December 29, 2007

Mitt Romney at the Republican Jewish Coalition Conference

Redacted from an article in International Jerusalem Post, December 27, 2007

... It was with a delicate touch that Romney dropped the name Jimmy Carter - to take issue with the former president’s critique of the Israeli security barrier. He continued to push all the right emotional buttons, linking, for starters, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric to that of Hitler ahead of the Holocaust. He later, said, It was the ideology of radical jihad that was at the root of conflict in the Middle East rather than the lack of a Palestinian state.

The other candidates speaking at the Republican Candidate’s forum didn’t all manage to do that, and even many of the audience members supporting Romney’s opponents were impressed by the job he did. Joel Hoppenstein, for one, a Giuliani booster who thought highly of the former New York mayor’s performance, still enthused that “Governor Romney also spoke very well.” He added, “I love Mitt Romney. I think he’s fantastic.”

OFF STAGE, too, Romney speaks knowledgeably about the issues of concern to Jewish Republicans. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post after his New Hampshire town hall meeting in November, for instance, Romney distinguishes between elements in Fatah, suggesting that too broad a brush has been used to paint the Palestinian Authority faction rival of Hamas. “Even within Fatah there are voices of intolerance that are not dramatically disparate from those in Hamas,” he says.

He has other remarks which would be soothing to the RJC crowd. He is skeptical on the Annapolis conference: “At this stage we’re now gathering parties to talk despite the fact that the Palestinians have not put in place the security institutions or the governmental institutions which were the doorway to the road map, and so my expectations are very modest.”

He is skeptical on Syria: “I have a very hard time understanding a Golan Heights discussion at this point in time, again with the Palestinians not having put in place the security and political institutions. Speaking ahead of the release of the new US intelligence report, he expresses willingness to take tough steps against Iran, with or without the support of the international community: “You always like to have your friends standing with you, but you also take what action you believe is in the best interest of your own nation and civilization.”

At the RJC forum in October, declaring that he would act to stop a nuclear Iran, Romney even spelled out some of the measures a military confrontation with Iran might entail, going further than several other candidates in raising the possibility of taking that course of action.

Maintaining that the taxed US military has the capability to attack Iran if necessary he explained, “It’s more likely that military action would be in the nature of blockade or bombardment or surgical strikes of one kind or another.” Speaking more generally, he said, “There’s a growing chorus of threats about the existence of Israel. I think it calls for a more explicit statement from America about our foreign policy priorities as regards Israel - America will never allow the destruction of Israel.

...The presentation was impressive...

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

December 27, 2007

Where Is The Right Hiding in Israeli Politics?

By Moshe Feiglin

The Jewish Press, December 21, 2007

If the Likud would be run according to its constitution, it would have applied Israeli sovereignty to all parts of the Land of Israel that are in our hands. But, currently, the Likud is not run according to its own principles. Likud ideology has been replaced by pragmatism. Today’s Likud is convinced that in order to rule, it must access votes from Israel’s political center. In that center, the Likud believes, waits a vast pool of voters who determine which party will win the elections. And so, the Likud puts its ideology aside, and vies for the elusive center of the voter pie.

Dr. Asher Cohen, a senior lecturer in the Political Science Department of Bar-Ban University, recently conducted a survey that put a wrench in the Likud’s assumption. His survey concerned the self-defined political identity of Israel’s citizens. He found that 29% described themselves as belonging to the Center. Another 15% defined themselves as moderate Right. Using logic, Cohen correlates this 15% with the Likud voters. (The Likud is often described as a Center/Right party.)

Now for the big surprise: Cohen finds that Another 12% — to the right of the Likud — defined themselves as Right (without any qualification), while 22% defined themselves as extreme Right. All in all, 34% — more than a third of Israel’s voters — consider themselves further to the right than the Likud. Where then, according to Cohen, is the Right hiding? His answer is simple. Those who defined themselves as Right and extreme Right by and large voted for Avigdor Lieberman and Shas. They are currently “hiding” deep inside Ehud Olmert’s government.

In light of these statistics, we can clearly see how erroneous the Likud’s attempt to attract votes from the political center really is. To the Likud’s left, there is a bank of 29% of voters who define themselves as Center, while to the Likud’s Right, the bank has 34% of Israel’s voters. Why then does the Likud consistently attempt to woo the Left/Center voters? Not only are there fewer of them, but they already have a political home in Kadima or the Labor party.

Clearly, if the Likud wants to return to the 48 Knesset seats that it once held (four times what it has now), it must appeal to its natural constituency and proudly display its ideology, instead of denying it. But in practice, we see just the opposite. Likud Chairman Benjamin (Bibi) Nétanyahu announces that he sees Ehud Barak as a worthy candidate for defense minister in a Likud-led government. In other words, the entire Right “bank” will have no influence on the policies of the Likud. In addition, Bibi is investing much of his energy in an attempt to neutralize the ideological voices in the Likud. His actions send this clear message to one-third of the voters in Israel: You are not Likudniks.

This is a no-win situation. The first to lose is the Likud, which time and again loses the elections and has become a pale shadow of the Left. The second loser is the national camp, which remains captive in the hands of the Left — even when, on the surface, the Likud wins the elections. And, most important, the entire State of Israel loses its only chance to survive and halt the blind march to its own destruction.

It is highly unlikely that anyone can convince Netanyahu to change direction and appeal to the Right bank of voters. As I have written in the past, the foundations of that problem are much deeper than its political reflection. But, whether we like it or not, the key to the consolidation of the Right and Israel’s rescue is exclusively with the Likud.

Instead of splintering off into more and more right-wing parties that will remain insignificant as long as the Likud stays connected to the Left, and instead of deliberating whether to demonstrate with or without a permit, the Right must simply join the Likud — and restore the ruling party to its own hands.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2007

Abdullah, Saudi King and Laurie Bush from Midland, Texas

By Kathleen Parker

Washington Post

Saudi King Abdullah’s pardon of the young woman known as “Qatif Girl” — who was gang-raped and then sentenced to 200 lashes and six months’ imprisonment for “improper mingling is welcome news. With something less than gratitude, how does one feel grateful for mercy when none should have been required in the first place? Westerners are nonetheless relieved.

It seems obvious that the king’s decision was influenced in part by pressures both from the international community, including the United States, and within Saudi Arabia, where some writers and others bravely expressed outrage and embarrassment. I would like to propose another possible factor less easily assessed — first lady Laura Bush’s October journey to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries.

In Saudi Arabia, the first lady met with the king and his wife Princess Hessa as Mrs. Bush launched the Saudi portion of the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research. Other participating countries include Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

The trip, while officially aimed at improving women’s health (an acceptable and “safe” first-lady enterprise), was in fact a brilliant diplomatic maneuver in the arena of women’s rights. Here’s why: In Saudi Arabia, where women’s participation in society is severely limited — no driving, no voting, no mixing with unrelated men — it’s not so easy. You can’t just say to the king, “You know, Abdullah, you really should let women vote and drive and mingle with men anytime they want to.” He should, of course, but that’s none of our concern, from the palace perspective. Moreover, external conversion doesn’t work very well, we’ve noticed.

What one can do in Saudi Arabia is talk indirectly about less controversial issues such as women’s health. Who isn’t for good health? The Wahhabi branch of Islam that informs Saudi government and social policy may mean that women can’t wear miniskirts in the public square, but clerics haven’t yet said Women deserve to die of breast cancer. Even so, women’s health has suffered as a byproduct of the very laws that restrict them in the broader society. Thus, health is a women’s rights issue. A discussion about breast cancer in Saudi Arabia is a discussion about women’s rights.

Religious belief thwarts women’s health in several ways. Until relatively recently, Saudi women wouldn’t say the word breast because it would have been deemed inappropriate. Many didn’t self-examine because such familiarity was viewed as a religious violation. Some didn’t go to the doctor because they are modest and most doctors are men. Consequently, most women (80 percent) in the Middle East where breast cancer strikes 10 years earlier than in other parts of the world, were diagnosed too late for treatment. They simply died.

Thanks to the first lady’s trip, which received wide media coverage throughout the region, women are increasingly coming forward and seeking help. In the past two months, more women have been visiting clinics, according to the U.S. State Department. At the Abdullatif Cancer Screening Center in Riyadh, which Mrs. Bush toured, the number of women getting screenings has increased from five a day to more than 25 and there’s a three-month waiting list. Because of demand, the center will soon increase screenings to 35 per day. A new phase of awareness begins in February, when the U.S.-Saudi Partnership and the Saudi Cancer Society together with the Susan G. Komen For the Cure organization, will make a four-city swing around Saudi Arabia.

Americans, who take breast cancer awareness for granted, also take Laura Bush for granted and underestimate her powers. As witness to her meetings with King Abdullah and others, I can testify that the first lady’s personal touch is both deft and profound. What her quiet manner conceals is a fierce spirit; what it reveals is respect for others and the understanding that baby steps precede great strides.

There’s no way of knowing what compelled King Abdullah to spare a young woman 200 lashes, but we do know that America’s first lady had his ear for a little while. It can’t have hurt that he listened.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2007

Condoleezza Rice’s future Palestinian State in action

Gaza Christians under Islam

Jewish Press December 14, 2007

GAZA CITY — Palestinian sources say the Hamas regime has not arrested suspects in several attacks on the estimated 2,500-member Christian community in the Gaza Strip. They attributed the assaults to either Hamas operatives or their allies. The attacks have focused on churches and homes around Gaza City. On Dec. 8, four masked gunmen dressed as Islamic fundamentalists sought to abduct a guard at a church in Gaza City, the second such attack since October 2007. Shopkeepers near the church shouting for help foiled the attempt abduction.

The sources said the attackers have sought to intimidate Christians into handing over deeds to property. They said the church was attacked because it contains many of the valuables that Christians would not keep at home. In October, an unidentified fundamentalist Muslim faction in the Gaza Strip killed a Christian, who refused to convert to Islam. No suspects have been arrested

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 01:13 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2007

Egyptian Style “Peace” with US and Israel

Never mind the facts on the ground

By P. David Hornik

It was thirty years ago this week that then Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, first visited Israel, publicly launching a diplomatic process that led to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. At present, though, Egypt is “the Arab world’s biggest center of publishing anti-Semitic literature. So says a new report by the Tel Aviv-based Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

This literature that Egypt puts out, says the Center, “is marketed across the Arab and Muslim world, distributed through the Internet, and sold every year at the Cairo International Book Fair.” The Egyptian government, “despite its ability to impose strict censorship,” allows all this to go on.

Seven of these books were purchased, apparently by someone from the Center, at the Cairo fair that was held this year from January 24 to February 4. The books, published in Cairo over the past four years, “re-cycle lies, fabrications, and anti-Semitic myths rooted in classical European and Islamic anti-Semitism.

First, there’s The Nature of the Jews [as reflected] in the Torah and the Talmud by Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Hijazi al-Saqa. The front cover sets the tone: a ship called World Zionism is sailing the globe while Jewish snakes crawl over the various continents (the back cover is even more grisly). The author holds a Ph.D. in comparative religious research from Al-Azhar University, considered the leading center of Islamic and Arabic learning in the world.

The book begins by explaining “the Jews hate the Muslims and hate all the peoples and nations, since the Devil has whispered in their ears saying they are the smart and the clever, while others are unclean beasts.” A later, typical passage states: “Almost all the revolutions, coups d’etat, and wars that ever happened in the world were brought about by the Jews, instructed by the falsified Torah, the Talmud, and ultimately The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. [These texts] all incite [the Jews] to eliminate non-Jews, using all means to achieve their goal: ruling the world from Jerusalem....”

Then there is Israel’s Follies and the Lies of Zionism: Religion and State by Ibrahim Abu Dab, who heads the Egyptian oppositionist newspaper Al-Siyasi al-Misri. This time the front-cover snakes, instead of crawling all over the globe, emerge from a Star of David containing pictures of Zionist, Israeli and Jewish notables. The Talmud, says Abu Dah, tells Jews that all the resources of the Earth belong solely to them, to be seized by them while freely killing any and all non-Jews. Abu Dab, though, provides hope: he sees signs in the Koran and even in Jewish holy books that the demise of the state of Israel is near.

The same Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Hijazi al-Saqa has also offered another of the many Arabic editions of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This one’s front cover varies the zoological content, showing, instead of Jewish snakes (an omnipresent image in the Arab world), a Jewish octopus enwrapping the Earth with its tentacles. The back cover informs readers that “the entire contents [of the Protocols] appear in the Talmud, written by the Jews themselves” and “our sole motive for publishing them is to warn the world about the Jewish threat.”

Muhammad Younes Hashem’s The Jews and the New Crusaders: The Religious and Political Controversy targets not only Jews but also Christians and the West. The author, a researcher, contends “the Jews control the Western countries and have formed an anti-Islamic alliance with ‘Christian imperialism.’” Publisher Dr. Huda al-Koumi, who holds a Ph.D. in dramaturgy, explains in her forward “the Jews keep using the most despicable weapons in conflicts with their enemies. They use women, sex, drugs, bribes, forgery, schemes, and mix drugs into food, beverages, agricultural farms water, and anything [else].”

The cover of Dr. Baha al-Ainir’s The Divine Inspiration and Its Reversal, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion shows Orthodox Jews praying in a sinister blood-red light. The back cover informs readers “The Protocols is the centuries-old scheme of the Jews, implemented for hundreds of years. It is transmitted by the snake’s head from generation to generation and has led to the downfall of one nation after another since the 5th century BC.” The book’s text often invokes the Koran in making the case that the Jews seek to corrupt the whole world.

The Children of Israel and the Lie of Semitism was written by Dr. Ayid Taha Nassef, chief of the Information Center for National and Strategic Studies and Research in Egypt. The cover shows a Star of David superimposed on a hapless globe, and the text — among, of course, many other things — says “the recent [persecutions] against the Jews in Germany were carried out by Hitler, who burned thousands of them in mass incinerators due to their despicable acts.”

Finally, there’s Secrets of the Bastions of the False Messiah in the Hidden Island Triangle: The Wandering Jew and the Bermuda [Triangle] Region. This work is by Muhammad Issa Daoud, a best-selling author in the Arab world. The book develops the thesis that the Bermuda Triangle is home to Al-Masikh al-Dajjal, known in Muslim tradition as a repulsive false messiah of the Jews who will fight the Mahdi at the end of time.

Author Daoud contends that in the 1990’s Israel and the United States shot down Egyptian planes in the Bermuda Triangle and that the Zionist and American-dominated world media covered up the crimes. The lurid and insane fantasies that fill these books are genocidal in import. Both stemming from and feeding a frenzy of hatred, they hammer home againhe and again tmessage to millions of Arab and Muslim readers that Jews and the state of Israel are the source of all evil. As the Center notes, “the anti-Semitic myths, lies, and drivel take hold in the consciousness of those exposed to such literature and lay the foundations for acts of violence against [Jews].”

That Egypt is the fountainhead of this toxicity does not prevent it from receiving large annual outlays of U.S. aid and being assiduously courted by both the U.S. and Israeli governments as an agent of peace. Ignoring the real nature of the Egyptian regime and society is both cowardly and a betrayal of the Jewish and other victims of hatred.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Tel Aviv. He blogs at and can be reached at pdavidh200l@yahoo. Com.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 06:00 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2007

Rudy Giuliani in a Nutshell

By Cal Thomas
Washington Times, December 6, 2007

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani was in Washington to raise money and to see me. In a nondescript office building two blocks from the White House, Giuliani answered a wide range of questions on domestic and foreign policy.

Two hours after a news conference by President Bush on the subject of the newest National Intelligence Estimate, which said Iran had suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003, Giuliani said the report should not be seen in isolation from Iran's behavior and rhetoric over the last 30 years.

Noting Iran's expressed goal of destroying Israel, Giuliani said, "We are not going to allow (Iran) to become a nuclear power (because) the regime, not just particular individuals, but the regime, has been too irresponsible for that to happen. The worst nightmare of the Cold War was that nuclear weapons would be in the hands of irresponsible individuals. They qualify as irresponsible, both as individuals and as a regime." He said the military option against Iran is "more likely" if they are allowed to become a nuclear power.

Does he see this as a good time to meet with Iranian leaders? "Only if I felt we were in a position of sufficient strength that we had the leverage. I would not do it the way the Democrats are suggesting we do it, which is without preconditions. It's very naive to think you can have negotiations with people who are dictators, tyrants and supporters of terrorism without preconditions." That seemed aimed at Sen. Barack Obama, who has said as president he would "engage" Iranian leaders.

Giuliani is "concerned" that Russian President Vladimir Putin has "taken several steps back toward a more totalitarian government." He would not submit to Putin's desire to avoid a missile shield in Europe. "Just do it," Giuliani said. He also would borrow from Ronald Reagan's military buildup, because he believes neither the Russian or Chinese economies could keep up. That, he said, would lessen the likelihood of an arms race.

On domestic issues, Giuliani said there are three parts to fiscal conservatism: reduce spending, cut taxes and make sure regulations are "moderate and sensible as opposed to regulating businesses out of your state or country." Pressed on which agencies he would eliminate, he said he would rely on an Office of Management and Budget report card and seek 10 percent spending reductions in all agencies, except for the military. Mostly, he says he would reduce the size and cost of government through attrition. "Forty-two percent (of civilian federal workers) are going to retire in the next 8 to 10 years." By not hiring replacements, he estimates $22 to $23 billion could be saved.

Of greatest interest to social conservatives is Giuliani's pledge to nominate only "strict constructionists" to the federal courts. Why would a supporter of "choice" on abortion nominate judges likely to overturn Roe v. Wade? "My view of a strict constructionist or originalist judge who sticks with the plain meaning of the Constitution comes from my judicial philosophy. It's not that I want one particular decision changed." He added that originalists might have "different views on this" and that precedent might trump even a wrongly decided case like Roe. Or, he said, the justices could overturn it. He cited the Second Amendment case the Supreme Court agreed to consider as a fine example of strict constructionism and noted that Judge Laurence Silberman read "The Federalist Papers" and other writings and speeches at the time the Bill of Rights was written to see what the authors intended.

With Hillary Clinton's numbers declining in Iowa, according to the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll (his are, too) does he have a Plan B in case Obama wins the nomination? "It's the same plan," he said. "The electoral map is roughly the same for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama." But this time, he said, Republicans can't afford to allow the election to come down to one state as occurred in 2000 (Florida) and 2004 (Ohio). He thinks he can compete better in states that are close and even where Democrats are strong, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest.

On personal matters, such as his three marriages, Giuliani says he should be judged on his ability to do the job. He mentions that some of our greatest presidents had personal failings. True, but let's see if he can sell that to the "values voters." If Hillary Clinton is the nominee, he might. Possibly, less so if, it's Obama.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 01:21 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2007

Understanding Kurdistan

Small excerpts from a must read major article

By Michael F. Totten

Azure – Autumn Issue 2007

Kurdistan is the Other Iraq, the Iraq a surprising number of people in the West have not heard of and know almost nothing about. The media mostly ignore Kurdistan for the same reason they ignore Kansas and Iowa: It is a sleepy and stable place where, hardly anything of note happens.

Ethnic Kurds make up around 20 percent of Iraq’s population These along with Persians, are indigenous to the Upper Middle East, having lived there long before Arabs invaded from the south and Turks from the east. A few live in Baghdad and along the Iranian border east of capitol, and a larger number live in the provinces of Nineveh and Kirkuk. The majority, though, live in the northern mountains high above the dusty plains of Mesopotamia in the other officially recognized and constitutionally sanctioned Kurdish Autonomous Region.

There, the war is already over. In fact, the war was hardly fought there at all. The only Kurdish insurgency in Iraq was against Saddam Hussein, and the only Kurdish terrorists in Iraq were those of Ansar al-Islam, which has since changed its name to al-Qaida were driven from the border town of Biyara into Iran in 2003.

The Kurds have their own capital and parliament in the city of Erbil. They have their own army, the Peshmerga, which in Kurdish means “Those Who Face Death,” They have their own police, their own border patrols and checkpoints and their own immigration and passport control. They have two International airports with regular flights to and from Europe. They have their own flag, their own diplomats and their own Department of Foreign Relations The only thing they don’t have are a currency of their own and a seat in the United Nations. In all but name then, Iraqi Kurdistan is an independent nation

Erbil, the largest city, in Kurdistan, has suffered three Islamist attacks since coalition forces terminated the Baath regime in 2003. The second largest city is Suleimaniah was struck only once. The third largest city, Dohuk, has never been hit at all. More people have been wounded or killed by terrorists in Spain than in Iraqi Kurdistan since 2003. No one has been kidnapped.

Arab nationalism, Islamic radicalism religious sectarianism and anti-Americanism are alien ideologies in Kurdistan, rejected root and branch by the Kurds. They have, in fact, forged one of the most aggressively anti-terrorist communities in the world - no small feat, given what is happening just a few miles to the south in Iraq. This conservative Muslim society secures its own cities and territories better than the United States military shores up the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Indeed, it is hard to overstate how pro-American the people of Kurdistan are. They are possibly more pro-American than Americans themselves. If Bill Clinton was America’s first “black” president, people in at least one part of the world, then say Bush is the first “Muslim” one: He is sometimes referred to in Kurdistan as “Hajji Bush” (meaning that he made the Muslim pilgrimage, or Hajj, to Mecca), an undeniably high honor for a Republican Christian from Texas. No. Kurdistan is not a “red state,” and Kurds are not Republicans nor does it occur to most of them to prefer America’s conservatives over its liberals. Rather, their warm feelings of gratitude and friendship extend to all Americans and both political parties for having liberated them from the totalitarian dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

... If the Kurds of Iraq get their state before the terrorists in Turkey and Palestine get theirs, it will be the great reversal the Middle East desperately needs. Terrorism will have proven to be the less effective tactic. And, who knows? Perhaps others who seek independence will take note. Palestinian terror groups like Hamas won’t, of course, but Kurdish terrorists in Turkey just might. And, the Kurds of Iran and Syria are even more likely to do so.

But, the real moral case for an American-guaranteed Kurdistan is simpler than that: They’ve earned it. They fought alongside the United States in Iraq and built a decent society there. They don’t start wars, they don’t terrorize people and they don’t deserve to be bullied and lorded over by others. America owes them. Everyone owes them.

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

December 16, 2007

Chanukah – A Brief Political History

Redacted from an article by Rabbi Naphtali Hoff

The Jewish Press, December 7, 2007

In our long history, few individuals threatened the spiritual survival of the Jewish people, as did Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He ascended to the Seleucid (Syrian-Greek) throne in 175 BCE and in an effort to solidify his empire and fashion his own everlasting legacy, Antiochus worked diligently to Hellenize all of the peoples living under his control.

No nation felt the effects of this effort more than the Jews living in the small province of Judah. Early on in his tenure, Antiochus, with the help of his personally appointed high priest, had a gymnasium erected in Jerusalem, within direct sight of the Temple. This gymnasium would serve as a center of Hellenistic education and athletics, where nudity and immoral behavior was the norm. These changes attracted many Jews, particularly Jewish youth. Many priests were also influenced by this new culture and neglected their sacrificial duties in favor of the new diversions.

Most of the Jewish population, however, was stunned by the introduction of immoral Greek culture into their holy city and refused to embrace it in any way.
At approximately the mid-point of his reign, Antiochus intensified his efforts at Hellenization. He outlawed, at the pain of death, such core Jewish practices as sacrifices, Sabbath observance, circumcision and the study of Torah. Simultaneously, he introduced pagan activities and worship among the Jewish populace. When his edicts were violated, Antiochus responded with intense cruelty. Mothers who had their sons circumcised risked a cruel death for themselves and their children.

The Seleucid-Greeks also took aim at defiling the Purity of the Jewish home. They declared that all women who were about to be married must first be brought to the local governing officer, who would engage in intimate relations with them. The Temple in Jerusalem was polluted and called after Zeus Olympus On 15 Kislev 168 BCE; an idol was erected in the Temple. Ten days later, exactly three years before the Chanukah miracle, swine was offered as a pagan sacrifice upon the altar.

The struggle finally boiled over in 166 BCE. Igniting the smoldering spark of Jewish resistance against the Seleucids was the elderly Matisyahu, from the priestly Hasmonean family. He, together with his five sons, would permanently change the face of Jewish history.

Persecution had forced Matisyahu to Modi’in, a small, inconspicuous hamlet situated to the northwest of Jerusalem. Before long, Greek troops arrived at Modi’in. They instructed the Jews to meet in the town square where the pagan ritual, which included the sacrifice of a pig to Zeus, would take place. As the town elder and a priest, Matisyahu was called upon to perform the sacrifice. It was then, amidst the fearful anticipation of the local villagers and under the watchful glare of the Greek soldiers, that he uttered his firm refusal.

Defying Matisyahu’s heroic stance, a Hellenized Jew came forward to sacrifice the pig. At that moment, the elderly priest stabbed him and killed the Greek commander as well. After tearing down the altar, he faced the crowd. Echoing the words spoken by Moshe following the sin of the Golden Calf some 1,500 years prior, he challenged them: “All who are for God should follow me!” Local inhabitants immediately pounced upon the Greek garrison, killing them. The war had officially begun.

Matisyahu would not live long enough to see the full consequences of his actions. Within a year of launching the revolt, he died. Before his passing in 165 BCE, Matisyahu left instructions that his militarily gifted son Yehuda become his successor. Yehuda was the practical leader and military strategist behind the eventual success of the Jewish revolt. He inspired thousands to take up arms in the battle for the preservation of Judaism, and devised strategies for the Jewish forces to outmaneuver and defeat the larger, more sophisticated Greek army. Yehuda’s heroism was rooted in the purest of all sources, a zealous love of his religion. He fought not for his own selfish end, nor from a passion for victory on the battlefield.

The reign of Antiochus marks a turning point in Jewish and world history. Unlike the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians, whose persecution of the Jewish people was aimed primarily at our political strength, Antiochus took aim at the Jewish religion. Had he been successful in his attempts at Hellenizing the Jews of Judah, all of Jewish and world history would have been permanently altered. Only the brave resistance of the Hasmoneans and their followers, who risked their lives for the sake of preserving their religion, would ensure the future of the Jewish people.

Rabbi Naphtali Hoff M.Ed. is an instructor of Jewish History at Hebrew Theological College (Skokie, Illinois) and serves as associate principal at Yeshiva Shearis Yisroel in Chicago.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2007

(Too Funny for Words - But not for Gail Collins)

Reading the Federalist Papers in the playpen?

By Gail Collins

The New York Times, December 8, 2007

The presidential campaign is sure getting hot. Mike Huckabee is inching ahead of Mitt Romney in Iowa, precipitating a fascinating national debate abut whether Mormons or Baptists Jesus more. Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are engaged in a battle over who has wanted to be president longer — or rather, less long. “I have not been planning to run for president for however number of years some of the other candidates have been planning for,” said Sen. Obama in (where else?) Iowa.

“He says that day after day,” said Howard Wolfson, Sen. Clinton’s spokesman. This sounded to the Hillaryites like a diss, and, indeed, Sen. Obama did appear to be suggesting that she was the product of long-running crass ambition while he, reluctant soldier, was simply responding to his country’s call. “So, we put out a document, finally, that had all the instances of his saying he wanted to run for president,” Mr. Wolfson explained.

The evidence began with a magazine article that claimed that Sen. Obama started planning his campaign when he became a senator in 2005. This was followed by quotes from friends and relatives attesting that he had mentioned his aspirations in 1992, 1988 and the third grade.

Finally came the coup de grace: testimony from his kindergarten teacher that back when he was 5, little Barack had written an essay titled: “I Want to Become President.” Adding the childhood homework, Mr. Wolfson said Wednesday, “was clearly an unwise thing to do.” So unwise, in fact, that the campaign attempted to argue that it was meant as a joke. (This was a hard sell since, as Patrick Healy of The New York Times noted, when the Clinton campaign jokes, it tells you it’s joking.) By Wednesday the Clinton aides were sprinting away from the story. Score one for Sen. Obama. “He basically gets away with saying she had a 20-year plan and he had no aspirations to run for president,” said Mr. Wolf son, in a less than happy tone.

Three thoughts:

1) The Clinton people are extremely lucky that The Daily Show writers are on strike.
2) Anyone married to Bill Clinton shouldn’t get into spats about who had the earliest political ambitions.
3) Didn’t we used to think that it was a good thing when kids wanted to grow up to be president?

Personally, I would love to be able to vote for a candidate who’s spent his/her life preparing to serve the country as competently as possible. The one thing we don’t want is somebody who just lucks into the job and then doesn’t even seem to particularly want to do it. (Stop here and try to think of the name of a person who fits that description.)

The Democrats had a debate this week on National Public Radio — an extremely decorous affair without cameras or a studio audience. The candidates weren’t even allowed to thank the Iowa State Historical Museum for hosting the event and the people of Iowa for, well, just existing.
It quickly became clear that the National Intelligence Estimate did Hillary Clinton no favors when it expressed “high confidence” that Iran had dropped its nuclear weapons program in 2003. It took no time at all for John Edwards to point out that Sen. Clinton had supported that misbegotten Senate resolution declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization and proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.

“Many of us believe that,” said Sen. Clinton somewhat reluctantly; pointing out that a lot of other Democrats voted for it besides her (Sure, and if Dick Durbin and Carl Levin tell you to jump off a bridge...) However, a meeting of the minds did seem to evolve over the need for “carrots and sticks.” Sen. Clinton called for carrots and sticks twice, and when Mr. Edwards echoed her, the debate seemed on the verge of a consensus that Iran is best handled with what, for variety’s sake, we can think of as a vegetables and twigs strategy.

Cruelly, however, the moderators brought in a tape of the resolution’s sponsor, Joe Lieberman, announcing that if economic sanctions don’t stop the Iranians from messing with Iraq “we really have to consider military action to stop them from doing it, perhaps by striking bases around Tehran.” Strategically, this would appear to lie beyond carrots and sticks and somewhat closer to a big log.

We have had these candidates with us so long now that their little tics and mini-panders echo like a dripping faucet. How long, when the topic turns to trade, will it take Mr. Edwards to mention that his father worked in a mill? On immigration, how many times will Chris Dodd point out that he speaks Spanish? What the heck is Mike Gravel doing on stage? Didn’t we get rid of him 10 or 20 debates ago? Still, give them credit. Nobody tried to compete to see who could get most hysterical about illegal immigrants. And, they all sounded as if they had been preparing for a long time.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2007

European Liberalism vs. the Reality of the Islamic Invasion

A few excerpts from a fascinating analytical paper

By Uriya Shavit

Azure, autumn, 2007

From Old Fears, New Threats

... It is hard to avoid comparing this new animosity (in Europe) toward Muslims to the traditional manifestations of a much older hatred—anti-Semitism. The fear of a minority that practices an unfamiliar form of worship and is believed to be worming its way into Christian or Western culture, undermining its values, shaped the relationship between Europe and the Jews in its midst for hundreds of years. This comparison between “Islamophobia” and classic anti-Semitism is much favored among European politicians, intellectuals and human rights workers who are trying to prevent, or at least mitigate, the, “culture war” that is being waged on the continent.

... This concept is embodied in the Warsaw Declaration, adopted by the Council of Europe on May 17, 2005, which condemned “all forms of intolerance and discrimination, in particular those based on sex, race, and religion, including anti-Semitism and Islamophohia.” Opinion columns in major European newspapers now regularly claim, “Muslims are now getting the same treatment the Jews had a century ago.”

...The temptation to draw parallels between past and present is unquestionably strong—but is it justified? ... In fact there is a quintessential difference between the two: The fear of a Jewish conspiracy against European civilization had no basis in fact, whereas fear of the expansionist ambitions openly expressed by senior figures in the Muslim-Arab world, and shared by some ordinary Muslims, is not groundless. Understanding this difference is of crucial importance if one wishes to properly assess the nature and magnitude of the challenge certain interpretations of Islam pose to Europe, and to deal with this challenge accordingly.

... The road to the realization of Islamic prophecy (wherein the entire world becomes one Muslim Caliphate – jsk) is long and strewn with great obstacles. But, this cannot obscure a simple truth: In order for this Islamic nation to turn the majority and minority groups in Europe on to a sure collision course, it is not necessary for the majority of Muslim immigrants—or even a particularly large part of them—to imagine themselves part of it and act as its emissaries. It is enough for a small but determined and ever more powerful minority to gain ground.

... Thus, the European Muslim on his way to the mosque is different from the European Jew on his way to the synagogue. He represents a potential member of an imagined community that envisages the West as Muslim and Islam as the new world order. To fear such an eventuality is not pure xenophobia; it is firmly grounded in reality.

... The challenge that Muslim thinking poses to European society is not simple - Especially, because the memory of anti-Semitism reverberates in the collective European consciousness. Europe knows just how short the distance is from alarmist newspaper articles about a foreign minority infiltrating the nation to a murderous outburst against that minority; from abuse hurled at people in the street because their beliefs and external appearance are different to an actual pogrom. Indiscriminate, blind, arrogant, and chauvinistic hostility toward Islam and Muslims is a phenomenon that Europe must denounce and correct, if it wishes to prove that it really has learned anything from its past.

... However, there is another warning that history has given Europe: Dangerous ideas should not he ignored because only a very few are loyal to them. Today, Europe is once again witness to the growing power of an ideology that despises territorial borders, undermines the liberal political system and rejects Western concepts of human rights. There is indeed cause for alarm, as restricted and minimal as its influence may be.

... The imagined Nation of Islam is not just an idea; nstruments of immense power have been pressed into its service. If Europe closes its eyes, if it chooses to label all critical analysis of Islam and its adherents as a xenophobic equivalent to anti-Semitism, that imagined nation, left without resistance or opposition, may very well succeed in undermining the foundations of the order in which it functions.

Uriya Shauit is a historian of the Middle East researching Islam in Europe for the Minerva Foundation, a subsidiary of the Max P/stuck Society.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2007

What’s with the Episcopalians – Dedicated Enemies of Israel?

Maybe, Just as their own Christian Theology prophesizes for those that are enemies to the Jews? Jsk

California Diocese Secedes in Dispute with Episcopal Church over Gays

The Associated Press, December 9, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO — The conservative Diocese of San Joaquin voted Saturday to split from the liberal-leaning Episcopal Church, becoming the first full diocese to secede from the denomination in the debate over the Bible and homosexuality. Clergy and lay members of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin voted 173-22 at their annual convention to remove all references to the national church from the dioceses, said the Rev. Van McAllister. The diocese, based in Fresno plans to align with like-minded Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, based in South America. The decision is almost certain to spark a court fight over control of the diocese’s multimillion-dollar real estate holdings and other assets.

The Episcopal Church is the US member of the global Anglican Communion, a 77 million-member fellowship that traces its roots to the Church of England. Anglicans have been moving toward a worldwide schism since 2003, when the Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. San Joaquin is also one of the three Episcopal dioceses that will not ordain women.

The Episcopal rift over theology began decades ago and is now focused on whether the Bible condemns gay relationships. “We have leadership in the Episcopal Church that has drastically and radically changed directions,” McAllister said. “They have pulled the rug out from under us. They’ve started teaching something very different, something very new and novel, and it’s impossible for us to follow a leadership that has so drastically reinvented itself.”
Episcopal and Anglican advocates for accepting gay relationships say they are guided by biblical teachings on social justice and tolerance. Traditionalists believe that gay relationships violate Scriptures.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, elected last year as the first woman to lead the church, had warned San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield against secession but did not outline consequences. Jefferts Schori supports ordaining partnered gays and lesbians. “We deeply regret their unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of comprehensiveness,” she said. “We wish them to know of our prayers for them and their journey.”

Clergy delegates at the convention voted 70-12 to break away and lay delegates voted 103-10 in support of the move. The outcome leaves in question the five or so parishes in the San Joaquin diocese that wish to remain with the Episcopal Church. Local clergy who agree to leave could lose their ministerial credentials and their pensions. Jefferts Schori indicated that the national denomination would not give up the diocese. “The Episcopal Church will continue in the Diocese of San Joaquin, albeit with new leadership,” she said.

The diocese serves about 8,500 parishioners in 47 central California congregations. Nancy Key, a member of Holy Family Episcopal Church in Fresno and cofounder of Remain Episcopal, which fought the secession, said she was “very disappointed. This has been threatening to split our diocese apart for a long time,” she said. “We feel like what we want to do is follow Christ who included all, and used all of us for his ministry. And that didn’t happen today.”

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:46 PM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2007

Winston Churchill and a Homeland for the Jews – A Clarification


On November 2, 1917, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration, a classified statement of support for establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Britain was an unlikely sponsor of the Zionist initiative, considering that it was the first European country to expel its Jewish population in 1290, and that it did not grant full political emancipation to Jews until 1871. (1290-1871 Judenrein).

At the beginning of the twentieth century, however, British evangelicals began supporting the idea of a Jewish homeland because the "second coming" could occur only after the Jews had returned to the Holy Land. The idea came under serious government consideration during World War I because of exaggerated ideas about Jewish influence in Western societies (including the United States) and the availability of captured Ottoman territory (the British seizure of Jerusalem on December 9, 1917, greatly bolstered this support).

Winston Churchill's policies with regard to the Balfour Declaration provide a good starting point from which to understand British policy in the Middle East. Before World War I, he was drawn to the romantic notion of a Jewish restoration to the Holy Land. As the war came to an end, however, he opposed partitioning the Ottoman Empire into European mandates as a means of countering the rising power of Bolshevik Russia even in defeat.

And in 1921, using his authority as secretary of state for the colonies, he designated three-fourths of Palestine as a kingdom for Abdullah, the Hashemite prince who had fought alongside T. E. Lawrence -- who Churchill greatly admired.

When Churchill traveled to Cairo that year to formalize an agreement, however, he changed his favorable opinion of the Arabs and came to regard the Jewish people as collaborators in the mission to civilize the world. At that time, he became an avid Zionist and remained one for the rest of his life.

For much of the 1930s, subsequent British administrations discouraged Jewish emigration to Palestine, and Churchill himself was pre-occupied with the Nazis, Italy's political alignment and the deterioration of the British Empire. Nevertheless, he supported Zionism and equated appeasing the Arabs in Palestine with the appeasement of Hitler. In 1940, as prime minister, he encouraged Jewish emigration to Palestine and armed Jewish groups to defend themselves against Arab fighters. He worked diligently on a postwar settlement that would create a Jewish state by force, if necessary, but failed because of the opposition of the Saudi king and President Franklin Roosevelt. Once Churchill left office in 1945, the British government reverted to a strongly anti-Zionist, pro-Arab stance, despite its shared socialist orientation with Zionism.

After Israel's war of independence, Churchill announced that the country's creation was a great event in world history. Upon re-assuming power in 1951, he tried to bring British foreign policy more in line with supporting the interests of the new Jewish state.

Dr. Makovsky is foreign policy director of the new Bipartisan Policy Center and author of Churchill's Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft (2007).

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:02 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2007

Black Tragedy is our Tragedy

Blacks constitute 12% of the nation but 50% of those murdered

By Leonard Pitts Jr.

Palm Beach Post, December 5, 2007

12% of the nation, 50% of the murdered and once again, this is how we die - fallen, crumpled, bleeding from a bullet hole. Women and child left to wail, left to mourn. It was, of course, not a “we” who died that way last week in Miami but a “he,” NFL star Sean Taylor 24, shot in his home by a bullet. But maybe we can be forgiven we black people in general, we black men in particular, for placing a “we” where others would place a “he” for seeing in the fate of this singular individual all the brothers and sisters we have wept and mourned and given back to the soil. Maybe we can be forgiven for feeling the only difference is that the world knows his name and did not know theirs

And this is how we die. We die in profligate numbers. Just under 15000 Americans were murdered in 2006. Roughly, half of them - 7,421 - were black. African-Americans are 12 percent of the nation’s population. And, this is how we die. We die younger. Of the 7421 African American murder victims of 2006, 3,028, better than 40 percent, were Sean Taylor's age or less. And, this is how we die. We kill one another. Of the 3,303 African American murder victims whose assailants are known to authorities, 92 percent were killed by other blacks. It’s easy to make too much of that last statistic After all, murder like other violent crime tends to be a segregated thing. About 82 percent of white murder victims owe their demise to another white person, yet one never hears lamentations about the scourge of “white on white” crime. Violent crime is, more than anything a matter of proximity and opportunity.

Still, with all that said, that difference of 10 percentage points of likelihood whispers a soft suggestion that sometimes, we don’t much value us, that some of us have learned to see our lives the way the nation historically has - as cheap and lacking in worth. Note that even before three people were arrested Friday, it was being taken for granted by some Internet posters and at least one black columnist that Mr. Taylor’s assailant would prove to be black. That is a dangerous, and potentially embarrassing, assumption. But, at the same time, no one was exactly shocked to see police parading disheveled black kids past television cameras. Because this is how we die.

We die shot in the head and shot in the gut and shot in the back and shot in the chest and shot in the thigh. We die on asphalt and on concrete, and lying in bed and slumped against refrigerators and prostrate on gurneys in the back of ambulances hurtling down city streets and quietly inside, too, in the soul a little, at the carnage our communities become. We die and it goes un-remarked, die so much it’s hardly news anymore. A child dies from random bullets or a famous man dies at a burglar’s hand and the media are all over it, yeah. But, 12 percent of the nation is 50 percent of the murder victims and it’s mainly business as usual —No government task force convenes to tell us why this is. No rallying cries ring from podiums and pulpits. Crowds do not march as they did in Jena, La., demanding justice.

But, one could argue that murder is the greatest injustice of all and life the most fundamental of civil rights. We ought not — that is, I ought not — deny Sean Taylor his singularity, his personhood, in the rush to make him a symbol. So let us say here for the record: No, this is not 7,421 murders. This is one. One heartbeat stilled. One child fatherless. One family shattered. One. I understand all that. Still, maybe we can be forgiven for feeling that, in the broadest outlines, we’ve seen this story before. Because this is how we die. And, yes, Sean Taylor is one man. But, he’s also one more.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for The Miami Herald. His e-mail address is lpitts©

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2007

Something to warm your heart – for a change

Czechs Stand up to Neo-Nazis


The Jewish Press, November 16, 2007

PRAGUE — With several hundred neo-Nazis preparing to descend upon Prague’s Jewish quarter for a brazen march on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, Prague’s small Jewish community found some unusual allies: anarchists, a Muslim leader and thousands of non-Jewish Czechs.

On a freezing Sabbath afternoon that marked the 69th anniversary of the Night of Broken Glass, the neo-Nazis got the boot in the Czech capital — literally, in some cases. Thousands of Czechs filled the streets Saturday to protest the neo-Nazis in an unusually large and emotional show of solidarity with the country’s Jews that in some cases turned violent.

Masses of non-Jews marched through the streets, many wearing yellow Stars of David inscribed with the word “Jude,” while a few anarchists clashed with neo-Nazis in bloody street fights. The anarchists kicked and stomped two neo-Nazis until they lay dripping with blood in front of the Charles University Law School.

The violence notwithstanding, the Czech Jews and non-Jews said they were inspired by the massive turnout against the neo-Nazi extremists, who had scheduled their march for the Jewish quarter but were barred from the neighborhood by a court ruling.

The neo-Nazis said they would march anyway, but some 1,400 police prevented the several hundred who came from entering the city center. “We are told about ‘Never again,’ “ said Alena Hladkova, 33, a non-Jew who on Saturday found herself waving an Israeli flag in front of the Prague Jewish community’s headquarters. “ But unless you are ready to defend that, it doesn’t mean anything.”

(Non-participating, non-involved Jews pay attention. You too will pay the consequences as the proudly “assimilated” German Jews learned to their naive surprise) jsk

Saturday’s events marked the first time in recent memory that residents of a former Eastern bloc capital took to the streets in large numbers to demonstrate against anti-Semitism. Observers hailed it as a milestone and said the demonstrations should serve as a model for responding to neo-Nazis elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

“This is a turning point for Czech civil society,” said Gert Weisskirchen, a member of Germany’s parliament and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s special representative against anti-Semitism. “After the Velvet Revolution, society was a bit quiet. But today Czechs showed loudly and publicly that neo-Nazis have no chance here.” The grass-roots Czech participation in the day’s events, Weisskirchen said, should serve as a model for Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, where right-wing extremist groups have formed national guards or gained seats in parliament.

Only about 1,500 Jews live in Prague, but some 3,000 to 4,000 demonstrators turned out for the day’s events. They included a prayer service in front of the Old-New Synagogue, a march through the Old Town where the Jewish quarter is located, musical performances and presentations by Holocaust survivors that were projected on a large outdoor screen.

On the day after the demonstrations, a former Czech interior minister, Frantisek Bublan, who once was a Catholic priest, wore a yellow Star of David on his lapel during an interview on the country’s most watched TV news show. The massive outpouring of support extended even to leaders of the country’s Muslim and Gypsy communities, who publicly expressed support for the Jews ahead of the planned neo-Nazi march. The Young National Democrats — a group anti-racism advocates say is a front for the National Resistance, a well-known international neo-Nazi organization —had scheduled the original march.

Experts estimate that there are less than 1,000 active neo-Nazis today in the Czech Republic. However, as is the case across Europe, neo-Nazis increasingly are using the Internet to network and create more international gatherings. About 600 neo-Nazis from Germany, Slovakia and Poland were expected to march in Prague on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, when the Nazis led brutal attacks on Jews and Jewish property in Germany and Austria. Their march never materialized, however, as police blocked the neo-Nazis at metro stops and sealed off the Jewish quarter. The few dozen neo-Nazis who managed to make it to the perimeter of the Jewish quarter were attacked by anarchists and anti-fascists.

Police in riot gear, on horseback and armed with water cannons blocked about 1,500 to 2,000 of the anti-fascist marchers. Some sought to demonstrate peacefully while others, especially anarchists, went looking for neo-Nazis to beat up.

One Czech Jew who survived a Nazi concentration camp said she was buoyed by the sight of her fellow citizens standing up for her. “Two weeks before this day I couldn’t sleep and had terrible dreams,” said Zuzana Ruzickova, who survived Terezin. “It’s something extraordinary to see so many people come and support the Jewish community.” On the Old Town Square, Mayor Pavel Bern addressed thousands during a ceremony sponsored by the Jewish Liberal Union. “We need to cultivate the national memory to avoid what happened in the past,” he said. The Nazis murdered 80,000 of Czechoslovakia’s 120,000 Jews during World War II.

Tomas Homula, 43, was among the Jews who marched to the city’s famed Old-New Synagogue wearing the yellow Star of David. Homula, who brought his 14-year-old daughter, is the son of a Holocaust survivor. “We are not afraid today to show the extremists they are unwelcome,” Homula said. “We wear this star today with pride and not with fear.”

A young Israeli watching the spectacle Saturday of black-masked anti-fascist protesters taking over glitzy Pariszka Street shouted, “Jews 1 - Nazis 0.”

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:40 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2007

The Death of the Bush Doctrine

By Caroline Glick
The Jewish Press, November 30, 2007

At Annapolis this week, President George W. Bush buried his doctrine. The Bush Doctrine was based upon a simple statement the president made in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 jihadist attacks on America.
“Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime,” Bush announced to the roaring applause of both houses of Congress.

The message emanating from Annapolis was exactly the opposite. What the administration effectively said was, “The more you support terrorists, the harder the U.S. will work to appease you.” The price the U.S. and its allies who are fighting terrorism will pay for this abandonment of strategic wisdom will be steep. Moreover, Israel won’t be the only state to suffer. Much attention has reasonably been paid to the threat the effects of Annapolis conference pose to Israel’s long-term security. The conference was based on a diplomatic framework unprecedented in its hostility to basic Israeli security concerns.

In 2004, the Bush administration forced Israel to accept its road map plan for Middle East peacemaking. The road map, conceived and written by radical Israeli leftists and their European supporters, was itself a horribly anti-Israel document. It essentially committed Israel to a diplomatic framework that denies Israel’s legitimate claims to its heartland — Judea and Samaria — and to its capital city, Jerusalem. The document’s only redeeming factor was its stipulation that before any negotiations could begin between Israel and the Palestinians, the Palestinians first had to end their involvement and support for terrorism and to destroy the terrorist organizations operating in the Palestinian Authority.

The Annapolis conference and the new U.S. policy it reflects reject that pre-condition. The new policy is based on the proposition that Israel should commit itself to massive and strategically suicidal territorial withdrawals even before the Palestinians take any action against terrorism. As a result, it traps Israel in an untenable position where its security needs are neglected in the interest of strengthening the terror-supporting Palestinians.

In due course, Israel will pay a heavy price for the stupidity and irresponsibility of the Olmert-Livnet-Barak government in agreeing to the Annapolis formula for Israeli concession-making to the Palestinians. However, Israel will not actually be the conference’s most immediate victim. Lebanon and Iraq share that dubious distinction.

Many have touted the Bush administration’s new obsession with Palestinian statehood as a ploy to garner Arab support for its efforts to check Iranian regional influence and prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. By giving in to the Arab world’s persistent demands to put the screws on Israel in an effort to establish a Palestinian state, it is argued, the U.S. was working to shore up its credibility in the Arab world.

Yet, perversely, the opposite has occurred. Far from gaining influence, the U.S. push for Arab participation at Annapolis placed Washington in the role of supplicant. Rather than thank the U.S. for its efforts, the Arabs tried to distance themselves from Washington. As Khaled Abu Toameh wrote in the Jerusalem Post last Friday, the Arabs’ “major concern is that the Bush administration was planning to exploit the conference to create a U.S.-led coalition to confront Iran, Hamas and Hizbulla.”

In a bid to placate that Arab fear, the Bush administration went out of its way to appease Iran ahead of the conference. That is, far from working to weaken Iran, the U.S. attempt to appease the Arabs by holding the anti-Israel conference, has led directly to Iran’s empowerment. The most glaring example of this is the U.S.’s decision to invite Iran’s underling, Syria to the conference. Syria - with its strategic alliance with Iran, its illicit nuclear program that the Israel Air Force destroyed in September, its sponsorship of the insurgency in Iraq, and its bid to overthrow the democratically elected pro-Western Siniora government in Lebanon in a bid to reassert its control over its neighbor — epitomizes everything the Bush doctrine was supposed to be opposed to. Yet, to secure Saudi support for the conference, the U.S. ignored Syrian hostility and invited Bashar Assad to send an emissary to Annapolis.

Syria’s presence at Annapolis is ripe with consequences for Lebanese independence and democracy. As part of its bid to overthrow the Siniora government, through Hizbullah, the Syrians and Iranians have prevented the Lebanese parliament from holding elections for the country’s president. In accordance with the Lebanese constitution, Syria’s puppet President Emil Lahoud left office at the end of his term last Saturday and due to Syrian, Hizbullah and Iranian interference, no elections could be held in parliament to elect his successor.

Nabi Berri, the Hizbullah and Syrian-aligned speaker of the Lebanese parliament announced early in the week that the parliament would convene on Friday, November 30 in an attempt to elect a successor. The fact that the elections were set to take place after Annapolis was a clear sign that the Syrian presence there was part of a blackmail attempt to force the U.S. to give the Assad regime legitimacy in exchange for a vague — and likely unreliable — Syrian promise to allow elections to occur on Friday.

Given that Syria cares more about re-establishing its control over Lebanon than about maintaining good relations with the U.S., it is safe to assume that they will renege on their presumed pledge to enable the elections to take place. Moreover, they will do this after being showered with attention and legitimacy by the Bush administration at Annapolis. What could be more pleasing to Teheran?

Over the weekend, Iranian-backed terrorists carried out a massive terror attack in Baghdad. And yet, rather than point a finger at Tehran, U.S. spokesmen said they didn’t know whether the fact that the terrorists used Iranian ordnance in carrying out their attack meant the Iranian government still supports terrorism. While some 600 Iraqi Shi’ite leaders signed a petition demanding that Iran end its sponsorship for the insurgency in their country, the U.S. has dropped its confrontational stance and has sought to present Tehran as cooperative and friendly even as its militias sow violence and attack U.S. servicemen.

Ahead of the Annapolis conference, Washington announced it was renewing its direct negotiations with Iran on Iraq’s future. The newest round of talks, scheduled to begin in the coming days between Ambassador Ryan Crocker and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, are a clear indication that the U.S. has decided to appease the mullahs.

Just last month the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petreaus, said Qomi was a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Kuds Brigade, which the administration labeled a terrorist organization. In his testimony before Congress in September, Crocker argued against holding further talks with the Iranians, claiming that the three previous rounds had led to a radicalization of Iran’s positions and actions in Iraq.

Although the Annapolis conference was pooh-poohed by many as nothing more than a sound and light show, the fact is that it was an event of enormous significance. It was the funeral for the Bush Doctrine. At Annapolis, the administration embraced appeasement as a strategy. All committed to the defeat of jihad should be crying bloody murder.

Caroline Glick is deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post. Her Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the last week of each month.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 01:32 AM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2007

Hillary and the “Peace” Process

Who is the Real Hillary?

By Martin Kramer
Excerpts from article in Jerusalem Post International, November 15, 2007

Hillary Clinton has published her foreign policy agenda in Foreign Affairs
, under the title “Security and Opportunity for the Twenty-First Century.” The one paragraph on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict draws deeply on the notions that “resolving the conflict” should be America’s top priority~ that both sides are equally at fault for the “violence,” and that Palestinians need only make promises to earn statehood. The passage strongly suggests that Hillary’s support for Israel is more “triangulated” than many have assumed.

Here is the passage in full:

Getting out of Iraq will enable us to play a constructive role in a renewed Middle East peace process that would mean security and normal relations for Israel and the Palestinians. The fundamental elements of a final agreement have been clear since 2000: a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank in return for a declaration that the conflict is over recognition of Israel’s right to exist, guarantees of Israeli security, diplomatic recognition of Israel, and normalization of its relations with Arab states. US diplomacy is critical in helping to resolve this conflict. In addition to facilitating negotiations, we must engage in regional diplomacy to gain Arab support fir a Palestinian leadership that is committed to peace and willing to engage in a dialogue with the Israelis. Whether or not the United States makes progress in helping to broker a final agreement, consistent US involvement can lower the level of violence and restore our credibility in the region.

THIS IS a carefully crafted paragraph, loaded with allusions and references that the casual reader is likely to miss, but that send a clear signal on the high frequency of the “peace process.” The message is this: a Hillary administration would constantly busy itself with Israeli-Palestinians talks, regardless of their prospects, and would strive to avoid any appearance of partiality - toward Israel. The hyper-activism is made explicit in the promise of “consistent US involvement,” “whether or not the United States makes progress.”

This is exactly what the US did during the Clinton years, when Yasser Arafat visited the White House 11 times, and met with president Clinton 24 times. Not only did this “consistent involvement” at the highest level not produce any progress, it raised the expectations of Palestinians to an absurd level, leaving them more intransigent and belligerent than they were at the outset. Obsessive US diplomacy eventually blew up in Washington’s face when Arafat launched a so-called “intifada” against Israel in 2000

During the Clinton administration, the White House collected a mountain of Palestinian promises and chits, which turned out to be worthless. Hillary makes no mention whatsoever of Palestinians actually fighting terrorism (not that word!), and says nothing at all about the need for good governance and accountability. In short, she would ask the-Palestinians simply to make the sort of promises Arafat made to her husband, as though we had not learned the hard way to demand that Palestinians perform.

Nor does Hillary consider that perhaps the Palestinians, having chosen to wage war against Israel in 2000, should be made to expect less than what they might have had in 2000. Instead, she implies that the game should be resumed precisely at the point where Arafat walked off the field and began to shoot.

The Palestinians insist that they will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, because this effectively negates their “right of return.” Hillary herself, in a statement made in September, s she personally “believes that Israel’s right to exist in safety as a Jewish state must never be questioned.” Yet Hillary’s formula in the Foreign Affairs piece invites the Palestinians to do just that, asking them simply to “recognize Israel’s right to exist” A Palestinian can only read this as an invitation to hold firm to the bogus “right of return”

In September, Hillary issued a statement on Israel designed to bolster her standing among pro-Israel voters. Her Foreign Affairs piece, aimed at the wider foreign policy establishment, takes a very different line. Who is the real Hillary, behind the triangulation? Who knows?

The writer is Olin Institute senior fellow at Harvard University, and senior Middle East adviser to the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani. These views are his own.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)