Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Obama Administration Sacrifices Israel
Anne Bayefsky 02.22.09, 11:48 AM ET

The Obama administration's decision to join the planning of the U.N.'s Durban II "anti-racism" conference has just taken a new twist: cover-up. On Friday, State Department officials and a member of the American Durban II delegation claimed the United States had worked actively to oppose efforts to brand Israel as racist in the committee drafting a Durban II declaration. The trouble is that they didn't.

The Feb. 20 State Department press release says the U.S. delegation in Geneva "outline[d] our concerns with the current outcome document" and in particular "our strong reservations about the direction of the conference, as the draft document singles out Israel for criticism." One member of the delegation told The Washington Post: "The administration is pushing back against efforts to brand Israel as racist in this conference." In fact, tucked away in a Geneva hall with few observers, the U.S. had done just the opposite. The U.S. delegates had made no objection to a new proposal to nail Israel in an anti-racism manifesto that makes no other country-specific claims.

Getting involved in activities intended to implement the 2001 Durban Declaration--after seven and a half years of refusing to lend the anti-Israel agenda any credibility--was controversial to be sure. But late on Saturday Feb. 14, the State Department slithered out a press release justifying the move. It claimed that "the intent of our participation is to work to try to change the direction in which the Review Conference is heading."

Following what was clearly a planned public relations exercise, Washington Post columnist Colum Lynch championed the U.S. bravado in an article based on the story orchestrated by the American delegates. In his Feb. 20 article entitled: "U.S. Holds Firm on Reparations, Israel in U.N. Racism Talks," he fawned: "The Obama administration on Thursday concluded its first round of politically charged U.N. negotiations on racism, pressing foreign governments ... to desist from singling out Israel for criticism in a draft declaration to be presented at a U.N. conference in April."

The reality, however, was nothing of the sort. Instead, Obama's Durban II team slipped easily into the U.N.'s anti-Israel and anti-Jewish environs, taking the approach that "fitting in" was best accomplished by staying silent.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian delegation proposed inserting a new paragraph under the heading "Identification of further concrete measures and initiatives ... for combating and eliminating all manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance..." with the subtitle "General provisions on victims ... of discrimination." The paragraph includes: "Calls for ... the international protection of the Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territory." In other words, it claims that the Palestinian people are victims of Israeli racism and demands that all U.N. states provide protection from the affronts of the racist Jewish state.

Furthermore, the new Palestinian provision "Calls for ... implementation of international legal obligations, including the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the wall..." This is a dramatic attempt to change an "advisory opinion" into a "legal obligation"--a status which attaches to no advisory opinion. The ICJ decision, which advises that the Israeli security fence is illegal, has always been rejected by the United States--hitherto. And with good reason. The Egyptian judge had voiced his opinion on the result before the case was even heard, in his capacity as a leading Egyptian diplomat. The terms of reference from the General Assembly who asked for the decision, and the documents they laid before the Court, predetermined the outcome. And as the strong dissent by the American judge and Holocaust survivor Tom Buergenthal pointed out, the Court came to its preposterous conclusion that "the right of legitimate or inherent self-defense is not applicable in the present case" without considering "the deadly terrorist attacks to which Israel is being subjected."

But when the Palestinian delegation laid their new proposal before the drafting committee, what did Obama's team do? Nothing, absolutely nothing. They made no objection at all.

It is impossible to argue that their silence was unintended. Over the course of the week's negotiations the American delegation had objected to a number of specific proposals. They had no trouble declaring "we share reservations on this paragraph," in the context of a demand to criminalize profiling. They "called for the deletion" of provisions undermining free speech like the suggestion to "take firm action against negative stereotyping of religions and defamation of religious personalities, holy books, scriptures and symbols."

Their silence when it came to Israel was, therefore, deafening. It also had the very concrete result of not placing the Palestinian paragraph in dispute, and the diplomatic rule of thumb is that paragraphs that have not been flagged as controversial cannot be reopened for discussion, as negotiations finalize an end product.

The Obama team was not only silent on the new "Israel is racist" language, it also said nothing when faced with Holocaust denial. Negotiators from the European Union suggested on Wednesday a new provision to "condemn without reservation any denial of the Holocaust and urges all states to reject denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full, or in part, or any activities to this end." Iran--whose president is a Holocaust-denier--immediately objected and insisted that the proposal be "bracketed" or put in dispute. The move blocked the adoption of the proposal and ensured another battle over the reality of the Holocaust in April--at these supposedly "anti-racism" meetings. After Iran objected, the chair looked around the room, expecting a response. He said: "Is there any delegation wishing to comment on this new proposal by the European Union? It doesn't seem the case. We move on." U.S. delegates said nothing, even after the prompt.

Again, the American silence must have been deliberate. In marked contrast, after the E.U. objected to a provision calling for limits on free speech, the American delegation had no trouble piping up immediately: "I want to echo the comments from the E.U. This ... call for restrictions is something that my government is not able to accept."

Evidently, a U.S. team bent on legitimizing Durban II believed it would be counter-productive to object vigorously to sections most likely to be noticed by Americans skeptical about participation in the conference. They must have figured that no objection would mean no controversy, which in turn would mean there would be no cause for complaint from U.S. observers. That's one way to buy favors on the international stage, but it sure doesn't forward a stated intention of changing the Conference direction. Nor does it promote the ultimate need to change the anti-Semitic and anti-democratic direction of global human rights policy.

The week's events also revealed that European negotiators have adopted the same strategy at Durban II that they did at Durban I. After the United States and Israel walked out of Durban I on Sept. 4, 2001, it was the European Union that cut the deal trading off a mention of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism for a reference to Palestinians victims of Israeli racism. Likewise, this week the European Union said nothing in response to the Palestinian proposal but pushed the Holocaust reference instead. No matter that discrimination against the Jewish state, and against Jews for supporting the Jewish state, is the major form of anti-Semitism today.

The manipulation of Holocaust remembrance--knowing that Israel is the bulwark of the Jewish people against "never again"--is as cynical as it gets.

European Union delegates confirmed that their silence on the Palestinian proposal was deliberate, commenting off-camera that the references to Israeli racism had already been made in the Durban I Declaration, and the purpose of Durban II is to implement Durban I.

State department officials and U.S. delegates to Durban II's planning committee insist that their minds have not been made up. Friday's State department press release said "the United States has not made a decision about participating in the Durban Review Conference or about whether to engage in future preparations for the Conference, but the work done this week will be important information for taking these decisions." Similarly, The Washington Post reports, quoting an American delegate: "This is a fact-finding mission; it's just a first step ... Negotiations will probably resume in March or early April."

The strategy is painfully obvious--spin out the time for considering whether or not to attend the April 20 conference until the train has left the station and jumping off would cause greater injury to multilateral relations than just taking a seat.

The delay tactics are indefensible. The U.S. administration attended four full days of negotiation. During that time they witnessed the following: the failure to adopt a proposal to act against Holocaust denial, a new proposal to single out Israel, which will now be included in the draft without brackets, broad objections to anything having to do with sexual orientation, vigorous refusal by many states to back down on references to "Islamophobia" (the general allegation of a racist Western plot to discriminate against all Muslims), and numerous attacks on free speech.

This "dialogue" is not promoting rights and freedoms. It is legitimizing a forum for disputing the essence of democracy, handing Holocaust deniers a global platform and manufacturing the means to demonize Israel in the interests of those states bent on the Jewish state's destruction.

But you can be sure that the State Department report now on Obama's desk reads "can't tell yet, don't know, maybe, too early to tell." Why?

If the Obama administration does not immediately announce that its foray into the morass of Durban II has led it to decide this is no place for genuine believers in human rights and freedoms, there is only one conclusion possible. His foreign policy of engagement amounts to a new willingness to sacrifice Israel and an indeterminate number of American values for the sake of a warm welcome from the enemies of freedom.

Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and editor of

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Oatmeal-chocolate chip-peanut butter bars

This one is from the Nestle site...

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/3 cups quick oats (uncooked), divided (I used rolled oats and it's fine)
1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® SWIRLED™ Milk Chocolate & Peanut Butter Morsels, divided (although I just used chocolate chips)

PREHEAT oven to 325° F. Grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, 1/2 cup peanut butter and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in 2 cups oats. Remove 1 1/2 cups mixture and reserve for topping. Spread remaining dough in prepared pan. Carefully spread with remaining peanut butter. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup morsels.

COMBINE reserved topping with remaining oats until crumbly. Stir in remaining morsels. Drop by spoonfuls over filling.

BAKE for 28 to 32 minutes or until top is deep golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

Lemon Delight Bundt Cake

Can't tell you how it tastes, but here's what mine looks like. And yes, I know it's a tube pan and not a bundt pan. That's all I got.

2 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c sugar
3t baking powder
3/4 c orange juice
3/4 c oil
2t lemon extract
4 eggs

1 1/2 c confectioners sugar
1/2 c lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 & grease & flour bundt pan. Combine dry ingredients. Add liquids & beat 3-4 minutes. Bake for 45-50 minutes. When done, insert a skewer every 1". Pour 1/2 the glaze over so it seeps into the holes. When cool, turn it over & pour on the remaining glaze.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Worthy Cause

Table To Table has "Support Israel's South" and it seems like a brilliant idea. Not only can you buy a Shabbat meal for someone in Israel who couldn't otherwise afford it, but the food is bought from various Sderot caterers who are also feeling the pinch since living under missile attack for some reason prevents folks from having their affairs in Sderot (go figure!)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

This one came in under the radar...

My apologies to Ilana-Davita for not getting this up sooner... the latest JPIX is now up... well, it's been up for a couple weeks apparently.

I've now become a fairly regular poster for the JPIX and Kosher Cooking Carnivals and eventually I'd like to host them but with 4 weeks to go until D-Day... that's going to have to wait.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie topped Brownies

It's really simple... make one batch of chocolate chip cookie dough (or buy a mix) and make a double batch of brownies (or buy a mix). Pour the brownies into a pan, drop spoonfuls of cookie dough on top and bake.

Once it's cooled, melt 6 oz. of chocolate with 2 Tablespoons of margarine or butter and when it's completely melted, whisk in a small container of Rich's whipped topping. Pour over the cake and let it set for 24 hours.

For those of you who don't have cookie and brownie recipes...

Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
chocolate chips

Cream shortening, white and brown sugars and vanilla extract. Add egg and beat. Mix in the dry ingredients and finally the chocolate chips.

Fudge Brownies
1/2 cup canola or sunflower oil
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Mix oil, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Blend with egg mixture. Stir in nuts.

Bake in a 9 inch x 13 inch pan at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until brownie begins to pull away from the edges of the pan.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Mystery is Solved

New York City officials have discovered the source of a mysterious maple syrup smell that has enveloped the city (Manhattan in particular) at various times since 2005.

The culprit: a New Jersey facility that processes flavors and fragrances.

After the latest occurrence last month, officials launched a new investigation. It included mapping the time and place of all the odor complaints to the city's 311 hot line.

Experts compared those with wind and atmospheric conditions. Then they checked those against air sampling tests during the periods that New Yorkers reported smelling the odor.

New Jersey officials also helped with the case. Finally, the odor was traced to a Bergen County facility which processes fenugreek seeds.

Given the evidence, I think it's safe to say that the Great Maple Syrup Mystery has finally been solved," said Mayor Bloomberg. "I want to thank the City's environmental protection and emergency workers, as well as their colleagues in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, for their diligence in finding the source of the smell, which was a lot like finding a needle in a haystack. Air samples taken by DEP have confirmed that the odor in New York City was an ester associated with fenugreek seed processing. The Health Department confirmed that the odor does not pose a health risk, but I am pleased to know that our OEM and DEP smelling sleuths got to the bottom of this mystery."

Gothamist has a map of recent syrup smell locations. The New York Times first reported on the smell in an October 2005 article titled "Good Smell Perplexes New Yorkers."

Back in 2005, Mayor Bloomberg said a number of agencies -- the NYPD, the Office of Emergency Management and the Health Department -- had investigated the scent and found nothing toxic or terrorism-related.

Fenugreek... that's hilbe to us Israelis :)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Feeling very pregnant

It is an absolute magnificent day out and I feel guilty for loving it when we so desperately need the rain.

And it's a sin that I'm on the computer and not taking my 21 month old down the street to the park.

But this past week I have been feeling every second of being pregnant and the thought of walking anywhere makes me want to curl up in bed.

So I think when the laundry finishes in the machine, we'll head upstairs and spend some time on the porch.

It's not the playground, but at least we'll be outdoors...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Cross Culture

Israeli dance, to a Miami Boys Choir song... in China.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Something positive

Threads on Imamother often become fodder in blogs, mostly due to the naive, stupid, ridiculous and downright moronic attitudes expressed in posts. I myself will often post about a particularly annoying one in a different blog. Often I'll read a thread and wonder how these women ever manage to find their way out of bed in the morning.

But every now and again, someone will post a thread or pose a question that inspires... and I'm not just talking about the recipes.

Imamother is set up as a multilevel forum. You've got the threads that anyone can see, one doesn't need to be a member. Then there are the sections where one must be signed in in order to read the threads and finally there are 'usergroups', which require permission to join, even once you are a member. One of those user groups is called Life in Israel. And I have to say, for the most part, the threads posted there are thoughtful and the women who post, although we run the gamut Hashkafically and politically, there is very little snarking that goes on and for the most part we all get along... we even have the most real-life meetups I think of the entire board.

A few days ago, a woman posted in the LiI section, asking for a spreadsheet program because she wanted to start budgeting. I recommended GoogleDocs and now the thread is over 40 posts strong and it has inspired several members to follow suit. We've been discussing the pros and cons of Hora'ot Kevah (automatic bill payments) via credit card vs the bank, the difference between a credit card and a debit card (NOT an automatic thing here in Israel) and the monthly government children stipend (which I see now has a thread all its own).

Another thread started is where to grocery shop for the best bargains, yet another is simply how to save at the Makolet, dairy shopping, meat shopping, buying grains...

I just want to say that for all the knocks Imamother gets (and again, I'll admit to being guilty of this), I'm glad to see at least some of us are trying to see beyond what theme we should do for Mishloach Manot or complaining about our cleaning lady and trying to be responsible in what we all know will be a difficult economic time.

I realize that these threads, because they're member and then further membership only, aren't going to be seen by the general public. I just figured it should be mentioned regardless.