Cal Tzedek: 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

New York Times article reports on secret kidnapping operations

Today's New York Times has relatively substantive article on the CIA's secret kidnapping operations. The reporters here have done some good research, although one does wonder why this article didn't appear earlier, given that, as the article reports,

In the aviation industry, said Mr. Houston, who died in 1995, "everybody knows what everybody is doing, and something new coming along is immediately the focus of a thousand eyes and prying questions."

Also interesting is the shifting tone: while the headline calmly states that the CIA is "expanding terror battle under guise of charter flights," and the opening paragraph describes charter flight pilots as the "discreet bus drivers of the battle against terrorism," reading further, we learn that ""When the C.I.A. is given a task, it's usually because national policy makers don't want 'U.S. government' written all over it," said Jim Glerum, a retired C.I.A. officer ," and that "Some of the C.I.A. planes have been used for carrying out renditions, the legal term for the agency's practice of seizing terrorism suspects in one foreign country and delivering them to be detained in another, including countries that routinely engage in torture."

-Lisa

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Monday, May 30, 2005

Lee Kaplan Responds

UPDATE: For the latest on Lee Kaplan, read this.

Lee Kaplan, pretending to be a Lee Kaplan lackey, has responded to my last post . He will respond again to this post to clarify that he is not, in fact, Lee Kaplan. For the record, he chose Option 3.

I will actually try to address some of Mr. Kaplan's points:

I. "did you know article 7 of the PA constitution sets up "Palestine" with sharia law.and Israel [sic] as the only religion?"

This is mostly true. The article, in English, states: "The principles of Islamic Shari’a shall be a major source of legislation."

As a secularist, this is certainly something I have a problem with, although I think it is misleading on Kaplan's part to imply that this is on par with the fanatical theocracies of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Taliban. The majority of Palestinians are Muslims. Having Shari'a be a source of legislation makes some sense; having it be a major source is pushing it for me, and I do not support that. But I also do not support the stranglehold which the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel have over marriage, divorce, and immigration issues, and the lack of civil marriage in Israel is one example of Jewish law being a "major source" of Israeli law. My point is that semi-theocracies are bad, but neither Israel nor Palestine are on par with Iran or Saudi Arabia.

Kaplan also conveniently ignores the next sentence: "The civil and religious matters of the followers of monotheistic religions shall be organized in accordance with their religious teaching and their denominations, within the framework of law and in a manner that preserves the unity and independence of the Palestinian people."

In other words, there is room for negotiation on this issue, just like in Israel. Each religious community has some form of autonomy, just like in Israel. Shari'aesque law is considered appropriate for most people, but the constitution does recognize that it is not appropriate for everyone.

It is also true that Islam (not "Israel") is listed in Article 5 as being "the official religion in Palestine." But Kaplan did not mention Article 5, and here's why. It goes on to say:

"Christianity, and all other monotheistic religions, shall be equally revered and respected. The Constitution guarantees equality in rights and duties to all citizens irrespective of their religious belief."

Because Mr. Kaplan alludes to "the PA Constitution in Arabic," I looked at it in Arabic. Unfortunately, Mr. Kaplan, Article 5, in Arabic, says precisely what it says in English. I don't need the expensive translators that NEIN "consults" to justify soliciting donations to tell me that.

Does this mean that the PA has fulfilled the promises of its constitution? Hardly. The P.A. is corrupt and authoritarian, although it has fared relatively better than most other Arab countries. But Kaplan clearly wants us to believe that the Palestinians are so barbaric that they have no problem writing out their plans for despotism and signing their names to it or, better yet, writing a fake progressive constitution in English and hiding their true Arabic colors from the world.

The constitution, in fact, is rather progressive, and apart from the first sentences of Articles 5 and 7, it could be a decent constitution for the new State of Palestine. I could find no reference in it to killing Jews. Without changing the subject, Mr. Kaplan, would you like to point it out to me?

II. "Can Ehud cite any major Islamic group in the United States like CAIR, ADC, MPAC, MPCC etc. that has ever condemned terrorism and not made excuses for 9/11?"

Try this link, in which at least two of your groups are reported to condemn the attacks. By the way, the ADC is not an Islamic group, and as a distinguished journalist, you should know that the vast majority of Arab-Americans are Christians.

III. "1.7% of the West Bank is populated by Jews, why can't they keep their homes and live in a Palestinian state like Arabs live inan Israeli one?"

Here you contradict yourself, because either a). You believe that Palestinians are so brutal --as proven by their constitution-- that no Jew could ever be a Palestinian, or you believe that b). Jews can be Palestinians as long as there's a political agreement that allows them to stay. I have no problem with Jews staying in Palestine, and according to the P.A. constitution, neither would the P.A. How many Israeli settlers, though, do you honestly think want to be Palestinians, even if they are guaranteed the protection the P.A. constitution offers on paper? How many Israeli settlers do you think are willing to give up their Israeli citizenship, their privileges in Israel, to stay where they are? If you really think it's more than a handful, then I will say that yes, they should be allowed to live in Palestine, as Palestinian citizens.

You know that your1.7% is misleading. You and I both know that Area C covers 60% of the West Bank. Assuming the 1.7% of the land with settlements is incorporated into Palestine and all 200,000 West Bank Settlers become fully protected Palestinian citizens, would you be happy to transfer all of Areas A, B, and C to the Palestinian Authority?

IV. "Maybe you should go live inside Israel where Arabs have equal rights to Jews except in the imaginations of the Palestinian propaganda ministries."

Arabs have equal rights to Jews according to the Declaration of Independence, just as all Palestinians have equal rights under their constitution. Is the latter necessarily true? Probably not. But it also demonstrates that a state's core documents do not necessarily reflect the reality of its policies. Until recently, the JNF was allowed to sell its land, which is about 13 percent of Israel's "public land," to Jews only. This was just recently overturned BUT: "From now on, JNF lands will be available to Jews and non-Jews alike - though the ILA will compensate the JNF with substitute land for any plot purchased by a non-Jew."

In other words, Israel is compensating the JNF for the inconvenience of not being able to discriminate against Arabs. Does this sound like a state that protects all of its citizens equally? Did an Arab propaganda ministry make this up?

V. "I dare you to prove anything Lee Kaplan has ever written has been untrue."

In "Why You Should Not Donate Funds to Berkeley Hillel" Kaplan writes: "Tzedek is a national organization within Hillel also but was not removed."

Tzedek is NOT a national organization within Hillel. Mr. Kaplan probably assumed this because he googled "tzedek hillel" or something. There are other Hillel chapters with other subsidiary organizations called "Tzedek." They have different functions, and Cal Tzedek is not affiliated with them in any way. Nor is Tzedek affiliated with Brit Tzedek V'Shalom. "Tzedek" is a common word and can be applied to all sorts of Jewish organizations. Tzedek was founded by U.C. Berkeley Students in 2002 and has never been affiliated with any organization other than Berkeley Hillel. Had Kaplan's efforts to keep his exposes "well-researched" extended beyond a cursory Internet search, this fact would have been clear to him.

On a related note, in "Inside Duke's Hatefest," Kaplan places his ego above any semblance of actual events and describes his fantasy of the 2003-2004 year:

"When scholar Daniel Pipes came to speak at U.C. Berkeley, some students from the campus Hillel sought to disrupt his speech and had organized events critical of Israel. I joined some pro-Israel students who were concerned about these activities and expressed their concern on the Internet program, Israel National News. Instead of addressing the problem, Hillel's director ejected the pro-Israel students who had gone on the air to expose the radicals in their midst. On campuses like Berkeley, Hillel has created a monster -- a vehicle for anti-Israel activists funded by the Jewish state's most ardent supporters."

Kaplan's Fantasy Chronology:

1. Announcement of Daniel Pipes' lecture.

2. some Hillel students seeking to disrupt the speech.

3. some Hillel students organizing events critical of Israel.

4 (presumably): Daniel Pipes speeks and is disrupted, thanks to some Hillel students.

5. Lee Kaplan and concerned students address these issues on Israel National News.

6. DAFKA "ejected."

These are all belied by a perusal through DAFKA's own archives. The actual chronology is something like this.

1. Hillel and Jewish Student Union disaffilliate from DAFKA sometime in October, 2003. The reasons why are disputed by the two parties. I will take Mr. Kaplan's word on this.

2. Tzedek members organize a panel called "Meet the Jewish Left" which is held on October 30, 2003. That night, Mr. Kaplan "exposes Berkeley Hillel" on the Tovia Singer Show. Executive Director of Hillel asks Mr. Kaplan to leave the room, and they engage in a lengthy and vocal argument outside. DAFKA students were allowed to stay and politely asked questions at the end. None of them were ejected or heckled (nor had any of them attempted to dominate the question and answer session, nor had any of them been secretly recording anything).

3. Over the next couple of weeks, Mr. Kaplan and people who listened to the show continue to heckle Berkeley Hillel's Executive Director.

4. Sometime in November, the prospect of Daniel Pipes coming to Berkeley is proposed by the Israel Action Committee, although Tzedek was not aware of this until January.

5. In January of 2004, Tzedek appealed to the Jewish Student Union to withhold funds from the event and, when that failed, organized a letter to be printed in the Daily Cal which denounced the event.

6. On February 10th, 2004 Daniel Pipes came, and all sorts of craziness happened. I only know of one Hillel (and Tzedek) member who opposed the event and who did not stay outside demonstrating peacefully the whole time. He did not take part in the disruptions, nor did Tzedek encourage them. Presumably, Lee Kaplan and his concerned students were there, but I think I've made it clear by now that Kaplan's depiction of these events was entirely distorted so as to exaggerate the injustice committed against DAFKA.

In "Ford Funds the Palestinian Left," Kaplan claims that "B' tselem never addresses human rights abuses in the Palestine Authority where misogyny, religious intolerance and public murders of "collaborators" are rife." This is a convenient way to discredit out-of-hand an organization which meticulously documents evidence which contradicts the rosy picture Mr. Kaplan would like to paint about life in the Territories. But he is simply wrong here. B'tselem devotes an entire section to Palestinian attacks on Israelis and another to the death penalty in the P.A. It even has an extensive report from 1994, when most of Israel was lovey-dovey about the Oslo process, criticizing the Palestinian Authority and other political groups for their role in "the torture and killing of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with the Israeli authorities during the Intifada."

So Mr. Kaplan is, at best, far sloppier at research than he claims. The B'tselem dig, however, is particularly insiduous, and I believe it is a deliberate lie which he assumes will go unchallenged by the typical FrontPageMag reader.

I eagerly await your response Mr. Kaplan/Kaplan Fan (and to Other Lee Kaplan Fan, I appreciate your kind words. I will respond to you soon).

-Ehud

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Friday, May 27, 2005

U.S. Preparing to Use "Small" Nuclear Bombs

See this story in Haaretz:

"Each detonation of a bomb a few meters underground would destroy most of the buildings on the surface to a range of two kilometers. After the explosion, there would be a need to quickly evacuate civilians from an area of 100 square kilometers, to avoid the deadly effects of the radioactive fallout; buildings, agricultural crops and livestock would be affected in an area of thousands of square kilometers, and depending on wind direction and velocity, there could be a need to evacuate more people from thousands of additional square kilometers. None of this takes into account the political and psychological repercussions of using nuclear weapons for the first time in more than 60 years. The Bush administration regards all this as "limited collateral damage.""
The article concludes:
"Herein lies an inherent contradiction in the American approach that on the one hand acts with commendable determination to prevent the proliferation of nuclear arms, but on the other hand, contributes toward it by adopting an irresponsible nuclear policy."

Limited collateral damage? That the administration is even contemplating the use of nuclear weapons is an outrage.

Lisa

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Is DAFKA racist?

UPDATE: For the latest on Lee Kaplan, read this.

Lee Kaplan is a true Renaissance man. As National Director of DAFKA, he is a brave, tells-it-like-it-is defender of my right to settle in all of the Land of Israel. In his former stint as the Coordinator for the U.C. Berkeley chapter of Students for Academic Freedom, he tirelessly defended my right to praise my government. As a front man for Stop The ISM he has significantly impeded the International Solidarity Movement by putting up a conspicuously incomplete website, promising to update it soon, then abandoning it. As a hard-hitting investigative reporter for David Horowitz's FrontPage Magazine, he holds nothing back: he has seen it all, and his writings --while scholarly-- are hardboiled and gritty in a way that can only be expected of a world-weary, no-nonsense journalist's journalist.

He now has a new job, which is front-page news on his own DAFKA site (let's remember that DAFKA still has many student members, and is most certainly not just a venue for Kaplan's self-promotion). As Director of Communications for the Northeast Intelligence Network, "Mr. Kaplan will be expanding the organization's media attention" (i.e. appearing on the Tovia Singer show every other week).

The Northeast Intelligence Network "is an anti-terrorist web site developed in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on America that will offer practical reference information, vital links, and other valuable information from an investigative perspective."

So, as a macho, no-holds-barred super agent, Lee Kaplan literally is defending my life, and for this I have immense gratitude. After all, he's in good company:

"We are not constrained by bureaucratic 'red tape' that always tends to slow things down. Although we are respectful and never try to be offensive to anyone or any group of people (except the terrorists who are trying to kill us), we do not have to worry about being 'politically correct.' "
--Answer to FAQ (by Douglas Hagmann, Director)

He goes on to demonstrate the sincerity with which he is respectful to everyone but the terrorists. In response to "Are you against Islam?" he clarifies:

"I am against anyone who flies planes into buildings and kills innocent men, women and children for their beliefs. I am against anyone who has painted targets on the backs of my family, friends, neighbors and fellow citizens and desires to kill them for their beliefs. I am also sick and tired of the sugar-coated rhetoric I hear about tolerance and political correctness, and I do NOT blame the US and our lifestyle for being attacked on 9/11. I do NOT believe we have to 'look inward' or ask ourselves 'why' we were attacked on 9/11 like some of the more visible politicians and pundits have suggested. I also DO NOT believe that the religion of Islam was 'hijacked' or 'perverted' as many in our own government have stated. If that makes me anti-Islam, then so be it."

It does make him anti-Islam, and not in the cute sense he is suggesting so as to demonstrate how Bold he is in Standing Up to the Intractable Cult of Political Correctness. This is virulently racist stuff in which he explicity rejects any distinction between "Radical Islam" and Islam, a distinction that even demagogues like Daniel Pipes pretend to make before warning us to keep an eye on that mosque around the corner, just in case.

Elsewhere, Laura Mansfield, Associate Director and Middle East "Specialist" writes: "I’m still waiting for an apology from Muslims for the September 11, 2001 attacks." That "Muslims" must apologize for these "Muslim" crimes echoes the filth that Israel Shamir peddles about collective, pathological Jewish guilt for "Jewish crimes" and "Jewish racism."

Are these sentiments consistent with the principles of DAFKA? It is very clear from the site's front page that DAFKA opposes racism and fascism coming from Arab and Islamic countries; and, because the group's membership is diverse and consists of "Jews, Muslims and Christians or Secularists," it can be assumed that this disgust with racism is from a universalistic perspective. So DAFKA is an anti-racist organization. True, it links to the Kahanist Masada 2000, but that's really just because Masada 2000 is an excellent source of the information which the Oslo Criminals are trying to censor from us. Why, then, would the National Director of an anti-racist organization align himself with racists?

It's possible that Mr. Kaplan is only interested in Stopping Terror and does not agree with the views of Mr. Hagmann or Ms. Mansfield. If he were anyone else, I would assume this to be true. But by Mr. Kaplan's own rules, he needs to explicitly and publicly denounce those statements or else he AND his organization will always be associated with them. Consider his January, 2004 e-mail exchange with SF State Professor Stephen Zunes. Kaplan says to Zunes:

"From my knowledge of you, you tend to run with people who advocate dismantling Israel. For our debate, I think it only fair if you have made statements in the past in the company of such groups, or attended meetings with them where you did not condemn certain activities or positions or statements you at least clarify your position by rejecting them."

He takes it a step further:

"Surely you can write a one page letter to Yasser Arafat? If you state your position as you have stated to me, it could prevent the situation from roiling some more. I do believe you are perceived by the "other side" as being against the US and Israel. You had time to write me, so certainly this should be no burden on you unless you fear presenting your views to your public? Humor me, write the letter, one page, and copy me."

It seems to me like Mr. Kaplan has only three options given the high standards which (I assume) he holds himself to.

1. He can clearly and publicly denounce the racist comments by his colleagues, thus preserving DAFKA's impeccable anti-racist credentials while being able to continue his important anti-terror work.

2. He can avoid denouncing them which, by his own definition, proves that he shares their sentiments.

3. He can claim that the comments in question are not racist --which perhaps is a legitimate position, although it would call into question the validity of DAFKA's anti-racist principles.

Lee Kaplan reads this. I can say with zero hesitation that as a Very Important Person with a Very Big Ego, and a Very Big Grudge against us Bolshevik Tzedek Extremists, Lee Kaplan will read any of our posts that mention DAFKA. So I challenge you, Mr. Kaplan, to be consistent with your own standards and act accordingly. I would be very disappointed if you didn't, because you protect me in so many ways.

-Ehud

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