• This isn’t just a dumb political idea. It turns dumbness up to “11”

    It’s from the anti-Israeli left, specifically from a small group with the misleading name “Jewish Voice for Peace.”

    They back every anti-Israeli group and idea put forward by their fellow progressives.

    In the process, they came up with this brilliant thought:

    Israel has no right to “appropriate” Jewish symbols!

    I guess they belong to somebody else.

    Yes, that’s right, the Jewish state has no right to use Jewish symbols.

    This is what “intersectionality” means when its bizarro-world logic is directed at Zionism.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦

    For those who don’t know what “intersectionality” is, count yourselves lucky.

    Here’s a quick definition and analysis.

    It’s simply a fancy name for “all of us oppressed people have the same enemies and the same cause, so we need to stick together.”

    The main enemy is white people in general, especially white men who have succeeded in business, are heterosexual, and “identify” as men because they were born male (the left terms that “cis-male,” to parallel “transgender.”)

    As a political strategy, that’s the oldest one in the books. It’s simply a cohesion strategy to increase the collective clout of diverse interest groups.

    As a logical statement, it’s nuts. Their only interests are negative. They share almost no positive goals.

    As a practical statement today, it means left-wing feminists and gays are allies with extremist Muslims who would demolish their agenda instantly if they gained power. Indeed, they have done so wherever they do have political power.

    But, since these are allies in a highly-ideological movement, they have to pretend they have some deeper shared interest in human liberation. They don’t.

    Btw, there are lots of gay men and women–in the US and abroad–who support Israel.

    They just don’t receive enough attention. They should.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Hat tip to John-Paul Pagano, Kevin Reiss, and Mark Finkelstein for this.

     

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, June 30

    Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

     Trump’s twitter fury, aimed at MSNBC’s Morning Joe and its hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski

    The Washington Post headline says, quite accurately: ” Trump and ‘Morning Joe’: How a long and ugly feud just got even uglier

    Comments: 

    1. Yes, Scarborough and Brzezinski have said outrageous, hyperbolic, defamatory things about Donald Trump
      • Many other media outlets have done the same
      • Far more show consistent partisan bias, damaging their reputations, hurting the President, and eroding trust in media
    2. No, that is absolutely no excuse for the President of the United States to respond with noxious, personal attacks
      • Trump’s response would be objectionable, but not so different from many Twitter spats, if he were merely a private citizen
      • But he is not a private citizen and should not be held to those standards. As President, he is not only a political figure, he is the head of state. One requirement of that office is to maintain dignity and decorum consistent with the office.

    Politically, this is self-inflicted damage to Trump. Few approve it except for his most avid supporters. And it takes him off-message, at a time when Americans want results on healthcare and taxes.

    But the worse damage is to our public life and discourse, which had already sunk so low, and to trust in our institutions, which are crucial to our democracy.

     Far Different from the first time: “Trump travel ban takes effect to minimal disruption (Fox News)

    The revised order, which the US Supreme Court approved in part (with some aspects reserved for future decisions), covers 6 countries and does not block foreign individuals with strong personal ties to the US.

    A scaled-down version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban took effect at 8 p.m. ET Thursday, with none of the dramatic scenes of protest and chaos that greeted the original version of Trump’s executive order five months ago.

    The Departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice went ahead with the implementation after the Supreme Court partially restored the order earlier this week. –Fox News

    Comment on Media bias:

    The Fox report was straightforward. Others, not so much.

    It was almost impossible to find a news report that actually gave the news instead of an editorial. The news is that the revised ban went into effect, worked smoothly (so far), and met with only modest demonstrations at airports, far different from the bureaucratic mess and large demonstrations that surrounded the initial order.

    Kudos to the BBC for this neutral headline: “Trump travel ban comes into effect for six countries.”

    Bronx cheer for many others. CNN headline makes no mention of the smooth rollout and modest demonstrations. It does mention further court challenges, even though the main one will come in the autumn at SCOTUS. The challenges are from Democratic state AGs, such as Hawaii, and they mainly ask for clarification. A nothingburger.

    Most of the headlines looked like this. Others emphasized the demonstrations.

     

    Major legal victory: Jury decides US can seize a major Manhattan skyscraper, owned by Iran (New York Times)

    The jury . . . found that the Alavi Foundation, which owns 60 percent of the 36-floor skyscraper at 650 Fifth Avenue, violated United States sanctions against Iran and engaged in money laundering through its partnership with Assa Corporation, a shell company for an Iranian state-controlled bank that had owned the remaining 40 percent. . . .

    The [US] government has agreed to distribute proceeds from the building’s sale, which could bring as much as $1 billion, to the families of victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorist attacks, including the Sept. 11 attacks. –New York Times

    Comment: The same foundation has made donations to Columbia University (link here). The stench runs deep.

    ◆  Washington football team will remain the Redskins. Native American groups and DOJ drop lawsuit after Supreme Court ruling.  (Washington Post)

     Major lawsuit again San Francisco State University over its systematic anti-Semitism, including violent suppression of Jewish speakers, shouted curses, calls for an “intifada,” etc. The suit alleges the university administration was indifferent to repeated complains and actively protected the disrupters.  (Newsweek)

    The lawsuit has been filed by a pro bono organization, the Lawfare Project. The suit

    calls SFSU “among the worst of the worst offenders and is largely recognized as being among the most anti-Semitic campuses in the country.”

    The heckling of Barkat is one of several incidents that the suit argues contributed to an atmosphere hostile to Jewish students, one that was created with the alleged complicity of the school’s administrations. –Newsweek, reporting on Lawfare Project’s suit against SFSU

    Comment: Long overdue. The SFSU administration actually blamed the Israelis for one disruption against them, saying the only reason the mayor of Jerusalem (Nir Barkat) came to speak at SFSU was that he knew the Palestinians and the leftist allies at SFSU would riot to prevent it–and that’s just what Barkat wanted.

    So, this is the logic: the mayor of a large city comes to speak at your university; your students riot and prevent him; you blame the mayor; and then, after promising citizens the rioters would be punished, you do nothing at all.

    Those administrators should be held fully and personally accountable. Their next jobs should be flipping burgers until they are replaced by robots.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • Dartmouth thinks it’s a good idea to appoint a virulently anti-Israel prof as Dean of the Faculty

    Now, some at Dartmouth are speaking out against promoting Prof. Bruce Duthu to such a prestigious position

    Duthu checks all the right boxes for diversity and inclusion. He comes from one of those “very special” departments, Native American Studies, where there is little critical peer review and leftist ideology rules the roost. It brooks no dissent among students or faculty. To dissent from the approved view is to side with the oppressors, the white supremacists, the colonialists, the capitalists, and so on. It was at such at department (at U Colorado-Boulder) where Ward Churchill spewed his venom until the wider world discovered him and his faux scholarship.

    Departments like Native American studies, Gender Studies, and Black Studies are all firmly on the left–the very far left.

    They uniformly loath Israel, praise the Palestinians, say nothing about terror attacks, and maintain a discreet silence about the vast violations of human rights across the Muslim world. If they need ideological support, the centers for Middle East Studies are always on campus to provide it.

    It is no surprise that Duthu thrived in such a hot-house and did his best to raise the temperature. He

    coauthored a statement in support of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions as follows: “The NAISA Council encourages NAISA members to boycott Israeli academic institutions because they are implicated with the Israeli state and we wish to place pressure on that state to change its policies.”

    –Dartmouth Prof. Alan Gustman, a senior economist, writing publicly to denounce Duthu’s elevation to Dean of the Faculty

    The noxious statement Duthu authored is available online, here (scroll down to the bottom of their web page).

    What Duthu and his association want to do called BDS, or Boycott, Divest, Sanction all Israel institutions, including its universities and their students and faculty. The BDS movement wants sanctions imposed on Israel, wherever possible, and divestment from any investments there. They do not advocate these policies against any other country in the world, as far as I know. Just Israel, which they consider uniquely evil.

    As Prof. Gustman explains:

    In advocating the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, BDS is anti-Semitic. The chant of the BDS movement, from the river to the sea, is anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and profoundly anti- Jewish. It refers to sweeping the Jews out of Israel. . . .

    This movement has become a cover for many anti-Semites who like nothing better than to once again be free to exercise their prejudices. It also is important to understand, especially when evaluating the significance of appointing a BDS advocate as the Dean of the Faculty, that BDS is not just a statement of beliefs or a philosophical movement: it is a statement of action. –Alan Gustman

    Gustman is not making any accusation about Duthu personally. He says so clearly in his public letter.  What matters is his prominent public advocacy of BDS:

    What is relevant here is that he is supporting a movement that is substantially anti-Semitic, and that he has taken a position with regard to the BDS movement that is in opposition to the position and responsibilities he will have as Dean of the Faculty. Most importantly, he has not publicly renounced his public NAISI statement on the BDS movement. –Alan Gustman

    If this problem were limited to Dartmouth, it might not be worthy of national attention. Alas, it is part of a long-term, international movement by the left and their Palestinian allies to delegitimate and isolate Israel. In their dream world, Israel would be swept away and Palestine would occupy the entire land “from the Jordan River to the (Mediterranean) Sea.”

    And then, as we know from experience across the region, peace, love, friendship, human rights, and religious toleration would take root and cover the land.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    You can read more about the Duthu case at

    On a personal note . . . the outgoing Dean of the Faculty, Michael Mastanduno, is a truly outstanding scholar and a model of intellectual probity. I know him and hold him in the highest regard.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Thanks to Richard Baehr, Paul Miller, and Haym Salomon Center for letting me know about his Dartmouth case.

     

  • ZipDialog Explainer: What is a Passover Seder?

    What is a Passover Seder?

    Two friends asked various questions about what the Seder is, how it is conducted, what people traditionally eat, and so on.

    Glad to respond via ZipDialog’s new feature: “The Explainer,” which seeks to offer clear, succinct answers to reader questions.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦

    The Passover Seder celebrates the Jewish people’s exit from slavery in Egypt, a story told in the book of Exodus. It is family-and-friends dinner celebration, held each spring. The date varies because it is set by the lunar calendar, just as Easter is. The connection to Easter is no accident. Jesus’ Last Supper was a Passover Seder. Both use common symbols of springtime rebirth, such as eggs and lambs.

    So, what happens at a seder?

    The main point is to read the story of the Exodus as a group activity with friends and family, with periodic prayers over wine, food, and such.

    The service is normally conducted at home, or perhaps a club or synagogue dining area.

    It is not a synagogue service, such as the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

    The content of Passover services varies a bit–in length, in the amount of Hebrew used, and in whether it is celebrated on only the first night or the first two.

    The holiday itself lasts eight days, but the full Seder is normally conducted only at the beginning.

    Matzoh, or unleavened bread, is eaten for the entire week. No leavened bread.

    For Jewish homes that keep Kosher, there are special rules for keeping Kosher on Passover. The point is to ensure that you do not touch, much less eat, leavened foods. That typically requires separate china and silverware and a rigorous cleansing of the house to get rid of all leavened products. What counts as “leavened” differs among rabbis.

    The normal Jewish rule applies: if there are two rabbis, there will be at least three opinions, all deeply held and based on multiple rabbinic sources.

    Although family seders differ, they have a lot in common.

    All Passover Seders 

    • Are based on participants reading together from a “Passover Haggadah,” or prayer book.
      • There are many variations of these prayer books. Book collectors and rare-book libraries have assembled thousands from medieval Europe, the ancient Middle East, and all countries of the Jewish Diaspora
    • Emphasize the Exodus from Egypt in the “present tense,” as if we are reliving the flight to freedom;
    • Ask and answer “Four Questions,” focused on the central question: “Why is tonight different from all other nights?
    • Use the prayer service to answer the four questions, reinforced by eating symbolic foods, such as
      • Horseradish to emphasize the pain of slavery and
      • Parsley dipped in salt water to emphasize the slaves’ sweat and tears and the parting of the Red Sea
    • Include a symbolic plate, with items such as the horseradish, parsley, eggs, and a lamb’s shank bone, which are directly related to the four questions and the prayer service
    • Highlight a specific food, matzoh, which symbolizes the need to leave Egypt hurriedly, without waiting for the bread to rise.

    All Seders stop near the conclusion of the prayer service for a regular dinner (explained below), followed typically the final prayers, some group songs, and a child’s game, hunting for a piece of matzoh (the afikoman) hidden by the adult in charge of the service. The child who finds it receives a small reward, such as sweets or money.

    The regular dinner served on Passover

    What everybody starts with, in my experience, is matzoh-ball soup and some gefilte fish (a mix of fishes, served as a cold patty).

    The main course is usually chicken or lamb–there is no standard.

    Wine is passed around freely and there are multiple times when it is drunk during the service itself, a rare feature among Jewish festivals.

    In 1940s and 50s America, most homes served a dreadful sweet wine: Manischewitz Concord Grape (pronounced Man-i-shev-its).

    Although wine stores are now stocked with fine “Kosher for Passover” wines, all Baby Boomer Seders include a bottle of Manischewitz to remind them how we not only escaped from Egypt, we took at detour through Napa Valley before arriving in the Land of Milk and Honey.

     

    Finally, every Seder ends with the same brief statement of hope: “Next Year in Jerusalem”

    The complete phrase is often said as:

    This year we are here, next year we will be in the Land of Israel.

    This year we are slaves, next year we will be free.

    Next year in Jerusalem. –said joyously at the conclusion of Passover Seder

    There are many interpretations, naturally. Here is mine.

    For Americans, this is not a hope to leave a country we love. We could leave freely if we chose to do so. Most do not, anymore than Irish-Americans or Italian-Americans return to their ancestral homes.

    For Jews, though, the statement has three intertwined meanings.

    First, it underscores a cultural connection to the land where Jews have lived for thousands of years. (We stated this wish at every Passover for centuries, long before anti-Semites began denying Jews had any historic connection to the land of Israel, a truly vile trope.)

    Second, it underscores a connection to Jews across the world, all of whom are saying the same thing in Hebrew and their native languages.

    Third, and most important for observant Jews, it means we will all return to Jerusalem–the Biblical ideal–when the Messiah comes and the Temple is rebuilt. That is why even Jews who live in Jerusalem can pray, “This year we are here. Next year in Jerusalem.”

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Hat Tip from ZipDialog Explainer to

    * Susannah McCafferty Sanders for asking this question, and to

    * Scott Stantis for raising some related questions after he had attended a Seder this week.

  • World Council of Churches attacks Israel . . . again

    The World Council of Churches versus the Jewish State, Once Again,” writes Gerald Steinberg (Religious News Service)

    The WCC attacked Israel for its March 6 vote in the Israeli parliament (Knesset) that would deny entry visas to activists who call for the boycott of the Jewish state. Olav Fykse Tveit, secretary-general of the WCC, told numerous media outlets that the new law would “make it impossible for him or senior people in his organization to visit member churches or sacred sites in what Christianity regards as the Holy Land.” …

    Ironically, the church body deserves much of the credit for inspiring the entry ban through its campaigns to isolate and demonize Israel internationally.

    For years, the WCC has played a leading role in this harsh political warfare. The organization’s top officials participated in the virulently anti-Semitic NGO Forum of the 2001 U.N. Durban Conference, at which Israel was labeled as an apartheid state. –Gerald Steinberg

    This latest attack is part of a pattern of anti-Israel advocacy, according to NGO Monitor.

    The WCC is a central promoter of the Kairos Palestine document, which characterizes terrorist acts of “armed resistance” as “Palestinian legal resistance” denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, calls to mobilize churches worldwide in the call for BDS, and compares Israel with the South African apartheid regime. . . .

    WCC documents (May 2013) imply that Israel’s very existence is illegitimate, accusing it of “sixty-five years [] of continuing dispossession of Palestinian people—Christian and Muslim alike—from their land by Israeli occupation.”

    Refers to Christian Zionism “as a form of Christian fundamentalism” and claims that “Christians who promote “Christian Zionism” distort the interpretation of the Word of God and the historic connection of Palestinians—Christians and Muslims—to the Holy Land, enable the manipulation of public opinion by Zionist lobbies, and damage intra-Christian relations.”

    During the 2014 Gaza conflict, WCC released several statements placing sole blame for the conflict on Israel and ignoring Hamas terrorism against Israeli civilians. –NGO Monitor

    Comment: Israel and its supporters take the boycott movement very seriously, less because it directly affects their economy, more because it aims at delegitimizing the very existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. That’s the point of using vitriolic and misleading terms like “apartheid” and “colonialism,” which imply Israel is not only acting badly, its existence is a colonial outcropping that should be removed. The World Council of Churches has repeatedly endorsed these anti-Israel views without directly saying Israel should not exist.

    The WCC’s position–demonizing Israel and often demonizing America–matches that of left-wing Christian denominations in the US. Those denominations are shrinking and are increasingly organized around a romantic, progressive political vision rather than worship. What’s growing? Evangelicals who are focused on their religious beliefs and, typically, are patriotic and pro-Israel. Their support for Zionism is at least as strong, and often stronger, than the liberal wing of American Judaism.

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Thursday, February 16

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     Trump’s Budget Chief finally Approved; Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) has been a Tea Party favorite  (Washington Post)

    Comment: His position is a hot seat and will be difficult for him to manage politically. The difficulty, fundamentally, is that Trump’s spending and tax-cutting plans and his refusal to tackle entitlements are very different from the Tea Party’s and the House Freedom Caucus. Mulvaney will not only have to reconcile those vast differences, he will have to convince some of his former colleagues in the House–or be read out of their church.

     Alexander Acosta, nominated as Labor Sec. He is an experienced lawyer, who served in several positions in GW Bush administration, including National Labor Relations Board, and is chairman of a Hispanic community bank in Florida (Fox)

    Comment: Presumably better vetted than Andrew Puzder, who withdrew his nomination, and should be a straightforward approval. That won’t stop Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats from slow-walking it. Vetting is fine. Slow walking is just gamesmanship.

     US Sec. of State Rex Tillerson meets his Russian counterpart. So far, no real news about what has become an increasingly conflictual relationship (New York Times)

     US Sec. of Defense reassures NATO that it will not cozy up to Russia No closer military ties between US-Russia, Mattis says  (New York Times)

     Senate to grill Trump’s nominee for US Ambassador to Israel  (CNN)

    Comment: David Friedman has supported settlements so he is reviled by the left. The Democrats will focus on Trump’s “abandonment of the two-state solution.” But that’s misleading. What Trump really did was say, correctly, the parties themselves have to strike a mutually-acceptable deal. We (the US) won’t constrain that. Smart, as a negotiating tactic.

    Of course, there will be no agreement because

    • The Palestinians do not have stable governance
    • One of their territories is rules by corrupt terrorists, the other by dead-ender terrorists, part of a larger Muslim Brotherhood movement, bent on overthrowing regimes across the Arab-Muslim world; and
    • The Palestinian people have not even begun to discuss the nature of the compromises that would be essential in a peace treaty. The Israelis did discuss those issues and were ready for compromise during the Clinton Administration.

    They have now given up on that possibility and are reluctantly moving forward to preserve their security without much cooperation from the Palestinians.

     

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Monday, Dec. 19

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Home construction has lagged the rest of the US recovery. (Wall Street Journal)

    ◆ Before the Kardashians, there was Zsa Zsa Gabor. The same idea: bling, glamor, strange voice, no talent except for publicity. Now Zsa Zsa is dead dead.  She was 99. (LA Times)

    ◆ It is with great personal pleasure I announce the following: my spellcheck does not recognize the word “Kardashian.”

    ◆ Most reports about Trump’s nominee to be US ambassador to Israel have been critical, emphasizing his conservative views and lack of foreign policy experience. Elliott Abrams has a far more positive view of the nominee, David Friedman. (Abrams’ blog at the Council on Foreign Relations)

    ◆ Well, that was a bad idea, Attorney General Loretta Lynch says of her meeting with Bill Clinton. Jake Tapper of CNN does a fine job bringing out her views. (CNN)

    ◆ For years, Middle East Studies departments in US universities have been cesspools of hatred for Israel and for anyone (Jewish, Evangelical, or other) who supports Israel. They have received no pushback from university administrators or faculty. The federal government has funded them for language training, even though the departments’ hatred of the US government is strong and deep. Now, Middle East Studies Departments across the country are lashing out at the prospect of a Trump presidency, using the language of victimization they have taught students for years, writes Cinnamon Stillwell and Michael Lumish at Campus Watch.

    ◆ GQ has an article entitled “Mitch McConnell is the Real Evil One.” The subtitle is equally subtle, “Where Do You Think Trump Learned to Gaslight America?”

    I am not being hyperbolic when I say that Mitch McConnell is evil. The coming Trump Presidency is already an assembly line of shitty, apocalyptic consequences getting cranked out 24/7, and the fact that McConnell now holds near-total power over Congress is perhaps the most unbearable side effect of them all. –Drew Magary in GQ

    Comment: When I need political analysis, I go to GQ for fashion advice.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Monday, Nov. 14

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Media Bias during the election continues after Tuesday: The mainstream news media went all-in for one candidate this election, not just in their editorials (which is fine) but in their reporting (which is not). That has continued after the election. The New York Times first national edition after the election outcome featured this:anti-trump-nyt-on-th-11-10-16-labeled

    In a breathtaking editorial comment, the publisher and top editor said they were rededicating the paper to fair, honest reporting of political issues. Rededicating.

    The New York Daily News went with this:

    anti-trump1

    Howard Kurtz of Fox’s Media Buzz has a short, sharp report on the bias:

    Sharyl Attkisson charges that the New York Times had important negative stories about Hillary Clinton that it refused to run during the campaign for fear of damaging her candidacy.  Attkisson is a highly-regarded investigative reporter who was fired for her own “let the chips fall where they may” approach to stories. She states that claim about the NYT early in this interview:

    Shifting to other stories

    ◆ Pro-Israel groups cancel strong pro-Israel advocate for fear she might alienate anti-Zionists at Univ. of Texas-Austin (link here). (Algemeiner)

    Comment: This is a cowardly act–and a political error. Don’t back down in front of people who want to undermine you. It just encourages and strengthens them. Show some backbone.

    ◆ ABC News headline: GOP President-Elect Donald Trump Says Same-Sex Marriage Is ‘Settled’ Law. They also ran stories noting

    Comment: In short, Trump has moved the party away from its long-standing “social conservative” agenda–and he did it during the campaign when he was actively seeking votes from social conservatives. Still, the LGBTQ community is rightly concerned that Trump’s appointees to the Federal bench may be less supportive.

    alabama-crimson-tide-logo-300px-no-margins◆ Comment on AP Football Rankings: Alabama received all 61 votes for first place. The other teams rounding out the top 4 are Ohio State, Louisville, and Michigan (despite its loss to Iowa). At this point, none of those teams is even close to Alabama’s quality. Their rankings should begin at #5.

    That’s not good for college football, which needs competition for elite status. The other amazing aspect of these rankings is the fall of the SEC. After ‘Bama, the next highest-ranked team from the conference is LSU at number 16. Auburn, at 18, is the only other SEC team in the top 20. Strange year.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Fred Lawson
     for story on UT-Austin