The first post tells why. It may be too little, but hopefully not too late.

Friday, July 19, 2013

AIPAC: No donation

Railroad tracks entering the Auschwitz-Birkenau campI received, a couple of days ago, an email message from AIPAC, calling on me to "renew" my "gift" to this organization. I could not do that - for two reasons. First, I have never donated to AIPAC. Second, I would not do that because of the content of the message. 

It refers to a historical event: "On October 6, 1943, a delegation of American rabbis arrived at the White House for a personal audience with President Franklin Roosevelt" "to present to the president irrefutable proof that the Nazis were conducting a wholesale annihilation of European Jews," and "[t]hey were denied a meeting." This is immediately followed by: "The ensuing tragedy is, of course, well known. No coordinated Allied rescue was launched. The flames consumed 6 million." 

This, of course, implies a post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy of causality: if only Roosevelt agreed to the meeting, there would be a "coordinated Allied rescue" and no Shoah. This also implies that Roosevelt did not know of the genocide, left uninformed by the rabbis (while some, like Stephen Wise, did have access to the president). Nowadays, however, due to AIPAC's activity, we are in luck: "Today we are not turned away at the door," while AIPAC is "the only organization who meets regularly with leaders in both parties to advance initiatives that enhance the safety and security of both nations." Apart from the fact that the latter statement is not true, it remains unclear why "despite our achievements [none listed - MV], Israel today remains far from safe." In fact, the only real current source of existential threat to Israel, nuclear Iran, is continually downplayed if not ignored by the consecutive US administrations, and the last one fundamentally differs from Israel in its approach to the problem. While Israel is against allowing Iran to reach the capacity to develop a nuke, Obama's administration is somehow going to control the fact of its construction - a feat requiring clairvoyance. 

The truth is that Roosevelt did know about the genocide - he did not care enough to undertake anything about it. This is why he would not waste time on meeting with the rabbis. Similarly, the Obama administration is aware that Iran would be able to put the bomb together when it has developed capacity for that - and no amount of angry rhetoric from the US would be able to stop that. Israel would be abandoned the same way the Jews were in WW2, just as the US abandoned Kurds in the aftermath of the first Saddam war, did nothing for Tutsis when they were slaughtered by Hutus in Rwanda, could not care less about Iranians when they were dying in protests to the ayatollahs, and sacrificed its own ambassador and others in Benghazi - to the politically opportune narrative of "Al Qaeda is on its heels" serving the renewal of Obama's incompetent presidency.

It is a question why AIPAC perceives itself as the only organization regularly meeting with the US "leaders" on behalf of Israel - is it wishful thinking or a goal? Either way, it is not something to be proud of, considering that there are other organizations with older and more consistent pro-Israel record, such as the ZOA.  And the "terrorist groups [will] continue to stockpile rockets aimed at Israel along her borders" because instead of putting responsibility for terror on the terrorists, Obama, unhindered by the AIPAC, puts it on Israel that dares to build housing in its own capital and resists the US calls for repeats of ethnic self-cleansing. Obama, access to whom the AIPAC's message implies, is surely aware of the impact of his anti-Israel policies and of the encouragement the Nazis' genocidal heirs - both Shi'a or Sunni - receive from his attacks on Israel's integrity, support for Muslim Brotherhood, leniency toward ayatollahs and tax persecution of pro-Israel groups. 

This is why I will donate not to self-congratulating AIPAC, but to those who indeed try to protect both nations - Israel and the US, as both are threatened by terrorist Islam, state and non-state. Perhaps, if those other organizations gain greater access to the public and US "leaders" that AIPAC claims to have monopolized,  the results will be better.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Empty advice

According to the statement of Simon Wiesenthal Center’s mission, it “confronts anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations”. None of these goals appear to be served by the recent article by Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman* in New York Daily News (June 27, 2013). The article justly rebukes the Obama administration (Sec’y Kerry) for wasting money and effort on trying to engage the corrupt Palestinian Authority. It also proposes to “empower those who want to live in peace”. That might have been a smart advice, except none of “those” is named in the article. None, that is, unless one counts “a mother of two martyred sons” who laments PA’s economic incompetence, and a sheikh who would vote for Hamas “tomorrow”, given a chance. Apart from outrageously calling the dead terrorists martyrs with no quotation marks or explanation of what this “martyrdom” means for Israelis, even more disconcerting is that the authors refer to that sheikh as a “pragmatist” just because he wants “the basic social services” – this is after the thousands of rockets that have been fired from Gaza where the peaceful “pragmatists” of the sheikh’s kind won.

It is true that the PA is no peace partner and is corrupt, but the article’s advice is vacuous as it neither proposes any valid alternative nor tells the truth: there are no “peace partners” for Israel. In fact, none is needed or possible. There can be no partnership between the aggressors and the aggressed, just as no partnership can exist between the murderer and his victim. What is needed is that the Arab aggressors who have waged the war against Israel for as long as it has existed – the irredentists who do not agree to that existence in any shape or form – stop their war and their antisemitic poisoning of their children’s minds. Nobody among the Palestinian Arabs is known to have the political will, stature, and means for ensuring that. This needs to be clearly understood, and a good start for that would be calling terrorist murderers terrorists rather than “martyrs”, and using the correct geographic names Judea and Samaria rather than the meaningless and ahistoric “West Bank” that Jordan invented during its illegal occupation of the land to render not only the territory but even toponymy Judenrein. Without that understanding, the efforts and money will continue being wasted in pursuit of mirages. 
*Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Brackman, a historian, is a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/kerry-challenge-empower-palestinians-article-1.1384187#ixzz2XvrBUxdZ

Monday, May 27, 2013

"Islamism" vs. Occam's razor: Made in West

Dr. Daniel Pipes is a knowledgeable commentator on Islam. His expertise has been sought by policy-makers up to the level of US president. That's enough for me to get interested in Dr. Pipes's opinion, trying to form my dilettante own. Sometimes it is different from his. But first things first.

When America, helped by its few remaining allies, defeated Saddam Hussein, a bloody, bestial and bloated with pride autocrat, it found nothing better than to elect Barack Hussein as President. This is as if to prove that the inevitable associations with Saddam, with Osama, with 9-11, with anything Islam, are of no concern to the home of the brave. The symbolism of this is significant, even though, of course, there is little similarity between the two rulers. If there is any, however (perish the thought), it includes the fact that both have had a relatively thin connection with the religion that provided them with their names.

Saddam was a socialist - of his national kind - and would turn to Islam as a matter of convenience. Just as Islam's founder used to, Saddam used his "religion" to justify his atrocities. Like Muhammad, he had to do that quite a bit, and in his environment Islam generally has wider currency than in the US, being integral part of tradition. While Barack is undoubtedly a socialist of a kind too, his environment gives him much less opportunities to apply his love for the "prettiest" sounds of Islam, and much more for applying the version of Christianity that he was taught by Rev. Wright - the only one he's ever known. Nevertheless, one can't accuse Barack of fully neglecting his "grandfather's" religion. As need be, he recites the Muslim statement of faith, curses those who insult Muhammad, strenuously protects women's "right" to wear hijab, and extols Islamic "learning". Occasionally, he even (mis)speaks  of himself as a Muslim.

Like his predecessor Bush II, he considers Islam "religion of peace" - despite all the proof to the contrary, from the Islamic scripture to the bloody history of Muslim conquest to the incessant and growing terror committed in the name of Islam. Individual and group terror, which has replaced Muslim nations' terror due to their military inferiority, is very successful. The West, ridden with guilt and ashamed of its religion, lacks moral clarity and ideologic spine. In fact, ideology is a curse word. Because of that, the reaction to Islam's terror is the opposite to rational: instead of Westerners' protecting themselves from the carriers of the murderous ideology, as they would from a foreign invasion, more of those carriers are imported to spread it. Just as Israel, under the same post-ideologic Western pressure and wishful thinking, gives up its hard-won territories for nothing in return, the West loses its territorial and ideological integrity to the alien invasion as well. The losses are tangible: Muslim settlers in the West tend to congregate geographically, squeezing out the infidels, and tend not to assimilate culturally. In effect, parts of countries become off limits to their prior inhabitants. This is combined with the political changes resulting from politicians' seeking votes from the growing Muslim block. Progressives - some from ignorance, others from the need to fight the evils of capitalism, yet others simply sharing antisemitism that is so respected in Islam - provide an abundant supply of collaborationists.

The argument is, of course, that it is "Islamism" that is bad, while Islam is as good as, if not better than, Judaism and Christianity. By implication, Islam should be as acceptable to the West as Judeo-Christian beliefs. Muslims do list those beliefs on the same breath: "Jews and Crusaders". They do not, obviously, list Islam on the same breath, supposedly another "Abrahamic religion", nor does anybody with a scintilla of knowledge in the West seriously consider it as another facet of the tripartite system. It does not take much to prove that both "Abrahamic religion" and "Islamism" are Western inventions.

Clearly, even in a culture that fully accepts death sentence not everybody would want to be an executioner. Similarly, it is no proof of Islam's general rejection of terror that not every Muslim is a terrorist. Anybody familiar with Islamic writings and history knows that terror has played a central role in the spread of Islam.  But why not listen to the prime-minister of a Muslim country, elected from a Muslim party - shouldn't he be trusted as a better expert than the Western thinkers when he says there is no "moderate Islam"? In Erdogan's words, "If you say moderate Islam, then an alternative is created, and that is immoderate Islam. As a Muslim, I can't accept such a concept." Then, as behooves a fine logician he is, he goes on to state the opposite to what he said: "Islam rejects extreme concepts. I am not an extreme Muslim. We are Muslims who have found a middle road." Middle - between what and what? If he is not an "extreme" one, what is he if not "moderate", if confused? His point is, anyway, that he is not a terrorist (who said he was?), and that terror cannot be called "Islamic" just as it could not be called Christian or Jewish. Of course, it could - such as when terror is committed in the name of Christianity, as it was during Jewish pogroms in Russia. Terror committed in the name of Islam, accompanied with proclaiming glory to the Islamic deity, Allah, is Muslim terror. The Turkish army chief General Buyukanit puts it succinctly: "There are certain circles that want to add the title of 'moderate Islam' to the Republic of Turkey. The source of such a title does not come from within Turkey but foreign circles."

All these facts, and more, are considered in Dr. Pipes's blog entry of 2004 and its updates - without much discussion of whether Erdogan and other Muslims who reject the concept of "moderate vs. immoderate" Islam are right or wrong. Those facts are also recently revisited in Dr. Pipes's May 2013 Washington Times article "Islam and its infidels: How extremists distorted a religion of millions". There he mentions the same arguments, but as given by his opponents, which is to say the opponents of the division of Islam into "moderate" and "Islamist" that he supports.

Unfortunately, that article presents no support for an entity termed "Islamism" to counter the continuities and consistencies in Islam. Contrary to Dr. Pipes's view, Muslims never needed to "absorb" from Europeans the concept of ideology: Islam has been a totalitarian ideology, by both intent and implementation, from Muhammad's times. Cultural and other achievements listed in the article, the fluctuating proportions of the "extremists", and variation within Islam that includes "quietists", are irrelevant. Variation exists among the followers of any ideology, as humans are thankfully not a eusocial species. After all, Schindler was a card-carrying Nazi too. That is no proof of "moderate Nazism", however.

"Islamism" remains a redundancy invented in the West, however convenient and comfortable it might be to add an "ism" and thus truncate the distribution of individual devotion to Islam's scriptural ideologic principles. Collapsing that dimension into the categories of "secularism", "apologism" and "islamism", as suggested in Dr. Pipes's article, has no foundation in reality, if only because there are no natural/scriptural boundaries between these groupings. "Quietism" of Sufis, so frequently thought of in the West as meditative mystics, wine-imbibing poets and whirling dervishes, did not prevent Shamil Basayev and other Sufis from multiple terror acts, including the mass murder of non-Muslim children in the Beslan school. Hopefully we won't try now to invent "extremist" and "moderate" Sufis - like the rest of Muslims, they obviously represent a continuum. Historically, Sufis, organized into knight-like orders with blind obedience of members to the leader, have been fanatical warriors spearheading Islamic conquest.

Contrary to Dr. Pipes, adding "-ism" to Islam is not at all similar to creating a term like fascism - rather, the analog to "Islamism" would be "fascismism", a clear redundancy. It might be comfortable to think that "Islamism" allows us to fear only "10 to 15 percent of Muslims" rather than all 1.3 bln of them - even though I'd fail to take any comfort in the 10%, especially when it translates into 130,000,000 of vicious "Islamists". There is no need, however, as Occam's razor warns us, to multiply entities when not necessary - and necessity cannot result from our need in comfort. The attempts to reify a novel entity of "Islamism" only show how well religious mimicry continues to serve Islam to mislead the wishfully thinking West.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

J Dead-End

I am not a journalist to track the news. So it is only recently that I have come across a month-old column in The Jewish Chronicle authored by the two co-chairs of J Street-Pittsburgh ("Obama: ‘You must create the change you want to see’"). By itself, it is of little interest and was not a news item even when it was published. It only regurgitates approvingly some points made by Obama in his speech to Israeli students when he finally descended in his presidential glory on the bothersome country with its insufferable Prime Minister. Remember the president's sharing Sarkozy's hot mic revelations about the "liar" with whom poor Obama has to "deal" so often? The column is hardly made more interesting by its arrogant absurdities, which include calling Obama’s decision to talk to young people (instead of the Knesset) “a way to elevate the discussion about peace above the typical rancor of their leaders.” Ah, those benighted rancorous Israeli leaders - so beneath the station of our soaring president and the "co-chairs" whom I'd call paternalistic were they not women. What is interesting is not what is in, but what is not in that column – nor is it in the Obama speech.

First, missing are not only the Members of the Knesset. Obama addressed young Israelis but not young Palestinian Arabs. This is consistent with what he, along with his many mouthpieces including J Street, considers the cause of the lack of any progress in the "peace process". Nevertheless, even his words could have provided a clue to the only realistic solution. He said, "Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland..." - and the logical conclusion could well be, "the Palestinian Arabs should build theirs". That would place some responsibility on the Arabs' shoulders. The Jewish state had been built and existed de facto before it was declared in 1948. All the attempts, if any, that the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza have made to create a semblance of a working state have failed - the latest with Fayyad's resignation. Lo and behold, we now find out, he "feuded" with Abbas, the "Palestinian president" (whose term, for what it had been worth, expired in January 2009). These are the two people whom Obama, in torturous English making two persons into one entity that is on a par with a state, called Israel's "true partner" - half of which is now gone. The only state structure that functions in the "Palestinian state", declared recently for the second time, is the numerous "security forces" that double as terror groups.

Unfortunately and illogically, instead of Arabs' responsibilities, Obama concluded that sentence with the non-sequitur of their rights: "Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land". Put this way, that right - paraphrased by Obama from a verse in the Israeli state anthem - is denied to them by external forces. Not by the corruption of their own rulers and their dreams of vengeance and violent takeover of entire "Filastin", Israel included, but by the Israeli government, to pressure which the young Israelis were called by Obama. Unsurprisingly, no mention of the Arabs' responsibilities was made by the J Street writers of that column either. In the co-chairs' view, "the existential threat to Israel’s future" is not the Muslims/Arabs' refusal to reconcile with the Jewish state and to end the war they've been waging for as long as it exists, but "the lack of a two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinians conflict" - which is, you guessed it, Israel's fault. Simple logic, however, should have told them that when one side has all the responsibilities while the other has rights only, the solution is as possible as the sound of one hand clapping. 

It is hard to imagine that neither Obama nor J Street are capable of seeing that. They cannot have missed that the only concessions ever made in the "peace process", and in the Arab-Israeli "conflict" in general, were Israeli. Those were not merely some formal diplomatic steps, but colossal territorial sacrifices - the land that had been paid in the blood of those who had recently survived a European genocide only to be promised another one by the Arabs, over and over again.

Nobody expects territorial gains made by other countries in the aftermath of defensive wars to be relinquished to their prior possessors: ask Russia about Kaliningrad/Koenigsberg. Or ask the Czechs about the Sudetenland, with the after-war wholesale expulsion of Germans from there, characterized by Churchill in 1944 as "the method which, in so far as we have been able to see, will be the most satisfactory and lasting." No Arab country had ever been a legal possessor of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, which were captured by Israel along with oil-rich Sinai during the defensive Six Day War, won under Nasser's and PLO's promises of genocide. Nevertheless, after its stunning victory Israel offered to forgo those gains - in exchange for peace. It was at the time not peace with the "Palestinians", who had not yet been invented, but with the Arabs in general. Nobody had talked then about another Arab "Palestinian" state in addition to the already existing one, Jordan. The Arab response was the "3 No's" of the Khartoum Resolution: "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it." After another victorious defensive war, Israel ceded Sinai to the thrice (at least) defeated enemy - for the empty paper of "peace", which would last only as long as Egypt is sure of its defeat if it starts another war. Then Israel ceded Gaza - to the nonentity of the "Palestinian Administration" - for nothing at all but hopes for a peaceful development, which had been seen as unfounded and lethal by whoever was willing to open an eye. Rockets from Gaza have pounded Israel ever since.

Why then, certainly knowing all this, Obama and his J Street fellow travelers do not address Arab responsibilities - the only thing that has always been needed for any positive change in the status quo? Why don't they ask for peace those who have ceaselessly waged the war - since the time when the Jewish state was at its embryonic stage? Why don't they ask Abbas who chairs the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which was created to exterminate Israelis, in 1964, before any "occupation"? The PLO, whose ruling Charter calling for the violent liquidation of Israel has never been changed, and which has never stopped being a terrorist organization just because the West decided it no longer was? 

The reason is simple. They don't ask because they know it would be futile. They know they have nobody to address there - neither Abbas, the halved "partner" of Israel, the fake president of no country and a doctor of Holocaust denial, nor the assorted terrorist gangs including the Gaza rulers of Hamas, nor the Arab population of Judea, Samaria and Gaza as a whole, which is ever ready to elect terrorists to rule them and celebrates mass murder including 9-11. It is a revolting hypocrisy when the J Street peaceniks, from the safety of Squirrel Hill (a cozy Pittsburgh neighborhood), call for Israelis to "demand from their political leaders to take the necessary risks for peace". They do it in full knowledge that those risks, taken by Israeli leaders so many times, are for continuing war and terror while the gains are mirages. This has been proven again and again whenever such risks were taken - with irreversible territorial losses, encouraging further terror.

Obama and his J Street cohorts are eager to submit Israel to those 100% risks for the sake of their political utopias. Knowingly unrealistic as those utopias are, they serve their purposes: to present Obama as a peacemaker statesman, and to fill the J Street co-chairs' leisure with self-important political activity and satisfy their leadership ambitions. Just like so many among the Jewish pacifist "co-chairs" in the US before and during 2nd World War, they care for nobody's peace except their own. It is no wonder J Street has decided to stop pretending to be "pro-Israel" to attract the kind of campus support it needs to "elevate" discussions to nowhere. With its vacuous pro-Arab rhetoric of unconditional "restraint" for Israel, J Street is a blind alley, a path leading to a deadly abyss.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Antisemitism by other means: Lecturing against the Jewish state*

I went to Michael Sfard's lecture** with a heavy heart. Why would I be hesitant about listening to this young and famous Israeli lawyer? Because of his fame's source: Sfard is what is called a "Human Rights Lawyer". In other words, so that nobody gets confused, his clients are mainly Palestinian Arabs. The human rights of the Jews are not under his purview, unless those Jews, like he has eventually done himself,  refuse to serve in the Israel Defense Forces or are otherwise anti-Israel. He defends Arabs' rights - but surely not from fellow Arabs. For instance, not from the Palestinian Authority, which sentences to death those who sell land to a Jew, an act of "national treason", and whose courts sentence journalists to jail for "insulting" Mahmoud Abbas by a cartoon on Facebook. As Sfard informed the audience, the PA has merely "the power of a city council", executions notwithstanding. 

Why did I go then? To ask the question that had long preoccupied me: why would somebody choose to defend members of an enemy population - against his own state that protects him and has been under attack from that population for as long as his state existed? The population whose leaders have been financiers, planners and perpetrators of terror, where murder of innocent Jews and Americans is celebrated and schools and stadiums are named after the murderers, where the murderers' families are congratulated and their enormous portraits adorn city walls. I prefaced my question by saying that as a Jewish refugee from the Soviet Union, it was particularly strange for me to hear that in the "oppressive" Jewish state it was usually sufficient for a Palestinian Arab to petition the court with a help of a lawyer in order to get a satisfactory solution to his or her problems.  I also briefly reminded Sfard of the Arab violent animosity towards the Jews that had long preceded the re-creation of Israel, the history that included Amin al Husseini, a major Nazi collaborator and Arafat's and Abbas's hero. 

The response was striking. Sfard said, deliberately and clearly expecting the audience's reaction, "I don't care about history." I too thought there would be a reaction. I thought, this educated audience , albeit visibly sympathetic to the speaker, would now rise in disbelief and indignation. After all, shouldn't they all have been familiar with George Santayana's maxim, "Those who forget history are destined to repeat it"? One does not need to be an historian to understand how dangerous that forgetfulness would be - for the Jews in particular. Some aspects of our rich history are better to stay in history - but we keep being promised their genocidal repetition, by the likes of the Arab League at the creation of Israel, Nasser in 1967, and Ahmadinejad these days. Alas, no objection arose from the future and present lawyers. On the contrary, Sfard was applauded - especially when he said that he did not believe in the Jewish state. That prompted me to interject, "How about 'Judenstaat'?" No, he did not know what it was, the title of the foundation of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl's book "The Jewish State". Of course, Sfard's not believing in the Jewish state leaves him not believing in the state he lives in, created as "a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel", according to the Israeli Declaration of Independence of 1948. It seems when people don't care about history, they don't care about the present reality either.

It is really hard to briefly summarize Sfard's talk, misinformation by both omission and commission. As usual, it started with the terminology. Long gone are the times when the disputed territories were called Judea and Samaria in general parlance. Those historic names have been ethnically cleansed into the meaningless "West Bank", adopted from Jordan that  illegally occupied those lands from 1949 to 1967. It is also forgotten that Jordan annexed Judea and Samaria to its own east bank  - of the Jordan river, which is, interestingly, the Jewish name, appropriated also by the Arab state created by Britain's fiat in Eretz Israel, which was entrusted by the League of Nations to the UK for the "close settlement by Jews on the land". Amazingly, the UK had no trouble recognizing annexation of Judea and Samaria by Jordan, which captured that territory in a war of aggression. Even "West Bank", however, is too neutral for Sfard, who prefers calling it "Occupation". According to him, Israel began to "colonize" that land in the 1970's. Never mind that Israelis only by then had restored Jewish access to the heartland of  the Land of Israel, including the old city of Jerusalem with its Western Wall and Temple Mount, the most sacred site for the Jews. While no law except Jordanian ever prohibited Jewish settlement on that land, the world had no qualms when Jordanians murdered and expelled Jews from there. This is how east Jerusalem was turned into the "Arab East Jerusalem"  of today's media. Never mind that this part of town until the 20th century was the only Jerusalem, with a Jewish majority there until the Jordanian murderous invasion in 1948. It is also through bloody pogroms that Hebron, the first capital of ancient Israel, and other parts of Eretz Israel became Judenfrei "Arab cities". If, as is often repeated, the territory cannot be obtained in conquest, why should this rule start being implemented with Jews who captured it in a defensive war, and not with Muslims, who took it in aggression from Crusaders, who took it from Muslims, who took it from the Roman Empire that violently took it from the Jews and exiled them from their land? Let alone the many contemporary examples of the land captured in the defensive war and kept, like  the Kuril Islands or Sudetenland. But Sfard does not care about history.

His main problem is the security barrier. He misnames it "separation wall" - despite the fact that the wall is less than three percent of this largely chain link fence. Never did he mention that the only reason for the construction of the fence that began in 2002 was the terror war that Israel's "peace partners" headed by Arafat started in 2000, after he rejected another Israeli proposal that would create an Arab state. Only in 2002, before construction started, terrorists from the territories murdered 457 Israelis. Already in 2006, before the construction of the fence was finished, the number dropped to 10, and to no fatalities in 2012. Sfard does not care about security -  he derisively calls it a "Jewish obsession". His only focus is his clients' inconvenience, as he shares their conviction that Israel's goal for the barrier is land grab. He lamented that while discussing changes in the "separation wall"  route, the main concern of the Israeli officials was security. Needless to say, the "oppressor" did change the route as per Sfard's petition, and he tells the truly horrific story how an Israeli officer thanked him for letting know about the inconvenience to Arab farmers, since remedied. In fact, Sfard intimated, the evil authorities satisfy his clients' grievances even without any court rulings, "in a shadow of the court". Why? Because, to his satisfaction, they are "willing to barter land for legitimacy. Legitimacy is in very short supply." Just how much legitimacy of the Unites States depends on the route of its security barrier built on its Mexican border - with no terrorist threat?

There is no doubt in Sfard's mind that Israel is oppressor in regard to the Arab population of Judea and Samaria. Never mind that this oppression has resulted in the immense growth in the Arabs' longevity, education, and living standard that is higher than in the surrounding Arab countries. Never mind that no military would be needed in Judea and Samaria, or in entire Israel for that matter, if there were no constant and thousands of times realized threat of death from the Arab population. The threat that is maintained by the incessant antisemitic and anti-Israel brain-washing that Arabs undergo from the beginning of their lives. 

As to the question I asked Sfard, I still do not know the answer. The phenomenon of a Jew crossing to the enemy side, while rare, is not new, however. It used to require apostasy, and the apostate could become an inquisitor burning Jews at stake, or a blood libeler, inciting lethal pogroms. Nothing as dramatic as apostasy is needed nowadays, when religion has largely become for many merely a slightly embarrassing tradition - at least, among the progressive intelligentsia. Today's secular apostates merely defend those who attack the Jewish state's security measures that not only protect Israelis - Jews and Arabs alike - but also obviate the need for military action and casualties that would inevitably result from it, if terror acts were not prevented. Sfard did not see it that way, all the lynchings of random Jewish victims who fell into Arab hands, terrorist suicidal massacres and other murders notwithstanding. A possible motivation used to be the apostate's conflict with the community, or the desire to break from the persecuted minority. These days, all it takes is to become a "Human Rights" lawyer like Sfard. In Israel, this ecological niche is unique enough to avoid competition with other lawyers, kept out of it by their conscience. In that rarefied niche, even a mediocrity can earn his bread and butter - perhaps, with caviar and international travel on top.

I do not know why this annual lecture cycle has been renamed from The Martin Luther King Lecture to Lawyering For Social Change, but I think Dr. King would be happy that his name is no longer associated with it. The "social change" it stands for is not consistent with his vision of Israel, so dramatically different from Sfard's: "Israel is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security, and that security must be a reality.” Peace through security is exactly the human right that Sfard the "Human Rights Lawyer" denies his compatriots and, ultimately, his Arab clients as well. As for the Pitt law students, they were denied truth, and for their $25 education credits for this “lawyering” lecture received not education, but anti-Israel ideological indoctrination. 

*The published version of this entry is in  The Jewish Chronicle, titled "Michael Sfard: 'I Don't Care About History'". There is also a prior entry in this blog, related to Sfard, "Champion Of Displacement".
** “Can the Occupier Provide Justice? The Dilemmas of Human Rights Litigation in Israeli Courts,”  7 p.m. March 28 in the Teplitz Memorial Moot Courtroom of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 3900 Forbes Ave..