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December 10 marks the 129th anniversary of the publication of Mark Twain’s novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The book’s history has found it read by most, beloved by many, and even questioned by some people through the years, and it has lived on as a masterpiece of American writing, as well as a scathing look at the slavery and racism faced by African Americans.
But Twain (the pen name of Samuel Clemens) was not just a defender of African Americans — he defended the Jewish people, as well, writing in an essay from 1898:
He has made a marvellous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.
The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?
This article from the Virtual Jewish Library tells of Twain’s relationship with Jews in America and around the world. As you’ll see, Twain’s relationship with the Jewish people was sometimes colored by stereotypes and sometimes misinterpreted, but he ultimately meant well and was remembered fondly by the Jewish press:
“In one of Mr. Clemens’s works he expressed his opinion of men, saying he had no choice between Hebrew and Gentile, black men or white; to him, all men were…Read More » Comments (0) »
Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 at 3:45 PM | Stand For Israel
On Friday, we reported that Saudi Arabia had been elected to the U.N. Security Council – arguably the only truly meaningful committee at that world body. Later that day, the Saudis surprised virtually everyone by refusing the seat. Walter Russell Mead, writing at The American Interest, analyzes both the reasoning and the potential fallout:
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The Saudis could move more aggressively to fund the kind of jihadis we don’t like in Syria and perhaps elsewhere; they could switch to a more aggressive price policy in OPEC; they could cut the legs out from under the Palestinian moderates on the West Bank; they could aggressively promote radical Salfism in Egypt to take advantage of the Muslim Brotherhood’s eclipse. With Saudi help, however quiet and in the background, Israel’s calculations about an attack on Iran could change, and a conflict could start that the White House might not be able to stay out of.
Monday, October 21st, 2013 at 8:21 AM | Stand For Israel
Same old, same old. Jonathan Tobin, writing at Commentary, says that the Iranians are playing out the charm offensive of new President Hassan Rouhani for all it’s worth – and it looks as though the West is backing down and acceding to long held Iranian demands with nothing in return:
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The Iranians appear to have impressed the representatives of the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany with a power point presentation that supposedly demonstrated how they could go on enriching uranium, hold onto their stockpile of nuclear fuel and yet somehow be trusted not to build a bomb. But once the Rouhani-inspired rose-colored glasses are off, it’s more than obvious to objective observers that the Iranians showed up in Geneva with nothing new to say.
Thursday, October 17th, 2013 at 8:11 AM | Stand For Israel
Elliott Abrams, National Security Advisor under former President George W. Bush, puts himself in the shoes of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and writes what he believes the leader of the Jewish State might be thinking. It’s a little confusing — Mr. Abrams is writing as though he is Mr. Netanyahu — but the result is a fascinating piece:
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Speaking at the UN General Assembly is like addressing a mixed crowd—half Nazis and half mummies. But the real audience outside got the point: Iran can’t have nukes, no way, no how. Dunno about Obama. Good meeting, hours long; he treats me better now than before his election, which is weird. The thought struck me that he knows these talks with Iran may fail, and if they do he’s gonna want me to hit Iran.
Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 at 8:07 AM | Stand For Israel
During his speech to the U.N. General Assembly today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the world to stop Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons — and presented ample evidence that, despite Iran’s claims, that pursuit is as alive today as it ever has been. He closed with this powerful and moving story:
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Ladies and gentlemen, one cold day in the late 19th century, my grandfather Nathan and his younger brother Judah were standing in a railway station in the heart of Europe. They were seen by a group of anti-Semitic hoodlums who ran towards them waving clubs, screaming “Death to the Jews.”
My grandfather shouted to his younger brother to flee and save himself, and he then stood alone against the raging mob to slow it down. They beat him senseless, they left him for dead, and before he passed out, covered in his own blood, he said to himself “What a disgrace, what a disgrace. The descendants of the Macabees lie in the mud powerless to defend themselves.”
He promised himself then that if he lived, he would take his family to the Jewish homeland and help build a future for the Jewish people. I stand here today as Israel’s prime minister because my grandfather kept that promise.
And so many other Israelis have a similar story, a parent or a grandparent who fled every conceivable oppression and came to Israel to start a new life in our ancient homeland. Together we’ve transformed a bludgeoned Jewish people, left for dead, into a vibrant, thriving nation, a defending itself with the courage of modern Maccabees, developing limitless possibilities for the future.
In our time the Biblical prophecies are being realized. As the prophet Amos said, they shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them. They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine. They shall till gardens and eat their fruit. And I will plant them upon their soil never to be uprooted again.
[Repeates paragraph in Hebrew.]
Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Israel have come home never to be uprooted again.
Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 at 1:19 PM | Stand For Israel
The annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly is a time for freedom-loving, clear-eyed observers of the international organization to sit back and watch the rogues’ gallery of dictators, despots, strongmen, warlords, and thugs that make up the majority of the worlds’ leaders take to the rostrum and lecture Western democracies about … democracy. The speeches range from amusing to bizarre to offensive – although the offensive ones tend to be from leaders so inconsequential that it’s hard to get too bent out of shape.
And so it was that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem delivered his country’s speech at the U.N. yesterday and – in addition to denying that there was a civil war in his country – called for Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. (more…)Comments (6) »
Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 at 9:24 AM | Stand For Israel
In her testimony yesterday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, President Obama’s nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, pledged to push for Israel to sit on the United Nations Security Council. We thought you should know why something like that needs to be said.
Countries at the U.N. are divided into five regional groups which elect member-states to serve on various U.N. committees and councils. The U.N. Security Council, arguably the most powerful of the major organs of the U.N. as it establishes international sanctions regimes and declares peacekeeping operations, is made up of 15 countries. Five of these (the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, and France) are permanent members and can veto any resolution before the Council. The other ten are elected on a rotating basis – two countries from each of the five regional groups. And that’s where Israel has a problem. (more…)Comments (22) »
Thursday, July 18th, 2013 at 7:37 AM | Stand For Israel
Michael Rubin, writing at Commentary, wants senators to ask some tough questions of President Obama’s new UN Ambassador nominee in her upcoming Senate confirmation hearings starting with whether Samantha Power, whose professional background is centered on human rights issues, believes that serial human rights abusers Iran and Syria should sit on the UN Human Rights Council:
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Both Syria and Iran—two of the world’s human rights violators—are running for seats on the UN Human Rights Council. The Council—like much of the United Nations—has become a mockery of its declared principles, values to which Power claims to adhere. Given her professed commitment to human rights and her respect for the United Nations, it would be useful to hear how Power reacts: Condemnation of Syria and Iran might come easy. It’s one thing to pay lip service to condemnations of Third World dictatorships, but it’s another thing to do so at the expense of an institution which she places on a pedestal.
Friday, July 12th, 2013 at 9:26 AM | Stand For Israel
A recent episode of the TV sitcom “30 Rock” has the main character travel to the UN building in New York, where she upsets the heavily-accented UN bureaucrat she meets. While trying to throw her out of his office, the bureaucrat threatens, “I’m going to call security. One of those guys has a whistle!” Even the folks who write television comedy know that “UN” and “security” don’t belong in the same sentence.
Since the 1960s, the UN has maintained a “peacekeeping” force on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. With an unfortunately precise number of 911 troops, the multinational unit had little to do for decades. Recently, however, as fighting has increased due to the Syrian civil war, the soldiers of UNDOF (UN Disengagement Observer Force), things have gotten a bit dicey for the peacekeepers in their powder-blue helmets. After their position came under fire a few weeks ago, Austria announced that it was pulling its 377 soldiers out of the unit. You read that correctly. Austria pulled out its “peacekeepers” after they were expected to do something to keep the peace.
To be fair, the peacekeepers have become targets in Syria. UN peacekeepers have been kidnapped and wounded in recent attacks. Their rules of engagement are beyond absurd and are designed to avoid fighting at all costs rather than to actually keep the peace. Foreign armies and terrorist groups know this and exploit it. The peacekeepers have no policing power. Foreign armies and terrorists know that, too. And, as the UN Security Council just this week decided to allow the peacekeepers to carry machine guns (side question: what were they carrying before?), it’s safe to assume they’ve been massively out-gunned. No wonder the Austrians pulled their kids out. How do you explain to an Austrian mom that her under-armed son was killed while not fighting back all for a mission that’s designed to not do what it’s supposed to do?
This isn’t an Austria problem. It’s a UN problem. There is a role in circumstances like those found on the Golan…Read More » Comments (11) »
Friday, June 28th, 2013 at 8:12 AM | Stand For Israel
Created in late 1949, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was designed to help 652,000 Arabs displaced during the Israeli War of Independence. Today, it provides a host of services – at an annual cost of $1.23 billion – for 5 million refugees. How, you might wonder, did the number of refugees increase in the intervening 60+ years? UNRWA defines a Palestinian refugee as anyone“whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948, and 1967 conflicts.” Descendants of those refugees are also eligible for enrollment. Hence, 5 million “refugees.”
At the same time the UN was creating the UNRWA, it also created the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), mostly as a vehicle to help deal with refugees and displaced persons following World War II. Since then, the UNHCR has become the agency that deals with every refugee crisis in the world – every one, that is, except the Palestinians. They have their own agency at the UN. In 2013, the UNHCR’s budget is $3.59 billion to help more than 22 million people around the world. In other words, the United Nations spends $163 per person per year on actual refugees and $246 per person per year on people who have made refugee status a way of life.
UNRWA’s total failure – aided and abetted by Pales tinian culture and the politically-motivated refusal of other Arab countries to help settle Palestinian refugees – to help the descendants of refugees of Israel’s founding get on with their lives would be bad enough by itself. When you add to it that UNRWA is, at best, complicit in anti-Israel terrorism and, at worst, an active participant in it, things get worse from there. UNRWA, of course, has institutionalized itself as a significant part of Palestinian life and culture; it feeds some 80% of the population and is also a major – if not THE major – employer of Palestinians both in…Read More » Comments (6) »
Monday, June 24th, 2013 at 10:05 AM | Stand For Israel