December 29, 2006

The Death of Idealism

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Jewish Press December 22, 2006

The failure of the noble American effort in Iraq marks the death of modern political idealism. Those of us who supported the war dared believe that our Arab brothers and sisters might finally have a better alternative to benevolent despotism, that Israel might finally have a long-term future in the Middle East based on the spread of human liberty and democracy, and that human nature might finally triumph in its eternal desire to live and breathe free. Sadly, all those conclusions have turned out to be uninformed wishful thinking. Now we’re back to most people believing that Arabs are too primitive for democracy Israel is the source of all conflict in the Middle East, and that the idea that people want to be free is an ignorant dream of discredited neocons.

I spend most of my time around people who hate President Bush - a legacy I assume, of my many years at Oxford and my work in the TV industry both of which are very liberal. Most of them gloated at Bush’s thumping in the mid-term elections. I explained to them that we had all lost, not just the Republicans.

Does anyone believe that America, or any other country for that matter, is going to even consider invading another autocracy whose dictator is murdering his people? With the failure of the Bush Doctrine, we are back to Clintonism - the practice of countries standing by and watching as genocide after genocide decimates innocent people. Three genocides occurred while President Clinton was in office — in Srebrenica, in Kosovo, and in Rwanda. When it came to the latter, not only would the United States not send troops to end a slaughter that was killing four hundred Africans every hour, but Clinton refused to have a single meeting with his senior staff about the killings through its three-month duration. Only in Kosovo was he finally pressured to act.

This is not to say that Clinton is an uncaring man, only that he did not wish for America to get involved in messy affairs from which it could not disentangle itself. Well, after Iraq you’re going to see this kind of thinking become so entrenched among the West’s political leadership that I shudder for the world’s future victims.

And the biggest victim of all is going to be Israel. Just wait for the kind of pressure that Israel is going to face in the push to fix Iraq. How is it that Shi’a and Sunnis are killing each other in Baghdad, but James Baker and the Iraq Study Group highlight the Israeli- Palestinian conflict as one of the points that will bring peace in Iraq? Is there any connection? Shi’a and Sunni have been killing each other for centuries. Yet even “friends” of Israel, like King Abdullah of Jordan, are telling President Bush that the only way to fix Iraq is to pressure Israel. So once again, the pressure will be taken off Arab dictators to democratize, and placed instead on Israel to give up what little land it has left.
I am amazed that my liberal friends are cheering Bush’s failure. Do they not realize that the failure of the war in Iraq has set back the cause of Arab democracy by fifty years, at least? Do they really want to join the ranks of Egypt’s Mubarak, the House of Saud, Bashir Al Assad, and “Adolph” Ahmadinejad of Iran with their chorus of “I told you so”?

Our failure has emboldened all of these cruel autocrats. Do we really want to gloat with them? And how did we get here? It hurts me to say it, but the failure must be placed squarely on the shoulders of President Bush. I take no pleasure in criticizing a really good man when he is down, and President Bush is the ultimate idealist who ought to be supported rather than criticized. I still remember listening to his incredible second inaugural speech and his stirring words about freedom and democracy.

But Bush knew what the stakes in Iraq were. He said it a thousand times. If Iraq succeeded then this would prove the ultimate victory of idealism over pragmatism in our time. A victory in Iraq would have been the deathblow to other cruel dictators like Assad and Ahmadinejad. And yet here we are, just a few years later with James Baker and Co. pushing Bush to involve these abusers of human rights in the effort to repair Iraq.

Given what the stakes were, why did Bush fight the war on the cheap? Why did we not go in with overwhelming force? If we sent 500,000 troops to fight Saddam in the first Gulf War which did not involve an occupation, why did we send a fifth of that when we had to rebuild an entire country? I do not know the answer to these questions. Less so do I know how Iraq can be fixed.

What I do know is that this is a difficult time to be an idealist which is why I turn back as my refuge to religion, with its eternal belief that man is created in God’s image; that he has no master other than the Creator, that he is born, and inwardly yearns, to be free; that even if he is unaware of that fact today, he will awaken to it tomorrow; and that one day, as the prophet Isaiah promised, the wolf will lie down the lamb.

Our Arab brethren, who today prey on each other just as they prey on Israel, will one day return to their own religious idealism and choose to live in peace with their neighbors. In times like these we have to remember that there have always been times like these. And it is idealism rather than pragmatism — belief in the future rather than reconciliation to the past — that has gotten us through the dark times and brought us to the light.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the host of TLC’s “Shalom in the Home” and the author of seventeen books, most recently “Parenting with Fire: Lighting Up the Family with Passion and Inspiration” (Penguin).

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2006

"Provisional Palestinian State" Huh?

By Jerome S. Kaufman
December 26, 2006

Evidently the newspaper, the Forward, is cooperating with the American State Department and the recently demolished Bush Administration in sending up a trial balloon article written by Nathan Guttman in the December 22, 2006 paper. The article presents the possible formation of a “Provisional Palestinian State!”

In utter disbelief, I read in the article that such an idea has been “kicked around” by the American State Department for several weeks. But, why should I be surprised? Has not the American State Department opposed the creation of a Jewish State, attempted to weaken its influence and power, hindered its development and obstructed its ability to defend itself since its rebirth in 1948? Was this trial balloon not just an extension of the immediately discredited Baker Iraq Study Group? Is this not just another shot by the Let’s Get Rid of Israel Study Group?

Israel, the United States and the immediate world have been unhappy with the outcome of the January 2006 Palestinian election. The relatively moderate, and let us use that phrase advisedly, Fatah party, was virtually destroyed by the Palestinian electorate in their January 2006 election. The results - Fatah is now in a death struggle with Hamas for survival or more accurately, is now in its death throes. The newly anointed political party, (aka terrorist organization), Hamas badly defeated Fatah in an open and ostensibly legitimate election. The vote gave Hamas 74 seats in the Palestinian parliament while the 40-year-old Fatah party with Mahmoud Abbas, the “moderate” Holocaust denier and long-time Yasir Arafat second in command, received only 45 seats.

Hamas did allow Abbas to remain as President despite the election but only because they had not a clue as to how to run a government themselves - not that Abbas does either. Palestinian governance under Arafat, Abbas and the like has always consisted of simply extorting money out of an insane Israel and a naïve frightened West. These Palestinian “leaders” then give all the Fatah Arafat/Abbas henchman a made-up job and a “salary” of graft to temporarily buy their loyalty - at least until the next paycheck. Those further up the hierarchy of graft also receive government contracts for public works programs that have been designated as such by the donors to benefit the general population. Of course, these funds never see the light of day - more often ending up in personal Swiss Bank accounts. Now that the graft money from Israel and the West has stopped, the phony jobs have disappeared and the whole system has deservedly collapsed.

But, instead of allowing events to take their natural course and allowing the Palestinian electorate and the warring factions to make their own decision and thus allow the true colors of the conflict to present themselves, the misguided State Department, the Bush Administration and the frightened, dutiful Israelis are again getting in the way. And, as usual, they are backing the wrong horse. Abbas and Fatah were the ones resoundingly defeated in the last election and bearing gargantuan interference from the US, will be defeated even worse this next time.

Nevertheless, the Bush Administration is trying to get $100 million dollars released by the Congress to aid Abbas while the destructively inept and totally unprincipled Ehud Olmert is about to do the same thing - coercing the Knesset to release another 100 million in PA tax collected dollars to shore up the rejected Abbas. Again the United States and Israel are interfering with the Palestinian electorate because they cannot handle the truth. The Palestinians hate our guts and are delighted to elect Hamas, a party dedicated to destroying the little Satan Israel first and then doing the very same to the Great Satan, us, as soon as Allah presents that glorious day.

As far as Israel is concerned, the trial balloon quotes an unidentified “diplomatic official” (how convenient a news source!) who rejects Israeli leaders’ demand that the PA renounce terror and dismantle their terror infrastructure before any peace overtures are considered. How unreasonable and inconsiderate! The official says these demands are no longer relevant since it is clear that there is no Palestinian leader who can deliver on the issue of fighting terror! And that is the reason the Israelis should go along with a “Provisional Palestinian State.” Could you vomit?

Then, the final indecent, preposterous proposal for Israeli acquiescence: Another un-identified “diplomatic source” in the Forward article said “last week that the most significant advantage the plan has is that it would allow President GW Bush to achieve his goal of a two-state solution within a reasonable time frame.” So, Israel is to lie down and die to improve upon GW’s historical legacy ala the Bill Clinton/Ehud Barak suicidal plan or allow GW to join the completely overrated achievements of the pathetic anti-Semite, Jimmy Carter at Camp David.

Hopefully, the Israelis will quickly find a Prime Minister - certainly not Ehud Olmert - that will have the brains and courage needed by both Israel and the United States to tell the originators of this latest “plan” exactly where to put it.

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December 25, 2006

In Praise of Christian Zionists

(And some revolutionary ideas) jsk

By Michael Freund
The Jerusalem Post, December 22, 2006

They number in the millions and wield increasing power and influence across the United States. From year to year their voice grows stronger and more resolute, as their role in shaping policy, and the future of American society continues to expand. Guided by faith, they love Israel passionately and pray for her well-being, rejoicing in her successes and grieving over her setbacks. They are America's Bible-believing Christians, and it is time for Israel to reach out to them in a far more sophisticated and comprehensive manner.

A great deal has already been written about the close ties that have developed between the two, as Israeli officials have at last begun to appreciate the depth and feeling of American evangelical support for the Jewish state. Indeed, what was once unthinkable has now become routine, as leading Christian pastors and Israeli government representatives regularly confer with one another, exchanging ideas and views on the principal issues of the day.

But in far too many instances, Israel's attitude toward evangelicals has been short-sighted and ill-advised, with the relationship often focused on soliciting dollars rather than devotion. And that has got to change, because far greater things are at stake here than just boosting revenues from tourism. For as strong and robust as the American Jewish community might be, it cannot and will not last forever, as recent demographic trends make clear. That leaves evangelical Christians as the best hope for ensuring that bedrock US support for Israel remains firm and unwavering in the decades to come. In other words, thank God for Christian Zionists. Like it or not, the future of the relationship between Israel and the US might very well hinge far less on America's Jews than on its Christians.

By all accounts, evangelical Christians are a force to be reckoned with. As the Independent put it the other day (London, December 19): "To say the United States is a religious country is an understatement. According to polls, an estimated 47 per cent of American adults claim to be 'born-again' or evangelical." Even if the figure is an overstatement, it still means there are tens of millions of Americans who identify themselves as evangelical. And this translates into an enormous wellspring of support for Israel, as an August 2006 study by the Pew Research Center revealed. According to the report's findings, "Seven-in-ten white evangelicals (69%) believe God gave Israel to the Jewish people and a solid majority (59%) believes that Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy."

Not surprisingly, the study found that "those who believe that God gave Israel to the Jews and that the State of Israel fulfills biblical prophecy are much more likely than others to sympathize with Israel in its dispute with the Palestinians." No wonder so many evangelicals have taken to calling themselves "Christian Zionists." Their sympathy and concern for Israel is readily apparent. I see it in the e-mails I receive regularly from evangelical Christians in the US in response to my columns in The Jerusalem Post. They are sincere and caring, and full of love and concern for Israel and its plight.

Sure, there are some who would like to convert Jews, and they make little or no attempt to hide their agenda. But the vast majority simply wish to bless Israel because that is what they truly believe God wants them to do. AND IT IS this genuine and heartfelt affection that contains within it the potential to forge a historic alliance, one that could help heal some of the painful wounds of the past even as it paves the way for a close and meaningful partnership in the future.

By adopting a few simple but significant steps, Israel can lay the groundwork for ensuring that the bond with US Christians continues to deepen.

· First, Israel should appoint a roving ambassador tasked with responsibility for maintaining relations with Christians in America. This should not be just an honorary title, nor should it go to one of the usual organizational fund-raisers or foreign service hacks. Instead, the government should appoint a person of faith, one who can communicate with evangelicals in terms they both understand and appreciate.
· Second, Israel should reach out to Christian leaders and their communities, and initiate the establishment of "prayer battalions" in churches across the United States. Like rapid-deployment forces used by the military, these battalions could be mobilized at a moment's notice to pray for specific issues, such as the return of Israel's missing soldiers or the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Such an undertaking would have nothing to do with asking for funds, but everything to do with tapping into the vast reservoirs of faith and belief that underscore Christian backing for the Jewish state. And you can be sure that if a person is moved to pray for Israel, chances are that his sense of affinity will only continue to grow. Other steps that Israel could take to reinforce US Christian support might include organizing an annual conference for religious and lay leaders in Jerusalem, as well as helping them to develop the equivalent of a birthright-Israel program for young churchgoers which would serve to reinforce their connection with the land of the Bible.

Christian support for Israel is broad, profound and deep. If cultivated properly, it can blossom into a lasting friendship of historical, political and diplomatic significance. And with American Jewry steadily shrinking in size, nothing could be more pressing or more vital.

The writer served as Deputy Director of Communications in the Prime Minister's Office under former premier Binyamin Netanyahu.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 03:57 AM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2006

Israel's Third Enemy

BY DANIEL PIPES
New York Sun, December 19, 2006

After nearly 60 years on the sidelines, Israel's third and final enemy may be joining the battle.

1. Foreign states are Israel's enemy no.1. With the declaration of Israeli independence in May 1948, five foreign armed forces invaded Israel. All the major wars that followed — 1956, 1967, 1970, and 1973 — involved Israelis at war with neighboring armies, air forces, and navies. Today, the greatest threat comes from weapons of mass destruction in Iran and Syria. Egypt increasingly presents a conventional arms danger.

2. External Palestinian Arabs are enemy no. 2. Eclipsed for two decades after 1948, they moved to center stage with Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization. The 1982 Lebanon war and the 1993 Oslo accords confirmed their centrality. External Palestinian Arabs remain active and menacing today, what with terrorism, missiles landing on Sderot, and a global public relations campaign of rejectionism.

3. The Muslim citizens of Israel, (aka Israeli Arabs), constitute enemy no. 3.
(But I focus on Muslims, not Arabs, because Arabic-speaking Christians and Druze are generally less hostile.) Israeli Muslims began inconsequentially; in 1949, they constituted a population of 111,000 and 9% of Israel's population. They then multiplied tenfold, to 1,141,000 in 2005, 16% of the population. Beyond numbers, they took full advantage of Israel's open, modern society to evolve from a small, docile, and leaderless population into a robust, assertive community whose leaders include a Supreme Court justice, Salim Joubran; an ambassador, Ali Yahya; members of parliament; academics; and entrepreneurs.

This ascent, along with other factors — enemies no. 1 and 2 at war with Israel, increased ties to the West Bank, the surge of radical Islam, the Lebanon war in mid-2006 — emboldened Muslims to reject the Israeli identity and turn against the state. Their blatant celebration of Israel's worst enemies is evidence of this, as is growing Muslim-on-Jewish violence within Israel. This month alone, Muslims pillaged a Jewish religious school in Acre and nearly murdered a Jezreel Valley farmer. A teenage boy was arrested for planning a suicide attack on a Nazareth hotel.

This hostility has been codified in an impressively crafted document that was published in early December, "The Future Vision of Palestinian Arabs in Israel." The extremism of the document, issued by the Mossawa Center in Haifa — which is partially funded by American Jews ! — and endorsed by many establishment figures, may well mark a turning point for Israeli Muslims. The paper rejects the Jewish nature of Israel, insisting that the country become a bi-national state in which Palestinian Arab culture and power enjoy complete equality.

The document's notion of a "joint homeland" means Jewish and Arab sectors that run their own affairs and have the right of veto over certain of the other's decisions. "Future Vision" demands changing the flag and anthem, canceling the 1950 Law of Return that automatically grants Israeli citizenship to any Jew, and elevating Arabic to be the equal of Hebrew. It seeks separate Arab representation in international forums. Most profoundly, the study would terminate the Zionist achievement of a sovereign Jewish state.

Unsurprisingly, Jewish Israelis reacted negatively. In Maariv, Dan Margalit dismissed Israeli Arabs as "impossible." In Ha'aretz, Avraham Tal interpreted the outrageous demands as intentionally continuing the conflict, even should Israel's external conflicts be settled. The deputy prime minister of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman, implicitly rejected the document's very premises. "What is the logic," he asked The New York Sun, of creating 1½ countries for Palestinians (an allusion to the Palestinian Authority becoming a full-fledged state) and "a half country for the Jewish people?"

Mr. Lieberman wants to restrict Israeli citizenship to those willing to sign a statement of loyalty to the Israeli flag and anthem, and those who are prepared to do military service or its equivalent. Those who refuse to sign — whether Muslim, far-leftist, black-hat, or other — may remain in place as permanent residents, with all the benefits of Israeli residence, even voting and running for local office, a privilege non-citizen Arab residents of Jerusalem currently enjoy. But they would be excluded from voting in national elections or being elected to national office.

The diametrically opposed proposals of "Future Vision" and Mr. Lieberman are opening bids in a long negotiating process that usefully focus attention on a topic too long sidelined. Three brutally simple choices face Israelis: Jewish Israelis give up Zionism; Muslim Israelis accept Zionism; or Muslim Israelis don't remain Israeli for long. The sooner Israelis resolve this matter, the better.

Mr. Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and author of "Miniatures" (Transaction Publishers).

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 01:44 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2006

Chanukah, 2006 - Mattathias, his son Judah and the Macabees take on Ehud Olmert and the Hellenists

By STEVE K. WALZ
The Jewish Press December 15, 2006

(Mattathias was a Jewish high priest depicted in the Books of the Maccabees, and the father of the Judah Maccabee, the leader of the Maccabees. In 170 BC, when asked by a Seleucid Greek government representative under King Antiochus IV to offer sacrifice to the Greek Gods, he not only refused to do so, but slew with his own hand the Jew who had stepped forward to do so. He then attacked the government official that required the act. Upon the edict for his arrest, he took refuge in the wilderness of Judea with his five sons, and called upon all Jews to follow him. This was the first step in the rebellion, the result of which was Jewish independence, which had not been enjoyed for 400 years. The events of the war of the Maccabees form the basis for the holiday of Hanukkah, which is celebrated by Jews on the 25th of Kislev (on the Hebrew calendar, corresponding to Mid-November to Late-December on the Gregorian Calendar).

What if Mattityahu and his legion of “politically incorrect” followers in Modiin, (Modi'in is midway between Israel's capital Jerusalem and its second-largest city Tel Aviv, a brand new town now being built near the site of ancient Modi'in, which was home to the Maccabees of Chanukah fame) openly defied the current Israeli government in Jerusalem and called for an immediate end to Jerusalem’s “Hellenistic” policies? While we no longer have a Temple to cleanse in Jerusalem, the Jewish people are still hostage to the same Hellenistic policies of appeasement that caused the Temple’s defilement and spurred Mattityahu to plant the seeds of a counter-revolution.

Take a long, hard look at what is going on around us. The Jews of North America might enjoy political and religious freedom but American culture, like “enlightened,” Assyrian-Greek culture, has eaten away at the core of Judaism. Over 50 percent of American Jewry has inter-married. The Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism have not only failed to hold on to their “faithful,” but are trying anything and everything to justify their waning existence by granting permission to hedonistic lifestyles that are no different than what Hellenistic Jews practiced 2,100 years ago.

In the Holy Land of all places, many Israeli Jews are allergic to all religious streams, preferring to call themselves secular. The so-called secular establishment that has run the country since the days of Prime Minister David Ben Gurion has created a situation where politically correct multi-culturalism takes precedent over both physical and spiritual attachment to the Biblical Land of Israel. Hellenistic Judaism is so deeply rooted in Israeli society that Yuli Tamir the government’s “enlightened” minister of education, wants to re-edit textbooks so that students can learn about the Jewish state in its 1949 format sans the miraculous victories of 1967 when biblical territories such as Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights were liberated by Jewish forces. Israel’s current prime minister, Ehud Olmert, whose wife and children have long been associated with movements that advocate appeasement with the enemies of the Jewish people, and who publicly flaunt decadent Hellenistic lifestyles, actually approved Mrs. Tamir’s new curriculum.

Ten years ago, contemporary Hellenists even took control of Modiin, under the guise of a Shinui faction called Am Hofshi (Free Nation). However, when waves of new Shabbos observant immigrants from North America, England, France and Argentina started arriving in Modiin five years ago, they were able to change the political and religious balance in the new the rendering the secularists obsolete. Think about it. Contemporary Modiin is but 10 years old. In the span of five years, the very place where Mattityahu spawned the revolution that eliminated Jewish Hellenism in Jerusalem has undergone a miraculous transformation.

The influence that religious Jews have had upon their non-religious neighbors in Modiin was accomplished without an iota of coercion. Many non-religious parents fed up with the violence in local public schools have started to send their children to religious kindergartens and schools that feature Jewish tradition. More and more ’teenage boys with color-streaked hair and jeans can be seen taking their way to shule on Friday evenings. No one makes a fuss about their appearance. The rabbis and congregants are just happy that they are in shule and not a club in Tel Aviv. Mattityahu and his brave band of Maccabees, who are buried nearby, would surely be proud of this quiet revolution.

Thus it is possible to foment a revolution that would overthrow the contemporary Hellenists who nearly spilled the blood of their brothers when they forced G-d-fearing Jews from their homes in Gaza and Samaria. The end result did not result in peace. Just as it was 2,100 years ago, appeasement led Israel’s enemies to believe that the Jewish people could be vanquished, physically and spiritually. It is imperative that Diaspora and Israeli Jews kindle a new revolution that will eradicate the mentality of Hellenistic defeatism in contemporary Israel. If the Jewish people are willing to follow Mattityahu’s blueprint for revolution, there can be no doubt that Israel can vanquish its enemies and restore the passion for Judaism in Jerusalem.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:09 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2006

A Fascinating Review of the Lebanese/Syrian/Israeli/Baker/Bush History

Redacted from an article by Martin Peretz
Additional commentary by Jerome S. Kaufman

The New Republic, December 11, 2006

Yes. I admit it. This is a theme that I have been harping on for almost a quarter of a century: Syria sees Lebanon as an illegitimate breakaway from a great empire ruled from and by Damascus. Parts of Iraq and Turkey, and Cyprus in its entirety are also duchies in this imagined empire. And, of course, Israel. In the original struggle against the Jewish restoration, many Arabs of Palestine called themselves southern Syrians. That provided a rationale for Damascus to fight in every Arab war against the Jews.

Lebanon itself is a contrivance of the French, hewn from the disintegrated Ottoman Empire. Composed of Christians (Maronite Catholics and Greek Orthodox), Sunnis, Shiia, and Druze, the country has an intricate sectarian formula for political representation based on a census conducted three-quarters of a century ago. But, off and on, Lebanon has functioned as a tolerably free society, mercantile rather than productive (tourism, banking, cannabis).

Since Lebanon has been the weakest Arab state, it has held the distinction of hosting the most Palestinian “refugees” The Palestinians cannot become citizens, and they cannot legally work without a permit, which is hard to get. By now, no one in Lebanon cares a fig for the Palestinian Arabs.

During the late 70s and 80s, however, Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) succeeded in establishing a functioning mini-state in southern Lebanon, harassing Israel across the border and ruling the local Shia with a very heavy hand. In 1982, Israel freed itself and southern Lebanon from the onerous dictatorship of its neighbor’s Palestinian guests. The PLO, with Yasir Arafat, was shipped off to Tunisia, and the defeated ordinary Palestinians in Lebanon kept on dreaming of their fantasy orange orchards in what was once sand and is now metropolitan Tel Aviv.

But, while all of this was going on, there was an actual civil war being fought with car bombs and militias among the sects in shifting and unstable alliances. It is hard to re-construct the battle zones of memory. First, at the behest of Christian warlords, and then to “protect” the Palestinians (in any case, at least half a decade before the Israeli Defense Forces invaded in 1982), the Syrians arrived to re-stake their operational claim over Lebanon, Of course, Damascus switched sides as many times as the seasons changed, backing this faction and then another. Even the Maronites, with some bourgeois Sunnis, who are what is left of authentic Lebanese nationalism, still have figures and followers among them aligned with Bashar Assad’s regime - the spineless President Emile Lahoud, for example and General Michel Aoun, who sometimes puts the title “Marshal” in front or his moniker.

The Syrians had developed a near-certain method for keeping politicians in line - assassinate enough of them so that others won’t think for a moment of being independent. This only works up to a point. Over 21 months, Assad successfully targeted at least five politicians and undisciplined journalists including Raffia Harari, an idolized zillionaire and former prime minister of the country. Then a fortnight ago, the Syrians murdered Pierre Gemayel, a minister in the Lebanese cabinet and the son of a former president whose brother, Basher Gemayle, another president, was also murdered by the Syrians after he had tried to make peace with Israel in 1982. ( Just after Ariel Sharon’s conquest of Yasir Arafat’s mini-kingdom in South Lebanon- jsk)

Political parties in Lebanon are typically family affairs at the top but with loyalties running deep within their followers and clans folk. So, when Hariri was killed, the country rose up, not as one, this being Lebanon, but as more than half, and Syria retreated, at least perfunctorily. Monster demonstrations - attendance at one was estimated to be as large as one million - erupted again after the recent assassination of the second Gemayel to be in Syrian gun sights.

What is the chemistry of these demonstrations? Some of it is sheer outrage at the stark freedoms that Syria takes with its neighbor. Some of it is out of fidelity to the individuals whom the Syrians have butchered. Allegiance to the Gemayels is a mix of both. Pierre, the patriarch who died in 1984, founded the Phalange in 1936. The fascist tag was not an accident, and violence was not a light habit of the bearer. But Gemayel was not a general like Franco or a philosopher or a cleric like the Catholic priest/fascist dictator of Slovakia. He was a small town druggist edging over into a thug, with the ambition to keep a vibrant autocephalous Maronite Catholicism alive in the country.

These Christians pronounced themselves European - or at least Lebanese and not Arab. Actually, they did speak French. I recall a trip to Lebanon, in 1982, behind the skirts of the Israeli Army. I went with a friend for lunch at Chez Eddie in Beirut, where we were asked whether we wanted a soufflé. Yes, we said, and in 20 minutes, mirabile dictu, it appeared. Just as Eddie was about to place it on the table, a bomb exploded on the other side of the city. But the other side of the city was only two blocks away. So the soufflé exploded too or rather imploded. And Eddie, without blanching, told us we could have another in 20 minutes - the aplomb of the French Lebanese! The Maronite birth rate has declined and that of Muslims increased. Massacres were common in the early days, and the Christians were as much their planners as their victims.

(There is a definite flippancy by Peretz here, in his description of the Maronite Christians, which I personally resent. I have known many of them personally. They are a proud, intelligent, hard working people who were the very foundation of the former Lebanon whose capitol, Beirut was described as the Paris of the Middle East. Even more important, the Maronites were the foundation of the Christian support that was the fighting ally of Israel in the Lebanese Security Zone protecting Israel from the now crazed Shiites that press against Israel’s northern border hurling in tens of rockets daily. This is the Security Zone that Ehud Barak so stupidly abandoned yielding for momentary political gain to the usual self-destructive Israeli left. And the tragedy of the recent Lebanese war fiasco is a direct result of this inexcuseable error. Even worse, the current Ehud Olmert, despite this indelible lesson, is hell-bent upon exactly the same strategy - the abandonment of even more crucial strategic Israeli territory - more of Judea-Samaria, the Sheba Farms with the immediately adjacent Mt. Hermon and Golan Heights! Jsk)

The violent internal vicissitudes of Lebanese politics may appear like the state of nature, but outside factors are often the decisive agents. James Baker has been a decisive outside factor before. After the Gulf war, ostensibly won by a wide coalition comprising Arab forces, Baker richly rewarded Syria for its (non) participation in Kuwait’s liberation. He implicitly promised Syria the go-ahead to continue its hold over Lebanon. To Hafez Assad, this meant the erasure of the border between Syria and Lebanon. For more than 20 years the real capitol of Lebanon was in Damascus.

Then, in 2005, out of fear that the United States, which had overthrown Saddam Hussein, might now turn its aim at him. Bashar Assad beat a retreat substantial enough for Beirut denizens to break out theft Cedars of Lebanon banners. Even the United States put an investigation together to identify the Rafik Harari assassins. All paths pointed to Damascus - more specifically, to Assad’s brother and brother-in-law, who ran Syrian intelligence. Still, nothing definitive ever happened. Assad began to suspect that his retreat was unnecessary.

Once again the Bush administration appears to have handed over the Iraq policy to Baker, the man who used to think for George W’s father. Baker still seems to trust the Assad clan. Now. Baker wants to involve Syria in calming the waters of Babylon. But what will be Assad’s price - the tacit US blessing over his restored control of the Lebanese fragment of “Greater Syria?”

Nevertheless, Bashar Assad is not capable of doing the chore that Baker wants accomplished. Although Assad hails from a schismatic Shia sect, Assad cannot manipulate or persuade the Iraqi Shia that they need to ease up on their Sunni enemies The Shia know perfectly well who Bashar is. They cannot fail to see that. While persecuting Sunnis at home, Assad has been sending Sunni warriors from all over the Muslim world across Syria’s border with Iraq, where they massacre Shia on arrival.

Just as Baker betrayed the Kurds and Shia of Iraq after the first US military encounter there 15 years ago, the former secretary of state is prepared to betray the Christians and Druze of Lebanon (not to mention the usual Baker sacrifice, not even worth considering - the Israelis - Jsk). And all for a hoped for a promise from an impotent Bashar Assad, that he cannot possibly fulfill.

(PS. Fortunately and thank G-d, President GW Bush does not appear to be buying into his father’s mentor or his re-incarnated Baker/Hamilton delusion) Jsk


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 02:14 AM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2006

Will the United States ever “get it” with the likes of Kofi Annan and the UN?

By Anne Bayefsky
National Review Online, December 12, 2006

The only immediate question to be asked after the secretary-general vented his spleen upon leaving office Monday is: Do Americans, and the Bush administration, finally get it? After all, this White House was directly responsible for keeping Kofi Annan in office after the gigantic Oil-for-Food scandal could easily have taken him down. It was similarly responsible for allowing Mohamed El Baradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — the other high-ranking U.N. official fighting vociferously against sanctions on Iran — a third term.

What will it take for this administration to recognize the U.N. has become the enemy of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law? And every minute wasted there pretending the Security Council is serious about stopping the gravest threat to humankind today — an Iranian nuclear weapon — takes us a step closer to the permanent destruction of our way of life.

It didn’t take much for Kofi Annan to come clean — and with the huge infusion of cash expected soon from George Soros into Annan’s new institute, he is just warming up. “No nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others,” said Annan. Is that what America is all about? The apologists for demagogues and despots are fond of crying “international democracy,” when anybody with a calculator can figure out that leaves real democracies in the minority.

For Kofi Annan, one of the greatest fakes of our age, it’s all about “giving the poor and the weak some influence over the actions of the rich and the strong.” No mention of the tyrants and murderers ensuring the poor and the weak squirming beneath them are forever human pawns in this feigned interest in their welfare, or the genocidal demagogues also seeking “some influence” in the name of development by way of their friends at the U.N.

For the likes of Kofi Annan, “The [Security] council is not a stage for acting out national interests. It is the management committee of our fledgling global security system.” What rot. The U.N. was supposed to be about the victory of human dignity over fear and want. If only those countries firmly rooted in the supremacy of freedom and the rule of law could see such “national interests” realized through the Security Council! As it is, the so-called “global security system” is not only “fledgling,” it’s a one-way ticket to nuclear war.

Kofi Annan will forever be remembered as the secretary-general who presided over the biggest and most insidious hijacking of the global agenda which has ever occurred. With the defeat of Communism, there was a chance that the U.N. could come to be not the tool for developed to triumph over developing, — but the instrument that permitted democratization and the protection of human rights to step out from behind the shadows as the sine qua non of progress in our time. Instead, over a decade with Kofi Annan at the helm, the U.N. has become an instrument of terror. A place which has no definition of terrorism because the terrorists and their allies run it, while democracies pay the bill.

No one “reform” orchestrated by Kofi Annan makes the legacy of his reign of terror clearer than his new Human Rights Council. Eleanor Roosevelt — the first chair of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the U.N.’s central human-rights agency — would have been the first to walk out the front door and never look back. The Commission, recently headed by Libya, was terminated this year to make room for the Council. In only six months of operation it has had an equal number of “special” sessions on Israel alone as “regular” sessions on all the rest of the world combined. It has spent more time during its regular sessions on Israel than the other 191 U.N. states put together. It has adopted seven resolutions denouncing Israel, given one mild nod in the direction of Sudan — and nothing on the billions denied any semblance of dignity in China, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, or anywhere else. And now that the takeover of the Council by the Organization of the Islamic Conference is complete, it is clear it will never specifically condemn these human-rights violators. This past Friday the Council decided to hold another Durban Racism Conference in 2009; Durban was the hate-filled global meeting that ended only two days before 9/11.

So the question remains: Do we get it yet? Do we understand that Kofi Annan was given a decade to assemble a weapon pointed at our head? Will the $5.3 billion the American taxpayer sends the U.N. annually finally be channeled to a new institution of democracies, by democracies, and for democracies? Or will Kofi Annan (and his cohort Ahmadinejad who Annan has urged us “not to isolate”) have the last laugh?

Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and at Touro College Law Center. She is also editor of www.EyeontheUN.org.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:54 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2006

An Open Letter to President Bush

Senator Jon Kyl and R. James Woolsey, Honorary Co-Chmn., National Security Advisory Council


Center for Security Policy, December 13, 2006
Hon. George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

You have just received the report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG) with its 79 recommendations for policy changes, force redeployments and other course corrections with respect to the conflict in Iraq. We believe you have responded properly in welcoming this product -- but reserving judgment as to whether you will accept its suggestions.

This is especially important because of the argument being made in some quarters that, in light of the unanimity exhibited by the distinguished Republican and Democratic members of this commission, the advice offered must be accepted in toto. As leaders of the bipartisan National Security Advisory Council of the Center for Security Policy, we would respectfully suggest that people of good will and expertise from both parties can – and in many cases do – come to very different conclusions than those offered by the ISG.

In particular, members of our Council on both sides of the aisle strongly disagree with what is, arguably, the Baker-Hamilton commission’s most strategically portentous recommendation:

The United States should immediately launch a New Diplomatic Offensive to build an international consensus for stability in Iraq and the region….Iraq’s neighbors and key states in and outside the region should form a support group to reinforce security and national reconciliation within Iraq, neither of which Iraq can achieve on its own. Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively.

As the ISG’s own report documents, far from being proponents of stability, the Islamic Republic of Iran and its de facto colony, Syria, have gone to great lengths to destabilize the Middle East and, in particular, to prevent Iraq from becoming a free, democratic and peaceful nation.

Americans have been murdered for nearly three decades by Iranian operatives and Tehran’s proxies. U.S. and coalition personnel and civilians in Iraq are being slaughtered today by deadly Iranian I.E.D.s (Improvised Explosive Devices) and other weapons provided to like-minded
Islamofascist groups.

At the same time, the Iranian regime is working to acquire nuclear arms and long-range ballistic missiles with which to deliver them. When combined with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated threats to “wipe Israel off the map” and bring about “a world without America,” we face the prospect that, in due course, the mullahs running Iran will have the means to carry out
their apocalyptic intentions.

In our view, opening negotiations with Iran (and Syria) as suggested by the ISG will have several undesirable effects.

• First, such negotiations will legitimate that increasingly dangerous regime and reward its violent and hostile actions against us and our allies. We should rather endeavor to discredit
and undermine this regime.
• Second, such a course will embolden our enemies who already believe they are sapping our will to resist them.
• Third, such an initiative would buy further time for the Iranian mullahs to obtain and prepare to wield weapons of mass destruction.
• Fourth, entering into negotiations with Tehran’s theocrats will create the illusion that we are taking useful steps to contend with the threat from Iran – when, in fact, we would not be. As a result, other, more effective actions – specifically, steps aimed at encouraging regime change in Iran – will not be pursued.

Finally, we trust that you will recognize the necessity of including Israel in any regional conference in which its security and other equities might be a subject of negotiations and that, in such settings and elsewhere, you will continue to adhere to the principle that America supports fellow democracies and eschews appeasement of terrorists and aggressors.

In short, Mr. President, we encourage you to follow your better instincts. By all means, review, assess and, as appropriate, adopt the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and those of the executive branch agencies you have commissioned. We urge you, however, to continue to reject any course of action that would signal that America has become a country that, to quote the scholar Bernard Lewis, is “harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.”

Sincerely,
Senator Jon Kyl
R. James Woolsey

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:16 AM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2006

ADL’s Abe Foxman’s Buddy, France’s Jacques Chirac - Huh?

Editorial, The Jewish Press, December 1, 2006

Last month Anti-Defamation League (ADL) director, Abraham Foxman was awarded the French Legion of Honor by French President Jacques Chirac in a ceremony held at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Though we’ve had our share of differences with Mr. Foxman, as regular readers no doubt recall, it would be downright boorish of us to begrudge the French their right to honor whomever their hearts desire. But what made the occasion more than just another opportunity for a self-congratulatory ADL press release, were some truly astonishing things Mr. Foxman chose to say in praise of his host.

In his acceptance remarks, Mr. Foxman thanked President Chirac for his “strength, moral courage and friendship to the Jewish state and people.” This is the same President Chirac who has stymied international efforts to bring Iran — which now poses an existential threat to the Jewish state — to task. The same President Chirac who has directed his representative at the UN to be a thorn in the side of the Jewish state. The same President Chirac who has been in the forefront of getting international aid again flowing to the Palestinian Authority despite the continuing recalcitrance of Hamas.

It is the same President Chirac who has directed his armed forces in Lebanon to shoot at Israeli aircraft if they continue to fly over Lebanon seeking to stop arms smuggling there. The same President Chirac who, together with the leaders of Spain and Italy, was a sponsor of the recent Middle East peace proposal that did not require Hamas to renounce terror and agree to recognize Israel. Yes, the same President Chirac who allows Muslim hooligans to run wild in France, targeting Jews at will. The same President Chirac who has called for and led an international effort in support of— the creation of a World Bank fund to pay the salaries of Palestinian officials.

But Mr. Foxman was not always so indulgent of his Gallic benefactor. In a letter to Mr. Chirac in September 2002, Mr. Foxman wrote: “We are surprised and disappointed that President Chirac continues to dismiss the very real concern that Jewish organizations, human rights groups, members of Congress and others have raised with regard to the recent surge of anti-Semitic incidents in France.... To describe this troubling trend as ‘a few incidents,’ as President Chirac does in his interview with The New York Times, is to deny the extent of the problem and to denigrate the concerns of world Jewry and others.... “

In October 2003, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad unleashed an anti-Semitic tirade in which he said, among other things, “Jews today rule the world by proxy and get other to fight and die for them.” Mr. Foxman, correctly, said at the time that the Malaysian leader’s comments were “the most blatant expression of anti-Semitism in the beginning of the 21st century.” Foxman went so far as to describe the rant as a “call for a global holy war against the Jewish people by 1.3 billion Muslims.”

Mahathir Mohamad’s remarks drew worldwide condemnation. But, the European Union, due largely to opposition from France, failed to officially denounce his speech. Mr. Foxman again blasted President Chirac in a letter: “We are appalled and outraged at your efforts to block...a condemnation.”

It appears, and not for the first time, that Abe Foxman is ready and willing to give an enemy — or at the very least someone far from friendly to Jewish interests — a clean bill of health in return for 15 minutes of ego-tickling praise. Presumably criticism of France — at least France under Mr. Foxman’s new buddy Mr. Chirac — is now off limits at the ADL. As the title of the classic war movie asked, “What Price Glory?”

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:23 AM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2006

Abject Surrender as “Realism”

(Redacted from an irrefutable editorial by William Kristol, Editor, Weekly Standard and Robert Kagan)

December 4, 2006

Foreign policy realism is ascendant these days, we are told. This would be encouraging if true, because our foreign policy must indeed be realistic. But what passes for “realism” today has very little to do with reality. Indeed, if you look at some of the “realist” proposals on the table, “realism” has come to be a kind of code word for surrendering American interests and American allies, as well as American principles, in the Middle East.

Thus, the “realists” advise us to seek Syria’s help in Iraq even as the Syrian government engages in a concerted campaign of assassinating every Lebanese political leader who opposes the return of Syrian hegemony in Lebanon. Presumably, the “realist” position is that we should give Lebanon to Syria, or at least turn a blind eye to its murderous efforts to regain control there, as an incentive to Syria to help us in Iraq, where Syria is also engaged in supporting terrorists. “Realism’ is letting dictators get away with terror and murder and, in particular, letting them get away with the murder of our friends.

The “realists” advise seeking Iranian help in Iraq as well. They are coy about suggesting what the United States could give Tehran as an inducement for such assistance, but the implications of their position are clear. After all, the Bush administration has already offered to talk to Iran, provided the Iranians agree to suspend enrichment of uranium. That has also been the position of the Europeans. The Iranians have refused.

So the “realists” are adapting to the reality of Iranian intransigence. They are in effect suggesting that the administration drop its long-standing position and begin negotiating with Iran despite the Iranian regime’s refusal to agree to the common U.S.-European demand. What the realists have in mind, then, is that the United States should turn a blind eye to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, in exchange for Iran’s help in easing our retreat from Iraq. Who cares if this would destroy U.S. credibility, weaken those in Europe who are trying to be strong, undermine the effort to prevent Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, and lead to a cascade of additional nuclear states in the region? It would at least make possible further “realistic” accommodations to these new and deadly realities.

The “realists” also advise putting pressure on Israel to deal in a more “forthcoming” way with the Hamas-dominated Palestinian government. Israel should be induced to make concessions despite the ongoing violence and the refusal of Hamas to ratify even Yasser Arafat’s acceptance of Israel’s right to exist. Thus, in order to conciliate Arab dictators and radicals, Washington should retreat from long-standing principle and hand a dramatic victory to the forces of violence and extremism in Palestine. (Unfortunately, even Wm. Kristol and Robert Kagan have bought into this completely false, archaic, propaganda terminology, “Palestine” _ of course, aided and abetted by the public relations ignorance and now, even historical ignorance, of the Israelis, themselves. - Jsk).

So let’s add up the “realistic” proposals: We must retreat from Iraq and thus abandon all those Iraqis - Shiite, Sunni, Kurd, and others who have depended on the United States for safety and the promise of a better future; We must abandon our allies in Lebanon and the very idea of an independent Lebanon in order to win Syria’s support for our retreat from Iraq; We must abandon our opposition to Iran’s nuclear program in order to convince Iran to help us abandon Iraq; and we must pressure our ally, Israel, to accommodate a violent Hamas in order to gain radical Arab support for our retreat from Iraq!!!

This is what passes for realism these days! But of course this is not realism. It is capitulation. Were the United States to adopt this approach every time we faced a difficult set of problems; were we to attempt to satisfy our adversary’s every whim in order to win their acquiescence, we would rapidly cease to play any significant role in the world. We would be neither feared nor respected nor, of course, would we be any better liked. Our retreat would win us no friends and lose us no adversaries.

What our adversaries in the Middle East want from us is very simple: They want us out. Unless we are prepared to withdraw not just from Iraq but from the entire region, and from wherever else our adversaries choose as well, we had better start figuring out how to pursue effectively and, in truth, “realistically” our interests and goals, This is true American realism. All the rest is a fancy way of justifying surrender.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 06:13 AM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2006

How is it that the Washington Times understands the idiocy of Ehud Olmert

Better than the Israeli electorate and now, the Bush Administration, and, of course, the re-incarnated "Baker Boys?" (jsk)

The Washington Times Weekly Edition, Nov. 20, 2006

President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who met at the White House on Nov. 13, have both been hurt by the inability to win decisive victories on the battlefield against the forces of Islamofascism - Mr. Bush in Iraq and Mr. Olmert against terrorists in Gaza and Lebanon — lands that Israel has unilaterally withdrawn from in efforts to achieve peace with its Arab neighbors. Mr. Olmert’s situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon, especially if Washington keeps pressing Israel to forge ahead with another ill-considered attempt to prop up the terrorist-enabling Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.

The results of earlier failed efforts to work with Mr. Abbas are on vivid display right now in Gaza — where Israel withdrew its civilians and soldiers well over a year ago in the hope that the PA president would fight terrorism and manage a transition to an independent Palestinian state. But Mr. Abbas refused to fight terror, and the thuggishness and corruption that has long characterized his Fätah organization led to the victory of Hamas at the polls in January; Mr. Abbas is president of the PA, while Hamas (which unlike Fatah, refuses even the pretense of making peace with Israel) runs the PA administration in Gaza.

Under Hamas-Fatah misrule, the situation has continued to deteriorate. The Egyptian government, which was supposed to prevent weapons smuggling into Gaza after the Israel Defense Forces withdrew, has failed to do its job. Terrorist gangs, some affiliated with Mr. Abbas’s Fatah organization, others with Hamas, have turned Gaza into an updated version of Afghanistan under the Taliban. They chased away the European Union observers who were supposed to police the Gaza/Egypt border under an agreement brokered one year ago by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

With the Israeli military presence gone, Hamas, Fatah and myriad other terrorist organizations routinely smuggle arms across the border from Egypt into Gaza. Today, a who’s who of terrorists, including Hamas/Fatah gangsters and militias like Palestinian Islamic Jihad funded by Iran and Syria, roam the streets of Gaza, stockpiling arms and staging shootouts with one another. They burrow into refugee camps and densely populated areas like Beit Hanoun, from where they fire missiles and rockets into neighboring Israeli towns like Ashkelon and Sderot — making it impossible for Israeli civilians to live normal lives.

Make no mistake about it: The terrorists using Palestinian civilians as human shields bear the ultimate responsibility for last week’s tragedy at Beit Hanoun, when Israeli artillery shells aimed at terrorists killed 19 Palestinian civilians. We commend the Bush administration for its decision Nov. 11 to veto a badly flawed U.N. Security Council Resolution that equated defensive Israeli military operations with the firing of rockets at Israeli civilians.

John Bolton termed “biased against Israel": (I don't know who said that! -jsk)also omitted mention of the fact that Hamas’ military wing (one of the primary groups responsible for fomenting the violence in the first place) on Nov. 9, called on Muslims around the world to attack American targets in retaliation for the Palestinian deaths.

But aside from the willingness to use the veto power in the Security Council, the Bush administration’s approach to what’s left of the “peace process” is a mess. Increasingly the Bush administration seems focused on pressuring Mr. Olmert into propping up Mr. Abbas, who does not merit such support. Last month the State Department leaned on Jerusalem to agree to an expansion of Force-17, an Abbas-controlled militia, from 3,500 to 5,000 men, in the hope that they would maintain quiet in areas like Beit Hanoun, adjacent to Israel, and would prevent smuggling from Egypt as well.

Under this plan, the United States would help arm and train Force-17 (training has reportedly begun near the West Bank town of Jericho). Unfortunately, the concept faces a few real-world problems: F0r one thing, the idea of the United States training Palestinian security forces to “fight” terrorism is hardly new.

During the Clinton administration a similar effort was made under the auspices of CIA chief George Tenet to train Palestinian security forces. But when Yasser Arafat went to war with Israel on September 29, 2000, the Palestinians used their U.S.- supplied training in marksmanship and other areas to attack Israel.

In May, Mr. Abbas appointed Cot. Mahmoud Damra, formerly a top aide to Yasser Arafat, to head Force-17. The appointment came despite the fact that Col. Damra was a fugitive wanted by Mr. Olmert’s government for running a West Bank terror cell that had killed and wounded scores of Israelis. He was arrested by Israel in September. Last month — as the U.S. government put forward a plan to train more Force-17 members — a Force-17 officer named Abu Yousuf (presumably not a member of the group’s “moderate” faction) told Worldnetdaily.com that members of Mr. Abbas’s security detail are “praying to Allah” that more American soldiers return from Iraq in body bags. Mr. Yousuf’s remarks are substantively no different from the raw terrorist incitement that routinely occurs on official PA television, which is under Mr. Abbas’s control.

Yet Mr. Olmert two weeks ago tried to dazzle Mr. Abbas with the possibility of more concessions, stating, “Abbas will be surprised how far we are prepared to go. I can offer him a lot?’ With this quality of strategic thinking, it should not come as a surprise that Mr. Olmert is in political trouble: A poll released on Nov. 10 showed that the hawkish Likud Party— soundly beaten by Mr. Olmert at the polls in March — would win 29 seats in the Knesset to just 16 for Mr. Olmert’s Kadima Party. Washington does Mr. Olmert no favors by pressing him for more dubious giveaways to Mr. Abbas.


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December 05, 2006

US Defense Secretary-Designate Gates puts writing on the wall for Israel

Do the Israelis need another “roadmap” to realize their only option?

Redacted from article by Yitzhak Bighorn
YnetNews.com, December 5, 2006

WASHINGTON – US Defense Secretary-designate Robert Gates provided Tuesday a gloomy prediction regarding the future of the Middle East. During his testimony at his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing to replace Donald H. Rumsfeld, Gates was asked about Iran's nuclear program and President Ahamdinejad's threats to wipe Israel off the map.

Gates replied that the Iranian president's threats were serious, but that there were greater forces in Iran than Ahmadinejad who are interested in nuclear ability as a power of deterrence against nuclear countries surrounding them – Pakistan in the east, Russia in the north, Israel in the west and the United States in the Persian Gulf.

The senators asked Gates whether he could guarantee that if Iran possesses nuclear weapons it would not put its threats against Israel into action. Gates answered that he did not believe anyone could guarantee such a thing.

During the hearing, however, Gates stated that he would not recommend to the president to attack Iran, but only as an "absolute last resort" and if crucial American interests (not Israeli - jsk) were being threatened. He estimated that an American military operation against Iran could lead to chemical and biological terror attacks. "I think that we have seen, in Iraq, that once war is unleashed, it becomes unpredictable," he said, adding that the consequences of a military confrontation with Iran could be dramatic.

He added that while Iran cannot directly attack the Americans, it had the ability to close the Persian Gulf for oil exports, to launch a terror campaign in the Middle East and Europe and even in the US. It's realistic, he said. An American attack in Iran, Gates said, would not help the US in Iraq but would rather damage its interests there. (As James Baker III’s imprimatur, “F--- the Jews," is displayed all over the new “diplomacy” - Jsk)

The Iranians, he said, could supply terror groups with weapons for mass destruction, mainly chemical and biological. He added that Tehran also had the ability to operate Hezbollah and undermine the situation in Lebanon. As for Syria, Gates said a US attack on that country would unleash a wave of anti-Americanism in the Middle East. It would have "dramatic consequences for us in Middle East," Gates said. "It would give rise to greater anti Americanism than we have seen to date. It would immediately complicate our relations with every country in the region."

Gates was chosen by US President George W. Bush to replace Donald Rumsfeld following the latter's resignation, and many in the US hope that he will be the person to bring American soldiers back from Iraq. He admitted that in the current situation, the US was not winning the war in Iraq, but made it clear that it was not fleeing Iraq and would withdraw in an organized manner after the Iraqi government and its security forces are able to control the situation and defend themselves. The developments in Iraq in the next two years will influence the future of the entire Middle East, he said, adding that a strategy must be developed which will not leave Iraq in chaos and will give the region hope. If Iraq is not stabilized in a year or two, the entire Middle East will be on fire, he said.

He also estimated that even if there is a significant withdrawal of forces from Iraq in the future, American forces will remain in the country for many years to provide support for the Iraqi army.

Comment from Joseph Silver, December 6, 2006

This new diplomacy via Baker/Gates bodes ill not just for Israel but for the US as well. It acknowledges and respects the resolve of the Muslims to the detriment of Israel. It recalls the diplomacy of Pres. Warren Harding after WWI(and after Woodrow Wilson's efforts to engage the world). It is a discredited diplomacy that simply says the US will pursue its "interests", i.e. business interests, and ignore justice, human rights and the fight for freedom over evil. However, a necessary side-effect is that Israel will have to free itself from US restraint if it is to survive. It can no longer seek green-lights from the US for its actions and policies --- it may have to pursue the fight for freedom over evil on its own. That is, pursue a division of Iraq into 3 states by promoting a free Kurdistan, pursue an attack upon Iran's nuclear facilities and promote a revolutionary secular democracy in Iran, promote the ascendancy of a Christian Lebanon, encourage the immigration into Israel of loyal Christian groups to increase its population, e.g. Mexicans and others, consolidate the historic lands of the Jewish people- including Golan, Judea, Samaria, Gaza District (not volatile Gaza City) south Lebanon to the Litani River. To survive in the new world-game, Israel must act like the true world power it is -- an economic force on the NASDAQ, a nuclear power, a submarine power, an air power, a military power, a technological power, etc. It is time for Israel to exert its manifest historic destiny with sheer power in order to stare down, intimidate and crush the Muslim bullies. As it takes the lead, the West will fall in line behind a bold Israel-- the light onto the nations.

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December 03, 2006

Barack Obama - Boy wonder for President?

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
By Barack Obama

A Book Review by Yuval Levin
Commentary, December 2006


BARACK OBAMA, the Democratic star of the moment in American politics, is the junior Senator from Illinois, and, for the past two years, has been the only black member of the U.S Senate. Elected after seven years in the Illinois state legislature and a short career as a lawyer and community activist in Chicago, he first came to national prominence when John F. Kerry made him the keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic convention.

Since then he has been something of a celebrity; always in demand for speeches and interviews if not very active on the Senate floor. Washington pundits started buzzing early on about a future White House run, but not until this fall did Obama himself begin to drop hints that he might have his eyes on the Presidency. The hints came in the course of a book tour to launch The Audacity of Hope, and the resulting publicity quickly made the book a best seller.

This is in essence a campaign document, with most of the faults and few of the virtues of the form. Each of its nine chapters (bearing titles like “Values,” “Race,” Opportunity,” “Faith,” and “Family.”) It opens with a personal story; generally drawn from Obama’s two years in the Senate, proceeds to a set of social or political questions, and then mentions a policy proposal or two before circling back to the personal story with which it began.

The chapter on values, for example, takes up questions of corporate ethics and compassion for the poor. The chapter on opportunity lays out concerns with American values and competitiveness. The discussion of family addresses the challenges of balancing work and parenthood. The chapter on race reflects upon the need simultaneously to celebrate the enormous progress we have made and tackle the great problems that remain and so forth.

The book, which offers no sign of a co-author or ghostwriter, is crisply written, and the personal stories that shape each chapter are often telling and interesting. But, when Obama moves from personal narrative to policy and politics, his chapter turns bland and flat and his analysis often amounts to little more than an endless barrage of clichés.

Thus, after noting low math and reading scores in high schools, Obama with exquisite vagueness calls on policy makers to “identify those reforms that have the highest impact on student achievement, find them adequately, and eliminate those programs that don’t produce results.” His brief discussion of tensions between religious and secular forces in American life ends with the anodyne observation that “it would be helpful, if in debates about matters touching on religion—as in all of democratic discourse—we could resist the temptation to impute bad motives to those who disagree with us.”

Elsewhere, he takes this same trope to risible lengths by writing that our polities would work better “if liberals at least acknowledged that the recreational hunter feels the same way about his game as they feel about their library books, and if conservatives recognized that most women feel as protective of their right to reproductive freedom as evangelicals do of their right to worship.”

Now and then, Obama’s centrist platitudes lead him into unsupported or even outright false assertions. Of the 9 trillion national debt he claims, “the bulk of the debt is a direct result of the President’s tax cuts,” when in fact the tax cuts have involved less than a tenth of that amount. Elsewhere, invoking allegedly declining federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), he launches into an argument about the Bush administration’s failure to support basic research essential to American global competitiveness. But the budget of the NIH has grown by more than $8 billion, or 40 percent, since Bush came into office, and this year the administration proposed to double federal finding for research in the physical sciences over the next decade,

By far the most prominent and the most clichéd theme of his book, however, is that American politics has been undone by partisan rancor. “You don’t need a poll,” Obama writes in one characteristic passage, to know that the vast majority of Americans—Republican, Democrat, and independent—are weary of the dead zone that politics has become, in which narrow interests vie for advantage and ideological minorities seek to impose their own versions of absolute truth . . . Religious or secular, black, white, or brown, we sense—correctly—that the nation’s most significant challenges are being ignored and that if we don’t change course soon, we may be the first generation in a very long time that leaves behind a weaker and more fractured America than the one we inherited.”

Obama clearly wants readers to experience his rebuke of partisan acrimony as a breath of fresh air, a break from the divisive spirit of our times. But since this complaint about our politics is standard fire for a campaign book, one gets the sense less of refreshing honesty than of a populist ploy designed to obscure the fact that the author has not stated any clear-cut views of his own.

Politics is meant to be an arena of debate and clashing interests. Besides, is it really the case that “the nation’s most significant challenges are being ignored,” or that America is “weaker and more fractured” than it was a generation ago, let alone, as Obama later contends, than “at any time since before World War II”?

Like many on the contemporary Left, Obama subscribes to a kind of false nostalgia, what might be called backward-looking progressivism. Without a hint of irony, he contrasts today’s partisan rancor in Congress with a “time before the fall, a golden age in Washington when, regardless of which party was in power, civility reigned and government worked.” One wonders just when that golden age might have been— during the epic battles over McCarthyism, civil rights, Vietnam, Watergate, détente. Reaganomics, and other fronts too numerous to mention?

Nor does Obama appear to notice that, in admonishing us to heed his warnings lest we find ourselves in “an America very different from the one most of us grew up in,” he sounds more like a stern traditionalist than a liberal Democrat. But then, Obama does his best throughout this book not to sound like a liberal Democrat. In this, be does a disservice to his own record. Obama has almost nothing to say, for instance, about his tenure in the Illinois legislature, where his voting record put him on the Left of every major question from gun control, to taxes, to abortion.

In expressing admiration for the “Gang of Fourteen” - the U.S. Senators who last year worked out a compromise to avoid an explosive showdown over judicial nominations - he glosses over the fact that he refused to join them, or for that matter that he was one of only 22 Senators to vote against the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts. Similarly, in laying out the case for free trade, he barely mentions that he voted against the Central America Free Trade Agreement approved by the Senate last year.

As a Senator, Obama has earned a 100 percent rating from Americans for Democratic Action, the liberal interest group that scores the votes of members of the U.S. Congress based on their allegiance to key left-wing causes and interests. Even Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts could manage only a 95 during the same period.

Of course, the effort to mask one’s liberal stripes has not been limited to Obama in this election year. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean may have drawn ridicule in 2004 for telling a reporter he wanted to be the candidate of “guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks,” but since then, Dean’s party has deliberately sought to appear more conservative than it has become, including by recruiting more conservative candidates to run for office. In this year’s congressional elections, the Democrats fielded, among others, Ronald Reagan’s former Navy Secretary James Webb, who resigned his office in protest when he found Reagan’s military buildup inadequate, and Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., who at campaign rallies handed out cards with his picture on one side and the Ten Commandments on the other.

Observing these contortions, one may well wonder whether the Democrats are truly moving to the center or whether, as in Dean’s quip two years ago, they merely aim to pick up support from disillusioned conservative voters without allowing the ‘views of those voters to exercise any real influence on the party’s platform.

Contrasting Obama’s centrist conceit in The Audacity of Hope with his voting record in the Senate hardly helps to still one’s doubts on this score. In all fairness, Obama has been in the Senate for only two years, and it is hard to judge so brief a record. But that is only further reason to wonder how he or anyone else could think it is time for him to run for President. His foreign policy experience amounts to two years as the most junior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he has no executive experience of any kind.

Obama is aware that the excitement he has generated is due in part to his scant record. “I am new enough on the national political scene,” he writes, “that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views? He has certainly done his best here to refrain from filling that “blank screen” with anything of substance. It says much about the condition of contemporary liberalism that this seems to strike some people as reason enough to believe he is ready to govern.

YUVAL LEVIN, a new contributor, was formerly chief of staff of the President's Council on Bioethics and has served on the White House domestic policy staff. He is now a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington DC.

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