Private Eye and Israel

Private Eye, the UK news and satirical magazine (issue 1464 of 23 February) has an item about the UK’s Security and Policing event.

“The Home Office has invited some of the world’s most repressive regimes to the UK next month to browse stalls selling surveillance technology and crowd control equipment at a ‘security’ fair it is running.”

You can guess what is coming.

The article later reports that:

“The current list of invitees is secret until March, but in recent years delegates have included such cuddly bastions of human rights as Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.”

This is a nasty dig at Israel. Criticism is all very well, but this is demonization. Private Eye doesn’t like Israel. It may no longer have the institutional anti-semitism of Richard Ingrams, but that has morphed somewhat into repeated sniping attacks like this one, which nobody is going to waste any time trying to rebut, but everybody is going to get used to reading. Slowly, slowly poisoning the well.

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The Politicization of Science

The New Scientist (20 January 2018 issue) has an editorial on the cover story: the “worrying signs that civilisation has started to collapse.” The editorial includes the following:

THE idea that we are living in a historic, even apocalyptic, age exerts a powerful pull on the human mind. Eschatology – the theology of end times – is a religious concept, but crops up in many other systems of thought. Marxism and neo-liberalism were both driven by an “end-of-history” narrative. Scientific thinking isn’t immune either: the technological singularity has been called eschatology for geeks, and the study of existential risk even has its own centre at the University of Cambridge. You don’t have to believe in the four horsemen to see the apocalypse coming.

After noting that the end may not be so imminent after all, the editorial points out that a real threat to our world – climate change – has been badly handled. Why? The threat was politicized: used as a stick by political faction alpha to beat political faction beta about the head, and of course the other way round.

The point is not that the activists’ answers are wrong. Business as usual is a sure way to climate catastrophe. It is that they prematurely politicised the science and hence provoked pushback from people on the other side of the fence.

Evidence for an impending civilisational collapse is much weaker, but is already being politicised in a similar way. The causes being offered are familiar bugbears of the left: inequality, population growth and resource depletion. The proposed answers are equally predictable and contentious.

That’s the backdrop.

The main article on the topic includes this:

“The idea that Western power and influence is in gradual decline, perhaps as a prelude to a precipitous fall, has been around for a while. But it has gained a new urgency with recent political events, not least the election of US president Donald Trump. For some, his turning away from international commitments is part of fulfilling his promise to “make America great again” by concentrating on its own interests. For others, it’s a dangerous move that threatens to undermine the whole world order. Meanwhile, over in the old world, Europe is mired in its own problems.”

So the editorial cautions against politicization of the issue, and the main article politicizes the issue!

Let’s be clear: Donald Trump is not the best man to be president of the USA. Will he be the worst? It depends on what media you base your judgement. But the suggestion that it is tenable to hold the end of the world is nearer because of Trump’s election is scaremongering in the extreme. It’s reckless, and panders to the same narrow focus of thought that says only socialism has the answer.

In short, the New Scientist‘s contribution to the discussion is tainted by politicization.

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Let’s Be Careful Out There

I ended my my blog post Secure? You better believe it about the discovery of microprocessor security vulnerabilities with this:

I wonder what Bruce Schneier will say?

The question has been answered. Here are some notable points:

“Throw it away and buy a new one” is ridiculous security advice, but it’s what US-CERT recommends. It is also unworkable. The problem is that there isn’t anything to buy that isn’t vulnerable. Pretty much every major processor made in the past 20 years is vulnerable to some flavor of these vulnerabilities. Patching against Meltdown can degrade performance by almost a third. And there’s no patch for Spectre; the microprocessors have to be redesigned to prevent the attack, and that will take years.

In short, we are all stuck in a hole not of our making.

Later on, there is some practical advice about what you should do:

This isn’t to say you should immediately turn your computers and phones off and not use them for a few years. For the average user, this is just another attack method amongst many. All the major vendors are working on patches and workarounds for the attacks they can mitigate. All the normal security advice still applies: watch for phishing attacks, don’t click on strange e-mail attachments, don’t visit sketchy websites that might run malware on your browser, patch your systems regularly, and generally be careful on the Internet.

As they used to say on Hill Street Blues, let’s be careful out there.

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No Israeli Offer Will Ever Be Good Enough

Man of something beginning with “p”. Source: Wikimedia

Abbas’ dreadful, spiteful, poisonous, antisemitic speech of hate should be seen as a true indication of the character of the man so enthusiastically promoted by many dreamers as a partner for peace. Attila the Hun or Genghis Khan have a better claim to that title. Unfortunately, the situation is now even more of a vacuum: there is no credible Palestinian partner for peace, and there is no credible Israeli alternative plan. If Bibi were a true statesman, this would be the time he would rise to the occasion. But I am not optimistic. It wouldn’t be easy, but – in the words of Dov Lipman – we have to try, because we need to be able to look our kids in the face and tell them we did at least that. The size of the challenge can be measured by this closing comment from the ever excellent David Horovitz in his article Abbas couldn’t make peace with the Jews; he believes his own lies about us:

“The UN can vote itself blue in the face against Israel. Foolish nations can unilaterally recognize Palestinian statehood — to the detriment of the Palestinians, since such “support” merely deepens their obduracy. But the only route to Palestinian independence runs via a negotiated settlement with Israel.

The Olmert offer of a decade ago showed how far Israel was prepared to go to partner the Palestinians to statehood. The despicable, tragic, self-defeating Abbas speech of Sunday night showed that so long as the Palestinians blind themselves to the fact of Israel’s legitimacy, no Israeli offer is going to be good enough.”

Note this key element:

“so long as the Palestinians blind themselves to the fact of Israel’s legitimacy”

If that analysis is right – and I am inclined to agree – where is the change in Palestinian attitudes going to come from? I cannot see it. Perhaps the ground level, grass-roots initiatives that (almost unbelievably) are working and building real connections between the communities, will create something. Beyond that, what else is there? Who can make the Palestinians see sense?

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Lorde’s Not Coming

In the commentary about singer Lorde’s decision to follow BDS advice and not come to Israel on tour (though a couple of gigs in the peaceful nirvana that is Russia is, apparently, OK) my favorite so far is David Collier‘s at Beyond the Great Divide. For example, I think he is spot on with this:

Read the whole thing here.

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200 Years of Misery?

Naftali Bennett (Source: Wikimedia)

If there’s one Israeli who comes close to being ritually demonized as often and as automatically as Bibi Netanyahu, it’s probably Naftali Bennett, leader of the Bayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party and Minister of Education. One reason: the two state solution. While Bibi is superficially at least in favor, Naftali Bennett is opposed. That makes him close to public enemy number one. (Or, more accurately, salon anti-Zionists’ enemy number one of a million.) He doesn’t get a fair reflection of his views in the western media, and certainly precious little opportunity to be debated on the details of his proposals. So, I was pleased to see a decent interview of Mr B by Calev Ben-Dor on the Fathom site, which you can read here.

Here’s a summary of his overview:

“Essentially forming a Palestinian state along the lines that many of the readership of Fathom believe is the way forward would guarantee 200 years of misery for the two peoples.”

To be clear, I do not agree with Naftali Bennett’s proposals, though I do sympathize with some of his assessments. For example, as matters stand, were a two state solution implemented tomorrow, 200 years of misery might be an understatement! However, for me it is important to shed light on the topic and discuss the issues, regardless of my personal differences of opinion with him. For sure, his heart is in the right place, but that may not be enough.

My suggestion: read and decide for yourself. Use your powers of critical thinking and your intellectual muscle. Enjoy the exercise. Maybe you will see things from a new perspective. Maybe you will think he’s right…

If you are too lazy to read the interview, maybe this closing snippet will entice you:

“I am very optimistic. When you look at the world through Oslo and cocktail parties the world looks dire. But I spend a lot of time on ground, my family lives here and I see the quality of life for Israeli Arabs when I visit their schools, and for Palestinians, and the actual picture is a very good picture. It could be much better if we focus on making lives better from the bottom-up.”

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Guardian’s up to its usual tricks again

Check out this article.

Note the headline. What is the message that the headline conveys?

Then read the article. Look carefully at what was discussed: aid for Syrian refugees.

It appears the Guardian is trying to put the boot in because it’s Israel, and only because it’s Israel. That twisted headline would never appear for coverage of another country’s affairs. It also appears – actually, not so much ‘appears’, more like ‘is pretty damn certain’ – that the Guardian is more interested in bashing Israel, any friend of Israel, or any potential friend of Israel, than it is in securing help for Syrian refugees. How’s that behavior for a so called liberal newspaper?

I tweeted about this. Not that it will make a difference, but somebody has to call out this dreadful narrative.

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Radiohead Report

As you may have heard, Radiohead‘s Tel Aviv concert went ahead. By all accounts (locally) it was a great success.

This is how the Guardian chose to headline its report:

This is how the Guardian, had it been a bit more frank, should have headlined its report:

And this is how the Guardian, had it been completely honest, should have headlined its report:

The Guardian’s (rarely seen) honest face

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Quote of the Week

“After decades of being able to attack Israel with no opposition, the PLO has no idea how to handle someone who actually shows that the emperor has no clothes.”

The Elder of Ziyon on target. There’s lots more to enjoy, so read the whole piece, here.

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Guess who’s paying for Gaza’s electricity?

You cannot have failed to see the angst in the media about the poor Gazans due to have their electricity cut off because Hamas refused to pay for it, and the PA wasn’t going to either. You cannot have failed to notice that, with some honorable exceptions, Israel was blamed. If you ever wanted another fine example of how the West (in particular) treats the Palestinian people and their leadership as immature and unable to determine their own way in life, the electricity supply narrative is as good as any. Hamas isn’t responsible for the electricity supply. The PA isn’t responsible for the electricity supply. Neither of them has any obligation to look after their people, or pay for the electricity they consume. Or so they say. What nonsense. Would any other group of people be treated in such a manner? Of course not. It only works when you can blame the damn Jews Zionists.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the crisis. The electricity supply wasn’t turned off. Why? Because, as the Elder reports, Israel is paying for it.

Think about it for a moment: a people who hate us, who are incited daily to hate us more, and kill us at every opportunity, and yet we supply electricity to them when we have no obligation, moral or otherwise. And, since the situation does not fit the narrative, this is not reported. Arguably, that failure to report by bastions of anti-Israel hate like the Guardian, the BBC and – of course – Haaretz – is as much incitement against Israel as anything Hamas and the PA get up to. But it is a guilt and trouble free incitement with no downside. By their actions, these media outlets are complicit in stoking the fires of anti-Israel feeling. They are, indeed, the enemy.

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