January 29, 2008

Why Barack Hussein Obama?

By Hillel Halkin

New York Sun, January 22, 2008

Even before the recent brouhaha about Barack Obama's membership in a church whose minister is openly pro-Farrakhan and anti-Israel, I found the thought of his becoming the next president of America unnerving. It was not just, because his rhetoric, general outlook and location in the Democratic Party did not encourage one to think that he would tend if elected to be a particularly strong backer of Israel.

Perhaps I've grown cynical and jaded, but I've never been able to understand what the excitement generated by Mr. Obama in his supporters is all about.Although he is constantly, being called by them "dynamic" and "charismatic," every time I've watched him on TV has made me feel that I was looking at a stick-figure politician who spoke entirely in clichés. That his trite phrases were laced with verbal stimulants like "hope" and "change" hardly made them any less tired-sounding to my ears, even if they seemed to work like a shot of adrenalin on millions of Americans.

(Why so many millions of people in a country that has changed more in the last 50 years than any other society in history in a similar period should want still more change is something I have trouble fathoming too, but that's a subject for a different column.)

Politicians are rarely spontaneous animals and can't usually afford to be, but I've rarely seen one who strikes me as more calculated or programmed than Mr. Obama. Watch his eyes when he raises his arms and lifts his voice with emotion at a dramatic moment in a speech; they remain cool and appraising, as if they were standing back from the rest of him to rate himself and his audience. You can see him assessing his effect on his listeners as he speaks.

In my book, that's working a crowd, not charisma. I don't deny that it's impressive that less than 50 years after the fall of racial segregation, America seems capable of electing its first black president. (Who is, of course, half-white? It's a curious fact about liberal America that it continues to accept the old white supremacist notion that any amount of African blood in a man makes him "black" — but that's a subject for another column, too.)

This is something America can justifiably feel proud of. And indeed, it does feel proud of it — to the point, one suspects, that the only racism at work in Mr. Obama's campaign is the kind that is in his favor. To ask a politically incorrect question: If the junior senator from Illinois, with two years of undistinguished service in the Senate behind him, were white, could he ever have succeeded in making himself a serious presidential contender? Who would have taken the slightest interest in him?

Mr. Obama is, as Brutus said of Cassius, a lean and hungry man. But, does that qualify him to run the most powerful country on earth? Of course it doesn't, although lack of qualifications is not always a crucial defect. What's crucial is to appreciate that one lacks them.

Mr. Obama has been compared with Abraham Lincoln, another inexperienced Illinois politician who ran for president. But Lincoln was only too well aware of his own inadequacies — it was that which helped to make him great. The knowledge that he was nevertheless the man who would have to see America through the terrible crisis that he was elected to deal with was a source of anguish to him. If Mr. Obama had Lincoln's humility, he'd understand that it wouldn't have hurt him to finish out his term in Congress before applying for the world's most important job.

Of course, 2008 is not 1860. While the America of the Civil War years might not have survived any president other than Lincoln, the America of today will certainly survive Mr. Obama if it has to. In the unlikely eventuality that he ends up in the White House, one imagines that he will upset those who voted against him far less than he will disappoint those who voted for him.

You can run in an election, as he is doing, on the basis of substance less rhetoric, but you can't govern a country with it, let alone a country on which much of the world depends for leadership and support. After four years of President Obama, one imagines, America might really be ready for change.

All this is before one considers the sorry case of Jeremiah Wright, the pastor of Mr. Obama's congregation in the United Church of Christ who has reportedly called Jews "bloodsuckers" and who recently presented Louis Farrakhan with a "lifetime achievement" award in a gala ceremony.

A prominent Jewish communal leader from Chicago whom I talked to the other day tried to reassure me that this wasn't so serious. He can vouch for the fact, he said, that Mr. Obama has nothing against Jews or Israel.
I daresay he's probably right. But the problem, as has been observed, is not that Mr. Obama needs to be suspected of agreeing with Pastor Wright. It's that he didn't think it sufficiently important to disagree with him by getting up and leaving his church.

Israel is fighting a losing battle in the world arena precisely because the great majority of the world's politicians, intellectuals and media figures, though not necessarily against the Jewish state, think like Mr. Obama that the attack now taking place on its legitimacy isn't worrisome enough to warrant their doing anything about it.

This isn't so much a question of Mr. Obama's public relations as it is one of his private understanding and conscience. Perhaps four more years in the Senate will help these to mature some more.

Mr. Halkin is a contributing editor of The New York Sun
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Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2008

The Jews, The Democratic Party and their hero, Franklin D. Roosevelt

GW Bush – “The Failure to Bomb Auschwitz”

By RAFAEL MEDOFF

“We should have bombed it.” With those five words, President Bush helped shatter one of the most enduring myths of the Holocaust — the notion that U.S. forces were unable to reach and destroy Auschwitz.

On his visit to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial on January 11, the president viewed an enlargement of an aerial reconnaissance photograph of Auschwitz that was taken in the spring of 1944. Mr. Bush then turned to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and remarked, “We should have bombed it.” However, was “should have” necessarily the same as “could have”?

For many years after World War II, the popular assumption in the United States was that the answer to that question was negative. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the hero who guided his country out of the Great Depression and led it to the verge of victory in the war, only to die in office. With his reputation as a humanitarian, it was assumed that he must have done whatever was feasible to save Jews from the Holocaust.

Three decades later, the truth about the bombing issue was finally revealed. In 1978, David S. Wyman, a Harvard-trained scholar — and, incidentally, a Christian — authored a groundbreaking essay in Commentary magazine titled “Why Auschwitz Was Never Bombed.” Wyman was the first historian to examine the internal records of the U.S. War Department to determine the real reasons behind the administration’s refusal to bomb Auschwitz. He was also the first to reveal the incredible fact that U.S. bombers did repeatedly strike the Auschwitz area — but not in order to stop the mass murder of Jews.

The aerial reconnaissance photo that President Bush viewed exists because U.S. planes flew directly over Auschwitz in the spring of 1944, taking surveillance photos in preparation for bombing. Not for bombing the gas chambers or crematoria — rather, for bombing German oil factories nearby, some of them fewer than five miles away.

The Roosevelt administration knew about the mass murder going on in Auschwitz, and even possessed diagrams of the camp that were prepared by two escapees. However, when Jewish organizations asked the War Department to order the bombing of the camp or the railways leading to it, the requests were rejected. U.S. officials claimed such raids were “impracticable” because they would require “considerable diversion” of planes needed for the war effort. In fact, with U.S. bombers already flying over Auschwitz to attack the oil factories, no “diversion” would have been necessary to hit the gas chambers or railway lines. The planes were already there.

There are those who question whether such a bombing have made a difference — after all, by the time the U.S. had the ability to reach Auschwitz, in the spring of 1944, the war was nearly over and most of the Six Million were already dead. However, it is important to remember that during the same period that U.S. bombers were flying over Auschwitz, more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to the death camp. Even after the Hungarian deportations ended, approximately 150,000 more Jews were gassed in Auschwitz. Bombing the railways on which they were transported, or the gas chambers in which they were murdered, could have saved many lives.

As Prof. Wyman explained in his 1984 bestseller, The Abandonment of the Jews, the U.S. refusal to bomb Auschwitz was part of a broader policy by the Roosevelt administration to refrain from taking action to rescue Jews from the Nazis or provide havens for them. The U.S. did not want to deal with the burden of caring for large numbers of refugees. In addition, its ally, Great Britain, would not open the doors to Palestine to the Jews, for fear of angering Arab opinion. The result was that the Allies turned away from one of history’s most compelling moral challenges.

President Bush joins a growing list of American leaders who have acknowledged that the U.S. should have bombed Auschwitz. According to the Jerusalem Post, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, visiting Yad Vashem on February 16, 1977, “showed particular interest in a letter written by a deputy U.S. defense secretary stating that he would not allow the bombing of Auschwitz which had been called for to save the concentration camp inmates. Even my country didn’t act,’ Vance said with emotion.”

Senator Claiborne Pell (D-Rhode Island), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a radio interview in 1987: “The more you read about America’s response to the Holocaust, the more you realize that we did not bomb the railroad lines that brought the Jews into Auschwitz. The more you realize that we did not bomb the camps themselves and the incinerators — which we could have done...”

President Bill Clinton, in his remarks at the opening of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., on April 22, 1993, said: “For those of us here today representing the nations of the West, we must live forever with this knowledge — even as our fragmentary awareness of crimes grew into indisputable facts, far too little was done. Before the war even started, doors to liberty were shut and even after the United States and the Allies attacked Germany, rail lines to the camps within miles of militarily significant targets were left undisturbed”

More recently, former senator (and 1972 Democratic presidential nominee) George McGovern’ weighed in on the issue, when he was interviewed by Stuart Erdheim of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies (Erdheim is director of the acclaimed documentary “They Looked Away,” about the bombing issue) and Haiin Hecht of Israel Television. McGovern was one of the pilots who bombed the German oil factories near Auschwitz in 1944. He said, “There is no question we should have attempted ... to go after Auschwitz. There was a pretty good chance we could have blasted those rail lines off the face of the earth, which would have interrupted the flow of people to those death chambers, and we had a pretty good chance of knocking out those gas ovens.

...Franklin Roosevelt was a great man and he was my political hero. But I think he made two great mistakes in World War Two.” One of those mistakes was the internment of Japanese Americans; the other was the decision “not to go after Auschwitz ... God forgive us for that tragic miscalculation” President Bush has focused important new attention on the issue, and significantly strengthened the bipartisan consensus that America should have, and could have, bombed Auschwitz

Dr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:17 PM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2008

A Special Bond: Martin Luther King, Jr., Israel and American Jewry

By Stuart Appelbaum

From: Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

This year, U.S. Jews, like other Americans, will mark Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by remembering him as a powerful voice against racism and for civil rights. However, for Jews, Dr. King was also something else: a uniquely important ally in the fight against anti-Semitism and for a secure Israel.

Today, Dr. King’s close bond with the Jewish community is treated only as a small footnote of his life and work. However, toward the end of his life, Dr. King devoted significant time and energy to strengthening what were becoming increasingly strained ties between black Americans and U.S. Jews.

One issue Dr. King was particularly concerned with was the growing mis-characterization of Zionism as racism. Dr. King spoke and wrote often about Israel. However, the true depth of Dr. King’s commitment to Israel was readily apparent in a September, 1967 letter he sent to Adolph Held, then president of the organization I now lead, the Jewish Labor Committee.

Dr. King wrote Held after the Jewish leader contacted him regarding press accounts of a conference in which Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference participated. At the meeting, strongly worded resolutions blasting Zionism and embracing the position of the Arab powers had been considered. Understanding Held’s worries, Dr. King explained that, beyond offering opening remarks, he had no part in the conference.

But, Dr. King said, had he been present during the discussion of the resolutions, “I would have made it crystal clear that I could not have supported any resolution calling for black separatism or calling for a condemnation of Israel and an unqualified endorsement of the policy of the Arab powers.”“Israel’s right to exist as a state is incontestable,” Dr. King wrote.
He then added, almost prophetically, “At the same time the great powers have the obligation to recognize that the Arab world is in a state of imposed poverty and backwardness that must threaten peace and harmony.”Referring to the stake U.S. oil companies have in the Middle East, Dr. King went on to note, “some Arab feudal rulers are no less concerned for oil wealth and neglect the plight of their own peoples. The solution will have to be found in statesmanship by Israel and progressive Arab forces who in concert with the great powers recognize fair and peaceful solutions are the concern of all humanity and must be found.”

Were Dr. King’s comments to Held intended only to soothe a miffed supporter? Hardly. In a March 25, 1968 speech to the Rabbinical Assembly, Dr. King said: “peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”

Less than two weeks later, on April 4, Dr. King was murdered while organizing support for striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. We can only speculate how, had he lived, Dr. King might have helped heal the divisions between Jews and African-Americans - or even the contributions he could have made toward achieving Middle East peace. What we do know is that Dr. King’s vision of a secure Israel and a peaceful Middle East is as relevant today as it was in the 1960s.

We know something else, too: that it’s up to each of us to help make it a reality. For American Jews, maybe that’s what this Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is really all about.

Stuart Appelbaum, a Vice President of the AFL-CIO, is President of the Jewish Labor Committee

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:13 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2008

Barack Obama and Israel

The American Thinker, January 16, 2008

Redacted from an article by Ed Lasky

The ascent of Barack Obama from state senator in Illinois to a leading contender for the Presidential nomination in the span of just a few years is remarkable - Especially, in light of a noticeably unremarkable record -- a near-blank slate of few accomplishments and numerous missed votes.

However, in one area of foreign policy that concerns millions of Americans, he does have a record and it is a particularly troubling one. For all supporters of the America-Israel relationship there is enough information beyond the glare of the klieg lights to give one pause. In contrast to his canned speeches filled with "poetry" and uplifting aphorisms and delivered in a commanding way, behind the campaign façade lays a disquieting pattern of behavior.

One seemingly consistent theme running throughout Barack Obama's career is his comfort with aligning himself with people who are anti-Israel advocates. This ease around Israel animus has taken various forms. As Obama has continued his political ascent, he has moved up the prestige scale in terms of his associates. Early on in his career he chose a church headed by a former Black Muslim who is a harsh anti-Israel advocate and who may be seen as tinged with anti-Semitism.

This church is a member of a denomination whose governing body has taken a series of anti-Israel actions. As his political fortunes and ambition climbed, he found support from George Soros, multibillionaire promoter of groups that have been consistently harsh and biased critics of the American-Israel relationship.

Obama's soothing and inspiring oratory sometimes vanishes when he talks of the Middle East. Indeed, his, off-the-cuff, remarks have been uniformly taken by supporters of Israel as signs that the inner Obama does not truly support Israel. This despite what his canned speeches and essays may contain. Now that Obama has become a leading Presidential candidate, he has assembled a body of foreign policy advisers who signal that a President Obama would likely have an approach towards Israel radically at odds with those of previous Presidents (both Republican and Democrat). A group of experts collected by the Israeli liberal newspaper, Haaretz, deemed him the candidate likely to be least supportive of Israel. He is the candidate most favored by the Arab-American community.

When Obama moved to Chicago and became a community organizer, he found it expedient to choose a Christian church to join. Even though his father and stepfather were both Muslims and he attended a Muslim school while living in Indonesia, suspicions based on his days as a child are overheated and unfair. Still, his full name alone conveys the biographical fact that he has some elements of a Muslim background.

Saul Alinsky, whose philosophy infused community organizing in Chicago, emphasized the importance of churches as a basis for organizing. There are literally hundreds of churches on the South Side of Chicago that Obama could have chosen. He selected one that was headed by Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr. The anti-Israel rants of this minister have been well chronicled. Among the gems:
The Israelis have illegally occupied Palestinian territories for almost 40 years now. It took a divestment campaign to wake the business community up concerning the South Africa issue. Divestment has now hit the table again as a strategy to wake the business community up and to wake Americans up concerning the injustice and the racism under which the Palestinians have lived because of Zionism.

Pastor Jeremiah Wright, Jr. is a supporter of Louis Farrakhan (who called Judaism a "gutter religion" and depicted Jews as "bloodsuckers") and traveled with him to visit Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi, archenemy of Israel's and a terror supporter. Tucker Carlson of MSNBC has called Pastor Wright a total hater and wondered why the ties that bind Obama to Wright have not been given greater scrutiny. Mickey Kaus of Slate has also wondered when the ties between Obama and Wright will receive more criticism, given Wright's seeming bigotry, which is in contrast to the soothing melody of unity that Obama has trumpeted on the campaign trail. Some in the media have taken notice.

As Obama took steps toward the United States Senate he found a very powerful sugar daddy who would help fund his rise: George Soros. The billionaire hedge fund titan began supporting Obama very early -- as befits a legendary speculative investor always looking for opportunities. Obama coveted support from George Soros and Soros responded -- along with many family members and probably the Soros ring of wealthy donors. Soros even found a loophole that allowed him and assorted family members to exceed regular limits on campaign contributions. Soros is also a fierce foe of Israel, for years funding groups that have worked against Israel.

Every Presidential candidate assembles a foreign policy team of advisers. A glimpse into the makeup of Obama's team has leaked to the media.
Martin Peretz of The New Republic -- a supporter of Obama and of Israel -- had this to say about Obama's Foreign Policy team:
"I have my qualms, as you may know, about Barack Obama, and most especially about what his foreign policy might be.
If elected (and actually before he were to be elected), the first decision he would have to make would be who would represent him in the transition to power from early November to January 20. And, frankly, I get the shudders since he has indicated that, among others, they would be Zbigniew Bzrezinski Anthony Lake, Susan Rice and Robert O. Malley." Lake and Brzezenski both earned their spurs in the Carter Administration. Jimmy Carter, of course, has led a very public campaign of vilification against Israel-defaming it as an apartheid state (a view that Obama's Pastor would concur with).

The appointment of Brzezenski elicited much dismay among supporters of Israel since Brzezinski is well known for his aggressive dislike of Israel. . He has been an ardent foe of Israel for over three decades and newspaper files are littered with his screeds against Israel. Brzezinski has publicly defended the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis that the relationship between America and Israel is based not on shared values and common threats but is the product of Jewish pressure. Brzezinski also signed a letter demanding dialogue with Hamas - a group whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and is filled with threats to Jews around the world.

Susan Rice was John Kerry's chief foreign policy adviser when he ran for President. One of the major steps Kerry suggested for dealing with the Middle East was to appoint James Baker and Jimmy Carter as negotiators. Robert Malley was part of the American negotiating team that dealt with Yasser Arafat at Camp David. He has presented a revisionist history of those negotiations since then: presenting a view that blames Israel for the failures of the negotiations. He has spent years representing the Palestinian point of view, co-writing a series of anti-Israel articles with Hussein Agha - a former Arafat adviser. Palestinian advocate. ... etc. etc.

USA and Israel supporters: Please take note.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:27 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2008

I GW Gifts Saudi “Allies.” II Ambassador Dore Gold describes the “Allies.”

The President’s personal solicitation of Saudi King Abdullah

The Washington Post, January 15, 2007

President Bush on Monday launched a rare round of intensive personal diplomacy with Saudi King Abdullah aimed at winning support for American objectives such as rebuilding Iraq, pressuring Iran, fighting Al-Qaeda and backing the U.S. - brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Bush and Abdullah embraced at the bottom of the steps leading from Air Force One after the plane touched down for the president’s first visit to the kingdom and his first face-to-face meeting with Abdullah in three years.

Bush came bearing a big gift:

His administration formally notified Congress on Monday that it plans to seek approval for the sale to Saudi Arabia of $120 million in precision-guided bombs as part of an arms package worth about $20 billion. Congress has 30 days to try to block the sales, but administration officials appeared confident they have the votes to proceed with the deal. Bush is devoting two days of his Middle East trip to Saudi Arabia, much of it to private meetings with the king. That amounts to an unusual commitment of diplomatic time, reflecting both the large role Saudi Arabia plays in U.S. economic and foreign policy and a desire to strengthen a relationship that has frayed badly over the past seven years.

Meeting with Abdullah is the main purpose of the president’s trip to the region, say some diplomats and experts with close ties to the administration. Despite the outward display of affection on the tarmac, the relationship has been tense for much of Bush’s tenure; say former senior officials and experts on Saudi Arabia. “The president has a personal bond with the king,” said Dan Bartlett, Bush’s former counselor. This visit will go a long way to keeping relations on the right track.”

Saudi officials recently sounded skeptical about Bush’s drive for more diplomatic and financial pressure on Iran. Jamal Khashoggi, editor in chief of the Saudi daily al-Watan, said Bush’s visit to the kingdom is not being viewed as particularly important and that “people are not really expecting a lot” from it. “The Saudi position is that we want to be friends with Iran and move away from the possible U.S.-Iranian confrontation,” he said.

II Redacted from: Hatred’s Kingdom by Ambassador Dore Gold Regnery Publishers 2003

... Under the reign of King Fahd, Saudi Arabia extended its religious influence globally. Part of this expansion resulted from Fahd’s need to bolster his religious credentials, given his reputation for gambling on the French Riviera and enjoying the good life in his many palaces in Europe. His palace in Marbella, Spain, had a hundred rooms; he owned a $50 million yacht; and his Boeing 747 was fitted with chandeliers, an elevator, gold bathroom fixtures and a sauna.

... Appearances matter for Saudi kings. After all, Fahd, like all Saudi monarchs before him, was also the imam, or religious leader, of the Wahhabi movement. In the early 1960s, King Saud’s tarnished religious reputation roused the ulama (religious leaders) and eventually led to his ouster. In addition, there were widespread rumors of the royal family’s corruption, that Fahd and his brothers earned under-the-table commissions from many of the kingdom’s arms purchases.

...As a result, in order to retain a free hand in foreign affairs, King Fahd’s government had to satisfy the needs of the Wahhabi clerics.
Saudi Arabia, therefore, embarked on a massive campaign to bring Wahhabi Islam to the world. Between 1982 and 2002, 1,500 mosques, 210 Islamic centers and 2,000 schools to educate Muslim children were established in non-Muslim countries alone. Staggering sums of money were involved. According to internal Muslim World League documents, in just a two-year period in the 1980s, the Saudis apparently spent $10 million on mosque construction in the United States. Academic chairs for Islamic Studies were donated at Harvard Law School and at the University of California—Santa Barbara. The Saudis supported Islamic research institutes at American University (in Washington), Howard University, Duke University and Johns Hopkins University. Islamic academies went up in Moscow and in Washington, D.C.

At the core of this campaign to spread, Wahhabi Islam—and thus Saudi influence—was the Islamic charities and organizations; under King Fahd, Saudi Arabia continued to lavishly endow these charities. The Saudis donated billions to the Muslim World League, which had been founded under King Faisal.
These Saudi charities allowed the kingdom to spread its political and, especially, religious agenda worldwide in the 1980s and 1990s. For example, the charities were pivotal conduits for funding the most extreme Palestinian organizations including Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement). Hamas was a natural Saudi ally, having grown out of the Gaza branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1987.

The Saudis, in short, were donating enormous sums, and contributions on such a massive scale as to create certain expectations - the recipient might well adapt his positions toward the donor’s to assure continuing assistance. ... A significant opportunity resulted spreading the doctrines of Wahhabism, the primary source of Islamic terrorism throughout the world.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:10 AM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2008

Al Gore’s Year of Global Warming or is it Global Cooling?

By Professor David Deming

The Washington Times, December 24, 2007

Al Gore says global warming is a planetary emergency. It is difficult to see how this can be so when record low temperatures are being set all over the world. In 2007, hundreds of people died, not from global warming, but from cold weather hazards.

Since the mid-19th century, the mean global temperature has increased by 0.7 degrees Celsius. This slight warming is not unusual. It lies well within the range of natural variation. Carbon dioxide continues to build in the atmosphere, but the mean planetary temperature hasn’t increased significantly for nearly nine years.

Antarctica is getting colder. Neither the intensity nor the frequency of hurricanes has increased. The 2007 season was the third-quietest since 1966. In 2006, not a single hurricane made landfall in the U.S. South America this year experienced one of its coldest winters in decades. In Buenos Aires, snow fell for the first time since the year 1918. Dozens of homeless people died from exposure. In Peru, 200 people died from the cold and thousands more became infected with respiratory diseases. Crops failed, livestock perished, and the Peruvian government declared a state of-emergency.

Unexpected bitter cold swept the entire Southern Hemisphere in 2007. Johannesburg, South Africa, had the first significant snowfall in 26 years. Australia experienced the coldest June ever. In northeastern Australia, the city of Townville underwent the longest period of continuously cold weather since 1941. In New Zealand, the weather turned so cold that vineyards were endangered.

Last January $1.42 billion worth of California produce was lost to a devastating five-day freeze. Thousands of agricultural employees were thrown out of work. At the supermarket, citrus prices soared. In the wake of the freeze, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger asked President Bush to issue a disaster declaration for affected counties. A few months earlier, Mr. Schwarzenegger had enthusiastically signed the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, a law designed to cool the climate. California Sen. Barbara Boxer continues to push for similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.

In April, a killing freeze destroyed 95 percent of South Carolina’s peach crop, and 90 percent of North Carolina’s apple harvest. At Charlotte, N.C., a record low temperature of 21 degrees Fahrenheit on April 8 was the coldest ever recorded for April, breaking a record set in 1923? On June 8, Denver recorded a new low of 31 degrees Fahrenheit. Denver’s temperature records extend back to 1872.

Recent weeks have seen the return of unusually cold conditions to the Northern Hemisphere. On Dec. 7, St. Cloud, Minn., set a record low of minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit. On the same date, record low temperatures were also recorded in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Extreme cold weather is occurring worldwide. On Dec. 4, in Seoul, Korea, the temperature was a record minus 5 degrees Celsius. Nov. 24, in Meacham, Ore., the minimum temperature was 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than the previous record low set in 1952. The Canadian government warns that this winter is likely to be the coldest in 15 years.

Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri are just emerging from a destructive ice storm that left at least 36 people dead and a million without electric power. People worldwide are being reminded of what used to be common sense: Cold temperatures are inimical to human welfare and warm weather is beneficial. Left in the dark and cold, Oklahomans rushed out to buy electric generators powered by gasoline, not solar cells. No one seemed particularly concerned about the welfare of polar bears, penguins or walruses. Fossil fuels don’t seem so awful when you’re in the cold and dark.

If you think any of the preceding facts can falsify global warming, you’re hopelessly naive. Nothing creates cognitive dissonance in the mind of a true believer. In 2005, a Canadian Greenpeace representative explained, “global warming can mean colder, it can mean drier, it can mean wetter.” In other words, all weather variations are evidence for global Warming. I can’t make this stuff up. Global warming has long since passed from scientific hypothesis to the realm of pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo.

David Deming is a geophysicist, an adjunct Scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis and associate professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2008

The Cojones of Australia’s Previous Prime Minister John Howard

(Too bad the rest of the world’s leaders, including our own, have not a similar set) jsk

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks. Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques.

“Immigrants, not Australians, must adapt,” said the Prime Minister. “Take it or leave it. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.”

“This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.”

“We speak mainly English, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!”

“Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.”

“We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.”

“This is our country, our land, and our lifestyle, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about our Flag, our Pledge, our Christian beliefs, or our way of life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, the right to leave.”

“If you aren't happy here, then leave. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country you accepted.”

(And, let us say Amen) Jsk

(An astute reader just pointed out that this statement must have been made prior to December 3, 2007 when The Honorable Kevin Rudd. Leader of the Australian Labor Party won election, replacing PM Howard. From all reports, it is unlikely Mr. Rudd will make a similar statement in the future.) Jsk

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:17 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2008

Netanyahu to Bush: Israel has only a 'virtual partner' in Mahmoud Abbas

By Mazal Mualem, Haaretz

January 10, 2008


"We have no partner. Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] is a virtual partner," opposition leader and Likud Chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. President George Bush during a meeting Thursday morning. The meeting took place at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and was also attended by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams.

Netanyahu, who was invited to the meeting only on Wednesday, after
protesting that it was inappropriate for the U.S. president not to hear the
voice of Israel's people, sought to tell Bush that the current
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations cannot succeed because of the weakness of
Abbas and of Palestinian society. "Let's be realistic," Netanyahu told Bush. "We've experimented, we've handed over territory and during your visit alone, 20 rockets have fallen here."

Netanyahu presented Bush with his program for developing joint industrial
areas along the "seam line" between Israel and the West Bank in order to
rehabilitate the Palestinian economy and create conditions for negotiations.
Netanyahu sought to impress upon Bush the historical importance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people by giving him a coin discovered there. It was struck in the third year of the Great Revolt by the Judeans against the Romans and of course, written in Hebrew.

"It's an expression of our deep connection. Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people and will remain under Israeli sovereignty for eternity," he said.

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: The meeting lasted twice as long as scheduled]
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 06:40 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2008

Analyzing Barack Hussein Obama’s Message

By Dennis Prager

January 8, 2008

We are repeatedly told by the news media that there is a deep, almost palpable, yearning among Americans for unity. In addition, Sen. Barack Obama's repeated and eloquent claims to being able to unite Americans are a major reason for his present, and very possibly eventual, success in his quest for his party's nomination for president of the United States.

I do not doubt Mr. Obama's sincerity. The wish that all people be united is an elemental human desire. However, there are two major problems with it. First, it is not truly honest. Second, it is childish. Virtually all calls for unity -- whether national, international or religious (as in calls for Christian unity) -- do not tell the whole truth.

If those who call for unity told the whole truth, this is what they would say: "I want everyone to unite behind my values. I want everyone who disagrees with me to change the way they think so that we can all be united. I myself have no plans to change my positions on any important issues in order to achieve this unity. So in order to achieve it, I assume that all of you who differ with me will change your views and values and embrace mine."

Take any important issue that divides Americans and explain exactly how unity can be achieved without one of the two sides giving up its values and embracing the other side's values. Barack Obama wants American troops out of Iraq now. About half of America believes that American troops abandoning Iraq will lead to making that country the world's center of terror and to the greatest victory thus far for the greatest organized evil in the world today. How, then, will Mr. Obama achieve unity on Iraq?

Mr. Obama believes in repealing the tax cuts enacted by the Bush administration. How will he achieve unity on that? Many of us believe that re-raising taxes will bring on a recession. And what is the "unity" position on same-sex marriage? Either one supports it or one supports keeping marriage defined as the legal union of a man and a woman. The only way to unite Americans on this issue -- and I don't know what is more seminal to civilization than its definition of marriage -- is to convince all, or at least most, Americans to embrace one of the two positions.

It is fascinating how little introspection Sen. Obama's "unity" supporters engage in -- they are usually the very people who most forcefully advocate multiculturalism, who scoff at the idea of an American melting pot and who oppose something as basic to American unity as declaring English the country's national language.

Their advocacy of multiculturalism and opposition to declaring English the national language are proof that the calls of the left-wing supporters of Barack Obama for American unity are one or more of three things: 1. A call for all Americans to agree with them and become fellow leftists. 2. A nice-sounding cover for their left-wing policies. 3. A way to further their demonizing of the Bush administration as "divisive."

In case the reader should dismiss these observations about calls for unity as political partisanship, let me make clear that they are equally applicable to calls for religious unity. For example, one regularly hears calls by many Christians for Christian unity. But how exactly will this be achieved? Will Catholics stop believing in their catechism and embrace Protestant theology, or will Protestants begin to regard the pope Christ's vicar on earth?

Ironically, one reason America became the freest country in the world was thanks to its being founded by disunited Christians -- all those Protestant denominations had to figure out a way to live together and make a nation.
Given what Sen. Obama's calls for unity really means -- let's all go left -- it is no wonder he and his calls for unity are enthusiastically embraced by the liberal media.

For nearly eight years the media and Democrats have labeled President Bush's policies "divisive" simply because they don't agree with them. They are not one whit more divisive than Sen. Obama's positions. A question for Democrats, the media and other Obama supporters: How exactly are Mr. Obama's left-wing political positions any less "divisive" than President Bush's right-wing positions?

Second, the craving for unity is frequently childish. As we mature we understand that decent people will differ politically and theologically. The mature yearn for unity only on a handful of fundamental values, such as: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Beyond such basics, we yearn for civil discourse and tolerance, not unity.

The next time Sen. Obama speaks with his usual passion and eloquence about his desire to unite Americans, someone must ask him two questions: Why are your left-wing positions any less divisive than President Bush's right-wing positions? And if you are so committed to uniting Americans, why did you vote against declaring English our national, i.e., our unifying, language? Without compelling answers, Sen. Obama's calls for American unity are no more than calls to unite around his politics and him.

Dennis Prager is a radio show host and nationally syndicated columnist

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2008

Olmert/Rice enabling Egypt to enable Hamas, in the destruction of Israel

By Caroline B. Glick

The Jewish Press, December 28, 2007

Israel has a problem with Egypt. It isn’t playing its assigned role. Both Israel and the Bush administration have assigned Egypt the role of “moderating force” in the Middle East in their peace process drama. In that role, Egypt is trusted to work with Israel and the U.S. in advancing peace between Israel and its neighbors.

As a “moderating force,” both the administration and the Olmert government argue that Egypt shares their goals of weakening the so-called extremists in Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Iran to the benefit of so-called moderates in Fatah led by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Unfortunately, Egypt isn’t living up to expectations. Rather than weaken “extremists,” Egypt, together with Iran, is Hamas’s primary sponsor. Since 2001, Egypt has done more to legitimatize Hamas than any other country by hosting Hamas commanders on a near weekly basis in Cairo. In those meetings, which were purportedly “ceasefire negotiations” between Hamas, Fatah, and Islamic Jihad with an occasional Hizbullah contingent also present. The Egyptians, far from promoting a cessation of violence, enabled the terror masters to coordinate their attacks.

After Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and surrender of control over the Gaza-Egyptian border, along the so-called Philadephi Corridor, Israel (naively) expected Egypt to take over its role of preventing weapons from being smuggled into Gaza. To this end, Israel bowed to the Egyptian demand to deploy 750 heavily armed border police forces to the border in contravention of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty which prescribed a complete demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula in order to prevent Egypt from again launching a surprise attack against Israel.

Sharon’s agreement caused an outcry in the Knesset led by the then-chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Dr. Yuval Steinitz. Noting Egypt’s longstanding support for Palestinian terror groups, Steinitz argued against this step on the basis that the Egyptians, who want a complete remilitarization of the Sinai, would take no action to prevent the border with Gaza from being breached. He further warned that Egypt would argue it would need still more troops along the border to take any action — and so advance its interest of remilitarizing Sinai.

And indeed, since Israel left Gaza and vacated the Philadelphi Corridor, Egypt —just as Steinitz and top IDF commanders warned — has enabled weapons smuggling and has demanded that it be allowed to deploy still more forces to its border with Gaza and Israel. In an article published recently by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a former commander of the IDF Southern Command, Major General (retired.) Yom Toy Samia spelled out the dimensions of the weapons smuggling operations.

“The Palestinians,” he wrote, “have brought into Gaza more than 30,000 rifles during the past two years, more than six million rounds of ammunition, more than 230 tons of explosives and scores of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. These are the weapons Israel will face next time. The next round in Gaza will look more like Lebanon than what Israel faced in Operation Defensive Shield in Judea and Samaria in 2002, or in previous rounds in Gaza.”

Israeli defense officials warn that due to the massive inflow across the Egyptian border of weapons and terror personnel trained in Iran, Gaza has been transformed into a “strategic threat.” And, this is Egypt’s doing. As Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said last month, Egypt could stop all weapons smuggling activities to Gaza “in a day” Wit wished to. To do this, the Egyptians don’t need to deploy forces along the border. They simply need to set up checkpoints to block the weapons from traversing Egyptian territory. Indeed, since most of the weapons are imported to Egypt from Iran through the Egyptian port in Alexandria, proper policing of its ports would be sufficient to end most of the weapons shipments before they got anywhere near the border with Gaza.

For its part, the U.S. Congress, which controls the levels of American military and civilian aid to Egypt, is well aware of the problem. Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, has been outspoken in his criticism of Egypt’s role as Hamas’s primary sponsor. As a result of Egypt’s actions, last week the Congressional foreign aid bill set aside $100 million of Egypt’s $1.3 billion military aid until Secretary of State Rice certifies that Egypt has ended its support for weapons smuggling. Unfortunately, the bill includes a waiver empowering Rice to ignore the cut if she deems it necessary for U.S. national security.

Rather than work with its allies on Capitol Hill, the Olmert government has been acting as Egypt’s primary defender in Washington. Last week the Jerusalem Post reported that, the Defense Ministry sent video footage to the Israeli Embassy in Washington showing Egyptian border guards openly assisting 80 Hamas terrorists traverse the border into Gaza through a hole they had cut in the border fence. Then too, the Defense Ministry sent clear evidence of Egypt assisting Hamas smuggle advanced weapons into Gaza through tunnels under the Philadeiphi Corridor

Rather than make this evidence known to Congress, the Embassy, acting on orders from Jerusalem, is sitting on the video footage so that Israel shouldn’t be seen as undercutting Egypt’s position in Washington. The Egyptians have no such compunctions Responding to Congressional pressure, Mubarak last month dispatched a contingent of Egyptian generals to Capitol Hill. There they claimed that the Israeli military is responsible for the weapons shipments to Gaza. The generals alleged that Israeli soldiers actively assist the smugglers who transfer the weapons to Hamas from the sea.

Then too, after Congress sent its foreign aid bill to the White House for presidential approval, Egypt’s Ambassador in Washington Nabil Fahmi told the media that Egypt would reject any decrease in U.S. aid. Egypt sees such an aid reduction as American meddling in Egyptian internal affairs — as if Egypt has the right to tell U.S. lawmakers how they should spend taxpayer money.

Responding to Congressional inquiries, Rice on the one hand argued that given Egypt’s assigned role as a moderating force in the region it has no interest in smuggling weapons to Hamas. On the other hand, she sent envoys to the region who have recommended setting up a trilateral American-Israeli-Egyptian committee to discuss the issue — a committee that will no doubt do nothing to end the problem. Beyond that, Rice supports Egypt’s demand to deploy stifi more forces to the border with Gaza and Israel.

Rice’s positions, like the Foreign Ministry’s decision to hide from Congress evidence of direct Egyptian support for Hamas, expose a disturbing reality. Both the Bush administration and the Olmert government willingly enable Egypt to work with Iran in transforming Gaza into the new hub of global terror in order to maintain the fiction of Egypt’s moderation. The fantasy of a peace process sponsored by the so-called moderate Arab states led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia is more important to both the Olmert government and the Bush administration than defending southern Israel and fighting terrorism.

Caroline Glick is deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 06:04 AM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2008

With Friends Like These ....

Israel’s “friends” Russia, France, Germany, Algeria and United States are Training Fatah Commandos

by Ezra HaLevi

PA Arabs belonging to the Fatah terrorist group loyal to PA President Mahmoud Abbas are being trained in Russia, France, Germany and Algeria for “counter-terror” operations against Hamas. According to the New York Daily News, the PA forces are receiving covert training at a secret Russian base in Moscow in an effort to stave off a Hamas takeover of Judea and Samaria. The Fatah men are being trained by Russian commandos who fought Islamist terrorists in Chechnya. The PA force is named “al-Himaya Wal-Isnad" (defense and reinforcement) according to the report and includes 25 PA intelligence officers. The course will last for a month and will involve extensive weapons and combat training.

According to the Daily News report, similar training courses are being provided in France, Germany and Algeria – with plans to send PA units to other countries for training as well. "They are getting good training over there," PA official Dr. Ibrahim Khraishi told the Daily News.

Meanwhile, in Judea and Samaria ("West Bank") PA forces continue to receive equipment and training from the US, with General Keith Dayton continuing to oversee the program even after the American-supplied arms and equipment supplied to Fatah in Gaza was inherited by Hamas with little resistance shown by Fatah forces.

Dayton even testified to Congress just a few weeks before the fall of Fatah in Gaza, saying that the PA forces his men trained had progressed significantly.
Abu Yousuf, a Fatah terrorist from Abba's own Force 17 security forces, told WorldNetDaily earlier this year that while some of the weapons may be used in confrontations against Hamas, the bulk of the American arms and training would be utilized to "hit the Zionists." He also said if there is a major conflict with Israel, U.S. weapons provided to Fatah may be shared with other "Palestinian resistance organizations."

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2008

Israel’s Pathetic “Leader”

Outright defeatism

Isi Leibler - Dec 20, 2007
The Jerusalem Post

Without exception, appeasement, self-deprecation and preemptive concessions to terrorists have inevitably served to embolden them. Israel's experience has demonstrated that our enemies are restrained when they perceive us as being resolute, and conversely they become more violent when they sense that we are losing our resolve. Prior to Annapolis, presumably to please the Americans, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert initiated three preemptive concessions.

He unilaterally suspended the Quartet-endorsed requirement that the Palestinians curtail terror before negotiating an end of conflict; he dispensed with the need for defensible borders by agreeing to return to the '67 boundaries with minor modifications; and he permitted his deputy to float proposals relating to Jerusalem which included handing over jurisdiction of the Temple Mount to the Palestinians. Olmert also delegated to the Americans a referee role, arbitrating breaches of undertakings between Israel and the PA, thereby inhibiting Israel's future ability to respond to terrorist onslaughts.

It is fallacious to suggest that because the Palestinians have no intention of reaching any meaningful accommodation, the current concessions are of no consequence. Because, if and when we ultimately do negotiate an end of conflict agreement, what we have now unilaterally offered will represent the starting point of such negotiations. We will be asked: "How much beyond what was offered in Annapolis is Israel willing to offer to achieve genuine peace?" Having already squandered most of our bargaining chips without getting anything in return, all that is left is the Palestinian Arab "right of return" which would amount to the end of a Jewish state.

This mind numbing appeasement by Israel continues unabated at all levels. Instead of at least remaining silent, Olmert repeatedly recites the politically correct mantra that Mahmoud Abbas is a man of peace, despite his failure to clamp down on his own gunmen or curtail vicious incitement against Israel which continues to dominate all areas under his jurisdiction.

Olmert released hundreds of terrorists despite the realization that Abbas still maintains control of his Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades which murdered more Israelis than Hamas. He also authorized the provision of weapons and armored cars to Palestinian security forces, ignoring the fact that on every previous occasion when arms were provided, they were subsequently employed against Israelis. Indeed, nobody seems too fussed that the killers of Ido Zoltan last month happened to be members of Abbas's police force and employed weapons authorized by the Israeli government.

TO MAKE matters worse the corrupt PA, whose survival is dependent on Israeli protection, announced a willingness to dialogue with Hamas and warned that if Israel took definitive steps to curtail rocket attacks from Gaza, Fatah would join forces with Hamas. In response, our government continued its policy of restraint. Will it take a mass slaughter in Sderot before an offensive against Gaza is launched?

Our policy of appeasement has also led to an erosion of our global standing. That was reflected in Annapolis when President George W. Bush omitted to restate his previous position that demographic facts on the ground (settlement blocs) had to be taken into account. He also made no reference to Israel's need for defensible borders. Indeed, following Annapolis, Condoleezza Rice even criticized Israel for building homes inside Jerusalem's Har Homa neighborhood.

Israel's diplomatic recklessness is also manifested by an ongoing stream of irresponsible off-the-cuff statements by our prime minister. It started with Olmert's outburst prior to the election, when he told a gathering of the Israel Policy Forum in New York that "we have become tired of fighting, tired of being arrogant, tired of winning, tired of defeating our enemies." That statement will haunt him for the rest of his political career. But since becoming premier, Olmert continues to display a penchant for making faux pas as exemplified by the bombastic speeches he made during the Second Lebanon War and his remarks about Israel's nuclear capabilities.

But at Annapolis, Olmert hit the jackpot when he adopted the Palestinian narrative, publicly stating that "for dozens of years, many Palestinians have been living in camps, disconnected from the environment in which they grew, wallowing in poverty, neglect, alienation, bitterness and a deep, unrelenting sense of deprivation... I know that this pain and this humiliation are the deepest foundations which fomented the hatred against us."

Olmert alluded to an Israeli and Palestinian equivalence of suffering and totally ignored the historical context. He then allowed the joint statement at Annapolis to include the almost obscene remark about "terrorism and incitement whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis" implying that both parties were culpable.

Olmert's desperation to spin how "liberal" he was brought Israel back to the pre-Bush era when rights and wrongs in the Arab-Israel dispute were subsumed by moral equivalency, and when killers and victims were mindlessly jumbled together as components of a cycle of violence. When our premier makes such statements it paves the way for Rice to make outrageous comparisons between the self-inflicted suffering of Palestinian Arabs and the discrimination and humiliation she experienced from white supremacists under segregation.

In his Annapolis address, Abbas failed to even acknowledge Olmert's groveling remarks. Instead he concentrated on the nakba of Israel's creation, and reiterated that the solution to the suffering of his people would only be achieved by the implementation of the Arab right of return, a code word for the dissolution of the Jewish state. He subsequently stressed that the Palestinians would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

But if that were not enough, our Olmert went one step further, giving the impression that he had truly taken leave of his senses. Taking a cue from Jimmy Carter who had been castigated for his offensive remarks condemning Israel for practicing apartheid, Olmert told the Israeli media that the nation risked being compared to apartheid-era South Africa and "if the two-state solution is shattered... the State of Israel is finished."

What is this if not outright defeatism? Can one visualize a prime minister in any normal nation making such remarks? What is most exasperating is the deafening silence surrounding these concessions and irresponsible outbursts which increasingly undermine confidence in the justice of our cause. Neither the Knesset nor the cabinet have anything to say. Israel Beiteinu and Shas, whose constituents must be appalled, remain glued to their ministerial posts. Equally frustrating is that the leader of the opposition, Binyamin Netanyahu, seems to be sanguinely waiting for the political system to implode. This is not good enough. He should be rallying the nation to raise its voice in an unprecedented challenge against those who are leading us into a tunnel from which it will be very difficult to extricate ourselves.

It is said that a country gets the leaders it deserves. Woe unto us if this be true.

The writer is a former chairman of the governing board of the World Jewish Congress and a veteran international Jewish leader. ileibler@netvision.net.il

Published by United Coalition for Israel
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Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:32 AM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2008

A Journey of Hope from First Daughter, Jenna Bush

For the New York Times

By Jenna Bush

It was my first year of teaching, and the reality of my new job was setting in. At 8:30 in the morning, I was bent over scrubbing the linoleum floor. My stomach churned as I cleaned up regurgitated Lucky Charms, the green and pink marshmallows working against me. “Miss Jenna, I ate my breakfast way too fast,” D said weakly. “Ewww, nasty, Big D. It smells,” Sarah said, laughing. The rest of the children giggled, and D (his, brief-as-could-be, nickname) flashed a sly, accomplished smile.

My third-grade class lined up behind me as my co-teacher hurriedly poured us two cups of instant coffee. She took the children upstairs to conduct the morning meeting in Spanish while I cleaned up D and escorted him to the clinic, in case his sudden nausea had been brought on by something other than a case of rapid eating. This was not the glamorous career that I had envisioned when I was little and teaching my dolls, who were always quiet, docile pupils. And, I did not look as lovely and as composed as my mom did in the worn photos from her days of teaching

Throughout my first year of teaching in Washington DC at the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School, I was tired. When I slept, I dreamed of my students. I had a perpetual cold. My clothes were always rumpled, and by noon, my sweater was stained and my pants were splashed with ink.

I had taught the Great Books program at EWS for six months the year before and was well aware of the arduous nature of the job and the challenges of working in a school in a poor area. My principal had warned me, “Your class is gifted, but they haven’t realized their potential, and their test scores are low.” I studied their reading assessments and their standardized test scores; only a fourth of the class was reading at grade level

One luminous day in November after the trees had just turned deep hues of bronze, I sat on a park bench and watched my class play. I was discouraged by our school’s situation: We shared a city park with other members of the community — students, younger children and their parents, homeless men and raucous teenagers. It was a Monday and the ground was blanketed with weekend trash. We needed a new space, a new building, a place for our children to play in privacy.

A chorus of laughter interrupted my thoughts. My students had formed a horizontal line, arms linked, as they ran the length of the playground. “What are you playing?” I asked as they ran past me. “Airplane,” Miani said. “D is the captain! We’re going to Japan! Want to come?” I smiled. They hadn’t noticed the trash or the lack of space. They had used their imaginations to create a game, and a world very different from their own. Linking arms with Miani, I ran with the children, imagining the countries we might be visiting.

As Christmas vacation approached, I shared in my students’ anticipation and counted down the days until the break. How great it would be to sleep past 6:30; to wear clean clothes; to not hear the words, “Miss Jenna, I need help,” for 10 full days! Soon it was spring, and the cherry blossoms bloomed across Washington. My students had taken their standardized test. I was confident they had done well. We were studying Cinderella, comparing the telling by the Brothers Grimm to the Chinese version, YehShen. I asked my students to point out differences between the stories. The classroom filled with little hands spread like stars in the sky.

I called on Kevin. “One difference is the main characters’ cultures,” he said. “Look, it says it right here on Page 305.” My students turned to the page and began to read along silently with Kevin. “I agree,” Sarah said. ‘Also, their families are different. See, look at Page 315.” A lively discussion began. I stepped backward toward the chalkboard. Their conversation was smart and insightful, and they were having it without me. My students had given me the gift every teacher wishes for: the knowledge that I’d helped them become curious, independent learners. These intangible gifts — joy and optimism, humility and growth — meant more to me than all the apples, the picture frames filled with memories, even the precious letters and art.

As I stepped back that spring day and listened to my students’ impressive ideas, I remembered the dirty clothes, early mornings, tragedies and comedies and knew they’d all been worth it.

First daughter Jenna Bush is the author of Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope (HarperCollins). She is the daughter of US President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush. She has a twin sister, Barbara. Jenna graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in English in 2004.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 09:33 PM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2008

The Chutzpa of John Edward’s Campaign Manager, David Bonior

By Jerome S. Kaufman

To my great surprise, I just received a mailing from David Bonior, Campaign Manager of John Edwards, to vote for the one term ex-Senator. Now, I don’t really have anything much against Senator Edwards except that he is a poor imitation of the typical Democrat demagogue ala Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Bill Clinton. These stalwarts have made a living supposedly championing the causes of the “poor workingman” against the unprincipled thieving professional or business man who has somehow managed to use his brains, hard work and education to accumulate a few bucks in this marvelous land of unparallel opportunity.

Of course, the fact that John Edwards’s wealth is the direct result of being a personal injury lawyer, whose own ill-begotten gains are the direct result of using the same demagoguery to preach to naive jurors and obtain outrageous judgments against municipalities, police and fire departments, physicians, employers – anyone with deep pockets - might somehow affect my opinion.

The above formula has allowed Edwards to obtain unconscionable fees - typically an inflated 1/3 of the plaintiff’s award, plus whatever expenses Edward submits. The results of this charade have been Edward’s 6 million dollar home, his regal living style and an uncalculated number of $400 haircuts.

As to David Bonior, his campaign manager: Maybe some of you have forgotten or never knew of Bonior. David Bonior was a 13 term Congressman from Michigan’s 10th district. Bonior had a lock on the Congressional seat until re-districting occurred and an eminently more qualified and more popular candidate by the name of Candice S. Miller, former Michigan Secretary of State, easily won the seat without Bonior even bothering to compete.

What was Bonior’s record in the Congress? Bonior is a charter member of the Arab Hall of Fame. He was voted in for having a virtually perfect record against any legislation that might remotely be of benefit to Israel. This invariably applied to legislation for American military funding, especially if it included any funds for Israel. By the way, this amount of aid, against which anti-Semites always rage, is a paltry 2.4 billion dollars per year and one of the truly great bargains in American military history. Skeptics should compare this amount to the billions upon billions of dollars we spend each year defending Eastern and Western Europe, Japan, South Korea, etc., etc. Furthermore, not one American soldier has ever been asked to defend Israel nor has one American lost his life in such a process.

Bonior’s other claim to infamy is that in his last year in the Congress, 2002, he voted against HR Resolution 600 to establish a Department of Homeland Security! What really prompted me writing this article, however, was being awakened by a nightmare depicting President John Edwards appointing David Bonior as our new Secretary of State. Ouch!


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:36 AM | Comments (0)