December 2011 Archives

Note:   There has been a bit of excitement today in the international Community.  It’s as tho all hell were breaking loose.  We can read about it in an Israeli newspaper.  You’ll notice that I’ve highlighted a few words in Ha’aretz‘s article.  From my humble/prayerful perspective, what our Ambassador to Belgium said is true.  It is reasonable to assume that President Obama was not surprised by the excitement.  He was prepared.   Peace, Roy

Click here: Jewish groups demand Obama action over Belgium envoy’s anti-Semitism remarks – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

  • Published 13:18 04.12.11
  • Latest update 13:18 04.12.11
  • Jewish groups

    demand Obama action over Belgium envoy’s anti-Semitism remarks

    U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman said Muslim anti-Semitism stems from Israel-Palestine conflict; White House issues statement condemning all forms of anti-Semitism.By Danna HarmanTags: anti-SemitismJewish WorldBarack Obama

    Some Jewish groups and others were demanding Sunday that United States President Barak Obama take action against his ambassador to Belgium, following comments the envoy made to the effect that Israel’s political positions serve as some sort of explanation for anti-Semitism amongst Muslims.

    Ambassador Howard Gutman, who is Jewish, made the controversial remarks at a conference on anti-Semitism organized by the European Jewish Union in Brussels last week.

    Obama at UN luncheon - AP - 21.9.11

    U.S. President Barack Obama.

    Photo by: AP


    “A distinction should be made between traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned, and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,” Gutman reportedly told those gathered, going on to argue that “…an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will significantly diminish Muslim anti-Semitism.”

    In reaction to the comments, and the subsequent uproar they caused, the White House released a statement distancing itself from Gutman’s words: “We condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms, and that there is never any justification for prejudice against the Jewish people or Israel,” read the statement, which was sent out over the weekend to Jewish leaders.

    But Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich joined those arguing that a verbal rebuke was not enough. “Pres Obama should fire his ambassador to Brussels for being so wrong about anti-Semitism,” Gingrich tweeted on his account.

    Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matthew Brooks echoed these sentiments, adding that: “The linkage in the ambassador’s remarks, blaming Israel for anti-Semitism, is a short step from the linkage that President Obama has expressed several times himself, that Israel is to blame for the unrest and instability in the Middle East. Both forms of linkage are fundamentally wrong.”

    Gutman, a lawyer by profession, was appointed ambassador to Belgium after raising major funds for Obama’s 2008 elections campaign.

    Filed under Uncategorized by on . Comment#

    Note:   Also see a report from Ha’aretzGovernment ministers react sharply to Clinton’s criticism of Israeli democracy.  Interior Minister Eli Yishai said:  “I assume that everything done here will be done within the law and I am not concerned by that.”   Peace, Roy  

    Click here: BBC News – Hillary Clinton ‘concerned over Israeli democracy’

    Last updated at 09:53 ET

    It’s knowing the truth that will make all of us free.

    The N.E.M.




           AIPAC and CUFI are playing hardball.  So must we.  Thanks to my neighbor, George, a retired Professor of Accounting, for sharing today’s video.


           As Germany’s Otto von Bismarck might well have said, “People are generally happier when they don’t know how sausages and laws are made.”  Well, perhaps Americans have been too happy for too many years.  Ignorance (not knowing) may be bliss, but ignorance doesn’t solve our country’s problems.  Neither does apathy (not caring).


          All of us know the story of Capitol Hill’s most notorious lobbyist, Jack Abramoff.  Abramoff was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey into a wealthy and prominent Jewish family.  We all admire the work of Lesley Stahl at CBS News.   Lesley was born in Lynn Massachusetts of Jewish heritage.  This interview is an eye-opener:  The Lobbyist’s Playbook – 60 Minutes – CBS News (14:53).  The video won’t console you, but it might challenge you to help find ways to remedy the problem.  There’s a postscript.





    P.S.   Peers, you will notice that Leslie uses the word rationalization in this interview.  Freud taught that the ego defense mechanisms are altogether “unconscious”.     


           Holy and Universal.  Local and Ordinary.  Where daily Life unfolds.

    The N.E.M.



          Have you noticed?  A true story is more engaging than fiction.  It’s more important, too.  Please read Joharah Baker’s latest essay pasted below.  Joharah is writing about real life and flesh-and-blood people, and neither Shakespeare nor Tolstoy nor Homer nor anybody in Hollywood could write a story as intricate, as multi-faceted, as complex, as painful and as wonderful as the epic that’s unfolding in the Holy Land today.  Let’s all pay attention and we’ll learn a story that goes straight from God’s heart to yours.  Let’s keep our eyes on the big picture while we pay careful attention to the details.  We Human Beings have been given choices.  It’s a matter of life or death.  Let’s all of us choose LIFE.  Please read on and you’ll understand what I’m talking about..




    In a message dated 12/5/2011 4:37:41 A.M. Pacific Standard Time,… writes:

    MIFTAH’s Opinion & Editorials



    Hamas Should Watch its Step

    Date posted: 05/12/2011

    By: Joharah Baker for MIFTAH


    Everyone is hoping for Palestinian unity. The years-long political split between Hamas and Fateh has been devastating at more than one level but mostly at the level of Palestinian cohesiveness and lack of one united voice. This coveted reconciliation is close at hand – or at least that is what the leaders of these two factions would have us believe after all the fanfare surrounding their meeting last month in Cairo. And the people, perhaps beyond their better judgment, have raised their hopes that the Palestinians are finally coming together.

    While there is ample criticism of the performance of both sides, Hamas right now seems to be pushing its luck with its people. Having been isolated for so long in the Gaza Strip, it either has developed a false sense of popularity where it thinks whatever it does will be accepted by its people, or it is riding the wave of the moment, what with the Islamist movements sweeping newly democratic Arab nations.

    What Hamas has forgotten, however, is that the Palestinians relish in their democratic and secular political reality. So, when Hamas authorities close down a social media conference in Gaza, on grounds that the organizers did not obtain the proper licenses, this does not sit well with many Palestinians, whether in the West Bank where Hamas does not have a strong foothold, or even in Gaza. If anything, Palestinians everywhere are sick of oppressive authorities that try to control their every move, stifling even the most innocuous acts of personal freedoms, such as women smoking water pipes in public for example.

    Besides, according to Mohammed Abu Sharkh, one of the conference’s organizers, the group had sent Gaza authorities a request and had been given approval, only to be raided the day of the conference and told to shut it down.

    One stipulation of the reconciliation agreement is to hold presidential and legislative elections by next May. And this is when Hamas’ popularity – real or imagined – will show itself. So far, both sides think the elections will be a shoe-in. Fateh veteran Azzam Al Ahmad is already boasting about how Fateh will win the upcoming legislative elections despite the Islamist victories across the Arab world. Contrarily, this may be exactly what Hamas is banking on – that the rise of Islamic movements in the newly-minted democratic countries of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya – is a kind of guarantee that the same will happen in Palestine.

    If so, Hamas may be betting on the wrong horse. Palestinians, since the inception of the PLO in 1965, have espoused a secular philosophy for their liberation and have prided themselves on their respect for political plurality. It is only in recent Palestinian history that Islamic trends have been able to maintain a hold on the Palestinians in the manner that we have seen over the past few decades. It is hard to say whether the reasons behind this new trend are due to an actual shift in the Palestinians’ ideologies which moved them closer to political Islam or whether it is a reaction to the failure of other political movements.

    The only thing that can decide this now are

    the ballot boxes. But if Hamas continues to oppress the freedoms of Palestinians – freedoms which they have worked hard to achieve and will not easily relinquish to a dictator regime– they will find themselves in the minority yet again.

    We all want national unity, no doubt. But we also want a Palestine where our individual and collective liberties are not trounced on by a totalitarian regime that wants complete control of its populace. Shutting down a media conference or a conference on women’s labor rights in Gaza will not win Hamas votes – at least not from a large sector of our society. Embracing national unity and the principles upon which the Palestinian revolution were founded – including political and religious freedoms –undoubtedly will.

    Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at….

    Copyright © 2010 MIFTAH – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
    Tel: 022989490  Fax: 022989492

    In every job that must be done there is an element of fun.

    The N.E.M.




          Michelle is reading her e-mail at the White House breakfast table and smiling quietly.   President:  What does Dante have on his young mind this morning?  Michelle:  Hon, Dante has written you a Thank You Note.   President:  Really?  What’s he thanking me for?   Michelle:  He’s thanking you because he read the article from Maan News Agency which is pasted below.   President:  Why don’t you just tell me what he’s thanking me for?   Michelle:   Well, it’s a sensitive matter.   President:   Okay.  I’ll glance at the headline now and read the article later.


          Michelle:  Dante invites your attention to this video:  Hisham B. Sharabi Memorial Lecture (38:23).  He says you’ll find it existentially encouraging and ontologically “confirming”.   President:  Confirming?  Really?  What’s it about?   Michelle:  Hon, you’ll have to watch the video yourself.  I’ve watched it, and I suggest that you watch it this morning.   President:  Who’s featured in it?   Michelle:  You’ll see.  I’ll give you a hint, tho.  You know him.   President:  Okay.  What else does Dante have to say this morning?


          Michelle:   Dante says he admires the way you’re networking with other Leaders of the Free World to resolve the conflict in the Holy Land.  He mentions the Quartet and the way you’re working in tandem with Angela Merkel, for example, to outsmart Benjamin Netanyahu once and for all.  He says that he and his Allies on AOL approve of your overall strategy.  Some of the subtleties of your strategy are now being reported in Israeli media.   President:  What’s he talking about?   Michelle:  This article from Ha’aretz will explain:  Israel concession on Palestinian funds forced by German submarine deal.   But I suggest that you read the article pasted below now, because that’s the one that prompted Dante’s Thank You Note.  The highlights are his.





    Click here: Maan News Agency: US backs envoy after ‘anti-Semitism’ remarks

    US backs envoy after ‘anti-Semitism’ remarks

    Published today 12:02
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    File photo of the US ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman. (AFP)


    WASHINGTON (AFP) — President Barack Obama’s administration rejected Republican calls to fire the US ambassador to Belgium after he said that the Middle East conflict was partly to blame for anti-Semitism.

    Ambassador Howard Gutman, who is Jewish and the son of a Holocaust survivor, said in a speech that a new type of anti-Semitism has emerged in Europe that is not “classic bigotry” but instead linked to the conflict and hence resolvable.

    Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination, both called on Obama to dismiss Gutman and renewed charges that his administration was not supportive enough of Israel.

    “We have full confidence in him,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters. He said that Gutman, a political appointee and longtime fundraiser for Obama’s Democratic Party, was expressing his personal opinion.

    White House spokesman Jay Carney separately defended the administration’s record, saying it has opposed “one-sided” condemnation of Israel at the UN Human Rights Council and spoken out against incitement in the Arab world.

    “This administration has consistently stood up against anti-Semitism and efforts to delegitimize Israel, and we will continue to do so,” Carney said.

    Gutman, who was addressing a conference last week on anti-Semitism in Europe, opened his speech by apologizing for not “saying what you would expect me to say.”

    Pointing to his own experience, Gutman said he has been warmly received in Europe including by Muslims and did not believe that anti-Semitism “for the sake of hating” was on the rise in the continent that produced the Holocaust.

    But Gutman said a new, more complex form of anti-Semitism was growing, in which Jews are targeted because of resentment over the Arab-Israeli conflict.

    “It is the area where every new settlement announced in Israel, every rocket shot over a border or suicide bomber on a bus, and every retaliatory military strike exacerbates the problem and provides a setback here in Europe for those fighting hatred and bigotry,” he said.

    “Were a lasting peace in the Middle East to be reached, were joint and cooperative Israeli-Arab attentions turned to focus instead on such serious, common threats such as Iran, this second type of ethnic tension and bigotry here in Europe — which is clearly growing today — would clearly abate,” he said.

    Gutman later issued a statement to stress that that he condemns all forms of anti-Semitism, adding: “I deeply regret if my comments were taken the wrong way.”

    Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, accused Gutman of “rationalizing and downplaying anti-Semitism.”

    “The ambassador’s comments demonstrate the Obama administration’s failure to understand the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel and its appalling penchant for undermining our close ally,” Romney said.

    Former Texas governor Rick Perry called Gutman’s statement “part of a pattern of hostility” toward Israel, saying: “The long and ugly history of anti-Semitism has seen all too many episodes of apologists justifying hatred of the Jews.”

    But Senator John Kerry, a key Obama ally who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accused the Republicans of “making everything up.”

    “The president has been as supportive, if not more supportive, than any president in American history,” Kerry told AFP.

    Republicans have seized on Obama’s calls for Israel to cease settlements and his rocky relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seeking to increase their standing among Jewish voters and supporters of Israel in general.

    Last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta demanded that Israel “get to the damn table” for peace talks and Israeli ministers reacted angrily after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quoted expressing concern over the future of democracy in Israel.