Sunday, August 23, 2009

Anna Baltzer, the DVD of Steadfast Hope and the International Solidarity Movement


Anna Baltzer participates in the DVD that comes with the publication Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace. The DVD is now on the web site of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in You-Tube video segments. This is a DVD made up of different film clips.

“Life in Occupied Palestine,” chapter three, is the segment that features Baltzer.


I am interested in Baltzer for several reasons. The first reason is that when I did research on the computer to prove that Dr. Mary Mikhael's blood libel story, told in her workshop, at the Presbyterian Women’s Gathering, was fraudulent, Baltzer’s blog came up with the original story and then with a different story that was just as fraudulent as the first.

And rather than print a retraction, as the original story teller did, she simply changed the names, place and actions. She eventually did admit the first story was untrue but in a rather non-caring manner stating that there was a miscommunication but still claiming the second story. The posting about encountering the libel story is here, The reason I left Dr. Mikhael's workshop on Joshua...it's because of the Jewish people.

The next reason I am interested in Baltzer is because she has had training and connections with the International Solidarity Movement. Baltzer is a member of the International Women’s Peace Service and for some of the IWPS events the ISM provides training. And in fact, the women’s group in their application pact state, “IWPS supports and is part of the loose network that calls itself ISM and will provide on the spot help and support to ISM activists.”

The ISM is a far left group working for the Palestinian cause. I first became aware of ISM when writing about the terrible anti-Semitic protests in the United States during the last Israel/Gaza conflict.

My interest here is with the kind of influence the ISM has on its trainees and the organizations connected to it. They do have a statement at their Seattle location, Racism Against Jews Is Not Acceptable and it is put that way because they refuse to use the term anti-Semitism. They write:

“Anti-Semitic” is the common adjective for prejudice against Jews, but the terms "anti-Semitism" and "anti-Semitic" can be misleading. While historically understood to refer to prejudice against Jews, the terms actually promote an outmoded use of racial categories. Under that terminology, Arabs are also Semitic people. Since for the moment we are focusing on prejudice against Jews, we prefer in this context the more precise term “anti-Jewish".

This of course means they have divorced Zionism and the State of Israel from the Jewish people. As they put it we “reject the false identification of Zionism with the Jewish people of the world” and “We reject the false identification of the State of Israel with the Jewish people of the world.”

The ISM movement then goes on to address control of the media and the US Government.
They first make a point, thankfully, of discounting some of the more egregious myths of the last few centuries including the Protocols’ of the Elders of Zion, and other conspiracy theories. And yet they write:


“The American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is a powerful pro-Israel lobby, but it is not a Jewish lobby: it does not lobby for the Jewish people of the world, but for the State of Israel. Furthermore, there are several other powerful factions that pressure the US government to support the Israeli government, such as right-wing Christian groups (many of which give funding to AIPAC) and the Aerospace Industry Association (AIA).”


The authors of this publication also insist that the holocaust did happen and the Jewish people were persecuted through the ages, however, they write:

“This history of persecution in no way justifies the State of Israel's persecution of non-Jews, but the history itself is not made up, and persons promoting justice do themselves no service by trying to ignore or minimize it.

The State of Israel, on the other hand, has systematically invented a history for itself, just as many nation-states have done, in which it is simultaneously victim and victor against overwhelming odds. The well-documented truth of the six million Jews murdered in the Nazi Holocaust is exploited by some Israelis to justify the policy of oppression against Palestinians. We have every reason to reject this practice and the falsehoods of Israeli history, but we must not let that lead us into underestimating or denigrating the appalling worldwide history of persecution of Jewish people.”

What is actually going on in the paper, besides a redefinition of terms, is a rending of the Jewish people from their identity and from their sense of well being. There is a lack of knowledge or understanding of how much the Jewish people around the world identify with Israel.

And as usual there is failure to acknowledge the total history and problems connected with the Middle East. But the worst part of the paper is the way concepts and words are manipulated in order to give the members of this organization the right to indulge in anti-Semitism.

A small paper put out by StandWithUs, on Anna Baltzer is helpful.
Also see-“
Anna Baltzer Out of the Middle East.”

23 comments:

Aric Clark said...

Viola,

You have had a lot of posts lately on this topic. I don't wish to dispute your evidence that any particular group is playing with words or using methods you regard as anti-semitic. But it does seem to me that your posts are highly disingenuous because while you find all sorts of ways to accuse folks of having a hidden agenda - you persistently refuse to actually deal with the obvious and stated agenda of critics of Israel.

Whether you agree with their methods or not. Whether you think they have ulterior motives or not. Whether you would come down in a different place than them (or I) politically as far as what actions we should or shouldn't take in relation to Israel/Palestine... the elephant in the room is this stuff:

A wide variety of groups in and out of Israel believe Israel has committed many war crimes. In their recent invasion of Gaza. In the use of White Phosphorous. In demolishing Palestinian homes outside their legally established national borders.

Just look at an Israeli human rights organization's accounting of the casualties from the past 8 years.

It isn't my intention to get into a competition for sources. I've tried to use sites widely regarded as credible. The point is, if any of this is true the Israel deserves intense criticism.

We can argue about the use of violence, when (if ever) it is legitimate. I can agree that the situation is complex and charged along ethnic, religious and many other lines. And furthermore I will come right out in saying I utterly and totally condemn the violence of Hamas and Hezbollah and anyone ever I am a pacifist for crying out loud....

But all of your investigation and semantics seem to me to be either an accidental confusion of the important issues or a dishonest attempt to discredit people who have legitimate criticisms of the state of Israel.

So, Viola, when would it ever be acceptable for anyone to criticize Israel's illegal and morally repulsive actions (inclusive of the illegal and morally repulsive actions of Israel's many enemies) without being labeled an anti-semite?

Viola Larson said...

Aric,
You are asking some fair questions and I will try to answer. First of all you should go to http://www.vow.org/Documents/Doc0337.aspx?type=34&name=Womens%20Ministries%20(PCUSA)%20|%20Presbyterian%20Women%20|%20Horizons%20Bible%20Studies%20|%20Critiques-Resources%20-%20Current%20Year and read Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein’s article about the PW Bible Study. (He is with the Simon Wiesenthal Center) I am thinking here of such comments as this which has to do with the 1948 war and refugees:

“Meanwhile, about the equivalent number of Jews who had lived in Arab countries for centuries were forced to leave those countries after waves of murder and plunder against them. Those refugees, notably, found new homes and new lives, in Israel and elsewhere. They did not languish in refugee camps like the Arabs who fled, who were then held (to this day) as pawns in a PR war against Israel, and denied the right to education and jobs in most of their host countries. Palestinians in Israel today in the worst of situations (and Israel should be doing more to help them, as former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert argued in one of his last speeches before stepping down) are better off than in almost all Arab countries to which they fled.”

This is a true statement but it does carry some criticism of Israel in it.

But here is my biggest dilemma, it is impossible to use material that begins with very loaded anti-Semitism as a means of talking about some very real problems in the Middle East. If the deck is already loaded with so much bad stuff it is impossible to use it as a means of solving problems.

And I have stated before I will not legitimize the bad by using it as a means of talking about the problems.

I accept both the just war and pacifism as acceptable interpretations of Biblical morality. So I don’t question your pacifist beliefs. What I do question is the Presbyterian and other mainline denominations tendency toward anti-Semitism at the higher levels.

Not long before the last GA the Office of Interfaith Relations, Presbyterian Church (USA), placed on their web site a paper, “Vigilance against Anti-Jewish Ideas and Bias.” It was praised by the Jewish community since it was an apology for the anti-Semitism that has been prevalent in certain organizations of the Church. It was changed after being both published and praised, to include the old anti-Semitism. You can read about it here, http://naminghisgrace.blogspot.com/2008/06/not-just-broken-confession-of-sin-but.html. “Not just a broken confession of sin but a disappearing one!.”

This was never explained or changed despite an outcry from both the Jewish community and many Presbyterians. My intention here is that it is time to quit allowing this to continue. It is hurtful to both Israel and the Palestinians because the real issues are covered up by faulty history, outright lies and manipulative language. If I knew nothing about the history of the 1948 war and the 1967 war or Jewish and Palestinian history, or even the Bible, I would read Steadfast Hope and think I knew true history when in reality I would know only false history. But I do know the history so how can I accept what I am seeing?

If someone wants to write about the problems without lying about Israel then everyone can discuss the problems.

Viola Larson
Sacramento Ca

Viola Larson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Viola Larson said...

Aric
if this will help here are two articles that I think are good and open a decent discussion on the issues in the Middle East. I have never seen an article like either from the Israel/Palestine Mission Network or any other Presbyterian entity like them. They are by Edgar M. Bronfman.
On the Settlements:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/edgar-m-bronfman/stopping-construction-bui_b_267134.html

On Hamas:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/edgar-m-bronfman/what-hamas-has-wrought_b_165157.html

Aric Clark said...

Viola,

Thank you for responding. I read all of the articles you linked, and find much in them to agree with. I haven't read the Joshua Bible-Study and am not really interested in making a defense of it.

I asked you when it would be acceptable to criticize Israel without being labeled anti-semitic, and your answer - if I understood correctly is that it would be okay if the person was not lying about Israel.

Fair enough, lying is unhelpful. We should all try to stick to the facts and be truthful - but as with many situations it isn't quite so simple a matter. There are many divergent perspectives around this sensitive subject, and while that is no excuse to make things up, no single presentation of the "facts" or the "history" is going to be acceptable or definitive.

For example, all of the articles you gave were from Israel supporters who gave a very pro-Israel perspective, which admittedly contained some very mild criticism, while being unremittingly critical of Arabs and Palestinians. Did they make some good points? Yes. Do I think they represent a fair appraisal of the situation? No. I emailed you an article, too long for this thread, which represents a perspective I find more compelling.

So, while I am a huge fan of historiography, competing "histories" are not going to resolve this conflict, and wouldn't in any case change the moral parameters of questions like - whether Israel's policy of assassination violates international law.

Protests that Israel is acting defensively are just begging the question. Hamas is officially listed as a terrorist organization by our state dept. So is Hezbollah. None of the Arab nations Israel is at war with enjoy anywhere near the level of legitimacy or support in the international community and especially with the USA as Israel. No one is 'siding with the terrorists' by criticizing Israel for actions which are unconscionable by any standard.

So why is it when someone says that Israeli tanks shouldn't roll over Palestinian homes the phrase anti-semitism comes out, but when everyone in the world repeatedly and loudly says Hamas should stop launching rockets from Gaza, nobody for a second thinks it might be prejudice against Arabs?

Viola Larson said...

Aric,
The last part of the last thing you wrote: “So why is it when someone says that Israeli tanks shouldn't roll over Palestinian homes the phrase anti-semitism comes out.” If you go through all of what I have written you will not find this.

To go over this again is undoubtedly boring to all. But, dividing the Jews of today from their ancestry, writing that Jews and Israelis control the media, accusing the Israelis of ethnic cleansing in their battle against five Arab nations in 1948, insisting that Israel fought and even started the 1967 war in order to gain more land is what I am complaining about. And I shall keep on.

And this: “No one is 'siding with the terrorists' by criticizing Israel for actions which are unconscionable by any standard.”

But this is just the point. For instance, the wall is a terrible thing and perhaps there are ways to do a better job of it but despite what the Israel/Palestine Mission Network writes it has saved lives. Perhaps you don’t remember all of the bombings in Israel before the wall, I do.
I have been severely tempted-I may succumb- to put up a video of the bombings in Israel because some people don’t seem to remember them.

When the Israel/Palestine Mission Network fails to give a truthful account of how things got to the place they are in they are, as far as I am concerned, siding with the Terrorist because the Terrorist are telling the same stories about Israel’s past as the Network is. And it isn’t true. And truth in any situation is important. In this situation it is of ultimate importance.

Viola Larson
Sacramento, Ca

Aric Clark said...

Viola,

You said: "the wall is a terrible thing and perhaps there are ways to do a better job of it but despite what the Israel/Palestine Mission Network writes it has saved lives."

Has it really? Whose lives? Did you look at the statistics I posted earlier? If you add up all the people the killed by palestinian attacks in those 8 years it comes to a quarter of the number that Israel has killed - and a good third of that number is palestinians killing palestinians.

To preempt some responses - of course it doesn't come down to a mere matter of numbers, but proportionality matters in ethical considerations - especially because Israel justifies its actions on the basis of self-defense.

Secondly, some will argue that Israel has had fewer casualties because of superior technology and training - well that's just the point isn't it. There is a power differential here that is obvious to all observers and it places a far greater responsibility on Israel. Israel has a world class military facing down rabble with a few mortars.

Some will continue that Israel is not just facing terrorist groups among the Palestinians in the occupied territories, but also their neighbors. True, but Israel's military still far outclasses all of their neighbors and has the additional trump of being the only nuclear power in the region and heavily backed by the USA which is the most powerful military force the world has ever known. Israel is still in the position of power.

Geopolitical considerations aside it comes down to this: employing white phosphorus on residential neighborhoods is wrong. Bulldozing homes is wrong. Extrajudical killings are wrong. Intentional settlement in illegally occupied territory is wrong.

Pointing fingers at other sides and saying - but they did stuff wrong too, is no defense. Every 5 year old learns that 2 wrongs don't make a right, and any jury would agree that in a conflict between a nuclear power and a group of angry refugees the powerful side bears the greater burden of guilt.

It's just as true when America invades Iraq on false pretenses, as it is when Israel puts Gaza under siege. Even with a very generous Just War reading the excuse of "national security" has been abused beyond bearing.

Viola Larson said...

Aric,
I am writing about the suicide bombers and deaths before the wall was in place. And I am writing about suicide bombers not armed conflict. That is I am writing about bombers waking into cafes, buses etc. and killing in the midst of a peaceful setting. The deaths by these incidents are down 90 percent.

reformedpastor said...

So, Viola, when would it ever be acceptable for anyone to criticize Israel's illegal and morally repulsive actions (inclusive of the illegal and morally repulsive actions of Israel's many enemies) without being labeled an anti-semite?

Aric, I think you've actually gotten to the nub of the problem right here, in your parenthetical. The reason why much of the criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic is because it takes no account of the actions of the Arab nations and terrorist organizations.

For example, the Human Rights Council, as well as its predecessor, have obsessively condemned Israel for a wide variety of human rights abuses and violations, typically spending up to 90% of the time and effort each year on Israel. No condemnation of human rights abuses in any Arab nation, or by any Palestinian organization, ever interests such agencies.

As you noted later, Palestinians have been killing Palestinians in significant numbers for years for one reason or another. No notice of this is ever taken by mainline agencies or leaders. When two Palestinian families are evicted from their homes, that's reason to write letters to the president demanding justice. Does that make the eviction right? Of course not. But why the blinders?

Another reason some criticism of Israel can be considered anti-Semitic is because of an unwillingness to consider anything like an accurate historical accounting. For instance, did Jews commit atrocities in the War of Independence? Yes, they did. Were some Arabs (not most, another fact that is rarely mentioned) driven from Israel? Yes, they were. Do such action warrant condemnation? Yes, they do. But not without also noting who it was that started the war in the first place (Arab armies invading from three sides), or what has happened to Jews in Arab nations across the Middle East, where once thriving communities have been systematically decimated and driven out.

Is Israeli settlement policy wrong? Yes, it is. I've said so for more than thirty years. Does that mean that Jews have no right to live in the West Bank if they want to (I don't know why they would, but some do)? So it would seem from many of the condemnations of Israeli actions.

Are Palestinian casualties caused by IDF forces wrong? Yes, they are. Is it wrong for Palestinian organizations to deliberately target civilians as a tactic of war? Yes, it is. Say both, without equivocation. But at the same time note that the IDF at least tries to minimize civilian casualties (if they didn't, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians would have died in Gaza and during the intifadas), while the terrorists seek to maximize such casualties. Simply quoting numbers of casualties on either side says nothing without military and political context.

Finally, it's necessary to take claims of partisans for both sides, and even supposed non-partisans, with a grain of salt. For instance, you cite Human Rights Watch on Israel's use of white phosphorus as if that opens and shuts the case regarding "war crimes." Yet the Red Cross, while acknowledging that Israel has used WP, says:

"The international Red Cross said Tuesday that Israel has fired white phosphorus shells in its offensive in the Gaza Strip, but has no evidence to suggest the incendiary agent is being used improperly or illegally." (Huffington Post, January 13, 2009)

Just because HRW, or Amnesty International, or The Nation (you're kidding there, right?) claim that Israel has done something illegal, immoral, or outrageous, doesn't mean that it necessarily has. Remember Jenin.

Aric Clark said...

Viola,

All the evidence I can find says that the drop in suicide bombings you are referring to occurred in 2006 when about 56% of the barrier was completed. The statistics I linked to included the years of the 2nd intifada which was the height of the suicide bombing. So even accounting for the worst incidents of palestinian terrorism Israel has still killed about 4x as many people as their enemies.

Besides, everyone acts as if suicide bombing were some special class of violence that is especially bad. History suggests this is not the case. It is merely the type of violence that is available to the poor. The worst and most devastating violence (both in terms of scale and long term impact) has always been committed by military forces under government direction. Terrorism is actually of very little account in the long litany of disgraceful violence human beings have committed.


Reformed Pastor,

I emphasize that I am a pacifist and condemn all violence. You are right that no one should overlook the violence of either side, BUT... some kind of false "balance" based on word count isn't desirable or truthful. There are compelling reasons to focus on Israel's abuses from my standpoint.

#1 - power differential. Israel is a nuclear power with a world class army. Hamas and Hezbollah are incompetent terrorist rabble.

#2 - proximity. I am a US citizen and my country has long had strong diplomatic, economic and military ties to Israel which we do not have with either the Palestinians or any of Israel's neighbors.

#3 - proportion. Israel's actions have resulted in more death and displacement of Palestinians than vice versa.

Other good reasons include - Israel is a democracy and thus we should have higher expectations, Israel's own safety and security will be better served by cleaning up their act, and Israel is a signatory to a number of treaties and a participant in international organizations that have opposed various of Israel's actions and it is reasonable to expect Israel to be responsive.

reformedpastor said...

There are compelling reasons to focus on Israel's abuses from my standpoint.

#1 - power differential. Israel is a nuclear power with a world class army. Hamas and Hezbollah are incompetent terrorist rabble.


Irrelevant. Morality isn't determined simply by who happens to be stronger. The deliberate killing of civilians as a matter of policy is wrong and deserving of the harshest condemnation no matter who does it. (It's funny how the Geneva Conventions, which explicitly outlaw the deliberate targeting of civilians, are never mentioned in connection with Palestinian terrorist organizations.)

#2 - proximity. I am a US citizen and my country has long had strong diplomatic, economic and military ties to Israel which we do not have with either the Palestinians or any of Israel's neighbors.

This is also irrelevant as well as incorrect. We have significant ties with both Egypt and Jordan, and have given hundreds of millions of dollars to the PA. Those ties aren't as strong as those with Israel, but again, I don't see what difference that makes. If human rights abuses are being committed in Egypt--and they are, ask the Copts--we should be on that. If they are being committed in the Palestinian territories--and they are, daily, by the PA, Fatah, Hamas, etc.--we should be on that.

#3 - proportion. Israel's actions have resulted in more death and displacement of Palestinians than vice versa.

If "some kind of false "balance" based on word count isn't desirable or truthful," neither is a body count. The circumstances under which casualties happen matters. The status (civilian or military) of those casualties matter. In any case, you're not seriously suggesting that a military force, in the prosecution of an action, is obligated to kill no more of the enemy than are killed of its own people, are you? That Israel can't kill 100 Hamas terrorists unless 100 of its soldiers are also killed?

Israel is a democracy and thus we should have higher expectations,

In one sense this is true, and in fact the record of Israeli prosecutions of its own soldiers for misconduct bares out that Israel itself believes this. In another way, however, it suggests that there is something inferior about Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular. Can't expect "those people" to behave like civilized human beings, can we? For example, a quick check of the United Nations, World Council of Churches, and National Council of Churches sites indicates that none ever said so much as a word about the massacre of over 10,000 men, women and children in the Syrian city of Hama in 1982. Those same organizations, of course, get themselves into a fine lather when Israel kills a leader of Hamas. But I guess we should expect more from Israel.

Israel's own safety and security will be better served by cleaning up their act

This may be, but there's really no evidence for that.

Israel is a signatory to a number of treaties and a participant in international organizations that have opposed various of Israel's actions and it is reasonable to expect Israel to be responsive.

When said organizations demonstrate an ability to recognize that Israel is not the only contributor to the current situation (for example, when they notice that there was no Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza prior to 1967 as well as after it), Israel will have reason to pay attention to them.

By the way, thank you providing evidence of my point (and Viola's as well, I believe) that critics of Israel not only are unbalanced in their criticism, but think that's the way things should be--not as a matter of avoiding a false "word count" balance, but because democratic Israel should be held to account more than its terrorist opponents.

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

Aric Clark said...

David,

You said power differential was "irrelevant". Surely you were being hyperbolic?

If an adult is kicked in the shin by a child is it acceptable for the adult to kick back?

This is also the answer to your question about expecting restraint from a military force. Proportionality is a central tenet of Just War theology. Israel, having the stronger force has greater responsibility to show restraint, which they certainly have - but could also do much much better.

You also said proximity was irrelevant. So I suppose you don't spend much of your time on your blog talking about the reformed branch of the church of which you are a part. I'm sure you spend your time equally criticizing pentecostalism and armenian christians as you do your own denomination. Nonsense. Our words and opinions are naturally most directed toward the organizations, people, and countries we are most connected with. This is not only natural it is correct - get the plank out of your own eye and all that.

As for being concerned about human rights abuses by Hamas et al... Hamas is officially listed as a terrorist organization. Israel is not. Hamas has no credibility on the world stage. No one defends Hamas' rights to launch rockets from Gaza. That is perhaps the reason that criticism of Israel stands out - because there is still a large and vocal contingent of people defending the indefensible for Israel, but no one is defending Hamas so there is no need to emphasize what everyone already knows and agrees upon.

You said: "it suggests that there is something inferior about Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular. Can't expect "those people" to behave like civilized human beings, can we?"

My criticism was leveled at the nation of Israel and its democratic government. You have twisted it into an ethnic issue. The same kind of criticism of palestinians isn't applicable not because of some ethnic deficiency, but because they have no nation or strong democratic government.

You may believe critics of Israel are unbalanced all you wish, but the criticism has purchase, because the best defense people can come up with is "Israel is acting in self-defense". That is a justification with limited legs, and Israel has long since worn it out.

Presbyman said...

"no one" defends Hamas?

Ever read the James Wall of the Christian Century?

Pastor Bob said...

The question at hand is not whether Israel as a government or a nation has done things that are wrong. It has. I could provide a better list than Aric has beginning with the settler taking land from Palestinians (stealing is the right word) and then preventing the Palestinians from farming their land. Even the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled against the settlers. And then there is the whole issue of water rights.

The issue Viola has raised, and I think rightly so, is that some of the literature put out by organizations related to the PCUSA goes beyond criticizing Israel for its political and military actions. They make statements that cross the line into antisemitism. That is what Viola has documented.

If the PCUSA and related organizations want to have credibility then they need to criticize Israel for actions taken, not start a conversation over whether Jews are really descendants of Abraham or not.

As far as I am concerned there are a lot of things Israel does that are wrong. And it does things that are right too. Let's stick to real issues.

Aric I am agreeing with you, at least in part. If someone calls me antisemitic for saying that the settlements steal land from Palestinians and some settlers act with violence when their Palestinian neighbors try to harvest their olives then that person is using the word to avoid talking about the truth.

But the same is true in the opposite direction. Saying that Israel started the 1967 war to grab land is not historically viable. Neither is the use of the blood libel (which I have not seen in PCUSA related documents, thank God) but is very prominent in many Arab writings.

There are some appropriate questions when it comes to Israeli retaliation against Hamas, suicide bombers or Hezbollah. What is proportionate response? How should Israel fight an enemy that places bomb factories in civilian areas?

DrMike said...

Viola:

I found your site since you linked to my post about Anna Baltzer.

I think that Aric has actually missed the point when he wrote "you persistently refuse to actually deal with the obvious and stated agenda of critics of Israel."

While there are many critics of Israel's occupation of the West Bank that are not opposed to Jewish rights of national self-determination, there are too many that are. This includes Christian groups such as Sabeel, as well as the radical Muslim groups, and their supporters in groups such as ISM. It also includes people like Anna Baltzer, who openly supports the elimination of the Jewish state and its replacement by an Arab state.

Official PA policy still supports the so-called "right" of return, which of course would demographically eliminate Jewish self-determination.

The conflict is not about the occupation of the West Bank, because the conflict started before the 1967 war. And if you ask people like Anna Baltzer if they would accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state within the 1948 borders, the answer will be "no".


When the PA leadership agrees to accept peace with a Jewish state of Israel, rather than peace without a Jewish state, and when it tells that to its own people IN ARABIC, only then can Israel feel that withdrawal would not lead to rockets falling on Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport.

Viola Larson said...

Thanks for your words Dr. Mike I agree.

Aric Clark said...

Dr Mike,

It is aggravating to me that though it is critics of Israel like myself who get called anti-semitic, in conversations such as this one it is invariably supporters of Israel that turn it into an ethnic issue.

This is not about "jews and arabs" much as the conflict in Ireland was not really about "catholics and protestants". Do ethnic and religious identities and concerns play a large role? Of course. But any close examination reveals that it just doesn't split prettily along those divides. There are plenty of Jews who are concerned about human rights abuses by the state of Israel, and the disenfranchisment of palestinians. There are many palestinians who abhor the actions of Hamas and Hezbollah and want to either be fairly represented citizens of Israel, or to have their own peaceful nation alongside Israel. There are religious converts on both sides as well.

Israel is a nation state and a signatory to many treaties, and a participant in international organizations that place expectations on the behaviors of nation states. Israel has fallen far short of those obligations on many occasions and deserves criticism for that and it doesn't matter what ethnicity or religion the people are who committed the offenses.

Similarly, Hamas and Hezbollah and others deserve the international condemnation they have received. It is not exactly a parallel situation, however, because they are not legitimate governments of internationally recognized nations. They are officially listed as terrorist organizations. In other words, they have even less respect and credibility than Israel. The world has overwhelmingly and rightly taken Israel's side in this fight.

Criticizing Israel, therefore, ISN'T taking the side of the terrorists, rather it is asking your ally to quit misbehaving.

It doesn't matter what PA official policy is. Israel's actions deserve condemnation regardless of what the PA says or does. It also doesn't matter what makes people "feel" safe. That is a justification which leads to far too many horrors - as we can easily observe in the flagrant abuses of our own government over this past decade. Human rights and international law are set up as standards and Israel has accepted those standards and then violated them.

John said...

I saw the Anna Baltzer video last night which can be ordered at http://www.annainthemiddleeast.com/

She has a detailed blog at http://annainpalestine.blogspot.com/

Now I'm checking her story out. It seems to me that even if she has made some mistakes because she is obviously biased -- as we all are -- her basic information is DEAD ON!

What I want to hear from apologists for Israel's policies (and US policies) is that the settlements (colonies) are illegal and just plain wrong and must be dismantled immediately.

The Palestinians have a right to the country that the UN promised to create in 1947. Let's get it done.

love, john + www.abundancetrek.com + "Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." -- Martin Luther King, Jr. (the speech containing this famous quote is found at http://www.indiana.edu/~ivieweb/mlkwhere.html)

John said...

As a Presbyterian minister who has been a critic of Israeli and US policies for many years, I want to know quite specifically what Presbyterians have said which is anti-Semitic. I am so tired of this criticism. It comes across as:

Just shut up and accept that Israel can do no wrong and if you say they can do wrong, you clearly are anti-Semitic.

I am sick and tired of being called anti-Semitic simply because I want the Israelis to submit to international law and dismantle the settlements in the West Bank and tear down the illegal walls (the parts of it that are not on the border).

love, john + www.abundancetrek.com + "The quest for a story is the quest for a life.” — Jill Johnston quoted in The Vein of Gold by Julia Cameron

Viola Larson said...

Hi John,

This posting is part of a long series I have done on Israel/Palestine Mission Network and their publication Steadfast Hope: the Palestine Quest for Just Peace. And yes that is anti-Semitic since it insists that Jewish groups control the media, that the immigrants to Israel from Europe and the Middle East are not descendents of ancient Israel and fails in telling the whole truth about the founding of the state of Israel.

And yes the settlements should be talked about. But the wall is a defense not a land grab. The suicide bombings in Israel are down ninety percent. A
And yes, the Palestinians need their own state but it is their officials, who are always fighting with each other, who have resisted that. Hamas has never admitted that the Jewish State of Israel has a right to exist. Their founding charter insists on the destruction of Israel.

Anna Baltzer is a nice young woman who does not always tell the truth and she has been trained by people often don’t tell the truth.

I clicked on your name and explored your blog which is interestingand well done. So I know who you are. But I do require, or try to, sometimes I forget, to have people put their whole name, city and state when commenting here.

Viola Larson,
Sacramento, Ca

John said...

The charge of anti-Semitism is made far too easily. We should be able to disagree about what has happened in the past and what is happening now without this hurtful label being applied.

I believe the statements of the Presbyterian Church (USA) are made with great knowledge and compassion like so many Presbyterian statements on so many issues.

Like so many Americans, you seem to be in complete denial about Israels' very clear and very systematic violations of international law.

Let me ask you directly: Should Israel have all those settlements in the occupied territory of The West bank? There are hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens living in The West Bank. Should they stay or leave?


love, john + www.abundancetrek.com + "The spirit of liberty is the spirit of not being too sure you are right.” – Judge Learned Hand

Viola Larson said...

John,
that is a good and direct question. One that Israel must deal with as well as the Palestinians. And they have, in fact, pulled settlements out of Gaza which didn't help much, since radicals kept sending rockets on Israel anyway. And don't say that didn't do much damage it has and the intentions of those who have done it is what counts.

But for the question, my thoughts are basically that settlements must be addressed but not through those in the Presbyterian Church who are so anti-Semitic.

I have been writing on racism and anti-Semitism for many years even before I became a Presbyterian. All racists groups try to claim that the Jews who came to live in Israel are not Jews. That is an old anti-Semitic trick. Also saying that the Jews control the media is anti-Semitic. Have you ever read Henry Ford's The International Jew I have. it says the same thing. I will not dialogue with those who push such anti-Semitic lies.

Viola Larson said...

John may I suggest you also read, Were Holocaust victims linked genealogically to biblical Israel? at http://naminghisgrace.blogspot.com/2009/07/people-in-pcusa-who-believe-that-most.html

And "More from the Presbyterian Israel/Palestine Mission Network's booklet Steadfast Hope" at http://naminghisgrace.blogspot.com/2009/07/more-from-israelpalestine-mission.html