January 31, 2007

As to a Possible Mormon President


The New Republic, January 29, 2007

Mitt Romney’s candidacy for president has occasioned reams of speculation on how his Mormon faith would influence his conduct in the White House—some of it reminiscent of anxieties about John F Kennedy’s Catholicism that were prevalent in 1960. In a recent cover story for THE NEW REPUBLIC, Damon Linker, who once taught at Brigham Young University and presumably knows Mormonism well, argued that these fears are well founded (“The Big Test,” January 15). “Would it not be accurate,” Linker asked, ‘to say that, under a President Romney, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would truly be in charge of the country—with its leadership having final say on matters of right and wrong?”

According to Linker. Mormons believe their church presidents receive revelation from God; faithful Mormons have to comply with every directive from their prophet’s mouth; and, therefore, to remain true to his religious beliefs, a President Romney would have to knuckle under to church leaders.

Linker’s logic may sound straightforward, but, in fact, it has no grounding in reality. His concerns echo the controversy that greeted Mormon Church apostle Reed Smoot (he of the notorious Smoot- Hawley Tariff Act) when he was elected to the U S. Senate in 1903. Before eventually seating Smoot, a Senate committee debated his qualifications for nearly four years. To allay their fears, the senators repeatedly questioned church President Joseph F. Smith (nephew of the church’s founder) about his control of Mormon politics. Over and over, he assured the committee that he had no intention of dictating Smoot’s votes in the Senate—until, eventually Theodore Roosevelt stepped in and swung the balance in Smoot’s favor.

A century later, we can judge the actual dangers of the Mormon Church to national politics from the historical record. Have any of the church presidents tried to manage Smoot or other Mormon politicians like Harry Reid and Gordon Smith? The record is innocuous. Like other denominations, the church has taken stands on political issues it considers to be moral concerns, but it does not pressure politicians to close ranks as Mormons. In fact, it explicitly releases Mormon politicians from compliance with the church’s political positions.

According to the church’s web site, “Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated Church position. While the Church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent.”

The current concern about Romney recalls anxieties about Mormons and Catholics from the nineteenth century, when both churches evoked suspicion. Critics thought of them as “fanatics,” a stereotype applied to Catholics. Mormons. Masons, and Muslims. They feared that leaders of these groups would employ their spiritual authority over blindly loyal followers to magnify their own power. Any prophet claiming to speak for God, they reasoned, must necessarily try to impose his beliefs on everyone else. But this argument, while based on logic, was impervious to fact. The real-world actions of Mormons and Catholics, and their protestations of innocence, meant nothing.

Linker wants to separate Mormons from Catholics and make them a special case. The problem with Mormons, he believes, is the absence of any check on their president’s authority. Catholics, he notes, at least have a long tradition of natural law, which a Catholic politician could call upon to resist an outlandish demand from Rome. If Mormons had this kind of reasoning in their background, this rationalist tradition could then be used to check the veracity of prophetic pronouncements.” Without it, he claims, a Mormon politician has no choice but to bow to dictates from Salt Lake City.

But this concern—rooted as it is in logic rather than reality—does not take into account how revelation actually works. In Mormonism and in biblical history, the prophetic tradition itself places heavy restraints on prophets. It makes a big difference that the moral law is enunciated repeatedly in Mormon scriptures. The Ten Commandments were restated in an early revelation, installing them as fundamentals of the church. Later, the saints were told “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.”

Could all this be overthrown by a new revelation? Linker thinks that revelation negates everything that came before, but this is not the case. The best analogy is to the courts and the Constitution. Theoretically, five Supreme Court justices can overturn any previous interpretation of the Constitution on a whim. But, in fact, they do not and we know they cannot. Their authority depends on reasoning outward from the Constitution and all previous decisions. The same is true for prophets. They work outward from the words of previous prophets, re-interpreting past prophecy for the present. That was certainly true for church founder Joseph Smith, whose most extreme revelation, plural marriage, was based on plural marriage in the Bible. Prophets do not write on a blank slate. Like Supreme Court justices, they would put their own authority in jeopardy if they disregarded the past.

Linker knows enough about Mormonism to speculate on the implications of the church’s belief in the role of the United States in world history. Like Jonathan Edwards and many American Puritans. Smith thought this country had a special place in the events of the last days. Mormons believe the Christian gospel was restored in the United States and will spread to the rest of the world. They also believe that when Christ returns, he will come to the United States and govern the world from here. Linker fears that these beliefs will cause church leaders to seek control of the United States in order to advance their pre-millennial plans. That is why he urges voters to ask Romney whether he thinks, “that, when the Lord returns, he will rule over the world from the territory of the United States.”

The implication, of course, is that Romney “will be encouraged to pave the way for Christ’s government. For Mormons, this line of thought is a phantasm. When Mormons speculate on the millennium, something they rarely do these days, they conjecture that many religions will flourish after the coming of Christ—a kind of American-style tolerance of all faiths, including non-Christian ones. Christ may rule, but not the Mormon Church. To turn Mormon belief into a plan for world domination reeks of all the other theories about secret groups planning to take over.

Beliefs do matter. Romney’s values, as he has said repeatedly, come from his Mormonism. But teasing out the possible implications of theological positions can verge on fantasy. We should ask Romney what he believes, but it would be wrong to predict his future course as president from inferences having little to do with reality.

Richard Lyman Bushman is Gouverneur Morris Professor of History emeritus at Columbia University.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 02:37 AM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2007

A Palestinian State – Why?

By James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA

Interview with Israel National News
January 24, 2007

James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA, told IsraelNationalRadio's Alex
Traiman that a Palestinian state should wait "many decades" until they
stop teaching their children to hate and murder. Traiman asked about Woolsey's choice of terminology in calling the present conflict between the West and Islam as World War Four.

Woolsey explained that shortly after 9/11, "I saw an op-ed in the Wall
Street Journal by Eliot Cohen of Johns Hopkins University where he wrote
that the Cold War was World War III, and that the war against what I call
Islamist totalitarianism is World War IV... We have a situation where
democracies in the west such as Israel and the US, and Japan and others
too, are at war with a group of Islamist totalitarianism ideologies and
movements - very loosely analogous to the movements of the 20s and 30s -
Fascism, Nazism, Communism, and Japanese imperialism..."

Woolsey said that it could take the West "decades to win this war; the Cold War took us four decades to win, and I see no reason to expect this one to be less than that." Traiman asked, "Iran is actively working on a nuclear bomb and calls for Israel's destruction. How long can Israel afford to wait before taking action? And how long can the US afford to wait?"

Woolsey did not offer a direct answer, but rather some background:
"We can only hope that the Israeli and American governments have a better
handle on the precise details of the Iranian nuclear program... The
Persians [precursors of today's Iranians -ed.] invented chess, and they
are playing it well. Hamas and Hizbullah and other groups are their pawns,
and the Syrian government is a rook, and their most precious piece - their
queen - is their nuclear weapons program. They are moving the pieces
around quite cleverly, this week using Hizbullah to overthrow the
government of Lebanon; next week it may be something else. They are moving their pieces with skill, and they're a very serious adversary."

Asked his opinion on the establishment of a Palestinian state, the former
CIA director recommended that it not happen in the coming decades. He said that though the Jewish presence in this region precedes the Moslem claim - "for some Muslims like Arafat to deny that Jews were ever present here is idiotic" - the Moslems also have national rights in the area.

Openly avoiding the question of the nature or borders of a Palestinian
state, he emphasized his opinion that "the Palestinians should not be
granted the right to statehood until they start to treat Israeli Jews who
settle in the West Bank as fairly as Israel treats its Muslim citizens."
"An Arab Muslim living in Jaffa," Woolsey said, "enjoys freedom of speech,
religion, and expression, and can vote for his representatives in the
Knesset, and doesn't go to sleep worrying that some government element
might come and kill him. I think that once the Palestinians start treating
Jewish settlers with that same degree of humanity - and they're very, very
far from doing that now - at that point I think we have to seriously
consider how they could have some degree of self-governing. I won't get
into the question of borders, but what I think is that the Palestinians
must be held to the same standards as Israel regarding how they treat the
other. I am sure this will be many decades from now, though, because their
children are taught the Wahhabi doctrine of being suicide bombers and the

Traiman: "There are continuous calls for American troop withdrawals from
Iraq; the unilateral withdrawal idea is back on the table here in Israel;
and talks with Syria are again being pushed. Why are we playing the
appeasement card?"

Woolsey: "Appeasement isn't called playing a card - it's just folding. I
think those steps that you just mentioned are most unwise. Talking to
Syria and negotiating should be done only when one has leverage...
Unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank would not be a wise step for
Israel to take; when one sees what happened in Gaza, and sees the
political advantage that Hamas has taken of the situation to claim
unilateral victory and now to be part of the PA government - how many
failures do you need before you recognize that it's a failure?"

Woolsey said that this past summer's war between Israel and Hizbullah was
a lost opportunity for the United States and Israel to jointly decide on
Syrian targets to be attacked. This type of mistake must not be repeated,
he said: "We ought to make sure that if there is another legitimate and reasonable occasion for us to use force in this part of the world against Syria or Iran, we must not waste it. We should move towards encouraging peaceful regime change there; but if we are absolutely forced to use force against Iran, for instance, in order to stop its nuclear program, that should not be the limit of our use of force - it ought to be used also to break the
power of the terrible Iranian regime and give the people of Iran a chance
to live under a better one."

Asked his opinion on Jonathan Pollard, Woolsey said that though he has
favored a significant punishment for Pollard in the past, "now that he has
served [over] 20 years in prison, my view is that 20 years is enough. I
also think that the close relationship between the US and Israel is also
of some consideration, and at this point I think he's served long enough.
I won't go any further than that."

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:58 PM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2007

From: The White House Office of Public Liaison

To Jewish Leaders from the US United Nations Representative

Jeremy Katz

In response to the Holocaust Denial Conference organized by the Government of Iran in December, today the United States and 72 co-sponsors introduced a draft resolution in the United Nations General Assembly that “condemns without any reservation any denial of the Holocaust”. The resolution recognizes that remembrance of the Holocaust is critical to preventing further acts of genocide, and that ignoring the historical fact of these terrible events increases the risk they will be repeated.

The United State is urging additional countries to co-sponsor the resolution, which is expected to come to a vote on Friday.

Agenda Item 44: Culture of Peace
January 19, 2007

Draft resolution on Holocaust Denial

The General Assembly,

i. Re-affirming its resolution A/60/7 of 1 November 2005,

ii. Recalling that resolution A/60/7 observes that remembrance of the Holocaust is critical to preventing further acts of genocide,

iii. Recalling further that, for this reason, resolution A/60/7 rejects efforts to deny the Holocaust, which by ignoring the historical fact of these terrible events increases the risk they will be repeated,

iv. Noting that all people and States have a vital stake in a world free of genocide,

v. Welcoming the establishment by the Secretary-General of a program of outreach on the subject of the "Holocaust and the United Nations," and further welcoming the inclusion by Member States within their educational programs of measures to confront attempts to deny or minimize the importance of the Holocaust,

vi.Taking note that 27 January has been designated by the United Nations as an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust,

1. Condemns without any reservation any denial of the Holocaust;

2. Urges all Member States unreservedly to reject any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, or any activities to this end.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:13 AM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2007

Chosen for What?

The Associated Press, January 20, 2007

Jerusalem — Only one-fifth of the property stolen from Europe’s Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators has ever been returned, leaving at least $115 billion in assets still missing, according to a new study obtained Friday by the Associated Press. Many Western European governments paid restitution for only a fraction of the stolen real estate, investments, businesses and household items, while Eastern European countries under Soviet control paid almost nothing at all, the study said.

Even the highly publicized campaigns over the past decade for more complete compensation barely made a dent in the problem, said the study, compiled by economist Sidney Zabludoff, a former CIA and U.S. Treasury official.

Élan Steinberg, a former executive director of the World Jewish Congress who helped spearhead the 1990s push for Holocaust restitution, said he was “shocked but not surprised” by the study’s figures and called for a rapid resolution to benefit destitute Holocaust survivors. “This is an extraordinary finding, and what makes it most tragic is that despite the efforts at restitution, we have so many Holocaust survivors at the end of their days who are not being taken care of,” he said.

Zabludoff’s study showed that before the Holocaust, Jews owned property in Europe that was worth between $10 billion and $15 billion at the time. Most of that was never re-paid, translating into a missing $115 billion to $175 billion today, the study said.

An Israeli government report, two years ago, estimated material damages at $240 billion to $330 billion. That report factored in lost income as well as unpaid wages from forced labor, which Zabludoff did not include in his study.

The study is to appear in the April issue of the Jewish Political Studies Review, a journal published by a think tank, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2007

Denuding the Realpolitick of Henry Kissinger

President Gerald Ford, Ambassador Henry Kissinger and the State of Israel

Redacted from an article by Jason Moaz, Senior Editor, Jewish Press
January 5, 2007

Gerald Ford, who passed away last week at age 93, was considered a solid-friend of Israel throughout his long Congressional career. A popular speaker at Jewish organizational functions, he never hesitated to support all manner of financial and military aid to Israel and was one of the first elected officials to urge that the U.S. recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

That unabashed enthusiasm underwent a speedy metamorphosis, however, once Ford became president in August 1974. Just a week after he assumed the presidency, Ford was asked at a press conference about his stance on Jerusalem. “That particular proposal,” he replied with no discernible sheepishness,” ought to stand aside.”

Ford’s transformation from something of a pro-Israel cheerleader to more of an even-handed interlocutor should serve as a cautionary tale for those inclined to put much stock in past rhetoric, even the past actions, of politicians who run for President pledging to remain single-mindedly devoted to Israel. lt’s one thing for a congressman to maintain an unblemished record of support for Israel and quite -another for a President, whose concerns encompass a complex range of strategic issues and fragile alliances.

By his own admission Ford was inordinately influenced by Henry Kissinger, the secretary of state and national security adviser he inherited front Richard Nixon. Ford had concentrated on domestic issues during his career in the House, and, as a result, lacked both experience and self-confidence in the realm of foreign policy – which, of course, made him especially susceptible to Kissinger’s sway. Kissinger had been a respected foreign-policy scholar before Richard Nixon brought him to Washington. Ford had a layman’s grasp of history and none of Kissmger’s sophisticated, first-hand experience with diplomacy.

“It would be hard for me to overstate the admiration and affection I had for Henry” Ford wrote in his memoirs. “Our personalities meshed. I respected his expertise in foreign policy and he respected my judgment in domestic politics.”

By retaining Nixon’s foreign policy czar, Ford tied himself to Nixon’s foreign policy. Detente with the Soviet Union and an easing of hostilities with China were Nixon’s major legacies, but plenty of unfinished business remained - particularly in the Middle East where, in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, the U.S. faced growing Arab hostility and an Israeli government in upheaval.

Hoping to restore at least a semblance of order on the ground, Kissinger spent weeks in late 1973 working out interim disengagement agreements among Egypt, Syria and Israel. But negotiations over more permanent arrangements ‘would take months, and when the accords where finally hammered out they were scheduled to take effect in stages, giving the parties involved, specifically Israel, that had agreed to make painful territorial concessions — enough time for second thoughts.

(Excuse me - when are the Arabs asked to make these “painful concessions” of any kind? All they have ever been asked is to give up terrorism and to recognize the existence of the state of Israel. And, for 60 years, have refused even these basic requirements. Then the chutzpa of Israel having to ask recognition of its very existence after near 4000 years, from a people that have proven inferior to the Jews in any measure of accomplishment over the centuries. And to have to ask recognition from a people whose founder, Mohammed, plagiarized and forged the origins of Islam’s entire history and Koran from the Hebrew bible, is beyond understanding or acceptance). Jsk

Sorry, back to Jason Moaz’s excellent article:

Meanwhile, the golden image Israel had long enjoyed in the U.S. was showing signs of tarnish. The mainstream media were increasingly portraying Israel not as a virtuous outpost of democracy threatened by its rapacious enemies but as an intransigent colossus lording it over its helpless neighbors, while arguments for supporting Israel began to lose resonance with the man in the street as the Arab oil embargo and its deleterious effect on the nation’s economy steadily diminished his buying power.

Also, admiration for Israel’s military prowess had faded in the wake of the Yom Kippur War, not just in the nation at large but among America’s own soldier class. “The Israelis,” wrote Steven Spiegel in The Other Arab-Israeli Conflict, his well-regarded study in Middle East diplomacy, “even suffered in the Pentagon, where their image as effective fighters had been tarnished by their early war losses. Some officers resented the loss of equipment sent to Israel during the emergency.”

(Israelis and Americans take note and fully understand that the world only loves and, more important, pays attention to, a winner) Jsk

Israel’s plummeting prestige loosed some tongues that might otherwise have remained silent. Remarks made at Duke University in October 1974 by the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Gen. George Brown, sent shockwaves through the American Jewish community. In a rambling response to a question about whether he thought the U.S. might one day have to intervene militarily in the Middle East, Brown said he hoped not, ‘but you can conjure up the situation where there is another oil embargo and people in this country are not only inconvenienced and uncomfortable, but suffer and they get tough-minded enough to set down the Jewish influence in this country and break that lobby. It’s so strong you wouldn’t believe now.... They own, you know, the banks in this country the newspapers... you just look at where the Jewish money is in this country.”

The administration disavowed Brown, but judging from calls to radio talk shows, letters to newspapers and telegrams to the White House, his remarks reflected the sentiments of a significant number of Americans. Whether the growing impatience with Israel had any influence on Kissinger is a matter of speculation, but what is certain is that the secretary of state felt free to employ imagery suggesting an intransigent Israel whenever negotiations reached an impasse.

At one point during a touchy stretch of the discussions, Kissinger delivered an especially scathing diatribe to Israel’s negotiating team, fuming that “Such bargaining is not dignified for an American secretary of state. I am wandering around here like a rug merchant in order to bargain over 100 to 200 meters! Like a peddler in the market! I’m trying to save you, and you think you are doing me a favor when you are kind enough to give me a few more meters.”

The last straw for Kissinger came in March 1975, as the date approached for Israel to surrender more of the Sinai as stipulated in the third and final accord signed with Egypt. A disagreement arose over how far Israel was obligated to pull back, and Kissinger peevishly warned the Israelis that he foresaw “pressure building up to force you back to the 1961 borders.”

At that point the Ford administration announced “a reassessment of United States policy in the region, including our relationship with Israel.” Kissinger left the Middle East in a dark mood, referring to Yitzhak Rabin as a “small man” and calling the Israeli government’s stance lunacy.

As part of the “re-assessment” the White House froze all scheduled arms deliveries to Israel, and starker measures were hinted at. Seventy-six senators signed a public letter demanding the immediate resumption of aid to Israel. An embarrassed Kissinger summoned Israeli ambassador Simcha Dinitz for a dressing-down.

“‘This letter will kill you!” Kissinger shouted at Dinitz. “It will increase anti-Semitism! It will cause people to charge that Jews control Congress!”
In the end, Rabin, after a three-month standoff, agreed to withdraw Israeli forces from some disputed mountain passes and Ford and Kissinger resumed aid to Israel. Ford never did develop a warm relationship with Rabin, but by the time the president left office in January 1977, the gloomy period of the oil embargo and Israel’s declining popularity was receding into history.

Israel’s image had been immeasurably boosted by the dramatic July 4, 1976 rescue of more than a hundred Jewish and Israeli hostages held in Uganda by Palestinian and German terrorists — a military action that simultaneously restored the lDFs old luster and reminded a generation of Americans shell-shocked by Vietnam that sometimes military force is the only option.

As for Kissinger, his policy of detente had failed to check Soviet aggression, and the fall of South Viet Nam made a mockery of one of his most vaunted diplomatic "successes." In November 1975 Ford stripped him of his position as national security adviser, appointing Brent Scowcroft, a Kissinger protégé, to fill the position. Kissinger remained on as secretary of state, but his power and prestige were never the same.

The irony of Gerald Ford’s brief term as president is that the breath of fresh air he brought to an Oval Office enveloped in the fumes of corruption failed to blow away the stale vestiges of Kissingerian Realpolitik, in the Middle East and elsewhere. It was left to Jimmy Carter in his own tentative and largely misguided manner, and then to Ronald Reagan, with his clear-eyed view of American virtue and Soviet villainy, to set a new course for American foreign policy in the closing years of the 20th century.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2007

Arab Historical Revisionism Gone Wild - Christmas becomes Arab!

(Despite the fact that Mohammed was born in 570 C.E. and died 632 C.E. - apx. 600 years after Christ’s birth!) Jsk

Redacted from an article by Joseph Farah
Jewish Press, January 5, 2007

When it comes to the politicization of the Christmas story, I thought I had seen it all. But the London Independent’s shameless mischaracterization of Mary the mother of Jesus, as “a Palestinian refugee” takes the proverbial cake.

The story written by Johann Hari and published on Dec. 23, begins: “In two days, a third of humanity will gather to celebrate the birth pains of a Palestinian refugee in Bethlehem — but two millennia later, another mother in another glorified stable in this rubble-strewn, locked down town is trying not to howl.”

It goes on to describe a 5-year-old tale of an Arab woman who claims she was stopped from entering Israel to deliver her twins and forced to go 20 minutes in another direction to an Arab hospital. It’s amazing. It’s bizarre. It’s breathtaking at what passes for Western journalism in the Middle East today.

First of all, was Mary “a Palestinian refugee”? No, Mary was a Jew, living in the Roman-occupied territory of Israel. She wasn’t trying to get to a Roman hospital to have her child. She was traveling with her husband from her home in Nazareth to Bethlehem, where the Roman authorities decreed those from the House of David would pay their taxes.

By the way, neither the area of Bethlehem nor Nazareth had ever been considered Palestine or, more appropriately, Philistinia, up through the time of Jesus. In fact, it was not for another 100 years that the Romans would think about re-naming Israel as Palestine in an effort to make the world forget about the Jews who had been slaughtered and dispersed. There were no Philistines or Palestinians around. They hadn’t been heard from for over 500 years. It’s beyond silliness.

Who are these anti-Israel activists the Western press dispatches to cover the Middle East? Where do they come from? Where are they trained? Where are they educated? How is it possible that such drivel is actually published? What is it exactly that the so-called Palestinians want? Do they want their own homeland or not? It seems to me they’ve got it. But now they want to be able to travel into Israel for medical care? What’s wrong with using their own hospitals? Why is it that they don’t decide to buy more medicine and fewer guns?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame “the modern-day Mary” in this fable for wanting first-class medical care in Israel. And had Bethlehem remained under Israeli governance, that’s exactly what the people of Bethlehem would have received. But the so-called Palestinians demanded their own country. Unfortunately for them, that means Palestinian hospitals, too.

The Palestinian authorities are also demanding that no Jews be permitted to live in their territories. Yet, there is shock that Arab Palestinians should not be able to cross into Israel at all hours of the day and night without facing checkpoints and security. Is this a tragedy? Yes, it is. I would much prefer to see these poor Arabs live freely, as they did under Israeli governance. But for heaven’s sake, they rejected that option with extreme violence and terrorism.

Is that context not important for people unfamiliar with the region to understand? Is it not important for reporters covering the region to understand? Let’s call this what it is: Deliberate deception. (One cannot help but wonder how much did the Arabs pay Johann Hari to create this drivel? Jsk).

It is the worst form of propaganda. What is the purpose? Is it to stir up more hate and violence? Is the purpose of such lies to immunize those serving them up from terrorist attacks? One can only speculate. But one thing is certain: This is not journalism.

Joseph Farah is founder editor and CEO of World Net Daily and a nationally syndicated columnist. His latest book is “Taking America Back.”

P.S. I had a recent mind-boggling experience similar to that of Joseph Farah. During the Christmas season, I heard a supposed religious authority on TV say of course, the Three Wise Men - Balthasar, Melchior, Caspar, were Palestinians - when no such people existed! You may remember that the Christian biblical narrative had the Wise Men coming form the East - from Persia. So, if anyone could make claim to their origins, it should be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The claim could be a companion piece to his Holocaust denial statement and then be adopted by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly.) Jsk

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:18 AM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2007

Variables in the Approach to Terror

By Jerome S. Kaufman

Look what I stumbled upon in the Hebrew daily prayer book! The paragraph immediately follows the prayer said by mourners for prescribed periods of time following the death of a loved one. The prayer, unfortunately, seems even more pertinent in our present moment.

“Do not fear sudden terror, nor the destruction of the wicked when it comes. (Should they) contrive a scheme, but it will be foiled; conspire a plot, but it will not materialize, for G-d is with us. To your old age I am (with you); to your hoary years I will sustain you: I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and deliver you."

You might notice that G-d said nothing about not having a great Homeland Security System, a great offensive strategy and a reliable missile defense system. G-d seems to have no problem with our going beyond Ehud Olmert's sophisticated strategy of million dollar donations to our mortal enemies and re-enforcing the roofs of the school houses in Ashkelon, Kiryat Shemona - wherever rockets fall like rain drops. G-d also did not mention the ridiculous futility of Olmert continuing to try and curry favor from friends that have apparently deserted us. He also chose not to mention Olmert's suicidal mindset of just waiting for the right opportunity to give away more vital Israeli territory.
Evidently, G-d has dealt with so-called Jewish leaders in the past.

I also, like the part of the prayer about sustaining me in my “hoary years” – a particularly pertinent personal reference. Ouch!

Shavua tov (Have a good week)

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2007

You go argue with the logic of a 12 year-old boy

Why Do the Anti-Semites Hate Jews?
Jewish Press, December 28, 2006

By Menachum Polack, Age 12
Maimonides School

For many generations Jews have experienced hatred from non-Jews all over the world. I would like to share with you some of my own personal experiences. My family and I were invited to eat at a friend’s house on a Friday night. On the way home, we past a scary-looking man who called after us, “You bloody Jews.” It was the only time anything like that has ever happened to me.

During the war my great-grandmother gave some things from the house to her neighbors to hold until the war was over. When her daughter, my grandmother, came back after the war to collect her parents’ things, the neighbor said, “Hitler forgot to finish the job; there are more Jews for him to take care of.”

We have suffered all kind of discrimination for one reason, because we are Jews. The question is why? If we go back to the time of our ancestors and analyze the relationships between the two brothers, Yaakov and Eisav, we see that in spite of the fact that they were twins, each one’s character was the opposite of the other Eisav was a hunter, and Yaakov was an innocent scholar. Their different characters led them to different activities that made them grow apart from each other. Yaakov used his brains to achieve his goals, and Eisav used his fist and axe.

Those two fundamental differences can be seen today in their children. Some people who try to find the reason why Jews have been hated, emphasize that Jewish people were richer than gentiles. But that is not true everywhere, and there are parts of the world in which Jews were discriminated against, in spite of the fact that they had nothing. People just blame things on us and they don’t even care if it is true or not — they just blame us because they just hate Jews.

Hashem (G-d) promised Yaakov, as long as you worship Me and do what is right, the hands of Eisav will not harm you. When you don’t behave properly, Eisav will prevail. However, during many periods in history Jews behaved properly, did what Hashem commanded, but still anti-Semitism existed. So what is the reason for this? Hashem wanted to create hatred between Jews and gentiles to separate between his chosen nation and all the others. If we lived in too much harmony we might intermarry. Then, the Jewish nation would slowly disappear because of assimilation.

The fact that Hashem commands us to separate ourselves and be pure in front of Him keeps a tall fence between us and the other nations. These preventive steps cause automatic isolation for the Jews from the outer world and make them hate us because of those differences. So why do anti-Semites still hate Jews who act like them? Why do they see no difference between Jews who keep Jewish laws and Jews who don’t? The hatred that exists will last forever to keep us aware that whoever is Jewish will remain Jewish no matter what. There is no point of trying to cover up your identity to escape trouble. We have to accept the fact that the Jews and the other nations will never be happy with each other’s presence and we should never question why, because this is Hashem’s will.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 03:07 AM | Comments (0)

January 08, 2007

How about addressing the real killer to the American economy?

Redacted from an article by Irwin M. Stelzer
The Weekly Standard, December 25, 2006

Mission impossible. That’s the best way to describe Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson’s just-concluded trip to Beijing, ostensibly to persuade the Chinese to do something to whittle down their huge trade surplus with the United States. Paulson and his colleagues—the delegation included the commerce, labor, health and human services, and energy secretaries in addition to the U.S. trade representative, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board— don’t have much of substance to show for their 13,000-mile round trip. Indeed, if their aim really was to pursue that oft-stated goal of U.S. policy, a “strong dollar” the delegation that the Wall Street Journal derisively labeled “the biggest economic expedition since Marco Polo’s” should have been rerouted to Riyadh. While the Chinese have been accumulating dollars at the rate of about $200 billion per year, high oil prices have driven oil exporters’ trade surplus with America to $500 billion annually.

These oil producers, members or fellow travelers of the oil cartel that is keeping prices above competitive levels, are feeling put upon because the dollars they are getting for their oil now buy fewer pounds to spend in Harrods, and fewer euros to spend on the necessities of life in the south of France. Worse still, the dollars they have already accumulated are declining in value.

To protect against further declines, the oil producers are diversifying out of dollars and into other currencies, most prominently euros and Japanese yen. The central banks of the members of the OPEC cartel cut their dollar-holdings from 75 percent of total reserves in 2001, to 67 percent at the end of the first quarter of this year and again to 65 percent at the end of the second quarter.

That increased the downward pressure on the dollar, pressure that was alleviated a bit at week’s end by two developments: It became clear that the American economy is sufficiently strong to make it unlikely that the Fed will soon cut interest rates, and it was announced that the trade deficit for October fell by over $5 billion.

The problem created for U.S. policy by the oil producers’ dollar holding is that many of these countries are outright hostile to America. Venezuela,
Russia, Iran—and others might wreak havoc with the dollar should the Palestinian-Israeli crisis flare up, putting pressure on Arab regimes to inflict pain on the United States. (How the hell, this author and all the rest find a way to blame Israel for all the crap that occurs in the world, is beyond belief - unless, one understands mindless anti-Semitism and irrational Jews – Jsk).

What goes on in the world is the fact that any dollar dumping would also harm the Arab states is irrelevant. The Middle East is not a region in which economically rational behavior consistently wimps self-inflicted wounding. …

Irwin M. Stelzer is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard, director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute, and a columnist for the Sunday Times (London).

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 06:05 AM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2007

Jimmy Carter’s Allegiances

No Surprise - Just Follow the Money

By Rachel Ehrenfeld December 21, 2006

To understand what feeds former president Jimmy Carter's anti-Israeli frenzy, look at his early links to Arab business:

Between 1976-1977, the Carter family peanut business received a bailout in the form of a $4.6 million, "poorly managed" and highly irregular loan from the National Bank of Georgia ( NBG). According to a July 29, 1980 Jack Anderson expose in The Washington Post, the bank's biggest borrower was Mr. Carter, and its chairman at that time was Mr. Carter's confidant, and later his director of the Office of Management and Budget, Bert Lance.

At that time, Mr. Lance's mismanagement of the NBG got him and the bank into trouble. Agha Hasan Abedi, the Pakistani founder of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), known as the bank "which would bribe God," came to Mr. Lance's rescue making him a $100,000-a-year consultant. Abedi then declared: "we would never talk about exploiting his relationship with the president." Next, he introduced Mr. Lance to Saudi billionaire Gaith Pharaon, who fronted for BCCI and the Saudi royal family. In January 1978, Abedi paid off Mr. Lance's $3.5 million debt to the NBG, and Pharaon secretly gained control over the bank.

Mr. Anderson wrote: "Of course, the Saudis remained discretely silent... kept quiet about Carter's irregularities... [and] renegotiated the loan to Carter's advantage."

There is no evidence that the former president received direct payment from the Saudis. But "according to... the bank files, [it] renegotiated the repayment terms... savings... $60,000 for the Carter family... The President owned 62% of the business and therefore was the largest beneficiary." Pharaon later contributed generously to the former president's library and center.

When Mr. Lance introduced Mr. Carter to Abedi, the latter gave $500,000 to help the former president establish his center at Emory University. Later, Abedi contributed more than $10 million to Mr. Carter's different projects. Even after BCCI was indicted — and convicted -— for drug money laundering, Mr. Carter accepted $1.5 million from Abedi, his "good friend."

A quick survey of the major contributors to the Carter Center reveals hundreds of millions of dollars from Saudi and Gulf contributors. But it was BCCI that helped Mr. Carter established his center.

BCCI's origins were primarily ideological. Abedi wanted the bank to reflect the supra-national Muslim credo and "the best bridge to help the world of Islam, and the best way to fight the evil influence of the Zionists."

Shortly after assuming office, in March 1977, Mr. Carter made his first public statement regarding a Palestinian "homeland." Since then, he has devoted much of his time to denouncing Israel's self-defense against Palestinian terrorism, which he claims is not only "abominable oppression and persecution" of the Palestinians, but also damages U.S. interests in the region

By the time BCCI was shut down in July 1991, it operated in 73 countries with a deficit of $12 billion, which it had managed to hide with wealthy Arab shareholders and Western luminaries. Among them Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan of Abu Dhabi, who gave hundreds of millions of dollars to Yasser Arafat and Palestinian terrorist groups, and who branded the United States: "our enemy number one"; Former head of Saudi foreign intelligence service, and King Faisal's brother-in-law, Kamal Adham — who with another Saudi, the banker of the royal family, Khaled bin Mahfouz , staged BCCI's Attempt to illegally purchase the Washington-based First American bank, in the early 1980s.

True to its agenda, BCCI assisted in spreading and strengthening the Islamic message; they enabled Pakistan's Nuclear ambitions, and helped the Palestinian leadership to amass a $10 billion-plus fortune, used to further terrorist activities and to buy more influence in the West.

BCCI Founders also supported the Islamic fundamentalist opposition to the Shah of Iran, and saw it as an opportunity to undermine Western influence in the Gulf. They assisted the revolution financially, reinforcing their position within the leadership of the Iranian revolution. Ironically, the success of that revolution cost Mr. Carter his presidency.

BCCI's money also facilitated the Saudi agenda to force Israel to recognize Palestinians "rights," convincing Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to sign the Camp David Accords in September 1978. Since then, Mr. Carter repeatedly provided legitimacy to Arafat's corrupt regime, and now, like the Saudis, he even sides with homicidal Hamas as the "legitimate" representative of the Palestinian people.

In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Carter again laid responsibility for U.S. bias against the destitute, depressed and (consequently) violent Palestinians on American policy makers' helplessness, over the last 30 years, against the menacing tactics of the powerful American-Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC).

However, it seems that AIPAC's real fault was its failure to outdo the Saudi's purchases of the former president's loyalty. "There has not been any nation in the world that has been more cooperative than Saudi Arabia," the New York Times quoted Mr. Carter June 1977, thus making the Saudis A major factor in U. S. foreign policy.

Evidently, the millions in Arab petrodollars Feeding Mr. Carter's Global endeavors, often in conflict with U.S. government policies, also ensure his loyalty.

Rachel Ehrenfeld is the director of the American Center for Democracy.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:43 PM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2007

Post Election Musings and the Jews

Redacted from an article by Gabriel Schoenfeld
Commentary Magazine, January 2007

The 2006-midterm elections confirmed once again a truism of American politics: American Jews remain overwhelmingly devoted to the Democratic Party. According to exit polling, the tilt this year was, if anything, even more pronounced than it has been in the past. Some 88 percent of Jewish votes went to Democratic candidates, while a mere 12 percent went to the GOP. Along with this lopsided outcome, a historical extreme comes the news that the number of Jewish representatives in Congress has itself reached an all-time high. Although Jews represent a marginal sliver—a mere 2 percent—of the US population, they now hold 13 seats in the U.S. Senate, all but two of them —Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Norm Coleman of Minnesota— are Democrats (Bernard Sanders of Vermont, elected as an independent, has pledged to vote with the Democratic caucus.)

In the House of Representatives, Jews, all but one of them Democrats, now occupy 30 seats. Party affiliation aside, this surely denotes a high-water mark of Jewish political representation, just as Joseph Lieberman’s presence on Al Gore’s presidential ticket set a previous mark in 2000. But party affiliation cannot be placed to one side. For the paradoxical and disturbing fact is that even as Jewish voters remain unwaveringly loyal to the Democrats, and even as Jewish representation in national office, almost entirely Democratic in color, has risen to an all-time high the Democratic party itself is becoming demonstrably less hospitable to Jewish interests.

The result, thanks in part to the stubbornly lopsided Jewish allegiance to the Democratic Party: The influence wielded by the Jewish community has not been increasing but receding, even while the numerical representation of Jews in public office has grown. Not only is the Democratic party of today farther than ever from the Democratic party of Jewish memory, but also the steadfast lack of interest shown by American Jews in the Republican Party has robbed them of any possibility of being courted by either party as a potentially valuable swing vote. Worst of all is that this reality continues to be denied by Jewish spokesmen who most need to recognize and confront it.

“When it comes to Israel, Democrats and Republicans are pretty much indistinguishable,” wrote the executive director of the Israel Policy Forum (IPF) a left-wing Jewish advocacy group. (One could easily take issue with the author’s kind description of IPF as a Jewish advocacy or Israel advocacy group. A cursory review of its duplicitous publications and actions would make it fall rather into some bizarre never, never land category, adopted by many main stream Jews, euphemistically designated “universalism.” Jsk)

“If there are members of Congress who are truly antagonistic toward Israel,” he continued, "they keep their views secret.” But this is just so much eyewash, designed to soothe political consciences and keep increasingly distasteful facts from view.

By direct and painful contrast, Muslim-Americans have become a group avidly sought after by both parties, a group whose numbers are growing and whose group preferences strongly expressed, are and will continue to be taken into account. In the foreseeable future, it is highly unlikely that American Jews, whose numbers are in any case hardly increasing, can play such a role. They can certainly not do so as long as they remain unthinkingly wedded to a party that is paying them less heed every day.

GABRIEL SCHOENFELD is senior editor of COMMENTARY and the author of, The Return of Anti-Semitism.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:49 PM | Comments (0)