Monday, November 20, 2006

Fleeing and Fleas

1. So let us see if we have this straight. Ehud Olmert is outraged that a Russian millionaire paid for the vacations to Eilat for residents of Sderot because such vacations were, in Olmert's "mind", escapism, fleeing from the front, abandoning their homes because of terrorism. See
Of course, all of Olmert's "doctrine", if that is the correct word, is based on fleeing before terrorists and abandoning Jewish homes in acts of capitulation. First we had the flight from Gaza, in which Olmert and his friends ordered the entire Jewish population of the Gaza Strip to be forcibly removed as an act of capitulation to terrorism. That flight of cowardice produced the thousands of Kassam rockets now landing on Sderot. So when Sderot residents "flee" to Eilat, they are simply trying to get away from the rockets brought down upon them by Olmert's own fleeing from Gaza.
Then there is Olmert's still-operative grand plan to repeat the cowardly flight out of Gaza in the West Bank, so that thousands more rockets can be fired out of the West Bank into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. And finally there was Olmert's cowardly flight out of the area of southern Lebanon that Israel took this past summer, a flight of cowardice that simply makes the next war with the Hizbollah a matter of time. (Ok, I admit it, I was off. I had predicted the next war would take place this past Succot. Like the famous obituary about Mark Twain, I was just a little premature.)
2. This Week's Israeli Communist Professor
He is Oded Goldreich, a communist professor of Computer Science and Math at the Weizmann Institute. That is notable, because Weizmann ordinarily is not a well-known den for leftist moonbats.
There is an old stereotype of math professors who do complex advanced math but cannot add three plus three when it comes to the real world.
Goldreich is an open supporter of Israel's Stalinist communist party HADASH. He endorses it here on his personal web page: . He opines at length about how awful capitalism is and how wonderful communism is here:
He endorses the Arab version of history here:
He has signed all those anti-Israel petitions, including the ones promoting a "right of return" for Palestinians, meaning their right to destroy Israel ( ), demands for internation involvement in order to curtail Israeli sovereignty ( ), called for granting terrorist Tali Fahima a Nobel Prize ( ), and has endorsed calls for boycotts of Israeli schools ( )
3. In the sharpest of contrasts, now let me introduce you to Professor Hillel Weiss, a well-known professor of Jewish Thought at Bar Ilan University ( ).
Weiss is from the correct side of the political arena. He is active in the Professors for a Strong Israel and in the movement that opposes unilateral capitulations like last summer's Gaza "withdrawal". He holds a law degree although is not a practicing lawyer.
And he has been the victim of police harassment these past few weeks. First, the police interrogated him for opposing the "Gay Pride Parade" in Jerusalem. Weiss had called for it to be cancelled, and stated that he endorses all means for preventing the holding of the "parade" in Jerusalem, even "Acts of Pinhas". The police took that as a call for violence. You know, the very same police who seem unable to recognize it when Arab pro-terrorists and Jewish leftist pro-terrorists endorse violence, terrorism, and even genocide.
Now the most amazing thing about this is that Israeli prosecutors, products of the Israeli school system, even know who Pinhas was. And since Pinhas is often traditionally considered to reappear as Elijah the Prophet, my suggestion to Hillel is that every person singing about Elijah also be brought in for police questioning. (Remember those violent acts that Elijah did to the prophets of Baal? Isn't singing about Elijah clearly an act of incitement?)
Then, yesterday Weiss was called in again for interrogation, this time for a different matter. It seems that Weiss is involved in a group in Israel calling itself "The Sanhedrin". It is a group of rabbis and other public figures who issue opinions about matters of the day. A while back, the "Sanhedrin" sent letters to various police and army officers who had been involved in the eviction of Jews from their homes in Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip. When these did not show up to answer questions before the "Sanhedrin", the "Sanhedrin" wrote letters to the synagogues in which these folks are members and asked that the people involved in the evictions not be called up to the Torah in aliyot. In post-democratic Israel, that also evidently constitutes an act of "incitement".
Perhaps the best comment on Israel's dual judicial system (one for leftists and the other for everyone else) was a column by lawyer Yoram Shiftal in the weekly "Besheva" from Nov 16, 06. Unfortunately it is only in Hebrew and not on line, but perhaps someone out there will translate and post it. In any case, Shiftal argues that for all intents and purposes Israel's prosecutor's office is little more than a branch of the Meretz far-left party. Of the dozens of department heads within the prosecutor's office, every single one is a leftist. There had been one non-leftist, but she retired. The control of the office by those who belong to the leftist Meretz fringe explains the selective enforcement of the law, endlessly prosecuting rightists but never indicting leftists for treason and "incitement", and for the frequent involvement of the prosecution in promoting anti-religious litigation.
4. Barnard Alumnae Opposing Tenure for Anthropologist BY GABRIELLE BIRKNER - Staff Reporter of the Sun
November 16, 2006
A group of Barnard College alumnae is attempting to stop their alma mater from giving tenure to an assistant professor who minimizes Jews' historical connection to Israel.
In her 2001 book, "Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society," published by the University of Chicago, the professor of anthropology, Nadia Abu El-Haj says Israeli archaeology manipulates evidence to justify a modern Jewish state in the region.
Relying heavily on the input of anonymous archaeologists, tour guides, and tour participants, the book portrays Israeli archaeologists as ideologues who, driven by a desire to "efface Zionism's colonial dimension," have fabricated Jews' territorial claims to Israel.
Contacted by phone and e-mail, Ms. Abu El-Haj would not comment on the book, or her position at Barnard.
While "Facts on the Ground" has been warmly received by some biblical "minimalists," or "biblical revisionists" ... academics who contend the Bible was written centuries later than is widely accepted and, that the text has little or no historical relevance ... it has been widely dismissed by archaeologists as a political treatise, full of erroneous statements and unsubstantiated claims.
In "Facts on the Ground," Ms. Abu el-Haj suggests Jerusalem was destroyed not by the Romans, but by the Jews themselves due to rising class tensions among them. Yet, the 1st-century historian and scribe Josephus described in great detail the Roman siege of Jerusalem. Additionally, carvings in the Arch of Titus in Rome depict the Roman General Titus showing off menorahs and other objects looted from the Second Temple.
In another passage, Ms. Abu El-Haj relates how a tourist questions a Jerusalem tour guide's explanation that the Judean King Hezekiah saved the city from an Assyrian conquest in 701 B.C.E. The tourist refutes the statement, claiming that Hezekiah's actions actually led to the destruction of the nearby Israelite kingdom. "Although the tourist's objection would appear to undermine the guide's interpretation .. this is a ludicrous claim, since the Israelite kingdom had been conquered twenty-one years earlier!" an archaeology professor at Israeli's Bar-Ilan University, Aren Maeir, wrote two years ago in a University of Chicago journal, Isis.
The Assyrian conquest of Samaria in 722 B.C.E. is confirmed in Assyrian annals, which provide copious descriptions of the kingdom's fall, according to a retired professor of Near East archaeology at the University of Arizona, William Dever.
Mr. Dever, who has authored more than 20 books on Middle East History, said Ms. Abu El-Haj seems intent on writing Jews out of ancient Middle East history, and demonizing a generation of apolitical Israeli archaeologists in the process. Barnard should deny Ms. Abu El-Haj tenure, he said, "not because she's Palestinian or pro-Palestinian or a leftist, but because her scholarship is faulty, misleading and dangerous."
A 1982 Barnard alumna, Paula Stern, said she is "horrified by the possibility that Barnard College would consider appointing" Ms. Abu El-Haj to its permanent faculty.
Particularly troubling, Ms. Stern said, is Ms. Abu El-Haj's conclusion that the Palestinians who in 2000 desecrated Joseph's Tomb ... a Jewish holy site in the West Bank city of Nablus ... need to be "understood in relation to a colonial-national history in which modern political rights have been substantiated in and expanded through the material signs of historic presence."
In a recent e-mail message to fellow Barnard graduates, Ms. Stern, who lives in Israel, wrote, "In Abu El Haj's view, deliberately destroying ancient buildings is not to be condemned, it is to be ...analyzed as a form of resistance to the Israeli state.'" Ms. Stern urged fellow Barnard graduates to contact the college's president "if you share my concern about the implications of hiring a young scholar who writes with so little respect for the use of evidence."
The president of Barnard College, Judith Shapiro, herself a cultural anthropologist, has received about 20 emails from individuals who oppose tenure for Ms. Abu El-Haj, a Barnard spokeswoman, Elizabeth Gildersleeve, said. "Her studies are on a controversial subject, and that can stir the pot," Ms. Gildersleeve said.
Many of the academics who reviewed "Facts on the Ground" rejected the author's methodology and her conclusions. "Abu El-Haj has written a flimsy and supercilious book that does no justice to either her putative subject or the political agenda she wishes to advance. It should be avoided," a biblical archaeologist, a former adjunct professor at Purchase College, Alexander Joffe, wrote in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies. Mr. Joffe now works for an Israel advocacy organization, the David Project.
Bar-Ilan University's Mr. Maeir, in a telephone interview, said archaeologists in Israel ... like archaeologists elsewhere ... have used their work for nationalistic purposes in the past. He said the field has evolved in recent decades, and its Israeli practitioners are not "out there working on this nationalist, jingoistic agenda of proving the Zionist point of view, and negating the Arab point of view," as Ms. Abu El-Haj would have readers believe.
Ms. Abu El-Haj portrays Western scholarship as colonialist and imperialist. "The work of archaeology in Palestine/Israel is a cardinal institutional location of the ongoing practice of colonial nationhood producing facts through which historical-national claims, territorial transformations, heritage objects and historicities ...happen,'" she wrote.
More mainstream archaeologists, according to Mr. Dever, trace the origins of the Israelite state to the 10th or 9th century B.C.E., contend that Bible was written in 8th or 7th century B.C.E., and that the biblical stories are "based on some historical facts. "Their minds are made up," Mr. Dever said of the minimalists, whom he calls "nihilists."
"They never pay any attention to archaeological evidence, except to discredit it," Mr. Dever said.
One of the most prominent minimalist academics, Keith Whitelam, a professor of religious studies at England's University of Sheffield, in an e-mail interview with The New York Sun, hailed "Facts on the Ground" as a "first-rate book." "It is important to study how national identity is constructed and the assumptions which are then built into academic work on history and archaeology," he wrote. " ...Facts on the Ground' is a very fine contribution to that debate and our understanding of the processes." Mr. Whitelam is the author of "The Invention of Ancient Israel: The Silencing of Palestinian History."
A history and religion professor at Northwestern University, Jacob Lassner, in a 2003 review of "Facts on the Ground" published in Middle East Quarterly, wrote that minimalist archaeological claims have become a popular vehicle for those with decidedly anti-Zionist motives, writing "it is only those who deny Israel's right to exist or contest the legitimacy of its current borders who deny altogether or compromise Israel's links to the past."
Even so, Mr. Lassner told The New York Sun said efforts by Barnard alumnae to block Ms. Abu El-Haj from receiving tenure would likely prove ineffectual. "Universities don't react to pressure of alumni on matters of tenure," he said. "It's not going to do very much good for alumnae to start complaining, especially if they're not scholars."
5. Blaming the Jews for the Jihad:

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