What We Can Learn from Spicer’s Gaffes

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has a difficult job. Turning Donald Trump’s messages into comprehensible, even respectable, public statements is a tough go. But even taking that into account, his performance has been terrible, and on Tuesday, he hit a new low.

Spicer kicked his day off by stating that “Hitler didn’t sink to using chemical weapons.” Yes, you read that right. Hitler never employed chemical agents to kill helpless civilians.

But gaffes happen. One reporter gave Spicer a chance, asking him to clarify the remark. Spicer thanked her for the opportunity…and proceeded to make the matter even worse. Here’s how he explained himself: Read more at LobeLog

Changing Course: Mahmoud Abbas At The UNGA

Reaction to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the UN General Assembly today was swift and sharp. One of the most incisive

Mahmoud Abbas addresses the UN general Assembly, 9/26/14

Mahmoud Abbas addresses the UN general Assembly, 9/26/14

Israeli columnists, Chemi Shalev of Ha’aretz, broke it down very well. He considered Abbas’ speech to be a welcome gift to the Israeli right. And I agree with him. But that’s not really the point.

Abbas has often used the UN podium as a way to be more direct and combative than he usually is regarding Israel, de-emphasizing the “partner for peace” charade and instead being more of an advocate for and leader of the Palestinian cause. But this time, he really turned up the heat. His reference to the attack on Gaza as “genocide” was calculated to play very well in Ramallah and Gaza City, and he willingly sacrificed the rest of the world’s approval. Continue reading

Holocaust Survivors Counter Elie Wiesel’s Hateful Ad

Like many Jews of my generation and subsequent ones, I read Elie Wiesel’s book “Night” when I was very young. I was moved,

Elie Wiesel doesn't want to hear about human rights when it comes to Israel

Elie Wiesel doesn’t want to hear about human rights when it comes to Israel

frightened and terribly saddened by the horrors Wiesel and millions of others suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

But Wiesel has failed to learn the lessons of his own experience. Rather than universalizing the call to end the oppression of people regardless of the race, religion or beliefs of either the oppressed or the oppressor, Wiesel has made a special exception for Israel.

For decades, Wiesel was notably silent when it came to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. But in recent years, he has broken that silence not to defend millions of people suffering under occupation but to be an apologist and even defender of some of Israel’s worst excesses. That state of affairs reached something of a zenith recently when Wiesel, along with the crazed fanatical “rabbi” Smuley Boteach, placed ads defending Israel’s murderous onslaught on Gaza. The terminology they used would have made Goebbels proud.

In short, Elie Wiesel has become a monster, in a very real sense.

I’m gratified to say that not every Holocaust survivor has dealt with their trauma by cowering in tribalism and spewing the kind of venom Wiesel does. Some of them have organized an open letter condemning Wiesel, Israel’s assault on Gaza and the international community for supporting it. Continue reading

Barbarians At The Gate

The Anti-Defamation League put out an exhaustive poll to find out how much anti-Semitism there is in the world. The poll is fatally flawed, with questions that often don’t describe anti-Semitism but a broader fear of the other, a weak standard for passing the anti-Semitism bar and other issues. Yet, with all of that, it found that 26% of the world holds some of what they defined as “anti-Semitic views.” That is, actually, a remarkably low number, but the ADL and Israel sounded the alarm bells. I explore this further in Souciant this week.

Just Say No to Peace

This week’s piece in Souciant reminds my readers that I don’t write the headlines there. The piece actually follows up my article last week on Greta Berlin, the Christian letter regarding aid to Israel and anti-Semitism. This time, though, I single out J Street, unfortunately, for its sad behavior regarding the US role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.