Archive for June 2, 2010

Shame on those blaming Israel for the Gaza Flotilla violence

June 2, 2010 Leave a comment
By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–Label me an ostrich with his head in the sand, or a blind ideologue if you will, but I think this is the time to call shame on the chorus of those who used the terms failure, massacre, or tragedy about Israel’s operation against the “Freedom Flotilla.”

Videos showing the preparation for violence by the Turkish militia and its use of staves and other weapons against the commandos are carrying their weight. The tone of media commentary and comments from prominent politicians appears to be changing. There is recognition of Israel’s prior offer to transport humanitarian material after inspection, and Israel’s right to defend itself against the development of an armed Iranian satellite in Gaza.
Do nine deaths amount to a tragedy or massacre, when all of them appear to have been members of a group allied with the nastiest of factions the civilized world calls “terrorists?” Perhaps only when the country doing the work is Jewish. 
Members of the chorus demanding an international inquiry deserve no more respect than the Islamic leaders of the chorus in Turkey, Iran, and Gaza, plus those seeking gain from the hysteria in the West Bank and the Arab communities of Israel. 
Overseas Jews claiming to be friends of Israel, and Jews of Israel are singing in the chorus of shame. I see no need to define their motives or fears, or to be surprised that they have been caught up by the noise. No doubt they will continue to claim the high ground even as the evidence indicates they are standing on nothing.
One of the insights of this week concerns the difference among Arab states. None of them can resist the temptation to condemn Israel, but while Syria has cooperated with Iran in flooding Hizbollah with missiles, Egypt has cooperated with Israel in limiting the flow to Gaza. Prior to Israel’s operation against the Flotilla, Egypt echoed Israel’s offer in proposing to accept the ships in an Egyptian port, and transferring material through its check points.  
Hamas’ rejection of the cargo from the Flotilla after its inspection by Israel suggests confusion as to how best exploit its opportunities. It has decided to try for another point against Israel despite the cost to the population of Gaza.
Mahmoud Abbas chose to participate in the chorus shouting massacre. He declared three days of national mourning for the members of the Turkish Islamic militia, and has approached Hamas with an effort of conciliation. Earlier he endorsed Israel’s intention to keep the ships from reaching Gaza and strengthening the posture of his Hamas rivals.
This will not help the prospects of an accord between Israel and Palestine. If accommodation depends on the respect of Israeli Jews for Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, one can forget about early progress. Probabilities have declined from single digits to the smallest parts of one percent. 
The Obama administration is making an effort to rescue its investment in peace. The most recent comments represent a concession to Israel. Vice President Biden has said that it has a right to stop ships from reaching Gaza and inspect their cargoes, given the rocket fire to Israel. The White House has distanced itself from the wildest demands for an international inquiry. One of its  proposals is for an American observer attached to an Israeli inquiry. 
The next ships are only a day or so away. One carrying the name Rachel Corrie seeks to gain something from one of the most pathetic of anti-Israel efforts during the height of Palestinian violence. 
Israel’s membership among the blessed is by no means certain. Yet it is far from deserving the damnation that so many others have called upon themselves.

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

StandWithUs, other pro-Israel groups demonstrate in Los Angeles against Turkey

June 2, 2010 Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (Press Release)–Israel supporters demonstrated in large numbers on June 1st to protest Turkey’s support of the flotilla provocation against Israel.

A follow up demonstration will be held this coming Sunday, June 6th, at 2 PM in front of the Israeli Consulate on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

The demonstrators protested Turkey’s sinister role in abetting and endorsing the anti-Israel flotilla of six ships that embarked on May 30th to Gaza’s shores allegedly to bring aid to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

In less than 24 hours, StandWithUs, the ILC and the CIC mobilized nearly 1,000 of Israel’s Los Angeles supporters to show their commitment to Israel and to its fight against terrorists and terrorist enablers.

Israel offered to deliver the goods through official security channels in Ashdod, but the activists rejected the offer.

Five ships complied with Israel’s navy personnel and were escorted to Ashdod, but the sixth ship, the largest one, refused to cooperate. When Israeli personnel attempted to board the ship to make it change course, they met a pre-meditated resistance armed with knives, steel pipes, and bats. The activists, who call themselves peace activists, violently assaulted the Israelis. Seven Israelis were wounded, two seriously. In the melee, nine activists, all Turkish nationals according to recent reports, were killed.

Turkey was complicit in this assault and Turkey could have prevented the ship from embarking. It was filled with activists who included known members of IHH, a Turkish human rights group associated with global jihad organizations, and it sailed under the Turkish flag. But Turkey did not stop the intentional provocation. Turkey went on to lead the assault condemning Israel at the UN.

The L.A. demonstrators demanded an international investigation of Turkey’s role in this unacceptable assault on Israel’s sovereignty and on international law.

Go to for more information.
The demonstrators held signs designed and produced by StandWithUs which read: “Shame on Turkey: You have blood on your hands,” and “Free Gaza from Hamas.” They also held Israeli and American flags, and sang “Hatikva,” the Israeli national anthem.

“Turkey is aiding anti-Israel forces, parroting anti-Israel propaganda, and contributing to the instability and violence in the Middle East. The demonstrators accuse Turkey of directly or indirectly causing this unfortunate bloodshed. It must be held accountable. Demonstrations against Turkey across the US are demanding that Turkey become a force for peaceful co-existence instead of a force for instability and extremism in the region,” said Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs.

“Supporters of Israel will not stop demonstrating until Turkey is held accountable. The turnout today confirmed that across the country there is widespread support for Israel and its difficult battle, and widespread anger against the effort to twist the facts about this altercation,” added Rothstein.

More demonstrations are planned, and StandWithUs the ILC and CIC urge you to attend the demonstration planned for this coming Sunday at 2 PM in front of the Israeli Consulate on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Here is  a video of a pro-Hamas rally and a lone high school student defending Israel.

Preceding provided by StandWithUs

Despite lip service, Fatah has no sympathy for Hamas

June 2, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C — This may not seem like the best time to open a discussion of the “two state solution,” but it may well be the best time to call the Palestinians’, and the world’s, bluff and put the necessary discussion of Gaza and the future of the blockade on a more serious and realistic footing.
Point 1: Fatah on the West Bank has no desire to be responsible for Gaza, no ability to wrest control of Gaza from Hamas, and no ability to administer the West Bank if Hamas is freed from its Gaza prison.  Despite the posturing, Gaza blockaded by Israel and Egypt suits Abu Mazen and Fatah more than it does anyone else. For now, none of the three governing bodies between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River will disappear.
Point 2: The West Bank has more in common tribally, economically and culturally with Israel’s Arab population in the Galilee and the Palestinian population of Jordan than it does with Gaza Palestinians. It is unsurprising that the brief but bloody Palestinian civil war in 2007 resulted in Hamas, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood that began in Egypt, expelling Fatah from Gaza. Since then, Fatah has been building a security force on the West Bank with the assistance of the U.S. military under Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton.  
Readers know JINSA’s objection to the force, but it always puzzled us why the Israeli government insisted that it appreciated Lt. Gen. Dayton’s work and liked the Palestinian “police force” even as it morphed into something closer to an army. And even as senior IDF officials complained that the grave risk Israel had undertaken by supporting the force was unappreciated by the United States (and, perhaps, by JINSA).
Maybe that’s because they didn’t explain themselves clearly.
The arrangement, begun under the Olmert government and carried on by Prime Minister Netanyahu, appears to be that Israel would remove some security checkpoints, encourage economic advancement and allow the Palestinian police to arrest pretty much whichever Palestinians it wanted, criminals and the insufficiently enthusiastic as well as Hamas members. In exchange, Fatah would discourage attacks on Israelis both in the West Bank and in Israel proper and allow Israel to arrest pretty much any Hamas member necessary. It worked. The West Bank experienced strong economic growth in 2009 (almost 8%, compared to the U.S. recession) and Israel experienced relatively little in the way of terrorism, or even car theft, emanating from the West Bank and had plenty of tourism and investment. Abu Mazen canceled the Palestinian elections, but no one seems to have noticed or cared.
In combination, Israel and Fatah control everything from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River-except Gaza. Their combined impact perhaps is even paving the way for new relations with Jordan.[1]  It was a great deal for Fatah and not bad for Israel, but the arrangement has been severely undermined by the Obama Administration which has been pushing for a unified Hamas and Fatah and demanding an immediate “two state solution” without seeming to notice or care that no one wants Gaza. 
Neither the Israelis nor Abbas could actually explain the problem to American officials. So Prime Minister Netanyahu said the magic words, “two state solution,” but added caveats which, although quite reasonable, were sure to break down the process. Abbas pulled out of direct talks, tried to gin up demonstrations on the West Bank (it didn’t work, the local population doesn’t have much stomach for another intifada), demanded a settlement freeze and announced that he is not negotiating with Israel, but only with the United States.
Each, in his own way, has signaled that neither Israel nor Fatah has any intention of letting Gaza back in the game.

Gaza is blockaded as a threat to Israel, to Egypt and to Fatah on the West Bank.


Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

[1]YNet News reported that when Taher al-Masri, head of the Jordanian Senate, spoke before an audience that included the royal family and King Abdullah II, he talked about “the two united banks, with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan emerging on both banks of the holy river.”  It is unlikely that he was planning to wage war to regain the West Bank, illegally occupied from 1948-67 by Jordan, but JINSA has long thought an economic and security “condominium” in which the West Bank is “owner occupied space” within Israel and Jordan would benefit everyone – particularly the Palestinians.

U.S. should oppose ‘diplomatic lynching’ of Israel — ADL

June 2, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release)– As the international community engages in a biased rush to judgment against Israel in the aftermath of the Gaza flotilla affair, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on the United States to firmly stand with Israel and to show that it defends Israel’s right to defend its borders and citizens from external threats.

Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
“As the international community is engaged in a biased rush to judgment against Israel and a diplomatic lynching, now is the time for the United States to firmly stand with the Jewish state and its people. The U.S. must show the world that it not only supports Israel’s right to defend its borders and citizens against terrorism, but that it supports Israel’s right to protect itself from people who pretend to be ‘peace activists,’ and parade under the guise of humanitarians while supporting Hamas and violently attacking Israeli military personnel.
“America should assert a moral voice and declare that it will not join the global community in a cynical, double-standard, hypocritical and expedient effort to condemn Israel.  The U.S. should reiterate its support and understanding for Israel, that as a sovereign and democratic nation it has the right to act on behalf of its national security and express its confidence that Israel can conduct its own investigation into the matter without the intrusion of international bodies.”

Preceding provided by Anti-Defamation League

San Diego’s Historic Places: Calvary Cemetery at Pioneer Park

June 2, 2010 Leave a comment

San Diegan Dan Schaffer views historic tombstones at Pioneer Park. U.S. Grant school is to rear left

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO – Adjacent to the U.S. Grant School in the Mission Hills neighborhood of San Diego is the remnant of a Catholic cemetery containing the headstones of some pioneer San Diegans who knew the American President for whom the school is named.

Among those who lie buried in the residue of the  cemetery, which was converted in 1970 to a neighborhood park, are Cave J. Couts, his wife Ysadora Bandini Couts, and Roman Catholic Father Antonio Ubach.

Couts came to San Diego shortly after the Mexican-American War, to help map the boundary between the United States and Mexico. He also laid out and named some of the streets in the area of San Diego that is today known as Old Town.

He fell in love with Ysadora Bandini, daughter of the wealthy and powerful Juan Bandini, whose Casa de Bandini served as headquarters for Commodore Robert Stockton after U.S. Marines aboard the U.S.S. Cyane marched from San Diego Bay and took possession of San Diego in 1846 without initial resistance.

Bandini was a Spaniard of Italian descent who had come to San Diego by way of Peru. He had more sympathy for the Americans than for the Mexicans with whom he lived and had served in California governmnent , and quickly declared his allegiance to the United States.

There are two stories about Ysadora that may be more the stuff of legend than actual history. The first contends that when the Marines took possession of San Diego that there was no American flag to fly over the small town. As the story goes, Ysadora and sisters Arcadia and Josefa fashioned a U.S. flag from their petticoats – making them, if true, West Coast versions of the original U.S. flag maker Betsy Ross.

The other story is that Ysadora met Couts, a handsome Army officer, somewhat unceremoniously. As he and other soldiers made their way past her house on the corner of Old Town Plaza – by then renamed as Washington Square—she allegedly leaned too far over her balcony and might have fallen hard on the ground had Couts not caught her in his arms.

Besides being a soldier and surveyor, Couts was a member of a distinguished Tennessee family. His uncle Cave Johnson, in fact, had been appointed by U.S. President James K. Polk to serve as the U.S. Postmaster General. His family’s prominence helped Couts enter West Point Military Academy. Future Generals U.S. Grant and Lew Wallace—the latter the author of the novel Ben Hur—were Couts’ acquaintances, and both would visit him on the northern San Diego County ranchhouse where he made his home, the 22-room Rancho Guajome located about five miles from Mission San Luis Rey.

Couts served as a member of San Diego County’s first grand jury and later in his life was involved in at least three fatal shootings, although the hot-tempered Southerner never was convicted of a homicide.

As his tombstone reports, Couts died in 1874. His wife was buried next to him 24 years later.

Not too far down a row of tombstones from Cave and Ysadora Couts is the final resting place of Father Antonio Ubach, who had been the parish priest of San Diego for four turbulent decades of the 19th century.

Ubach was a friend and advocate for the California Indians, who were dispossessed of their lands by California settlers. He is said to be the model for the kindly priest in the trail-blazing 19th century novel “Ramona” by Helen Hunt Jackson which aroused sympathy for the plight of the Indians by creating a love story between Ramona, a half-Indian, half-European young woman, and the handsome Indian Alessandro.

In the romantic story, the two eloped, traveling to San Diego where they were married by the character modeled after Ubach. This story—which later would generate a famous movie and an annual outdoor saga in Hemet, California—won the Casa de Estudillo, a close neighbor of the Casa de Bandini, fictional fame as “Ramona’s Marriage Place.”

The beloved story can still draw tourists to the Estudillo home on Old Town Plaza, even though in Jackson’s novel, it really wasn’t at the casa that the marriage took place, but instead at the old adobe chapel located elsewhere in Old Town San Diego, Bruce Coons, the executive director of Save Our Heritage Organization, has noted.

Grant reportedly was familiar with Ubach’s reputation and, according to the Journal of San Diego History, even had the priest convey messages for him to Mexican officials. Ubach was among those who helped to persuade Grant that the California Indians should have lands reserved exclusively for their use – lands that today are known as Indian reservations.

One of the stories in which Ubach figured prominently was in the establishment of “Horton’s Addition” in the area that is today’s downtown of San Diego. Alonzo Horton later recollected that when he arrived in San Diego in 1867, he wanted to purchase developable land on San Diego Bay. The problem was that San Diego had become so sleepy, the terms of the three trustees of the City of San Diego had run out, without anyone bothering to schedule elections for their replacements. Without a properly constituted board of trustees, there was no one to sell land to Horton.

So Horton, a Protestant, went to Ubach’s church, and when the collection plate came around, he ostentatiously put in $10, a princely sum in those days. A standard offering at the time was ten cents. Horton’s generosity prompted Father Ubach to introduce himself to the stranger and to inquire about his business. Horton explained that he wanted an election held for the Board of Trustees so someone could sell him the land. He mentioned the names of three citizens whom he had met – Joseph Mannasse, Ephraim Morse and Thomas Bush—and Ubach duly persuaded his fellow San Diegans to run for the seats. Horton posted $5 to pay the county’s election expenses, and, without opposition, his three picks were elected. They in turn scheduled an auction of 960 acres of city-owned land near the bay, for which Horton successfully bid $2,165—or approximately 27.5 cents an acre.

In all there were some 1,800 people buried at the Cavalry Cemetery, but it gradually fell into disuse and disrepair after another Catholic cemetery was constructed. Eventually the decision was made to take most of the headstones to a ravine at the municipal Mount Hope Cemetery, leaving in place only a sampling of those headstones that had marked the graves of San Diego pioneers.
On a knoll in the park are six large plaques each bearing approximately 300 names of the others who were buried there.

Although many schools are named for U.S. Presidents, the K-8 school whose first class graduated in 1917 could claim a local connection. The 18th President’s son, Ulysses S. Grant Jr., had moved to San Diego and became an entrepreneur here, constructing in the early 20th century the landmark U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego.

That hotel is today owned by the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians, an investment that honors the President who set aside lands for their ancestors.

The coincidence of a school named for President U.S. Grant being adjacent to a cemetery bearing the remains of the nephew of the Postmaster General in President James K. Polk’s administration is not the only presidential “connection” in this Mission Hills neighborhood to chief executives of the U.S. government.

The cemetery and school are bounded on the north by Washington Place.

Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.   A version of this article previously appeared on

Israel Consulate urges friends to vote ‘no’ on CNN’s Gaza Flotilla poll

June 2, 2010 Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (Staff Report)–Israel’s Consulate General in Los Angeles has noted that Cable News Network (CNN) is running a poll among its viewers about whether Israel should be censured in response to the violence that occurred when a ship in the “Freedom Flotilla” was boarded by members of the Israel Defense Force.  The Consulate has urged friends of Israel to vote “no” on the poll, which at 11 a.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday, June 2, was running about 50-50.  Here is a link to the poll.  You will find a place to vote at the bottom of the page.