Daily-SheepleThe United Nations Security Council met once again Thursday on the crisis in Gaza. This time it heard “humanitarian” briefings from Under Secretary-General for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Valerie Amos, and the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Pierre Krahenbuhl.

The briefings were as much a one-sided political attack against Israel as they were genuine reports on humanitarian conditions in Gaza. Relying on a preliminary UN assessment and ignoring the circumstances in which Israeli soldiers claimed to have been under fire from jihadists operating in the vicinity of an UNRWA elementary school in Jabalya, they seized on an alleged artillery shelling by the Israeli military on July 30th that was said to have struck the school and resulted in 19 Palestinian fatalities.  They condemned only Israel for violating international law.

Both senior UN officials had basically nothing to say about Hamas’s war crimes in using civilian homes, hospitals, mosques and schools to hide their weapons and to serve as entrances to their terror tunnels.  Indeed, neither official made any reference to the tunnels at all.

Moreover, both senior UN officials claimed that Israel is the “occupying power” of Gaza. Therefore, under this line of reasoning, Israel as the “occupying power” must take care of the increasing number of displaced civilians whom Israel has warned to evacuate in advance of military operations. There’s just one problem. Their premise that Israel is the occupying power in Gaza is false. In fact, it has been false since 2005 when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. Hamas is the governing authority in Gaza after its election by the people of Gaza and its subsequent expulsion of members of the rival Fatah faction to take over sole power to run Gaza.  Yet we do not hear a word from these two senior UN officials or even the UN Secretary General himself as to the grave harm that Hamas has brought upon its own people in violation of its obligations as the governing authority to protect its civilian population. Hamas’s political leader lives in luxury in Qatar. Hamas’s other leaders hide in security in the tunnels they have built for themselves from which to launch their attacks against Israeli civilians. As for the civilians that Hamas as the governing authority in Gaza is obligated to protect, it has instead used them as human shields. Hamas has cruelly left them without even the slightest modicum of personal security such as bomb shelters or even the right to enter the same tunnels that Hamas leaders use for their own security.

While acknowledging that at least three UNRWA schools were discovered by UNRWA itself to have been used to harbor Hamas rockets, the UN senior officials in their respective statements to the Security Council minimized the importance of the discoveries. UNRWA’s Commissioner-General claimed that “UNRWA takes robust measures to closely monitor all its facilities to which it has access in an effort to prevent misuse by combatants and other parties.”

This laughable claim is belied by the fact that UNRWA lost track of some of the rockets it had discovered and turned over others to the “local authorities” – i.e., Hamas. With regard to the school where the rockets went missing, Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary General, admitted during a press briefing on July 24th that UNRWA had posted “a solitary guard” at the school gate overnight after the rockets were first discovered. “Obviously, given the context of the sort of conflict we see on the ground, a single guard is probably not sufficient to protect an entire building, but our personnel are stretched very thin. It’s quite possible that over the course of that day the weapons were… whatever weapons were there, were taken away.”

No kidding. Mr. Haq’s admission is hardly indicative of “robust measures” to “prevent misuse by combatants.” Given UNRWA’s history of bending over backwards to please Hamas, it is not likely that UNRWA is going out of its way to be vigilant any time soon. It’s easier for UNRWA to just let Israel respond to Hamas’s provocations and then join Hamas in blaming Israel for the predictable consequences of the response.

Mr. Krahenbuhl also said that the discoveries of such rockets in several UNRWA schools “do not in any way justify attacks on UNRWA facilities.” To the contrary, when civilian facilities are being used for military purposes, they become legitimate objects under international law for a military response. And when combatants use the immediate vicinity of civilian facilities to shoot at the other side’s military forces, those forces are entitled to fire back in self-defense.

Valerie Amos said in her statement to the Security Council that “we need more humanitarian pauses to enable us to reach those in need.” Israel, but not Hamas, agrees. What Ms. Amos failed to mention was that Israel has undertaken a series of such pauses, which Hamas has either rejected outright or violated with more rocket firings against Israeli civilian population centers. Moreover, many civilian lives could have been saved if Hamas had accepted Egypt’s original ceasefire proposal as Israel had done. Neither “humanitarian” report to the Security Council places any responsibility on Hamas for these civilian deaths, not to mention Hamas’s deliberate use of Palestinian civilians as human shields.

Late afternoon on Thursday it was announced in a joint statement by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that “all parties have agreed to an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.” This latest attempt at a ceasefire will commence at 8 am local time on Friday, August 1, 2014 and last for a period of 72 hours unless extended. “During this time the forces on the ground will remain in place. Israeli and Palestinian delegations will immediately be going to Cairo for negotiations with the Government of Egypt, at the invitation of Egypt, aimed at reaching a durable ceasefire. The parties will be able to raise all issues of concern in these negotiations.”

The leader of Hamas’s military wing has previously rejected any ceasefire except on all of Hamas’s terms. Whether this latest attempt at a ceasefire actually succeeds is problematical as Hamas has blown many chances to help its people before with respites from the fighting.

Both Valerie Amos and Pierre Krahenbuhl focused on what they characterized as Israel’s “illegal” blockade of the border crossings as the underlying cause of the conflict. Mr. Krahenbuhl went so far as to declare to the Security Council that “Notwithstanding Israel’s legitimate security concerns, the illegal blockade must be lifted.”

Consider the outrageous implications of the UNRWA Commissioner-General’s statement. Israel’s civilian population has lived under rocket assaults for nine years. Hamas has taken cement shipped from Israel to help build schools, hospitals and homes and diverted that cement to build tunnels from which to launch ground attacks inside Israel against Israeli civilians. Advanced weapons stored in those tunnels, schools, hospitals and homes have been smuggled into Gaza from Iran and other sources even in the face of the border crossing restrictions. Humanitarian relief including food and medical supplies still continue to be sent by Israel across the border to Gaza in the midst of all of the fighting. Yet, “notwithstanding” Hamas’s actions, which demonstrate why very tight security at the border crossings is needed more than ever, Mr. Krahenbuhl has essentially told the Security Council not to worry about Israel’s clear and present security concerns. They are to be handled at some indeterminate time in the future. In the meantime, his call for an immediate opening of all border crossings would make an already untenable security situation much worse.

At a press briefing at UN headquarters on July 30th the UN’s second highest ranking official – Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson – said that Israel was responding in a disproportionate manner to Hamas’s attacks. I asked him what precisely he expected Israel to do in the circumstances it finds itself. He had no real answer. All he could say was that the UN wants an immediate end to the fighting. So does Israel, but not Hamas unless it remains free to resume its attacks at a time of its own choosing.

Question:  You mentioned the brief humanitarian pause that Israel had initiated and you didn’t say explicitly but Hamas rejected.  In the last 24 hours, the leader of the military wing of Hamas has said no ceasefire until all of their conditions are met, including complete open access through the crossings, and he talked about jihad, which essentially is repeating the charter of Hamas, which calls for the killing of Jews and destruction of the State of Israel.  So, in light of all of that, if Hamas refuses to even honour any pause, tell me exactly what you expect Israel to do?  To unilaterally just cease all fire, withdraw the IDF, allow the tunnels to continue to remain in place?  Just in that situation, assuming Hamas continues to refuse a ceasefire as has been proposed by Egypt, et cetera.”

Deputy Secretary-General:  You’re asking me to provide the golden formula, but let me say that, of course, what we ask for is an immediate end of the fighting.  The problem is that both sides have demands that go beyond the urgent situation today.  Israel demands that, of course, the rocket attacks end, but also that the tunnels into Israel be destroyed, which has a timeline of a different character.  And Gaza, Hamas and the Palestinians require that there are indications and guarantees that something will happen on the blockade of Gaza.  And here, I think, it is important that we try to see this now as an absolutely humanitarian urgency to stop the fighting, and during that end of the fighting there might be a chance then to work for the more durable ceasefire, where those larger issues can be raised.”

I was not asking for the Deputy Secretary General to provide “the golden formula.” I was simply asking for him to acknowledge the dangerous situation that Hamas itself has created both for Israeli civilians and Palestinian civilians.  Israelis are not looking for sympathy. But they are requesting basic fairness and an end to the double standard that pervades the United Nations and much of the mainstream media. They also know not to hold their breath waiting.

The Israeli writer Naomi Ragen, in her searing, heartfelt article entitled “Don’t Cry for Us Israelis,” articulated this sentiment perfectly:

“We aren’t greedy for sympathy. After all, we got so much after the Holocaust, we prefer other people to have their share now. These days, we prefer to live, rather than have people cry over us and the injustices done to us.

So by all means, cry for the Palestinian people – men women and children – whose duly elected leadership has callously left them without protection from just retribution for their terrorist crimes. The leaders who took their people’s aid money and are living in Qatar in five star hotels building shopping centers for themselves. Who built terrorist tunnels under their homes, mosques, hospitals and schools, and recruited their sons to die for Allah, while they sit in bunkers waiting for the U.N. to rescue them.

Don’t cry for us, or our families, or our children, or grandchildren. Not this time. Not ever. Not if we can help it. Because this time, thank God, we have a country. We are armed. This time, with God’s help, we know how to protect ourselves from Nazis and their high-minded media cheerleaders.”

Ms. Ragan has ably articulated Israel’s own “golden formula” to ensure its survival against jihadists determined to kill every Jew they can find and destroy the state of Israel if given a chance.

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Israel, Hamas agree 72-hour ceasefire from Friday

An Israeli artillery gun fires a 155 mm shell towards targets in the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 31, 2014Israel and Hamas agreed to begin a 72-hour ceasefire from 0500 GMT Friday, alongside a diplomatic push for a more durable end to the bloodshed after almost four weeks of fighting. Just hours before the ceasefire came into force 14 more Palestinians were reported killed by Israeli tank and air fire in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile the Israeli army said that five of its soldiers died in mortar fire near the Gaza border, underlining the need for a negotiated truce. Hopes of an end to the bloodshed rose early Friday after US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Israel and Hamas had agreed a three-day ceasefire.

America Stands with Hamas against Israel

hamas_machine_gun_AFPThe Obama Administration stands with Hamas – an organization which is a designated foreign terrorist organization in America, Canada, the UK and most other civilized countries. Despicable and simply amazing that America is standing with an organization whose leadership and people is anti-American. Shameful, horrible, awful conduct. Clearly, the alliances in the Middle East have changed – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel stand against Muslim extremist fundamentalists – and lining up on the other side is Qatar, Turkey and President Obama’s United States of America. Yes, you read that correctly.

Standing against Israel – the most consistent American ally in the region – is despicable.

This administration — which has been awful to Israel — saw Secretary of State John Kerry present the Israeli cabinet with a draft of a ceasefire agreement that recognized Hamas’s position in the Gaza Strip, promised the organization billions in donation funds and demanded no dismantling of rockets, tunnels or other heavy weaponry at Hamas’s disposal.  Rather than standing against radical Islamists who endanger the entire Western world, America stands with terror.

Yet, the people of Israel will not accept these perpetual attacks upon her people.  Israel will not – and must not – stop until tunnels are destroyed, and terror ceases. Israel’s TV Station Channel 10 had a poll which revealed that 87 percent of Israelis were in favor continuing the operation in Gaza, with another 69 percent in favor of toppling Hamas. Another poll showed that 86.5 percent are against a ceasefire right now because “Hamas continues firing missiles on Israel, not all the tunnels have been found, and Hamas has not surrendered.”  And as America must continue fighting Al-Qaeda for world peace, so too must Israel keep fighting Hamas.

Hamas receives funding from Iran, and consistently stands against America. As Steven Emerson has documented, Hamas has “an extensive infrastructure in the U.S. mostly revolving around the activities of fundraising, recruiting and training members, directing operations against Israel, organizing political support and operating through human-rights front groups.”

Who is it that America under Obama and Kerry is protecting? A government Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya, the leader of Hamas who condemned the killing of Osama Bin Laden, describing the act as a “continuation of the United States policy of destruction.” Haniyeh praised Bin Laden as a “martyr” and an “Arab holy warrior.”  This is the government which must be protected?  A government which endangers its own people – and vows to destroy the State of Israel?

And the people of Hamas too stand against America.  Ismail al-Ashqar, a Hamas lawmaker, described it as “state terrorism that America carries out against Muslims.” Yehia Moussa, another Hamas leader, noted that Hamas considers anybody killed while fighting “the American occupation and the Israeli occupation as a martyr, regardless of who he was.”

Hamas was democratically elected with 80% of the vote of the Palestinian people – and this is who today’s American leaders stand with. Let’s review the actions of whom Obama and Kerry are standing with when it comes to the 9/11 attacks:  “Allah has answered our prayers,” Dr. Atallah Abu Al-Subh wrote in an open letter titled “To America,” which appeared September 13, 2001, in the Hamas newspaper Al-Risala.

“How much hatred has [America] stockpiled. … Were the eradication of its Marines in Lebanon, the destruction of its military headquarters at Khobar in Saudi Arabia, the destruction of the USS Cole in Yemen, the bombing of its embassies in Zambia [sic] and in Kenya, and the attacks on its soldiers in the Gulf … not sufficient? The U.S. should have learned the lessons of history … Today, the U.S. has treated the bitter harvest it sowed in the hearts of millions. Today, we ask: After this, will the U.S. [continue to] think that it is above the law?” the editor of Al-Risala, Dr. Ghazi Hamad, said in justification of the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

For the sake of peace, Israel must destroy Hamas.

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Robert Spencer on “Arab Winter Comes to America” — on The Glazov Gang

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This week’s Glazov Gang was joined by Robert Spencer, the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and the author of thirteen books, including two New York Times bestsellers, The Truth About Muhammad and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). His latest book is Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth About the War We’re In.

Robert joined the show to discuss Arab Winter Comes to America, analyzing the threat of Islamic Jihad and the West’s denial about it. He shed light on ISIS’s Islamic Inspirations, How Jihad Denial Enables Jihad, Why Jihadists are Welcome in the UK But Not Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, and much, much more.

Don’t miss it!

Don’t miss this week’s second episode with Dr. Anna Geifman,a scholar who has taught in the History Dept. at Boston University for over 20 years and is now senior researcher at the Dept. of Political Studies at the University of Bar Ilan in Israel. Her latest book is Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia.

Dr. Geifman joined the show to discuss Life in Israel Under Siege, sharing life in Jerusalem during a state of war — and what it means to confront a death cult. She also discusses Why Death Cultures Target Children, Why The World Must Accept the Reality of Good and Evil, Similarities Between Bolshevik Terror and Hamas, and much, much more:

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Kerry to test waters with India's Modi

US Secretary of State John Kerry greets Indian External Affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, during his visit to New Delhi on July 31, 2014US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the first time on Friday, hoping to break the ice with a leader once shunned by Washington. Kerry, who held talks with senior Indian officials on Thursday, voiced optimism about expanding cooperation between the world’s two largest democracies after Modi’s right-wing government won a decisive electoral mandate. The United States has little relationship with Modi himself, a Hindu nationalist who was refused a US visa in 2005 over allegations that he turned a blind eye to anti-Muslim riots as leader of the western state of Gujarat. The United States caught up with other Western nations during the election campaign, sending its ambassador to meet Modi who since taking office has shown no visible signs of holding a grudge over his past treatment.

Gaza hospitals in alarming situation

Hospitals in the besieged Gaza Strip are running short on supplies and are in an alarming humanitarian situation as Israel continues its brutal onslaught on the besieged enclave, Press TV reports.

Gaza truce comes after days of pushing for a deal

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference addressed jointly with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi, India, Thursday, July 31, 2014. This is Kerry's first visit to India following the resounding election win of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May. (AP Photo/Lucas Jackson, Pool)NEW DELHI (AP) — Hours past midnight Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was still working the phones, trying to come up with a cease-fire plan to stop the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip. He’d been pushing for a deal all day — in fact, for more than a week — and nailing down a final agreement was proving elusive.