Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Some thoughts on Netanyahu’s speech

Although it is obvious that Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu is not honest and is counting on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to reject his "final solution", still what he said is shared by most of the so-called Israeli peace camp and many parts of it were actually accepted by the PA leadership.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The bludgeon of anti-Semitism is being swung against Mizrahi intellectuals

Obviously some mainstream Israeli academics are losing their nerve in their desperate efforts to silence growing internal intellectual opposition. Ashkenazi Jews are now swinging the club of alleged "anti-Semitism" against critical Mizrahim (oriental Jews). This is going to happen in a conference to be held in Haifa University on 22 June, 2009. The subject: The New Anti-Semitism - Educational Challenges

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Big Broder und die Fremdsprachen

Der wichtigste Publizist im deutschsprachigen Raum, Henryk very Modest Broder hat offensichtlich grosse Schwierigkeiten mit Fremdsprachen.
Nachdem er einen englischen Satz von mir falsch
übersetzt und mir damit Holocaustleugnung unterstellt hatte, kritisiert er jetzt peinlicherweise Uri Avnerys vermeintliche Nicht-Beherrschung der hebräischen Sprache.
Obwohl ich mit vielen Analysen und Visionen Avnerys nicht einverstanden bin und mir der Personenkult um ihn und auch andere Menschen zuwider ist, besteht kein Zweifel, dass es ganz wenige Israeli gibt, die so viel zum modernen Hebräisch wie der Journalist Avnery beigetragen haben. Seine Sprachbeherrschung ist phänomenal und er braucht bestimmt keine Nachhilfe von Broder.
Selber mit beschränkten Hebräischkenntnissen ausgerüstet glaubt Broder, Avnery bei einem gravierenden Lapsus erwischt zu haben.
In der englischen Version eines Avnery-Beitrags steht Folgendes: In the Knesset bakery (the Hebrew word for bakery is mafia), some new pastries are being baked.
Wie ein übereifriger Erstklässler, der den Lehrer beeindrucken will, springt Broder darauf und meint, hier einen Fehler entdeckt zu haben, weil Bäckerei auf Hebräisch Maafia und nicht Mafia (kriminelle Vereinigung) heisse.
Nun ist die hebräische Schrift aber ziemlich xenophob, obwohl sich die gesprochene Sprache wiederum aussergewöhnlich fremdenfreundlich zeigt. Denn viele Wörter werden gleich geschrieben, haben aber unterschiedliche Bedeutungen und werden jeweils auch anders ausgesprochen. Und so kommt es, dass Ma
‘afia (Bäckerei) und Mafia normalerweise genau gleich geschrieben werden, d.h., wenn sie nicht mit Vokalzeichen versehen sind. Diese fehlen bei normalen Texten ganz und werden nur für Anfänger, in der Lyrik oder im Alten Testament usw. verwendet.
Der englische Übersetzer von Avnerys Text unterlief lediglich ein kleiner und unwichtiger Fehler.
Er hätte schreiben sollen: ”the Hebrew word for bakery can also be read as mafia.”
Auf Althebräisch könnte man Broder deshalb sagen: Tol Kora mi‘ben Enecha, tol Kesam mi‘ben Schinecha. Da ich nicht ganz sicher bin, ob er diesen Spruch verstehen wird, hier zwei sinngemässe Übersetzungen: Wer anderen eine Grube gräbt, fällt selbst hinein, oder Wer anderen in der Nase bohrt, ist selbst ein Schwein.

Shraga Elam

Monday, June 8, 2009

Israel High Command tells officers: Lose the PowerPoint presentations

It is interesting that the Israeli High Command is telling its officers to drop the PowerPoint presentations. There cannot be any doubt that many modern ailments and problems are due to a manager culture that finds its expression in superficial PowerPoint presentations, executive summaries and MBA influenced decision making with no real connection to reality.

"The deputy chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Erez Weiner, wrote a damning indictment of such presentations in last month's issue of the IDF journal Maarachot.

PowerPoint presentations, he wrote, represent "a strong point that has turned into a weak point. The Americans have concluded that using them makes discussions shallower and compromises analysis. The IDF remains addicted to this tool, and is paying for it dearly."

He added that "for many years the use of presentations in the civilian world has expanded, and even more so in the military. It is virtually impossible to have a discussion or lecture in a military forum in which the presentation is not used.

"I believe the use of presentations has made the level of discussion, and the depth of study, more superficial."
(Haaretz 7.6.2009 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1090908.html)

Is it possible that a deeper study might lead the Israeli High Command, the political and economic leaderships to realize that there are logical, essential and unavoidable limits to the use of force and brutality? That this adventurous policy creates more dangers than it prevents?

Just the same, it is not clear why Weiner claims that all the USAnians "have concluded that using them [PowerPoint presentations] makes discussions shallower and compromises analysis." Certainly there is critique of this tool in the US, but still it is very common and popular. E.g. Obama's Cairo speech might be considered as a verbal PowerPoint presentation. Repeating like a mantra the call for the so called "Two State Solution" for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not seem to be very realistic, just like crying "oh my god" during sex cannot be considered to be a prayer.

Brig. Gen. Erez Weiner's critical assessment and recommendations follow Henry Mintzberg, a professor of management at McGill University, who says that Business Schools with their MBA programs are responsible for the present financial crisis. According to Mintzberg it is time to scrap the MBA as training programme for future leaders as these schools are too detached from real-world issues.

This reminds me of a Swiss emeritus professor of medicine who who used to say that medical studies give for over 90% of the answers provided by medical studies are to questions that nobody asked"

Shraga Elam


(Edited by George Malant)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Kick Racism Out of Israeli Soccer - Join the Complaint by FIFA

On Monday the Jerusalem prosecutor instructed the police to start an investigation against Beitar Jerusalem player Amit Ben Shoshan for chanting a racist Beitar anthem: "…This is the land of Israel, Toama… I hate you Salim Toama. I hate all the Arabs," part of a popular chant sung by Beitar fans (see the full version and past "performances" at the end of this text).

Toama is a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, a former national team and Hapoel Tel Aviv midfielder who currently plays for Standard Liege in Belgium.

On May 26 the cameras of Channel 2 caught players of the soccer club Beitar Jerusalem, among them Ben Shoshan oining their fans in their "Toama song". This during the festivities in Jerusalem after Beitar
won the Israeli cup for 2009.

The prosecutor went into action after the New Israel Fund (NIF) tendered a complaint in the framework of its campaign to Kick Racism Out of Israeli Soccer. Israeli law provides for a penalty of up to one year in prison for chanting racist slogans during a sporting event.

It is important to mention that NIF acted several times in the past against Beitar Jerusalem and its fans, who are considered to be the most racist in Israel. On May 20, 2009, NIF published on its website:

For the first time ever the Israel Football Association (FA) has deducted a league point in punishment for the racist chanting by a team's fans. During a match last month against Maccabi Petach Tikvah, Beitar's fans repeatedly sang chants insulting the prophet Mohammed and Arabs. The Israel FA disciplinary committee based their evidence on the reports of the volunteer observers in NIF's campaign to Kick Racism Out of Israeli Soccer. Beitar was also ordered to play one game without spectators.


In 2008 the club received a suspended penalty after their fans were found guilty of racist behavior for chanting "the Prophet Mohammed is dead" at a match.

According to the Israeli news portal Walla (Haaretz Group), Beitar fans had already sung the "Toama song" before and during the Cup game last Tuesday. Walla criticized State President Shimon Peres, who was present in the stadium, for not reacting.

Walla commentator Noam Tirosh wrote on May 27:

"If Shimon Peres had [properly] done his job as president, he would have left the Ramat Gan stadium in protest against the racism of the Beitar fans. But actually we forgot for a moment this is still [the old] Shimon Peres."

The liberal daily Haaretz seems to play down the incident and chose for its first report on the case a telling title which has not yet been translated in the English version, "Ben Shoshan racist: Salim Toama has already forgiven, the persecution not yet"

Although Salim Toama himself plays a bighearted "uncle Tom" and forgives Ben Shoshan, this should have no legal relevance in court, as the "Toama song" is not aimed only against him, but against all the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Toama is probably trying to increase his chances of playing again on the Israeli national team.

Haaretz reports:

Yesterday a contrite Ben Shushan posted a letter on Beitar Jerusalem's official Web site in which said he was inebriated at the time of the incident and that he was sorry if he caused offense.

"I was carried away by the inappropriate chant without noticing what the words were," Ben Shushan wrote. "I do not identify with the words. As a soccer player and as a human being I do not get involved in such things. I don't hate individuals or people."
He also wrote that he had personally apologized to Tuama, whom he considers to be a friend.

Ben Shoshan (this I consider to be the correct English spelling) is very far from convincing, as the "Toama song" has a status of an anthem among Beitar fans and it is impossible that he heard it for the first time last Tuesday and according did not know what he chanted.

The position of Haaretz legal expert Ze'ev Segal sounds like a cover up for Ben Shoshan and his club:

Haaretz legal analyst Ze'ev Segal said yesterday that indictments have been rarely issued for incitement to racism because of the difficulty in proving intent to harm and because of the importance of the right to freedom of speech.

This is a very strange understanding of the law. At hand is a case of repeated racist expressions which are for sure not covered by the right to freedom of speech, just as libel is not covered by this right

The crimes committed by a typical Beitar fan and his Bulldozer in the Jenin refugee camp in 2002 prove that there is no reason to play down the "Toama song" incident. In many talkbacks Beitar fans uttered death threats against my British colleague and politician Yvonne Ridley, who picked up my Email and also tendered a complaint by the World Soccer Association FIFA.

She wrote:

If you feel as offended as I do then lodge your complaint to Mr. Blatter at http://www.fifa.com/contact/form.html and urge FIFA to take action.

Her initiative should be followed.

Please send a complaint to FIFA. A possible formulation:


Please take action against the Israeli soccer club Beitar Jerusalem and its players for their repeated extreme racism (s. E.g. http://shraga-elam.blogspot.com/2009/06/ick-racism-out-of-israeli-soccer.html).



It is true that many soccer fans all over the world are brutal racists and death threats seems to be rather usual in this sub-culture. E.g. a Swiss referee had to hire bodyguards and go into hiding after English fans who felt that their national team had been disadvantaged by his decision threatened to kill him. It is also true that in the Netherlands the Ajax Amsterdam Club is considered to be Jewish and fans of opposing teams often greet it with a hissing reference to gas. But this repulsive behavior is no reason to accept Beitar racism, which also has very strong implications outside the stadium.

Besides, if a similar song had been chanted against the famous British player David Beckham (of Jewish origin), the Anti Defamation League would certainly have launched an international campaign.

Shraga Elam

Edited by George Malent


“Racism in the soccer stadiums is nothing new, but this time players [of Betar Jerusalem] and among them also members of the Israeli national team joined in the racist chants [of the fans].”

This is written on the web site of the Israeli TV station “Channel 2” and one can see there also the report about the incident:

http://www.mako.co.il/Sports-football-il/israeli-league/Article-12c0ece09c58121004.htm&sCh=3d385dd2dd5d4110&pId=1531521468 (Heb.)

The Toama Song

What's Salim doing here? Don't you know?

What's going on here I ask?

Everywhere I hear that this is the land of israel

Toama, this is the land of israel

This Is The Land Of Israel, Toama

This Is The Jewish State

I hate you Salim Toama!

I hate all Arabs!

Fans performances:

  1. Posted on March 6, 2009 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUPQ2qagj7Y&feature=related
  2. Posted on February 17, 2009