Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Tough Questions That Israeli Mainstream Media Didn't, Couldn't and Wouldn't ask Hillary Rodham Clinton

By Noam A. Rotem

On September 8th, Israel Channel 2 News published an interview conducted by their primetime evening news anchor Yonit Levi with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The interview had all the trappings of so called "liberal" mainstream media in general, with Hillary Clinton being treated to kid-glove questions. In this case it had an additional twist of Israeli left-leaning mainstream media, where by Yonit Levi, fairly unabashedly was seen fawning over every statement of Hillary Clinton through out the 20 minute interview.

As typical for such a contrived media stage, where interviewer and interviewee, share a mutual political agenda, neither difficult questions, nor questions of true substance, were asked.

At least a half dozen difficult and substantial questions could have been asked. Here are three out of the many I would have liked to hear.

Right at the opening, Yonit, who can be totally adversarial when she interviews someone on the right, goes into a long-winded compliment about how much political experience Hillary has and says that even her detractors would agree with that.

The more real, relevant and tough question that should have been asked is:
During your tenure as secretary of  state, under president Obama, Iraq spiraled into mayhem with the complete retreat of American forces, spawning ISIS; Iran is on the march, in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon; the Iranian reformist protest of 2009 was brutally crushed, while the US stood by silently; the Muslim brotherhood rose to power in Egypt; Libya descended into complete chaos, leaving in its wake 4 dead Americans, including the Ambassador; Christians are being persecuted and ethnically cleansed through out the mideast. Russian influence is growing in the Mideast and eastern Europe; North Korea is a menace to American allies in the Far-East. 
Given that record, why should Americans trust you when it comes Foreign Policy?
Early on in the interview Hillary dissed all Trump supporters as being either racists or disenfranchised, begging the following question to be asked:
So given that most polls show between 40%-45% of Americans support Trump, are you saying that at least 40%-45% of Americans are either racists or disenfranchised? 
Regarding the Israeli-Arab conflict, here's a question that many Jews and Israelis like me would love to hear, yet it will never be asked by Israeli mainstream media, as while in their misguided fantasy they see themselves as the so call "watchdogs" of democracy, in fact many times they're no more than a mouthpiece for the political agendas of the center-left. And the question is:
Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, systematically teach and preach virulent hatred of Jews, and the liquidation of the Jewish State. Suicide bombers are not just venerated as national heroes, their families are rewarded with lifetime pensions. Both regimes systematically deny the factual 3,000 year old history of Jews in and to the land of Israel. And when Israel in a gesture of goodwill, handed over the Gaza strip, complete with state-of-the-art greenhouse agriculture, the response of the Palestinians, was to destroy those greenhouses, and vote in a tyrannical terrorist regime, bent on allocating all monetary and human resources, to the destruction of the state of Israel. 
Given that, why should Israelis support a Two-State solution, which the Republican party has removed from their platform.
Watching Yonit Levi's display of exaggerated flattery, one gets the sense, that in her fantasy, she actually believed she was asking difficult questions, making her performance all the more embarrassing, almost sophomoric, and underscores the mind-set of elitist mainstream Israeli media, that have virtually no self-awareness, of how disconnected and biased they are, nor how the public actually perceives them for what they actually are -- a mouthpiece for a center-left political agenda.

Israel is very much in need of a media reform, one in the form of a free market, that would enable a "marketplace of ideas" where the truth and excellence in reporting, can emerge via free and open competition.

This article was also published on the Op-Ed page of Arutz Sheva:
Op-Ed: Questions Israeli Mainstream Media didn't and won't ask Hillary

As well as in Hebrew on News1 מחלקה ראשונה:
שאלות שתקשורת המיינסטרים לא שאלה את הילרי

Saturday, May 21, 2016

An Open Letter To The Outgoing Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon

From a member of the Liberals in the Likud 

By Noam A. Rotem

Dear Minister Ya'alon,

I'd like to start off by saying that I've been your longtime fan and supporter, and saw you as someone very qualified, dignified, and imbued with many of the qualities required to be the successor to lead the Likud party. A rare and refined politician, with above the fray integrity and intellect. An officer and gentleman, soft-spoken, who shied away from the media limelight, yet was always ready to speak the truth to it, in an unwavering manner.

You also represent many of my liberal-right values.  On the one hand a clear-eyed view of the Israeli-Arab conflict, which is, and has always been imbued by radical Islamic antisemitism, thats shares and borrows poisonous hatred of Jews, directly from Nazi antisemitic propaganda. Something that the Israeli left, center-left and mainstream media, almost always go out of their way to overlook.

On the other-hand, you consistently supported and defended core liberal western democratic values, that not just live in harmony with the concept of a "Jewish and democratic state", but in fact are rooted and inspired by the great universal tenets, that Judaism imparted to western civilization. The most fundamental of those tenets, being that all humankind, men and women, are equal, as they were equally created in the image of God. In that spirit you stood-up for women's rights, gay rights, and the equal inclusion of Israelis, from all backgrounds regardless of gender, race, or religion into Israeli society.

Having said all of that, it was impossible not to be perplexed, not to say outright dismayed, by your support of deputy chief of staff Yair Golan for his Holocaust Memorial Day statement:
"If there's something that frightens me about Holocaust remembrance it's the recognition of the revolting processes that occurred in Europe in general, and particularly in Germany, back then – 70, 80 and 90 years ago – and finding signs of them here among us today in 2016."
The statement is outrageous and immoral, especially when coming from a leading general in the IDF. Additionally, it supplies dangerously fraudulent ammunition, to the many worldwide anti-Israel and antisemitic movements, devoted to the delegitimization and liquidation of the Jewish state. How could you do that?

Your support of such a statement seems in complete contrast to everything I thought you stood for in this regards.

What became even more disconcerting, was your follow-up, when you urged top generals in the Israeli army, to continue to speak their mind, in what appeared to be an additional nod of support, to deputy chief of staff Yair Golan's Holocaust statement. Netanyahu's rebuttal was duly in place to Likud supporters like me, where he said that "army commanders voice their opinions freely in the relevant forums on issues for which they are responsible. The IDF is the people's army and it needs to be kept clean from political divisions."

Lastly your claim that extremist elements have taken over the Likud party, is fodder for the highly biased left-leaning mainstream Israeli media, who will never miss an opportunity to bash the Israeli center-right. When I look at leading Likud members of Knesset and Ministers, like Gilad Erdan, Yuli-Edelstein, Yuval Steinitz, Anat Berko, Miri Regev, Yoav Kish, Avraham Neguise, Amir Ohana, and Ofir Akunis, I see nothing of the so called extreme elements you ominously refer to. So if they do exist, then please state exactly who they are, so liberal Likud members like me can influence to democratically counter them. Otherwise, your statement sounds like the work of some biased left-leaning Israeli media copywriter, which I'm sure it is not.

Like most all Likud members, I'm very sorry you turned down the offer to be foreign minister for the state of Israel, as I believe you could be a formidable one, especially in these treacherous times, where the very legitimacy of the state of Israel is being undermined by systematic propaganda, made up of mendacious lies, that include relentless attempts to erase 3,500 years of Jewish history and its connection to the land of Israel.

It is unquestionable that you care deeply for the state of Israel. If you still consider yourself a Likudnik, with a liberal and nationalist outlook, then "do the right thing", do what you've always done in the past, rise above the political fray, and reconsider the offer to be the Israeli foreign Minister!

Moshe Ya'alon
"The Liberals in the Likud" is a faction of Likud members, within the Likud Party, that promotes individual freedom and free markets

This article was also published on the Op-Ed page of Arutz Sheva:
Op-Ed: A "Liberals in the Likud" member writes the outgoing Defense Minister

As well as in Hebrew on the Hebrew edition of Artuz Sheva:
מכתב גלוי לשר הביטחון היוצא

Sunday, February 28, 2016

David Cameron is No Friend of The Truth

True friends don't pander to mendacious lies against their friends

By Noam A. Rotem

Last week, in what became a widely discussed incident here in Israel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, in a discussion at the British Parliament, called Israeli construction in East Jerusalem “genuinely shocking”,  while insisting at the same time, that he is a “great friend of Israel”. What's genuinely shocking, is David Cameron's historical ignorance, hypocrisy and utter lack of moral clarity.

From the Islamic theocracies of Iran and Saudi Arabia, through the Sunni-Shia blood baths in Iraq and Syria, to all the offshoots of the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and Muslim brotherhood across the entire length of North Africa, the Islamic Mideast is producing some of the most horrifying levels of rampant murderous violence and persecutions the world has seen in the 21st century.

In the 20th century, the Arab and Islamic mideast, was ethnically cleansed of its Jewish population, that lived across many parts of the region for more than 2,000 years. Now in the 21st century, religious persecution of the remaining ancient Christian communities, along with other ancient minorities, are being brutally persecuted and ethnically cleansed, across many parts of the Islamic Mideast and Africa.

Israel is the only western liberal democratic country in the entire mideast, where minorities of all faiths, including Arab Muslims, enjoy democratic freedoms, unprecedented and unheard of anywhere in the entire region, and where Christians in particular are prospering and growing.

Under the Muslim Ottoman occupation, Jerusalem descended into a backwater forsaken city of little interest to the Arab and Muslim world. And under the Jordanian occupation of east Jerusalem in 1948, the Jewish Quarter in the Old City was destroyed, and its residents expelled.  Over 50 synagogues, some of them hundreds of years old, were destroyed and looted. Jewish religious sites were desecrated and turned into animal stalls. The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, where Jews had been burying their dead for over 2500 years, was ransacked, and thousands of tombstones were smashed and used as building material.

Contrarily, since 1967, when Jerusalem was liberated by Israel from Arab Muslim rule, there's been full freedom of religious practice for all faiths, and the holy sites of all religions are treated with utmost sanctity. Moreover, under Israeli rule, many holy sites in Jerusalem of all religions have been restored, and renewed.

By pandering to the question of the British Muslim MP, David Cameron, unwittingly or not, has aligned himself, with those perpetrating a systematic campaign of mendacious lies designed to undermine the Jewish State and rob it, of its more than 3,000 year old history to the land of Israel. Ever since King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel more than 3,000 years ago, the city has played a central role in Jewish culture, religion and existence. In all of history, Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab country.

In this unprincipled stance, David Cameron is leading Great Britain down the slippery slope of depraved multicultural political correctness, to a place where historical facts no longer matter, and where moral clarity is a pejorative.

This article was also published on the Op-Ed page of Arutz Sheva:
Op-Ed: David Cameron is no friend of the truth

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Is the Swedish Foreign Minister an Anti-Semite?

Examining Natan Sharansky's 3D litmus test for modern anti-Semitism

By Noam A. Rotem

At the annual foreign press meeting, on Jan 14, organized by the Israeli Government Press Office, a foreign press reporter, asked PM Netanyahu, regarding the anti-Semitic accusation, that one of Netanyahu's cabinet ministers made, about the Swedish FM, who singled out Israel, for using so called "extrajudicial killings", in response to the wave of stabbing attacks by Palestinian terrorists, and called for an international investigation. This same reporter, in the same breath, asked the PM a follow-up question, as to how does he answer those who accuse Israel of being above criticism.

Netanyahu answered emphatically and poignantly that Israel is not above criticism, but it should be held to the same standards that everyone else is being held to. The PM went on to say, that the Swedish FM's comments are outrageous, immoral, and unjust. People are defending themselves against assailants wielding knives, who are about to stab them to death, and they shoot the terrorist, and that's extra judicial killings? Netanyahu asked the reporter.
You can view the full exchange in the following video clip:

The Swedish foreign minister's remarks are outrageous, immoral, unjust, wrong, and stupid.==מה שאמרה שרת החוץ השוודית הוא שערורייתי, בלתי מוסרי, בלתי צודק, מוטעה וטיפשי.
Posted by ‎Benjamin Netanyahu - בנימין נתניהו‎ on Thursday, January 14, 2016

The exchange went on, but in the end, PM Netanyahu, correctly refused to be pushed by the reporter, to label the Swedish FM, Margot Wallström, anti-Semitic.

But here is how I'd answer that unanswered question. Natan Sharansky, one of the great human rights activists, and democratic thinkers of our times, devised a widely accepted 3D litmus test for modern anti-Semitism: Demonization, Double Standards and Delegitimization and is a set of criteria intended to distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from antisemitism.

It's clear that on the double standard test, the Swedish FM passes with flying colors, especially when one looks around the mideast, at the horrifying levels of rampant murderous violence and persecutions going on, not to mention medieval judicial systems that execute punishments by heinous means of beheadings, stonings and amputations. By not mentioning these, and singling out Israel, the Swedish FM's accusation also serves to demonize the State of Israel. So labels aside, the facts are she fulfills at lease 50% of this 3D criteria. That being the case, the Swedish FM needs to seriously check her blatantly biased statements, if she sincerely wants to avoid aligning herself with anti-Semites.

Moreover, since this biased statement of hers against Israel, two horrifying Palestinian terrorist attacks on innocent Israeli civilians took place. In one, a 38-year-old mother of six was murdered in a stabbing attack, at the entrance to her house, as her 17-year-old daughter, who heard her screams, ran to her aid, only to see the terrorist stab her mother again and again. In the second, a pregnant Israeli woman in her 30s, was seriously wounded in her lung after being stabbed in clothing store, thank god in this case, both mother and fetus are doing well.

The Swedish FM's silence about these heinous attacks on innocent Israeli civilian women, in contrast to her deriding criticism of Israel responding in self-defense to murderous terrorists attacks, demonstrates prejudice and bias against the Jewish state of Israel.

This article was also published on the Op-Ed page of Arutz Sheva:
Op-Ed: Is the Swedish foreign minister an anti-Semite?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Fallacy of Moderate Mideast Muslim Countries

And The Misguided Tenets Of The Israeli Left, Center-Left and Mainstream Media

By Noam A. Rotem

Yitzhak (Isaac) Herzog, chairman of the Israeli Labour party (aka The Zionist Union), came out with a statement on Saturday, that the latest wave of terror needs to be stopped by security or diplomatic measures, and that this is the time for negotiations with the Palestinians, and with moderate Muslim elements in the region, including Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

Throughout this most recent wave of savage Palestinian stabbing attacks, against Israelis, the Israeli left and center-left, with the backing of mainstream media, have consistently insinuated that the source of this latest wave of terrorism, is somehow related to a lack of diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, rather than the Nazi style incitement and propaganda that the Arab masses are fed each day, by both official Hamas and PA media, as well as online social media. They also often fail to talk about the virulent antisemitic religious hatred, preached in mosques, and taught in schools. And lastly, they make little mention of the veneration, and massive funding, in millions of dollars, that Palestinian terrorists are granted, by the PA. In the same breath, this Troika (of the Israeli left, center-left and mainstream media), suggests, that there's some historic, almost cosmic, last opportunity, for cooperation with so called "moderate" regional Sunni regimes, like those mentioned in Herzog's statement.

Here are the facts. Saudi Arabia is an Islamic theocracy and one of the most repressive regimes on the face of the earth. Religious minorities do not have the right to practice their religion and conversion from Islam to another religion is punishable by death. It practices gender apartheid against women, and capital punishment without western due-process, that is carried out by beheading with a sword, stoning, or firing squad. Just last week the Associated Press reported that Saudi Arabia carried out at least 157 executions in 2015, with beheadings reaching their highest level in two decades. Last year, liberal Saudi blogger, Raif Badawi, was sentenced to 1,000 lashes for "insulting Islam". Other forms of punishment in the kingdom, include amputations of hands and feet for robbery, and flogging for crimes such as "sexual deviance" and adultery.

A Pew Research Center study published in 2013 of the world's Muslims, found widespread support for Sharia law, in Egypt 74%, Jordan 71%, and in the PA 89%. And among those, a very high percent supporting the death penalty for apostasy (those who leave or convert out of Islam), in Egypt 86%, Jordan 82%, and the PA 66%.

In Egypt, 92% of married women aged 15 to 49 have been subjected to female genital mutilation, according to an official Egyptian government report from 2014. And Jordanian law criminalizes speech deemed critical of the king, government officials, institutions, and Islam.

Last but not least all of these so called "moderate" Arab countries, in one form or another, continue to actively support the BDS, uphold rampant lies about the Jewish state, consistently vote and operate against Israel in the UN, and antisemitic teachings and hatred of Israel, is widespread in all these countries. The Israeli Troika refrains to point all of this out, about their "moderate" Sunni Arab partners, as their entire political belief system would collapse should they do so.

Moreover the Israeli left, center-left, and mainstream media, fail to realize, that true peace cannot be achieved in the mideast, until real democratic reform comes to the Arab and Muslim world, and it doesn't look like that will be happening anytime soon. True peace, is one between nations with shared democratic values, and not just between governments, and certainly not dictatorships. Sadly the Israeli Troika, fails to grasp this most basic foundation to what makes a real and lasting peace.

Having said that, Israel by all means should be pursuing tactical and strategic alliances with Mideast regimes who are sincerely interested in joining forces, to combat terrorists and state sponsored terrorism. Moreover, Israel's moral and existential imperative, must be to seek out and build bridges to true moderates, and democratic reformers, that do exist in the Mideast, and work together with them, to be agents of true democratic change and coexistence. Often these reformers are pro-Israel, believe in cooperation with the Jewish state, yet are sadly ignored by the Israeli Troika. One such example is Greek Orthodox Israeli priest, Gabriel Naddaf, who is a proponent of integrating Arabic-speaking Christians into Israeli society, and to serving in the Israeli Army. Like him, there are Christian, Muslim, and democratic reformers of other faiths and ethnicities, around the Mideast and in exile beyond, who see Israel as a beacon of democracy in this troubled region.

Arab nation states are crumbling before our eyes, and deteriorating into barbaric, bloody and violent chaos. This is hardly the time to be pursuing peace agreements, based on concessions, to authoritarian, anti-Israel and immoral regimes, that may not be around tomorrow. Let us not forget the cry of the center-left, to quickly pursue a 'peace' agreement with Syria, while Assad was still in power, in exchange for the Golan Heights, before it is too late...

The refrain "when will they ever learn", from the 1960's political folk classic "Where have all the flowers gone?" feels likes a curiously appropriate question for the Israeli Troika.

Map of the Arab Spring

This article was also published on the Op-Ed page of Arutz Sheva:
Op-Ed: The fallacy of moderate mideast Muslim countries