Category Archives: Judaism

Israel doesn’t deserve unconditional loyalty

abc.net.au | May 30, 2012

Avigdor Lieberman

Last week, Israel’s far-right foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman visited the UK. His visit was protested by progressive Zionists. Yet he responded with a remarkable declaration:

My expectation from all Jewish communities around the world is that they support any Israeli government. It doesn’t matter if you have a left government or a right government.

Jews are to support the Israeli government: any government. Doesn’t matter what it does, what policies it pursues. Jews should support it.

Former national chairperson of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students and past chairperson of the Australian Zionist Youth Council, Liam Getreu, described this as a “dangerous brand of Zionism”.

The episode, I think, illustrated serious issues facing the world’s diaspora Jewish communities. To what will we be loyal? Universal principles of justice, human rights and equality? Or unthinking, tribal loyalty to the Israel government, regardless of who is in it, and what it does?

These issues have become a matter of great urgency. In October 2010, I wrote an article about the corruption the occupation caused within Green Line Israel. I warned about “an overflowing tide of chauvinist nationalism”. I wrote that Israel’s “colonial rule is corroding its society”.

A startling, and horrifying, illustration of this trend occurred last week.

The Israeli government is made up of a coalition of parties, including Likud, Kadima and Shas. Likud is the party of the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

On May 23, a demonstration was “organised mostly by Likud activists”, according to progressive Israeli journalist Haggai Matar. As reported in Ha’aretz, over a thousand of them gathered “in south Tel Aviv, calling on Israeli authorities to expel illegal migrants”.

“Illegal migrants” is how the liberal Ha’aretz describes African asylum seekers in Israel. There are about 60,000 in Israel, according to the Israeli government.

Likud and Kadima speakers were among those who addressed the crowd. Likud member of Knesset Danny Danon declared:

We must expel the infiltrators from Israel. We should not be afraid to say the words ‘expulsion now’.

Another Likud MK, Miri Regev, said, “The Sudanese were a cancer in our body.”

Matar and a journalist from Ha’aretz were in attendance at the protest. A woman in the angry mob noticed Matar, and declared that he throws stones at soldiers. He denied this, but the crowd got angrier, and a speaker on stage yelled:

Haggai Matar is here, and he and his mother are traitors who should be kicked out of the country.

The two journalists fled for their lives. Others were not quite as fortunate.

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Silence and self-rule: Brooklyn’s widespread Jewish Orthodox child abuse cover-up


Two years ago, Brooklyn rabbi Baruch Lebovits was sentenced to jail for his repeated abuse of a 16-year-old. Photograph: New York Daily News/Getty Images

Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox rabbis claim they are co-operating with authorities over child sex abuse. But victims say they are being persecuted – and that the DA is doing little to help.

Mordechai’s persecution is part of a widespread cover-up of child sexual abuse among Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jews.

guardian.co.uk | Mar 29, 2012

Zoë Blackler in New York

When Mordechai discovered his mentally disabled child was being molested, he reported the crime to the police. A local man was arrested and charged with repeatedly raping the boy in their synagogue’s ritual bath. When news of the arrest got back to their Brooklyn community, the neighbours launched a hate campaign. But the object of their anger wasn’t the alleged perpetrator, Meir Dascalowitz, it was the abused boy’s father.

For the last two years, Mordechai says he’s been hounded by his community. “The minute this guy got arrested I started a new life, a life of hell, terror, threat, you name it.” There were bogus calls to the fire department resulting in unwelcome late night visits, anonymous death threats, banishment from synagogue, even a plot to derail his move to a new apartment. “I lost my friends. I lost my family. Nobody in Williamsburg can talk to me. Nobody means nobody. We are so angry, so broken.”

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Mordechai’s persecution is part of a widespread cover-up of child sexual abuse among Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jews. With echoes of the Catholic priest scandal, for decades rabbis have hushed up child sex crimes and fomented a culture in which victims are further victimised and abusers protected.

After the first claims of a cover-up surfaced in the mid 2000s, the rabbis’ stance was outright denial – not only that crimes were being concealed, but of the very existence of ultra-Orthodox child molesters. In the years since, victim advocates and whistle-blower blogs have forced open the issue. Today, the religious leadership claims to co-operate with law enforcement. The Brooklyn district attorney, Charles Hynes, long vilified by advocates for his inaction, now cares to be seen to be prosecuting – though how enthusiastically is in dispute. And attitudes within the community have shifted marginally.

But the essence of the problem has changed little. Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox enclaves remain close-knit and insular, suspicious of secular authority and contemptuous of the criminal justice system. Religious leaders command strict authority inside their communities and have the external political power to demand a degree of self-rule. Ideal conditions for a cover-up.

Lawyer and advocate Michael Lesher has campaigned for years to break the rabbis’ stronghold and get abusers into court. There is a misapprehension, he says, that every time a child sex crime reaches the media it disgraces the community. “In reality, it gets reported but only as part of the generally muck and mire of grease-blotter journalism.” But when cases are covered up, that really is a scandal. “That is a crime of a different order.”
‘The blood of all those victims is on their hands’

Unlike Mordechai, few victims inside the community will tell their stories publicly. But in recent years, a number of adult survivors, now living outside the religion and no longer bound by its taboos, have spoken out.

Joel Engelman says he was molested at the age of eight by his teacher, Rabbi Avrohom Reichman. Four years ago he sued his former school after it failed to dismiss Reichman. Engelman, by then in his early 20s, had gone to the school to report his abuser and seek redress. The religious leadership investigated, concluded that Reichman was guilty and did nothing, the suit said. Reichman is still teaching there today. (Engelman’s civil suit was dismissed on statute of limitations grounds.)

Luzer Twersky, 26, was abused for three years from the age of nine by his private tutor. It only ended when David Greenfeld – whose father was a respected member of the community ≠ was discovered abusing another boy in a ritual bath, a mikvah. Greenfeld continued teaching until his arrest in 2009 on fresh molestation charges. In January, the case against him collapsed because the victim’s family would not co-operate, the DA’s spokesperson said.

Both men say that when they were growing up – Engelman in Williamsburg, Twersky in Borough Park – the more rampant child molesters were well known to their group of friends.

During research for this article, I heard numerous stories like Twersky’s and Engelman’s. Though the details varied, the dynamics of the cover-up were always the same. Many were relayed secondhand, the victims themselves refused to speak. There was the boy molested by his teacher, a rabbi. When his mother found out, the teacher was temporarily suspended, only to be appointed principal a few years later. There was the childhood friend, condemned for accusing a respected family man, who later committed suicide. The abusive father, who pleaded with rabbis to hush up the crime, which they did, now works with children. And just a few months ago, a 14-year-old boy sent by his rabbi to apologise to his molester for seducing him.

As consistent as the tales of cover up are those of community intimidation, where victims are branded a moser – an informer – excluded from school, spat on in synagogue, their families threatened and harassed by supporters of the accused.

On the occasions the religious leaders have taken action, they’ve turned to their shadow justice system, the religious courts known as the beit din. But lacking investigative powers, forensic expertise or means of enforcement, the beit din are wholly ineffectual in trying molesters. At other times, they’ve shuffled offenders off for “treatment”, typically to unlicensed therapists.

“My story is one of hundreds they’ve covered up,” said one victim who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. “The blood of all those victims is on their hands.”

Of all the horror stories, the most notorious involves Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, for several decades a teacher at Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn and a summer camp counsellor.

In 2006, two adult men publicly accused Kolko of molesting them as children, one in the late 1960s, another in the mid 1980s. In a civil suit, the men claimed that rabbis first learnt Kolko was a serial molester back in the 1980s. At that time, a beit din was convened. But Kolko enjoyed the protection of his school principal, Rabbi Lipa Margulies, whose intimidation of witnesses and concealment of information made victims drop their claims, the complaint said. The religious court proceedings came to nothing.

The men took their stories to the mainstream media and the revelations shook the ultra-Orthodox community. Their civil suit was thrown out on statute of limitations grounds but during the publicity two of Kolko’s current students, boys aged eight and nine, revealed that they too had been abused. Kolko was indicted on felony sexual abuse charges.

Ben Hirsch of victims support group Survivors for Justice was instrumental in getting their cases to court. “The two kids were prepared to take the stand. The families were supportive. Other victims, ranging in age from their 20s to mid 50s, including a lawyer, were prepared to testify that Kolko had molested them as children. There was solid evidence he’d been molesting boys for decades. We’d given the DA well over a dozen names of people willing to co-operate. It was a rock solid case.”

But instead of putting Kolko on trial, the DA gave him a deal. In April 2008, Kolko pled guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment (not a sex crime), was given three years probation, was not required to register as a sex offender, and returned to life as normal in Borough Park.

The DA said the families refused to let their children testify.

Ben Hirsch says that’s untrue. He says the parents were presented with a done deal. When the father of one boy signed a letter agreeing to the plea, he sent it back with another, written in his own words: “My son was ready to go to trial and we feel he would have done an excellent job and I am sorry to hear that [Yehuda] Kolko will not proceed further … I feel justice was not served,” he wrote. And he signed off: “I will end by saying I understand what the district attorney wants from me and I will sign the letter.”

Hirsch and the other advocates were incensed. “We don’t know the back story, but we think the DA was under great pressure from the community and he buckled,” Hirsch says.

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Israeli commander: “Don’t fire on Jews, no matter what happens”

UPI | Jan. 16, 2012

JERUSALEM, West Bank, Jan. 16 (UPI) — An Israeli commander in the occupied West Bank ordered his soldiers not to fire on Jews “no matter what happens,” Ynetnews reported Monday.

The order from the commander in Golani’s 13th Battalion came Thursday, a day after security forces and the Civil Administration evacuated the Mitzpe Avihai outpost, Ynetnews said.

“We’re in for a rocky Saturday, so stay alert,” the unidentified commander told the Golani troops. “In any case, no matter what happens, let the world burn down for all I care, nobody opens fire at Jews! We don’t want a civil war.”

After a raid on Ephraim Brigade base last month in which an officer was slightly injured, former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer had expressed support for shooting at anyone who endangers Israeli soldiers, regardless of religion or citizenship.

An army representative said the commander’s briefing “was held in accordance with a reasonable threat evaluation and in keeping with fire protocol.”

Ynetnews said the commander also apparently told troops to keep gates at the base closed in case Jewish citizens attempt to break in.

Soldiers can use shock and gas grenades and forcefully detain rioters until they’re turned over to police, the army said.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian intelligence officer said Israeli settlers set fire to his car Monday in the West Bank, near Ramallah, Ma’an News Agency reported.

Mohammad Ghannam, the brother of Ramallah’s governor, said the car was parked in front of his house.

Last week, a senior Palestinian Authority security official said, an officer in the northern West Bank was injured when settlers fired on a vehicle and threw stones at cars.

The security commander for the Tulkarem district said a member of his entourage was taken to a hospital.

‘Norway attack suspect had anti-Muslim, pro-Israel views’

jpost.com | Jul 24, 2011

By BEN HARTMAN

“So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists.”

Zionist Freemason Anders Behring Breivik

1,500 page manifesto credited to Breivik, accused of killing spree, lays out worldview including extreme screed of Islamophobia, far-right Zionism.
Talkbacks (132)

Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who killed nearly 100 people in a combined terror attack Friday that included car bombings in Oslo and a shooting rampage at an island summer camp, held fiercely anti-Islamic and pro-Israel views, according to a 1,500 page manifesto he uploaded before his killing spree Friday.

In the 1,500-page tome, which mentions Israel 359 times and “Jews” 324 times, Breivik lays out his worldview, which includes an extreme, bizarre and rambling screed of Islamophobia, far-right Zionism and venomous attacks on Marxism and multi-culturalism.

In one passage, he lashes out at the Western media, which he accuses of unfairly focusing on the wrongdoing of Jews.

“Western Journalists again and again systematically ignore serious Muslim attacks and rather focus on the Jews,” he wrote.

Breivik also took a jab at leftwing Jews.

“Jews that support multi-culturalism today are as much of a threat to Israel and Zionism as they are to us,” he continued.

“So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural Marxists/multiculturalists.”

He also stated that Israel is the homeland for Jews largely due to the persecution suffered by Jews at the hands of Muslims, saying “if one acknowledges that Islam has always oppressed the Jews, one accepts that Israel was a necessary refuge for the Jews fleeing not only the European, but also the Islamic variety of anti- Judaism.”

The manifesto also serves as a call-to-arms, of sorts, in which Breivik lays out his reasons for launching the attack, focusing on what he described as the importance of nationalism and the growing scourge of Islam in Europe.

Entitled “2083 – A European Declaration of Independence,” the document states: “as we all know, the root of Europe’s problems is the lack of cultural self-confidence [nationalism] …

this irrational fear of nationalistic doctrines is preventing us from stopping our own national/ cultural suicide as the Islamic colonization is increasing annually …You cannot defeat Islamization or halt/reverse the Islamic colonization of Western Europe without first removing the political doctrines manifested through multiculturalism/ cultural Marxism.”

Breivik did, however, note that he doesn’t hate Muslims in any fashion and that “I have had several Muslim friends over the years, some of which I still respect.”

He also expressed his sympathy for the people of Serbia, and blasted Norway’s support of the 1999 NATO-bombing campaign on Serbia that stopped the expulsion of Kosovar Albanians by Serbian forces.

In addition, he expressed his disgust at his government’s awarding of “the Nobel peace prize to an Islamic terrorist [Arafat] and appeasers of Islam.”

Breivik sneers at those who would spare the lives of women, and in an especially chilling instruction writes, “once you decide to strike, it is better to kill too many than not enough, or you risk reducing the desired ideological impact of the strike. Explain what you have done [in an announcement distributed prior to operation] and make certain that everyone understands that we, the free peoples of Europe, are going to strike again and again.”

Norway killer espoused Zionist philosophy

JTA | July 24, 2011

Zionist Freemason Anders Behring Breivik

BERLIN (JTA) — The confessed perpetrator in the attack in Norway that killed as many as 98 people espoused a right-wing philosophy against Islam that also purports to be pro-Zionist.

Anders Behring Breivik is charged with detonating a car bomb outside Oslo’s government headquarters, which houses the office of Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, and of shooting and killing at least 85 mostly young people at a political summer camp on nearby Utoya Island. The July 22 massacre reportedly was the the worst attack in Norway since the end of World War II.

In numerous online postings, including a manifesto published on the day of the attacks, Breivik promoted the Vienna School or Crusader Nationalism philosophy, a mishmash of anti-modern principles that also calls for “the deportation of all Muslims from Europe” as well as from “the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

According to the manifesto, titled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence” and published under the pseudonym Andrew Berwick, the Vienna School supports “pro-Zionism/Israeli nationalism.”

Breivik listed numerous European Freedom Parties and neo-Nazi parties as potential allies because of their anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim stance, and mentioned that right-wing populists like Dutch politician Geert Wilders “have to condemn us at this point which is fine. It is after all essential that they protect their reputational shields.”

Among the potential allies he listed for Germany were the three largest neo-Nazi parties — the National Democratic Party, Deutsche Volksunion and Republikaner. In Holland, Wilders’ Freedom Party topped the list, and the British National Party topped a long list of potential supporters in the United Kingdom.

European right-populist parties increasingly have been waving the flag of friendship with Israel, as well as expressing vehement opposition to Europe’s multicultural society.

Last month, after it emerged that German-Swedish far-right politician Patrik Brinkmann had met in Berlin with Israeli Likud Party lawmaker Ayoub Kara, who is deputy minister for development of the Negev and Galilee, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding that Kara be prevented from making further trips abroad. According to Ynet, Lieberman accused Kara of meeting with neo-Nazis and causing damage to Israel’s image. Brinkman said he had reached out to Israeli rightists hoping to build a coalition against Islam.

In postings on the website Document.no that appear to be by Breivik, the poster pondered whether one could “accept the moderate Nazis as long as they distance themselves” from the extermination of the Jews.

The words of right-wing populist politicians “are dangerous, it allows them to radicalize,” Hajo Funke, an expert on right-wing extremism in Europe and the Holocaust at Touro College Berlin and the Free University Berlin, told JTA in a phone interview.

“It is a tactical viewpoint of the rising populist right-wing to use this kind of identification, or forced identification with Israel, to be accepted,” he said. “They say, ‘Our enemies are not any more the Jew … the real enemy as you can see all over the world is Islam, and not only Islam, but the Islamic person.’ This is the new, great danger.”

Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told JTA that “in the recent years we have witnessed the phenomenon of radical rightists proclaiming their sympathy for Jews and their support for Israel, also in Germany,” adding that “In many cases, it is clear that this is no more than a PR maneuver to create an air of respectability.”

“Whatever ‘support’ for Israel Anders Behring Breivik may have had in his abominable mind, it is not any kind of support we want,” Kramer said.

One day after the attack, members of Norway’s small Jewish community gathered at the Synagogue of Oslo to pray for the survivors.

“We also pray that the authorities will be less naive on security issues and threats,” businessman Erwin Kohn, newly elected head of the 750-member Jewish community, said in a telephone interview from Oslo.

Kohn added that it appeared that no one in the Jewish community was injured or killed in the attack, but “we are affected just the same as the Norwegian society in general.”

On the reports about Breivik’s online postings, he offered his concerns.

“You have many others who are in the same ballpark, being scared of multiculturalism,” Kohn said, adding that Breivik’s alleged pro-Zionism is a sham. “We don’t need such friends, we don’t need such friends.”

Serge Cwajgenbaum, secretary general of the European Jewish Congress, in a call from France said that Breivik “is not pro-Israel — he is anti-Muslim.

“It is a national catastrophe,” he said, “and we share the sadness of the sorrow of the families.”

German journalist Ulrich Sahm reported on the pro-Israel Israelnetz.com website that many of the youths who survived the massacre said they thought the killer, dressed as a police officer, was simulating Israeli crimes against Palestinians in the occupied territories. They believed that “the cruelty of the Israeli occupation” was being demonstrated to them, Sahm wrote.

Meanwhile, Israel on Saturday night condemned the attacks in Oslo.

“Nothing at all can justify such wanton violence, and we condemn this brutal action with the utmost gravity,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We stand in solidarity with the people and government of Norway in this hour of trial, and trust Norwegian authorities to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous crime.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres called the king of Norway, Harald V, to express condolences. “Your country is a symbol of peace and freedom. In Israel we followed the events over the weekend in Norway and the attack on innocent civilians broke our hearts. It is a painful tragedy that touches every human being. We send our condolences to the families that lost their loved ones and a speedy recovery to the wounded. Israel is willing to assist in whatever is needed,” Peres said, according to his office.

The king thanked Peres for his phone call and for the expression of Israeli solidarity.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited Norway last week and was told that Oslo will recognize Palestine, but not immediately.

While much attention in Norway has been focused on the threat of Muslim extremism, the threat from the far right was generally considered to have abated.

Kohn noted that anti-Semitism in the country remains a serious problem. A recent study of 7,000 Norwegian teens showed that more than half of youth of all backgrounds, whether Christian or Muslim, use the word “Jew” as an expletive.

Anecdotally, Kohn said, “one-third of the Jewish kids in our schools have experienced harassment … but not from one specific group.”

Hitler ‘had Jewish and African roots’, DNA tests show

Adolf Hitler may have had Jewish and African roots, DNA tests have shown

Adolf Hitler is likely to have had Jewish and African roots, DNA tests have shown.

Telegraph | Aug 24, 2010

By Heidi Blake

Saliva samples taken from 39 relatives of the Nazi leader show he may have had biological links to the “subhuman” races that he tried to exterminate during the Holocaust.

Jean-Paul Mulders, a Belgian journalist, and Marc Vermeeren, a historian, tracked down the Fuhrer’s relatives, including an Austrian farmer who was his cousin, earlier this year.

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A chromosome called Haplogroup E1b1b1 which showed up in their samples is rare in Western Europe and is most commonly found in the Berbers of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, as well as among Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews.

“One can from this postulate that Hitler was related to people whom he despised,” Mr Mulders wrote in the Belgian magazine, Knack.

Haplogroup E1b1b1, which accounts for approximately 18 to 20 per cent of Ashkenazi and 8.6 per cent to 30 per cent of Sephardic Y-chromosomes, appears to be one of the major founding lineages of the Jewish population.

Knack, which published the findings, says the DNA was tested under stringent laboratory conditions.

“This is a surprising result,” said Ronny Decorte, a genetic specialist at the Catholic University of Leuven.

“The affair is fascinating if one compares it with the conception of the world of the Nazis, in which race and blood was central.

“Hitler’s concern over his descent was not unjustified. He was apparently not “pure” or ‘Ayran’.”

It is not the first time that historians have suggested Hitler had Jewish ancestry.

His father, Alois, is thought to have been the illegitimate offspring of a maid called Maria Schickelgruber and a 19-year-old Jewish man called Frankenberger.

Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth sequel program recruits world religions for holy war on changing climate

goreAl Gore. Photograph by Graeme Robertson

“I’ve done a Christian [-based] training program; I have a Muslim training program and a Jewish training program coming up, also a Hindu program coming up. I trained 200 Christian ministers and lay leaders here in Nashville in a version of the slide show that is filled with scriptural references. It’s probably my favourite version, but I don’t use it very often because it can come off as proselytising.”

Nobel winner adapts fact-based message to reach those who believe they have a moral duty to protect the planet in Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis

guardian.co.uk | Nov 2, 2009

Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth sequel stresses spiritual argument on climate

by Suzanne Goldenberg

Al’s Gore’s much-anticipated sequel to An Inconvenent Truth is published today, with an admission that facts alone will not persuade Americans to act on global warming and that appealing to their spiritual side is the way forward.

In his latest book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, the man who won a Nobel prize in 2007 for his touring slideshow on disappearing polar ice and other consequences of climate change, concludes: “Simply laying out the facts won’t work.”

Instead, Gore tells Newsweek magazine in a pre-publication interview, that he has been adapting his fact-based message – now put out by hundreds of volunteers – to appeal to those who believe there is a moral or religious duty to protect the planet.

“I’ve done a Christian [-based] training program; I have a Muslim training program and a Jewish training program coming up, also a Hindu program coming up. I trained 200 Christian ministers and lay leaders here in Nashville in a version of the slide show that is filled with scriptural references. It’s probably my favourite version, but I don’t use it very often because it can come off as proselytising,” Gore tells Newsweek.

Gore’s book arrives at a time of intense international scrutiny of America’s moves on the environment ahead of an international meeting on global warming at Copenhagen, now just more than a month away.

It draws on the scholarly approach Gore developed for Inconvenient Truth. Since 2007, the former vice-president has been calling experts together from fields ranging from agriculture to neuroscience to discuss possible solutions to climate change.

The book draws on 30 such “solutions summits”, as well as Gore’s countless telephone conversations with scientists at America’s best institutions. According to the book’s press release, “Among the most unique approaches Gore takes in the book is showing readers how our own minds can be an impediment to change.”

New polling last month showed a steep decline in the numbers of Americans who share Gore’s sense of urgency in acting on climate change.

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The book aims to reach those Americans by familiarising readers with emerging alternative energy sources, such as geothermal, biomass and wind power, as well as the possibilities of making cleaner coal power plants, and developing a more efficient and responsive “smart” electrical grid.

Gore also explores how deforestation, soil erosion, and the rising world population are multiplying the effects of rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Much of the material was developed through the series of brainstorming sessions organised by Gore. Since 2007, the former vice-president has been calling experts together to discuss possible solutions to climate change. He has also held countless telephone conversations with scientists at America’s best institutions.

“He is one of the only politicians that takes the time to actually talk to scientists who are producing the cutting-edge stuff and he comes in with questions. He doesn’t ask us how our results impinge on a particular policy he actually asks about science,” said Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist at Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who spoke to Gore along with colleagues four or five times for the book. “Nobody that we have dealt with has ever taken as much time to understand the subtlety of the science and all the different complications and what it all means as Al Gore.”

Those conversations led Gore to politically inconvenient conclusions in this new book. In his conversations with Schmidt and other colleagues at the beginning of the year, Gore explored new studies – published only last week – that show methane and black carbon or soot had a far greater impact on global warming than previously thought. Carbon dioxide – while the focus of the politics of climate change – produces around 40% of the actual warming.

Gore acknowledged to Newsweek that the findings could complicate efforts to build a political consensus around the need to limit carbon emissions.

“Over the years I have been among those who focused most of all on CO2, and I think that’s still justified,” he told the magazine. “But a comprehensive plan to solve the climate crisis has to widen the focus to encompass strategies for all” of the greenhouse culprits identified in the Nasa study.

The former vice-president has been working behind the scenes to try to nudge the White House and Congress to move forward on a 920-page proposed law to cut America’s greenhouse gas emissions and encourage its use of clean energy sources like solar and wind power.

On Saturday, he told the German newspaper, Der Spiegel, he was “almost certain” Obama would attend the negotiations. The White House has so far refused to make a commitment.

But Gore has also been confronted with almost daily fresh reminders of the difficulties of prodding Americans to action.

The proposed legislation has set off a ferocious debate about the costs of dealing with climate change – with conservative Democrats and Republicans saying reducing America’s use of oil will deepen unemployment and hurt average American families.

Republicans in the Senate have threatened to boycott a session today that had been called to move forward a draft of a 920-page proposed law to deal with climate change.

Progress on the bill is seen as crucial to getting a binding deal at Copenhagen. Barbara Boxer, the chair of the Senate’s environment and public works committee, said yesterday she was ready to move ahead without any Republican participation.

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